In recent years, the mask of tolerant, secular, multicultural Europe has been shattered by new forms of antisemitic crime. Though many of the perpetrators do not profess Christianity, antisemitism has flourished in Christian Europe. The charge of deicide has shaped the Christian conception of Jews and marked them as the Other. History has shown that, for Christians, no charge was too outrageous to levy upon Jews. Nowhere was this more clearly expressed than in Nazi Germany, its allied European states, and occupied territories. Compounded by racial science, Christian antisemitism, never benign, turned lethal and led to the near eradication of Europe’s Jews. Postwar reactions against the Nazi crimes may have made antisemitism much less socially and politically acceptable, but it hardly disappeared.
In this book, thirteen scholars of European history, Jewish studies, and Christian theology examine antisemitism’s insidious role on Europe’s intellectual and political life. The essays reveal that annihilative anti-Semitic thought was not limited to Germany, but could be found in the theology and liturgical practice of most of Europe’s Christian churches. They dismantle the claim of a distinction between Christian anti-Judaism and neo-pagan antisemitism and show that, at the heart of Christianity, hatred for Jews overwhelmingly formed the milieu of twentieth-century Europe.
Kevin P. Spicer, C.S.C., is Associate Professor of History at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. He is author of Resisting the Third Reich: The Catholic Clergy in Hitler’s Berlin.