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The Rise Of Anti-Semitism In Germany

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Before the nineteenth century anti-Semitism was largely religious, based on the belief that the Jews were responsible for Jesus' crucifixion. It was expressed later in the Middle Ages by persecutions and expulsions, economic restrictions and personal restrictions. After Jewish emancipation during the enlightenment, or later, religious anti-Semitism was slowly replaced in the nineteenth century by racial prejudice, stemming from the idea of Jews as a distinct race. In Germany theories of Aryan racial superiority and charges of Jewish domination in the economy and politics in addition with other anti-Jewish propaganda led to the rise of anti-Semitism. This growth in anti-Semitic belief led to Adolf Hitler's rise to power and eventual extermination of nearly six million Jews in the holocaust of World War II.

Jewish emancipation in Germany dates from 1867 and became law in Prussia on July 3, 1869. Despite the fact the prominence which Jews had succeeded in gaining in trade, finance, politics, and literature during the earlier decades of the century, it is from the brief rise of liberalism that one can trace the rise of the Jews in German social life. For it is with the rise of liberalism which the Jews truly flourished. They contributed to its establishment, benefited from its institutions, and were under fire when it was attacked. Liberal society provides social mobility, which led to distaste among those who had acquired some place in a sort of a hierarchy. Although many were, not all anti-Semites were anti-liberal, but most anti-Semites opposed Liberalism's whole concept of human existence, which provides much equality.

One of the first writers to express the racial anti-Semitic view was Wilhelm Marr, who it is believed invented the word "anti-Semitism". He, like other Germans had grievance with the Jews on the basis that a universally successful Jew had pushed them out of getting a good job. Marr himself was fired from his job as a journalist at a paper owned by Jews. He wrote "Der Sieg des Judentums uber das Germanentum". In other words Jew was not contrasted with Christian, religiously but with German, racially. In 1879 he founded The Antisemiten-Liga, its purpose was in short to bring together all non-Jewish Germans into a common union which strives to saving the Fatherland from the Jewish influence. Marr was the first to appreciate the possibilities opened by propaganda on racial lines.

Eugene Duhring, one of Marr's followers also learnt how to use propaganda to appeal to the people. In 1881 he wrote Die Judenfrage als Racen- Sitten- und Kulturfrage. This announced that the Jewish question had to be discussed on a new level, that of race and morals. It was a question of "racial honor" to rid all public offices, business, and finance of this "incomparably inferior race".

Although more anti-Semites started turning to racialism, there were still some that stuck to religious grounds. One of them was Konstantin Frantz. Frantz was a nationalist as well as a Christian conservative. He said that since the authority of modern states rests on the acknowledgement of Christ, Jews must be excluded from citizenship, barred from public offices, and restricted to closed communities where they can maintain their own religion.

Another Christian anti-Semite was Rudolf Meyer. Unlike Frantz, Meyer was a State Socialist who based his religious anti-Semitic views on economic order. He said the new social order must be Christian. He also attacked the Bismarck system in 1877 with Politische Grunder und die Korruption in Deutschland, concluding that the responsibility for Germany's misfortunes is entirely Bismarck's, which is in the long run the Jewish Grunder's fault.

Paul de Lagarde another anti-Semite was different than any of the others he didn't oppose the Jews on merely religious or economic ground and was not exactly a raicialist. On the other hand he thought the dividing line between Germans and Jews was not biologically determined but was cultural. He was very anti the Bismarck state for it include all other backwards cultures which includes the Jews, which according to him are just a burden to the German State. He thought that expansion as Bismarck had preached is useless if the Jews are allowed to survive among the Germans. He believed there had to be a final solution, which is according to him assimilation, but he sometimes indulged in genocidal fantasies as racialists did.

Frantz, Meyer and Lagarde's influence only reached a small audience and their campaign to revoke emancipation would only reach law if their anti-Semitic propaganda would reach a broader public. With the decline of parliamentary Liberalism official Catholic anti-Semitism became a rarity. Despite attempts to make the public more aware of the Jewish problem, like Joachim Gehlsen did in the Deutsche Eisenbahnzeitung, or Otto Glagau did in his additions to the Grunderzeit, none would compare to that of one Adolf Stocker, who would make the biggest impact on the movement.

Stocker was an extreme conservative and was for a Christian state that was aristocratic but still took the weaker classes under its wing. He was against the Social Democrats and wanted to save the capital (Berlin) from atheist Marxism. He was appalled at the extent at which German society had become secularized. He thought that the only hope for the Conservatives was to go in the streets and get the support of the workers and fellow sufferers in the fight against Liberalism.

So in January 1878 He spread posters around Berlin for people to attend a meeting with the purpose of forming a Christian Social Workers' Party which was to try to get social reform, thus becoming the first one to take social gospel to the masses. Although in the next elections the party didn't get as much votes away from the Liberals as they wanted to, with the anti-socialist bill being passed the Liberals suffered a blow they would never be able to recover from.

Still for the Party to flourish it would have to get more support than from just the workers. Stocker had to get the support of artisans, traders, shopkeepers who also had reason to be discontent with Liberalism and the important thing was that unlike the workers, they were susceptible to anti-Semitism. So when they stated to replace the workers at meetings, Stocker made his party an overtly anti-Semitic one. Although he didn't believe in the revocation of emancipation and respected the Jews as fellow citizens, he firmly held that no Jew could be a leader of the Christian workers in either a religious or economic way. He saw the Jewish question as neither merely racial nor merely religious, it was "sozil-ethisch".

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