Reflecting the achievements of comparative historical research, this paper tries to outline the new feature of European antisemitism since the late 19th century. Political antisemitism is presented as a protest movement against the modern society, and the new term antisemitism was immediately adopted into European languages. The Christian churches, too, shared in the making of antisemitism and its struggle against liberalism, capitalism and secularisation. Although only in a few European countries did specifically antisemitic parties take part in general elections, nearly all European antisemites shared fundamental antisemitic convictions. In conclusion the papers points to some methodological problems of researches on antisemitism, from the danger of isolating the object of study to the overestimation of the dimensions of antisemitism, given that antisemitic actions are more likely documented than forms of coexistence between Jews and Christians. Furthermore, it is argued that too little attention is given to the opposing forces against antisemitism, or to the integration of Jews into general society, or to the support, Jewish politicians received from non-Jewish voters, as may be demonstrated, for example by the German working class movement. The paper concludes with a remark that despite the radical agitation and even in the face of the acts of violence against Jews, the impact of political antisemitism remained limited until the First World War.

issue 03 / July 2012 by Reinhard Rurup