The Holocaust/The roots of anti-semitism in Europe
The Nazis would never have been able to do what they did if the roots of their anti-semitic beliefs were not rooted many centuries before. In the Roman Empire, in the name of Christianity, by the Romanians, in Poland and during the Russian Empire, European Jews have a long history of being subjected to religious hatred, persecutions as well as some brief times of tolerance.
The Middle Ages
In medieval Europe, many persecutions of Jews in the name of Christianity occurred, notably during the Crusades — when Jews all over Germany were massacred — and a series of expulsions from England, Germany, France, and, in the largest expulsion of all, Spain. Jews were frequently trialled [put on trial] and put to death [executed] for a variety of imagined religious offenses against Christianity. On many occasions, Jews were accused of a blood libel, the supposed drinking of the blood of Christian children in mockery of the Christian Eucharist. Jews were also falsely accused of torturing consecrated host wafers in a reenactment of the Crucifixion. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, Martin Luther's teachings inspired and deeply influenced Protestant traditions and culture. He was widely known for his writings about the Jews, the nature and consequences of which are the subject of much debate among scholars, many of whom have characterized them as anti-Semitic. His [He] stated that Jews' homes should be destroyed, their synagogues and schools burned, money confiscated, and rights and liberties curtailed.
18th Century in Europe
From the Middle ages up to the 18th century, Jews in Germany and other parts of Europe were subject to hatred, persecutions, as well as some brief times of tolerance. In the sixteenth century, Poland was the center of European Jewry and the most tolerant of all European countries regarding the matters of faith. At the onset of the seventeenth century, however, the tolerance began to give way to increased antisemitism, when King Sigismund III began to undermine the principles of the Warsaw Confederation, which was signed in 1667 and did not come into action until 1998. We all know that this is illegal now, but back then everyone agreed on it. "At the end of the 16th century and thereafter, not one year passed without a blood libel trial against Jews in Poland, trials which always ended with the execution of Jewish victims in a heinous manner..." (Simon Dubnow, History of the Jews in Poland and Russia).
In the 1650s the Swedish invasion of the Commonwealth (the Deluge) and the Chmielnicki Uprising of the Cossacks resulted in vast depopulation of the Commonwealth, as over 30% of the ~10 million population ?has? perished or emigrated. In the related 1648-55 pogroms, led by the Ukrainian uprising against [the] Polish nobility (szlachta), during which approximately 100,000 Jews were slaughtered, Polish and Ruthenian peasants often participated in killing Jews.
In the aftermath of the Deluge and Chmielnicki Uprising, many Jews fled to the less turbulent Netherlands, which had granted the Jews a protective charter in 1619. From then until the Nazi deportations in 1942, the Netherlands remained a remarkably tolerant haven for Jews in Europe, exceeding the tolerance extant in all other European countries at the time, and becoming [became] one of the few Jewish havens until nineteenth century social and political reforms throughout much of Europe. Many Jews also fled to England, open to Jews since the mid-seventeenth century, in which Jews were fundamentally ignored and not typically persecuted.
The 19th century began with a series of anti-Jewish riots in Germany which spread to several neighboring countries including Denmark, resulting in mob attacks on Jews in Copenhagen and many provincial towns. These riots were known as Hep! Hep! Riots, from the derogatory rallying cry against the Jews in Germany. Riots lasted for five months during which time shop windows were smashed, stores looted, homes attacked, and Jews physically abused. In the aftermath of the riots, saw the abolition of discriminatory laws applied especially to Jews, the recognition of Jews as equal to other citizens, and the formal granting of citizenship. this process known as the 'Emancipation' was a major goal of European Jews of the 19th century, and led to active participation of Jews in the civil society. By the early 20th century, the Jews of Germany were some of the most integrated in Europe. The situation changed in the early 1930's with the rise of the Nazis and their explicitly antisemitic program.
- Anti-semitism in the Roman empire
- Anti-semitism Spanish Inquisition (many Jews fled to the Ottoman empire
- Anti-semitism in the Russian empire and Romania
- The influence of 19th Century philosophers (such as Nietzsche and Hegel) on European attitudes toward Jews. Also, the rabid anti-semitism of popular figures like composer Richard Wagner and how that manifested itself in popular culture of the time. (The idea here is to show that anti-semitism was not just restricted to the lower classes, but was also pervasive in the upper classes and "polite" society.)
- Info about De Gobineau, a frenchmen. It was this man who advocated the superiority of the 'arians' as compared to the inferior jews. Houston Chamberlain was also in De Gobineau's line of thinking. Their mimics (e.g. the Nazis) exchanged the meaning of 'aryan' from European and Christian to Germanic and finally to German. Racial teachings (primarily a zoological concept) and the conceptions of Social Darwinism derived from Darwin's teachings, formed the foundation of the 'biological naturalism' of the Third Reich in Germany. (Anti-semitism was directed the Jews and not Semites in general. During the 19th century racial anti-semitism became a part.)