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Persecution of Jews
persecution of Jews: 1800 to now:
The conversion from religiously-based to racially-based persecution:
Prior to 1800 CE: Persecution was directed at followers of Judaism
because of their religious beliefs; it has been referred to as anti-Judaism. CE, Jews could escape oppression by converting to
Christianity, and being baptized. The Christian
church taught in past centuries that all Jews (past, present and
future) were responsible for Jesus' death. The Church also believed that some
Jews must be allowed to live, because the biblical book of Revelation indicated
that they had a role to play in the "end
times." They concluded that it was acceptable to make Jews' lives
Since about 1800: "...Nationalism became a dominant value in
the Western and Arab worlds...antisemitism increasingly focused on the Jews'
peoplehood and nationhood." 15 Persecution became a form
of racism, and has generally been called "anti-Semitism" -- a word "created
by an antisemite, Wilhelm Marr [in 1879]. Marr's intention was to replace the
German word Judenhass (Jew-hatred) with a term that would make Jew-haters sound
less vulgar and even somewhat scientific." 15 The word is variously spelled antisemite, anti-Semite and anti-semite. It is not a
particularly good choice, because the root word "Semitic" refers to a
group of languages, not to a single language or to a race, people or nation. However, it is in
Anti-semitism: Persecution of Jews along racial lines:
Subsequent attacks against Jews tended to be racially motivated. They
were perpetrated primarily by the state. The Jewish
people were viewed as a separate people or race.
1806: A French Jesuit Priest, Abbe Barruel, had written a treatise
blaming the Masonic Order for the French Revolution. He later issued a letter alleging
that Jews, not the Masons were the guilty party. This triggered a belief in an
international Jewish conspiracy in Germany, Poland and some other European countries later
in the 19th century.
1819: During the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many
European Jews lobbied their governments for emancipation. They sought
citizenship as well as the same rights and treatment as were enjoyed by
non-Jews. This appears to have provoked sporadic anti-semites to engage
in anti-Jewish violence. The rioters cried "Hep! Hep!." The
origin(s) of this cry are not clear. Jews and their property were
attacked first in Wuerzburg, Germany during 1819-AUG. The rioting spread
across Germany and eventually reached as far as Denmark and Poland. 17
1840: A rumor spread in Syria that some Jews were responsible
for the ritual killing of a Roman Catholic monk and his servant. As a
result of horrendous treatment, some local Jews confessed to a crime
that they did not commit. This "Damascus Affair" spurred early Zionist
writers like Hess to promote the Zionist cause. 17More details.
1846 - 1878: Pope Pius IX restored all of the previous
restrictions against the Jews within the Vatican state. All Jews under
Papal control were confined to Rome's ghetto -- the last one in Europe
until the Nazi era restored the church's practice. On 2000-SEP-3, Pope John Paul II beatified Pius
IX; this is the last step before sainthood. He explained: "Beatifying
a son of the church does not celebrate particular historic choices
that he has made, but rather points him out for imitation and for
veneration for his virtue."
1858: Edgardo Mortara was kidnapped, at the age of six, from
his Jewish family by Roman Catholic officials after they found out
that a maid had secretly baptized him. He was not returned to his
family but was raised a Catholic. He eventually became a priest.
1873: The term "antisemitism" is first used in a
pamphlet by Wilhelm Marr called "Jewry's Victory over Teutonism."
1881: Alexander II of Russia was assassinated by radicals. The Jews
were blamed. About 200 individual pogroms against the Jews followed. ("Pogrom"
is a Russian word meaning "devastation" or "riot."
In Russia, a pogrom was typically a mob riot against Jewish individuals,
shops, homes or businesses. They were often supported and even organized
by the government.) Thousands of Jews became homeless and impoverished.
The few who were charged with offenses generally received very light
1893: "...anti-Semitic parties won sixteen seats in the German
1894: Captain Alfred Dreyfus, an officer on the French general staff,
was convicted of treason. The evidence against him consisted of a piece of paper from his
wastebasket with another person's handwriting, and papers forged by
He received a life sentence on Devil's Island, off the coast of South America. The French
government was aware that a Major Esterhazy was actually guilty. 3
government and army united to suppress the truth. Writer Emile Zola and politician Jean Jaur? fought for justice and human rights. After 10 years, the French government fell
and Drefus was declared totally innocent. The Dreyfus Affair was world-wide news for
years. It motivated Journalist Theodor Herzl to write a book in 1896: "The Jewish
State: A Modern Solution to the Jewish Question." The book led to the founding
of the Zionist movement which fought for a Jewish Homeland. A half century later, the
state of Israel was born.
1903: At Easter, government agents organized an anti-Jewish pogrom in
Kishinev, Moldova, Russia. The local newspaper published a series of
inflammatory articles. A Christian child was discovered murdered and a
young Christian woman at the Jewish Hospital committed suicide. Jews
were blamed for the deaths. Violence ensured. The 5,000 soldiers in the
town did nothing. When the smoke cleared, 49 Jews had been killed, 500
were injured; 700 homes looted and destroyed, 600 businesses and shops
looted, 2,000 families left homeless. Later, it was discovered that the
child had been murdered by its relatives and the suicide was unrelated
to the Jews. 4
1905: The Okhrana, the Russian secret police in the reign of Czar
Nicholas II, converted an earlier antisemitic novel -- a work of fiction -- into a document called the "Protocols
of the Learned Elders of Zion." 16 It was published privately in 1897. A Russian Orthodox
priest, Sergius Nilus, published them publicly in 1905. It was promoted as the record
of "secret rabbinical conferences whose aim was to subjugate and exterminate the
Christians." 5 The Protocols were used by the Okhrana in a propaganda
campaign that was associated with massacres of the Jews. These were the Czarist Pogroms of
1915: 600,000 Jews were forcibly moved from the western borders of
Russia towards the interior. About 100,000 died of exposure or starvation.
1917: "In the civil war following the Bolshevik Revolution of
1917, the reactionary White Armies made extensive use of the Protocols to incite
widespread slaughters of Jews." 5 Two
hundred thousand Jews were murdered in the Ukraine alone.
1920: The Protocols reach England and the United States. They
are exposed as a forgery, but are widely circulated. Henry Ford sponsored a study of
international activities of Jews. This led to a series of antisemitic articles in the
Dearborn Independent, which were later published in a book, "The International Jew."
The Protocols were sold on Wal-Mart's online bookstore until they were
removed on 2004-SEP-21.
1920: The defeat of Germany in World War I and the continuing economic
difficulties were blamed in that country on the "Jewish influence." One
antisemitic poster has been preserved from that era. 6 It shows a German, presumably
Christian woman, a male Jew with distorted facial features, a coffin and the word
1920's, 1930's: Hitler had published in Mein Kampf in
believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending
myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."
were used by the Nazis to whip up public hatred of the Jews in the 1930's.
Widespread pogroms occured in Greece, Hungary, Mexico, Poland, Rumania, and the USSR. Radio
programs by many conservative American clergy, both Roman Catholic and Protestant,
frequently attacked Jews. Reverend Fr. Charles E Coughlin was one of the best known.
"In the 1930's, radio audiences heard him rail against the threat of Jews to
America's economy and defend Hitler's treatment of Jews as justified in the fight against
communism." 12 Other conservative Christian leaders, such as Frank Norris and
John Straton supported the Jews. 7
against Jews in North America is widespread. Many universities set
limits on the maximum number of Jewish students that they would accept.
Harvard accepted all students on the basis of merit until after World
War I when the percentage of Jewish students approached 15%. At that
time they installed an informal quota system. In 1941, Princeton had
fewer than 2% Jews in their student body. Jews were routinely barred
from country clubs, prestigious neighborhoods, etc. 8
1933: Hitler took power in Germany. On APR-1,
Julius Streicher organized a one-day boycott of all Jewish owned
businesses in the country. This was the start of continuous oppression by
the Nazis culminating in the Holocaust (a.k.a. Shoah). Jews "were barred from
civil service, legal professions and universities, were not allowed to teach in schools
and could not be editors of newspapers." 2 Two years later, Jews were no
longer considered citizens.
1934: Various laws were enacted in Germany to force Jews out
of schools and professions.
1935: The Nazis passed the Nuremberg Laws restricting
citizenship to those of "German or related blood."
Jews became stateless.
1936: Cardinal Hloud of Poland urged Catholics to boycott Jewish businesses.
1938: On NOV-9, the Nazi government in Germany sent storm troopers, the
SS and the Hitler Youth on a pogrom that killed 91 Jews, injured hundreds, burned 177
synagogues and looted 7,500 Jewish stores. Broken glass could be seen everywhere; the
glass gave this event its name of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. 9
1938: Hitler brought back century-old church law, ordering all Jews to
wear a yellow Star of David as identification. A few hundred thousand Jews are allowed to
leave Germany after they gave all of their assets to the government.
1939: The Holocaust began. This was the systematic extermination by genocide of Jews in Germany, by the Nazi government. The word Holocaust comes from two Greek words "holos" and "kostos" which mean "totally burnt." It is called Shoah by Jews, and the Devouring by the Roma.
The process only ended in 1945 with the conclusion of World War II and the liberation of the death camps.
Approximately 6 million Jews (1.5 million of them children), 400 thousand Roma (Gypsies) and others were
slaughtered. Some were shot by death squads; others were slowly killed in trucks with carbon monoxide;
others were gassed in large groups in Auschwitz, Dacau, Sobibor, Treblinka
and other extermination camps. Officially, the holocaust was described by the Nazis as subjecting Jews
"to special treatment" or as a "solution of the Jewish question."
Gold taken from the teeth of the victims was recycled; hair was used in the manufacture of
mattresses. In the Buchenwald extermination camp, lampshades were made out of human skin;
however, this appears to be an isolated incident. A rumor spread that Jewish corpses were
routinely converted into soap. However, the story also appears to be false. 10
1940: The Vichy government of France collaborated with Nazi
Germany by freezing about 80,000 Jewish bank accounts. During the next
four years, they deported about 76,000 Jews to Nazi death camps; only
about 2,500 survived. It was only in 1995 that a French president,
"... was able to admit that the state bore a heavy
share of responsibility in the mass round-ups and deportations of
Jews, as well as in the property and asset seizures that were carried
out with the active help of the Vichy regime." 11
1941: The Holocaust Museum in Washington DC estimates
that 13,000 Jews died on 1941-JUN-19 during a pogrom in Bucharest,
Romania. It was ordered by the pro-Nazi Romanian regime of Marshal Ion
Antonescu. The current government has admitted that this atrocity
happened, but most Romanians continue to deny that the Jews were
killed on orders from their own government. 12
1941: Polish citizens in Jedwabne in northeastern Poland
killed hundreds of Jews, by either beating them to death or burning them
alive in a barn. According to the Associated Press:
"The role played
by Polish citizens was suppressed for nearly six decades until
publication of a book by a Polish emigre historian, Jan Tomasz Gross.
After release of the book in 2000, the Polish government launched an
investigation. 'The role of the Poles was decisive in conducting the
criminal act,' [prosecutor Radoslaw] Ignatiew, said. The book, 'Neighbours,'
sparked national soul-searching among Poles, many of whom could not
believe that anybody but the Nazis would have committed the atrocity." 13
1942: The Nazi leaders of Germany, at the Wannsee
conference, decided on"the final solution of the Jewish question" which
was the attempt to exterminate every Jew in Europe. From JUL-28 to 31, almost 18,000
Russian inhabitants of the Minsk ghetto
in what is now Belarus were exterminated. This was in addition to 5,000 to 15,000 who had
been massacred in earlier pogroms in that city. This was just one of many such pogroms
during World War II. 14
1945: The Shoah (Holocaust) ended as the Allied Forces
over-ran the Nazi death camps.
1946: Even though World War II ended the year before, antisemitic pogroms continued, particularly
in Poland, with the deaths of many Jews.
2018: The most serious mass murder of Jews in United States history ocurred in the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA on 2018-OCT-27. More details.
A recent study showed that anti-semitism in Russia had fallen to a record low, far less than East European countries. 18