The word rests in a conversation like a foul stench and with it comes unbiddenimages and accusations. Today in many circles this word alone is possibly themost horrendous name to place on a person.
Maybe though, not because of what itmeans, but because of what it brings to mind. Automatically and unwanted,pictures come to our mind of goose stepping Nazis and concentration camps,bodies piled high and what we think of as the air fills with the scent ofburning flesh. Our worst nightmares and human kinds worst behaviors. Yet,many of us do not know where the term came from or even what it means beyondtheir simple ideas. Even dictionaries only give the blandest description of theterm. Webster’s New World Dictionary defines anti-Semitism as “having orshowing prejudice against Jews,” “discriminating against orpersecuting Jews,” “..
.hostility toward Jews.” but there reallyisnt a lot to be learned from that, that we didnt already know. So I knewI had to dig deeper. So I started to look for references to Nazis and Hitleras well as Martin Luther.
I began to even look for sites of the Ku Klux Klan inefforts to find some background on the term that brings so much angst into themind as this. Although I admit, I did find a wonderful article in an unexpectedlocation, unexpected only because I had already consulted so many encyclopediasand found nothing. Yet Funk and Wagner told me this: “ANTI-SEMITISM,political, social, and economic agitation and activities directed against Jews.The term is now used to denote anti-Judaic acts or sentiments based on anygrounds, including religious ones.
The adjective Semitic originally was appliedto all descendants of Shem, the eldest son of the biblical patriarch Noah; inlater usage, it refers to a group of peoples of southwestern Asia, includingboth Jews and Arabs. The word anti-Semitism was coined about 1879 to denotehostility only toward Jews. This hostility is supposedly justified by a theory,first developed in Germany in the middle of the 19th century, that peoples ofso-called Aryan stock are superior in physique and character to those of Semiticstock.” www.
funkandwagnalls.com/ I was surprised to learn that it had to dowith more then just the Jews, but Arabs as well. Else where, I found a littlemore to back this up; “Anti-Semitism, from a strict adherence to the compoundstructure and meaning of the word itself, can be defined simply as being against(antagonistic toward, opposed to) the Semitic people. In a grammatical andetymological sense (as pertaining to race), such a definition would include allthe descendants of Shem (e.g., the Arabic nations as well as the nation ofIsrael).
The word “anti-Semitism” though is not really used in a broadsense pertaining to the entire Semitic line. Rather, the word is invariably usedin a much more restrictive sense, referring to opposition exhibited toward onlyone branch of the Semitic line — opposition exhibited toward the descendants ofAbraham through Isaac and Jacob. The Jewish people alone, among the Semiticpeople, have been the target of persecution after persecution during the pastthree and one-half millenniums; and “anti-Semitism” is an expressionwhich has come into use pointing to these persecutions. Other Semitic nationsare not in view at all.
” gracenet.com/lamp/TODA1.html And a little more on thebackground; “Today one hears protests that the word anti- Semitism should notbe used, because there are other Semites besides the Jews. The term however, wascoined in 1879 by a racist named Wilhelm Marr. He was searching for a morescientific sounding term then Jew when he founded the League of Anti-Semites. Inthe European context, the word Semite was used strictly for the Jews.
” Page 36Christians and Jews in Germany. Uriel Tal. The term can further be broken owninto both racial and religious anti-Semitism. “Both religious and racialanti-Semitism were to be found in the Second Reich. Religious anti-Semitisminsisted that a Jew could not retain his Jewish identity, and it demanded thathe converts and assimilates. Fredrick Paulsen, a prominent liberal humanist andoutspoken critic of racial anti-Semitism, explained in his “System ofEthics” that to remain a complete Jew and a complete German isimpossible. Racial anti-Semitism treated the Jew as a parasite, a biologicalinferior that conversion and assimilation would not cure, a danger to the bodypolitic.
” Uriel Tal, Christians and Jews in Germany: Religion, Politics,and Ideology in the Second Reich, 1870-1914, trans. Noah Jonathan Jacobs (IthacaNY Cornwell University 1975) Page 291. This of course brings a little moredirectly to the issue at hand. The people that are and have been anti-Semites.Hitler and the Third Reich automatically come to mind.
Yet sitting in thebackground of that totally deplorable incident sits a man that we knowinglywould never have placed with Hitler at all. Martin Luther. It would seem thatMartin Luthers writings inspired much of the Holocaust. This causes a lot ofproblems for some people. In speaking to people when I was working andresearching this paper, many people had no idea that Martin Luther had leaningsthat way at all. In fact most people simply cant believe that the Father ofProtestantism could have ever been so mislead. Yet I do not believe that Lutherheld these beliefs out of a mislead doctrine.
No, I believe that they weresimply a reaction from what must have been a bitter personal disappointment andshaming. This does not excuse him, not does it change the fact that he was infact and anti-Semite, but certainly, it would remind us that even the greatestfrom among us are libel to allow our disappointments to colour our thinking, nomatter how inspired it may be. “No apologist can claim that Martin Luther borehis anti-Jewishness out of youthful naivete’, uneducation, or out of unfoundedChristianity. On the contrary, Luther in his youth expressed a great optimismabout Jewish conversion to Christianity. But in his later years, Luther began torealize that the Jews would not convert to his wishes.
His anti-Jewishness grewslowly over time. His logic came not from science or reason, but rather fromScripture and his Faith. His “On the Jews and Their Lies” showsremarkable study into the Bible and fanatical biblical reasoning. Luther, at age60 wrote this dangerous “little” book at the prime of his maturity,and in full knowledge in support of his beliefs and Christianity. Few peopletoday realize that Luther wrote ‘On the Jews and Their Lies.’ (He also wrotesuch works like “Against the Sabbatarians.”) Freethinkers shouldbecome aware of the anti-Semitic influence that Luther has brought on the world.
His vehement attack on Jews and his powerful influence on the believers of theGermans has brought a new hypothesis to mind: that the Holocaust, and indeed,the eliminationist form of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany may not have occurredwithout the influence from Luther’s book “On the Jews and Their Lies.”Today, white-supremacists and Neo-Nazis continue to spread Luther’s Jewishhatred and use quotes from this book as “proof” of theirconvictions.” members.icanect.net/zardoz/luther.htm Yet, Luther had notalways been so.
“At the beginning of his career, Luther was apparentlysympathetic to Jewish resistance to the Catholic Church. He wrote, early in hiscareer: The Jews are blood relations of our Lord; if it were proper to boast offlesh and blood, the Jews belong more to Christ than we. I beg, therefore, mydear Papist, if you become tired of abusing me as a heretic, that you begin torevile me as a Jew. But Luther expected them to convert to his purifiedChristianity. When they did not, he turned violently against Jews.
.. While thereis little doubt that Christian anti-Semitism laid the social and cultural basisfor modern anti-Semitism, modern anti-Semitism does differ in being based onpseudo-scientific notions of race. The Nazis imprisoned and killed Jews who hadconverted to Christianity: Luther would have welcomed them. None of thisjustifies what follows, but it may help to comprehend what is happening” PaulHalsall June1997 emailprotected www.
fordham.edu/halsall/source/luther-jews.htmlAlso, “Luther appeared to be a breath of fresh air in the midst of a dismalsituation.
Initially he had high regard for the Jewish people because heexpected them to convert en masse once they were presented with a Christianmessage free from “Papal Paganism” In his treatise “That Jesus Christ Wasborn A Jew” 1523…
He wrote If I had been a Jew and had seen such doltsand blockheads govern and teach the Christian faith, I would have sooner becomea hog then a Christian.” At this time he took a firm stand against themistreatment of the Jews, and advocated a new relationship with the..
. ThereforeI would request and advise that one deal gently with them, (the Jews) andinstruct them From Scripture; then some of them may come along. Instead of thiswe are trying only to drive them by Force, slandering them, accusing them ofhaving Christian blood if they dont stink, and I know not What otherfoolishness.
So long as we treat them like dogs, how can we expect to work anygood Among them? Again, when we forbid them to labour and do business and haveany human fellowship With us, thereby forcing them into usury, how is thatsupposed to do them any good? If we really Want to help them, we must be guidedin our dealings with them not by Papal law but by the law of Christian Love…Alas.
Luther became irritated when the Jewish people continued to resistconversion. In 1526 he complained of the Jews stubbornness, and by the 1530she was presenting the common medieval stereotypes accorded to the Jews. In”Conversations in Table Talk” he caricatured Jews as stiff-necked,ironhearted, stubborn as the devil, and usurers. In 1543, at the end of hislife, he wrote three derogatory treatises against the Jews, which anti-Semiteswould quote for the next 400 years. So horrible were his statements that JuliusStreicher, Hitlers hate-sheet editor and propagandist in Der Sturmer, citedLuther at his Neurenburg trial to justify his actions.
” Note martin Luther toGeorge Spalatin, Wittenburg, 1514 in Perserved Smith, ed.and trans, Lutherscorrespondence and Other Contemporary Letters. Philadelphia: LutheranPublication Society 1913 pages 28-29 Martin Luther, That Jesus Christ was Born aJew, 1523 trans. Walther I, Brandt, in Luthers Works.
Philadelphia:Muhlenburg, 1962) 45:229 And so we see that no real malice was originallyintended, but that after dealing with deep disappointment and shame, Lutherlashed out bitterly. Yet he is a man and therefore still responsible for hisactions, and therefore still could be called an anti-Semite. What did he do andwrite that is so bad, that one could label him so? I will explain. I will putforth that Luther was both a racial and religious anti-Semite and them furtherprove that it was his writings that helped to fan the flame of anti-Semitismthat turned into the Holocaust and the KKK movements that we see today. Inputting forth that Luther was a religious anti-Semite, I first place underobservation the premise for his writing his pro-Jewish book “That Jesus Christwas Born a Jew”. Alone the fact that he wrote in hopes that Jews would convertto Lutheranism would have him branded.
“Luther’s Enthusiasm for Mission Work.Luther did not always show himself to be a hopelessly anti-Semitic man. In his1523 work “Jesus Christ was born a Jew” he makes reference to theorigins of Christianity.
He wanted to convert the Jews to the belief he foundafter years of searching. Luther wanted the Jews to recognize and confess the”true belief”. www.luther.de/e/juden.html In going back to our workingdefinition of religious anti-Semitism we find that it is based on a need for theJew to convert and assimilate.
Later, in a letter he would say; “But what am Idoing? My heart is fuller of these thoughts than my tongue can tell. I have cometo the conclusion that the Jews will always curse and blaspheme God and his KingChrist, as all the prophets have predicted. He who neither reads nor understandsthis, as yet knows no theology, in my opinion. And so I presume the men ofCologne cannot understand the Scripture, because it is necessary that suchthings take place to fulfill prophecy. If they are trying to stop the Jewsblaspheming, they are working to prove the Bible and God liars.” But trust Godto be true, even if a million men of Cologne sweat to make him false.
Conversionof the Jews will be the work of God alone operating from within, and not of manworking-or rather playing-from without. If these offences be taken away, worsewill follow. For they are thus given over by the wrath of God to reprobation,that they may become incorrigible, as Ecclesiastes says, for every one who isincorrigible is rendered worse rather than better by correction. Farewell in theLord; pardon my words, and pray the Lord for my sinning soul.” “MartinLuther’s to George Spalatin,” from Luthers Correspondence and OtherContemporary, Letters, trans. by P.
Smith (1913), Vol. 1, pp. 28-29.www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1514luther.
html So we see he was absolutelydetermined that the Jews would and should convert to Christianity. When theyrefused to do this as he ha anticipated, then he became frustrated and bitter,and his desire for them to convert would be articulated in much stronger terms.”Therefore be on your guard against the Jews, knowing that wherever they havetheir synagogues, nothing is found but a den of devils in which sheerself-glory, conceit, lies, blasphemy, and defaming of God and men are practicedmost maliciously and veheming his eyes on them.” And also, “If I had torefute all the other articles of the Jewish faith, I should be obliged to writeagainst them as much and for as long a time as they have used for inventingtheir lies– that is, longer than two thousand years.
” However it is difficultfor one to find quotes that lend themselves specifically to a religiousanti-Semitism. It is much, much eisier to find racial slurs within Lutherswritings. But even then, you find them peppered with comments about theirblasphemies towards God… for we must never forget that Luthers maincomplaint was a religious one, not a personal one. The following are a series ofquotes, all taken from Luthers book “The Jews and Their Lies” all areexcellent examples of the mans growing hatred for the Jewish race.
Thereforethe blind Jews are truly stupid fools… — “…
their blindness and arroganceare as solid as an iron mountain” — “Moreover, they are nothing but thievesand robbers who daily eat no morsel and wear no thread of clothing, which theyhave not stolen and pilfered from us by means of their accursed usury. Thus theylive from day to day, together with wife and child, by theft and robbery, asarch-thieves and robbers, in the most impenitent security.” — ” Alas, itcannot be anything but the terrible wrath of God, which permits anyone to sinkinto such abysmal, devilish, hellish, insane baseness, envy, and arrogance. If Iwere to avenge myself on the devil himself I should be unable to wish him suchevil and misfortune as God’s wrath inflicts on the Jews, compelling them to lieand to blaspheme so monstrously, in violation of their own conscience. Anyway,they have their reward for constantly giving God the lie.” — ” I brief,dear princes and lords, those of you who have Jews under your rule– if mycounsel does not please your, find better advice, so that you and we all can berid of the unbearable, devilish burden of the Jews, lest we become guiltysharers before God in the lies, blasphemy, the defamation, and the curses whichthe mad Jews indulge in so freely and wantonly against the person of our LordJesus Christ, this dear mother, all Christians, all authority, and ourselves.
Donot grant them protection, safe-conduct, or communion with us…
. . With thisfaithful counsel and warning I wish to cleanse and exonerate my conscience.”– ” He who hears this name God from a Jew must inform the authorities, orelse throw sow dung at him when he sees him and chase him away.” — “.
..they remain our daily murderers and bloodthirsty foes in their hearts. Theirprayers and curses furnish evidence of that, as do the many stories which relatetheir torturing of children and all sorts of crimes for which they have oftenbeen burned at the stake or banished.” — “Undoubtedly they do more andviler things than those which we know and discover.
” So we see what a litanyof hate and hurt spews forth from one of the most beloved fathers of thechurch. Yet it gets worse, for I do not call Luther the Father of the Nazi forno reason, no indeed. “The Nazis did not discard the past, they built on it.They did not begin a development. They completed it.” – Raul Hilberg ,Holocaust historian www.tulane.
edu/so-inst/d1.htm Probably the most surprisingthing that Luther ever wrote, even after reading all these previous quotes, washis six-step plan for further treatment of the Jewish race. It reads very muchlike what we would expect to read in a Storm Troopers handbook.
“What shallwe Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since theylive among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware oftheir lying and reviling and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in theirlies, cursing and blasphemy. Thus we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire ofdivine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews. Withprayer and the fear of God we must practice a sharp mercy to see whether wemight save at least a few from the glowing flames.
We dare not avenge ourselves.Vengeance a thousand times worse than we could wish them already has them by thethroat. I shall give you my sincere advice: First to set fire to theirsynagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, sothat no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done inhonor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we areChristians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing,and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated inthe past unknowingly – and I myself was unaware of it – will be pardoned by God.
But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house forthe Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about,blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), itwould be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as wevery well know. Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed.For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they mightbe lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies.
This will bring home tothem that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they areliving in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about usbefore God. Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings,in which such idolatry, lies, cursing and blasphemy are taught, be taken fromthem. (Remainder omitted) Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden toteach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justlyforfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with thesaying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17 :10 ff.) in which he commands them to obeytheir teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: “what theyteach you in accord with the law of the Lord.” Those villains ignore that.They wantonly employ the poor people’s obedience contrary to the law of the Lordand infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy.
In the same way thepope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16 :18, “Youare Peter,” etc, inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions thatissued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God,and therefore he forfeited the right to teach. Fifth, I advise that safe-conducton the highways be abolished completely for the Jews.
For they have no businessin the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like.Let they stay at home. (…
Remainder omitted). Sixth, I advise that usury beprohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be takenfrom them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that,as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, andby it they have stolen and robbed from us all they possess. Such money shouldnow be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerelyconverted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundredflorins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himselfup in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and themaintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are notput to use with God’s blessing in a good and worthy cause. Seventh, I commendputting a flail, an ax, a hoe, a spade, a distaff, or a spindle into the handsof young, strong Jews and Jewesses and letting them earn their bread in thesweat of their brow, as was imposed on the children of Adam (Gen.
3:19}. Forit is not fitting that they should let us accursed Goyim toil in the sweat ofour faces while they, the holy people, idle away their time behind the stove,feasting and farting, and on top of all, boasting blasphemously of theirlordship over the Christians by means of our sweat. No, one should toss outthese lazy rogues by the seat of their pants.” So the question now is posed,did Hitler and alter on, the KKK use his writings as a base for their own ends.
Yes they did. “In page after page of Hitler’s ranting against the Jews in MeinKampf, one soon comes to realize that echoes of Martin Luther are being heard.Julius Streicher, the chief party ideologist of anti-Semitism, argued in hisdefense at the Nuremberg trials that he had never said anything about the Jewsthat Martin Luther had not said four hundred years earlier” www.infidels.org/org/ffrf/fttoday/back/hakeem/holocaust4.htmland, “More then 120 American organizations were activily dissemating anti-Semitaticpropaganda between 1933 and 1940. Anti-Sematic flyers blanketed the US. Onedeclaired Jesus Christ, Martin Luther, Mohammed, Pope Clement VIII, BenjamenFranklin, Ulysses Grant, James A Garfeild, and Henry Ford unite with 50 otherfamous personages in saying: Jews are traiters to America and should not betrusted.” 98-99 So vehemently did Luther speak against the Jews, and the factthat Luther represented an honorable and admired Christian to Protestants, thathis written words carried the “memetic” seeds of anti-Jewishness upuntil the 20th century and into the Third Reich. Luther’s Jewish eliminationistrhetoric virtually matches the beliefs held by the Hitler and much of the Germanpopulace in the 1930s. Luther unconsciously set the stage for the future ofGerman nationalistic fanaticism. William L. Shirer in his “The Rise andFall of the Third Reich,” puts it succinctly: “Through his sermons andhis magnificent translations of the Bible, Luther created the modern Germanlanguage, aroused in the people not only a new Protestant vision of Christianityby a fervent German nationalism and taught them, at least in religion, thesupremacy of the individual conscience. But tragically for them, Luther’s sidingwith the princes in the peasant rising, which he had largely inspired, and hispassion for political autocracy ensured a mindless and provincial politicalabsolutism which reduced the vast majority of the German people to poverty, to ahorrible torpor and a demeaning subservience. Even worse perhaps, it helped toperpetuate and indeed to sharpen the hopeless divisions not only between classesbut also between the various dynastic and political groupings of the Germanpeople. It doomed for centuries the possibility of the unification ofGermany.” In Mein Kampf, Hitler listed Martin Luther as one of the greatestreformers. And similar to Luther in the 1500s, Hitler spoke against the Jews.The Nazi plan to create a German Reich Church laid its bases on the “Spiritof Dr. Martin Luther.” The first physical violence against the Jews came onNovember 9-10 on Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) where the Nazis killed Jews,shattered glass windows, and destroyed hundreds of synagogues, just as Lutherhad proposed. In Daniel Johah Goldhagen’s book, Hitler’s Willing Executioners,(Alfred A. Knoph, NY 1996), he writes: “One leading Protestant churchman,Bishop Martin Sasse published a compendium of Martin Luther’s antisemiticvitriol shortly after Kristallnacht’s orgy of anti-Jewish violence. In theforeword to the volume, he applauded the burning of the synagogues and thecoincidence of the day: ‘On November 10, 1938, on Luther’s birthday, thesynagogues are burning in Germany.’ The German people, he urged, ought to heedthese words ‘of the greatest antisemite of his time, the warner of his peopleagainst the Jews.'”