The Operated Jew

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The Operated Jew (German: Der operirte Jud’) is a satirical antisemitic book published by the German physician Oskar Panizza in 1893. Written from a supposedly medical perspective, it exemplified the scientific racism characteristic of the era.

Plot summary[edit]

The book told the story of a young Jewish doctor, who because of antisemitic pressures, seeks to escape his Jewishness by submitting himself to violent and painful ethnic plastic surgery. The doctor has stereotypical Jewish features: black curly hair, oily skin, thick lips, and a large, hooked nose, an effeminate voice, poor posture, and orthopedic impairments.

He agrees to undergo a complex medical operation in order to free himself from his Jewishness. Ultimately, he arranges to have all his bones straightened out, has his hair dyed blonde, and gets his larynx altered to change his voice. He is placed in a bathtub and given a blood transfusion by pure Aryan virgins.

Having been seemingly cured of his Jewishness, he weds a blonde German woman. However, just as he is about to deliver a speech at his wedding, his voice takes on a high pitch, as all his previous Jewish features resurface. He eventually becomes a gelatinous puddle on the floor, signifying an idea that Jewishness cannot be overcome by attempts at cultural assimilation.

The book incorporates the elements of racial antisemitism of the era: The expression of desire on part of the Jew to escape his cultural identity, the lengths to which he will go to transform himself, the pornographic quality of the attempted transformation, and the impossibility of it all. It sought to illustrate an idea that Jews cannot escape their race; and that if they try, they become subhuman or untermensch.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Zipes, Jack (1991). The Operated Jew: Two Tales of Anti-Semitism. New York and London: Routledge. ISBN 9780415904612.