Subject: Church History of Antisemitism - Part III
Date: Wed, 15 Apr 1998 00:41:33 +0000
To: "Hebraic Heritage Newsgroup"<>


From:          Luana Fabry <>
To:            Hebraic Roots <>
Subject:       Antisemitism

Shalom All

I have finally put on my website the article on "The History of
Antisemitism in the Church".  You will find it at: 

Below is Part 3 of 3 located at the Web page.

Beit Y'shua Australia

     A History of Antisemitism Part 3: From Enlightenment to Holocaust 

     Medieval Jewish history ended in England in 1290, in France in
     1394 and in Spain in 1492, with the expulsions of the Jews from
     these countries. Modern Jewish history began with Jews being
     readmitted in the West in the seventeenth century and in the East
     in the eighteenth century as the first waves of the
     `Enlightenment' breached the walls of the ghetto. As modern man
     sought to free himself of the old chains of monarchy, Church,
     feudalism and despair, the Jews emerged from the ghetto already
     free. The medieval period was not a useless experience in the
     history of the Jews - it had educated them for the Modern Age.
     Because the Jews were not part of the feudal system, they were
     not tied to its institutions. The Jews became cosmopolitan in
     their lives, speaking the languages of the world and appreciating
     its cultures. They were outsiders with an education, viewing
     societies objectively and thus assessing their weaknesses and

     The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement which originated
     in eighteenth century France. It challenged the basic belief
     systems which claimed that knowledge derived from religion and
     faith, and instead emphasized that knowledge should be the
     product of rational and provable observations made by
     individuals. This had huge implications in the areas of politics,
     religion and science. With the dawning of this Enlightenment, the
     goal of European Jews became that of achieving emancipation. 

     With the 1789 slogan of "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite" echoing
     throughout France, the question soon arose: "Did the promise of
     the Declaration of the Rights of Man that all men are born, and
     remain, free and equal in rights...", apply to the Jews? Although
     many revolutionaries argued that it could not, emancipation was
     finally granted. 1 

     And so, Jews in France, for the first time, could become true
     Frenchmen. But this required them to give up on any vestiges of a
     Jewish national identity. Henceforth, Judaism was to be a
     religion alone, and Am Yisrael, (the Jewish people) would need to
     be redefined as a solely religious community of believers. The
     Jews agreed that they were primarily to be accepted as citizens
     of their countries and that religious observance was to be viewed
     as a private concern which did not spill over into all areas of
     life, but was to be restricted to the home and synagogue. For
     centuries, Jews had been restricted to living in ghettos, but now
     the isolated Jew could be brought into harmonious relationship
     with his non-Jewish neighbours. 

     Jewish emancipation would not be confined to France. It reached
     most of Central Europe in the wake of the Napoleonic conquests,
     and even though many German and Austrian principalities revoked
     the emancipatory decrees after Napoleon was defeated, (thus
     returning their Jews to the life of the ghetto), eventually Jews
     were to be emancipated all over Western and Central Europe in the
     19th Century. 

     The effects of emancipation on the Jews was enormous. Jews
     flocked to the universities, quickly becoming highly represented
     not only in the student bodies, but also in the faculties. Jews
     distinguished themselves as actors, artists, composers, musicians
     and writers. Unfortunately, to achieve full emancipation, the Jew
     had to purge his Jewish way of life and its mediaeval obscurities
     and westernize his religion and customs. Only then would the
     barriers between Jew and Gentile disappear. Many Jews became so
     enthusiastic with the idea of becoming like the goyim (non-Jews),
     that they were ready to go all the way and become complete Goyim.
     As Heinrich Heine put it: "Baptism was the entrance ticket to
     European civilization". 2 Since a `converted' Jew could reach
     practically any position he aspired to, many Jews went from the
     ghetto to the baptismal font. 

     But the greater proportion of the German Jews, who numbered over
     four hundred thousand, stood by their Judaism, whether orthodox
     or, more numerously, reform. In the years between 1871 and 1933,
     they threw themselves heart and soul into the task of building up
     the Empire, which they thought had finally accepted them as its
     loyal sons and daughters. 3 It is in this environment that the
     seeds of change in Jewish life begin to sprout. The best example
     of this involvement in German national life, lies in the life and
     thought of an important Jewish figure who has come to symbolize
     the Jewish world in transition: Moses Mendelssohn, the founder of
     Reform Judaism. Mendelssohn saw his task as providing the
     philosophic rationale whereby Jews could become full citizens of
     the countries in which they lived, and full participants in the
     general societal and cultural life of those countries, while
     still remaining faithful to the Divinely revealed legislation of
     Torah. Moses Mendelssohn came to be known as the first `modern

     The unemancipated Jews of Eastern Europe, created a culture known
     as the "Haskala" (Jewish Enlightenment or understanding). 4 The
     Haskala identified with Jewish values but did not produce
     scientists, musicians or writers. However, the Haskala produced a
     humanistic literature in Hebrew and Jewish values with which the
     Eastern European Jews could identify. The Haskala produced the
     great Yeshivot of Poland and developed particularly among Polish
     Jews a unique culture like nowhere else in the world. This
     Eastern Jewish humanism was far more important for Jewish
     survival as there were no lines of Jews standing at the baptismal
     fonts in Russian and Polish Churches. 

     Regardless of how `enlightened' and `emancipated' Jews became,
     ultimately they remained Jews. Eventually, the Jew was seen as
     the enemy of the modern, secular state. Because societies'
     mistrust of the Jew was so deep-rooted, not being able to
     distinguish the Jew from anyone else became a problem. The new
     ideologies of the enlightenment and the `right to be the same'
     were short lived and once again the Jews became the `other in our
     midst'. Soon the Jews were living on the margins of society
     again. Though as citizens the Jews were to receive full rights,
     as Jews they counted for nothing. The speed and intensity of the
     transition from ghetto to emancipation and the way in which the
     Jews excelled given these new opportunities, created a new wave
     of Judeophobia. The Jew hatred of the Middle Ages was refurbished
     and set on a new path. The `antisemitism' of the modern era was
     not so much religious in nature as it had been in the Middle
     Ages, but became racial and biological. It was a new phenomenon
     (or an old one with a new face), which was based on `scientific
     theories of race' and it changed the course of Jewish history.
     The Jew of the Middle Ages was depicted as stupid and abhorrent.
     Modern antisemitism portrayed the Jew as having superior
     intellect and a great capacity to excel. He was diabolical and
     cunning. The Jews were targeted as being a race of conspirators
     and for these new reasons, were again made the scapegoats of
     society. Jews were not sought out for individual crimes as any
     other criminal would be, but for the `crime of being Jewish'.
     This meant total rejection of the Jew and therefore assimilation
     would never be possible. Judah Pinsker, a Haskala intellectual,
     stated that this antisemitism was "a psychological disease." 5 

     In the second half of the 19th Century, modern antisemitism
     reared up its ugly head of hatred and fear. In the spring and
     summer of 1881, large anti-Jewish riots, known as pogroms sprung
     out in many locations throughout the Ukraine and southern Russia.
     These were based on the theory that there was an `international
     Jewish conspiracy' against Russia. While these appeared to be
     `spontaneous' popular outbreaks, in fact many of them were
     organized by the Tzarist government itself. Alexander III was
     heavily influenced by his "right hand man", the Procurator of the
     Holy Synod (the chief lay official of the Orthodox Church in
     Russia), and a notorious anti-Semite. Tales were spread against
     the Jews by the Greek Catholic Church, accusing them of being
     crucifiers of Christ and users of human blood. 6 

     In the 1881 pogroms, several hundred Jews were murdered and tens
     of thousands saw their property destroyed. Although there were
     floods of protest from many parts of the civilized world, the
     Russian government replied that the pogroms were the spontaneous
     expression of the population's protest against the exploitation
     by the Jews. 7 

     In 1901, the infamous Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion
     were published by Sergius Nilus. These were supposed to be a
     document which revealed a Zionist conspiracy to rule the world.
     The impact of the publication of these protocols went as far as
     America. In Henry Ford's paper concerning the `protocols' and the
     `Jewish Question', he wrote: 

     Whether you go to Rumania, Russia, Austria or Germany, or
     anywhere else that the Jewish question has come to the forefront
     as a vital issue, you will discover that the principal cause is
     the outworking of the Jewish genius to achieve the power of

     There is no other racial nor national type which puts forth this
     kind of person (the International Jew). It is not merely that
     there are a few Jews among international financial controllers:
     it is that these world controllers are exclusively Jews. 

     How does the Jew so habitually and so resistlessly gravitate to
     the highest places? What puts him there? Why is he put there?
     What does he do there? What does the fact of his being there mean
     to the world? 8 

     That is the Jewish question in its origin. Considering that the
     Jewish people had not long been out of the ghetto after centuries
     of persecution and slaughter, one would wonder how and when these
     Jews found the time to become `International Controllers'? 

     In Germany, a number of important German intellectuals, such as
     Hermann von Treitschke, Wilhelm Marr and the great German
     composer, Richard Wagner (with whom Hitler was obsessed), began
     to write of the conspiracy of the Jews to take-over German
     political, economic, social, and cultural life. The movement was
     not religious in nature, rather, it spoke of the Jews as a racial
     threat. The Jews were supposedly among the lowest representatives
     of the `Semitic race', while the Germans were the purest
     manifestations of the "Aryan race". 9 It was the mission of the
     Jews, supposedly, to corrupt the Aryan race. Since their
     complaint was not with Jewish religion per se, the term
     `antisemitism' was coined rather than `anti-Judaism'. This term
     was first coined by Wilhelm Marr. 

     With the rise of Nazism in Germany, the Jews of Germany were
     shocked, as were Jews everywhere. After so many years of living
     under relatively peaceful and prosperous conditions, they found
     it hard to believe that their position and lifestyle could be
     threatened. The Jews did not see themselves as a separate
     national minority within the countries in which they lived. They
     claimed to differ from other citizens only in respect to their
     religion. Their desire was always for the same full and equal
     rights as the rest of the populations. They felt they were an
     integral part of each country in terms of nationality. In
     Germany, nearly two-thirds of the 500,000 Jews were engaged in
     trade and commerce; one quarter worked in industry and about
     one-eighth were in public service professions, mainly law and
     medicine. The Jews of Germany had deep ties to the Fatherland.
     They had lived there for centuries. 

     Due to the economic depression, social antagonisms, and inferior
     status of Jews that already existed in Eastern Europe,
     antisemitism was much more apparent. In German occupied Poland,
     where unemployment was a major problem, it was claimed that the
     Jews were a foreign element in the population who occupied
     positions that by right, belonged to the majority population. So
     when in 1940, the Hitler solution decreed that all the Jews in
     Germany or German-occupied territory should be transferred to the
     internment camps set up in Poland where they were to be left to
     die of starvation or disease, the majority of Poles didn't bat an

     Hitler's antisemitism did not operate in a vacuum. Neither did
     the response of the German people. Hitler simply made the most of
     an already existing anti-Jewish theology which had been deeply
     rooted in the people of Europe for sixteen centuries. This
     theology had become a norm of most Christian societies (whether
     they realized it or not), which during the Nazi regime produced
     in them, no response at all. 

     In Daniel Goldhagen's book, "Hitler's Willing Executioners -
     ordinary Germans and the Holocaust", he sets out to show that
     Hitler did not create German hatred toward Jews, but merely
     marshalled the existing hatred. German hatred of Jews was
     centuries old when Hitler came to power, especially after World
     War I, where Jews were vilified as the personification of evil,
     the agent of the Devil, the enemy of the people and the ruination
     of the beloved Fatherland. Goldhagen says: "For hundreds of
     years, antisemitism had lent coherence and esteem to the
     self-image of the Christian world; as many of the old certitudes
     about the world eroded in nineteenth century Germany, the
     centrality of antisemitism as a model of cultural coherence and
     eventually as a politically ideology, grew tremendously. 10 

     Just as the Jews of the Middle Ages were always an alien body
     within Christendom, representing everything that was awry, so the
     Jews of Germany were an alien body, representing everything awry
     in society, and that they were intentionally so. 11 For sixteen
     centuries, the same slogan was preached that was now shouted from
     every rooftop in Germany: "Jews are our misfortune". 12 

     As Goldhagen points out, the Holocaust was not just a few SS men
     following orders for fear of what would happen if they disobeyed,
     or the result of peer pressure to conform, but that it was the
     work of 'perfectly ordinary' Germans from all walks of life. How
     is it possible that in civilized, Christian Europe, only fifty
     years ago, tens of thousands of Jews were shot in the neck by
     German policemen who apparently came from respectable social
     backgrounds and were family men? How did they lead whimpering
     12-year-olds and sobbing elderly women from their villages in
     eastern Poland into the surrounding forests and murdered them one
     by one before tossing them into makeshift mass graves? Somehow,
     these ordinary people had concluded "that the Jews ought to die
     ". Their execution, therefore, was lawful. 13 

     The evidence that so many ordinary people did accept the absurd
     beliefs about Jews that Hitler articulated in Mein Kampf is
     overwhelming. The acceptance of these beliefs made ordinary
     people become willing executioners. But was Mein Kampf any
     different to Martin Luther's "The Jews and their Lies"? Or the
     sermons of John Chrysostom? Was Eichman simply obeying orders any
     differently than the Inquisitor Torquemada of Spain in the
     fifteenth century? Was the brutality of Hitler's henchmen and
     willing executioners any more brutal than those who carried out
     the orders of the Church in the Middle Ages, where Jews were
     murdered because of the same accusations but with a different
     motivation? And finally, why did the Church speak out when Hitler
     was ridding the Aryan race of the physically and mentally
     disabled, but not when he began exterminating Jews? 

     With the spread of Christianity, anti-Semitism became embedded
     into Western culture and became a cultural phenomena. The events
     of the Holocaust have many parallels in the Christian church. In
     the early fourth century the church began to 'protect' themselves
     from the Jews. They imposed laws that prevented Jews from
     'contaminating the life and faith of true believers. 14 The Nazis
     imposed similar restrictions by forbidding non Jews from shopping
     in stores owned by a Jew. In the seventh century the Church
     ordered the Talmud be burned; the Nazis held public burnings of
     all literature by Jewish authors. 15 The Church disqualified the
     Jews from holding public office 16 ; the Nazis did the same.
     Until 1870 much of Europe had Ghettos designed to shut the Jews
     away from humanity for centuries 17 ; the Nazi's did the same. In
     fact, every restriction imposed upon the Jews by the Nazis, short
     of the monstrous 'final solution', had an earlier counterpart in
     cannon law. As late as 1941, Archbishop Grober, in a pastoral
     letter filled with antisemitic utterances, blamed the Jews for
     the death of Jesus, saying that the Holocaust was "the
     self-imposed curse of the Jews - `His blood be upon us and our
     children' - has come true... today." (Jerusalem Post,
     International Edition Dec. 5, 1992) 

     Even though the Church had never before suggested killing all of
     the Jews, the Nazi 'final solution' was a logical extension of
     the thought of those church fathers and councils who declared God
     was finished with the Jews. The seeds of sixteen centuries of
     theological antisemitism would no doubt continue to produce
     fruit. And fruit of the worst kind it did produce, with the
     lawful and willing slaughter of six million Jews just fifty years

     Regardless of emancipation and Jewish patriotism, and despite the
     overwhelming contributions Jewish people made to the modern
     world, for as long as society continued to define the Jew as the
     "other in our midst" and for as long as there was a "Jewish
     Question", in due time antisemitism's third characteristic was
     defined in full fury, in what has come to be known as the
     tremendum : it said to the Jew, "You have no right to live." 

     1. Dimont,M, Jews, God and History, Penguin, New York,1962, p303
     2. Heinrich Heine as quoted by Wafter Laquer:A History of Zionism,
         London 1972, p9 
     3. Addleson, A. Israel - The Epic of a People,
         Howard Timmins, Cape Town, 1972, p251 
     4.Grayzel, Z. A History of the Jews, Jewish Publication Society, 
         Philadelphia, 1963, p606,607 
     5. Judah Leo Pinsker, quoted by D. Goldberg & J. Rayner
         in The Jewish People, Their History & Their Religion UK 1987,
     6. Addleson, A. op.cit., p255, 256 
     7.Grayzel, Z. op.cit., p638,639 
     8.Ford Henry, The Dearborn Independent: a selection of the 
         articles of 1920-22, as published in the book titled The 
         Protocols of the Leamed  Elders of Zion, Part 1: The Jewish 
         question, 1934, p 7-11 
     9. Addleson, A. op.cit., p 293 
   10. Goldhagen, D. Hitler's Willing Executioners - Ordinary Germans &
          the Holocaust, Little, Brown & Co., London, 1996, p54 
    11. ibid,  p55 
    12. ibid, p428 
    13. ibid, p388 
    14.Glock, C. Christian Beliefs and Anti-Semitism., Harper & Row, 
           New York,1966, p148
    15.Stadtler, B. The Holocaust A History of Courage and
           Resistance, Behrman House, New York, 1973, p20 
    16.Glock, C. op.cit., pl48