Asked in HolocaustGermany in WW2History of EuropeJudaismAdolf Hitler
Feelings towards Jews in Europe before Hitler?
April 30, 2008 4:47AM
Tolerated but viewed with suspicion. === === The position varied from country to country. Until 1917 Russia and the other countries of the Russian Empire (such as Ukraine) had an appalling reputation for antisemitism. Soon after the Bolshevik Revolution that changed, but re-ermerged around 1950, towards the end of Stalin's rule. In many parts of Europe, 'the Jews' were associated after the Russian Revolution (1917) with Communism and, more generally, with subversion. All kinds of ridiculous conspiracy theories circulated, especially in the regions along the Danube. For much of the interwar peiod Poland and Romania also had a reputation for 'official' antisemitism; also to a lesser extent, Hungary and Austria. In Western Europe, France was widely associated with organized antisemitism , partly because of the Dreyfus Affair and because of the antisemitism of the Action Francaise, an extreme right-wing group in French politics. Before World War 2 all kinds of anti-Jewish attitudes were widely considered acceptable. For example, some of the things that Virginia Woolf wrote in the 1920s and 1930s about Jews (despite being happily married to a Jew) would now be regarded as outrageous. Nevertheless, after the Kristallnacht ('Night of the Broken Glass') she contributed money to help Jewish refugees from Germany. So, some people's feelings were far from straightforward. Ironically, before the Nazis came to power, Germany had a reputation for being generally tolerant towards Jews, except in Bavaria. In 1933 most of the German Jews were completely taken by surprise; almost none had made any practical arrangements to leave Germany in the event of the Nazis coming tp power.