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PROLOGUE: Roots of the Holocaust
 pg. 46 
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion

In the late 1800s, European antisemites depicted the Jew as an alien and corrupting element within society. They published inflammatory literature that reviled Jews, depicting them as plotting to undermine Western Christian civilization in order to take over the world.

By the turn of the century, antisemites firmly believed that Jews were collectively scheming to achieve world domination. One of the most influential writings fueling this belief was a widely read publication entitled The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This document was, however, actually a carefully crafted forgery fabricated by the secret police of czarist Russia to justify that government's persecution of Jews. The Protocols offered "proof" of a widespread international Jewish conspiracy. It featured a fictional account of minutes of an alleged secret meeting of subversive Zionist leaders in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897. It even outlined technical plans for a Jewish world state.

Exiles from Bolshevist Russia brought copies of The Protocols with them. Alfred Rosenberg, a Nazi Party ideologue, published his own "edited" version in 1923. Adolf Hitler, like many other avowed antisemites, was utterly convinced that the Protocols--and the Jewish conspiracy--were real.
Photo: Wiener Library / United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Photo Archive

Roman, not Jewish, power put Jesus to death by crucifixion. Jesus' death left his followers dismayed and scattered. Indeed, Jesus probably would have been little more than a footnote in history if his Jewish disciples had not come to believe and convince others that Jesus had been resurrected from death, that he was the Messiah promised in Jewish tradition, and that he was the Son of God.

Most Jews, however, believed neither that Jesus had been resurrected nor that he was the promised Messiah, let alone the Son of God. Nevertheless, with Paul, a converted Jew, leading the way, the early Christians began to experience greater success in sharing their faith with the gentiles (non-Jews) of the Mediterranean world. By the time the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in the year 70 c.e., what had started as a small, struggling sect within Judaism was on its way to becoming the Christian religion that would gain cultural dominance in Western civilization.

The divorce between Christianity and Judaism was not a happy one. Jews came to be depicted as "Christ killers"--in part because it was Judas, a Jew, who betrayed Christ--and demonized as the devil's agents. According to this sort of Christian view, the Jews were guilty of deicide, the most heinous of crimes because it was nothing less than the murder of the unique incarnation of God. Over the centuries, such perspectives developed into a full-fledged Christian "teaching of contempt" against Jews and Judaism. From Augustine in the 5th century to Martin Luther in the 16th century, some of the most eloquent and persuasive Christian theologians taught that the Jews were rebels against God. They preached that Jewish misfortune was God's judgment against them for rejecting Jesus. It was no coincidence that acts of violence against Jews often occurred in the spring, the season of Easter and Passover.

 May 20, 1928: The Nazis win 2.6 percent of the vote and 12 seats in the Reichstag election.
 September 22, 1928: An antisemitic "blood libel" in Messina, New York, inspires violence against Jews.
 1929: The eugenics-preoccupied National Socialist German Physicians' League is founded in Germany.
 1929: Alfred Rosenberg founds the antisemitic, anti-Bolshevist Kampfbund für Deutsche Kultur (Combat League for German Culture), which is dedicated to the eradication of entartete Kunst (degenerate art).
 1929: An Arab mob attacks Jews in Jerusalem; 70 are killed on August 24. The violence spreads to other parts of the country.
 1929: The first talkie film produced in Yiddish, an American feature called Style and Class, is released.
 1929-1939: Another wave of aliya (immigration) of Jews to Palestine occurs.
 January 20, 1929: Hitler appoints Heinrich Himmler Reichsführer-SS.
PROLOGUE: Roots of the Holocaust
 pg. 46 
The Holocaust Chronicle
© 2009 Publications International, Ltd.