Article Note: Ulrike Ehret, “Catholicism and Judaism in the Catholic Defence against Alfred Rosenberg, 1934-1938: Anti-Jewish Images in an Age of Race Science”
ACCH Quarterly Vol. 15, No. 1, March 2010
Article Note: Ulrike Ehret, “Catholicism and Judaism in the Catholic Defence against Alfred Rosenberg, 1934-1938: Anti-Jewish Images in an Age of Race Science.” European History Quarterly, Vol. 40 No. 1 (2010): 35-56.
By John S. Conway, University of British Columbia
This article examines the images of Jews and Judaism in the popular Catholic defence against Alfred Rosenberg’s anticlericalism and ‘neo-paganism’ between 1934 and 1938. It contributes to the debate on Catholic attitudes to Jews, and National Socialist anti-Semitism and racism during the Third Reich. Looking at the grassroots level of this defence, the article demonstrates how the hierarchy communicated traditional religious views on Jews and Judaism to a Catholic public, taking into account the restrictions imposed by a dictatorial regime as well as long-held anti-Jewish attitudes in German Catholicism. The article suggests that the popular literature clung to traditional creeds and values of the Catholic Church and defended biblical Jewry. Yet, at the same time, the defence was clad in the language of the time and consequently used images of Jews closer to National Socialist racial rhetoric. Taking the restrictions of the dictatorship into account, the article argues that this is to a considerable extent the result of the authors of the popular Church literature and the German bishops who failed to acknowledge that it was no longer possible to distinguish between a ‘good’ Jew and a ‘degenerate’ Jew in the face of the Third Reich’s sweeping anti-Semitism and its core ideology that made no distinction between racial and religious Jewishness.