Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Josef Süss Oppenheimer

Josef Süss Oppenheimer (YOH-sehf sews OH-pan-hi-mur), a handsome, almost dandified opportunist, son of a German Christian marshal and a Jewish mother. He aids the countess’ scheme to try to keep her hold on Eberhard, advises Karl and Marie financially, wields political power, gains a great fortune, engineers Karl’s liaison with Magdalen, tricks Karl into a military fiasco, and is finally hanged. Though he could have lived by telling of his Christian father, he chooses to die proudly as a Jew.

Rabbi Gabriel

Rabbi Gabriel (GAH-bree-ayl), his uncle, a man of melancholy demeanor and mystic ways, reputed to be the Wandering Jew.


Naemi (nah-AY-mee), Süss’ daughter, who falls from a housetop to her death while escaping a sexual attack by Karl.

Eberhard Ludwig

Eberhard Ludwig (AY-bur-hahrd LEWT-vihkh), duke of Swabia, a stout, dissipated man who deserts his mistress and returns to his wife to beget an heir.

Karl Alexander

Karl Alexander, a penniless prince who, after marrying Marie and becoming a Catholic, inherits the duchy when Eberhard dies. A despicable rake, he establishes a liaison with Magdalen and later tries to rape Naemi.

Marie Auguste

Marie Auguste (ow-GEWS-teh), Karl’s duchess, daughter of Anself Franz.


Weissensee (VI-san-say), a politician who hates Süss, plots against him, and indirectly causes Naemi’s death.

Magdalen Sibylle

Magdalen Sibylle (MAHG-dah-layn sih-BIH-leh), his daughter, who becomes Karl’s mistress as a result of a ruse by Süss.

Isaac Landauer

Isaac Landauer (EE-sah-ahk LAHN-dow-ur), a brilliant, distinctively Jewish international banker and financial agent for the countess. He gives Süss his first opportunity to rise materially in the world.

Prince Anselm Franz von Thurn and Taxis

Prince Anselm Franz von Thurn and Taxis (AHN-sehlm frahnts fon toorn oond TAHKS-sihs), father of Marie Auguste. He brings about his daughter’s marriage and Karl’s conversion to Catholicism.

Reb Jecheskel Seligmann

Reb Jecheskel Seligmann (YA-shas-kehl SAY-lihg-mahn), an innocent Jew arrested for the murder of a child. He is saved by Süss.


Christl (krihstl), the countess, wife of the dullwitted Lord High Steward and Eberhard’s extravagant, lampooned mistress of thirty years, deserted principally because she had grown fat, asthmatic, and middle-aged.

Johanna Elisabetha

Johanna Elisabetha (YOH-hah-nah eh-LEE-sah-beh-tah), Eberhard’s bleak, sour, neglected duchess.