Unwarranted Notoriety? The Ritter Trials, 1882–1886

Hanna Kozińska-Witt


Moses and Gitla Ritter were accused of murdering the charwoman Franciszka Mnichówna. The accusation and trials which followed revoked the blood libel. In three circumstantial trials (1882–1886), despite the lack of evidence, the Ritters were found guilty and sentenced to death. Owing to the “ritual” nature attributed to the presumed murder, the trials became media events, followed by an international audience. The author discusses the course of the trials, considering whether and how the municipalities in which they took place exploited their unexpected popularity for promotional purposes. What importance did the urban elites attach to the trials? How can we interpret the three guilty verdicts, and what symbolic significance can be assigned to them?

Słowa kluczowe: blood libel, trials, Galicia, the nineteenth century, press reports, oskarżenie o popełnienie mordu rytualnego, procesy, Galicja, dziewiętnasty wiek, doniesienia prasowe