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Judeophobia - History and analysis of Antisemitism, Jew-Hate and anti-"Zionism"
Chapter 10:
In Germany: Racism, Nazism and Judeophobia ('Anti-Semitism')

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Chapter 10: In Germany: Racism, Nazism and Judeophobia ('Anti-Semitism')


Main Page: Judeophobia ('Anti-Semitism') - A History and Analysis of Jew Hate

Judeophobia ('anti-Semitism',Jew Hate) in the Pagan Ancient World

Judeophobia (Anti-Semitism, Jew Hate) in the Early Christian Church

Medieval Persecution of Jews I - Proselytization, Conversions and Ghettos

Medieval Persecution of Jews: II- Crusades, Expulsions, Inquisitions and Massacres 

Medieval Persecution of Jews: III- Blood Libels and other Myths

Persecution of the Jews Under Islam

Judeophobia ('anti-Semitism') in the Reformation

Judeophobia in the Enlightenment and 19th Century France

Germany: Racism and Judeophobia ('Anti-Semitism')

Conspiratorial Theories and Russian Judeophobia ('Anti-Semitism')

Marxism and Judeophobia ('Anti-Semitism')

Judeophobia ('Anti-Semitism') in The United States

Contemporary Anti-Zionism

Holocaust Denial

Theories of the Etiology of Judeophobia ('Anti-Semitism')

Racism was first put forward as a system in a French book, but was most fully developed in Germany. Joseph De Gobineau’s “Essay on the Inequality of Human Races” (1853) claimed that the differences between the human races are not only physical but also intellectual and moral. However, racism as a prejudice is old as man. In ancient times Plato and Aristotle stated explicitly that while the Greeks were born to be free, the barbarians were by nature slaves.

The other side of the coin, anti-racist tradition, was a Jewish contribution to Western civilization. The first example of it is provided in the Talmud which states that Adam was the only ancestor of man in order that no one can claim his father to be better than someone else’s father. But altogether, racist prejudice was in European history ubiquitous over time and space. It was formalized with the anthropological studies of the !8th century (the anthropological thesis that human races differ only in physical characteristics, is very recent).

Scientists like Linnéaus  coupled skin color with moral and mental characteristics; Buffon considered white man the norm, “king of creation,” while blacks were a degenerate race (for Voltaire they were an intermediate species between white men and apes).

The main racial paradigms of the 18th century saw the Jews as a sui generis (one of a kind) nation, although they pertained to the white race. With the growth of nationalistic struggles in the 19th century the number of theorized races and subraces multiplied. In Europe, great emphasis was placed on racial differentiation, particularly in pre-1870 Germany, where internal political divisions had stimulated nationalistic fervor. Furthermore, the majority of European monarchs were of Germanic descent, and the monarchy divided medieval society into three strata - commoners, clergy and nobility - the latter supposedly with superior “blue blood.”

The philosopher Johann Fichte contended that the original language of Europe (Ursprache) was German, and that the Germans were the original nation (Urvolk). Even in England “Germanism” or “Teutonism” had influential supporters like Carlyle and Thomas Arnold. Fichte’s enlightened vision explicitly excluded the Jews: “Give them civil rights? I see no other way of doing this except to cut off all their heads one night and substitute other heads without a single Jewish thought in them. How shall we defend ourselves against them? I see no alternative but to conquer their promised land for them and to dispatch them all there. If they were granted civil rights they would trample on other citizens.” (Remember the Judeophobic obsessiveness we noted in our first class? Well, both in Voltaire’s France and in Fichte’s Germany, the Jews were less than 1% of the population. But the Judeophobe felt the need to defend himself against them).

The composer Richard Wagner wrote in 1850 : “We have to explain to ourselves the involuntary repellence possessed for us by the nature and personality of the Jews... To explain to us this instinctive and unconquerable repugnance against the Jew’s prime essence, let us first consider how it grew possible for the Jew to become a musician...” Some years before Wagner, Bruno Bauer had attacked “the Jewish national spirit,” and thus prompted young Karl Marx’s answer as we will see in next class. Social Scientists were not the only ones seeking a scientific explanation for Judeophobhia. In his 1803 book Karl Grattenauer offered an avant-garde explanation regarding why Jews smell: there was a “foetor judaicus” produced by a certain “amonium pyro-oleosum.”

During the second half of last century the Jews were considered to be a separate, Oriental race. This idea was stimulated by the linguistic discovery of the Indo-European group of languages. It was believed that the nations who spoke European languages, which were thought to have derived from Sanskrit, belonged to the Indo-European or “Aryan” race. Typically, German scholars used the term “Indo-Germanic” (they claimed that the Germans were the only European nation that was a wholly “pure” Teutonic race). Lassen claimed that “the Semites do not possess that harmonious equilibrium between all the powers of the intellect, which characterizes the Indo-Germans” and his French colleague Ernest Renan wrote against “the appalling simplicity of the Semitic mind”. All creations of the human spirit (with the possible exception of religion) were attributed to “Aryans.” And the Germans, the purest Aryans, were to avoid intermingling with inferior races.

The first proponent of racial Judeophobia was Eugen Duhring who in 1881 claimed that “A Jewish question would exist, even if every Jew were to turn his back on his religion and join one of our major churches... It is precisely the baptized Jews who infiltrate furthest... the Jews are to be defined solely on the basis of race.”

Some fanatics constructed elaborate eschatological systems in which the struggle between the Aryan and Semitic races was the counterpart of the final struggle between Good and Evil. This antithesis was developed by Houston Chamberlain (Wagner’s son-in-law) in “The Foundations of the 19th Century,” a massive volume that became the standard textbook for Judeophobic academics. He explained how, from ancient times “...the Aryans had committed the fatal blunder of protecting the Jews (under Cyrus the Persian king) when the seed of Semitic intolerance spread its poison over the earth for thousands of years, a curse on all that was noble and a shame to Christianity.”

By 1900 the existence of an Aryan race was believed by most to be a scientific truth. A substantial theoretical body was created which singled out “Jewish influence” in art, law, medicine, philosophy, literature, and so on (particularly notorious was the world chess champion Alexander Alekhine’s essay on “Aryan chess against Jewish chess” the latter being hyperdefensive and opportunistic).

One difference between the German-Austrian and the French modern Judeophobias, was that while the former was an immediate reaction to the granting of Emancipation to Jews, the latter was a delayed reaction -eighty years after Jewish Emancipation had been achieved.

The first politician who used Judeophobia to ferment a mass movement was Adolph Stoecker in Berlin of the early 1880’s. The First Anti-Jewish Congress met in Dresden in 1882 with delegates from different countries, who then went on to create the Universal Anti-Jewish Alliance. Three more congresses were held during the 1880’s. In 1886 Otto Boeckel was elected to the Reichstag as a Judeophobe as such. In the 1893 elections, sixteen Judeophobic candidates were elected. The first party anywhere to attain power through a Judeophobic platform was the Christian Social Party in 1895 (its leader, Karl Lueger, held the position of burgomaster of Vienna when he received a visit from a young admirer called Adolf Hitler).

The most paradoxical aspect of this racism was that in all the theoretical writings on “Jewish poison” no racial definition of the Jew was given. Racists could never go further than defining a Jew as someone whose grandparents... professed the Jewish religion. Their method of sustaining the antithesis was simple enough: “Aryan” was anything they liked; “Jewish” was anything they disliked. In this way, Chamberlain believed that both the Italian Dante Alighieri and Jews like King David and Jesus, were of Germanic descent. In contrast, neo-pagans like Alfred Rosenberg or Walter Darre, considered Christianity a typically “Semitic” teaching that undermined “Germanic” spirit through a slave mentality. There was another tragicomic aspect: not all Judeophobes had the same taste. For example: Chamberlain considered Goethe to be a “pure and perfect Aryan,” while Fritz Lentz thought him a “hybrid teutonic-Asian,” and for Otto Hauser he was a “half-caste.”

Now let’s examine some Jewish reaction to the no-way out hostility of racial Judeophobes.


Thousands of Jews had discarded their tradition long before the spirit of racist writings. Many Jews who were born into religious families and educated in Talmudic yeshivot, abandoned Judaism as soon as they came into contact with German culture. The child of one such Jew was the poet Heinrich Heine, who declared “Judaism not a religion but a disgrace” and was baptized (“but not converted,” he stated). The writer Moritz Saphir went further: Judaism is a birth deformity, corrected by a baptismal operation.

But when the Emancipation was reverted in Germany, and Jews again faced systematic hatred which did not allow them to rid themselves of Jewishness, a singular phenomenon emerged: Jewish self-hatred. This is the title of Theodor Lessing’s 1930 book, which examines the biographies of six Jews who loathed their descent . Some committed suicide as a result, including the well known Austrian psychiatrist and philosopher Otto Weininger.

There were incidents in ancient times of Jews, like Philo’s nephew Tiberius, who mass-murdered their fellow Jews. And there were many self-hating Jews during the Middle Ages. But they had had the choice of apostasy and more: they could join the most Judeophobic part of the Church and therein persecute Jews. Famous medieval cases include Petrus Alfonsi, Nicholas Donin, Pablo Christiani, Avner de Burgos, Guglielmo Moncada and Alessandro Franceschi. But during the new Judeophobic stage of 20th century Austria and Germany, Jewish self-hatred reached the same nadir as Judeophobia itself. An Organization of National-German Jews was created to support the “German national revival” within which they hoped to be given a Jewish role (they finally received one in Auschwitz).

One of Lessing’s case-studies was of the Viennese journalist Arthur Trebitsch who converted to Christianity, wrote a book justifying Judeophobia, offered his services to the Austrian Nazis, but when he felt all this was inadequate he wrote:

“I force myself not to think about it. But what does it help? It thinks within me... it is there all the time, painful, ugly, deadly: this knowledge about my descent. Just as a leper or a person sick with cancer carries his repulsive disease hidden under his dress and yet knows about it himself every moment, so I carry the shame and the disgrace, the metaphysical guilt of my being a Jew. What are all the sufferings and inhibitions which come from outside in comparison with this hell within? Jewishness lies in existence. You cannot shake it off. Just as little as a dog or a pig can shake off its being, just so little do I tear myself away from the eternal ties of existence, which hold me on that step between man and animal: the Jews. I feel as if I had to carry on my shoulders the entire accumulated guilt of that cursed breed of men whose poisonous elf-blood is becoming my virus. I feel as if I, I alone, had to do penance for every crime those people are committing against German-ness. And to the Germans I should like to shout: Remain hard! Remain hard! Have no mercy! Not even with me! Germans, your walls must remain secure against penetration. They must not have any secret little door in the rear which could be opened for single persons. because, surely, some day through this little door treason would creep in... Close your hearts and your ears to all those who from out there still beg for admission. Everything is at stake! You last little fortress of Aryanism, remain strong and faithful! Away with this pestilential poor! Burn out this nest of wasps! Even though along with the unrighteous a hundred righteous ones are destroyed. What do they matter? What do we matter? What do I matter? No! Have no mercy! I beg of you.”

The Rise of Nazism

By 1923 the Nazi Party had 20,000 members. In 1930 it polled 2,5 million votes raising the number of its delegates in the Reichstag from 12 to 107, which was further raised to 230 in 1932. When they came to power in 1933, the theory of race was a kind of totemistic mythology which served to justify the Holocaust. Centuries of accumulated hatred were poured onto a defenseless population trapped in Europe. The Jew was no longer the scapegoat, not merely a member of an inferior race. He was blamed for every ill: the loss of the W.W.I (called the “stab in the back” theory), inflation and every other problem. He was the destroyer, the poisoner of purity - inherently and ineradicably. Only one “Final Solution” was left, summarized by the Nazi slogan “Juda Verrecke!” (Jewry perish!).

Initially there was pretense of legality, an affectation of national self-defense. Then the program accelerated: ostracism, impoverishment, expulsion, annihilation. Even before the government acted, Nazi storm troops, police and Party members took things into their own hands. Beatings, economic boycotts and killings of Jews became regular occurrences. Jewish lawyers, doctors, teachers, journalists, scholars, and artists were ostracized. Jewish children were taunted in class by pupils and teachers, and returned home beaten, pale and shaken. A yellow badge was imposed, Jewish books were burned. Before 1933 was over, German Jews were “despairing men, weeping women and terror-stricken children.” In September 1935 the Nuremberg Laws canceled the citizenship of all Jews, who became “guests.” The way out was suicide or emigration. There were limitations on taking possessions out of the country, and by 1938 it was forbidden to take out even one mark. This measure enriched the government with each departure, and also made the Jew a more unwelcome immigrant wherever he applied to go.

Krystallnacht (November 10, 1938) was the night of horror: outrages, murders, rampaging and rapes. Jews ran panic-stricken with Nazi packs in pursuit. Over 100 Jews were killed, 35,000 arrested (and eventually sent to the death camps), 7,500 shops looted, 600 synagogues burned, while the Nazi loud-speakers announced: “Any Jew who intends to hang himself is requested to have the kindness to place a paper with his name thereon in his mouth so that we know who he is.” The Holocaust had begun.

The Holocaust

We do not have the space to include the entire history of the Holocaust in this chapter. It deserves an entire course on its own. A whole nation became brutally Judeophobic in the most extreme way (and alas, the most civilized nation on earth). The Nazi “ideology” was enforced: the removal of the Jews from human society by labeling them as parasites, a dangerous vermin which threatened the world. Judeophobic mythology caused the loss of six million Jewish lives (a third of living Jews) while Adolf Hitler stripped Judeophobia of all its disguises and bared its essence. Unrepressed sadistic instincts were protected by law, by the State, by the silence of the world. Both the Evian (1938) and the Bermuda (1943) international conferences could not find one single place for the Jews to take refuge. And the gates of the Land of Israel remained locked by the British who sent ships of Jewish refugees back to Europe or sank them, leaving the Jews on board to die in the sea.

Millions of Jews had either rejected or held at arm’s length the overtures of Zionism, in the belief that the security of the Jewish people would be best defended by the European liberal ideals, by just laws, by democrats everywhere. Instead, they discovered that even their non-Jewish neighbors and friends were reticent to stand up and fight for them, to protect them, or even to hide them. Yes, there were thousands of “righteous gentiles” who expressed solidarity with the Jewish people, some of them in so doing risking their lives. Yet the overall record was appallingly disappointing for those who believed that Judeophobia would soon be surmounted. At each stage in the progressively worsening oppression of Jews -from legislation to exclusion from employment, from acts of violence against individual Jews in the streets to systematic campaigns against Jewish businesses, deportations, degradation, extermination- Gentile onlookers covered their eyes, shut their doors to people seeking refuge and, all too often, were participants in the murder of Jews, grabbing their property and exposing their hideouts. Even more than in the medieval massacres, the Nazis succeeded in murdering Jews due to the overwhelming cooperation they received from the citizens of Nazi-occupied countries.

All demands from Jews everywhere were virtually unheard, even the request to bomb the crematoria in Auschwitz, where 1,5 million Jews were murdered after unspeakable sufferings. The Allies refused to bomb the death camp, so that their people would not feel that they had been dragged into a “Jewish war.”

To call the Nazi “ideology” racism is another endeavor to de-judaize the Holocaust. Only when it came to the Jews were the Nazis consistently “racist.” Their main allies were Latin and Oriental peoples, Italy and Japan. They were fond of another supposedly “Semitic race” (the Arabs). It is noteworthy that when the Palestinian Arab leader Hajj Amin Al-Husseini visited Alfred Rosenberg in May 1943, he was promised that the press would be instructed to henceforth abandon the word “anti-Semitism,” because it seemed to include the Arab world which was mostly pro-German. Husseini took part in the Iraqi pro-German coup of 1941, and lived in Germany during the rest of the war. He recruited Muslim volunteers for the Nazis, and advocated that the Reich extend “the Final Solution” to Palestine.

The fact is that Nazi hatred focused on the Jews to the virtual exclusion of all other “races” (including the Gypsies, who though murdered en masse were, unlike the Jews, incidental to the Nazi world view). It was not because of racism that Nazis hated the Jews, but because of Judeophobia that they utilized racist arguments. It was not in order to achieve power that the Nazis attacked the Jewish “scapegoat,” but as Hitler wrote in his testament in April 1945 “Above all I enjoin the government and the people to resist mercilessly the poisoner of all nations, international Jewry.”

Thus Prager and Telushkin summarized Nazi Judeophobia: “Virtually every ideology and nationality in Europe had been saturated with Jew-hatred by the time the Nazis developed the Final Solution. Over the preceding decades and centuries, essential elements of Christianity, socialism, nationalism, Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment thought had ruled the existence of the Jews to be intolerable. In the final analysis they all would have opposed what Hitler had done, but without them Hitler could not have done it.”

Next: Chapter 11: Conspiratorial Theories and Russian Judeophobia ('Anti-Semitism')

Start - Judeophobia - A History and Analysis of Jew Hate or so-called Anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism

Gustavo Perednik


These pages are adapted by the kind permission of Dr. Gustavo Perednik.They  are based on a twelve-lecture Internet course prepared for "The Jewish University in Cyberspace." During 2000 and 2001, the book by Gustavo Perednik "Judeophobia" was published in Spanish. This course summarizes the core ideas of the book. It presents a comprehensive and unique analysis of the development of Jew hate (Judeophobia or anti-Semitism) throughout history. It tries to answer the question "why the Jews?" - why have Jews been particularly singled out for ethnic, racial and religious persecution, and it traces the relationship between anti-Zionism and racist Judeophobia or so-called anti-Semitism.

Zionism and Israel Information Center is grateful to Dr. Perednik for his permission to popularize his works.

History of anti-Zionism External link: Antisemitism


Reproduced by permission. This work is copyright ©1997-2005 by Gustavo Perednik. Please do not copy it in any form without direct permission from the author.  All rights reserved

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