József Liszka: Saint Peter´s Violin or The Dance among Thorns. From Children´s Folklore to Auschwitz?

It is a cliché to say that the Holocaust did not start with the railway cars, but much earlier, by words said and heard. Scientific literature and journalism generally assumes that it was the anti-Semitic public discourse at the beginning of the 20th century and, among others, the laws sprouting from it. In the opinion of the author of this study, this has much deeper psychological roots which, as far as we can track it, stretch back at least to the Middle Ages. Children´s folklore—various mocking verses, games and part of folk tales told to children (too)—seem to confirm this. This study only highlights a small slice of this long tradition, and it examines the roots and the Central and Eastern European afterlife of the tale called The Dance among Thorns (Der Jude im Dorn; ATU 592) also included in the Grimm brother´s famous tale collection entitled Children´s and Household Tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen). The study pays particular attention to the role of this tale played mainly in the Hungarian, Slovak and Czech folklore.