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Anti-Semitism in European and German history


This chapter will deal with three major issues. 1 The growth of anti-Jewish prejudice in Europe and its intellectual origins. 2 The specific role of such prejudice in modern German history and the extent to which a study of its roots helps to explain the appearance of the historical phenomenon known as ‘national socialism’. 3 Hitler’s personal anti-Semitism. The first point to make, and it is an important one, is that any study of the Nazi persecution of the Jews during the 1930s and 1940s does not depend upon ‘claims that anti-Jewish ideology was a predominantly German doctrine or a constant preoccupation of the leaders of the Third Reich’.1 Anti-Semitism was not the sole preserve of the German people; it was as old as European civilisation itself.

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