Examining Anti-Semitism

Europe’s Hatred of Jews

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    There are parallels that link the triumphant spread of anti-Semitism in Europe until 1945 and the current neo-nationalism.

  • Facts


    • Historian Götz Aly’s latest book is “Europe Against the Jews 1880 – 1945.”
    • Mr. Aly argues that the Nazis took advantage of the hatred of Jews that had already been festering in Europe for a long time.
    • Belgium and Denmark did not cooperate with the Nazis in the persecution of Jews to the same extent as many other allied and occupied countries during World War II.
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‘Shoes of the Dead – Dresden and the Holocaust’
The yellow badge that Jews were forced to wear in Nazi Germany, on display in Dresden in 2014. Source: DPA

The history of the Jews is a history of expulsion. England expelled the Jews in the 13th century. They were forced to leave France in the 14th century, Spain and Portugal in the 15th century. Martin Luther called for their homes to be destroyed and their schools burned down in the 16th century. Until the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, the Jews had no safe place of refuge.

For that reason alone, the publication of “Europe Against the Jews 1880 – 1945,” by historian Götz Aly is highly relevant. In it, he gives compelling answers to a question that is pressing to this day: What prepared the breeding ground for the virulent anti-Semitism in Europe that made it possible for the Nazis to find support for their “final solution” project in other European countries?

Mr. Aly begins with the end, the return of the Holocaust survivors to their homelands. Whether in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, the Czech city of Bohumín, Eger in Hungary or the Austrian capital, Vienna, the same scene was repeated in early 1945. Pitiful figures stood in front of their old homes and were either turned away or faced open hostility. Other people were now living in their homes, people who had taken over their businesses and belongings. The scenes showed “that the Jews were standing in front of the doors not unexpectedly but as unwanted people,” writes Mr. Aly.

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