Starting From the Bible to the Holocaust
In todays view of anti-Semitism, the most significant anti-Semitic movement was World War II and the Holocaust, however, all throughout history, a prejudice against the Jewish people has been present that might have led to this genocide. How could so many people be blind to this mass murder without having a feeling of self-reproach? In the New Testament, there are references that arguably show offenses to Judaism (Duran 1). However, World War II was not the only event in history that resulted in mass killing of the Jews During the Crusade Period 46,821 Jews were murdered (Glatzer). Later in the late 19th, and early 20th century, another mass murder of the Jews put more than 200,000 Jews to death. These massacres were later called the Pogroms (Glatzer). Many people believe that these early references and cases of anti-Semitism were the root for the Holocaust. From misconceptions of the Bible, the Great Crusades, to the early 20Th century Pogroms, they all helped build up a hate for the Jews.
One of the first major anti-Semitic massacres took place during the Crusades. It was a period in which much of the civilized world lived under a feudalistic government. In such a system priests, bishops, and most of all, dukes, had power over the people (Rosenthal). In this time, many Christian authorities blamed Jews for killing Jesus and took the opportunity to use that allegation to gather money for their crusades. The Duke of Lorraine wanted to go on such a crusade, and to collect money he spread the rumor that he would kill the Jews to avenge the death of Christ. The Jews of the Rhineland paid him 500 pieces of silver as ransom, but some refused, and crusaders slaughtered Jews of Rouen and other cities in Lorraine. An estimated 8,000 Jews were massacred in France and Germany for such purposes (Glatzer). Although most of the people were anti-Semitic, some did protect the Jews. One of them was King Richard, but when he left on his own crusade, the anti-Semitic crusaders in England assembled and attacked Jewish Communities. Some Jews were able to take refuge in King Richards castle. However, those Jews who did not reach the castle were killed. The English burnt down the quarters of Port of Lynn in Norfolk, and murdered the Jews there. In York alone, 1,500 Jews were massacred. Many other cases of extreme anti-Semitism took place in the crusade period, and the Jewish population took a death toll of as many as 46,821 (Voll).
In Benediction 12 of the New Testament, one can find the statement, For the renegades let there be no hope, and may the arrogant Kingdom soon be rooted out in our days, and the Nazarenes and the minim perish as in a moment and be blotted out from the book of life and with the righteous may they not be inscribed. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who humblest the arrogant.(Voll) The choice of words in the passage is by many people considered anti-Semitic because the renegades refers to Jews, who refused to believe Jesus was the Messiah. It states that these renegades should be rooted out or killed. Abelard Reuchlin, in his The True Authorship of the New Testament, says, More vengeance was wrought by Piso by his picturing of the Jews, in successive gospels, as increasingly evil. In Matthew, chapter 23, Piso has his character Jesus repeatedly call the Scribes and Pharisees hypocrites and vipers. Abelard also wrote, The New Testament pictures the Jews as the enemies of Jesus, of Paul, and of the message of the Gospel. (Duran)
Another example from the bible that refers to the Jewish people,
“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.”(Rom 3) also could be contemplated to be anti-Semitic. The statement says that on the day of Judgement, Jews will not be allowed in heaven because of their disbelief (Davies 57). Although these statements generally or are not intended to be anti-Semitic, many people have interpreted them that way, and used the Bible as an excuse for killing the Jews. Hitler was thought to be a good Roman Catholic and used these lines from the bible to justify his views of the Jews, which ended in the biggest massacre ever know to mankind (Voll).
Lastly, the greatest anti-Semitic movement other than the Holocaust took place from the year 1881 to 1917. Medieval tradition isolated the Jews as an alien economic and social class. An example of prejudice in Russia, are the measures that had been taken to prevent Jews from owning any land and to admit Jews to only occupy three to ten percent of an institutions enrollment. The persecution of Jews in East Europe came to a climax in a series of well-organized massacres, known as the pogroms (Rosenthal). These pogroms caused one of the major emigrations in Jewish history in which four million Jews fled to Western Europe and America. However, there too, Jews were restricted and suffered from the old accusations. Many laws were written to take away the freedoms of the Jews, and not until the start of the Great War (WWI) were they abolished. Although, the main reason they were revoked was so that the Jews could fight for Holy Mother Russia in the War. Grand Duke Sergei, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian armed forces ordered the relocation of all Jews so they could serve the army. 600,000 were forcibly transported to the inferior of Russia. An estimate of 100,000 of them died from exposure and starvation. Later, 200,000 more were murdered in Ukraine during the October Revolution in Russia and the ensuing civil war (Glatzer).
In conclusion, Adolph Hitlers great speeches and catchy propaganda, that the Holocaust is so renowned for, were not the only things that led people to believe the massacre of the Jews was right. People since the New Testament of the Bible have had a dislike for the Jews, which often resulted in killings of thousands if not millions of them.
Davies, Alan. Anti-Semitism and the Christian Mind. New York: Herder and Herder, 1969.
Duran, J.. Romes War Against the Jews: Anti-Semitism in the New Testament. Antisem.htm. AOL. 3 December, 1990.
Glatzer, Nahum. Anti-Semitism. Microsoft Encarta 1996. CD-ROM. 1996.
Rosenthal, Eric. anti-Semitism. Rosenthal, Eric anti-Semitism. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia 1993. CD-ROM. 1993.
Voll, Fritz. Jewish-Christian Relations. jcrelations.com. Online. AOL.