CH. 1: A HISTORY OF ANTI-SEMITISMCH. 2: HITLER’S RISEINTHE HOLOCAUSTA NORTH CAROLINA TEACHER’S RESOURCEFEATURING THE NARRATIVES OF HOLOCAUST SURVIVORSWHO BECAME NORTH CAROLINA RESIDENTSThis guide is available for free download, in its entirety and by individual narratives and chapters,at the Council website: 2019 North Carolina Council on the HolocaustNorth Carolina Department of Public Instruction

I A H ISTORY OF A NTI -S EMITISM OVERVIEW “The anti-Semitic episodes from my childhood, painful though they were, were just theprelude to the horror that was to follow. Nothing in the experience of the EuropeanJews prepared us for the destruction that was to come.”Morris GlassThe roots of anti-Semitism—prejudice against Jews—go back to ancient times. Throughouthistory, the seeds of misunderstanding can be traced to the position of the Jews as aminority religious group. Often in ancient times, when government officials felt their authority threatened, they found a convenient scapegoat in the Jews. Belief in one God (monotheism) and refusal to accept the dominant religion set the Jews apart from others in pre-Christiantimes. At first, Christianity was seen as a Jewish sect, but this changed as Christianitydeveloped and became a powerful force in the Roman Empire.CHRISTIANS EARLY TARGETS OF ROMAN PERSECUTIONIn 63 BCE, the Romansconquered Jerusalem, center of the Jewish homeland. During the early period of Roman rule,Judaism was recognized as a legal religion, and Jews could practice their religion freely. Theearly Christians, however, were subject to Roman persecution since they were considered to beheretics (believers in an unacceptable faith). Once Christianity took hold and spread throughoutthe empire, and after several Jewish revolts against Roman power in the first century CE,Judaism became the target of Roman persecution.CHRISTIANITY BECOMES STATE RELIGION IN ROMAN EMPIRE In 380 CE, the EmperorTheodosius I made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. The Church demandedthe conversion of the Jews because it insisted that Christianity was the only true religion. Thepower of the state made Jews outcasts when they refused to renounce their faith. They weredenied citizenship and its rights. By the end of the fourth century, Jews had been stamped withone of the most damaging myths they would face. For many Christians they had become the“Christ-killers,” blamed for the death of Jesus. While the actual crucifixion of Jesus was carriedout by the Romans, responsibility for the death of Jesus was placed on the Jews.NEW LAWS SET JEWS APART The Justinian Code, compiled by scholars for the EmperorJustinian (527-565 CE), excluded Jews fromall public places, prohibited Jews from givingevidence in lawsuits in which Christians tookpart, and forbade the reading of the Bible inHebrew (only Greek or Latin were allowed).Church Council edicts forbade marriage between Christians and Jews and outlawed theconversion of Christians to Judaism in 533 CE.In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council stampedthe Jews as a people apart through its decreethat Jews were to wear special clothes andmarkings to distinguish them from Christians.Although the Church passed four decreesconcerning Jews, it was up to individual statesto impose the new decrees. Some rulers “Burning of the Jews,” woodcut, 1493, depicting the massacre of Jewswillingly accepted the restrictions while others accused of using Christian blood in their rituals (“blood libel”)did not.1

The Council of Basel (1431-43) established the concept of physical separation in cities withghettos. It decreed that Jews were to live in separate communities, isolated from Christiansexcept for reasons of business. Jews were not allowed to go to universities. They were requiredto attend Christian church sermons.RELIGIOUS MINORITIES HARSHLY TREATED IN THE MIDDLE AGESIn Europe, duringthe Middle Ages—from 500 to about 1450 CE—all religious nonconformists were harshly treatedby ruling authorities. Heresy—holding an opinion contrary to Church doctrine—was a crimepunishable by death. Jews were seen as a threat to established religion. As the most conspicuous non-conforming group, they were often attacked. At times it was easy for ruthlessleaders to convince their largely uneducated followers that all “nonbelievers” must be killed.Sometimes the leaders of the Church aided the persecutions. At other times, the Pope andbishops protected Jews.CRUSADESThe Crusades, which began in 1096, led to increased persecution of Jews.Religious fervor reached fever pitch as the Crusaders made their way across Europe toward theHoly Land. Although anger was originally focused on the Muslims controlling Palestine, some ofthis intense feeling was redirected toward the European Jewish communities through which theCrusaders passed. Massacres of Jews occurred in many cities on the route to Jerusalem. In theseven-month period from January to July 1096, approximately one fourth to one third of theJewish population in Germany and France, around 12,000 people, was killed. These persecutions caused many Jews to leave western Europe for the relative safety of eastern Europe.MANY OCCUPATIONS CLOSED TO JEWSIn western and southern Europe, Jews couldnot become farmers because they were forbidden to own land. Land ownership required thetaking of a Christian oath. Gradually more and more occupations were closed to them,particularly commerce guilds [business and merchant groups]. There were only a few ways forJews to make a living. Since Christians believed lending money and charging interest on it—usury—was a sin, Jews were able to take on that profession. It was a job no one else wanted. Italso provided Jews with portable wealth if they were expelled from a region or nation.BLACK DEATH LEADS TO SCAPEGOATINGThe Black Death, orbubonic plague, led to intense religious scapegoating in western Europe. It is estimated that between1348 and 1350 the epidemic killedone third of Europe’s population, perhaps as many as 25 million people.Many people believed the plague tobe God’s punishment for their sins.For others, the plague could only beexplained as the work of demons; thisgroup chose as their scapegoat people who were already unpopular inthe community. Because Jews followed religious laws of hygiene (incluPogrom in the Jewish ghetto of Frankfurt, Germany, 1614ding not drinking from public wells),they tended to suffer less from the plague than their Christian neighbors. Yet rumors spread thatthe plague was caused by the Jews who had poisoned wells and food. The worst massacre ofJews in Europe before Hitler’s rise to power occurred at this time. For two years, a violent waveof attacks against Jews swept over Europe. Tens of thousands were killed by their terrifiedneighbors despite the fact that many Jews also died of the plague.2

Not only were Jews blamed for the Black Death, but theywere also accused of murdering Christians, especiallychildren, in order to use their blood during religious ceremonies. The “blood libel,” or ritual murder, as it is known,can be traced back to Norwich, England, where around1150 two clergymen charged that the murder of a Christianboy was part of a Jewish plot to kill Christians. Despite thefact that the boy was probably killed by an outlaw, the mythpersisted. Murdering Jews was also justified with otherreasons. Jews were said to desecrate churches and to bedisloyal to rulers. Those who tried to protect Jews wereignored or persecuted themselves.EXPELLED FROM WESTERN EUROPEBy the end ofthe Middle Ages, fear and superstition had created a deeprift between Jews and Christians. As European peoplesbegan to think of themselves as belonging to a nation,Jews again became “outsiders,” expelled from England in1290, from France in 1306 and 1394, and from parts ofGermany in the 1300s and 1400s. They were not legallyallowed in England until the mid-1600s and in France untilthe 1790s after the French Revolution.GOLDEN AGE AND INQUISITION IN SPAINUnlikeJews in other parts of western Europe, the Jews of Spainenjoyed a golden age of political influence and religioustolerance from the 11th to the 14th centuries. However, inthe wave of intense national excitement that followed theSpanish conquest of Granada in 1492, both Jews andMuslims were expelled from Spain after the unification ofSpain under Ferdinand and Isabella. Unification had beenaided by the Catholic Church which, through the Inquisition, had insisted on religious conformity. Loyalty tocountry became equated with absolute commitment toChristianity. From 1478 to 1765, the Church-led Inquisitionburned thousands of Jews at the stake for their religiousbeliefs.Medieval illustration depicting Jews (wearingyellow badges) being burned at the stake(Schilling, Bildchronik), 1515Luther’s On the Jews and Their Lies, 1543PROTESTANT REFORMATIONThe Protestant Reformation, which split Christianity intodifferent branches in the 16th century, did little to reduce anti-Semitism. Martin Luther, who ledthe Reformation, was deeply disappointed by the refusal of the Jews to accept his approach toChristianity. He referred to Jews as “poisonous bitter worms” and suggested they be banishedfrom Germany or forcibly converted. In On the Jews and Their Lies, Luther advised:First, their synagogues or churches should be set on fire. . . Secondly, theirhomes should likewise be broken down and destroyed. . . They ought be putunder one roof or in a stable, like gypsies. . . Thirdly, they should be deprivedof their prayerbooks. . . Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threatof death to teach anymore.**Since the end of World War II, most Lutherans have denounced the views of Luther toward the Jewish people, and many Lutheran denominationshave issued official statements condemning anti-Semitism. In 1982, for example, the Lutheran World Federation stated that “We Christians mustpurge ourselves of any hatred of the Jews and any sort of teaching of contempt for Judaism.”3

Metropolitan Museum of ArtJewish ghetto of Rome, 1500s (note “Platea iudea” at left (Plaza of the Jews); detail of Antonio Tempesta, Plan [Map] of the City of Rome, 1593SEPARATED IN GHETTOSReligious struggles plagued the Reformation for over 100 yearsas terrible wars were waged between Catholic and Protestant monarchs. Jews played no part inthese struggles. They had been separated completely during the Middle Ages by Church law,which had confined the Jews to ghettos. Many ghettos were surrounded by high walls withgates guarded by Christian sentries. Jews were allowed out during the daytime for businessdealings with Christian communities, but had to be back at curfew. At night, and during Christianholidays, the gates were locked. The ghettos froze the way of life for the Jews because theywere segregated and not permitted to mix freely. They established their own synagogues andschools and developed a life separate from the rest of the community.ENLIGHTENMENT AND FRANCE In the 1700s, during the period known as the Enlightenment, philosophers stressed new ideas about reason, science, progress, and the rights of individuals. Jews were allowed out of the ghetto. The French Revolution helped many western European Jews rise above second-class status. In 1791 an emancipation decree in France gaveJews full citizenship. In the early 1800s, most German states including Bavaria and Prussia, andmany western European countries passed similar orders, but they did not eliminate their restrictions on Jews. By 1871, virtually all legal restrictions on Jews had been removed in Germany.Although this new spirit of equality spread, many Jews in the ghetto were not able to take theirplaces in the “outside world.” They knew very little about the world beyond the ghetto walls.They spoke their own language, Yiddish, and not the language of their countrymen. The outlookof thinkers of this period shifted from a traditional way of looking at the world, which stressedfaith and religion, to a more modern belief in reason and the scientific laws of nature. A newfoundation for prejudice was laid, which changed the history of anti-Semitism. Now pseudoscientific reasons were used to show differences between Jews and non-Jews and set themapart again in Europe.NATIONALISM IN GERMANYIn the early 1800s, strong nationalistic feelings stirred thepeoples of Europe. Much of this feeling was a reaction against the domination of Europe byFrance in the Napoleonic Era. In Germany, many thinkers and politicians looked for ways toincrease political unity. Impressed by the power France had under Napoleon, they began to seesolutions to German problems in a great national Germanic state.The French intellectual Joseph Arthur de Gobineau was an early proponent of “scientificracism”—using pseudo-science to justify theories of racial supremacy and the “Aryan masterrace.” Writing in the mid-1800s, Gobineau blamed the decline of civilizations on degenerationresulting from the interbreeding of superior and inferior racial groups. He cited the white race, or4

Aryans as he called them, as thesuperior race from which all civilizations were formed. The term“Aryan” originally referred to peoplesspeaking Indo-European languages.Racist scientists distorted its meaning to support ideas that pointed tothose of German background as examples of “racially superior” Aryanstock.RACE REPLACES RELIGION ASBASIS FOR PREJUDICESTheword anti-Semitism first appeared in1873 in a book entitled The Victoryof Judaism over Germanism byWilhelm Marr. Marr’s book markedan important change in the history ofanti-Semitism. In his book Marr stated that the Jews of Germany oughtto be eliminated because they weremembers of an alien race that couldnever be fully a part of Germansociety.USHMM/Hans Pauli“The German Face,” Nazi eugenics posterdepicting three “Aryan facial types,” ca. 1935USHMM/Library of Congress“Nordic Heads of All Ages and Nations,” slide in a Nazi lecture ext