JEWISH-AMERICAN HALL OF FAME • JEWISH MUSEUM IN CYBERSPACE
ANTI-SEMITIC BIGOTRY AS CHRONICLED BY HISTORICAL MEDALS


 
 
Figure 13. Jewish Moneylenders Portrayed in a Spanish Manuscript from Late 1200s (From dancutlermedicalart.com)

In addition to these art forms, several medals were also issued to vilify Jews engaged in financial occupations. Examples of such medals are shown below.

Jews and Turks Defend Budapest: In the late seventeenth century the Austrian emperors began a campaign to remove the Ottoman Turks from Central Europe. Budapest fell to Leopold I in 1686. The Jews, who had found refuge among the Muslim Ottoman Empire, sided with the Turks in defense of Budapest (known in those days as "Ofen,” referred to on the medal), and when the city fell, the victorious Austrians commemorated their victory by issuing a medal suggesting how the vanquished Turks and Jews benefitted financially from the war.

The medal (figure 14) depicts on the obverse Turkish and Jewish figures around a furnace melting metal, with the Turk holding tongs and the Jew holding bellows. Ingots appear at the bottom of the furnace. The legend around translates as, “Who Mints Money for Peace Now That the Turk and Jew Are Tired of War?” The reverse legend reads as, “Ofen Belongs to Leopold. Luck Has Been Against Mohammed. He Loses the City of Ofen with All its Gold, Which Was Destined to Be Used for the Purchase of Peace.” Along the rim is written, “By this Battle the Turkish Empire Nears its End.”

This medal expresses scorn for both the Jews and Turks by suggesting that they not only had profited from the war but also failed to bribe their attackers and thereby buy peace (a method used frequently in those times). It is typical of the anti-Semitic medals relating to economics in that it alludes to the libel of Jews making money from tragic events.

 
Figure 14. Jews and Turks Defend Budapest Medal (Türkenkrieg medaille)

Martin Brunner, Austria, 1686, Copper struck medal, 42 mm. Ref: Kirschner 31, Friedenberg 18 and 108/109 (Image courtesy of Alex Ben-Arieh)

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