Friday, January 27, 2017

The Historical Origins of the Holocaust

All historical events have complex and multivariate causes. The Holocaust, which saw six million European Jews exterminated, some 2/3 of Europe's entire Jewish population, had especially complex origins. As a history teacher who for many years taught a course on the history of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, I think it's important to understand the historical context in which Nazi ideas emerged, and to see what ideas were already in the minds of Europe's people prior to 1933, ideas that had been passed down from generation to generation, ideas that made the nonsense of the racists seem plausible. Let's take a look. 
First, it is interesting to note that Yeshua (Jesus, in the common term), was a Jew, often referred to as Rabbi by his followers. Yeshua said that he had come to fulfill the Jewish law down to the smallest detail. However, Paul (formerly Saul), the great missionary of early Christianity, universalized Yeshua, de-emphasizing Yeshua's Jewishness, popularizing the use of the term Christ (from the Greek christos, anointed one). 
The first century of the Common Era was one of great upheaval in the Middle East. The terrible Jewish War (from 66-70 CE) culminated in the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem and the death of perhaps 1,000,000 Jews at the hands of the Romans. The Romans expelled great numbers of Jews from their homes as well, the origin of the Diaspora, the scattering of the Jews throughout the Mediterranean world and beyond. The Jewish Virtual Library contains a good summary here: 

The events of and surrounding the great revolt were to have profound consequences.
We see disturbing anti-Jewish tendencies in the New Testament. In the book of Matthew we see this startling verse (emphasis added):
“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it. Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
—Matthew 27:24-25
We also see an ominous tendency in the gospel of John to vilify and rebuke Jews. From the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:
“Christian anti-Semitism began much later than Jesus’ life. In the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, which are the historically more reliable ones, Jesus views himself as a messenger of God to the Jews and as a member of the Jewish people. He wanted to prepare them for what he saw as the approaching end of time and God’s imminent kingdom. Jesus was not planning to initiate a new religion. The writer of a later book, the Gospel of John, has Jesus make anti-Semitic remarks. That book, however, is much less historical.”
Prof. Pieter van der Horst studied classical philology and literature. In 1978, he received his PhD in theology from Utrecht University. After his studies, he taught the literature and history of early Christianity and Judaism. Prof. Van der Horst is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He remarks: “In the three more historically based earlier Gospels, one sees Jesus in fierce dispute with leaders of the various Jewish groups, such as the Pharisees and the Sadducees. It is clear from these texts that this is an internal Jewish debate. When, according to the Gospels, the Pharisees attacked Jesus because of his behavior, there followed a dispute of a halachic [Jewish law] nature. Jesus reasons in this context, remaining within the fold of Judaism. The debate, however fierce it may be, is less so than, for instance, the internal Jewish dispute between the Qumran sect and the Pharisees and the Sadducees.”
Van der Horst says it is difficult to determine where to place the beginning of Christian anti-Semitism. “It varied from location to location. In the Jerusalem Christian community it started much later than in the communities in Asia Minor, Greece, or Rome, or wherever else Christian communities came into being.
“The earliest Christian generation in Jerusalem consisted almost entirely of Jews. These people believed in Jesus as the Messiah, but saw themselves as true Jews. The book of Acts of the Apostles makes it clear that the first Jewish Christians went to the Temple in Jerusalem, attended synagogue services, and wanted to remain Jews.[1] There were tensions with mainstream Jews, who looked askance at the belief that a crucified person was the Messiah. There was, however, no breaking point or even a discussion of excommunicating the Jewish Christians.
“The situation changed slowly in the second generation of Christians. This was directly related to the missionary activities of people like the Apostle Paul and his collaborators. Their vision was that ‘salvation,’ as they called it, was intended by God not only for the Jewish people but also for others. They began to preach their message to non-Jews outside the Land of Israel as well.
“These earliest missionaries wanted to facilitate the entrance of non-Jews into the growing Christian community. They therefore began to downgrade the Torah (the Pentateuch) and its commandments. Later they started to toy with the idea that, if God wanted non-Jews to be part of the community as well, the commandments of the Torah should be solely for the Jewish members. That gave rise to the first tensions between Jewish and gentile Christians.”
      From the book of Acts:

“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.”
—Acts 7:51-52
     And in the Book of Revelations (or The Revelation to John), the fate of the Jews in the end times is made terribly clear. Only 144,000 of them will be saved, saved by abandoning the Jewish faith. All other Jews will be physically annihilated. From Revelation 3:9:

I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.

      The view that Jews were responsible for "killing Christ", that they were stubbornly resisting the True Messiah, that God Himself would ultimately erase Judaism, spread to millions of human minds in the early centuries of the Common Era. And this belief was reflected in the works of the most advanced philosophers of the era.

       From the fifth century theologian Augustine:
But the Jews who slew Him, and would not believe in Him, because it behoved Him to die and rise again, were yet more miserably wasted by the Romans, and utterly rooted out from their kingdom, where aliens had already ruled over them, and were dispersed through the lands (so that indeed there is no place where they are not), and are thus by their own Scriptures a testimony to us that we have not forged the prophecies about Christ. And very many of them, considering this, even before His passion, but chiefly after His resurrection, believed on Him, of whom it was predicted, "Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant shall be saved." [Isaiah 10:22 and Romans 9:27-28] But the rest are blinded, of whom it was predicted, "Let their table be made before them a trap, and a retribution, and a stumbling-block. Let their eyes be darkened lest they see, and bow down their back alway." [Psalm 69:22-23 and Romans 9:9-10] Therefore, when they do not believe our Scriptures, their own, which they blindly read, are fulfilled in them, lest perchance any one should say that the Christians have forged these prophecies about Christ which are quoted under the name of the sibyl, or of others, if such there be, who do not belong to the Jewish people. For us, indeed, those suffice which are quoted from the books of our enemies, to whom we make our acknowledgment, on account of this testimony which, in spite of themselves, they contribute by their possession of these books, while they themselves are dispersed among all nations, wherever the Church of Christ is spread abroad. For a prophecy about this thing was sent before in the Psalms, which they also read, where it is written, "My God, His mercy shall prevent me. My God hath shown me concerning mine enemies, that Thou shalt not slay them, lest they should at last forget Thy law: disperse them in Thy might."[Psalm 69:10-11] Therefore God has shown the Church in her enemies the Jews the grace of His compassion, since, as saith the apostle, "their offence is the salvation of the Gentiles."[Romans 11:11] And therefore He has not slain them, that is, He has not let the knowledge that they are Jews be lost in them, although they have been conquered by the Romans, lest they should forget the law of God, and their testimony should be of no avail in this matter of which we treat. But it was not enough that he should say, "Slay them not, lest they should at last forget Thy law," unless he had also added, "Disperse them;" because if they had only been in their own land with that testimony of the Scriptures, and not every where, certainly the Church which is everywhere could not have had them as witnesses among all nations to the prophecies which were sent before concerning Christ.
In short, the suffering of the Jews is the fulfillment of prophecy and an example of what happens to those who reject Christ's message.
From St. John Chrysostom, Fourth Century:
Although such beasts [Jews] are unfit for work, they are fit for killing. And this is what happened to the Jews: while they were making themselves unfit for work, they grew fit for slaughter. This is why Christ said: "But as for these my enemies, who did not want me to be king over them, bring them here and slay them". You Jews should have fasted then, when drunkenness was doing those terrible things to you, when your gluttony was giving birth to your ungodliness-not now. Now your fasting is untimely and an abomination. Who said so? Isaiah himself when he called out in a loud voice: "I did not choose this fast, say the Lord". Why? "You quarrel and squabble when you fast and strike those subject to you with your fists". But if you fasting was an abomination when you were striking your fellow slaves, does it become acceptable now that you have slain your Master? How could that be right?
No comment necessary.
Pope Gregory I, the Great (died 604 AD) from the Jewish
Gregory had a deep-seated aversion to Judaism, which to him was Jewish superstition ("superstitio"), depravity ("perditio"), and faithlessness ("perfidia"). He discarded the literal interpretation of the Bible which prevailed among the Jews, and designated their attacks upon Christianity as idle prattle. He forbade the literal observance of the Sabbath law, wide-spread among the Christians, on the ground that it was Jewish; and his deepest grievance against the Nestorians was that they were like the Jews. He extolled the Visigothic king Reccared for his severe measures against the Jews and for his firmness against their attempts at bribery.
In fairness, it should be stated that Gregory at least forbade violence against Jews and was opposed to forcible conversion and forced baptism.
The Crusades opened the door for new horrors. From Gates of Jewish Heritage, an account of the First Crusade, 1095-96:
In 1095 Pope Urban II declared a holy war, a Crusade, against the Muslims to make the Holy Land Christian again. Meanwhile, the feudal system in Europe was beginning to break up. The huge land barons and the Church owed millions of dollars to the Jewish money lenders who had financed the building of major cathedrals in Europe. The common folk were starving and undirected. There were serious droughts and a famine in 1095. With Urban's call and the Church's support, thousands of townspeople found a direction for their frustration and hate. With rabble-rousers leading them on, mobs formed intending to march to the Holy Land and kill the enemies of Christ. According to many rabble-rousers, however, there was a traditional enemy of Christ much closer than the Holy Land: the Jews in the Rhineland. Before the knights of Europe had even started to get organized, a "Crusade" of Christian mobs was declared. From these ranks were heard the words of a respected knight, Godfrey of Bouillon, stating that he wouldn't leave his country for the Holy Land until he had avenged the crucifixion by spilling a Jew's blood with his own hands.The mobs assembled near the wealthy Jewish communities in the Rhineland in April, 1096. It wasn't until May 3, after Easter, however, that they actually attacked. The attacks lasted into June.According to some eyewitness reports, some noblemen tried to protect Jews, but the incensed mobs ignored them. More than 1,000 Jews were slaughtered at Worms. In Mainz, more than 1,300 Jews lost their lives. Before the Crusaders ever left Europe, more than 10,000 Jews lay murdered. Not coincidentally, one of the casualties of the Rhineland slaughters was all of the records of loans made by the land barons and the Church to the Jewish money-lenders. Rhineland Jewry never did collect on those huge loans.
From an interview with historian Norman Cohn:
What happened when the crusaders conquered Jerusalem?
Well, I think what's amazing when we think about it here as we celebrate the 900th anniversary of that conquest--July the 15th, 1099--is that it succeeded. Because of course, to march armies of tens of thousands, both of knights and non-combatants, all the way across Europe, to have maybe one in 20 survive, and then to conquer the city of Jerusalem, seemed like a miracle. It even seems like a miracle to us today. But it was that miracle, of course, which gave Christians--unfortunately, I think--in the 12th century this sense of divine providence, that the city of Jerusalem was theirs; and of course then when the city was lost in 1187, made it an even more critical moment in Christian views of history and its coming end.
When the crusading armies arrived at Jerusalem finally in mid-June of 1099, one of the things that they did was to immediately have a religious procession around the whole city, a penitential rite, because Crusade was also pilgrimage; and then to have an immediate assault on the city, because they felt again that God was on their side. That assault failed. And so then the Christians began to build siege machines in order to attack the city over the next few weeks. And then finally, in the middle of July (July 12th and 13th through the 15th) the siege machines enabled the city to be breached, the crusaders to rush in, and then the most terrible thing to happen: a slaughter, almost universal slaughter of Muslims and Jews in the city, which is still the worst stain on the Crusade, I think, that history leaves to us.
How many people killed?
It's difficult to know exactly how many people were slaughtered at the conquest of the city, but it seems to have been some tens of thousands. ... Crusading chronicles say that the blood from the slaughtered reached up to the knees of their horses.
Hatred of Jews became codified in church law. From the Lateran Council of 1215:
In some provinces a difference in dress distinguishes the Jews or Saracens from the Christians, but in certain others such a confusion has grown up that they cannot be distinguished by any difference. Thus it happens at times that through error Christians have relations with the women of Jews or Saracens, and Jews and Saracens with Christian women. Therefore, that they may not, under pretext of error of this sort, excuse themselves in the future for the excesses of such prohibited intercourse, we decree that such Jews and Saracens of both sexes in every Christian province and at all times shall be marked off in the eyes of the public from other peoples through the character of their dress. Particularly, since it may be read in the writings of Moses [Numbers 15:37-41], that this very law has been enjoined upon them. 

Moreover, during the last three days before Easter and especially on Good Friday, they shall not go forth in public at all, for the reason that some of them on these very days, as we hear, do not blush to go forth better dressed and are not afraid to mock the Christians who maintain the memory of the most holy Passion by wearing signs of mourning.

This, however, we forbid most severely, that any one should presume at all to break forth in insult to the Redeemer. And since we ought not to ignore any insult to Him who blotted out our disgraceful deeds, we command that such impudent fellows be checked by the secular princes by imposing them proper punishment so that they shall not at all presume to blaspheme Him who was crucified for us.
Jews, in other words, are ordered to wear distinctive badges so that they might be clearly identified.
The legal systems of Europe reflected the pervasive singling out of Jews for "special treatment". From Magna Carta, 1215:
10. If one who has borrowed from the Jews any sum, great or small, die before that loan can be repaid, the debt shall not bear interest while the heir is under age, of whomsoever he may hold; and if the debt fall into our hands, we will not take anything except the principal sum contained in the bond.

11.  And if any one die indebted to the Jews, his wife shall have her dower and pay nothing of that debt; and if any children of the deceased are left underage, necessaries shall be provided for them in keeping with the holding of the deceased; and out of the residue the debt shall be paid, reserving, however, service due to feudal lords; in like manner let it be done touching debts due to others than Jews.
Although stating that all debts will be handled in the same way, isn't it interesting that Jewish debt-holders were specifically singled out.
Jews suffered comprehensive economic discrimination in medieval Europe.  From Norman Roth's study:

With, as usual, the exception of Spain and southern Italy in the Christian lands, and all Muslim countries, professions were closed to Jews, other than the traditional ones associated exclusively with the Jewish community...[Jewish physicians] were frequently suspected of poisoning their Christian patients, including some kings, and also were subject to constant complaints by church authorities, because Christians were not supposed to utilize the services of Jews.
Jews were often successful in occupations they were allowed to participate in, such as banking and money-lending (which Christian authorities often condemned as usury), and this often aroused violent resentment in the non-Jewish community. One can see echoes of this in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, in which a Jewish moneylender is the merchant in question.
Jews in medieval Europe had no effective legal rights whatsoever, and were, to put it bluntly, totally vulnerable to the predations of those around them who hated them. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has extensive documentation on all of this, right here: 
The terrible years of the Bubonic Plague epidemic of 1347-51 saw an upsurge of anti-Jewish hatred among the European populace. From the Medieval Sourcebook, an account of how Jews were forced to confess, under torture, that they were deliberately "causing" the Black Death--and what was done about it in 1348:
I. The Confession of Agimet of Geneva, Châtel, October 20, 1348 

[The Jew Agimet]confesses further that he put some of this poison [The Black Death] into the public fountain of the city of Toulouse and in the wells that are near the [Mediterranean] sea. Asked if at the time that he scattered the venom and poisoned the wells, above mentioned, any people had died, he said that he did not know inasmuch as he had left everyone of the above mentioned places in a hurry. Asked if any of the Jews of those places were guilty in the above mentioned matter, he answered that he did not know. And now by all that which is contained in the five books of Moses and the scroll of the Jews, he declared that this was true, and that he was in no wise lying, no matter what might happen to him. [This Jew does not seem to know that the books of Moses and the scroll of the Jews are identical.]

The Cremation of Strasbourg Jewry St. Valentine's Day, February 14, 1349. The Great Plague And The Burning Of The Jews

In the year 1349 there occurred the greatest epidemic that ever happened. Death went from one end of the earth to the other, on that side and this side of the sea, and it was greater among the Saracens than among the Christians. In some lands everyone died so that no one was left. Ships were also found on the sea laden with wares; the crew had all died and no one guided the ship. The Bishop of Marseilles and priests and monks and more than half of all the people there died with them. In other kingdoms and cities so many people perished that it would be horrible to describe. The pope at Avignon stopped all sessions of court, locked himself in a room, allowed no one to approach him and had a fire burning before him all the time. [This last was probably intended as some sort of disinfectant.] And from what this epidemic came, all wise teachers and physicians could only say that it was God's will. And as the plague was now here, so was it in other places, and lasted more than a whole year. This epidemic also came to Strasbourg in the summer of the above mentioned year, and it is estimated that about sixteen thousand people died.
In the matter of this plague the Jews throughout the world were reviled and accused in all lands of having caused it through the poison which they are said to have put into the water and the wells-that is what they were accused of-and for this reason the Jews were burnt all the way from the Mediterranean into Germany, but not in Avignon, for the pope protected them there.
Nevertheless they tortured a number of Jews in Berne and Zofingen [Switzerland] who then admitted that they had put poison into many wells, and they also found the poison in the wells. Thereupon they burnt the Jews in many towns and wrote of this affair to Strasbourg, Freiburg, and Basel in order that they too should burn their Jews. But the leaders in these three cities in whose hands the government lay did not believe that anything ought to be done to the Jews. However in Basel the citizens marched to the city-hall and compelled the council to take an oath that they would burn the Jews, and that they would allow no Jew to enter the city for the next two hundred years. Thereupon the Jews were arrested in all these places and a conference was arranged to meet at Benfeld, Alsace, February 8, 1349. The Bishop of Strasbourg [Berthold II], all the feudal lords of Alsace, and representatives of the three above mentioned cities came there. The deputies of the city of Strasbourg were asked what they were going to do with their Jews. Thev answered and said that they knew no evil of them. Then they asked the Strasbourgers why they had closed the wells and put away the buckets, and there was a great indignation and clamor against the deputies from Strasbourg. So finally the Bishop and the lords and the Imperial Cities agreed to do away with the Jews. The result was that they were burnt in many cities, and wherever they were expelled they were caught by the peasants and stabbed to death or drowned. . .
[The town-council of Strasbourg which wanted to save the Jews was deposed on the 9th-10th of February, and the new council gave in to the mob, who then arrested the Jews on Friday, the 13th.]
On Saturday - that was St. Valentine's Day-they burnt the Jews on a wooden platform in their cemetery. There were about two thousand people of them. Those who wanted to baptize themselves were spared. [Some say that about a thousand accepted baptism.] Many small children were taken out of the fire and baptized against the will of their fathers and mothers. And everything that was owed to the Jews was cancelled, and the Jews had to surrender all pledges and notes that they had taken for debts. The council, however, took the cash that the Jews possessed and divided it among the working-men proportionately. The money was indeed the thing that killed the Jews. If they had been poor and if the feudal lords had not been in debt to them, they would not have been burnt. After this wealth was divided among the artisans some gave their share to the Cathedral or to the Church on the advice of their confessors.
Thus were the Jews burnt at Strasbourg, and in the same year in all the cities of the Rhine, whether Free Cities or Imperial Cities or cities belonging to the lords. In some towns they burnt the Jews after a trial, in others, without a trial. In some cities the Jews themselves set fire to their houses and cremated themselves.

Jews were expelled from many of the major European states at various times in the Middle Ages, including England, Spain, and France, among many. A map of Jewish expulsions from various European states may be found here
The Reformation Era saw no abatement in anti-Jewish hatred. The founder of Protestantism itself issued one of the most horrific anti-Semitic statements ever written. From On the Jews and Their Lies by Martin Luther, 1543:
What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in their lies, cursing and blasphemy. Thus we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire of divine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews. With prayer and the fear of God we must practice a sharp mercy to see whether we might save at least a few from the glowing flames. We dare not avenge ourselves. Vengeance a thousand times worse than we could wish them already has them by the throat. I shall give you my sincere advice: 

First to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly - and I myself was unaware of it - will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.

Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.
Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them. (remainder omitted)
Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuternomy 17 [:10 ff.]) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: "what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord." Thoses villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people's obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 {:18], "You are Peter," etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the righ to teach.
Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let they stay at home.
And lest we forget the role of the Inquisition, the Jewish Virtual Library reminds us here:
In 1481 the Inquisition started in Spain and ultimately surpassed the medieval Inquisition, in both scope and intensity. Conversos (Secret Jews) and New Christians were targeted because of their close relations to the Jewish community, many of whom were Jews in all but their name. Fear of Jewish influence led Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand to write a petition to the Pope asking permission to start an Inquisition in Spain. In 1483 Tomas de Torquemada became the inquisitor-general for most of Spain, he set tribunals in many cities. Also heading the Inquisition in Spain were two Dominican monks, Miguel de Morillo and Juan de San Martin.
First, they arrested Conversos and notable figures in Seville; in Seville more than 700 Conversos were burned at the stake and 5,000 repented. Tribunals were also opened in Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia. An Inquisition Tribunal was set up in Ciudad Real, where 100 Conversos were condemned, and it was moved to Toledo in 1485. Between 1486-1492, 25 auto de fes were held in Toledo, 467 people were burned at the stake and others were imprisoned. The Inquisition finally made its way to Barcelona, where it was resisted at first because of the important place of Spanish Conversos in the economy and society.
More than 13,000 Conversos were put on trial during the first 12 years of the Spanish Inquisition. Hoping to eliminate ties between the Jewish community and Conversos, the Jews of Spain were expelled in 1492..
The next phase of the Inquisition began around 1531, when Pope Leo X extended the Inquisition to Portugal. Thousands of Jews came to Portugal after the 1492 expulsion. A Spanish style Inquisition was constituted and tribunals were set up in Lisbon and other cities. Among the Jews who died at the hands of the Inquisition were well-known figures of the period such as Isaac de Castro Tartas, Antonio Serrao de Castro and Antonio Jose da Silva. The Inquisition never stopped in Spain and continued until the late 18th century.
By the second half of the 18th century, the Inquisition abated, due to the spread of enlightened ideas and lack of resources. The last auto de fe in Portugal took place on October 27, 1765. Not until 1808, during the brief reign of Joseph Bonaparte, was the Inquisition abolished in Spain. An estimated 31,912 heretics were burned at the stake, 17,659 were burned in effigy and 291,450 made reconciliations in the Spanish Inquisition. In Portugal, about 40,000 cases were tried, although only 1,800 were burned, the rest made penance.
Yes, the Inquisition in Iberia continued into the nineteenth century.
There were Protestant leaders who were not hostile to Jews, most notably John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli, but they fought against an immense tide of popular anti-Semitism. (Useful information on Calvin and Zwingli may be found here.)  

Among the widely held beliefs found in Christian Europe, the Blood Libel (the assertion that Jews murdered Christian children to get blood for the preparation of Passover feasts) and the Desecration of the Host (the torturing of consecrated bread used in Communion ceremonies) were most prominent. Blood Libel accusations are still sometimes made even in the present time, and were used by the Nazis to stir up hatred against Jews. (See here.)
In the 18th century, Enlightenment figures often advocated tolerance of Jews (although Voltaire's hostility was noteworthy), but even here there were contradictory elements. From My Jewish Learning here:
The plans put forward included far‑reaching changes in the economic occupations of the Jews, their way of life and their communal organization. In his book on the Civil Reforms of the Jews (1781),C. W. Dohm proposed that they be granted equal rights and complete freedom in choice of occupation, although, above all, they should be encouraged to engage in crafts. He also proposed freedom of worship and the opening of synagogues, the abolition of special Jewish quarters (ghettos), admittance into schools, and permission to engage in science and the arts. At the same time, he advocated the prohibition of commercial bookkeeping in Hebrew in order to increase mutual trust and prevent deception.
He also favoured supervision to ensure that Jewish schools should not be infiltrated, “by anti‑social attitudes towards those who think differently…(and that) some of the pure and holy truths of the religion and moral theory of rationalism (benurtured), in particular the respect of all citizens for the state and acknowledgement of their obligations towards it.” Dohm also warned that Jews should not be encouraged to train for state service and suggested that if a Jew were equal in qualifications to a Christian, the latter should be preferred. His point of departure was, naturally, the belief that Jews had a tendency to be dishonest and were afflicted with greed, and that their religious tradition was imbued with hatred of Christians and of the state. A new educational method was required, therefore, under efficient government supervision “to prepare the coming generations, at least, for a more moderate attitude toward those with different views.”
There were efforts during the nineteenth century to extend political rights to European Jews (for example during the revolutionary upheavals of 1848), but European LIBERALS were at the forefront of these efforts. And the defeat of liberals in Austria and the German states had sad results:
Franz Joseph's 1849 constitution contained a clause guaranteeing equal rights, but he abrogated the document two years later. By 1853, new bans against Jews acquiring real estate and moving to certain areas of the empire were constituted. Soon "Jewish oaths" were restored, and in some districts, like Galicia, Jews were forbidden to hire Christian domestics. Similarly in Hungary where Jews played a more minor role than they did elsewhere, they were nonetheless blamed by the counter revolutionaries and forced to pay a special tax for their support of the revolution.
The results of 1848 were ambiguous. In many nations, Jews kept some of their newly won freedoms, while in other states their emancipation was repealed. In Germany when the parliament of Frankfurt dissolved, it was replaced by the old Bundestag, and alliance of rulers instead of nations. The "Basic Rights of the German People" was abolished in 1851, and Jews were once again subject to discrimination. The idea of a "Christian state" reechoed in Prussia and many other states. Prussian law included a paragraph stating that: "The Christian religion shall be the basis in all government institutions that are associated with religion." Jews would have to wait until 1871 for legal emancipation to take hold, ironically the Jewish emancipation went hand in hand in once again with German unification. Yet in the decades following 1848 many Jews realized that the social and economic emancipation depended less on legalization and more on the willingness of the population at large to accept Jews as fellow citizens.
(A convenient timeline of Christian anti-Semitism may be found here.)
The brutal anti-Semitism found in Orthodox Russia needs to be noted as well, especially as it was manifested in The Pale of Settlement and the horrible activities of The Black Hundreds. Many Russians were enthusiastic about the Nazi extermination of the Jews in the Soviet Union, an activity carried out chiefly by the Einsatzgruppen (Special Action Squads), and there was very extensive collaboration between anti-Semitic Russian civilians and the Nazis. It was also from Russia that the hideous, vile screed called Protocols of the Elders of Zion emerged, around 1900. This book, written by the Russian secret police, has spread its poison throughout the world. It is a thoroughly bogus accusation that Jews are planning to seize control of the entire world. Editions of it continue to be published. (Shamefully, Egyptian television used this ugly slander as the basis of an entire series in the early 2000s. And hatred of Jews has been tragically widespread in the Muslim world for many, many years.)
There were many other causes of the rise of fascism in general and Nazism in particular. The rise of ferocious German Nationalism in the early 19th century was a major factor (sources here.) German Romanticism fed into these feelings. (See this source for more information): 

The spectacular rise of German militarism in the 19th century cannot be overlooked, since worship of the military is at the heart of fascist thinking. The perverted racist ideas of Arthur Gobineau also played a major role. Specifically, an adolescent and psychologically  unstable Adolf Hitler was deeply influenced by the sick and perverted anti-Semitism in the Vienna of his day, including its anti-Jewish mayor Karl Lueger and the hate-filled rantings he read in such vile publications as Ostara
Some contemporary Christian fundamentalists say that Darwin's ideas were the origin of Nazism. I can only say that the assertion that "Darwinism" is the foundation of Nazism is absurd and historically illiterate on its face. Such an assertion ignores everything I have presented above. Moreover, Darwinism was twisted and distorted by certain racists and social conservatives in 19th and 20th century Europe, but it was used chiefly as a rationalization of attitudes that already existedIt is noteworthy that Gobineau's notorious The Inequality of Human Races was published in 1853, six years prior to Darwin's Origins. (And note, by the way, that the reimposition of anti-Jewish laws cited above took place BEFORE the 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species by Darwin.)
The German response to the traumatic defeat of Germany in the First World War, and the social upheavals of Weimar Germany were major factors in facilitating the rise of Nazism in the German nation. The "Stab in the Back" theory of Germany's defeat gave a prominent role to Jews. (See here.) An excellent source of BASIC information on Weimar Germany may be found here.
It was ferocious Christian anti-Semitism that helped set the psychological stage for the mass murder of Jews in the 20th century. Although I love and cherish the Christians in my life, as a historian I must testify to the facts. I mean the citation of these historical examples as no disrespect to the many wonderful Christians who love and respect Jews and speak up in their defense, nor is it an indictment of the many Christian rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust, especially those in Bulgaria, Denmark, and Hungary. But in order to deal with the past, we must confront it honestly.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

This Needs to Be Seen to Be Believed

Enraging. Appalling. I have a feeling I'm going to be using those terms a lot in the years to come. Read this and see why I'm using them this time:

The key quote:

In the days to come [after Trump's narrow electoral vote victory] there were more declarations of acid satisfaction among the Russian élite. Dmitri Kiselyov, the host of “News of the Week,” a popular current-affairs show on state-controlled television, gloated over Trump’s victory and Barack Obama’s inability to prevent it. Obama, he said, was a “eunuch.” Trump was an “alpha male”—and one who showed mercy to his vanquished rival. “Trump could have put the blonde in prison, as he’d threatened in the televised debates,” Kiselyov said on his show. “On the other hand, it’s nothing new. Trump has left blond women satisfied all his life.” Kiselyov further praised Trump because the concepts of democracy and human rights “are not in his lexicon.” In India, Turkey, Europe, and now the United States, he declared, “the liberal idea is in ruins.”