We tend to associate totalitarianism and anti-Semitism since they came to together in Hitler's Germany.  However, they are two separate forces in history and are not automatically connected.  Mussolini originally had little use for anti-Semitism (or Hitler and racism) and only adopted these ideas later as he found it practical to reverse course and join forces with Hitler.  (In fact, Mussolini once stated that if fascism adopted Hitler's ideas of racism and anti-Semitism, it would commit suicide.  He turned this prediction into a reality.)

Since many people associate anti-Semitism with totalitarianism it is useful to look at the roots of  this evil more closely.  While Germany bears a deep responsibility for the Holocaust,  it is very important to see the deep roots of anti-Semitism in  Christian history.  It would be very convenient if the guilt for the Holocaust could be pinned on one people, the Germans, or one political party, the National Socialist Party. 

The reality is that organized anti-Semitism as an official state ideology and legal policy never existed in world history until the fourth century AD, when the Christian Church became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

At  this time a reign of totalitarian terror was unleashed against all other competing religions that had little precedent in world history.  We have detailed this in a special report.    It is important to note that the demand for the persecution of Jews and other religions came from the church - not the Roman Empire.

The following books are essential reading.

The Anguish of the Jews by Edward Flannery.   Written by a Catholic priest this is a truly excellent book.  The best chapters are Chapter 3 which deals in direct manner with the virulent nature of the fourth century persecution of  Jews by the church and Chapter 9 which displays the appalling nature of imperial Russian campaigns against the Jews.  The Russian campaigns are very significant since the hoax, The Elders of Zion book, was produced by the Russian secret police.  Here are the views of Pobedonostev, the chief advisor to Czar Alexander III, concerning the Jews of Russia:

"One third was emigrate, one third to die and one third to disappear (be converted)." (Page 189)

Russian émigrés in Weimar Germany did much to encourage and fuel hatred of the Jews.  The one major oversight of the book is the failure to mention the vitally important role of Bishop Ambrose, the patron of St. Augustine and the dominant force in the late Roman imperial church in his day, who even openly endorsed the burning down of synagogues.

The Conflict between Church and Synagogue by James Parkes.  Another very good book.  Bishop Ambrose's actions are discussed in Chapter 5.

A Legacy of Hatred: Why Christians Must not Forget the Holocaust by David Rausch.   Overall, this book is not very well-written.  However, Chapter 2 "Between Church and Synagogue: Two Millennia of Christian Anti-Semitism" is one of the best short summaries of Christian anti-Semitism ever written.  It makes very clear that the commission of the most appalling crimes against the Jews was anything but some sort of isolated situation in Christian history.  Indeed, from the time the Church gained power from Constantine right up until the eighteenth century, Christianity was the driving force in Europe behind systematic campaigns of  persecution against the Jews.

What was particularly chilling was the fact that times of Christian religious "revival" such as the Crusades and the Reformation were also times when the persecution and mass murder of Jews reached a fever pitch.   When the Crusaders entered Jerusalem in 1099, their first act was to massacre every Jew in the city, burning many of them alive in the local synagogue.  Unlike Hitler, they did not try to keep their actions a secret.  Rather than trying to cover up this crime, they hailed their actions as a great moral triumph.  As the Jews inside the synagogue were burned alive, the Crusaders outside broke into song, singing the hymn, "Christ We Adore Thee".  Many wept with joy and got on their knees to thank God for giving them the chance to murder the "killers of Christ".

Pope Innocent III, not Hitler, originated the concept of forcing Jews to identify themselves by wearing the star of David.

The horrors in the Holy Land were followed by a tidal wave of atrocities and mass murders all across Europe culminating in the expulsion of all Jews from England and France and most Jews from Germany. Some of the horrors are detailed here.   The reason Poland ended up with so many Jews is that it was the only European country that had the sanity and the courage to serve as a refuge for the Jews fleeing other parts of Europe. 

Kristallnacht by Anthony Read and David Fisher.  The main value of this book is Chapter 3, "A Postcard from Poland", which details the virulently anti-Semitic policies of the Polish government before World War II.   In August 1936 the Polish government even copied Germany's policy of forcing Jewish-owned shops throughout the country to identify the ethnic origin of their owners in their display windows.  While Poland's anti-Semitic policies never equalled Germany's, it is important to see that a rising tide of hatred was sweeping eastern Europe before the World War II.  See our report on this issue.

The Atlas of Jewish History by Martin Gilbert.  A good book covering the subject.  Unfortunately, its coverage of the late ancient world is very poor in terms of documenting persecutions.  However, other maps are excellent:

pages 46-47, "Expulsions 1000-1500"
page 72, mass deportations in Imperial Russia (a horror story that is not widely known)
page 75, pogroms in Imperial Russia

This would be a good book to read in connection to Gilbert atlas on the Holocaust listed above.  A grim reality of the Holocaust that has often been overlooked has been the involvement of some of the local people in Russia in many of the mass murders of the Jews.  Gilbert's book shows that the mass murder of Jews by their neighbors in the areas conquered by Germany in World War II was not a new event.  The Romanovs, unlike Hitler, never planned to kill all the Jews.  However, they did not hesitate to commit or encourage the most diabolical crimes, and the Russian secret police created one of the greatest hoaxes in history, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which became one the key justifications for Hitler's war on the Jews. 

As noted above, the émigrés from Russia were among the leading advocates of anti-Semitism in Weimar Germany.  Rosenberg, Editor of the official Nazi party newspaper and the chief philosopher of  the party, was an émigré from the Russia and a graduate of the University of Moscow.