In 1864, a version of what eventually became known as the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion appeared in a French book entitled Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu or the Politics of Machiavelli in the 19 th Century by a Contemporary. The book was a political satire of the Machiavellian empire of Napoleon III. The author, a French lawyer named Maurice Joly, was a member of the Rosicrucians, a secret society that may have influenced Joly’s writings. Joly was eventually jailed 15 months for writing this work.
It has long been thought that during the 1890s, unknown authors, (the Russian Czar’s secret police, the Ochrana, have been frequently cited) rewrote Joly’s work. The Protocols appeared in Paris as a pamphlet, and there is a theory that a Paris agent of the Ochrana created the forgery there in 1896 or 1897. A 1999 study of the Protocols by authors Stepanov and Ruud seemingly absolved the most popular culprits of the forgery, the Ochrana, from authorship. [i] The Ochrana (meaning “protection” in Russian) was founded after the assassination of Alexander II in 1881 to protect the czar. The Jews, the Protocols declared, were secretly designing a single government, a new world order that was responsible for plotting the overthrow of the Russian czar. The authors of the Protocols, whoever they were, also wanted the document to be perceived as the secret plans for Jews to control the world. Their aim was to subjugate all non-Jews by destroying “the importance of the family and its educational value” as well as creating “an intensified centralization of government” – a super government. The hatred found in the Protocols made its way to Japan in 1919, a translation that painted Jews and Freemasons as dangerous Communist revolutionaries. [ii] The 1987 offshoot of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, the Hamas, rationalized its terrorist activities, mainly consisting of suicide bombings, on the Protocols claiming the most recent conflicts between the Palestinians and the Israelis was the continuing struggle between Islam and the evil work of Judaism, a religion that rejected the final prophet Muhammad. [iii] The Protocols of Zion has become one of the most important pieces of political disinformation in modern day history.
The Protocols was far from the earliest form of anti-Jewish writing. During many centuries preceding the middle ages, Christians taught that Jewish people were possessed of evil spirits, had been transformed into sons of Satan, and that the Anti-Christ would be a Jew and Jews would be his followers. [iv] Peter the Great, the French leader of the First Crusade, was to murder scores of Jews in Worms, Germany on his way to “liberate” the Holy Land in the eleventh century. This murderous passion, fomented during the Crusades, would be passed to the Western World as a shameful tradition of hatred of Jewish people. Peter the Great’s murders of Jews along the road to the Holy Land were the first pogroms in Europe. [v]
Anti-Jewishness was a common part of Germanic culture in the 1890’s where middle classes feared the industrialization and social change that swept their country. [vi] Houston Stewart Chamberlain fanned the racial hated with his book Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, published in 1899 and predating the fictitious Protocols by many years. The book sold 100,000 copies by 1914. Chamberlain’s book created a yearning for a Volksgemeinschaft, a common people’s utopia based on the lack of social class conflict. The volkisch ideology (national/racial attitudes) blamed the Jewish people as the perpetrators of the dangerous, unsettling changes that were occurring in Germany. This ideology was the basis for the philosophy of Bruno Heydrich who instilled in his son, Reinhard Heydrich, that Jews were a danger to the German society. Heydrich eventually became known as the Butcher of Prague or Hangman Heydrich, the head of the Nazi Sicherhiestdienst (SD), the intelligence arm of Himmler’s dreaded Shutzstaffel, the SS, Hitler’s “Elite Corp.”
Though the Protocols was universally labeled as a farce and a piece of French political satire that was turned into a blatant piece of fiction designed to denigrate Jewish people, Hitler still used the work to his twisted benefit. At first Hitler blamed the loss of the First World War on the military leaders who signed the Treaty of Versailles ending the war. Germany had few ethnic groups that could be the focal point of blame, but with the help of hate literature like Chamberlain’s work and the Protocols, Jewish people were the perfect foil – the real reason for Germany’s post-war agonies, international shame, and economic hardship. Though Hitler publicly recognized the Protocols as a forgery, he wrote in Mein Kampf that they “are genuine after all.” The Protocols, he unabashedly declared, was the true gospel pointing the accusing finger at the real culprits for Germany’s problems: the Jew. [vii]
It wasn’t just the Jews that were to be considered dangerous; the Freemasons were another evil that were exposed by Nazi writers Ludendorff and Dr. Custos. In 1928 and 1934 Ludendorff claimed that the Archduke Ferdinand’s assassin Gavrilo Princip was a Jew and conspirator Dragutin Dimitrijevic was a Freemason with links to lodges in London, Germany, Austria, and Hungary. The Freemasons of Germany sued Ludendorff in 1931 and he was fined 500 marks. Princip was neither a Jew nor a Freemason, nor was Dimitrijevic a Freemason. In 1931, Custos wrote in his book The Freemason, the World Vampire that the Freemasons were responsible for plotting against Germany when it paid the Serbs 5 million pounds to murder Archduke Ferdinand. Custos’s work was full of lies and errors: he falsely claimed that Ferdinand’s assassination occurred on the Freemasons’ summer festival day of June 24 (it was June 28); the Treaty of Versailles was signed on the June 28 to honor, once again in error, the Freemasons’ festival day; and Lenin and Trotsky, leaders of the Bolshevik revolution, were Freemason Jews (though Trotsky was a Jew, Lenin wasn’t and both were not Freemasons). [viii] The Freemasons have been the scapegoat by various groups like the Nazis throughout the twentieth century for numerous world problems including the Balkan uprisings of 1912 and 1913, the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939, the Spanish Civil War of the 1930’s, various assassinations of world leaders, both world wars, as well as the infamous Whitechapel murders of London in 1888, [ix] a unique and early form of urban terror that would be refined in the twentieth century. On April 6, 1941 Hitler went one step further claiming that the Sarajevo assassination of 1914 was the work of British intelligence Service and Hitler’s Foreign Minister Ribbentrop eventually renewed the old accusation that the Russians were responsible for Ferdinand’s assassination.
In 1797 Abbe Barruel, a French cleric, wrote a five-volume work, Memoire Pour Servir a l’histoire du Jacobinisme, tracing the cause for the French Revolution and a conspiracy to control the world through the Bavarian Illuminati and Freemasonry, as well as the medieval Order of the Templars (Christian knights established to protect travelers to the Holy Land after Godfrey of Bouillon’s successful Crusade to Jerusalem), which had “not really been exterminated in 1314 but had survived as a secret society, pledged to abolish all monarchies . . . and found a world-republic under its control.” [x] Adam Weishaupt in 1776, a professor of law at Ingolstadt University, formed the Bavarian Illuminati. This secret society believed that man was not bad but religion, the state, and bad examples perverted him. When reason replaced religion, man’s problems would be solved. Hitler twisted Weishaupt’s words when he wrote: “Behold our secret. Remember that the end justifies the means and that the wise ought to take all means to do good, which the wicked take to do evil.”
The Protocols continue their appearance within the 21st century. Television versions appeared on Egyptian television in 2002 and on Hezbollah television in 2003. The manuscript library at Alexandria, Egypt displayed an Arabic edition that claimed that the Protocols was an example of a Jewish holy book. The New Jersey-based, Arabic-language newspaper The Arab Voice published excerpts in 2002 and claimed the excerpts true. [xi]
[i] Ruud, Charles and Stepanov, Sergei. Fontanka 16: The Tsar ‘ s Secret Police , McGill-Queen University Press, Montreal, 1999.
[ii] Ridley, Jasper. The Freemasons, Arcade, New York, 2001, p. 239.
[iii] Hamas was founded by Shaykh Ahmad Yassin, leader of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood. Esposito, John L. Unholy War in the Name of Islam, Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, p. 97.
[iv] Cohn, Norman. Warrant for Genocide, Serrif, London, 1996, p. 25. See also Parkes, J. The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, The Soncino Press, London, 1934; Trachtenberg, J. The Devil and the Jews, Yale University Press, New Haven/London, 1943.
[v] As Crusader scholar and theologian Karen Armstrong asserts, the murder of Jews was not the intention of Pope Urban; the church policy toward Jews was that the Jews were involved in the execution of Christ and subsequently they were wicked people who had lost their link with God and therefore should be ignored and shunned by Christians, but their lives should be spared. Armstrong, Karen. Holy War, Anchor, New York, 2001, p. 71.
[vi] Anti-Jewishness came from unlikely sources as well, one being the German historian Thomas Carlyle, a Scotsman, who wrote of German leadership and heroes in his work On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (1841). He spent fifteen years writing a six-volume biography of Frederick the Great, which became favorite reading of Hitler and his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Steinweis, Alan. ” Hitler and Carlyle ‘ s ‘ Historical Greatness, ‘ ” History Today , June 1995, p. 33.
[vii] The Jew, Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf, was responsible for ” nine-tenths of all obscene literature, of artistic claptrap, and theatrical foolishness . . . ” Francis King, author of Satan and The Swastika, believes that Hitler was desperate to find something to hate as a psychological antidote to his own misery. Anderson, Ken. Hitler and the Occult, Prometheus Books, 1995, p. 37.
[viii] Ridley, Jasper. The Freemasons, Arcade, New York, 2001, p. 231.
[ix] The Whitechapel murders are recognized as one of the first serial killings in a major city and the dawning of urban terror that was a precursor to twentieth and twenty-first century gang violence and sniper shootings. A theory set forth in a book by Stephen Knight (Jack the Ripper — The Final Solution) claims that Freemasons were responsible for the Whitechapel murders of 1888, better known as the murders of Jack the Ripper. Ridley, Jasper. The Freemasons, Arcade, New York, 2001, pp. 280-2. Jack the Ripper, the peace-time urban terrorist, was driven by unknown motives.
[x] For details concerning the Illuminati and the Freemasons see Marrs, Jim. Rule By Secrecy, Perrenial, New York, 2000, pp. 235-251.
[xi] Wailer, Arthur. holocaustresearchproject.org.