“There are a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your realm. Their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not observe the king’s laws; therefore, it is not befitting the king to tolerate them.” (Book of Esther 3:8)
“Among themselves they [Jews] are inflexibly honest and ever ready to shew compassion, they regard the rest of mankind with all the hatred of enemies.” (Tacitus, The Histories Book V)
“The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” is the most deceitful, dangerous and pernicious of the libels ever used to incite hatred and violence against the Jewish people. The myth of an international Jewish conspiracy to control the world, as advanced in the Protocols, has been exposed by historians, journalists, politicians, police and religious leaders, notes Israeli jurist Hadassa Ben-Itto.
Ben-Itto added that in November 1937, the Court of Appeals in Berne, Switzerland concluded, “This scurrilous work contains unheard of and unjustified attacks against Jews and must without reservation be judged to be immoral literature.” She added that in the introduction to a 1964 report of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee investigating the Protocols, the senators stated: “Every age and country has had its share of fabricated ‘historic’ documents which have been foisted on an unsuspecting public for some malign purpose…. One of the most notorious and most durable of these is the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
Yet “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” continues to be published in practically every language, in hundreds of editions, in hundreds of millions of copies, and in very compelling videos on the Internet.
The potential danger of the Protocols in shaping public opinion should not be underestimated. When Jews are portrayed as manipulators who seek power over other people’s lives, they come to be perceived as dire threats. The Nazis recognized this phenomenon and exploited it, using the Protocols to rationalize the destruction of European Jewry.
Belief in Conspiracies
For Adolph Hitler, the Protocols appealed to his belief in conspiracies. As they were written in the form of a meeting, Hitler further conferred upon them a considerable level of importance, according to biographer Konrad Heiden. Hitler used the Protocols in his manifesto “Mein Kampf” to explain his theory of how Marxism had created a weapon by which international Jewish financiers could manipulate the world’s banks in order to “destroy Germany” and enslave “free peoples” in service of their worldwide monetary goals.
Hitler’s obsession with a Jewish-Bolshevik conspiracy, observed historian George Mosse, resulted in instructing his German troops during the Russian campaign in World War II (Operation Barbarossa) to execute every Bolshevik political commissar they captured, since in his mind they were the vanguard of this conspiracy. Historian Heinz Höhne wrote that on March 30, 1941, in front of 200 senior Wehrmacht officers at the Reich Chancellery, Hitler described how the campaign in the East would be the most brutal ever. “Bolshevism is a sociological crime,” he screamed. “We must abandon any thought of soldierly comradeship. Commissars and OGPU [The Joint State Political Directorate-intelligence and state security service and secret police] men are criminals and must be treated as such.”
The notion that the Jewish people should be completely annihilated “was not a tactically motivated threat,” historian Peter Longerich said, “but the logical consequence” of the belief that “dominated” the entire National Socialist agenda, “that the German people were locked in a life-and-death struggle with their mortal enemy—international Jewry—in which their very existence as a nation was in peril.”
When asked what the world would say and how they would react to the indiscriminate murder of the Jewish people, Hitler responded: “When Barbarossa commences, the world will hold its breath and make no comment,” noted Gideon Hausner, who as attorney general of Israel, prosecuted Adolf Eichmann in 1961.
With the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the Reich began the first stage in the campaign to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Historian Ronald Headland said this “represented the last radical step in the process of dealing with the so-called ‘Jewish Problem.’” Hitler did not envision this be a conventional war, asserted historian Jürgen Förster. He planned and organized a Vernichtungskrieg (a war of annihilation) to achieve his concept of Lebensraum (living space) by conquering Russia. The “idea of acquiring living space,” Förster said, was “inextricably intertwined with the extermination of Bolshevism and the Jewish people, with the doctrine of economic self-sufficiency, and with the strategic necessity of thereby winning the war against Great Britain.”
Argued Protocols Are Not False
In response to those who argued that the Protocols were false, Hitler wrote in “Mein Kampf”: “To what extent the whole existence of this people is based on a continuous lie is shown incomparably by the Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion, so infinitely hated by the Jews. They are based on a forgery, the Frankfurter Zeitung moans and screams once every week: the best proof that they are authentic. What many Jews may do unconsciously is here consciously exposed. And that is what matters. It is completely indifferent from what Jewish brain these disclosures originate; the important thing is that with positively terrifying certainty they reveal the nature and activity of the Jewish people and expose their inner contexts as well as their ultimate aims.”
Dr. Alex Grobman is the senior resident scholar at the John C. Danforth Society, a member of the Council of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and on the advisory board of the National Christian Leadership Conference of Israel (NCLCI). He has an MA and PhD in contemporary Jewish history from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.