The Rise of Political Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria

The Rise of Political Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria

The Rise of Political Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria

The Rise of Political Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria

Excerpt

I have tried to show in this book that modern political anti- Semitism is different from any earlier, sporadic outbreaks of Jew- baiting. It was brought about by conditions which had not existed before the last third of the nineteenth century; only then was it possible to organize political movements wholly or partly on the basis of anti-Semitism, and to make anti-Semitism part of a coherent set of ideas. Indeed, the word anti-Semitism itself-- with its attempt to draw on the support of science--made its first appearance in 1879.

To achieve this I have used two approaches. In the first place I have traced its theoretical and doctrinal background in the second half of the nineteenth century, especially in Germany and German Austria. In choosing my illustrative examples I have necessarily had to be selective: if I have devoted more space to Dühring or Langbehn than to Hegel or Schopenhauer, this is not because I consider them better or more important thinkers, but simply because they had a more immediately measurable impact on anti-Semitic politics. In addition, where an illustration from the experience of some other country has seemed apposite, I have not hesitated to use it.

Second I have tried to trace the impact of anti-Semitic ideas on the everyday politics of the two Empires. Viewed from 1914 this history must seem dismal and unimportant, certainly less noteworthy than that of Russia or France. If the anti-Semitism of those years had been nothing more than the last convulsions of an ancient prejudice--as Marxist critics interpreted it--my research might have been at best of mild antiquarian interest. Viewed from the present day, this choice of countries needs no defense, for we know that within a decade of 1914 these mildewed controversies were resurrected as the prophecies of a new . . .

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