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


 
 
Figure 17. Execution of Joseph Ben Issachar Süßkind Oppenheimer Medal

Unknown medallist, Germany, 1738, cast silver medal, 37 mm. Ref: Kirschner 14 Coll. Fieweger 383 (Image courtesy of Busso Peus Nacht.)

A striking feature of all of these medals is that in the legend Oppenheimer is not identified as a banker or finance minister, but as a Jew (IUD.IOSEPH.SÜS OPPENHEIMER), making his religious affiliation, rather than his occupation, the major point of his character.

The historical figure of Joseph Suess Oppenheimer was deemed so important that in 1940, at the behest of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazis produced a propaganda film "Süss the Jew,” considered to be one of the most anti-Semitic films of all time. The film ends showing Suess being hanged in a cage similar to that depicted in the medal.

Interestingly, Oppenheimer, who virtually ceased to acknowledge being a Jew during the period of his prosperity, returned to strict orthodoxy during his imprisonment and refused to become baptized in return for a reprieve. Medals related to conversion and baptism are considered in the next section.

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