Protocols of the Elders of Zion (1927)

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion were circulated by the Czarist Russian secret police in the early years of the twentieth century. This forged document purported to be an account of a meeting of Jewish leaders from many nations who were planning to dominate and enslave all mankind and destroy Christianity. The Russian government used this document to try to focus the anger and hostility of Russians who were suffering under poverty, illiteracy, censorship, and lack of civil rights on the Jews.

At the end of World War I, Alfred Rosenberg, who came to Germany from the Russian Empire and was an early influential member of the Nazi Party, introduced Adolf Hitler to the document and made it a staple of Nazi propaganda. Popular in many parts of the world to the present day and adopted to meet local conditions this document in the hands of the Nazis became what Norman Cohn has called a “Warrant for Genocide.”

Additional Resource: The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has a website on the Protocols.

Connection Questions

  1. Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company brought the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to the United States. Between 1920 and 1927, his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, translated the document into English and printed it along with a series of articles accusing the Jews of using communism, banking, unions, gambling, even jazz music to weaken the American people and their culture. The entire series of articles was later published as a book, which sold over a half million copies in the United States and was translated into sixteen languages, including German. Hitler read the book and quoted it often. As a result of a law suit, Ford publicly apologized for spreading a lie. But the damage was already done. How difficult is it to "undo" a lie? Why do some people find it easier to believe an outrageous lie than a simple truth? 1
  1. Citations

    • 1 Facing History and Ourselves: Holocaust and Human Behavior (Brookline, MA: Facing History and Ourselves National Foundation, Inc., 1994), 141.

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