Political Anti-Semitism in England, 1918-1939

Political Anti-Semitism in England, 1918-1939

Political Anti-Semitism in England, 1918-1939

Political Anti-Semitism in England, 1918-1939

Excerpt

Much has been written on anti-Semitism since the end of World War II. Once the scope of the holocaust in the middle of Europe became known, the urge for explaining this unbelievable page of 20th‐ century history began to occupy historians, sociologists, political scientists, theologians and psychologists alike. While the people at large turned away from the difficult task of coming to grips with the shocking reality of Auschwitz, Dachau, Theresienstadt and other extermination camps, and embarked upon the more rewarding and equally urgent task of rebuilding what lay shattered in pieces, it remained the responsibility of academics to trace, analyse, understand and explain the mechanisms which had led to the extermination of two-thirds of European Jewry.

Understandably enough, the focus of study was Germany β€” mostly the anti-Jewish policy and ideology of the NS regime, but also the periods which preceded it and provided a continuity of anti-Semitic sentiment. However, one cannot reduce the subject of anti-Semitism to its German variant alone if one wants to assess its rank within modern history in general. Difficult as it may be, one has to abstract from the event of the 'final solution' and look at the potentials that lay buried in the ideology as such. Once its inherent dimensions have become intelligible, its impact upon different societies at various times can be discussed and it becomes possible to expose its social and political function at certain historical junctures. An analysis of anti-Semitism in England, where it was of limited importance, should therefore be regarded as an attempt to comprehend the nature and dynamics of anti-Semitism from a theoretical angle.

Since there is no precise understanding as to who is an anti-Semite and what constitutes anti-Semitism, the topic has to be defined. By common usage, anti-Semitism is generally meant to describe any hostility against Jews. For historical reasons, and for the sake of . . .

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