The History of an Obsession

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Klaus P. Fischer uses “Judeophobia” to replace the term “anti-Semitism,” which he considers an inaccurate euphemism coined by someone who hated Jews. He traces the troubled course of German-Jewish relations over a thousand year timespan, focusing on such phenomena as the forced migrations of Jews, frequently labeled infidels, in medieval times and the establishment of ghettos where many urban Jews were forced to live until the mid-1900’s.

Although Jews comprised a small percentage of the population in European countries, they generally controlled a disproportionate percentage of the wealth. This economic disparity spawned jealously, which led to persecution and sometimes exile, ostensibly justified on the basis of religious differences but actually based upon economics.

Germany’s crushing economic problems and runaway inflation following World War I, made it ripe for what followed. Adolf Hitler, who Fischer is convinced had a diseased mind, became the catalyst. German society was smoldering, but Fischer thinks that without Hitler, there would have been no Holocaust. It took a deranged leader and an obedient or intimidated public to allow such a disaster to occur.

Fischer identifies the steps that led Germany into the abyss of Judeophobia. First, Christian dominance placed Jews in an unfavorable position, resulting in social and political discrimination. Next, politicians stirred economically threatened masses into a nationalistic frenzy rife with xenophobia, that made them receptive to Hitler’s rantings. Finally, Hitler sold the idea of a super race to people whose hope had vanished and who chose to believe his wrong-headed biological-racial theories.

This extensive, well-reasoned book is chilling. It should warn all people of the insidious dangers of hatred based upon human differences, religious, racial, or sexual.