In the 1930 novel “Jews Without Money,” there is a chapter entitled “Did God Make Bedbugs?” Here is an excerpt.
“One steaming hot night I couldn’t sleep for the bedbugs. They have a peculiar nauseating smell of their own…They crawl slowly and pompously, bloated with blood, and the touch and smell of these parasites wakens every nerve to disgust.
“It wasn’t a lack of cleanliness in our home. My mother was as clean as any German housewife; she slaved, she worked herself to the bone keeping us fresh and neat. the bedbugs were a torment to her. She doused the beds with kerosene, changed the sheets, sprayed the mattresses in an endless frantic war with the bedbugs.
It had been a frightful week of summer heat. I was sick and feverish with heat, and pitched and tossed, while the cats sobbed in the yard. The bugs finally woke me. They were everywhere. I cannot tell the despair, loathing and rage of the chld in the dark tenement room as they crawled on me, and stank.
“I cried softly. My mother woke and lit the gas. she renewed her futile battle with the bedbugs. The kerosene smell choked me. My mother tried to soothe me back to sleep. but my brain raced like a sewing machine.
“Momma,” I asked, “why did god make bedbugs?”