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Hitler's Final Solution

Members of the Church, often self-righteous and blinded by their own prejudices, have not been reluctant to use moral and physical pressures and threats to attempt to convince the Jews of the veracity and superiority of Christianity (Morley 197).

The strongest example of the Church's enactment of anti-Judaism is the Inquisition, which when it began in 1181 targeted "heresy, magic, and sorcery, and any dissent from official policy" (Burns 85) but which by the fourteenth century was directed largely though not exclusively at Jews. From 1300 to 1492, the year of the so-called Expulsion (of Jews and Muslims from Spain), many apostate Jews (conversos) either converted or pretended to convert to Christianity in the wake of pogroms. Baer's thesis is that most conversos were privately observant Jews (Baer 273). The religious basis for the Inquisition can be interpreted as anti-Judaism, but punishment of conversos suspected of being bad Christians appears to have gradually transfigured into race hatred. Hence the Expulsion.

Langmuir (313-15) discounts the religious (i.e., anti-Judaism) explanation of antisemitism as insufficient to accounting for special hatred of Jews in Europe. He (211ff) cites what a central event in this regard, a fanciful eleventh-century monograph by English cleric Thomas of Monmouth that describes the murder of a child as Jewish ritual murder, which in turn was the provenance of the "crucifixion accusation" (236), or blood libel, that spread throughout Europe in succeeding ages.

It cannot be said that pre-Christian or medieval hatred of the Jews is coeval with the intellectual content of the Final Solution. Nor is it clear that during World War II the Catholic Church as an institution or Pius XII as Church leader in that period held antisemitic views or took the blood libel seriously. But it can be said that whatever the provenance of antisemitism, its sturdiness as cultural myth could be connected to familiar symb...

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Hitler's Final Solution. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:40, August 19, 2017, from
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