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ANTI-SEMITISM

far as their political organizations were concerned, still remained chary of publicly identifying themselves with a movement which, in its essence, was of socialistic tendency. Hence the electoral returns of that year supplied no sure guide to the strength of anti-Semitic opinion among the German people.

The first severe blow suffered by the German anti-Semites was in 1881, when, to the indignation of the whole civilized world, the barbarous riots against the Jews in Russia and the revival of the medieval Blood Accusation in Hungary (see infra) illustrated the liability of unreasoning mobs to carry into violent practice the incendiary doctrines of the new Jew-haters. From this blow anti-Semitism might have recovered had it not been for the divisions and scandals in its own ranks, and the artificial forms it subsequently assumed through factitious alliances with political parties bent less on persecuting the Jews than on profiting by the anti-Jewish agitation. The divisions showed themselves at the first attempt to form a political party on an anti-Semitic basis. Imperceptibly the agitators had grouped themselves into two classes, economic and ethnological anti-Semites. The impracticable racial views of Marr and Treitschke had not found favour with Stöcker and the Christian Socialists. They were disposed to leave the Jews in peace so long as they behaved themselves properly, and although they carried on their agitation against Jewish malpractices in a comprehensive form which seemed superficially to identify them with the root-and-branch anti-Semites, they were in reality not inclined to accept the racial theory with its scheme of revived Jewish disabilities (Huret, La Question Sociale—interview with Stöcker). This feeling was strengthened by a tendency on the part of an extreme wing of the racial anti-Semites to extend their campaign against Judaism to its offspring, Christianity. In 1879 Professor Sepp, arguing that Jesus was of no human race, had proposed that Christianity should reject the Hebrew Scriptures and seek a fresh historical basis in the cuneiform inscriptions. Later Dr Eugen Dühring, in several brochures, notably Die Judenfrage als Frage des Rassencharakters (1881, 5th ed. Berlin, 1901), had attacked Christianity as a manifestation of the Semitic spirit which was not compatible with the theological and ethical conceptions of the Scandinavian peoples. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche had also adopted the same view, without noticing that it was a reductio ad absurdum of the whole agitation, in his Menschliches, Allzumenschliches (1878), Jenseits von Gut und Böse (1886), Genealogie der Moral (1887). With these tendencies the Christian Socialists could have no sympathy, and the consequence was that when in March 1881 a political organization of anti-Semitism was attempted, two rival bodies were created, the "Deutsche Volksverein," under the Conservative auspices of Herr Liebermann von Sonnenberg (b. 1848) and Herr Förster, and the "Sociale Reichsverein," led by the racial and Radical anti-Semites, Ernst Henrici (b. 1854) and Otto Böckel (b. 1859). In 1886, at an anti-Semitic congress held at Cassel a reunion was effected under the name of the "Deutsche antisemitische Verein," but this only lasted three years. In June 1889 the anti-Semitic Christian Socialists under Stöcker again seceded.

Meanwhile racial anti-Semitism with its wholesale radical proposals had been making considerable progress among the ignorant lower classes. It adapted itself better to popular passions and inherited prejudice than the more academic conceptions of the Christian Socialists. The latter, too, were largely Conservatives, and their points of contact with the proletariat were at best artificial. Among the Hessian peasantry the inflammatory appeals of Böckel secured many adherents. This paved the way for a new anti-Semitic leader, Herrmann Ahlwardt (b. 1846), who, towards the end of the 'eighties, eclipsed all the other anti-Semites by the sensationalism and violence with which he prosecuted the campaign. Ahlwardt was a person of evil notoriety. He was loaded with debt. In the Manché decoration scandals it was proved that he had acted first as a corrupt intermediary and afterwards as the betrayer of his confederates. His anti-Semitism was adopted originally as a means of chantage, and it was only when it failed to yield profit in this form that he came out boldly as an agitator. The wildness, unscrupulousness, and full-bloodedness of his propaganda enchanted the mob, and he bid fair to become a powerful democratic leader. His pamphlets, full of scandalous revelations of alleged malpractices of eminent Jews, were read with avidity. No fewer than ten of them were written and published during 1892. Over and over again he was prosecuted for libel and convicted, but this seemed only to strengthen his influence with his followers. The Roman Catholic clergy and newspapers helped to inflame the popular passions. The result was that anti-Jewish riots broke out. At Neustettin the Jewish synagogue was burnt, and at Xanten the Blood Accusation was revived, and a Jewish butcher was tried on the ancient Charge of murdering a Christian child for ritual purposes. The man was, of course, acquitted, but the symptoms it revealed of reviving medievalism strongly stirred the liberal and cultured mind of Germany. All protest, however, seemed powerless, and the barbarian movement appeared destined to carry everything before it.

German politics at this moment were in a very intricate state. Prince Bismarck had retired, and Count Caprivi, with a programme of general conciliation based on Liberal principles, was in power. Alarmed by the non-renewal of the anti-Socialist law, and by the conclusion of commercial treaties which made great concessions to German industry, the landed gentry and the Conservative party became alienated from the new chancellor. In January 1892 the split was completed by the withdrawal by the government of the Primary Education bill, which had been designed to place primary instruction on a religious basis. The Conservatives saw their opportunity of posing as the party of Christianity against the Liberals and Socialists, who had wrecked the bill, and they began to look towards Ahlwardt as a possible ally. He had the advantages over Stöcker that he was not a Socialist, and that he was prepared to lead his apparently large following to assist the agrarian movement and weaken the Social Democrats. The intrigue gradually came to light. Towards the end of the year Herr Liebknecht, the Social Democratic leader, denounced the Conservatives to the Reichstag as being concerned "in using the anti-Semitic movement as a bastard edition of Socialism for the use of stupid people." (1st December). Two days later the charge was confirmed. At a meeting of the party held on the 3rd of December the following plank was added to the Conservative programme: "We combat the oppressive and disintegrating Jewish influence on our national life; we demand for our Christian people a Christian magistracy and Christian teachers for Christian pupils; we repudiate the excesses of anti-Semitism. In pursuance of the resolution Ahlwardt was returned to the Reichstag at a by-election by the Conservative district of Arnswalde-Friedeberg. The coalition was, however, not yet completed. The intransigeant Conservatives, led by Baron von Hammerstein, the editor of the Kreuz-Zeitung, justly felt that the concluding sentence of the resolution of the 3rd of December repudiating "the excesses of anti-Semitism" was calculated to hinder a full and loyal co-operation between the two parties. Accordingly on the 9th of December another meeting of the party was summoned. Twelve hundred members met at the Tivoli Hall in Berlin, and with only seven dissentients solemnly expunged the offending sentence from the resolution. The history of political parties may be searched in vain for a parallel to this discreditable transaction.

The capture of the Conservative party proved the high-water mark of German anti-Semitism. From that moment the tide began to recede. All that was best in German national life was scandalized by the cynical tactics of the Conservatives. The emperor, strong Christian though he was, was shocked at the idea of serving Christianity by a compact with unscrupulous demagogues and ignorant fanatics. Prince Bismarck growled out a stinging sarcasm from his retreat at Friedrichsruh. Even Stöcker raised his voice in protest against the "Ahlwardtismus" and "Böckelianismus," and called upon his Conservative colleagues to distinguish between "respectable and disreputable anti-Semitism." As for the Liberals and Socialists, they filled the air with bitter laughter, and declared from the housetops that the stupid party had at last been overwhelmed by its own