At the beginning of April 1891 a Jewish girl was found murdered on the ground floor of a Jewish residence in Corfu. Rumours raged on the island: Was this about a love story or, with a stretch of imagination, a story about sex and crime? Or was this murder evidence of the culmination of a family drama which unfolded at the girl’s house, committed by her-supposedly-adoptive parents? Perhaps she was not Jewish, but Christian, and was murdered by the Jews in order for them to fulfil their religious needs? Upon discovery of the body the local police began spreading the rumour of ritual murder, while the first coroner’s report confirmed it. Local and Athenian newspapers spread it beyond the island’s community, while local politicians maintained it for their own political agenda. On the other hand, judicial authorities upheld the innocence of the Jews accused. Military forces sent by the government desired to protect the secluded Jewish district. Not only did the antisemitic sentiment go beyond the borders of the island, but it also led to the migration of a large portion of the most important Jewish community of the Ionian islands and to its final downfall wrought by the unheard of local violence, bringing death, injuries and material destruction.

issue 03 / July 2012 by Maria Margaroni