I. Ideological Roots: Antecedents & Context - Historical Antecedents & Preconditions
Historic Roots of Nazism

THREE Antisemitism up to 1914. Why the Jews?

Modern Antisemitism. The Jew & the Modern era

From religion to Biology - Continuity & Difference

Bauer, Liberalism, Emancipation, and Antisemitism, 33-50, 57-60


The Jewish people & their relationship to the non-Jewish/Gentile world.
Lectures analyze fate of Jews in modern era, focusing mainly on antagonism between Jews & surrounding society between the granting of emancipation & the Holocaust.
The character of modern antisemitism, was different from Classical or Christian antisemitism in that it was based on racist rather than religious considerations. Antisemitism flourished despite the intellectual liberation of the Enlightenment period, and the political emancipation of the French Revolution. Nationalism and racism were the main sources of modern antisemitism. It was enhanced by extreme nationalistic sentiments in reaction to groups such as the Jews which practiced a culture and spoke a language at variance with the native populations. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and antisemitic racial theorists promoted increased hatred of the Jews which served as the prelude to the Nazi views about them.

Instructional Objectives - Students will learn that:

1. The Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and new modern ideologies changed & deeply affected the status of the Jews. The Enlightenment made possible the growth of secular antisemitism, which flourished during the 19th century.

2. Modern secular antisemitism has a historical continuity with religious antisemitism. There were differences between Ancient/Classical anti-Judaism, medieval anti-Judaism, and Modern antisemitism, although many of the roots of this hate were similar.

3. Extreme nationalism, modern racial theories, and the publication and distribution of forged and slanderous publications about the Jews paved the way to Nazi antisemitism.

Objectives - Students will be able to

- Examine and explain European history as seedbed of Holocaust

- Describe the results of emancipation in the 19th c., and Jewish life before World War II, and analyze the fate of the Jews in modern era, focusing mainly on antagonism between Jews & surrounding society.

- Explains what coming of modernity meant for Jews & Judaism and how it left the unresolved “problem of the Jews,” leading to modern racial & political antisemitism at end 19th c.

- Describe and explain the different types of antisemitism

Focus Questions

1. How does a society get to this point? Why did Western nations do so little and so very late to save the victims?
2. Why were the Jews the chief victims? 2/3 European Jews killed; 1/2 world
3. Why have people hated Jews since ancient times? Why were the Jews persecuted?
4. How did Jews become scapegoat per excellence?

Study Questions/Essays

1. How did Jewish life change following the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution? The positive & negative aspects of the changes?

2. What was “Modern Antisemitism?” How does it differ from traditional antisemitism? How did racial antisemitism late 19th & early 20th century differ from the religious, traditional and medieval antisemitism of earlier centuries?
a. What was the impact of modernity on European antisemitism?
b. What role did nationalism play in the rise of modern antisemitism?
c. How did 19th century racism influence antisemitic writers?

3. What was the ‘logic’ linking racial antisemitism with genocide?

4. Who was Captain Alfred Dreyfus, and why was his case significant to 19th century France?
5. What was the solution to the “Jewish Question?”
6. What were the Jewish reactions? Palestine?

7. Why did Herzl write his book, The Jewish State? A Jewish homeland in Palestine is the answer to which question? What was Herzl’s Zionism?


Reasons for persistence of anti-Jewish feelings after 18th century. Secularization religious antisemitism its transformation into modern racial political antisemitism

Role of antisemitism in modern society & its relationship to classical Jews-hatred - motive for killing.

Conceptual framework

#Integration of Jews in Europe from 18th c until outbreak of modern antisemitism in 2nd half of the 19th century. Impact of modernization on European Jewry.
Sources of confrontation - social & ideological. Achievement of political emancipation in western & central Europe. Expectation of Jews by theorists of Jewish emancipation #

- Explains what coming of modernity meant for Jews & Judaism and how it left the unresolved “problem of the Jews,” leading to modern racial & political antisemitism at end 19th c.
- Explain how this modern legacy contributed to the eventual rise of Nazism. Relations between Jews & non-Jews are dealt with in historical perspectives. In order to explain the H. within a broader historical context, emancipation, integration-assimilation, & antisemitism are explored.

- Examine
European history as seedbed of Holocaust - Trends in modern European hist. that made Nazi genocide possible. Explore historical developments & social situations of the victim. Examine relationship between pre-Nazi racism & antisemitism, & the Holocaust.


Chapter Content

‘Roots of Holocaust lie in deep traditions of historic & religious antisemitism that became an integral part of fabric of Western civilization in the past 2,000 years. In 19th c., racial & political antisemitism added to religious body of traditional Christian antisemitism. This new form of antisemitism was an indirect product of dramatic -political, social, economic- changes taken place in West. world during & after Enlightenment, French Revolution, & Industrial Revolution. Jewish emancipation followed. Nationalism & new nations; extreme nationalists affected by social Darwinism->racists.’

-Classical/ancient Jew-hatred: Paganism versus Judaism
-Antisemitism in pre-modern Christian world
Middle Ages Christianity vs Judaism---> religious antagonism; Christendom’s role in promulgating negative stereotype of the Jews, and the demonization of the Jews -->pogroms, conversion, expulsion, ghetto

Transition to the Modern Age, 1350-1550:

Renaissance: Humanism. voyages of exploration & discovery

Reformation: Division & Reform in Church; Protestantism ends religious unity of Europe

1453 Fall of Constantinople - ‘End’ of Middle Ages

Modern Era Ideologies/Trends: -ISM

Concern to integrate study of Holocaust into the broad framework of modern historical study. why, who, when, where, how? socio-cultural, economic, political reasons.

16th-17th c: Rise sovereignty. Secular states. Absolutism; economy: mercantalism capitalism
Late 1600s Rationalism, scientific revolution: secular & scientific world; heliocentric, Galileo, Newton challenge Church.

Foundations of Modern Antisemitism in the 19th society - in modernity, within the socioeconomic/political transformations of Europe, following Enlightenment, Industrial & French Revolution-->Era of ISM: Liberalism, conservatism, industrial capitalism, nationalism, racism, Social Darwinism ...

Entry to the modern period

“As Jews were allowed to enter the mainstream of society in one western European country after another, there has occurred perhaps the deepest revolution of all in the long history of the Jewish Diaspora. To understand ... we must begin by briefly considering the effects of 2 historical processes which would profoundly affect the whole course of European history. The 1st is the Enlightenment of the 17th & ... the 18th centuries ... The 2nd is the French Revolution of 1789 ...” 1

The Enlightenment
, the Age of Reason, brings changes, 17th & 18th c.

While there is evidence that Jews suffered persecution in the past which was secular-based, it
was not until the period of the Enlightenment that this form of antisemitism became prevalent. It was also not until the Enlightenment (end 17th & 18th c.) that Jews had the opportunity to participate in modern society.

The 18th century is called the Age of the Enlightenment, or Age of Reason, for during this period and educated elite, expressing supreme confidence in the power of reason, attempted a rational analysis of European institutions and beliefs. Rationalism was the belief that truth can be arrived at solely by reason or logical thinking

The Enlightenment describes the period in European history (17th-18th century) when the dominant philosophical idea was that human reason, through rational thought, could alone be used to solve problems and serve as the ethical system for living. It had as its roots the scientific revolution of the late 1600s when scientists and philosophers such as Newton, Kepler, Galileo, Bacon, and Descartes advanced theories about the physical universe. Their discoveries directly contradicted and challenged the rule of the Church.

Eighteenth Century Enlightenment was based on three assumptions:

1) the entire universe is fully intelligible and governed by natural rather than supernatural forces;

2) the "scientific method" can answer fundamental questions; and

3) the human race can be "educated" to improve itself, even to overcome limitations of birth and class.

“The Scientific Revolution seemed to show that order and mathematically demonstrable laws were at work in the physical universe.

The thinkers/critics of the society of the Enlightenment, called philosophes, argued that it should be possible to examine humane institutions with the intention of imposing a comparable order and rationality -believed they could apply the scientific method and use reason to logically explain human nature..

‘The mainstream of the Enlightenment was politically moderate, critical of the clergy and all rigid dogma, tolerant in religious matters ... France was the center of the Enlightenment & French philosophes aimed at changing society by applying rational analysis to existing social and political problems.

The leading figure in the movement, which included Diderot, Montesquieu, and Condorcet, was Voltaire. All attacked the oppressive practices of Christianity & the Inquisition. ‘Philosophes denounced the churches for inciting fanatism and intolerance ... advanced secular culture. Theoretically, they all favored toleration of the Jews and denounced persecution of them. Greater acceptance of Jews Poland, Holland, England, with growing rationalism educated classes; irrationality degrading Jews & then cursing them for their degraded position, was unjust; voices raised in defense brotherly love.Montesquieu & Mirabeau decried inhumanity of Christian posture concerning the Jews.

In attacking both superstition and the non-secular rule of Western Europe, many scientists and philosophers of the Enlightenment also attacked Jews for their mystical and religious beliefs and separatist ways, and pointed to the Jews as a scapegoat for national problems.

(1694-1778) attacked Jewish ‘particularism,’ stubbornness, perversity, & greed.
Enemies of Jews quoted Voltaire, to prove that not only their religion but their essential character was bad, that they were narrow-minded and bigoted, as reflected in the Bible.

In the 18th century, anti-Jewish caricatures
associated Jews with swine.

Philosophes paved the way for the French Revolution, the liberal national revolutions of the end of the 18th c. and 19th c. , Jewish emancipation - citizenship.

The French & Industrial Revolution, Liberalism, Jewish Emancipation

18th c. French Revolution, 1789

Till early 19th c., the ‘passport’ to European culture & society of Jewish elite was conversion to Christianity.

Jewish ‘particularism,’ was an argument used in the intense debates over whether Jews were worthy to be accepted as citizens debates in the 1st phase of the struggle for emancipation, from 1780 to 1814. Would Jews constitute a ‘state within a state’ -a phrase 1st used by German philosopher Fichte in 1793? If they were given the right to own land, to join the guilds, to work at varied occupations outside the ghettos, could they qualify as citizens?

*French revolution, 1789 Central political event of modern European history; major turning point; FR represents culmination of 18th c. ideas, econo. transitions & social transformations; brought the people to forefront of polit. hist.; spawned polit. creed of liberalism & nationalism; new parties: Left: liberal, Republicans; Right: Conservatives, Church, army aristocracy; Center
Vestiges feudalism eradicated; absolute monarchy shattered; class distinctions demolished; sweeping away inequities, turned out to be windfall for Jews; principle egalite before law; citizenship regardless religion;

The event that marked a major political turning point in the socioeconomic & legal status of the Jews was the French Revolution,
with allegiance to the centralized nation-state, not to the Church/regional/religious groups.
*Also, with its slogan of ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’ affirmed in 1789, in the French ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man,’ abolition of legal limitations, and liberalism -political movement in the 19th c., that opposed autocratic powers of the throne, and supported equality, & individual civil rights, the French Revolution will legally allow the entry of the Jewish people into the modern world.

While in the past, Jews’ status had been guaranteed by a charter or permits by potentates, in the 18th and 19th c., their equal rights were granted by a constitution and laws.
was the 1st country in which a decree in 1791, made Jews legally emancipated - free and equal citizen before the law - Impact of modernization on Jewry in the 19th c .-->
*Jewish emancipation meant legal and civic equality of the Jews with other citizens.
Napoleon’s influence salutary for Jews; summoned assembly of Jewish notables; ghetto walls fell.

Industrial revolution: Industrial capitalism.

In addition to the sociopolitical changes following the French Revolution, the economic changes of the Industrial Revolution caused social, urban, and demographic changes, and demographic, agricultural, social, urban, technological, transportation, and financial revolutions.
Revolution in means of production; age of machine, investor; new urban social order: rising middle class that derived its power from wealth; factory worker; religion irrelevant; progress required energies & abilities of all.

Revolution in means of production; age of machine, investor; new urban social order: rising middle class that derived its power from wealth; factory worker; religion irrelevant; progress required energies & abilities of all.

New ideologies in 19th c.

Industrial capitalism: means of production -factories, mines, railroads- are privately owned; free market, law of supply & demand and competition. New ideologies:
Socialism. political & economic system to lessen gap between rich & poor; government owns means of production & operates for welfare of all; left party.
Marxism. belief in necessity of revolution to overthrow capitalism to be replaced by Communism - authoritarian socialism: property & means of production by people/government; extreme left.

Impact of Emancipation & Industrial Revolution in Western & Central Europe

Before the French Revolution, there were about 2.5 million Jews in Europe, very visible, and functioning in Gentile society, as middlemen.
The Enlightenment & the French Revolution had a contradictory impact on Jewish life (on one hand, possibility of ending Jewish life as a separate group, participation in modern society, opening possibilities of assimilation; on the other, bringing legal & political status to the Jews).

Rationalism, liberalism/constitutionalism versus feudalism/absolutism/conservatism=right, industrialism, modern capitalism ---> urbanism-->Jewish emancipation/assimilation-->class antagonism.

*Rapid industrialization, urbanization, and emancipation, gave rise to
a Jewish population explosion,
a Jewish poor working class in Eastern Europe -a Jewish proletariat, &
a Westernized Jewish assimilated middle class.

Jews adopted the vernacular; integrated into the political, economic activities of their nations. By the end of 19th c., west. & central European Jews became successful entrepreneurs, factory owners, bankers, lawyers, journalist, scientists, teachers, shopkeepers.
Admitted to public schools, Jewish children dressed and behaved according to the dominant cultures, patriotic fervor - process of assimilation.

By end of 19th c., as a result of ideals of the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, & after revolutions of 1848, Jews were granted legal equality:
emancipation a fact of life for western & central European Jews.
*From end 18th c., & 19th c., following French & Industrial Revolution, & conquests

a) Jews gained legal equality in most European lands
b) Jews left ghetto & participated in many activities that had been closed to them
c) Jews became successful entrepreneurs, bankers, lawyers, journalist, scientists

Jews get involved in industrial age.
House of Rothschild created a myth that Jews were born with ability to make money.
*Rothschild: Banker served as stereotype accusing Jews of initiating capitalism

In the 19th c., Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies spread the ideals of the French Revolution and freedom, in his French conquests, and enabled Jewish legal equality in most countries.
Napoleon’s conquests extended French influence across the German states; his influence salutary for Jews;

*1871: emancipation confirmed under Bismarck & Wilhem I, with establishment of the 2nd German Empire.

Moses Mendelssohn
, German Jewish intellectual, founder of Jewish enlightenment in the 19th c. -movement to make Jews more aware of the world around them, & of the challenges of the times, & to bring the intellectual achievements of general civilization into Jewish life. Social acceptance growing.

Jews divided concerning the desirability of abandoning their separate & insular lives. Traditionalists opposed cultural blending. Because of differences in accepting cultural blending, Jews split into Orthodox, Conservative, & Reform Judaism.
*In the 2nd half of the 19th c., extreme adherents of enlightenment in Germany, adapted Jewish religious traditions to German Protestant forms, and founded Reform Judaism.

Unlike Jews in Eastern Europe, western Jews were more likely to speak the language of their host nation, less likely to be religiously observant, more likely to intermarry, more likely to be urban settlers, more likely to be middle-class, more likely to be formally educated, and more likely to affiliate with generic political parties
which represented more than just Jewish interests. Western European Jews were more likely to be accepted by their host countries as full citizens. For many Jews in Western Europe, they were Jewish by religion, but identified with their host country. For the most part, they were able to live side by side with their non-Jewish neighbors, free from the threat of physical attacks and antisemitism.
Jews entered political & economic fabric of Western society.

Jewry in Central and Eastern Europe, who spoke Yiddish were called Ashkenazi.
Jews thought that the ‘Jewish Problem’ had been solved. But it became a social problem.

‘Modern’ Antisemitism

“In western & central Europe ... where nations were eagerly embracing the latest political & economic developments, it appeared that Jews had never enjoyed greater protection. Nevertheless, while theses advances enabled Jews to take colossal strides within their societies, a highly intellectual and, in certain respects, ‘respectable’ new movement was simultaneously ripening: modern ‘antisemitism’ (the word was first coined by the German, Whilhelm Marr, in 1879)2

Transition to modern antisemitism

* Traditional hatred of the Jews was based on Christian anti-Judaism, and stemmed from

- the deicide accusation
- an irrational fear and hatred of outsiders
- the commonly accepted myth that Jews were eternally cursed for rejecting Christ
- the belief that Jews deserved punishment for rejecting Jesus as the Messiah

* Resentment and hatred of the Jew was focused on the stereotype of the Jew possessed by the Devil and symbol of Satan, because Christians saw Jews as murderers of Christ; having tails, and horns; and using Christian children’s blood for religious ceremonies, & poisoning wells.

“... during the course of the nineteenth century, the religiously inspired anti-Judaism of the Christian medieval world -in Latin Christendom-was to undergo a change,
sometimes subtle ... , sometimes sudden & more obvious (hostility toward Jews was transformed, in the context of the modern secular nation-states).
Against the background of the secularization of western Europe, modern antisemitism was to be born - an offspring both of its medieval past and of its modern context.

At first, (in the context of emancipation of the Jews & acceptance) hostility towards them appeared in social, & ... economic forms; later on it became racist ...
In part it represented something very new, growing as a reaction to the grim social & economic conditions of modern industrialized society. But it was also a development of a very ancient rivalry and hatred, feeding upon what was already there in earlier periods of European history - the demonizing anti-Judaic stereotypes, invented by the Church.3

* “Modern antisemitism has several components:

- the 19th c. romantic movement that excluded the Jews, contributed to an increasingly exclusive, or integral nationalism ...

- the class antagonism that derived from modern capitalism ... socialist & anarchist thinkers ... took extreme anti-Jewish stand, accusing Jews of initiating capitalism ... The Rothschild bankers family served as a stereotype to attack all Jews.

- Social Darwinism was another contributing factor (H. Spencer)

- Racism & racial nationalism.
German linguist, Christian Lassen (1800-1876) argued ... 1840s ... that “Semites” were egotistical and exclusive, whereas Indo-Europeans were tolerant and altruistic... Gobineau ... Wagner ... Chamberlain ... de Laguarde ... developed the symbol of “blood” ... The biologization of antisemitism found its expression also in the idea that the Jew was not human.

- The supposed Jewish desire to control the world - Jewish conspiracy theories ...

Modern antisemitism -term introduced by Wilhelm Marr in 1873, emanated from 2 related sources: nationalism & racism.


Nationalism: invented in Europe begin 19th c. During the Enlightenment, there was a rise in nationalistic feelings. Much of subsequent history is the story of its spread, 1st from West. Europe to East. E. & then beyond E.; dominant spiritual force; single most powerful ideology of modern world.

Nationalism - pride in one’s national heritage; a modern political movement, which roots lie in a shared sense of regional and cultural identity; can be defined as feeling/a state of mind -awareness of being part of a community that has common institutions, traditions, customs; people shared regional & cultural identity, language, history -marked by shared glories & sufferings, & value systems, bonded together into polit, econo, & social entities; feel strongly attached to particular land; distinct boundaries; group people united politically & militarily under flag leader to ward off the domination of foreigners - refer to as nations.
The group had a shared loyalty to the nation; loyalty to nation replaced loyalty to dynasty.
Unity of nation was not based on dynasty but on ethnic, cultural, linguistic bonds.

Nationalism became kind of secular religion that aroused loyalty & personal self-sacrifice.

French Revolution encouraged growth of Nationalism. Nationalism threatened to upset political order. Liberalism merged with nationalism in much of Europe in early 19th c.

In the 1st half of the 19th c., Napoleon’s conquests inspired passion for independence & self-determination, & stirred nationalistic feelings.

“It must be remembered that the Jews ... were accompanied into the 19th century by many images that depicted them in a negative light. Moreover, in most countries they were not simply one minority group out of many ... they were in effect, at that time, the only ‘alien’ group which had been living for century upon century as religious, cultural ... outsiders ...’4

“The rampant growth of nationalism during the 19th c. had an ambiguous effect on the Jews. To some extent the national movement tended to look back to an idealize their countries’ glorious past -a Christian past- from which the Jews were excluded. Indeed, the image of the Jews as Christ-killers persisted well into the ‘secular’ age, particularly in rural parts of Europe where a backwash of medieval superstition continued to hold out against the forces of modernity.

On the other hand, the progressive face of the new nationalism was preoccupied with the construction of a single, dominant culture, where differences would be eradicated. The Jew who was prepared ... to ... - ... accommodate to the needs of the state his attachment to his religious, national & cultural heritage- was apparently to be welcomed as a bona fide member of the new nation. However, in this nationalist climate there remained suspicions about the loyalties of Jews.5

Jews, as outsiders who did not share the common culture, religion, and values, were suspiciously seen as a threat by extremists in the nationalist movement. Nationalists claimed that Jews are forever aliens who cannot share the national ethos. As such, they became the targets of antisemitic persecution.

The growth of racial & political antisemitism

Modern European antisemitism also borrowed a tremendous amount from social scientists and philosophers who began to spread ideas of race and racial purity that fed into traditional stereotypes about Jews.
These in turn were buttressed by the field of eugenics which encouraged the view that the Jews were a less than human menace to the purity of other races.

Social Darwinism

In the 2nd half of the 19th c., scientific theories, and Darwin’s principle of organic evolution and the ‘survival of the fittest’ in the universal ‘struggle for existence,’ were wrongly applied to the social order -to apply science to society-, to create what came to be known as Social Darwinism.

*Herbert Spencer (1820-1893)
The most popular exponent of Social Darwinism was the British philosopher Herbert Spencer. In 1850, he applied to human society Darwin’s principle of ‘natural selection, developed the theory of constant struggle between humans, and argued that progress came from “the struggle for survival,” as the “fit” -the strong- move forward, while the weak fell by the wayside; the fittest survives ---> biological racism; and he believed in establishing a society, in which the strongest would win -the weak, the poor were not worthy of survival (he saw the poor as incapable, weak, and lazy -unfit to compete in the struggle for existence); in 1864, he coined the expression ‘survival of the fittest.’

Social Darwinists divided humanity into racial superiors and inferiors, and regarded racial and national conflict as a biological necessity, a law of history, and a means of progress. Their views promoted territorial aggrandizement -imperialism, and military build-up, and led many to welcome World War I. The social Darwinist notion of the struggle of races for survival became a core doctrine of the Nazi party after World War, & a justification for genocide.

*In the late 19th c., Social Darwinism influenced

ideas of genetic determinism in social thought
theories that ranked races as superior or inferior, and inherited characteristics
the views about gender, based on innate differences between men & women

Extreme nationalists affected by social Darwinism-->racists

Racism & Roots of Nazism

‘ominous development of 2nd half 19th c: growing belief in scientific racism. European antisemites pounced on this pseudo science to propound view of Jews as alien race, morally & ethically depraved intruders from Orient. Nietzsch: super man.

Racism: program/philosophy based on ideas of race. R. assumes that cultural characteristics & differences in ability among individuals are determined by blood (race). This is usually coupled with a belief in the inborn superiority of a particular race & its right to dominate others. From 2nd part of 19th c., racial anthropologists, Chamberlain, gave racism a false scientific backing. This racism held that a person’s outward appearance revealed qualities such as intelligence & ability.

Racism was revived and strengthened by new biological arguments. Thus, ‘racial biology’ involved noting physical measurements & descriptions to assign racial values. A person’s color, hair color, or head size & shape were carefully measured & recorded to determine racial inheritance. Racism, especially racial antisemitism was a central ingredient of Nazism.

In 19th century, antisemitism
, in contrast to earlier forms, was based not on religious practices of the Jews but on the theory that Jews comprised an inferior race. Antisemites exploited the fact that Jews had been forced into exile by extolling as "fact" that their "rootlessness" had a genetic basis. A Jew was a Jew not because he or she practiced any particular religion, but because it was a character of his or her blood.

asserted that innate racial differences prevent Jews from assimilating with the superior culture of the host countries; the old religious bias fed this new strain of an old virus. Jews distinct by their genes, therefore conversion does not help -->’You won’t live’=>annihilation

Nationalism, social Darwinism;
scientific. racism-->secularization of religious antisemitism--> exclusive, extreme racial nationalism (greatness of nation, opposed to liberal emphasis on political liberty, equality, seeds of totalitarian nationalism)=modern racial political antisemitism, added to religious body of traditional Christian antisemitism.

In the 19th c: traditional biased Christian perception of Jews/Judaism was supplemented by national-racial considerations.
Late 19th & early 20th centuries, antisemitism took on much more scientific aspect; doctors also identified Jews as carriers of disease, & as disease themselves. Typhus, for ex, became known as a Jewish disease or Judenfieber.

The international ‘Jewish conspiracy’ - The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

influential antisemitic forgery at end of the century; painted power-crazed Jews engaged in international conspiracy to undermine safe & peaceful world of gentiles; the single most notorious antisemitic myth in modern times. Even today in Arab countries use.

“A favorite image from the turn of the century was that of the power-crazed Jews engaged in an international conspiracy to undermine the safe & peaceful world of the gentiles, fomenting wars, revolutions & the collapse of organized religion. The ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ is the single most notorious antisemitic publication of this type.”6

In 1807, the Prussian Friedrich Buchholz accused the Jews of plotting with the aristocracy to rule society. In 1816, the world-conspiracy theme was repeated by Johann Ehrmann, a German. ‘In the 1890s the myth of a Jewish conspiracy, to take over the world, found its culminating expression in the notorious forgery, written in France by an unknown author: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion; forged by Russian emigres in France, in the midst of the Dreyfus affair, with the assistance of the Russian secret police, it alleged a massive Jewish international conspiracy to seize power all over the globe, to start wars and depressions. The Protocols purported to be minutes of part of the 1897 international meeting of Jewish leaders, known as the 1st World Zionist Congress, called by Theodor Herzl.

The Protocols “painted a startling picture of an international Jewish leadership )the sinister ‘elders’) bent on world domination and using all the forces of the modern world to achieve it.7 The Protocols were 1st published in Russia in 1903, in Germany after World War I in 1919 & widely believed, in France & the US by Henry Ford in 1920, and in Britain in 1921.

This forgery was poorly-written, and was totally implausible from beginning to end. Preposterous as it was, however, the Protocols were believed by those among the populace who found Jews to be convenient scapegoats. The document was translated into at least 7 languages & enjoyed wide circulation between the wars. It was not until 1921 that a London Times newspaper reporter uncovered that the story described in The Protocols was a direct plagiarism of two obscure fictional works, one a satire on Napoleon by a French writer, Maurice Joly, and the other a story by Herman Goedsche. The damage, however, could not be erased.

Antisemitism in France. Mass Politics. Why not in France?

In France, among some Catholics & anti-republican militarists, the Revolution was viewed as the incarnation of evil, planned by mysterious anti-French & anti-Christian forces.
In 1860, following the fact that individual’s participation in Jewish community life was voluntary, because of emancipation, and because of renewed attacks on Jews, Jewish organizations such as the Alliance Israelite Universelle in France, was created

a) to fight anti-Jewish policies
b) in reaction to blood libel in Damascus in 1840, and the Mortara affair in 1858
c) to set up Francophone schools for Jews in the Middle East & French North Africa

In late 19th century France, popular and intellectual antisemitism (here, a mixture of religious & racial antagonism) was quite spread, and the Alliance Israelite Universelle, with its headquarters in Paris was attacked as the center of an international French conspiracy.

Edouard Drumont

Edouard Drumont was the foremost proponent of the new antisemitic creed. In 1886, his antisemitic tract, La France Juive - Jewish France, went through 114 editions in 1 year & paved the way for large-scale antisemitic propaganda. Drumont contrasted the greedy, mercantile Jew with the heroic & trusting Aryan; ‘Jewish France, argued that the Jews, racially inferior & believers in a primitive religion, and had gained control of France. The book sold more than a million copies.
Drumont blamed the Jews for introducing capitalism & greed into France. Like medieval Christian anti-Judaism, Drumont accused Jews of deicide & using the blood of slaughtered Christian children for ritual purposes.
(in rural France, the accusation of ritual murder, a deranged survival of the Middle Ages, still persisted, at times fomented by the clergy).

“French antisemitism was ... associated with the forces of political right: chauvinist nationalists, the Catholic church, those wishing to restore the monarchy & deeply conservative elements within the army -but- ... political power always remained in the hands of the liberal republicans, a government which never endorsed political antisemitism.’8

The Dreyfus Affair - Why not in France?

‘In 1894, a French, Jewish military officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, was arrested and charged with selling state secrets to Germany. Dreyfus was convicted on the basis of trumped up evidence, and he was deported. Attempt to conceal Picquart’s new evidence implicating Esterhazy. Emile Zola. J’accuse fired passions on both sides.

Dreyfus case inflamed the hatred for the Jews of many French conservatives and reactionaries. The case divided country politically; put against Left Dreyfusards supporters of 3rd Republic, the Right militarist, clerical & antisemitic nationalists (French anti-Dreyfusard: conservatives & reactionaries; monarchists, Catholics); and anti-Jewish violence erupted. ‘During the antisemitic outbursts accompanying the Dreyfus affair, when the French right was shouting ‘Death to the Jews,’ Drumont’s newspaper (founded with Jesuit funds) tried to inflame public opinion with sensational polemics against the Jews; it blamed all the ills of France on the Jews, called for their expulsion from the country, and predicted that they would be massacred.’ After his trial, evidence surfaced which proved that Dreyfus was innocent, and his conviction was eventually overturned.

Triumph of justice of the order & for honor of the Republic. 1905: Separation Church state. 1906: Dreyfus cleared. Affair accentuated differences of Left & Right, revealed deep streak of antisemitism in France, which surfaced vehemently during German occupation in WWII; still haunts France & French army. Repercussions felt in France today.

Why not in France? French antisemitism associated with forces of political right: chauvinist nationalists, Catholic church, those wishing to restore monarchy & deeply conservative elements within army -but- political power always remained in hands of liberal republicans, a govt which never endorsed political antisemitism.

Age of Reaction, 1818-48

Waterloo; Napoleon’s exile; liberties rescinded by restored legitimate monarchies, Congress of Vienna 1814; no citizens, again subjects. 1815-48: reactionary autocrats, led by Prince Metternich, put down revolutions. For Jews, reinstitution medieval darkness isolation & ghettos & indignity, injustice humiliation. Rebellions 1830 1848, for liberal constitutional government, nationalism.
Liberalism # versus Conservatism (Metternich System: against Enlightenment & FR)

Conservative extremist nationalists; radicalized right

Conservatives, who in Europe were committed to maintaining the Christian character of the state, kept traditional religious antisemitism alive in the 19th & early 20th c. In keeping with the times they added secular objections. They accused liberal Jewish politicians of systematically undermining traditional institutions by working to limit powers of churches & kings. ... With Jews firmly associated with the political left, virtually all the European conservative parties were, to one extent or another, antisemitic.’

‘By the beginning of the 20th c., conservatives had become the staunchest advocates of nationalism, and the nationalism preached by conservative extremists was stripped of ... ideals of liberty, equality, and the fellowship of nations. Landholding aristocrats, generals, and clergy, often joined by big industrialists, saw nationalism as a convenient instrument for gaining a mass following in their struggle against democracy and socialism.

Championing popular nationalist myth and dreams and citing Social Darwinist doctrines, a newly radicalized right hoped to harness the instinctual energies of the masses, particularly the peasants and the lower middle class -shopkeepers, civil servants, and white-collar workers- to conservative causes. Peasants and lower bourgeoisie were receptive to the rhetoric of ultranationalists, who denounced democracy and Marxism as threats to national unity and Jews as aliens who endangered the nation. Nationalism was presented as a victory of idealism over materialism and as the subordination of class and personal interest to the general good of the nation.” (see note 1)

Antisemitism in Eastern Europe & in Russia

Renaissance, Reformation, emergence of middle class, & Industrial Age were movements whose influence stopped along the east German boundary. In Poland & Russia, modern economic system delayed.

There were distinct differences in the culture of Jews who settled in the East and West in the 18th, 19th, & early 20th centuries. Jews who settled in Western Europe (France, Holland, Germany, Austria, Italy) were more assimilated than their eastern counterparts of the Soviet Union, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Rumania, and Hungary, where most Jews were poor middlemen, craftsmen, & artisans.


In Poland, around the middle of the 18th c., in the context of of the Haidamak riots -attacks of Ukrainian peasants against Jews, and dozens of blood libels, Hassisdism, a new mystical movement with joyful worship, arose within Judaism, founded by Israel Ba’al Shem Tov (Besht). In the 19th c. Eastern Europe, many Jews were converts to Hassidism.

“During the 19th century, the Jewish social structure in Eastern Europe changed ... Although many Jews who had lived in small townships (Yiddish, sing. shtetl) had moved to larger urban centers, in 1897, 33% still lived in shtetl and 18% in villages; traditional roles as middlemen,; deeply religious & traditionally minded population ... Fiddler on the Roof ...”9

Eastern European Jews did not feel safe from pogroms. ‘The worst treatment of Jews in the last 2 decades of the 19th c., and in early 20th c. occurred in eastern Europe where 72% of the entire world Jewish population lived.’ Jew baiting in Poland & Russia. In Rumania, Jews were not allowed to hold office or vote.

The Pale of Settlement

In the tsarist Russian empire, which had resisted the forces of social and political change, Jews lived confined in a former Polish area: the Pale of Settlement, established by government in 1792; parts of Russian Poland, Belorussia, the Crimea, Bessarabia, and the Ukraine (Jews were considered in many sections of Russian society to be a ‘contaminating’ influence. There, in the 19th c., the Jewish population reached more than 5 million.

Under Tsar Nikolai I (1825-55), Jews were forced to join the army, and to serve in the army for 25 years.
During Tsar Alexander II (1855-81), industrialization, Jews flocked to towns, emergence of Jewish proletariat.
Following assassination of Alexander II, popular discontent of poor peasants and city dwellers led to violent attacks on the Jews, 1881-83, or pogroms. In 1882, Jews admitted in high schools & universities under a quota system - numerus clausus.

Under Nikolai II (1894-1917), mob attacks on Jews became official policy to stop popular discontent and revolutionary propaganda. Between 1903-1906, pogroms took place in 700 towns & villages, mostly in the Ukraine region.
Ritual murder accusations persisted in 1911 in Kiev, with the Beilis affair.

“... Jewish population in the Tsarist empire and Austria-Hungary ... poverty stricken ... suffered intensifying political persecution. Insecure among the Gentiles, whose rising nationalism identified the Jews as a foreign element, the Jews sought safety in flight westward, some to Western Europe. ... Of 885,000 Jewish emigrants in 1889-99, 88% (780,000) went to the US ...”10 some to Palestine.
*Eastern Europe: Heartland of European Jewish life in the 20th century.

Jewish Reactions. Theodor Herzl, Zionism & Palestine

The 19th c. emancipation, a mixed blessing, had presented vast opportunities to some Jews, but dilemmas to others. Did emancipation mean assimilation, which means the disruption of traditional Jewish life? Some questioned its value and advocated a different answer, a return to Palestine, the land of their prayers & their dreams. During the 19th c., as nationalist ideas spread and Italians, Poles, Irish, Greeks, & others sought national emancipation so too did the idea of national independence capture the imagination of some Jews. A key figure in the growth of Jewish political nationalism was Theodor Herzl.

Theodor Herzl (1860-1904)

was an Austrian Jewish journalist, shocked into action by the antisemitism he witnessed in Paris, while he covered the Dreyfus trial; he founded Zionism: a secular Jewish political national movement, for a return to Zion, symbolic name to the historic homeland of the Jews.
(Zionism is aimed at reestablishing sovereignty of the Jewish people over their ancient homeland. This term has been adopted by a political national movement established by the turn of the 20th Century, aimed to meet this goal. of secular nature, its origins are deeply rooted in traditional Judaism)

In 1896, Herzl published The Jewish State, in which he advocated that ‘the Jews who wish it will have their state;’ he argued that the creation of a Jewish state was the best solution to the Jewish question.
Financial support for settlement in Palestine came from wealthy Jewish families, such as Baron Edmond de Rothschild, who wanted a refuge in Palestine, part of the Ottoman Empire, for persecuted Jews.

In 1897, the 1st Zionist Congress met in Basel, Switzerland, under leadership of Herzl, & called for the establishment of a ‘home in Palestine secured by public law’ for the Jewish people. It took another 51 years to see the Zionist dream become a reality, to culminate in the establishment of a Jewish national homeland, the State of Israel, in 1948.

In 1905, a second Aliyah (the 1st in the 1880s) wave brought Jews from Russia. The Arabs opposed Jewish settlement and there were many anti-Jewish attacks. Tel Aviv was founded in 1908, the first all-Jewish city.

The Balfour Declaration

In 1917, with the British defeat of the Ottoman Empire, Palestine came under British rule. Modern Arab states were established at that time. In November 1917, in the Balfour Declaration (named after Lord James Balfour, Foreign Secretary at the time the declaration was issued), the British government announced its intention to facilitate the ‘establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.’ This Declaration was endorsed by the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers at a Conference in San Remo on April 24, 1920. In 1922, the League of Nations granted to Great Britain a Mandate to secure the establishment of a Jewish homeland, to facilitate Jewish immigration and to encourage Jewish settlement on the land.

By 1929 the Jewish population in Palestine was 160,000, and by the spring of 1936, with the advent of Hitler and increased German immigration, there were close to 400,000 Jews,
or about 30 percent of the total population.


‘Was there a direct line from the anti-Jewish passages in the New Testament to the gas chambers at Auschwitz, as some have alleged? Probably not. The line was indirect, beginning around 150 with gentile misreadings of the bitter intra-Jewish polemic contained in those writings. The theological anti-Judaism of the Church fathers, repeated endlessly in medieval and Renaissance-Reformation preaching, was the far greater culprit. It was the continuing rationale for the indefensible Christian conduct of the Middle Ages onward that was xenophobic and angry at Jewish resistance to absorption into the cultural mainstream. But because the Church’s preaching and its catechizing had long shaped the popular mind, a new phenomenon was able to come to birth: modern anti-Semitism.’11

Antisemitism - 2 basic perceptions/interpretations (see lecture 2a, p. 2):

1. Traditional view of anti-Judaism: view anti-Jewish sentiments as a cluster of religious, social, economic, and political prejudices ... .

2. the other view/complex interpretation: a political/ideological/social phenomenon firmly rooted in the 19th century European society ... largely discredited following 1945; stresses differences between traditional anti-Jewish feelings and actions among Christian population of Europe, seen primarily related to religious differences and social exclusion (as well as economic activity), and modern, political, demagogic, ‘scientific’ antisemitism, rooted in a combination of new racial theories, modernization and its effects on society, and nationalism, sometimes invoked along with imperialism and colonialism. ... they are supporters of contextualized antisemtism who view it as part and parcel of modernity, the nation state, industrialization, and mass society.

... these 2 interpretations of antisemitism ... have generally agreed on the role played by their various versions of antisemtism both in the rise of Nazism (or totalitarianism) and in the genocide of the Jews ... .”12

Modern antisemitism has a historic continuity with religious antisemtism; it was different from Classical or Christian anti-Judaism: it was based on racist rather than religious considerations.
Antisemitism flourished despite Enlightenment & political emancipation French Revolution; enhanced by nationalistic sentiments reaction to groups such as the Jews with different culture language.

Protocols of the Elders of Zion
and antisemitic racial theorists promoted increased hatred of Jews which served as prelude to Nazi views about them.

In 19th c., racial & political antisemitism added to religious body of traditional Christian antisemitism. This new form of antisemitism was an indirect product of dramatic -political, social, economic- changes taken place in West. world during & after Enlightenment, French Revolution, & Industrial Revolution.

‘We have seen what coming of modernity meant for Jews & Judaism, & how it left the unresolved “problem of Jews,” leading, at end 19th century, to modern racial & political antisemitism - this modern legacy contributed to the eventual rise of Nazism.’

“All agree that from 12th century, negative stereotypes of Jews became deeply embedded in European culture at an instinctual & mythic level. Redotted with modern arguments, these stereotypes regained their power to turn excitable masses against Jews in times of crisis.”


Aryan - Originally used to denote a member or descendant of the pre-historic people that spoke Proto-Indo-European. As used by the Nazis, the term refers to a non-Jewish Caucasian, especially of the Nordic type.

Capitalism - An economic system in which the ownership of property is chiefly by private individuals or corporations and allows the free marketplace to determine the supply and demand for goods and services.

The Enlightenment - A European philosophical and cultural movement of the 17th and 18th centuries characterized by belief in the supreme power of human reason, and concerned with the critical examination of previously accepted doctrines and instructions from the point of view of that reason.

Imperialism - A foreign policy which emphasizes the importance of extending the rule of a state beyond its present borders and subjugating native peoples.

Non-secular - Concern with religious beliefs, ideas or rule.

Philosophes - Any of the leading "popular" intellectuals and social philosophers of the French Enlightenment, such as Voltaire, Rousseau, or Diderot.

Antisemitism - Prejudices toward Jews or discrimination against them (negative attitude of non-Jews to the Jews).

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion - An anti-Semitic forgery fabricated in France by Russian emigres during the reign of Czar Nicholas II (1894-1917) which alleged to be the minutes of a meeting of Jewish leaders plotting for world domination.

Reactionary - Extreme political conservatism which is usually a reaction in the opposite direction to a liberal or progressive idea.

- The rewriting of history for political or ideological purposes.

Secular - That which relates to non-religious or worldly concerns, ideas or rule.

Socialism - An economic system in which those who produce the goods and services own the machinery of production, share the profits, and make the decisions governing production and distribution of the goods and services.

Zionism - The nationalistic movement of the Jewish people in Europe in the late 19th century with the aim of reconstituting a Jewish state in Palestine.

Jewish Modern and Contemporary Periods: ca. 1700-present

1700-176 Israel Baal Shem Tov (founder of Jewish Hasidism)
1729-1786 Moses Mendelssohn (Jewish "enlightenment" scholar)
1775-1781 American Revolution; religious freedom guaranteed

1789 French Revolution
1769-1821 Napoleon (France)
1790-1791 French Jews given citizenship
mid-19th c. Rise of the Jewish Reform movement in Europe (Abraham Geiger)
1830 French occupation of Muslim Algiers
1870 Ghettos abolished in Italy
1873 Reform Judaism in US establishes Union of American Hebrew Congregations
1881 Start of mass migrations of eastern European Jews
1881 French occupation of Muslim Tunisia
end of 19th c. (Jewish Theological Seminary: 1886) Founding of
Conservative Judaism, in US (Solomon Schechter)

1894 Captain Dreyfus, Jewish officer, convicted by French 3rd Republic
1896 Theodore Herzl publishes The Jewish State (Zionism)
1897 First Jewish Zionist congress
early 20th c. Founding of the Modern Jewish Orthodox movement
1908 Revolution by "young Turks" under Ottomans
1909 Founding of Tel Aviv as Hebrew speaking Jewish city
1914-1918 World War I
1917 Balfour Declaration favors Jewish Palestinian State
1933 Adolph Hitler becomes Chancellor
of Germany
9 Nov 1938 German Jewish synagogues burned down - Kristallnacht
1939-1945 World War II
1939/1942-1945 The Nazi German Holocaust against Jews


I. to 500 CE (Common Era) the Ancient World: Judaism, Christianity

II. 500-1400 Middle Ages: Islam; Feudalism; manorialism; Latin Christendom, the Church
Transition to the Modern Age, 1350-1550:

Renaissance: Humanism. voyages of exploration & discovery

Reformation: Division & Reform in Church; Protestantism ends religious unity of Europe

1453 Fall of Constantinople - ‘End’ of Middle Ages

III. Modern Times

16-17th cent. Rise of sovereignty; economy: mercantilism, capitalism

Age of Absolutism and secular states ; foundations of European state system
Scientific Revolution, secular & scientific world -Copernicus, Galileo Newton
18-19th cent. Enlightenment, Age of Reason: Rationalism, reform, progress;
1755-89 American Revolution
1789 * The French Revolution (FR) & Napoleon: liberty, equality, fraternity
* The Industrial Revolution (IR)

IR: spread of middle class & economic success; new urban social order; factory worker
urbanization; Industrial capitalism: means of production -factories, mines, railroads- are privately owned; free market, law of supply & demand and competition
Socialism. political & economic system to lessen gap between rich & poor; government owns means of production & operates for welfare of all.
Marxism. belief in necessity of revolution to overthrow capitalism to be replaced by Communism - authoritarian socialism: property & means of production by people/govemt

FR: encouraged growth of Nationalism. Liberalism (freedom, equality; middle class)

19th cent. Europe after Napoleon - Reaction, Revolutions, Ideologies & Upheavals

Liberalism # vs Conservatism
(Metternich System: against Enlightenment & FR)
Nationalism - devotion to one’s country; spread by Napoleon’s armies; for independence
Romanticism # vs classicism, rationalism & Enlightenment
Gothic romantic novel: mystery, terror, vice, death; Frankenstein, 1818, Mary Shelly
Romantic nationalism - German folktales published in Grimm’s Fairy Tales, 1812-15
Operas based on German myths & legends: Richard Wagner
Extreme nationalism: not liberal; against minorities, antisemitism, seedbed of totalitarianism
* Volkish thought, expression of racist nationalism in Germany; citizenship based on Germanic blood & soul; race accounts for differences; against liberal-humanist tradition; Germans: descendants of ‘Aryan’ race, purer & superior; blond, blue-eyes
Social Darwinist notion of struggle of races for survival ---> core doctrine of Nazism
Gobineau. Inequality of human race, 1854; race-mixing threatened survival of Aryan
R. Wagner. denounced Jews for corrupting German culture
Chamberlain. races differ physically, morally, spiritually & intellectually; Germans from Aryans, are superior; Jews undermine German society; gave Nazis text for their racial myth
Lagarde. Jews, parasites to destroy, are racially stained by genes=biological racism

More sources: Introduction to the Holocaust.

Copyright Fall 1999; Fall 2003 Edith Shaked
Credit/Source: The Holocaust - A guide for Teachers. http://www.remember.org/guide/

1 Landau, Ronnie S. The Nazi Holocaust. London-New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd Publishers,1992, p. 48

2 Ibid., pp. 58-59.

3 Landau, Ronnie S. The Nazi Holocaust. London-New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd Publishers,1992, p. 51

4 Landau, Ronnie S. The Nazi Holocaust. London-New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd Publishers,1992, pp. 52-3

5 Landau, Ronnie S. The Nazi Holocaust. London-New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd Publishers,1992, p. 53

6 Landau, Ronnie S. The Nazi Holocaust. London-New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd Publishers,1992, p. 60

7 Ibid., p. 60

8 Landau, Ronnie S. The Nazi Holocaust. London-New York: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd Publishers,1992, p. 63

9 Y. Bauer, A History of the Holocaust, p. 43

10 ibid

11 http://www.ushmm.org/research/center/persecution/summary.html

12 Omer Bartov, Antisemitism, the Holocaust, and Reinterpretations of National Socialism, in The Holocaust and History - The Knowon, the Unknown, the Disputed and the Reexamined; eds: Michael Berenbaum and Abraham J. Peck; published in association with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum; 1998, p. 75, 86