After learning about the Holocaust, I’ve asked myself many times how this could have happened. Why would anyone believe it’s acceptable to massacre an entire people? This is my reasoning for writing my paper on how Christian theology influenced anti-Semitism. Much of the Holocaust appears to have it’s beginning with Christian theology. I will begin my paper with the early writings of Christians and continue chronologically until after World War II.
The Apostle Paul was one the first people to criticize the Jewish people. At first, he tried to explain to the Christians not to adopt a superior attitude towards the Jews.
IF THE PART OF THE DOUGH OFFERED AS FIRST FRUITS IS HOLY, THEN THE WHOLE BRANCH IS HOLY; AND IF THE ROOT IS HOLY, THEN THE BRANCHES ARE ALSO HOLY…DO NOT BOAST OVER THE BRANCHES. IF YOU DO BOAST, REMEMBER THAT IT IS NOT YOU THAT SUPPORT THE ROOT, BUT THE ROOT SUPPORTS YOU.
At one point this appeared to be Paul’s feeling towards the Jews and the Christians. His sentiment appeared to change, according to Christian suppressionists. In the text Romans, many of Paul’s statements were misinterpreted by those Christians to make themselves appear more superior to the Jewish people.
…INCLUDING US WHOM HE HAS CALLED, NOT FROM THE JEWS ONLY BUT ALSO FROM THE GENTILES? AS INDEED HE SAYS IN HOSEA, “THOSE WHO WERE NOT MY PEOPLE I WILL CALL ‘MY PEOPLE,’ AND HER WHO WAS NOT BELOVED I WILL CALL ‘BELOVED.’” “AND IN THE VERY PLACE WHERE IT WAS SAID TO THEM, ‘YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE,’ THERE THEY SHALL BE CALLED CHILDREN OF THE LIVING GOD,”
…GENTILES, WHO DID NOT STRIVE FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, HAVE ATTAINED IT, THAT IS, RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH FAITH; BUT ISRAEL, WHO DID STRIVE FOR THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT IS BASED ON THE LAW, DID NOT SUCCEED IN FULFILLING THAT LAW… ROMANS 9
“In proclaiming his Christian message Paul stressed that the Jewish nation had been rejected by God, and the new Covenant had superseded the old,” said David Cohn-Sherbok, in his book The Crucified Jew. “In these ways the New Testament laid the foundations for later Christian hostility to the Jewish nation…and served as the basis for the early Church’s vilification of the Jews.” (Cohn-Sherbok)
Another early Christian writing which may have encouraged Jewish hatred is the Gospels of John. Scholars believe John wanted to gain favor with the Roman Hierarchy. Therefore, he emphasized the Jewish involvement in the death of Christ and minimized the Roman role. “The Gospel of John contains some of the most hostile anti-Jewish statement in the Christian scriptures. So sharp is the contrast in that gospel between Jesus’ exhortations to his followers to love one another and the hostile references to the Jews…John is ‘a gospel of Christian love and Jew hatred.’” (Charlesworth)
Some examples of John’s apparent sentiments towards the Jewish people include the following.
…THE JEWS REPLIED…JOHN 18:31
…MY FOLLOWERS WOULD BE FIGHTING TO KEEP ME FROM BEING HANDED OVER TO THE JEWS…
…HE WENT OUT TO THE JEWS AGAIN…JOHN 18:38
…THE JEWS ANSWERED HIM, “WE HAVE A LAW, AND ACCORDING TO THAT LAW HE OUGHT TO DIE BECAUSE HE HAS CLAIMED TO BE THE SON OF GOD.” JOHN 19:7
…THE JEWS CRIED OUT, “IF YOU RELEASE THIS MAN, YOU ARE NO FRIEND OF THE EMPEROR…”
…HE SAID TO THE JEWS, “HERE IS YOUR KING!” THEY CRIED OUT, “AWAY WITH HIM! AWAY WITH HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!…”JOHN 19:14
Many scholars believe the Jews and Christians were still worshipping together around the middle of the first century. They discussed and acknowledged their differences, like a family fight. Yet, towards the end of the first century their relationships deteriorated. After the destruction of the second Temple in 70 CE, the Gentiles appeared to break away from the Jews. Jewish leaders who remained faithful to the Mosaic Law, began excommunicating Christian Jews under Nero’s leadership, ending decades of relatively peaceful coexistence and shared worship. (Hauer)
The presumed superiority of Christianity started to influence Christian teachings. The ‘Letters of Barnabas’ (late first century or early second) repeatedly proclaims this belief: I found many passages in his letter regarding superiority.
“…HEAPING UP YOUR SINS AND SAYING THAT THE COVENANT IS BOTH THEIRS AND OUR. IT IS OURS: BUT IN THIS WAY DID THEY FINALLY LOSE IT WHEN MOSES HAD JUST RECEIVED IT, FOR THE SCRIPTURE SAYS: ‘AND MOSES WAS IN THE MOUNT FASTING FORTY DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS, AND HE RECEIVED THE COVENANT FROM THE LORD, TABLES OF STONE WRITTEN WITH THE FINGER OF THE HAND OF THE LORD.’ BUT THEY TURNED TO IDOLS AND LOST IT. FOR THUS SAID THE LORD: ‘MOSES, MOSES, GO DOWN QUICKLY, FOR THY PEOPLE, WHOM THOU BROUGHTEST FORTH OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT, HAVE BROKEN THE LAW.’ AND MOSES UNDERSTOOD AND CAST THE TWO TABLES OUT OF HIS HANDS, AND THEIR COVENANT WAS BROKEN, IN ORDER THAT THE COVENANT OF JESUS THE BELOVED SHOULD BE SEALED IN OUR HEARTS IN HOPE OF HIS FAITH.”
“…BUT LET US SEE WHETHER THE COVENANT WHICH HE SWEAR TO THE FATHERS TO GIVE TO THE PEOPLE—WHETHER HE HAS GIVEN IT. HE HAS GIVEN IT. BUT THEY WERE NOT WORTHY TO RECEIVE IT BECAUSE OF THEIR SINS…”
“…AND I HAVE GIVEN THEE FOR A COVENANT OF THE PEOPLE, FOR A LIGHT TO THE GENTILES, TO OPEN THE EYES OF THE BLIND, AND TO BRING FORTH FROM THEIR FATHERS THOSE THAT ARE BOUND AND THOSE THAT SIT IN DARKNESS OUT OF THE PRISON HOUSE…” (“Epistle of Barnabas”)
I believe the letter of Barnabas are a reflection of Exodus 32. The writer of the letters explain in detail how God and Moses were extremely upset with their people because they were too impatient to wait for the writings of the Lord. The Letters of Barnabas takes this out of context and uses this to explain how the covenant is not theirs.
A similar idea is in the ‘Letters of Ignatius of Antioch’ (70-107CE). He explained the theory that the Church is the New Israel (Broadway), which I believe he received from the writings of Jeremiah. Consequently, the idea of the Church replacing Israel wasn’t convincing after the Bar Kokba Revolt (132-135CE). Christian theology tried to counter this threat. They began to create a non-Jewish Jesus. The strangest arguments, ranging from Abraham’s faith to the promise given to Adam, was cited. They also used the explanation that the Church not only predates Israel, but is the eternal Israel. (Flannery)
Another argument is the Jews were accused of deicide, crime of killing God. “Tribulations were justly imposed upon you, for you have murdered the Just One” (Flannery). Strangely enough, in Matthew 20:18-9 and Acts 4:26-8, it states that the Gentiles were also blamed for Jesus’ crucifixion.
The idea of replacement covenant was influenced by Jeremiah 31:31-4.
THE DAYS ARE COMING SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL MAKE A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND THE HOUSE OF JUDAH. IT WILL NOT BE LIKE THE COVENANT I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS THE DAY I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM FORTH FROM THE LAND OF EGYPT; FOR THEY BROKE MY COVENANT AND I HAD TO SHOW MYSELF THEIR MASTER, SAYS THE LORD. BUT THIS IS THE CONVENANT WHICH I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD. I WILL PLACE MY LAW WITHIN THEM, AND WRITE IT UPON THEIR HEARTS; I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. NO LONGER WILL THEY HAVE NEED TO TEACH THEIR FRIENDS AND KINSMEN HOW TO KNOW THE LORD. ALL FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST SHALL KNOW ME, SAYS THE LORD, FOR I WILL FORGIVE THEIR EVILDOING AND REMEMBER SINS NO MORE.”
Jeremiah was one of the Jewish prophets who warned, blamed, and lectured all who would listen about the sins of their people, the punishments God gave them, and what they had to do to be in God’s good graces. Jeremiah predicts that a new covenant will be formed between God and his people, and it will replace the covenant between Moses and God. He indicates it’s null and void because of the sins of the Jewish people. The new covenant will absolve these sins and reaffirm God’ fidelity to his people. Early Christian scholars explain Jeremiah’s words and indicate that the Jews are cast aside by God and Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophesies. “The Old Israel along with its Old Testament…had been succeeded, fulfilled, completed, replaced, and/or displaced by the New Israel, the New Testament, the Christian Church, the new people of God,” said Rabbi A. James Rudin about Christian attitude during the formative years of the Church. (Fisher, Rudin, Tanenbaum)
In the second century these ideas were fueled by Marcion of Sinope. He was one of the intellectuals who decided to come up with ideas of what Christianity really was. A problem he saw with Christians is they were expected to be faithful to a Jewish God, but not to keep the original law. His vision of God involved God being a god of mercy and compassion, a God for all mankind, not only to a “chosen people. The Jewish God was replaced by Christ and wasn’t worthy of worshipping. Marcion also rejected the Apostolic myths and also the early “apostolic” writings. Many intellectuals rejected his ideas, especially because of the rejection of the Jewish writings. Polycarp, an early intellectual, called Marcion “the first-born of Satan”. This didn’t stop him, he went on preaching about his ideas. Ironically, his preaching was successful and eventually Congregations of Marcionite Christians were formed. (“The Great Heresies…”)
In the third century, the hatred of Jews continued. Two Christian theoligists, Hippolytus and Origen, elaborated on theory the Jews killed God. By the fourth century, this idea dominated Christian thinking. (Flannery)
In the Edict of Milan (313CE), Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity throughout the Roman Empire. He declared that the land of Israel no longer belonged to the Jews. Instead, it belonged to the Christian Church. This reintroduced the replacement of the covenant. After Christianity became official, theology was translated into government policy, and the synagogue came under repressive measures. (Flannery)Constantine tried to keep all his bases covered, and practiced all the cults of his realm, even after he converted to Christianity. Ironically, he wasn’t even baptized until he was on his death bed. Some believe this is because of the growing political power of the Christians in the empire. (“The Great Heresies…”)
Chrysostom (344-407), a highly esteemed church father, denounced the Jews in the strongest language: ‘most miserable of all men’, ‘lustful, rapacious, greedy, perfidious bandits’, ‘inveterate murderers, destroyers, men possessed by the devil’, ’they have surpassed the ferocity of wild beasts, for they murder their offspring’. He didn’t stop there. Chrysostom explained the Jews fate as a result of their murdering: ‘no expiation possible, no indulgence, no pardon; their odious assassination of Christ was the origin of all their woes…God hates you.’ (Flannery)
Augustine (354-430), Chysostom’s contemporary, also influenced Jewish hatred. He did reaffirm Paul’s attitude that we have a duty to love the Jews, but he shared the view that Judas was the image of the Jewish people. His theory was that the Jews are a witness-people destined to live as testimony to both evil and Christian truth, but who were not to be killed, for like Cain they bore a sign. “Let them live among us, but let them suffer and be continually humiliated.” (Flannery)
During the seventh century, the Jewish religion was hit really hard. The Jews rioted in 608 BCE, because of the repression they have suffered. This created anti-Jewish pogroms from Syria to Asia Minor. Spain prohibited Judaism. Those who weren’t baptized fled. This was the first incidence where a prohibition of Judaism affected an entire Christian country. In Paris, they decided that all Jews who hold military or civil positions must accept baptism, together with their families. By 617 CE, the Persians forbid the Jews to settle within a three mile radius of Jerusalem. Even the people who followed Mohammed rejected the Jews. ‘One by one they were destroyed, between the years 624-7 CE, because they wouldn’t convert to Islam. After Mohammed’s death, the Jewish people were forced to choose between conversion and death. Over 600 Jews spent the night in prayer and were beheaded the next morning. Only 3 or 4 agreed to convert.’ To ensure unity in his kingdom, Emperor Heraclius, forced baptism in his kingdom. Then in 627, he massacred Jews and forbid them to enter Jerusalem. Local priests also convinced him that to kill a Jew was a positive commandment. Hundreds of Jews were massacred and thousands fled to Egypt. (“Jewish History”)
The scapegoat theory appears to have occurred in 1021. The Jews were blamed for everything bad that happened in the world. One advocate, Pope Benedict VIII, had Jews executed, blaming them for a hurricane and an earthquake.
France’s Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153CE) explained the Jews as “a race who had not God for their father, but were of the devil.” He had taken the scripture John 8:44 and applied it to the whole Jewish people. This was also applied in World War II by the Nazi leader Julius Sreicher: “the extermination of that people whose father is the devil”. (Hay)
In the year 1096 extreme violence occurred in Jewish history: The Crusades. Guibert of Nogent (1053-1124) reported the crusaders saying, “We desire to combat the enemies of God in the East; but we have under our eyes the Jews, a race more inimical to God than all the others. We are doing this whole thing backwards.”Approximately a quarter to one third of the entire Jewish population in Germany and northern France was murdered during the first Crusade. (Flannery) In Jerusalem the Jews fled from the Crusaders, locking themselves in the main synagogue, where all 969 were burnt to death. The Crusaders, who believed they were avenging the death of Christ, sang “Christ, We Adore Thee.” Raymond of Aquilers, one of the leaders, quoted Psalm 118:24 saying, “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Rausch)
While the first two Crusades were occurring, the German Jews went to Royalty for help. For royal protection, they were made serfs of the Imperial Chamber. For this privilege, the Jews had to pay large amounts of money causing them to be a real source of royal revenue. The Jews were bought and loaned to pay off creditors. Eventually, this spread to other countries. (Flannery)
Jews were ultimately forced into money-lending as outsiders, because they were banned from most professions and guilds. Even the Church would borrow money from the Jews to build cathedrals and churches. This was how the Jewish people gained the negative image as a money lender. Later, Shakespeare’s Shylock and Dickens’ Fagin used this idea. (Flannery)
Unfortunately, the price they paid to be protected was barely enforced. The Third Crusade, one of the most tragic anti-Jewish riots in England, occurred in York. (Flannery) ‘There, Crusaders, before setting out to follow their King, plundered the possessions of the Jews, who fled into the royal castle where they were besieged by the warriors, many of whom were deeply in debt to their quarry. The climax was reached when a stone, thrown from the castle, killed a monk whose custom it was to celebrate Mass outside the castle every morning and urge the people to “destroy the enemies of Christ”. When the Jews saw the fury of the besiegers and felt their fate to be sealed, they took their own lives, cutting one anothers throats. When the mobs gained access to the tower, the few Jews left, who begged for baptism and deliverance, were slaughtered. The total causalities have been estimated variously from 500 to 1500. From this scene of carnage, the attackers converged on the cathedral and burned all the records of financial obligations to the Jews kept in its archives.” (Flannery)
Another event which occurred in the 12th century, was the Blood Libel. The Christians accused the Jews of killing Christian children for ritual purposes. This idea created a cult, supposedly victims of these rituals, who took thousands of lives throughout Europe. Between 1880 and 1945, this fabrication was widespread in central eastern Europe. The Nazi newspaper “Der Sturmer” constantly showed rabbis sucking the blood of German children. (Brown)
In 1215 the Fourth Lateran Council was called by Pope Innocent III. They discriminated more against the Jewish people. According to the decree, based on Numbers 15:37-41, Jews should wear distinctive dress attire. This was extremely demeaning because it was a restriction which also applied to Saracens, heretics, prostitutes, and lepers. The Jews were also told to wear the ‘badge of shame’ on their clothing, the shape and color was different in each country. This idea made Jews social outcasts and influenced physical and verbal abuse. Finally, the decree provided for the official establishment of ghettos. (Flannery)
In 1290, Jews were expelled from England. Sixteen thousand left for France and Belgium. Some never made it there. (Flannery) “Jews have been expelled from nearly every country in which they have resided.” (Brown)
By 1298, the Jewish people were accused of host desecration. This caused the entire Rottingen’s Jewish community to be burned at the stake. Eventually, they went on to kill Jews in other parts of Germany and Austria. Approximately 100,000 Jews were murdered and about 140 of there communities were destroyed. (Flannery)
Of course the rumors didn’t stop there. Between 1347 and 1350 the entire Black Death was blamed on the Jews. It was fabricated that they had poisoned the wells. This was believed in southern France, northern Spain, Switzerland, Bavaria, Rhineland, eastern Germany, Belgium, Poland, and Austria. Over 200 Jewish communities were demolished. The smallest amount of causalities occurred in Poland, 10,000 Jewish people. Whereas in only three German towns (Erfurt, Mainz, and Breslau) more than 10,000 were killed. (Flannery)
The idea of host desecration continued. In 1389, a priest was carrying a wafer host in Prague. He was accidentally sprayed with sand by some Jewish children playing. This caused 3,000 Jewish lives to be lost. (Flannery)
In Spain, Jewish people were given the choice to denote baptism or be exiled or killed. Many Jews and rabbis were baptized in 1391.Every time someone went through the ritual, the Jewish people started riots. Ultimately, 50,000 Jews died. The idea of denoting baptism ending up backfiring on the Jewish people. The Spanish decided that heredity was a problem. The Jewish people still contained the ‘bad blood’, which couldn’t be altered by baptism. Anti-Semitism grew in Spain during this time. (Flannery)
King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain ordered the arrests of many Jewish people in 1480. The following year, the first victims were burned at the stake. (Flannery) About 30,000 Jews were burned at the stake over the following years. (Brown)
1492 wasn’t only known for Christopher Columbus discovery, it’s also known for the exile of Jews from Spain. Ferdinand and Isabella wanted to purify their Christian realm. They had sent the Jews out of their nation and tortured those who had claimed to have converted. Most of the 300,000 Jews moved to Portugal. They were protected for a couple month, at a price of course. Then, King John II (1481-1495)enslaved the Jews. Eventually they were brutally and forcibly baptized. (Flannery)
Martin Luther (1483-1546) praised the Jews, at first. He even kept repeating how the Jewish religion influenced Christianity. Then, when the Jews decided not to convert to his religion, he changed his attitude. In Martin Luther’s book, On the Jews and their Lies (published 1543), anyone can see Luther’s hatred for the Jewish people.
ACCORDINGLY, IT MUST AND DARE NOT BE CONSIDERED A TRIFLING MATTER BUT A MOST SERIOUS ONE TO SEEK COUNSEL AGAINST THIS AND TO SAVE OUR SOULS FROM THE JEWS, THAT IS, FROM THE DEVIL AND FROM ETERNAL DEATH. MY ADVICE IS:
FIRST, THAT THEIR SYNAGOGUES BE BURNED DOWN, AND THAT ALL WHO ARE ABLE TOSS SULPHUR AND PITCH; IT WOULD BE GOOD IF SOMEONE COULD ALSO THROW IN SOME HELLFIRE…
SECOND, THAT ALL THEIR BOOKS—THEIR PRAYER BOOKS, THEIR TALMUDIC WRITINGS, ALSO THE ENTIRE BIBLE—BE TAKEN FROM THEM, NOT LEAVING THEM ONE LEAF, AND THAT THESE BE PRESERVED FOR THOSE WHO MAY BE CONVERTED…
THIRD, THAT THEY BE FORBIDDEN ON PAIN OF DEATH TO PRAISE GOD, TO GIVE THANKS, TO PRAY, AND TO TEACH PUBLICLY AMONG US AND IN OUR COUNTRY…
FOURTH, THAT THEY BE FORBIDDEN TO UTTER THE NAME OF GOD WITHIN OUR HEARING. FOR WE CANNOT WITH A GOOD CONSCIENCE LISTEN TO THIS OR TOLERATE IT…(WALKER)
There are many horrific quotes I found from Luther’s writings. I believe that the one above is the most descriptive in understanding Luther’s views. Shortly before his death, he called for the Jews to be expelled from Germany. (Flannery)
Originally Italy had been fair to the treatment of Jews until the Counter-Reformation.Pope Paul IV (1555-1559) was a major component in the change of attitudes. During the end of the sixteenth century, ghettos were introduced in Italy. Later they also appeared in the Austrian Empire. (Flannery)
One of the bloodiest decade, since biblical times, occurred in Poland (1648-1658).In 1648, the eastern Orthodox Cossacks attacked Poland. The Jews were singled out also. About 100,000 to 500,000 Jews were murdered and 700 of there communities were destroyed. Many refugees fled to other countries. (Flannery)
“SOME WERE FLAYED ALIVE AND THEIR SKINS WERE TOSSED TO THE DOGS AS MEAT. OTHERS WERE SEVERELY WOUNDED AND THEN THROWN ONTO THE STREETS…OTHERS WERE BURIED ALIVE. BABIES IN THEIR MOTHERS’ AREMS WERE STABBED TO DEATH…LARGE NUMBERS OF JEWISH CHILDREN WERE THROWN INTO THE WATER IN ORDER TO MAKE THE FORDS MORE LEVEL.” (FLANNERY)
Once again the Jews were caught in the middle during the Swedish invasion (1655-1658). The Polish Jews were attacked by Russians, Cossacks and Swedes. They were also attacked by the Poles. (Flannery)
By the eighteen century, Jews were not welcome by many. One pamphleteer said, “…propose massacres, castrations, and consignment of Jewesses to prostitution…” Catherine II (Russia) wouldn’t allow the Jews to settle in the new provinces they had acquired. Yet, she invited foreigners to stay in central Russia. Still the Jews were excluded. Nicholas I (1825-1855), Catherine’s successor, required Jews to be in the military service. They had to join at age 12 and could last for 25 years. The Jews were sent to isolated area and they were tortured and verbally abused until they renounced their faith and accepted Christianity. (Flannery)
In Germany, the Jews continued to suffer. They were repeatedly used as a scapegoat. Germans were in despair after the Franco-Prussian War and the economic crash of 1873. This created many anti-Semitic political parties. (“Anti-Semitism”)
Russia’s first major pogrom began at Easter 1881 in Russia. Czar Alexander III decided to make a third of Jews emigrate, a third to die, and a third to disappear ( be converted ). This continued under Czar Nicholas II (1894-1917). He called the Jews ‘Christ-killers’. (Flannery)
In 1894, Alfred Dreyfus, a French Jewish officer, was accused of treason. This influenced many Anti-Semitic feelings. To counteract this, the government granted emancipation to the Jews. Dreyfus was found innocent. (Flannery)
Russia accused the Jews of conspiring to take control of the world and the world’s gold supply. This event was known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Even books were published explaining the details of this propaganda. The first book was released in Russia in 1905. Many Jewish people were targeted against because of the book’s release and the forgery was used during the pogrom. The rumor began in 1905 and was discredited in 1921. Regardless, the scandal spread throughout the world after World War I. (“Anti-Semitism”)
After the revolution in Russia, pogroms spread. Many believe the Jews were being used as scapegoats, because the revolution wasn’t successful. The pogroms resulted in 600 communities being destroyed. The Russians rioted and thousands of Jews were killed. (“Anti-Semitism”)
The pogroms in Russia continued. The Russian civil war, between 1918 and 1920, left the Jews caught in the middle. The war was between the White and Red Armies; both sides attacked the Jewish population to rid Russia of their ‘Jewish problem’. (“Anti-Semitism”)
The United States was not left out in the discrimination of the Jewish people. The Russian publications of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion circulated throughout the United States. This caused many Americans to develop anti-Jewish sediments. Two groups, Roman Catholics and African Americans, were most influenced by the publications. Henry Ford was one of the most outspoken people against the Jews. He reprinted the Protocols in his newspaper, “Dearborn Independent”, in 1920. Later he did apologize for his actions. (“Anti-Semitism”)
“Judeo phobia” continued to spread throughout Europe during the 1920’s. Even two very developed nations, Britain and France, were not immune to this idea. Many British and French believed the Jewish population was conspiring to control the world’s gold supply. They had also believed the Jews were responsible for the spread of Bolshevism.
Children were also affected by the movements.They were teased and taunted by the words ‘Christ killers.’ In 1921 a family moved from Kiev to Poland. The child recalls learning his first sentence in Polish: “The Jews killed Christ”.
Immigration of Jews to the United States began to be a ‘problem’. The immigration legislation limited the amount of Jews let into the country in 1921 and 1924. They had told countries, which had a large Jewish population, they could not immigrate as freely as they once had. The legislation stated this because 2.5 million Jews had immigrated to the United States by 1920.
The United States was not a better alternative for the Jews anyway. They were not treated as if they were ‘free’. One person who visited the US in 1922 recounts her visit, “The Jews are barely admitted to major country clubs, and most of the time they are barred…They have no real civic standing. They are excluded from I don’t know how many hotels. The universities, particularly Harvard, have openly organized their defenses against the invasion of new Jewish students.” (Cohn-Sherbok)
The ‘Elders of Zion’ conspiracy did not disappear in the 20th century. In 1922, two extremists in Germany murdered a Jewish foreign minister of Germany’s Weimar Republic. These extremists supported this act by claiming he was an Elder of Zion. It appears this is when the Protocols reached it’s peak in Germany. (Flannery)
In the United States anti-Jewish sentiments continued to grow. Charles Coughlin, ‘radio priest’, continually bashed the Jewish people. “The ‘Radio Priest’, Charles Coughlin began his career in the mainstream of Catholic social welfare teachings, but became increasingly anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi,” said Charles R. Morris in his book, American Catholic. “By 1932, (Coughlin’s radio program) commanded up to twice the number of listeners as today’s immensely popular Rush Limbaugh show.” (Morris)
Between the 1930’s and 40’s, anti-Semitism exploded in Germany, led by Adolf Hitler. The Nazi regime came into power in 1933 and a law was enacted to exclude Jews from German life. They seized their belongings and many concentration camps were built for work, torture, and ultimately death. Jews were hunted like animals; robbed of their homes, their loved ones, their possessions; crushed into railroad cars or death camps storage facilities like cattle to slaughter; subjected to various forms of mental and physical torture; and summarily executed by firing squads, in gas chambers, if they had actually survived the prior mistreatment.
“BLOOD, BONE, AND BRAINS WERE FLYING ABOUT, OFTEN LANDING ON THE KILLERS, SMIRCHING THEIR FACES AND STAINING THEIR CLOTHES. CRIES AND WAILS OF PEOPLE AWAITING THEIR IMMINENT SLAUGHTER OR CONSUMED DEATH THROES REVERBERATED IN GERMAN EARS,” DANIEL JOHAN GOLDHAGEN IN HIS BOOK, HITLER’S WILLING EXECUTIONERS: ORDINARY GERMANS AND THE HOLOCAUST.
Many massacres occurred in a nationwide pogrom in 1938. Consequently, anti-Semitism grew throughout Europe. Countries including France, Italy, Poland and the Ukraine were forced by the Nazi regime to adopt anti-Semitism. Hitler supported his actions as ‘a final solution of the Jewish problem’.
November 1938, Kristallnacht occurred. This was the night the synagogues were burnt down in Germany. The Nazis chose this date to honor Martin Luther’s birthday. Hitler said, “I am only doing the work of the Catholic Church.” (Broadway)
Many countries had closed their borders since many Jewish people had tried to leave. Switzerland closed its borders. The strict immigration policies of Canada and America prevented Jews from entering the countries. (Abella) Britain closed its borders. It’s important to mention that when the Jewish refugees were rejected by the British government, their ship was torpedoed in the Black Sea in 1942. There were 769 Jews on board, and only one survivor. (Burnett)
President Roosevelt was criticized for not closing the camps when it was apparent to all what was happening. He did sent troop to defeat the Nazi attempt to take over the world. Yet, he did not find a quicker way to close down the extermination camps.
In 1938, President Roosevelt went to the Evian-les-Bains conference in France. Over thirty nations accompanied him to discuss what they could do. Only three nations, including Denmark, the Dominican Republic, and the Netherlands, agreed to take in a few thousand Jews. A Nazi informer over heard the news and reported back to Hitler: “You can do what you like with the Jews, nobody wants them.” (Abella)
A papal ambassador was asked to stop the deportations from Slovakia to Auschwitz. They plead for him to consider the innocent blood of Jewish children. He replied, “There is no innocent blood of Jewish children in the world. All Jewish blood is guilty. You have to die. This is the punishment that has been awaiting you, because of that sin.” (Brown)
A Lithuanian minister was asked in 1958 why he kept quiet when he witnessed shootings of innocent people. His reply was that he believed the scripture verse was being fulfilled for the Jews: “His blood be on us and our children.”
By the end of the war , about six million Jews had disappeared by massacre, starvation, and systematic executing. They had made up about two thirds of the Jewish population in Europe.
“This same people, which had received from God the commandment: ‘Thou shall not kill’ has felt in itself in a special way what it means to be killed,” said Pope John Paul II at Auschwitz in 1979. (Fisher, Rudin, Tanenbaum)
Strangely enough, countries still have not learned from these atrocities. Small raciest parties grew in the United Kingdom, France, and other countries of Europe and America. Outbreaks of acts of vandalism such as defacing or setting fire to synagogues occurred periodically. Beginning in the late 60’s and continuing to the present, a new phase of anti-Semitism emerged. It involved antagonism of some African Americans towards Jews. Small groups of white supremacists have also been responsible for anti-Semitism.
After World War II, Poland continued to be anti-Semitic. This was even after knowing the atrocities of Hitler’s regime. They continued to use pogroms against the Jewish population in their country. (Flannery)
In Latin America, many members of the Nazi part found refuge there. Occasional anti-Semitic incidents have occurred. Some of the most serious demonstrations were triggered by the Israeli seizure of a Nazi was criminal, Adolf Eichmann, in Argentina in 1960. He was eventually tried in Jerusalem for crimes against Jews and was hung.
The middle east created another form of anti-Semitism. This was the result of the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. This area of land was also claimed by the Arab nations. Today, these countries constantly fight over the borders.
In Russia, the religion of Judaism was unacceptable. Soviet Jews were discriminated against, socially and professionally. Reportedly, some were deported to labor camps in Siberia in 1949.
I hope these countries and their people have finally learned throughout history that being Jewish is not a sin. It’s a faith or nationality. Have we not learned that everyone is different and no one deserves persecution because of there belief? I believe the best way to explain acceptance of others is to think of a large mountain, which everyone desires to make it to the top. One could take many paths to reach the peak. It doesn’t matter how you make it to the top, it only matters that you try your hardest to do so. This relates to religion because they are many different ways to believe in God. I believe everyone’s God is the same and whichever route you take to please him is your choice. No route is right or wrong, it’s just a different path.
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