Was Jack the Ripper a Polish Jew

A South African historian says he may have identified Jack the Ripper as a Polish Jew.

Toward the end of his new book, “The Fox and The Flies: The World of Joseph Silver, Racketeer and Psychopath,” Charles van Onselen cites overlap between the life and personality of Joseph Silver, a Polish-born Jew from Johannesburg known as “King of Pimps,” and Jack the Ripper, who killed at least five prostitutes in the late 19th century.

Silver was in London during that period, and, as a brothel owner would have had access to local prostitutes, van Onselen noted. He also shared Jack the Ripper’s hatred of women and his tendency to write litigious letters.

Van Onselen, a crime historian, acknowledged that these could be coincidences. Still, “in terms of a template for this person, in terms of age, personality, mental illness, pattern for rest of life, this is the best fit there has ever been,” he said.

A Polish-born Jew was a prime suspect in the case at the time, leading to an anti-Semitic backlash. Silver was executed by Poland in 1918 for spying.