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"The ominous and desolate people of the Jews ... vilfeltigclich engraved the most holy sacrament ... then the Jews ... are punished with a real peen of death." From the Schedel Chronicle of 1493
Bricks against Jews (from the 15th century)

As anti-Judaism (from the Greek-Latin anti judaios "against Jews"), the wholesale rejection of is Judaism refers predominantly religious motives. Usually the term encompasses the entirety of anti-Jewish theories and behavior in Christianity . In a further definition, it also includes pre-Christian, spatially and temporally limited, ancient hostility towards Jews and hostility towards Jews in Islam .

Anti-Judaism has permeated church history from its inception. He accompanied the separation of Christianity from Judaism (~ 70-100), its rise to the state religion of the Roman Empire (313-380), the Christianization of Europe, the universal claim to rule of the papacy and the religious policy of many Christian rulers. Since Jews do not believe in Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah and Son of God , they questioned the church's "monopoly of truth" even through their very existence. They were therefore legally, socially and economically disadvantaged in Christian Europe since the 4th century, ostracized and (especially in the High Middle Ages and in the early modern period ) often persecuted, expelled and often murdered. Christians justified this in turn as a “punishment” or “curse of God” for the alleged “hardening” or “ blasphemy ” of the Jews.

Christian anti-Judaism underpinned traditional anti-Jewish stereotypes with an ideology that was derived from the Bible , integrated into the doctrines of the whole Church, officially stoked, spread across Europe and thus became a permanent cultural state in the history of Europe . It is therefore considered a historical prerequisite for modern anti-Semitism . The relationship between both forms and thus the definition of anti-Semitism are discussed in anti-Semitism research.

Late antiquity

New Testament

The New Testament (NT) represents the most important writings of early Christianity , which were written between 40 and 130 years. The authors were almost all Jews and saw themselves as members of Judaism. The NT texts assume the permanent election of the people of Israel to the “people of God” ( Gen 12.3  EU ) and see the Jews Jesus from Nazareth as confirmation of this. At the same time, they lay the guilt of his crucifixion on the Jewish religious leaders of the time and the Roman executives . Jesus Christ gave his life for the reconciliation of God with his people and with all people.

Paul of Tarsus , the founder of the international mission, saw Jesus' substitute assumption of guilt as the fulfillment of God's covenant with the chosen people of Israel. This covenant had never been terminated and the Church's inalienable reason for existence. He warned anti-Jewish Christians in Rome to deny this root and thus lose their own salvation ( Rom 9-11  EU ). His letter to the Romans (written around 56) is therefore the oldest testimony against Christian anti-Judaism.

The NT scriptures therefore contradict a blanket rejection of Judaism, but nevertheless contain internal Jewish polemics by the original Christians against other Jews of the time. Later, Gentile Christians repeatedly used some of these anti-Jewish statements without their own context in order to justify the disenfranchisement, oppression and persecution of all Jews: for example with Mt 27.25  EU (the "blood curse" of the Jerusalem Jews), Joh 8.44  EU (Jesus says about current opponents that they have the “ devil as father”) or 1 Thess 2 : 14-16  EU (Paul describes Jewish opponents of his international mission as “murderers of Jesus” and “enemies of all people”). Whether the later church-wide anti-Judaism was laid out in the NT itself and inevitably emerged from it is highly controversial in research.

Old Church (2nd - 3rd century)

In the beginning, Christians proselytized mainly among Jews and “godly” Gentiles who, like themselves, respected the Torah as the valid will of God. The theologians of the early church developed their doctrines with constant reference to the Bible and tried to prove Jesus' messiahship from it. In addition, they often interpreted their texts against the wording as references to Jesus Christ. Consequently, Jews and Christians delimited their biblical interpretation from one another; both sides argued violently against each other. Contrary to some NT verses that suggest this, Jews did not take part in the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire .

The destruction of the Jerusalem temple by the Romans (70) accelerated the process of separation: at around 100 the Pharisees, now the leading Jewish group , excluded the Christians as a heretical sect from Judaism and canonized the Tanakh . They left their Greek translation of the Bible ( Septuagint ) to the Christians, who later canonized it as the Old Testament . With the loss of religious partial autonomy and the right of the Jews to settle in Israel (130), the separation from Christianity was complete. The majority now consisted of non-Jews. For the mission among non-Jews, the church theologians now also adopted the traditional Egyptian-Roman clichés about Jews and underpinned them with their interpretation of the Bible.

The Barnabas Letter (around 100), Diognetbrief (after 120) and Dialogue with the Jew Tryphon (155–160) are considered early documents of church anti-Judaism . For the first time they contain those theses that later became official church teachings:

  • God rejected his first chosen people and transferred his biblical promises to the church; this is now the "true Israel" (replacement theology).
  • The Bible belongs to the Church and proves the truth of its message as well as the error of Judaism.
  • The Jewish Torah is superseded by God's “new covenant” and is only valid in an allegorical interpretation.
  • The Jews had always disobeyed God, so that all rebukes and curses in the Bible were valid for them, while all promises and blessings were valid for Christians.

The fatal consequence of the doctrine of substitute or substitution theology was that the Jews “rejected by God” were denied or denied well-being on earth and a place in society. Your supposed heavenly exclusion should also have an earthly equivalent.

The center of the anti-Judaist teachings was the blanket reproach, which contradicts the NT, that “the Jews” had rejected Jesus as their Messiah and maliciously brought about his death. This guilt is irrevocable and continues to work as a “curse” in all generations of Jews. This thesis was increased to the murder of god theory by 190 (Easter sermon Melito von Sardis ). From this an alleged criminal character of the Jews and their alleged lust for murder of Christians was inferred. Up to 300, most of the church fathers adopted this theory and spread it, for example in catalogs of vice and sermons on high church holidays (e.g. John Chrysostom ).

Jewish history, especially the loss of temples and land, dispersion, persecution and diaspora , was interpreted as God's punishment for the crucifixion of Jesus. From this “historical evidence” it was concluded that Judaism was doomed to extinction and that the remaining Jews could only be saved through Christian baptism .

Many early Christian writings on various subjects also contained anti-Jewish content. From around 175 onwards, Christian authorities wrote separate writings with the title Adversos Judaeos ("Against the Jews"). Texts of this kind have been preserved from Tertullian , Hippolytus of Rome , Cyprian ( Testimonia ) and others. They only partially reflect real conflicts with Jews and did not serve the mission of the Jews , which at that time had largely been abandoned as pointless, but the internal Christian identity. They should attack Christians who uphold Jewish traditions, arm Christians for future disputes with Jews, or warn non-Christians of feared Jewish influences. They became a literary genre that was largely independent of the circumstances of the time and that fixed the anti-Judaistic reading of the Old Testament for centuries.

Eusebius of Caesarea , the first church historian, turned the escape theory into a theology of history by claiming that all negative figures in the Bible were Jews, while all positive figures were "Hebrews". The latter had preserved the true faith against the Jews and handed it down to the Christians, who were their chosen descendants from the beginning. So he denied the Jews all biblical promises and covenants of God, marked them consistently as enemies of God and compared them with the Christians as a separate ethnic group.

Imperial Church (4th - 5th centuries)

The Constantinian Turnaround (313) ended the state persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire . By then the church had already developed the monarchical episcopate (episcopate), a centralized administrative structure divided into five patriarchates and parishes, and the idea of ​​the papacy . Emperor Constantine I legally privileged Christianity, for example with the introduction of the general Sunday celebration (321), over the previous Roman state cult, paganism and Judaism. In 315 he forbade converting to Judaism with the threat of the death penalty , and finally forbade Jews to mission, buy and circumcise Christian slaves. Nevertheless, Judaism retained its status as a permitted religion ( religio licita ).

Emperor Julian Apostata (361–363) took state measures against the church for the last time. They found the applause of many Jews, which increased the hostility of Christians to Jews. When Theodosius the Great made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire in 380, the foundation for medieval anti-Judaism was laid. Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire by 400. There were also Jewish communities everywhere, since 321 also demonstrably on German soil in Cologne . Jews were regarded by the Church as "Gentiles" as "unbelievers", but not yet as " heretics ". They were no longer allowed to proselytize, but were separated and were constantly in danger.

There have been storms on pagan temples and Jewish synagogues since 380 . These mostly came from bishops, priests and monks, were tolerated by the rulers, supported and carried out by the people. In 388 a group of Christians incited by the local bishop burned the synagogue at Callinicum in Asia Minor. This may have reacted to the persecution of Christians in the Sassanid Empire , in which Jews were sometimes also involved. Bishop Ambrose of Milan prevented the synagogue from being rebuilt by refusing Theodosius the sacraments . It is not right to use Christians' money to build temples for unbelievers and to "favor" the Jews in this way. The emperor then withdrew his plan. In 410 a troop of monks under Barsauma from Samosata traveled through Palestine, destroyed synagogues there and caused a bloodbath among Jerusalem's Jews. Bishop Cyril of Alexandria , like the Hellenized Egyptians 300 years before him, incited the destruction of the Synod of Alexandria , expulsion of the Jews and looting of their property. In 418 a mob burned down the synagogue in Menorca and forced all Jews there to be baptized. Once again a bishop, Severus of Minorca , played a leading role.

Under pressure from the Church, the emperors increasingly withdrew former rights from Jews. Theodosius II forbade the building of new synagogues and in 415 appointed the last Jewish patriarch, Gamaliel VI. , for violating it. That ended the Jewish patriarchy in Palestine in 429. In 438 the emperor legalized the conversion of old synagogues into churches. The church councils from the 4th to 7th centuries issued numerous edicts that prevented contact with Jews and their influence. Any citizen could have Jews prosecuted by filing a complaint. Mission, acquisition and possession of Christian slaves and holding public office were repeatedly forbidden, mixed marriages were discriminated against, and property had to be bequeathed primarily to baptized children. So Judaism should remain in the state of the subjugated, anti-God, dwindling minority. The corresponding imperial decrees from 315 to 429 were collected in the Codex Theodosianus , then in the Codex Iustinianus and thus became a model for medieval Jewish policy.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) justified these measures with his Tractatus adversus Judaeos . In response to the Jewish reproach that the Church claims the Old Testament, but disregards the commandments it contains, he replied: “So we do not observe the sacraments that are prescribed there because we understand what is foretold there [of Christ] , and because we own what is promised there. […] For how should they see this, about which it is foretold: 'May their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see', and how should they be erect and lift up their heart, about which it is foretold: 'And their back be always stooped '(Ps 69, 24). ”Here the blindness of the synagogue emerges, which, as a counter image to the triumphant Ecclesia, became the established motif of the Middle Ages.

About the Jewish belief in election, Augustine said: “You therefore belong to that people whom the God of gods has called from sunrise to sunset. Were you not brought from Egypt into the land of Canaan? But you are […] scattered from there, after sunrise and sunset. Do you not rather belong to the enemies of him who says in the psalm: 'My God has shown me in my enemies: Do not kill them lest they forget your law; Scatter them in your power '(Ps 59: 11f)? ”So here the fact of the scattering of the Jews should prove the loss of their divine election and promise of life. In this role, the church kept Judaism from now on as an object of demonstration of its superiority.

In De Civitate Dei (420) , Augustine explained that Judaism still continued to exist : “The Jews are witnesses of their wickedness and our truth.” They would only be converted at the parousia of Jesus Christ; until then they are necessary for God's plan of salvation. They involuntarily served to enforce it by spreading the prophecies about Christ with their Bible and thus paving the way for the Christian mission of the people. That is why Christian rulers must protect them. This attitude determined the dealings with Jewish minorities under Christian rule: The Jews were kept in a subordinate position in order to be able to demonstrate to them the superiority of Christianity.

The disputation Altercatio Ecclesiae et Synagogae (around 450), erroneously attributed to Augustine, lets the allegorical figure of the church say about the synagogue: “You cannot change yourself, you always deny and argue in falsity about what is wrong. Certainly I said before that You reigned when the people of Israel had a great empire. […] Look at the standard of the legions and you will find the name of the Savior: Behold, the confessors of Christ are the rulers, and recognize that you are excluded from the government and confess that you are us - according to the promise of the testament - service; You pay me tribute, you have no access to the government, you cannot hold a prefecture; a Jew cannot be a Comes, you are not allowed to enter the Senate; You will not be accepted into the military, you are not admitted to the table of the rich, you have lost your knighthood, everything is forbidden to you. You don't even get what you need to eat, with which you can eke out your life. [...] Read what Rebekah was told when she gave birth to twins: 'Two tribes are in my bosom and two peoples will separate from your womb, and one people will be superior to the other, and the older will serve the younger '(Gen 25:23). "

In this way, the Church appropriated the biblical promises made to Israel in order to legitimize its power. This triumphant self-affirmation and humiliation of Judaism was then presented to the people anew every year in the medieval drama. Only when the Western Roman Empire finally collapsed in 476 was the disenfranchisement of the Jews temporarily replaced by a national and religious plurality.

In Ostrom , the Jewish laws of Emperor Justinian I in 534 restricted the rights of the Jewish minority even more. But Justinian also issued various protective regulations for Jews such as the guarantee of the Sabbath rest and the Jewish holidays, as well as provisions regarding internal Jewish civil trials. Since the Persian invasion at the beginning of the 7th century, however , Emperor Herakleios ordered sometimes compulsory baptisms . He justified this procedure with the behavior of the Jews, some of whom had actively supported the invading Sassanids . Atrocities against Christians had also occurred. In later times, however, numerous Jews immigrated to the Byzantine Empire; Especially in the time of the palaeologists there was a lively boom in the Jewish communities.

Iberian Peninsula

Many Goths became Christians during the Great Migration and turned to Arianism in the 4th century , even after the Councils of Nicaea (325) and Constantinople (381) condemned it as heresy . The Ostrogoth king Theodoric the Great introduced Arianism in Italy in 493 for his armies and officials, but did not force it on Romans and Catholics.

This relative tolerance also benefited Judaism. The Visigoths left their beliefs to the Catholic majority and Jewish minority of the Iberian Peninsula . But as early as 305 the Synod of Elvira had passed the first anti-Jewish laws: Christian women were forbidden to marry Jews unless they converted beforehand. Jews were forbidden to give hospitality to Christians, to have Christian concubines, and to bless the fields of Christians.

In 587 King Rekkared I converted to Catholicism. This met with resistance from Arians and Jews. As a result, a council of Toledo , at that time the capital of the Visigoth Empire, decreed in 589 that children from relations between Jews and Christians were forcibly baptized. From 613 to 620, King Sisebut ordered further forced baptisms, now also for adults. The church councils confirmed the following special laws against the forced converts: The archives of the clergy , not of the state, administered the "oaths of loyalty" demanded by the newly baptized. It was very difficult for them to travel and settle because they had to be allowed to continue their journey in each location. A system of informers monitored their every move, so their situation was worse than that of the previously non-baptized Jews.

Nevertheless, the baptized “new Christians”, who continued to be called “Jews” in the documents of the Church, influenced the “old Christians” more than vice versa. Thereupon Isidore of Seville wrote two polemical writings for the Christian instruction of the forced converts. They argue with passages from the Book of Psalms that should refer to the Incarnation of Christ. Shortly afterwards, Ildefons of Toledo also wrote a treatise De Virginitate beatae Mariae , which defended the virgin birth of Jesus against doubts brought about by Jews.

As a result of Egica's brutal attacks on the remaining communities, some of the "converted" Jews made contact with Jewish communities in North Africa in order to investigate escape routes. The king presented this in 694 at the opening of the council in Toledo as an attempted subversive conspiracy with Muslims who had begun raiding southern Spanish coastal cities since 672. He urged that all Spanish Jews, whether old people, women or children, be sentenced for an indefinite period without examining the allegations individually:

  • for expropriation,
  • Banishment from their homes,
  • Bird freedom ,
  • any slave service to Christian landlords,
  • complete prohibition of their religious practice,
  • Taking away your children from the age of 7,
  • Forced marriage of girls and women with Christians.

He only excluded the Gallic province of Septimania, where they were indispensable as taxpayers. This attempt to completely eradicate Judaism as a religion was justified again with its “hardening”, “blasphemy” and the “shedding of Christ's blood”. Only the Islamic conquerors put an end to this practice in 713.

middle Ages


In the Carolingian era , Jews were relatively protected and respected. But the Christian estates excluded them from all “honorable” professions since the late 10th century and prevented their social integration through legal barriers. Medieval society was shaped by their ever-threatened marginal existence.

In the early Middle Ages , most of Western Europe was Catholic Christianized. During this time there were hardly any attacks on Jews. But the tradition of the Church Fathers of writing adversus Judaeos (against the Jews) was continued by Christian theologians. They spread the opinion that the Jews considered themselves chosen and were also the murderers of Christ. So they instilled in the new believers the deep distrust of them.

In the Frankish Empire Jews found a safe haven. Charlemagne (747–814) granted them ecclesiastical protection and granted them special privileges as traders. As a result, some Jews became very rich. The people got the impression that all Jews were better off than them. Some therefore converted to Judaism. Ludwig the Pious (778–840) then again placed the Jews under his protection. But they soon had to buy it, for example through a special tax or so-called Jewish letters.

In the 9th century the feudalist feudal system gradually developed (although the temporal development of the feudal system is again controversial in recent research). In Europe's medieval agrarian states, real estate was the most important prerequisite for political participation. Non-Christians were not allowed to become feudal men among the Carolingians . Jews were forbidden from buying land , so they had to settle in cities. They remained without political influence and could not rise to the nobility , neither by birth nor through merit such as later knighthood .


From the 10th century, the craftsmen of the cities organized themselves in guilds , which were also Christian brotherhoods. They refused membership to Jews and thus ousted them from most professions. The Jews had to specialize in professions that were outlawed by Christians, such as junk trading, pawnbroking and lending. They were allowed to take moderate interest . But since very few small businesses managed without money credits, Jews, especially in economic crises, were viewed as "usurers" and insulted. From this developed the stereotype of the rich, greedy, deceitful Jew.

Kievan Rus

The story of the rise and Christianization of the Kievan Rus is closely connected to the smashing of the Khazar Empire, a khaganate between the Black and Caspian Seas. This empire introduced the Jewish religion as the state religion between the 8th and 9th centuries.

In 956 or 957 Svyatoslav I destroyed the imperial capital Itil on the Volga and thus sealed the fall of the Khazar Empire. In the christening legend of Grand Duke Vladimir I of Kiev, the Khazars play a role again: According to the Nestor Chronicle , Vladimir received representatives of the four major religions in order to decide for himself which religion the Rus should join. In this legend, Judaism is represented by ambassadors from the Khazars. In the legend, the Jews are portrayed as the scattered people who drew the wrath of God and were therefore expelled from their homeland, which makes their religion appear completely unattractive from the perspective of the Kiev prince.

From Constantinople , whose religion they adopted, the Kiev grand princes also adopted Byzantine anti-Judaism.

Whether larger communities of Khazars existed in the Kiev ruled area after the defeat of the Khazar Empire is disputed in historical research.

Under Grand Duke Vladimir Monomakh there was a first pogrom of Jews in Kiev around 1113 . Tolerated were only the small, relatively affluent communities of Karaites .


At the beginning of the 11th century, Jews were increasingly portrayed not only as enemies of the true faith, but also as internal political allies of external enemies of the Holy Roman Empire . This seriously threatened their previous relative tolerance.

In 1007 Caliph Al-Hakim conquered Jerusalem , destroyed the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and many other churches in the "Holy Land". Although he also proceeded against synagogues, it was said in France : This “monstrous crime” was caused by the “wickedness of the Jews” ( Radulphus Glaber ). They were banned from towns and villages across the country, drowned in rivers or beheaded. Many killed themselves; the rest were baptized. Pope John XVIII sent a legate in vain to end the persecution. The population nevertheless regarded this as a work ordered by “God”. This was a clear signal for the later crusade propaganda.

After the 1st investiture dispute (1075-1085), the new Pope Urban II had gained power. He now saw himself as superior to the kingdom and empire and called to world domination . When the Turkish Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor and oppressed Byzantium , he used his office on November 27, 1095 for the first time to make a political appeal to all Europeans.

The First Crusade was supposed to liberate Jerusalem from the "Gentiles" - the Islamic rulers. The peasant army of 1096 as well as the knight army of 1097 saw themselves legitimized to take action against all non-Catholics, especially against Jews - according to Guibert von Nogent, the "worst enemies of God" - and to start doing so in their own country. The Jewish chronicler Solomon bar Simeon reports about the Duke Gottfried von Bouillon :

"He took the evil vow not to go his way any other way than by avenging the blood of his Redeemer on the blood of Israel and not leaving any remnant or refugee from anyone who bears the name of a Jew ..."

The Jews of Germany then asked Emperor Heinrich IV for help. The latter instructed Bouillon to leave them unscathed, but imposed a large payment on them in return. Even Peter of Amiens extorted money from them and Viaticum for his army. This did not deter Emicho von Leiningen's entourage from robbery, looting and mass murder, as this offered simple farmers far more prospects of wealth. Indebted nobles seized the opportunity to get rid of their hated creditors and Jewish moneylenders.

As planned, the crusaders destroyed many of the previously flourishing Jewish communities along the route. Those who had lived there for generations were murdered regardless of age or gender, and those who flee were hounded until they too were killed. Only Jews who were baptized on time were spared. Affected were 1096 in Eastern France a . a. Metz and Rouen , in the Rhineland Speyer (May 3), Worms (May 5–18), Mainz (May 27), Trier , Cologne (June 1–29), Neuss and Wevelinghoven (May 24–25 ) June), Altenahr (June 25-26), Xanten (June 27), Moers (June 29), Prague in Bohemia . Only in Hungary did the crusaders encounter resistance and were defeated on the border by a Catholic army. The other armies finally reached the "Holy Land", where they carried out one of the cruelest massacres of that year in Jerusalem . They went into the Jewish annals as Gezerot Tatnu . Sacrifice is still commemorated in the Jewish liturgy today .

Some church leaders tried to stop the killing. The Archbishop of Cologne distributed Cologne's Jews to surrounding villages and towns, where they survived for another three weeks before they were tracked down. Local informers often helped. Only one group in Kerpen escaped death. In many cases the assembled Jewish community committed collective suicide as soon as their hiding place was found.

That is why Henry IV placed the Jews under his protection in the Reichslandfrieden of 1103. But such a decree had only limited effectiveness. It banned those in need of protection from carrying weapons. However, people without gun rights were practically outlawed in medieval Europe.

The following popes now held back: In the Decretum Gratiani of 1140 only a few canons dealt with the Jews. When the monk Rudolph in the Rhineland in 1146 in the run-up to the Second Crusade again incited pogroms against the Jews, Pope Eugene III. the bull Sicut Judaeis for their protection. This forbade forced baptisms, assaults without legal proceedings and extorted services, allowed undisturbed Jewish festivals, ordered the protection of Jewish cemeteries and threatened those who violated these rules with excommunication.

At the same time, the respected theologian Petrus Venerabilis von Cluny demanded that the Frankish King Louis VII let the Jews live, but dispossess them completely, in order to feed and equip the Crusaders with their property, because they were far worse enemies of God than the " Saracens " (Muslims). Yet they should be “preserved for a life worse than death”. On the other hand, Bernhard von Clairvaux took a public position by reading Psalm 59 : 11f. EU quoted: “Do not kill them, so that my peoples never forget.” Jews are scattered in the world as living signs of the suffering of Jesus, to point the peoples of the coming redemption. Then according to Romans 11: 25f the Jews would also be saved. To do this, they would have to be spared. You should just forego interest on your loans. Wherever they are killed, the Crusaders could fare like those in Hungary. In this way, Bernhard was able to prevent carnage that was organized in a manner similar to that in 1096. The 3rd Lateran Council of 1179 even relaxed some of the earlier anti-Jewish laws after the Second Crusade.

In England the situation of the small Jewish minority has been better since they settled in 1066 than in mainland Europe. They were welcomed as a stimulating economic factor. The prior of Westminster Abbey , Gilbert Crispin , even granted a Jewish scholar the honor of open religious discussion. It was about the allegorical or literal interpretation of the Old Testament . The Jewish representative suggested that Christians could stick to the wording, even with a figurative interpretation, so that the Torah would be fulfilled and a blessing for mutual well-being. This was a rare example of a tolerant exchange of ideas.

But in the run-up to the Third Crusade , there were also accusations of ritual murder (see below) and gruesome pogroms in England for the first time . When King Richard I announced his participation in 1189, religiously fanatical masses attacked almost all Jewish communities in England in order to rob them. The hardest hit was the city of York , whose Jews - including those who were ready to be baptized - were completely exterminated.

Philip II of France , following "his own research" into an alleged ritual murder, had all property of all Jews in France confiscated on February 16, 1181 in order to improve his precarious financial situation. The following year he drove them from all over the country, so that their property also fell to the royal court. He had the synagogues "cleaned" and then rededicated them as churches. With donations of such buildings, he tied the French clergy all the more tightly to himself. In 1198, however, he called the expelled Jews back to his country. In the same year, the Cistercian abbot Adam von Perseigne wrote a violent criticism of the greed of the priesthood:

"The devil neither dares nor is able to sin so much against Christ's majesty, nor could the ignorance of the Jews be so lacking against him as these wretched Christians heap crimes against him."

In the 12th century, Jewish merchants were increasingly driven out of international trade . The Jews - a minority in medieval feudal society  - were burdened with ever higher protective tariffs and special taxes. In England, for example, Johann Ohneland raised high taxes from the Jewish communities, which in 1210 brought him 66,000 marks. The brutality with which these taxes were collected also affected the debtors of the Jewish moneylenders. Further taxes were charged to the cities, further sources of income were the forest rights as well as fines and extortion up to torture.

During this time the Jewish emigration to Eastern Europe began.


Jews with the medieval "Jew hats" (illustration from the 13th century)

After the experience of the crusades, the Jews were given the legal status of imperial servants by Frederick II in 1236 . This made them directly dependent on the emperor. The latter had their protection paid for with a “Jewish tax”. This " Jewish shelf " was claimed by many German territorial princes after the collapse of the imperial central authority in the interregnum . The Golden Bull of 1356 confirmed the elector 's right to do so. Often the protective tax was so high that it forced Jewish moneylenders to charge high interest rates . This generated new prejudices and increased the hatred of the " usurers " in the Christian population, which was itself subject to the prohibition of interest at the time .

The popes, too, saw themselves as patrons of the Jews and subject them to their “bondage to sin”. So demanded Pope Innocent III. from the Frankish king that he should suppress the Jews as punishment for their guilt in the death of Christ, "so that they do not dare to raise their necks, which is subject to the yoke of eternal bondage ... but always look at the shame of their guilt."

The IV Lateran Council (1215) obliged all Jews and “ Saracens ” (Muslims) to have a dress code to prevent “mixed marriages”. It also decided to ban Jews from office. Baptized Jews were completely forbidden from observing Jewish rites.

Employment bans for Jews had been common for 100 years. The establishment of Jewish ghettos can also be documented since the beginning of the 11th century.

The resolutions of the IV Lateran Council were not implemented everywhere and not uniformly. It was not until the 15th century that Jews had to wear a yellow ring or circle on their coat in addition to a pointed hat . Especially since the “Judendekret” of the Council of Basel (1434) - the u. a. on the legation trip of Cardinal Nikolaus von Kues after his appointment as papal legate between 1450 and 1452 - Jewish neighborhoods emerged in most German cities. These districts, known as ghettos or Judengassen , were surrounded by walls and closed by gates at night. This made the Jews an easily tangible target in pogroms .

Religious criminalization

Killing of a Christian child in Trento in 1475 . Schedelsche Weltchronik from 1493

Since the middle of the 12th century, the Jews have been accused of a limited, repeated selection of "satanic" crimes: ritual murder (often combined with child abduction), host sacrilege , blasphemy , well poisoning .

Anonymous charges of this kind often led to local pogroms because they did not affect individual Jews, but all Jews. Where the authorities intervened, there were show trials and “confessions” obtained under torture . The enemy images of the Christian popular belief are strikingly similar to those that were voiced towards the Christians themselves in the Roman Empire and that accompanied the persecution of Christians at the time . Although they were mostly rejected by the popes, they were sometimes used by secular rulers for financial and political interests.

  • "Ritual Murder Legends" :

Blood libel claiming that Jews Christian children slaughtered , their blood in their Passover bread ( matzos einbacken) and thus harm herabbeschwören to Christians. Similarly, the Romans had earlier denounced the Christians' Lord's Supper as a cannibalistic act. The accusation was often raised during the Holy Week before Easter and ignored the Jewish prohibition of the consumption of blood as well as the meaning of the Passover festival : This is reminiscent of Israel's liberation from slavery , which justifies the replacement of human sacrifice by animal sacrifice.

A ritual murder charge first surfaced in 1144 in Norwich and in 1168 in Gloucester . In 1171, a trumped-up ritual murder charge in Blois ( France ) led to a formal trial of 40 Jews for the first time. They were offered to let them live if they were converted to Christ. When they refused to do so despite the torture, they were burned.

In 1235, for the first time in German-speaking countries, a rumor was raised in Fulda that Jews had caused a house fire and the death of five children: the murder of 32 local Jews was accompanied by a murder charge against all Jews in the Reich. Frederick II ordered an investigation that ended with an acquittal.

After the torture trial of Valréas in 1247, Pope Innocent IV forbade the accusation of blood and stressed - in vain - that the Torah forbids Jews to consume blood. The later reform pope Martin V also vigorously rejected the creation of legends by incitement preachers in his Jewish protection bull in 1422. Nevertheless, there were ritual murder charges and show trials into the 20th century. The most famous cases were Hugo von Lincoln in 1255, Werner von Oberwesel in 1287 and Simon von Trient in 1475. In 1840 such an accusation in the “ Damascus affair ” was supported by the Vatican .

The ritual murder was also associated with the pied piper motif of “child abduction”. In any case, the clergy constantly feared the pernicious influence of Jewish otherness on Christian youth. Jews were accused of what Christians often actually did to them themselves: missionaries and inquisitors took their children away from "heretics" and Jews in Spain and elsewhere through forced baptism or forced adoption in order to remove them from their "godless" influence.

  • "Host sacrilege" :

The accusation of the sacrifice of the host emerged more and more after the 4th Lateran Council in 1215 dogmatized the doctrine of transubstantiation . Rumors of " blood host " were meant to refute unbelieving wrongdoers; when this failed, Jews were accused of having the host robbed and tortured the body of Christ, i.e. the continuation of the murder of the consecrated host . Analogous to pagan magic , they allegedly tortured the host with knives and nails. In 1290 Parisian Jews were sentenced to death for this reason.

In Germany, the Franconian aristocrat Rintfleisch roamed the country in 1298 to accuse an alleged host sacrilege in Röttingen : This led to the destruction of 140 Jewish communities in Franconia , Bavaria and Austria . As a result , a Jewish community in Deggendorf was completely wiped out in 1338.

In the east of the Sacrum Romanum Imperium there were spectacular host-molester trials in Sternberg in 1492 and in Berlin in 1510 . In the Sternberg host- molester trial, 27 Jews were sentenced to death by fire and died at the stake in front of the city gates . All Jews residing in Mecklenburg had to leave the country. After the Berlin host-molester trial , 39 Jews died at the stake, two more - these had converted to Christianity through baptism - were beheaded. All other Jews were expelled from the Mark Brandenburg .

  • "Blasphemy" :

The charge of blasphemy sparked a large-scale campaign against rabbinic literature in the 13th century. The baptized Jew Nikolaus Donin began it by writing the Talmud to Pope Gregory IX in 1239 for allegedly contained "blasphemies" . indicated. The latter then demanded that the kings of England, France, Castile and Portugal confiscate all copies of the Talmud and excommunicate all clerics who kept Hebrew books.

Only King Ludwig IX. of France obeyed the order on March 3, 1240, but set up a public disputation , which should first clarify the allegations. It brought the spokesman on the Jewish side, Rabbi Jechiel ben Josef , a rhetorical victory and a high reputation. But the verdict had long since been determined: after a delay, some 10,000 copies of the Talmud - 24 wagons full - were publicly burned in Paris on September 29, 1242 .

Pope Innocent IV affirmed in 1244: In the Talmud, God, Christ and Mary are blasphemed, his oral tradition falsifies the biblical law that points to Christ and educates the Jews to refuse to listen to the true teaching of the Church. When a Jewish delegation declared that the Talmud was essential for Jews to understand the Bible, he had it examined. 40 experts from the University of Paris , including Albertus Magnus , condemned the Talmud again.

This justified continued censorship, entry and cremation actions by later popes, French kings and, above all, the local inquisition . Bernard Gui's famous “Heretic Handbook” listed rabbinic Bible commentaries alongside the Talmud that had to be withdrawn, including writings by Maimonides . In 1319 he organized another book burning in Toulouse .

In Germany, the Talmud and hate speech remained publicly mocked. Popular preachers at the time, such as Berthold von Regensburg and Konrad von Würzburg , equated Jews and heretics . Since they adhered to the Talmud, they are all doomed to hell .

In Spain the Talmud were banned until 1263. After that, King James I of Aragon was satisfied with the fact that Jews voluntarily deleted offensive posts. He left this to a commission under the Dominican Ramon von Penaforte . When the process was found to be ineffective, he withdrew the 1265 censorship order.

A reviewer, the monk Ramon Marti , had assessed the rabbinical literature more positively. He found much related to the teachings of Jesus in the Talmud and tried to use the legends of the Haggadah to prove Jesus' messiahship. The Christian preacher can only convince the Jews from their own literature. His main work Pugio fidei adversos Mauros et Iudaeos , created around 1280, also influenced Martin Luther .

The antipope Benedict XIII. however, in 1415 a “Jewish bull” issued a total ban on the use and distribution of the Talmud. The only exceptions were Jewish missionaries commissioned by the Pope .

  • "Well poisoning" :

This accusation of well poisoning first appeared in the year of the great plague epidemic and led to the destruction of numerous Jewish communities, especially - as in 1096 - in the Rhineland. The prosecution varies the ancient motif of plugging a well. Why they only met Jews can hardly be explained rationally. There was a general lack of clean water in medieval cities; due to the lack of sewers, the hygiene of the population was poor.

The Torah required purity in everyday life, so the Jewish ghettos dug their wells deeper and paid more attention to clean alleys and personal hygiene than the rest of the city's population. But clean water was scarce there too. The plague affected Jews as well.

But ecclesiastical propaganda had long anchored the prejudice of the insidious Jew, capable of all crimes, deeply in the superstition of the medieval population and continuously reinforced it. The pogroms of 1349 were therefore very often "prevention" before the plague reached a place.

The accusers were often local artisans, farmers, or small businesses who were heavily in debt with Jews and who took the opportunity to get rid of their creditors. This is how the priest Jakob Twinger von Königshofen wrote about the "Valentine's Day massacre" in Strasbourg :

“… On St. Valtellina Day, the Jews were burned on a wooden scaffolding in their cemetery. The number of those killed is estimated at 2,000. Those who wanted to be baptized were left alive ... What was owed to the Jews was paid for and all mortgage bonds were returned to them, but the cash they had was taken by the Jews Council and distributed it among the craftsmen according to the number of heads. That was also the poison that killed the Jews. "

The pogrom was therefore a concerted action by the city council with the Christian craftsmen. Even after the years of the plague, there were repeated charges against Jews. Pope Martin V rejected this as well as the ritual murder:

“We also learned that the Jews were accused of wrongdoing, they poisoned the wells and mixed human blood into their Easter bread. But since this is wrongly accused of the Jews, we forbid all Christians and the above-mentioned spiritual and secular preachers from setting the Christians against the Jews. "

This clearly shows who was the origin of the pogrom incitement at the time.

  • "Usury Jews" :

In the course of the High Middle Ages, these religious accusations were joined by the economic cliché of the “usury Jew”; Jews were assigned to trade in money , since Christians were forbidden to trade in interest and bills of exchange - at that time known as "usury". This was considered to be dishonorable, deceitful and presumptuous, s. Interest prohibition . Jews had to be the subjugated minority and not to make demands on Christians. This hatred of the creditors could easily degenerate into pogroms in the context of economic crises.

Around 1330 famine and epidemics spread, which intensified the contrasts between rich and poor and urban and rural areas. More and more impoverished farmers had to take out loans from urban Jews. Dissatisfied indebted peasants now banded together as "Jewish thugs" in order to take revenge indiscriminately on ghetto Jews. So there was another wave of pogroms in Franconia , Swabia , Austria , Styria , Alsace and Rheingau in 1336–38 .

The usury cliché was fueled by Italian mendicants, especially the Franciscans , in the 15th century with nationwide sermons. Bernardine of Siena (1380–1444) attacked the usury of Christians too. Bernhardin von Feltre (1439–1494), on the other hand, was considered the “scourge” of the Jews: Called as a peacemaker by many cities, he incited pogroms against them everywhere. In doing so, he ignored papal letters of protection and complained in Rome that they favored the "presumption" of the Jews towards Christians. As a result, Popes Eugene IV and Nicholas V wavered and in part resorted to canons of the 4th Lateran Council.

Neither monks nor popes understood the economic necessities of the emerging mercantilism : They did not take into account that no money business and no trade were possible without interest. The poorer craftsmen and the small businesses in the towns in particular were dependent on the lending establishments, which only Jews were allowed to operate. They could only live on interest. The higher taxes Christian rulers demanded, the higher the interest they had to take.

  • "Antichrist" :

Public Passion Plays left a lot of space for denigrating Jews. They have often been portrayed as Satan or "exposed" as the Antichrist . The audience was allowed to demand and determine their punishment, which was carried out immediately on the stage. This now penetrated the dramaturgy of the Carnival Games . In this way, pogroms and displacement were practiced and symbolically anticipated. Even then cartoons show the growing anti-Semitism.

Pogroms and evictions

In the 13th and 14th centuries there were numerous serious pogroms and expulsions of Jews. In 1221 the Jewish community in Erfurt was wiped out, in 1235 that in Fulda followed , and in 1285 that in Munich . In 1264, English Jews fell victim to a pogrom in London . In all cases, the pogrom was preceded by alleged ritual murder.

In 1290 King Edward I of England drove all Jews out of his kingdom. In 1306 Philip IV followed suit in France. Louis X allowed the return of French Jews in 1315. In 1394 they were under Charles VI. finally expelled. Most of those displaced from England and France first fled to the Holy Roman Empire , to German or Italian territories. There they were by no means safe from persecution everywhere. They were only tolerated in the European kingdoms and principalities as long as they brought economic benefits to the rulers.

In German-speaking countries, the persecution of Jews took place during the “ Rintfleisch Pogrom ” (1298) and the Armleder Ugression (1336–1338), which affected the entire Franconian region , spread beyond it and were characterized by numerous pogroms.

In 1348 the plague broke out in large parts of Central Europe. The rumor immediately arose that the Jews had "poisoned wells" and thereby triggered the plague . As a result, the persecution of the Jews reached a cruel climax. In view of the rampant disintegration of the authorities who were helpless in the face of the “ Black Death ”, the population found the appropriate “ scapegoat ” in the Jews . The mass murders of the Jews were not only caused by religious hatred, superstition and political incompetence. In addition, there were the interests of indebted nobles and citizens who saw a welcome opportunity to get rid of their creditors. The emperor and the pope tried to fulfill their duties as patrons of the Jews and to protect them. Clement VI. argued rationally for the first time: "The plague also raged where there were no Jews, and would drag them to where they lived". He prohibited the execution of Jews without trial. However, that only helped them in Avignon . In 1349 there were massacres of Jews in many cities before the outbreak of the plague, often fueled by the flagellants . Contemporary sources also report frequent suicides by entire Jewish communities before they were threatened with cremation. A year later there were only a few Jews left in Central Europe. Only in Spain, Austria and Poland did the rulers achieve an early end to the pogroms.

Early modern age


Between 711 and 719, the Moors had conquered most of the areas of the Iberian Peninsula that had previously belonged to the Visigoth Empire . The reconquest , known as the Reconquista , by the neighboring Christian kingdoms began as early as the 8th century, continued through the entire Middle Ages and ended in 1492 with the conquest of the Emirate of Granada . As a result of the Reconquista, the Christian kingdoms of Portugal and Spain emerged on the soil of the areas Islamized under Moorish rule .

The Alhambra Edict of 1492 gave Jews and Muslims the choice of either leaving the country or being baptized. They had to endure theological mock debates and show trials - so-called auto - dafe  . If they were unwilling to convert to Christianity, they either had to leave Spain or ended up at the stake. But even when Jews were baptized, the Christian majority did not respect them as full church members, but insulted them as marranos ( Spanish for pigs). Some of the Marranos were despised and hostile until the third generation. Like the persecuted Muslims ( Morisks ), they reacted to this by keeping their faith secret ( Taqiyya ). This in turn increased the distrust of all Jews and Muslims. The ideal of “ Limpieza de sangre ” (Spanish for purity of blood ) also ensured social discrimination . Many offices were reserved for “pure-blood” Spaniards - without Jewish or Moorish ancestors. This was the first time that hostility towards Jews was not only justified on religious grounds, but also justified by parentage - a racism avant la lettre .

In addition, the Spanish Inquisition began in 1481 . Originally, the Dominican order was charged with enforcing religious coercion against heretics and witches . The Spanish King Ferdinand II and his wife Isabella I also used the Inquisition to track down Jewish and Muslim converts who secretly continued to practice their ancestral religion. This hunt reached its climax under the leadership of Tomas de Torquemada , the first Spanish Grand Inquisitor .

Holy Roman Empire

The Jews expelled from England (1290), France (1314), Spain (1492) and Portugal (1497) were forced to migrate to other areas of Europe and founded new communities in many imperial cities. As a result, hatred of Jews often increased there. In German-speaking countries, Jews were barely protected by law and were exposed to frequent local pogroms by the population. In addition, leading theologians spread anti-Judaism with numerous polemical writings. The " Hexenhammer ", for example , which was written in 1487 and was widespread until 1609, justified not only the persecution of alleged " witches " in the wake of the Inquisition , but also that of Jews.

Between 1390 and 1520, Jews were expelled from almost all imperial cities , some episcopal cities and many sovereign territories and cities of the Holy Roman Empire .

year city area occasion
- Palatinate
1401 - Thuringia
1418 - Archbishopric Trier
1420 Vienna -
1421 - Austria
1424 Cologne -
1432 - Saxony
1438 augsburg -
1442 Munich -
1446 - Mark Brandenburg
1450 Landshut -
1450 Ingolstadt -
1453 Wurzburg -
1453 Wroclaw -
1470 - Archbishopric Mainz
1475 - Bamberg diocese
1478 Passau -
1496 - Styria , Carinthia , Carniola
1492 - Mecklenburg , Pomerania Sternberger host abuse trial
1493 - Archbishopric Magdeburg
1494 Naumburg , Reutlingen -
1496 - Carinthia , Carniola , Schwarzburg County , Styria
1498 - Archbishopric Salzburg , Württemberg
1499 Nuremberg , Ulm -
1500 - Bohemia and Moravia
1507 Nordlingen -
1510 - Mark Brandenburg Berlin host abuse trial
1515 Ansbach , Bayreuth -
1517 Merseburg -
1519 regensburg -

Under Emperor Maximilian I it became customary for imperial cities to buy permission to expel Jews from the emperor in order to avoid paying higher fines and other difficulties. So proceeded z. B. Nuremberg, Ulm, Donauwörth, Oberrehnheim, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Colmar, Reutlingen and Nördlingen. In the imperial cities, city councilors and emperors decided together on expelling Jews. In the sovereign cities and territories, however, this decision lay with the sovereign of the respective sovereign territory. The reason for the expulsions from Mecklenburg, Pomerania and Brandenburg were previous Jewish pogroms . Between 1490 and 1515, the local Jews were also expelled from many sovereign territories and cities in the east and south-east of the Holy Roman Empire.

Many of the expellees moved to the imperial city of Frankfurt am Main . Their city ​​council only allowed the most financially strong displaced people to settle. In 1515 the council refused to extend their right of residence. From the spring of 1515 he negotiated with the prince-bishop of the neighboring Kurmainz Albrecht II "half of the Jews, like the syen to be expelled". Both sides were interested in the expulsion of the Jews from the entire Rhine-Main area . The councilors wanted as far as possible to avoid having to buy the emperor's permission dearly, and also to rule out a later return of the expellees to Frankfurt. To this end, the rulers of the many small and fragmented territories in the surrounding area had to commit themselves to expelling the Jews and refusing to accept them in future. Otherwise the neighboring rulers would have taken in the expelled Jews immediately and collected the Jewish taxes instead of the city council . The expulsion would have had no effect on the business activities of the Jews in the territory and their presence would hardly have been reduced. However, the desired agreement between the city council and neighboring sovereigns failed to achieve the necessary majority of the estates represented in the negotiations . In addition, the Frankfurt Jews immediately turned to the Kaiser, who saw his rights threatened and refused to be expelled. Albrecht II himself failed in 1515 and 1516 when attempting to expel the Jews residing in his episcopal city of Mainz . So the Jews in the area of ​​what would later become the state of Hesse largely retained their residences later.


Since the Renaissance that began in Italy , some educated Christian humanists have tried to promote mutual tolerance between Jews, Christians and Muslims by emphasizing the similarities between the three religions, for example Nikolaus von Kues ( De pace fidei 1453). They wanted to help the largely unsuccessful mission to the Jews to break through. The humanistically educated theologian Johannes Reuchlin had learned the Hebrew language in order to study the Jewish Kabbalah . He took over the view of the Italian humanist Giovanni Pico della Mirandola that the speculative and mystical interpretation of the Name of God was a way for Christians to become certain of their faith ( De arte cabalistica , around 1507).

The Cologne Dominicans around the inquisitor Jakob van Hoogstraten fought against humanistic attempts to use Jewish writings to interpret the Old Testament as heresy . They were helped by the Jewish convert Johannes Pfefferkorn , who was baptized as a Christian in 1504 and was unsuccessful on mission to the Jews. He then wrote a series of anti-Jewish writings such as the Judenspiegel (1508) , the Jewish Confession (1508) and the Easter Book (1508). In his book Judenfeind (1509) he described the Jews as "more dangerous than the devil" and "bloodhounds". They “sought after the Christian's life”. Every Christian is therefore obliged to "chase them away like mangy dogs". Above all, their books, in which God, Jesus and Mary are blasphemed, are to blame for their obduracy and all discord among Christians. Only when they are forcibly taken away from them and burned can one convert them and achieve peace among Christians:

"All the violence that happens to the Jews is from the opinion that it wants to move them to the holy Christian faith ... for their best recovery and not for our benefit."

Pfefferkorn saw the Talmud as the main obstacle to the mission to the Jews, while he recognized the Kabbalah as a revelation testimony. In 1509, Emperor Maximilian I allowed him to confiscate religious writings from the Jewish communities in the empire. The Jewish community in Frankfurt am Main protested to the Archbishop of Mainz, Uriel von Gemmingen, and managed to get him to set up a theological examination commission on behalf of the emperor. In 1510 the Emperor Pfefferkorn ordered the books that had already been confiscated to be returned to the Jewish communities for the time being.

Reuchlin, who, like Hoogstraten, had been appointed to the commission, was the only one of the reviewers to give a positive verdict on the Talmud and other Jewish writings in October 1510 and spoke out against Pfefferkorn's intended book burning . In doing so, he granted the Jews the rights of Roman citizens: although they were rightly declared slaves for their murder of God, like the Christians, they remained subjects of the emperor and thus part of the civilitas communis . Spanish missionaries to the Jews successfully used the Talmud to lead Jews to Christ. He himself discussed with his opponents. Polemics against Christians cannot be blamed for Jews because they only stand up for their faith.

In 1511 he published his report as a book ( ophthalmic mirror ) and thus triggered a literary dispute. Pfefferkorn wrote that Reuchlin had damaged the church and had been bribed by Jews. The Cologne theologian Arnold von Tungern wrote that Reuchlin had favored the Jews and tried to cover up their malice. He called Pfefferkorn an uneducated "baptismal Jew" and replied in 1513:

“I favor Jews in such a way that they do no wrong, but neither do they suffer wrong. The duties of simple human association and social intercourse require that criminals are not declared unlawful and treated as such. Injustice is rudeness that denies all humanity and turns those who strive after it into a wild animal. "

After several negative university reports on Reuchlin's ophthalmoscope , Hoogstraten initiated an inquisition process against him in 1513. Reuchlin called Pope Leo X. , who transferred the decision to the bishops of Speyer and Worms. They acquitted him in 1514. After that, Reuchlin's followers, including the anti-pope knight Ulrich von Hutten , published the anonymous dark man letters for him. They ridiculed the scholasticism prevailing in the universities and demanded the freedom of science. Hoogstraten, for his part, appealed to the Pope and finally managed to get Reuchlin's ophthalmoscope forbidden as heretical on June 23, 1520. The dark man's letters and the beginning of the Reformation in 1520 had made a decisive contribution to this change .

Reuchlin was one of the first leading Christian theologians to separate his theological judgment on Judaism from legal dealings with Jews. Many imperial courts and territorial courts adopted his view, so that anti-Judaism had less negative effects in legal proceedings for political rights of Jews. For this reason, Reuchlin used to be seen as a pioneer of enlightened tolerance. More recent research emphasized, however, that like most humanists he continued to advocate the anti-Judaistic theses of the murder of God and the "dishonor" of the Jews and, like Augustine, only advocated their "tolerance".

Erasmus von Rotterdam , the leading humanist in the German-speaking region, advocated “unity” and “peace” in his writings, but only related these central ideas to the community among Christians. There was no room in it for Jews. He probably only knew converted Jews. Believing that they could never completely abandon their supposedly inherited hostility to Christ, he warned against admitting them to the Church. In a letter to Reuchlin he judged Pfefferkorn to be a typical Jewish liar: Jews had slaughtered Jesus; Pfefferkorn shows his true Jewish face with his campaign against educated, virtuous men. In private letters he made "the Jews" responsible for war and robbery in Europe, saw them as instigators of the peasant wars and the Anabaptist movement and affirmed the expulsions of Jews from England, France and Spain. He viewed Jewish Torah obedience as merely superficial, pedantic observance of senseless rites and accused Christian monastic orders of "Judaizing" in order to criticize their strict rules. He saw the study of Hebrew among Jews as a danger to the only Christian truth. Therefore, some historians emphasize that the humanists hardly stood out from traditional anti-Judaism, but made it part of the European educational culture and transmitted it to the later Enlightenment epoch.

Martin Luther

Luther knew only a few Jews personally, but he often addressed Judaism from 1513 to 1546. Theologically he judged it since 1513 like the papacy and Islam as the religion of law, which denies God's only saving grace in the crucified Jesus Christ. He rejected the prohibitions of the Talmud as pointless, but viewed the rabbis' biblical exegesis as blasphemy and a danger to Reformation teaching. In 1521 he stated that the native Jew Jesus had confirmed Israel's election to the people of God and that the promise of Abraham (Gen 12: 1-3) was and remains valid for Christians. Nevertheless, on the basis of biblical prophecies, he considered most Jews to be irreversible (“hardened”).

His “Judenschrschriften” (1523–1543) received special attention. In That Christ was a Born Jew (1523) he rejected ritual murder and host sacrilege legends as “fools' work” (superstition), made church violence against Jews responsible for the unsuccessful mission to the Jews, and advocated treating Jews as human beings and giving them work in agriculture and to allow crafts to break their isolation. He expected to convince “several” Jews of the Protestant faith after the successful Reformation.

From 1526 this attitude changed. After Luther had heard of some mission successes from Jews, he refused to meet Josel von Rosheim , the recognized lawyer for the Jews of the empire, in 1537 and justified this with an alleged abuse of his friendly invitation from 1523. He accused all Jews of secret murder and robbery against the Christians. In Against the Sabbatarians (1538), he led the beliefs of the Anabaptist movement counting Sabbatarians falsely on Jewish influences back and campaigned for this Christian community from Moravia to drive. In From the Jews and their Lies (January 1543), like earlier Adversos Judaeos authors, he put together a catalog of vices: The Jews were "1400 years our plague, pestilence and all misfortune"; they are "real devils" that he would like to kill with his own hands. However, he rejected private violence against Jews. He claimed that they shamelessly exploited Christians, kept them imprisoned in their own country “through their accursed usury”, mocked them on top of that and were “our masters, we their servants”. He therefore demanded of the evangelical princes: They should burn synagogues and Jewish schools, destroy their houses , let them live like " gypsies " in stables, take away prayer books and Talmuds from them, forbid their rabbis from teaching, abolish their safe passage and right of way, usury Ban (the money business), take away their cash and jewelry, and force their young men into manual labor. If the princes refused these measures, then at least they should prevent the practice of Jewish religion; otherwise they should drive the Jews out of their territories: “Always out with them!” In Vom Schem Hamphoras (March 1543) he mocked the Talmud and rabbinical Bible exegesis with recourse to the Wittenberg Jewish pig .

Title page, Lutherstadt Wittenberg
Wittenberg, 1543

Luther supplemented his last sermon on February 15, 1546 with a brief admonition against the Jews , which bundled his position: Jews should be converted or expelled if they refused to baptize. First one should seriously offer them the Christian faith. As they were expected to reject this and continue to blaspheme Christ, the evangelical princes should chase them out of their territories. For practical reasons and because of income from Jewish taxes, however, these usually did not follow Luther's request. Electoral Saxony renewed the ban on Jews from moving through and staying in Germany from 1536, Hesse issued a ban on teaching rabbis, and some Protestant cities expelled their Jews soon after Luther's death.

Luther consistently classified Judaism as a religion of work and assumed that Jews could only annoy the gospel of God's grace and incarnation, so that they could only be converted to Jesus Christ individually. This was related to his doctrine of law and gospel, which left Judaism only the role of the rejected people and example for God's judgment of wrath.

Luther research tried for a long time to separate Luther's theological judgments about Jews from his religious-political demands and to explain his later anti-Semitic writings only psychologically out of disappointed missionary expectations. Since the 1980s, however, the continuity of anti-Judaism in Luther's theology and his contribution to the development of anti-Semitism has been emphasized. The origin of some of his clichés from inflammatory pamphlets by Antonius Margaritha and the Catholic tradition was researched more closely. The consensus is that Luther did not think racist, but initiated early anti-Semitism and made the failure of Protestantism in the Nazi era possible.


The Reformation came at a time of great political, social and economic upheaval. Book printing , invented around 1450, allowed fonts to be distributed in mass circulation throughout Europe. The level of education grew. Debates on theological questions aroused many hearts and no longer remained an internal church affair. Luther's translation of the Bible also allowed laypeople to review the source texts and enabled a direct dialogue with Jewish theologians, even if this rarely happened. Protestant pastors expanded their knowledge of the Hebrew Bible . Humanism created the first beginnings of a historical-critical biblical exegesis . The attitude of Luther's students and contemporaries to Judaism was therefore more differentiated than that of Catholic scholasticism. With some reformers its rejection grew even more, while some philosophically trained humanists expressed themselves moderately in favor of the Jews. However, literary hatred of Jews was not always the main concern of the authors, but rather convention and a means of making themselves heard.

In Judaism, the Reformation promoted a more self-confident advocacy of one's own faith and its spiritual renewal, but also end-time attitudes and sectarian movements. At first Luther was perceived as a possible liberator from church persecution, so that contact was sought with him. The few contacts he allowed were disappointing for both sides. Josel von Rosheim came to the conclusion that Luther was an even worse enemy of Jews than Emperor Charles V and that his concern to obtain more rights and protection for Jews in German-speaking countries was better off with the latter.

In Lutheranism , Luther's basic theses on Judaism (loss of covenant, hardening, hostility towards Christians, worthlessness of rabbinism) were largely shared. However, other reformers such as Wolfgang Capito and Andreas Osiander contradicted him both theologically and practically. Paul Staffelsteiner wrote a brief instruction in 1536 . In it he described Jewish believers as "hypocrites and blenders" and their beliefs as "unfounded, fictitious ceremonies". This “enlightening” approach was only directed against Jews. In 1536 Wolfgang Rus published the anti-Jewish book of the Old Veterans / the Israelite People / namely whence the synagogue, the People of God / or the Church originated . He was in the tradition of early Christian history falsification.

As a Jewish convert, Antonius Margaritha was the political advisor to Christian rulers on anti-Jewish measures. His work Der gantz Judisch Glaub from 1531 drew the conclusion: “In summa no Jew wants keynem Christians”. As with Luther, it was said about the work ethic of the Jews:

“After this, the Jews do nothing all day. If they need to heat up the house, light the lights, milk cows, etc., take a simple-minded poor Christian who does this for them. They fame for this, they imagine that they are masters and the Christians are their servants, they speak, they still have the true rule and rule, since the Christians served them in all their work and they lay idle. "

He also presented the motive of a hostile alliance between Turks and Jews against Christians:

“The Jews are very happy when a war arises in Christianity, especially through the Turks. Then they continue to pray against all Christian authorities. You cannot deny that your curse is on the present Christian kingdoms and empires. "

The reformers liked to quote Margaritha as an expert. But in 1530 at the Reichstag in Augsburg he lost a public disputation against Josel von Rosheim , the then lawyer (" Schtadlan ") of the Jews in the Empire. This refuted the suspicion of disloyalty and supported the emperor against the Protestant imperial estates and electors because he had recognized Luther's rejection of the Jews. Margaritha had to leave the meeting. Nonetheless, Luther adopted most of his anti-Jewish stereotypes and demands in 1543 .

In 1539 Martin Bucer wrote a guide that saw Jews as livestock: by the Jews / whether and how the Christian should be kept . He recommended suppressing them:

"Ir right has been imposed upon you by the Merciful God, that you should be held by the peoples among whom you win, and be the tail and most severely."

This corresponded to the anti-Jewish council edicts of 1215, so it shows their continuity. Even reformers who were firmly established in the Bible, who otherwise declared war on Catholic tradition, followed the zeitgeist here.

Philipp Melanchthon and the Swiss reformer Heinrich Bullinger, however, publicly criticized Luther's Schem Hamphoras (1544): it was "written by a swineherd, not by a famous shepherd." Luther's diatribes did not always appeal to his followers. For example, Melanchthon posthumously defended the innocence of 38 Jews who had been cremated in 1510 for allegedly stealing the host on the Ständetag in Frankfurt am Main in 1539.

In 1529 Andreas Osiander wrote an expert opinion on a murder case, which he published anonymously in 1540, but was soon discovered as the author by Johannes Eck : Whether it is true and believable that the Jews of Christians heyly strangle children and use their blood. In it he made a differentiated commitment against the anti-Judaist ritual murder legends and summarized: But who wants to believe such devilish fantasies that are against God's word, nature and all reason? However, this attitude remained an exception. Although the renaissance, humanism and a higher level of education enabled them to have a more precise knowledge of Judaism, Protestant Christians also largely retained and passed on traditional anti-Judaist prejudices.

From the Council of Trent to the Peace of Westphalia

Pope Leo X had introduced a preliminary censorship for all printed works at the Lateran Council in 1515, but handled it liberally in relation to Hebrew writings: The Babylonian Gemara was first printed in Venice in 1523 . The Jewish publisher Gerson ben Mose Soncino also printed numerous editions of the Talmud and helped Jews who had fled Spain. This heyday went on since Paul III. 1548 ended.

Under Pope Julius III. let the Roman Inquisition in the Papal States move in all Talmudic books and the Jewish New Year, 9 September 1553 publicly burned. Further book burnings followed in Pesaro under the inquisitor Michele Ghislieri, who later became Pope Pius V , in Venice and Ancona . All books should be submitted to the censors before printing; in fact, at the instigation of the convert Andreas de Monte , Paul IV had all Hebrew books that had already been censored withdrawn in 1557. In 1559 he published the first index of forbidden books, which banned the reading of the Talmud and all commentaries on it.

In 1564, Pope Pius IV again allowed the printing of Talmudic writings in the Trent Index , provided they were named otherwise and did not contain any abuse of Christianity. Jacob von Bonaventura had successfully asked the Council of Trent for the Italian Jews for it and agreed to assume the examination costs. Since then, the "adjusted" Talmud for Jews has always been called Gemara or Shisha Sedarim . In some cases they took care of the censorship themselves by creating lists of places that were offensive to Christians, B. The Rabbi Abraham Provenzale from Mantua around 1555.

Added to this was the tightening of social policy towards the Jews in the Papal States . Pope Paul IV suspected, given the spread of Protestantism everywhere " heresy " and saw Jews as the mastermind. In 1555 he issued the bull Cum nimis absurdum to humiliate the Roman Jews and to prevent them from developing. He forbade Christian domestic servants to use the service and the address “Lord” for Jews who stay close to churches, banned them from Latin as the only business language and forced them to relocate to the poorest district on the banks of the Tiber. On July 26th they all had to move to the new ghetto.

Pope Pius IV reversed some of these measures taken by his predecessor. He allowed that Jews did not have to wear a Jewish hat when traveling , so that they were better protected against attacks. He also returned the confiscated books to them. But he only ruled for six years; In 1566, his successor Pius V renewed the bull Cum nimis absurdum only three months after taking office and forbade any contact between new Christians (baptized Jews) and Jews: they were not allowed to dine together and not enter the Jewish ghetto under threat of torture. In 1569 he expelled all Jews from the Papal States. He justified this in addition to the well-known charges of murdering God with alleged fortune-telling and sorcery. Anyone who could still be found after three months would lose all of their property. Only the Jews in Rome and Ancona were exempted because he hoped to be converted near the Holy See.

This ended the brief phase of tolerant encounter between Jewish and Christian humanists. But unlike the Talmud, the Kabbalah writings remained largely unmolested by the Catholic censorship and could even be reprinted: for example, the Zohar 1558/59.

Modern times

17th and 18th centuries

Lutheran anti-Judaism remained active, around 1699 with the polemic The Difficult to Convert Juden-Hertz / In addition to some preparatory means for the conversion of the Celle consistorial preacher Sigismund Hosmann.

However, since the 17th century, there have been increasing numbers of representatives of a philosemitism who rejected a general condemnation of Judaism and pointed out its advantages: for example Hugo Grotius , Simon Episcopius (1583–1643), Pierre Jurieu (1637–1713), Johann Christoph Wagenseil (1633-1705). This even demanded that Jewish literature be used for the Christian exegesis of the Bible. In Pietism , Israel was widely recognized as God's first chosen people, but tried all the more to convert them to Christ. The Pietists regarded Luther's pro-Jewish writings from 1523 as theologically relevant and replaced his later anti-Jewish writings.

The Enlightenment inherited and secularized Christian anti-Judaism. Some enlightened philosophers and theologians of the 18th century, for example Montesquieu and, on the Jewish side, Moses Mendelssohn , demanded legal equality for Jews. However, this development went hand in hand with the abandonment of biblical traditions. She generalized the peculiarity of Judaism and Christianity to a humane idea, morality and religiosity.


Poland, which succumbed to feudal particularism in partial rule from 1138 , became a united kingdom under Władysław I. Ellenlang (reigned 1306–1333, from 1320 King of Poland) . His son, Casimir "the Great" (ruled 1333–1370, from 1333 King of Poland), politically, economically and militarily strengthened his father's legacy through fundamental reform and reorganization of the state apparatus. In 1367 he allowed Jews to settle freely and granted them freedom from trade and taxes. This was extraordinary at the time and caused an influx of Jewish immigrants from all over Europe. They were not restricted to the money business and soon formed a major part of the petty bourgeoisie throughout Poland . In addition, they mostly lived in their own districts, the " shtetl ", and had their own administration there, the "kahale". So Jews and Poles faced each other like two ethnic groups.

In the 16th century, the Polish aristocracy often made Jews their landlords and managers. After the union of Poland with Lithuania in 1569, Jews were mostly landlords of Ukrainian peasants and incurred their hatred as “exploiters”, “foreigners” and “unbaptized”. The Cossack uprising of 1649 was accompanied by massacres by the peasant armies of around 10,000 Polish Jews and Catholics. Both fought side by side in the Battle of Beresteczko in 1651.

At the end of the 18th century, Poland went under as a state. That ended the tolerance towards other religions and minorities there. There were numerous ritual murder trials and lynching of Jews. After a complaint by her representative and a recommendation from Cardinal Ganganelli, who was commissioned to investigate the allegations and later Pope Clement XIV , Pope Benedict XIV condemned the “blood lie” in 1758. The Polish King August III. confirmed this in 1763 and put an end to the pogroms for the time being.

As part of the legal equality of Jews in 1764, Jewish self-government was abolished in Poland. In addition, Polish Judaism was split into Hasidim ("pious") and Mitnaggedim (popular mystics and Orthodox Talmudists ). The Hajdamak rebellion of 1768 brought another peasant massacre of Jews.

The “ Four-Year Reichstag ”, which decided on state and economic reforms from 1788, did nothing to change the situation of the Jews. The Polish bourgeoisie rejected their equality, but at the same time wanted to force them to assimilate . Even progressive reformers like Father Stanisław Staszic saw them as a “plague of locusts” and “heaps of parasites”.

To show their patriotism , many Jews like Berek Joselewicz took part in the 1794 uprising of Tadeusz Kościuszko against the partitions of Poland . A Jewish regiment fell on November 4th against the Russian conquerors fighting for Poland's freedom and unity.

In 1807, Napoleon Bonaparte founded a Duchy of Warsaw that was politically dependent on the First French Empire . But he withdrew the equality of Jews anchored in the Code Napoléon as early as 1808. Duke Friedrich August von Sachsen followed this with a decree that deprived Jews of civil rights for 10 years until they had assimilated. However, the response to Jews who fully adapted their lifestyle to Christians was:

“But how can those who profess the Mosaic Laws see this land as their fatherland? Are they not inspired by the desire to return to the homeland of their ancestors? Don't they feel like a nation of their own? Changing the costume is far from over. "

In the areas of Poland and Lithuania occupied by Prussia, Austria and Russia, Judaism was viewed and excluded less as a religious community than as a separate people. Polish nationalism and anti-Semitism in parts of the population in the 19th century followed this up almost seamlessly.

The German Imperium

In the cultural Protestantism of the 19th century it became the rule to profile the supposedly superior universalism and moralism of the “absolute” Christian religion in the inferior, narrow, materialistic, outdated Judaism. The idealistic and romantic heroes of the spirit in particular turned out to be helpless and vulnerable to the rampant social Darwinist and racist anti-Semitism.

In addition, there was a politicization of Lutheran Christianity, as with the Berlin court preacher Adolf Stöcker . However, he did not yet refer to Luther's anti-Jewish writings. It was not until 1879 that non-Christian or anti-Christian anti-Semites discovered them again and used them for their anti-Semitic propaganda .

In the Catholic Church at that time a “double anti-Semitism” was common: In a phase of ultramontanism and anti-modernism , articles and pronouncements rejected the whacky anti-Semitism and racist anti-Semitism as incompatible with Christianity (which did not rule out that individual representatives also let stereotypes borrowed from racial ideology flow into their polemics). On the other hand, believers were allowed and ordered to stand up against the supposedly harmful influence of Jews, especially in economic and cultural life, and Jews were often assumed to have hatred and corresponding agitation against Christianity as such. This double anti-Semitism included not only well-known religious but also older secular topoi such as the accusation of usury as well as more recent accusations such as the Jewish striving for world power . According to Olaf Blaschke , this thought extended into the 20th century, for example in the Bamberg diocese organ St. Heinrichsblatt and Klerusblatt , which in 1937, after the extensive state disenfranchisement of the Jews, protested against the term “Jewish Church”: “That the Catholic Church in Germany is ours Protected native race for centuries is proven by our Catholic baptismal and marriage books, which are still used today as the sole evidence of Aryan descent. ”The church was“ founded by Christ in the sharpest and sharpest contrast to the synagogue ”.

Weimar Republic

The November Revolution in 1918 ended with the monarchy the supervision of the emperor on the Church ( Summepiskopat ) and the " country Magnificent church government ", so the right of provincial governments to use the highest church officials. The Weimar Constitution allowed the Protestant churches for the first time extensive self-government according to purely ecclesiastical aspects. The synodal principle strengthened the laity against pastors and bishops.

In 1922 the German Evangelical Church Federation (DEK) was founded as a common umbrella for denominational regional churches. The concept of a “people's church”, whose congregations should be supported by the population at the local level and open to their concerns, could now develop. This unusual independence from the state unsettled many Protestant pastors who had felt at home in the German national bourgeoisie during the imperial era.

Most of them had been trained by theologians who supported the First World War . The pastors were often organized in anti-Semitic student associations such as the Association of German Students . Since Stoecker and Paul de Lagarde , parts of Lutheranism had opened up to racist anti-Semitism and established this as a political program beyond the end of the war.

In the post-war distress, backward-looking nationalism and anti-Semitism received an enormous boost. Jews like Hugo Preuss or Walter Rathenau , who had been able to rise to leadership positions since the revolution, became the target of hatred. New bourgeois parties such as the DNVP propagated the stab-in- the-back legend and blamed all crisis phenomena on the "corrosive" influence of " world Jewry ".

This propaganda was strengthened by a flood of publications, including Oswald Spengler's Fall of the West : The author portrayed Judaism as a borderless and homeless, only material goal, "foreign people" scattered among the peoples, who like a natural law the decline of the "host peoples" and thus create hatred and bloody conflict. That justified racist "solutions" to the Jewish question .

Many Protestants were close to the German- Völkisch movement, which bitterly fought against the main political forces of the Weimar Republic, social democracy , liberalism and the Catholic Center Party . In their eyes, the “godless”, in association with Catholics and Jews, threatened the connection between nationality and Protestant religion. The majority retained reservations about blunt racism and wanted Christianity to take precedence over nationality.

However, a minority turned to the emerging “German Christian movement” , which devalued the Old Testament as a “Jewish religious document” and wanted to “de-Jew” Christianity in order to merge it with “Germanic” worship of “ blood and soil ”. On both sides, the boundaries between Christian anti-Judaism, which kept the door to the Church open for Jews, and racist anti-Semitism, which wanted to "eradicate" them spiritually and politically from popular belief, became more and more blurred.

time of the nationalsocialism

Based on these currents in cultural Protestantism of the German Empire and the Weimar Republic , church anti-Judaism had little to oppose to the state anti-Semitism of National Socialism . National Socialists such as Julius Streicher , Alfred Rosenberg and the propaganda paper “ Der Stürmer ” tied in with Luther's anti-Jewish statements from 1938 onwards, always ignoring their theological and contemporary context. German Christians and Protestant regional churches led by them invoked this in the Nazi era and thus justified the November pogroms of 1938 , the Jewish star and thus indirectly also the Holocaust .

Due to the forced exclusion of Protestant pastors of Jewish origin by the German Christians, the Pastors Emergency League was founded and a church struggle emerged from which the Confessing Church emerged in 1934 . But even in this Protestant opposition, anti-Judaist attitudes and subordinate to the authorities prevailed, so that there was no church resistance to the ever more pronounced persecution of Jews by the Nazi regime and the defending church self-government against state interference was largely limited.

An exception was Dietrich Bonhoeffer , who joined the resistance of the Kreisau Circle and plans to assassinate Hitler . As early as 1933 Bonhoeffer foresaw the coming events in the Bethel Confession :

“We reject any attempt to compare or confuse the historical mission of any people with the salvation-historical mission of Israel. It can never, ever, be the mandate of a people to avenge the murder of Golgotha ​​on the Jews. "

That did not stop the Holocaust, which could be carried out with the help of 100,000 baptized followers, also because of the centuries-long church education in the spirit of anti-Judaism. The Lutheran churches only gradually recognized their responsibility for this after 1945.

Church declarations since 1945

Since the Holocaust, the churches gradually began to work up Christian anti-Judaism theologically and practically and to redefine their relationship to Judaism. In the first post-war declaration of the newly founded EKD , the Stuttgart confession of guilt of October 19, 1945, there was still no explicit reference to the Shoah; Even the statement of Martin Niemoller ( We have caused great suffering to many peoples and countries ) only found its way into the wording against violent opposition. It was only under the influence of theologians such as Karl Barth , Helmut Gollwitzer and Friedrich-Wilhelm Marquardt that there was a theological rethinking of the inalienable Jewish roots and contents of the Christian faith.

Only now did the EKD begin to distinguish between anti-Semitism and genuine theology of the Word of God in Luther. The German Evangelical Church Congress of the 1960s carried out exegetical , enlightening and religious dialogue work. A milestone in the revision of anti-Judaist theological positions was the synodal resolution to renew the relationship between Christians and Jews , which the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland took on January 11, 1980. A number of regional Protestant churches followed suit with similar declarations and constitutional amendments. A group of Jewish scholars from the National Jewish Scholars Project honored these efforts of the Christian side with the Dabru Emet Declaration in September 2000 .

In many areas of church and theology as well as in religious education , however, anti-Judaist stereotypes remain in effect to the present day. This is why some feminist theologians find criticism . Furthermore, rabbinic Judaism is often portrayed as an allegedly external piety of the law adhering to the “letter”, as casuistry , “work religion” and the like and thus forms the negative foil for the supposedly ethically superior teaching of Jesus and Christianity.

In 2004, political scientist Hans-Gerd Jaschke proved to the Catholic Scouts of Europe (KPE) that anti-Jewish statements were in court; all actions for injunctive relief by the KPE were unsuccessful in 2010. Pope Benedict XVI In 2008 reformulated the Good Friday intercession for the Jews for the Tridentine Mass . This exceptional version met with protests from representatives of Jewish communities, such as the Central Council of Jews in Germany and many Christians. It was judged , among other things, to be a fallback to the 1965 Nostra Aetate declaration .

The publisher Anton A. Schmid (also per fide catholica ) in Durach (Bayern) published in its fundamentalist Catholic oriented book offer and religious anti-Semitic own publications such as the series " Talmud ism - arch enemy of humanity."

In December 2015, under Pope Francis , the Roman Catholic Church renounced all attempts to convince Jews to convert to Christianity . In November 2018, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI also distanced himself . expressly from the Catholic mission to the Jews , which had previously been practiced for centuries. The same is not provided and not necessary.

Anti-Judaism in Islam

In areas dominated by Islam ( Dār al-Islām ), the legal institution of the dhimma regulated the social position of Jews, Christians and other recognized religious minorities. Jews and Christians were considered Ahl al-kitāb (“People of the Book”), that is, recipients of a written revelation document from Allah . As dhimmis (“protected persons”) they were allowed to practice their religion and were legally protected, but had to pay special poll taxes, obey dress codes and were not allowed to carry weapons. However, these rules have been handled with varying degrees of severity in the history of Islam. At times there was relative tolerance, at other times severe persecution, but not only affecting Jews. There was no systematic hostility towards Jews, which the religion itself required and continuously exerted, in medieval Islam.

When the Moors conquered the Iberian Peninsula in 713, the Jews willingly submitted to them, as they had been persecuted in the Visigoth Empire since 587. Until the end of the Umayyad Caliphate (1031), there was a relatively peaceful coexistence of Christians, Jews and Muslims in Islamic ruled al-Andalus , which led to a cultural exchange.

In medieval Islam, ghettos for Jews were only temporarily set up in Morocco and Persia . Massacres of Jews ( Córdoba 1013, Fès 1033, Granada 1066, Marrakech 1232) remained local exceptions. Violent attacks on Jews were less common in Islam than in Christian Europe.

When Spain's Christian rulers finally expelled the Jews and Muslims of their country (1492), Islamic rulers invited them to their Ottoman Empire and also allowed Jews who had fled Europe to return to the former Israel-Palestine for the first time since the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple (70) to settle. Until the First World War were Jewish communities in the Ottoman Empire to flourish.

As it expanded into Europe, the Ottoman authorities learned anti-Judaist stereotypes from Greek Orthodox Christians. At their instigation, the Damascus affair occurred in 1840 , the first ritual murder charge against Jews in the Islamic world. It was not until the Palestinian conflict of the 1920s, and to a greater extent only after the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, that sections of the Arab-Islamic elite adopted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories from European and American sources. (See History of Anti-Semitism since 1945 # Arab and Islamic States ).

Additional information

See also


Overall representations
  • Robert Michael: A History of Catholic Antisemitism. The Dark Side of the Church. Palgrave Macmillan, New York NY et al. 2008, ISBN 0-230-60388-2 (English).
  • Rainer Kampling : In the face of Israel. Studies on the historical and theological relationship between the Church and Israel (= Biblical Contributions from Stuttgart. 47). Verlag Katholisches Bibelwerk, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-460-00471-1 .
  • Wolfgang Benz : Pictures of the Jews. Studies on everyday anti-Semitism (= Beck'sche series. 1449). Beck, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-406-47575-2 .
  • Walter Dietrich , Martin George , Ulrich Luz (eds.): Anti-Judaism - Christian inheritance. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart et al. 1999, ISBN 3-17-016095-8 .
  • Gerhard Czermak : Christians against Jews. Story of a persecution. Updated new edition. Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 1991, ISBN 3-8218-1133-1 .
  • Friedrich Heer : God's first love. The Jews in the field of tension of history (= Ullstein-Buch 34329 Ullstein-Sachbuch ). Licensed edition read through and expanded to include the final chapter “Review and Outlook”. Ullstein, Frankfurt am Main et al. 1986, ISBN 3-548-34329-5 .
  • Malcolm V. Hay: The Roots of Christian Anti-Semitism. Freedom Library Press, New York NY 1981, ISBN 0-88464-033-7 .
Late antiquity
  • Peter Landesmann: Anti-Judaism on the way from Judaism to Christianity (= Viennese lectures. Research. Vol. 4). Lang, Frankfurt am Main et al. 2012, ISBN 978-3-631-61833-2 .
  • Jeremy F. Worthen: The Internal Foe. Judaism and Anti-Judaism in the Shaping of Christian Theology. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle 2009, ISBN 978-1-4438-0207-9 (English).
  • John G. Gager: The Origins of Anti-Semitism. Attitudes Toward Judaism in Pagan and Christian Antiquity. Oxford University Press, New York NY et al. 1985, ISBN 0-19-503607-7 (English).
middle Ages
  • Gerd Mentgen: The expulsions of Jews in the medieval empire. A research report. In: Ashkenaz. Journal of the History and Culture of the Jews. Vol. 16, No. 2, 2006, ISSN  1016-4987 , pp. 367-403, doi: 10.1515 / ASCH.2008.367 .
  • Thomas Brechenmacher : The Vatican and the Jews. History of an Unholy Relationship from the 16th Century to the Present. Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-52903-8 .
  • David I. Kertzer: The Popes against the Jews. The Vatican and the rise of modern anti-Semitism. Propylaea, Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-549-07147-7 .
  • Jeremy Cohen: Living Letters of the Law. Ideas of the Jew in Medieval Christianity. University of California Press, Berkeley / CA 1999, ISBN 0-520-21870-1 .
  • Jeremy Cohen: The Jews as the Killers of Christ in the Latin Tradition, from the Augustine to the Friars. In: Traditio. Vol. 39, 1983, ISSN  0362-1529 , pp. 1-27, JSTOR 27831127 .
  • Sara Lipton: Dark Mirror, the Medieval Origins of Anti-Jewish Iconography. Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, New York City 2014, ISBN 978-0-8050-7910-4 .
Early modern age
  • Heiko A. Oberman : Roots of Anti-Semitism. Fear of Christians and the plague of Jews in the age of humanism and Reformation. 2nd, revised edition. Severin and Siedler, Berlin 1981, ISBN 3-88680-023-7 .
  • Hans-Martin Kirn: The image of the Jew in Germany in the early 16th century. Depicted in the writings of Johannes Pfefferkorn. Mohr, Tübingen 1989, ISBN 3-16-745354-0 .
  • Max Sebastián Hering Torres: Racism in the Premodern. The “purity of blood” in early modern Spain. Campus, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-593-38204-0 .
  • Edith Wenzel: "That is when the Jews were all defeated". Role and function of the Jews in late medieval games. Fink, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-7705-2743-7 .
  • Markus Wenninger : You no longer need Jews, the causes and backgrounds of their expulsion from the German imperial cities in the 15th century. Böhlau, Vienna 1981, ISBN 3-205-07152-2 .
Martin Luther
  • Bernard Lewis : Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire. Part 2: The functioning of a plural society. A conference in Princeton, NJ, 1978: The Arabic-speaking lands. Holmes & Meier, New York, NY 1982, ISBN 0-8419-0519-3 .
  • Bernard Lewis: The Jews in the Islamic World. From the early Middle Ages to the 20th century. (1987) Beck, Munich 2004, ISBN 978-3-406-51074-8 .
Modern times
  • Peter Blastenbrei: Johann Christoph Wagenseil and his position on Judaism. Harald Fischer, Erlangen 2004, ISBN 3-89131-409-4 .
  • Michael Ley: Holocaust as human sacrifice. From Christianity to the political religion of National Socialism. Lit, Münster 2002, ISBN 3-8258-6408-1 .
  • Gerhard Lindemann : Anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism in the Protestant regional churches during the Nazi era. In: Reinhard Rürup (Ed.): Protestantism and National Socialism. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2003, pp. 575–607.
After 1945
  • Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (ed.): Christians and Jews I – III. The studies of the Evangelical Church in Germany 1975–2000. Gütersloher Verlagshaus, Gütersloh 2002, ISBN 3-579-02374-8 .

Web links

Commons : Anti-Judaism  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Anti-Judaism  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Single receipts

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