Olivia Lefere

Anti-Semitic acts have been seen throughout history. Whether it was Jews being forced to leave their homes because they did not want to convert or if it was the massacre of Jews in the Holocaust. Anti-Semitism is still an issued faced today.

The greedy Jewish banker stereotype has been around for decades. The church did not allow to Christians to become moneylender because they believed collecting interest from loaned money was a sin. This practice is called the sin of usury. Because Jews did not have a concept of usury, they were able to loan money and charge interest.

People started to say that Jews would do anything for money, which meant that Jews had no loyalty to a group besides themselves. They also said Jews exploited the Christians to whom they loaned money. This is where the stereotype of the cheap and greedy Jew originated. T his stereotype has stuck since it was created in medieval Europe. Once this stereotype was made, many people started thinking Jews were an inferior culture and other anti-Semitic actions started to happen; even in America.

Examples of other anti-Semitic events that happened in America from the 1920s through 1940s include

  • The 1920s include: Jewish discrimination in education, and anti-Semitist like Henry Ford

  • The 1930s include: Radio speeches of Father Coughlin

  • The late 1930s-1940s include: The Holocaust

Anti-Semitism in Education

In 1922, Harvard imposed a rule on how many Jews could be accepted into the university. Soon after Harvard did this, other universities such as Columbia, Cornell, Boston, and Yale adopted the same rule.

Instead of directly saying they were not admitting Jewish students, the universities added a legacy preference to reduce the number of Jewish students. A legacy preference or legacy admission is a preference given by an institution on the basis of familial relationship to alumni of that university. Students that haven't had any previous family member go to that university were less likely to be admitted.

After this program, admission of Jews were kept down 10% until the 1950s. These discriminating policies were removed by the early 1960s.

Anti-Semitism and Henry Ford

In the early 1920s, Henry ford bought a newspaper called the Dearborn independent and hired a journalist and editor to help publish his views in a weekly column called "Mr. Ford's Page." He was a very opinionated man when it came to Jews; especially Jewish bankers. He accused Jewish bankers of instigating World War I. He believed they started wars in order to make a profit for themselves.

Ford was quoted saying: "What I oppose most is the international Jewish money power that is met in every war. That is what I oppose—a power that has no country and that can order the young men of all countries out to death." This is an example of the stereotype of the greedy Jewish banker that was still in effect even decades after it originated.

The Dearborn Independent had many articles focusing on how Jews stole money from hard-working individuals. For example, one article stated that Jews took money from farmers and any non-bankers when they needed it most. This article was titled "Jewish Power and America's Money Famine."

Jews started to sue Ford for libel for what was printed in The Dearborn Independent. He missed each court date until he got in trouble and eventually came. In the trial, he apologized profusely for the words that were written in The Dearborn Independent and said someone forged his name in the paper. He stated that he is "fully award of the virtues of the Jewish people."

Anti-Semitism and Henry Ford

Father Coughlin was a Catholic priest in the 1930s who had weekly radio broadcasts. Listeners ranged from 5-12 million individuals. He believed that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his "Jewish conspirators" were holding back the United States from reaching its full potential. He also accused Jewish bankers of starting the Russian Revolution.

After much fame from the radio broadcast, Father Coughlin started printing a newspaper. The newspaper was called Social Justice and its main purpose was to attack Jewish people.

Another way people heard his opinions were through speeches around the United States. His most famous speech was given in the Bronx. In this speech he gave a Nazi salute and stated, "When we get through with the Jews in America, they'll think the treatment they received in Germany was nothing." Thousands flocked to his speeches because of the energy and emotions he gave. This video is just one of the many speeches he have to people, to get their interest their interest.

His views starting becoming even more anti-Semitic which resulted in many refusing to air his content. He became very famous in Germany and daily newspapers there published his views on Jews. The headlines of the German newspapers said "America is Not Allowed to Hear the Truth."

Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust

Nazi anti-Semitism focused on the physical characteristics that separated Jews from the Aryan people. Even if a Jew had converted to another religion, they were still considered undesirable. The Germans presented the Jews as the source of the political, social, and economic problems they were facing during their economic depression in the 1930s. In 1993, Jews in Germany were only 1% of the total population. The next few years Nazis started "Aryanization." Germans started defiling Jewish synagogues and Jewish owned businesses. Anyone with at least three Jewish grandparents was considered a Jew.

Then, in 1941, the genocide of Jews would be the focal point for Nazi anti-Semitism. Hitler believed Jews were an inferior race that should not exist because they were a threat to Germans. His final solution was the Holocaust in which mass killing would take place in concentration camps in Poland. The Holocaust resulted in the mass murder of six million Jews. Hitler believed the superior Aryan race needed more living space. Here is an example of Hitler speaking of the Jews.

Anti-Semitism Today

Anti-Semitism is still an issue today. In the past few decades, anti-Semitism groups have formed. Some of these groups were the skinheads, the White Aryan Resistance, or the Ku Klux Klan.

The skinheads is a group that targets minorities. They have shaven heads, tattoos on their bodies, and wear Nazi symbols to intimidate their victims. They praise Hitler and dedicate their lives to fulfilling Hitler's dream of a world run by the Aryan people. Violence and killing are normal for them.

The Ku Klux Klan is the most famous hate group in America today. There are many different branches of the KKK, but the main goal for all is to create a perfect race. The minority groups that came into competition with lower and middle class whites were seen as enemies. One of the minorities they focused on was the Jewish population.

WAR is White Aryan Resistance. It is founded by a former KKK member and is a Neo Nazi separatist group. The leader has created an Aryan update newsletter to inform group members on how to act. They prefer to not be in large groups, but instead be "lone wolves" as they call it. In one newsletter, it gives advice to lone wolves on how they should perform hate crimes. They say individual resistance leaves behind fewer clues for law officials to see giving them a better chance to not get caught. The main advice is to act alone, leave no clues, and act silently and anonymously.


Unflattening concerns the idea of people conforming and lacking individuality. Everybody in the book thought and acted in the same way, making them "flattened." Nick Sousanis says they need to break away and start thinking on their own.

This can also be related to the Jews that fought back and not only wanted to keep their religion but their individuality.

For Further Reading

Screen capture from Der ewige Jude (1940)