Protocols of the Elders of Zion
- Originating in Russia and evidently plagiarized by the Tsar's secret police from a little-known French satirical attack of 1864 on the despotism of Louis Napoleon, the Protocols out-lined in twenty-four lectures a mysterious Jewish conspiracy to subvert and control the Christian world. Posing as the secret writings of the learned elders" of international Jewry, they were tailored for a Russian audience under various titles between 1903-1907. Upon the collapse of tsarist Russia, the documents were filtered to the West by White Russian refugees, some of whom hoped that the Western powers might view Bolshevism as a Jewish plot to subjugate the world. It was apparently through two such refugees, Pyotr Nikolaevich Shabel-sky-Bork and Fyodor Viktorovich Vinberg, that Captain Ludwig Müller received his first copy of the Protocols. An ardent anti-Semite, Müller translated the documents and published them in January 1920 as Die Geheimnisse der Weisen von Zion.Although a journalist for the London Times proved in 1921 that the Protocols were a forgery, they retained their German market, and anti-Semites persisted in taking them seriously. Among those convinced of their authenticity were the deposed Kaiser and Erich Ludendorff*; meanwhile, the racist publisher and Reichstag* member Ernst zu Reventlow, knowing that they were fraudulent, championed their authenticity. In the wake of Walther Rathenau's* assassina-tion* (June 1922), the writings were publicly denounced by the SPD; labeling them "gross falsifications," the SPD laid part of the blame for Rathenau's death on the Protocols. But by the time Hitler* seized power, Müller's translation was in its thirty-third edition, and the sales of numerous titles providing commentary on the Protocols were in the hundreds of thousands. The forgery was promoted and widely circulated throughout the Third Reich.REFERENCES:Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide; Niewyk, Socialist; Parkes, Anti-semitism.
A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. C. Paul Vincent.
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