I've spent half a century (yikes) writing for radio and print—mostly print. I hope to be still tapping the keys as I take my last breath.
Many years ago, I met a man on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario. He was eager to impart to me the knowledge he had gained from his reading. The world’s banking system, he told me, was controlled by Freemasons and Jews who were bent on global domination and subjugating the rest of us into some form of slavery.
This wisdom, he said, had been gleaned from a careful reading of a book called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I had not heard of this work at the time, but I could see I was in the company of a raving bigot, so backed away from further conversation.
It was time to look into this story.
Creation of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion
A lot of mystery surrounds the book’s origin. Some say the story starts in Russia, a country with a long history of anti-Semitism, with a journalist named Matvei Golovinski.
Others suggest the conspiracy theory was cooked up by the Russian secret police. Holocaust-History.com says “The Protocols were actually written in Paris sometime between 1895 and 1899 by an agent of the Russian secret police, Pytor Ivanovich Rachovsky, who is known to have forged other documents for the various intrigues in which he took part.”
Whatever the correct version is, Russia is central to its creation.
Protocols Is a Forgery and Also Plagiarized
The text of the Protocols first appeared in Russia in 1897 where it was privately published. Much of it is lifted from earlier publications.
The Skeptic’s Dictionary says the Protocols are copied from a 19th century novel by Hermann Goedsche and “claims that a secret Jewish cabal is plotting to take over the world.” Goedsche was an anti-Semite and he wrote under the pseudonym of Sir John Retcliffe.
But Goedsche lifted the story from a French satirist and lawyer named Maurice Joly. In 1864, Joly wrote a work of fiction entitled Dialogues in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, in which he attacked Napoleon III’s ambitions to rule the world.
According to the Anti-Defamation League “Sergei Nilus, a little-known Czarist official in Moscow edited several editions of the Protocols, each with a different account of how he discovered the document.
“In his 1911 edition Nilus claimed that his source had stolen the document from (a non-existent) Zionist headquarters in France.”
Through these and other versions the text morphed into The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, which was first made available to the general public in 1905.
Claims of the Protocols Entirely False
The claim is that the Protocols form a secret document that was discovered and that details a master plan to take over the world.
The Holocaust Encyclopedia describes them as “24 chapters, or protocols, allegedly minutes from meetings of Jewish leaders, the Protocols ‘describes’ the ‘secret plans’ of Jews to rule the world by manipulating the economy, controlling the media, and fostering religious conflict.”
The first English translation was done by Victor E. Marsden in 1920; the book sold out five editions in one year in England alone.
Hitler referred to the Protocols in his book Mein Kampf (My Struggle) and uses their alleged existence as “proof” of the need to deal with what he called the “Jewish problem.”
And we all know how that turned out, although there still are some deluded people who deny the Holocaust ever took place.
To counter this willful ignorance of the Holocaust deniers, the book And Every Single One Was Someone was published in December 2012. The book is 1,250 pages in length and contains a single word – Jew – repeated six million times.
In reviewing it, Jodi Rudoren of The New York Times wrote that “It is meant as a kind of coffee-table monument of memory, a conversation starter and thought provoker.” Also, it symbolizes the anonymity with which the Nazis treated their victims.
It will not, of course, penetrate the bubble of hate in which some people choose to live. Thousands of these marched through Charlottesville, Virginia in a torchlight parade in August 2017 chanting, among other things, “Jews will not replace us.”
Elders of Zion Document Has Plenty of Believers
The Protocols have been swallowed whole as factual by some.
Henry Ford, creator of the Ford Motor Company and a well-known anti-Semite, said in February 1921: “The only statement I care to make about the Protocols is that they fit in with what is going on. They are sixteen years old, and they have fitted the world situation up to this time. They fit it now.”
Ford owned The Dearborn Independent newspaper and used its pages to spread the Protocols to a wider audience. He published these articles in a series of booklets, The International Jew, that were translated into 16 languages.
In 1938, Nazi Germany awarded Ford the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest honour Hitler’s regime could bestow on a foreigner.
Protocols Stir Hate in the Middle East
While the Protocols have been totally discredited in the West the situation in the Middle East is different.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the Protocols “are perennial bestsellers in the Middle East. The seriousness with which they appear to be taken in the Middle East may be partly explained by the number of prominent Muslims who have endorsed them. [Egyptian President] Nasser endorsed the Protocols in 1958, as did President Sadat, President Arif of Iraq, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Colonel Qaddafi of Libya, and others.”
Add to that list Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former President of Iran, who also claims the Holocaust did not happen.
Followers Among Christians
A brief Internet search reveals scores of hate groups claiming the Protocols to be a revealed truth. Many of these groups are fundamentalist Christian, such as Bible Believers who blame Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus.
The Bible Believers use a strangely contorted logic to prove the authenticity of the document: “The claim of the Jews that the Protocols are forgeries is in itself an admission of their genuineness, for they NEVER ATTEMPT TO ANSWER THE FACTS (BB’s caps) corresponding to the THREATS which the Protocols contain, and, indeed, the correspondence between prophecy and fulfillment is too glaring to be set aside or obscured. This, the Jews well know and therefore evade.”
For the record, scholars worldwide have proven the Protocols to be pure anti-Semitic bunkum.
Despite international scholarship proving the bogus nature of the Protocols, it is still popular and widely available. Amazon and Walmart, among others, stock it.
History lecturer Hugo Valentin at Sweden’s University of Upsala called the Protocols in 1936 “the greatest forgery of the century.”
Two years later, Father Pierre Charles, Professor of Theology at the Jesuit College in Louvain, France labelled the Protocols a fraud, “a clumsy plagiarism … made for the purpose of rendering the Jews odious ...”
In 1942, a group of Cornell academics noted that colleagues had established “beyond doubt the fact that they are rank and pernicious forgeries.”
In 1964, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee pointed out that “Every age and country has had its share of fabricated ‘historic’ documents which have been foisted on an unsuspecting public for some malign purpose … One of the most notorious and most durable of these is the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion.’ ”
The Internet, of course, makes the dissemination of the Protocols so much easier. It helps people such as the man I met on Manitoulin Island in a pre-Internet age find someone to blame for a life that is not going so well.
The Protocols Constitute Hate Speech
According to the Anti-Defamation League, more than a billion people worldwide harbour anti-Semitic sentiments. In North Africa and the Middle East, this represents 74 percent of the population; in the Americas it’s 19 percent.
The man (we shall not give his name) who killed 11 Jews at prayer in a Pittsburgh synagogue in October 2018 used the Bible as his reference point. On social media he had written “Jews are the children of Satan. (John 8:44).” Indeed, that is a text from the Gospel of John.
The Bible Believers are evangelical Protestant Christians who believe the Bible is the word of God and is correct in everything it says. “Love thy neighbour as thyself” is a prominent instruction. However, the Bible Believers website is virulently anti-Semitic, as well as anti-gay.
- “What Are the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?” Holocaust History, June 1, 1999.
- “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Robert T. Carroll, The Skeptic’s Dictionary, December 1, 2013.
- “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Holocaust Museum, June 10, 2013.
- “A Hoax of Hate.” The Anti-Defamation League, undated.
- “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.” Bible Believers, undated.
- “Holocaust Told in One Word, 6 Million Times.” Jodi, Rudoren, New York Times, January 25, 2014.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2019 Rupert Taylor
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 09, 2019:
The Protocols sound awful, and it is still hard for me to believe people don't believe in the Holocaust as there is so much proof. People seem to want to erase history when it doesn't suit their current beliefs. I find that sad. This is a very good article about historic occurance. It seems to me the Jews have been persecuted for a number of generations.