|A Ripper Notes Article|
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Hyam Hyams: Portrait of a Suspect
By Wolf Vanderlinden
Photo provided by Stewart P. Evans
The theory that Jack the Ripper may have been Jewish is not a new one. The area in which the murders took place was heavily populated by Jewish immigrants, and between the years 1880 and 1886 some twenty thousand Jews from Eastern Europe(1) swelled the existing numbers and created friction between Jewish and non- Jewish residents. Once the Whitechapel murder series began non-Jewish residents were quick to point a finger at these newcomers. Indeed, the first suspect to catch the public’s attention was described as a Jew who went by the nickname of “Leather Apron.” John Pizer, the man arrested for being Leather Apron, was also Jewish. In addition, at the height of the murders, an hysteria-gripped populace was desperately searching for answers to the murders by blaming Jewish rituals and customs, both real and imaginary. Besides, it was widely thought that no Englishman could be responsible for such brutal and barbaric crimes.
These long held suspicions against the Jewish residents of Spitalfi elds and Whitechapel found offi cial support in the Spring of 1910, when Sir Robert Anderson, ex-Assistant Commissioner of London’s Metropolitan Police CID and the man who had been in overall charge of the Whitechap el murder investigation, wrote in Blackwood’s Magazine:
One did not have to be a Sherlock Holmes to discover that the criminal was a sexual maniac of a virulent type; that he was living in the immediate vicinity of the scenes of the murders; and that, if he was not living absolutely alone, his people knew of his guilt, and refused to give him up to justice. During my absence abroad the Police had made a house-to-house search for him, investigating the cases of every man in the district whose circumstances were such that he could go and come and get rid of his blood-stains in secret. And the con clusion we came to was that he and his people were low-class Jews.... And the result proved that our diagnosis was right on every point.(2)