The Hilsner Affair in Brief
The murder of seamstress Anezka Hruzová, committed more than a hundred years ago, fueled anti-Jewish hatred far beyond Czech borders
In 1899, a 19-year-old seamstress named Anezka Hruzová, was murdered in the Brezina forest near the town of Polná. The investigation of the crime was conducted very carelessly even at the time, even partly illegally. Eventually, a local homeless person called Leopold Hilsner got on the list of suspects in the police investigation.
He was dubbed by the "voice of the people" as the perpetrator. Investigators and judges alike succumbed to the public opinion and decided that they have found someone to blame without a proper investigation. It is also worth mentioning that by the end of the 19th century, also known as the age of reason, many people still believed in old medieval superstitions about Jewish ritual murders.
Strong racial prejudices controlled a significant part of Czech society at the time, and Leopold Hilsner had a strong aggravating circumstance in the eyes of the public: he was a Jew.
Hilsner was tried and sentenced to death on the basis of preconceived notions. The two-part drama An Innocent Man, proposes a deconstruction of the case and presents The Hilsner Affair in a European context that provides grounds for reflection on the actual problem of xenophobia across the world.