Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe before the Holocaust

Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe before the Holocaust

Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe before the Holocaust

Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe before the Holocaust

Synopsis

William I. Brustein provides a systematic comparative and empirical examination of anti-Semitism in Europe before the Holocaust. Brustein studies the evolution of the four principal roots of anti-Semitism--religious, racial, economic, and political--and demonstrates how these roots became ignited in the decades before the Holocaust. The book explains the epidemic rise of modern anti-Semitism, societal differences in anti-Semitism, and how anti-Semitism varies from other forms of prejudice. The book draws upon an extensive body of data from Europe's leading newspapers and the American Jewish Year Book.

Excerpt

The genesis of this work had several sources. As an American Jew and a scholar of political extremism, I could never quite fathom how people of the Jewish faith had remained the objects of such intense scorn in Western societies for close to two thousand years. It seemed equally perplexing that in many of the same societies in which the progressive thinking of the Enlightenment had found fertile soil, the level of antiSemitism had reached epidemic proportions. Rather than receding as time passed, anti-Semitism, according to the historical record, increased during the last quarter of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth century. On the eve of the Holocaust, one could make a strong case that antipathy toward Jews had reached unprecedented levels. I wanted to understand the bases of anti-Semitism.

Other factors drove my quest. My previous research endeavors had not focused specifically on the phenomenon of anti-Semitism. In my earlier research on the social origins of the Nazi Party, I had posited that Nazi supporters were no different from citizens anywhere who select a political party or candidate they believe will promote their economic interests. I suggested that anti-Semitism, while certainly present in Nazi propaganda between 1925 and 1933, could not satisfactorily explain why so many million Germans adhered to the Nazi Party. I intimated that we err if we attribute the Nazi Party's success to its professed anti-Semitism. Prior to 1933, the Nazi Party's anti-Semitism lacked originality and shared strong similarities with that of many other Weimar political parties and of numerous ultranationalistic political movements and parties throughout interwar Europe. However, nowhere in my book The Logic of Evil: The Social Origins of the Nazi Party, 1925–1933, did I systematically test the importance of anti-Semitism as a motivation for joining the . . .

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