Sunday, Dec. 8, 2013
Hate Mail: Anti-Semitism on Picture Postcards (University of Nebraska Press), by Salo Aizenberg
It should surprise no one to learn that anti-Semitic postcards with demeaning ethnic stereotypes were popular in Germany in the decades before the Nazi takeover, but their American counterparts tell a conveniently forgotten story from U.S. history. As postcard collector Salo Aizenberg observes in Hate Mail, Germany before the rise of “annihilating Judeophobia” wasn’t necessary more anti-Semitic than most other nations. In the U.S. these postcards often contrasted hook-nosed, grotesque Jewish figures with fine-featured Gentiles; Jews were often grasping pawnbrokers or greedy moneylenders sapping the nation of its vitality The offensive images collected in Hate Mail are evidence of the widespread acceptance of ethnic bigotry and the steep decline in their overt expression since World War II.