2011 | 76 | 2 | 111-128
Article title

Geneza antysemityzmu w Prusach w najnowszej historiografii niemieckiej

Title variants
The origin of anti-Semitism in Prussia in the most recent German historiography
Languages of publication
The research activity of young historians (1970), particularly reflected in the debate about German guilt and shame, constitutes an important part of the 20th century German historiography in the Federal Republic of Germany. The research on the history of Jews in Germany and the Holocaust occupy a special place there. The work of Henning Albrecht Antiliberalismus und Antisemitismus. Herman Wagener und die preussischen Sozialkon- servativen 1855–1873 deals with this subject. It proposes a thesis according to which anti-Semitism originated much earlier than it was supposed. Henning Albrecht shifts it from the 1870s–1890s to the period of Reaction and the New Era. It was then that the fusion of religious, cultural and racist motives took place, and anti-Semitism started to occupy an important place in the political culture of the state of law, infecting part of the elite and society. In the 1850s social conservatives initiated the monarchist- estate protest against capitalist changes, considering them dangerous to the economic existence of the rural social strata and lower-middle class, and pernicious to traditional cultural and spiritual values. In the background there appeared a fear of weakening the traditional political hegemony of aristocracy and noblemen in the face of political changes after the revolution of 1848. Hermann Wagener became a creator of the strategy of protest. The aim of his activity was to politically and morally discredit liberalism in economy and politics. In the propaganda activity he and his supporters blamed Jews for the undergoing changes. This activity was conducted in a concealed way. H. Albrecht underlines that in the 1850s and early 1860s the right wing constructed an extensive front of political and ideological influence. The front possessed a cohesive program and a variety of forms of influence. It was devoid of ethical and moral inhibitions in humiliating and stigmatizing the opponent. The nouns such as “liberalism” and “Jewishness” were treated as synonyms of evil, state-dynastic denial and treason of Germany, true Germans, religion, morality, and the Church. Social conservatives acted through the parliament and political parties, as well as through the middleclass business circles. The criticism of liberalism from 1853/55 was fed on the anti-Semitic stereotype motivated by religion and racism. Anti-Semitism abounded in the press, brochures and leaflets, widely-read novels, which stimulated both imagination and the lowest instincts. Such content actively started to shape the biological and racist bases of anti-Semitism at the beginning of the second half of the 19th century. Their authors focused on the conspiracy of the world Jewry who hated Christianity and tradition. Liberals and Jews were considered to destroy the foundations of the social order. The culmination of this subversive and amoral activity of Israelites was supposed to be their dream to create “a modern Jewish state” on the ruins of Christian Europe. The author shows the artistic-literal devices with the help of which conservatives wanted to build the anti-Semitic front of “true” Germans. It consisted in developed semantics and growing caricature, which showed Jews as repulsive creatures, not deserving sympathy, and preying on hard-working farmers and craftsmen. Caricatures present a gallery of gloomy people, very well-dressed, corpulent, with exposed features of physiognomy suggesting insatiable desire for money, power and carnal pleasures. Scornful and aggressive commentaries strengthened the force of the effect of the message of thousands of drawings. The dissertation makes the reader think that ideas promoted by the Nazi Der Stürmer were not original as Der kleine Reaktionär 150 years ago presented similar views.
Physical description
  • Instytut Historii i Stosunków Międzynarodowych, Uniwersytet Szczeciński,
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
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