GHDI logo

Butchers, Cattle-Traders, and Jews in Mainz

page 2 of 2    print version    return to list previous document      next document

After the recent opening of savings and credit unions, local farmers in some communities started outdoing each other with their deposits, whereas livestock dealers and craftsmen often had to wait years – and with much fuss at that – to get back their rightful principal without interest. How often did moneylenders hear the following: “If you can’t lend money, then just close your business.” Here, one example is worth mentioning: A farmer owed several hundred marks to a livestock dealer for livestock delivered. One day, outside that same dealer’s house, the same farmer asked the dealer to make change for a twenty-mark piece. The dealer could only come up with 18 marks in change and asked the farmer to go to his house and request the remaining two marks. The farmer did not do so, however. Instead, a few days later, amidst a flurry of traffic and activity, he publicly demanded the return of his balance, asserting that “A man just can’t ever get his money back from you wicked Jews.”

With respect to business transactions involving livestock, I probably had more dealings with Jews in the Palatinate than the rest of my colleagues. I was usually given preferential treatment, since I was the best at evaluating their goods. I was always very keen on obtaining Palatinate stock. For instance, for nearly 25 years, until I closed my business, I dealt with the brothers Hayum in Erbach and Hayum in Ockelheim almost on a weekly basis, without ever so much as an inappropriate word being said on either side, despite the fact that trading could be very tough when the business cycle experienced abrupt changes. We had mutual respect, and we were both content with what we earned.

Source: Bernhard Gottron, Erlebtes und Erlauschtes aus dem Mainzer Metzgergewerbe im 19. Jahrhundert [Things Experienced and Overheard in the Butchering Industry in Mainz in the 19th Century], Mainz, 1926, pp. 32ff.

Original German text reprinted in Werner Pöls, ed.,

Deutsche Sozialgeschichte 1815-1870. Ein historisches Lesebuch [German Social History 1815-1870: A Historical Reader], 4th ed. Munich: Beck, 1988, pp. 70-73.

Translation: Erwin Fink

first page < previous   |   next > last page