As previously noted, the old Pope, Benedict XVI, upon his visit to Britain, alluded to the notion that the exclusion of God from the public sphere, lead directly to Hitler massacring the Jews. A subtle attack on the removal of what the religious perceive to be their ‘anchored morality’ provided by religion, substituted for new, “relative”, secular values, and a more open society. In my previous article, I try to counter this by providing Hitler’s Christian credentials, and point to centuries of Christian anti-Jewish sentiment that helped accommodate a negative view of the entire population of Jews. I wanted to elaborate on that particular Church-led sentiment in this article.
In the 12th Century a rather nasty little Benedictine Monk named Thomas of Monmouth started to spread the false rumour that Jews killed children, and made wine out of their blood, for ritualistic purposes. He concocted a story about a child named William of Norwich, whom, according to Monmouth, was ritualistically sacrificed by a Jewish community. The secretive but apparently extremely powerful Jewish community apparently selected a Jewish Council, to meet once a year, in order to select a country in which they would kill a Christian. They controlled the World (similar stories of Jewish World domination can still be read on conspiracy sites today). Monmouth apparently heard this story from a Christian convert named Theobald of Cambridge, who claimed the Jewish council were looking to reclaim Jerusalem, but could only do it, if they ritualistically murdered one Christian every year, and that this year, they had chosen William of Norwich.
After the rumours started, they gained pace. Spreading like fire, every unsolved child murder suddenly had a supposed Jewish element. The Jewish communities then paid the price, by being tortured into confession, and swiftly executed. A child called Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln was killed in Lincoln in 1255. A local Jewish man named Copin was accused of kidnapping, torturing, and crucifying the boy. He denied it, until he was imprisoned, and tortured, at which point he predictably confessed and implicated the entire Jewish community in a conspiracy. He was then executed.
Matthew Paris, another Benedictine Monk of the time, wrote on the murder, with disturbingly anti-Jewish rhetoric:
“This year  about the feast of the apostles Peter and Paul [27 July], the Jews of Lincoln stole a boy called Hugh, who was about eight years old. After shutting him up in a secret chamber, where they fed him on milk and other childish food, they sent to almost all The cities of England in which there were Jews, and summoned some of their sect from each city to be present at a sacrifice to take place at Lincoln, in contumely and insult of Jesus Christ. For, as they said, they had a boy concealed for the purpose of being crucified; so a great number of them assembled at Lincoln, and then they appointed a Jew of Lincoln judge, to take the place of Pilate, by whose sentence, and with the concurrence of all, the boy was subjected to various tortures. They scourged him till the blood flowed, they crowned him with thorns, mocked him, and spat upon him; each of them also pierced him with a knife, and they made him drink gall, and scoffed at him with blasphemous insults, and kept gnashing their teeth and calling him Jesus, the false prophet. And after tormenting him in divers ways they crucified him, and pierced him to the heart with a spear. When the boy was dead, they took the body down from the cross, and for some reason disemboweled it; it is said for the purpose of their magic arts.”
– Note the parallels drawn between Little Saint Hugh, and Jesus. Between the Jews of the 13th Century, and the Jews blamed for the killing of Jesus. A ‘Jew of Lincoln Judge’ is given the pleasure of being compared to Pilate. ‘…. with the concurrence of all’ the boy was horrifically tortured. With the concurrence of all. The entire Jewish community.
The murder of a child, tortured and crucified, is presented as a Jewish tradition, starting with Jesus. It is supposed to present the Jews, as evil, and Little Saint Hugh as a martyr for Christ. It is a story to remind people of the apparent betrayal of the Christians by the Jews. Christian blood has always been placed on the hands of the Jews.
It wasn’t only in England that the idea of blaming a Jewish conspiracy for unsolved murders took form. It was only in 1965, that Pope Paul VI removed the Sainthood of Simon of Trent, admitting that there is no evidence to suggest a Jewish conspiracy in the boys death in Trento, Italy, in 1475. 15 Jewish members of the community were tortured and burnt at the stake. Jewish women were also tortured. Surrounding Jewish communities were violently attacked. And not a shred of evidence was provided connecting the Jews to Simon’s death. His father came up with the idea that Simon must have been kidnapped by the Jews, his blood used in baking the Passover Matzah.
In 1543, Martin Luther produced his work “On the Jews and their lies“. In it, Luther calls for Jews to be put to work as slaves, for Jewish schools to be burnt to the ground, for
Johannes Wallmann writes:
“The assertion that Luther’s expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment have been of major and persistent influence in the centuries after the Reformation, and that there exists a continuity between Protestant anti-Judaism and modern racially oriented antisemitism, is at present wide-spread in the literature; since the Second World War it has understandably become the prevailing opinion.”
The Nazis held dear to the ideas expressed by Luther in this work. Luther is vicious in his criticisms and his ideas for the future. He helped to purge German towns of Jews, driving them from their homes and businesses with threats and intimidation.
Luther’s work is full of “I heard this about them…” and “Someone once told me this…” before launching into baseless accusations:
“I have read and heard many stories about the Jews which agree with this judgment of Christ, namely, how they have poisoned wells, made assassinations, kidnaped children, as related before. I have heard that one Jew sent another Jew, and this by means of a Christian, a pot of blood, with a barrel of wine, in which when drunk empty, a dead Jew was found. There are many other similar stories.
For their kidnaping of children they have often been burned at the stake or banished (as we already heard). I am well aware that they deny all of this. However, it all coincides with the judgment of Christ which declares that they are venomous, bitter, vindictive, tricky serpents, assassins, and children of the devil who sting and work harm stealthily wherever they cannot do it openly.
For this reason I should like to see them where there are no Christians. The Turks and other heathen do not tolerate what we Christians endure from these venomous serpents and young devils. Nor do the Jews treat any others as they do us Christians. That is what I had in mind when I said earlier that, next to the devil, a Christian has no more bitter and galling foe than a Jew. There is no other to whom we accord as many benefactions and from whom we suffer as much as we do from these base children of the devil, this brood of vipers.”
This practice of not only blaming the Jews for unsolved murders, but also the hatefilled rhetoric based on nothing of substance, became prevalent, and spread suspicion of Jews throughout Europe, leading to many murders of innocent Jewish people. Martin Luther, the reformers, as well as the Catholic Church leaped on this growing antisemitic movement, and vicious new rumours sprang up. The Papacy pounced on the antisemitism of the day, and institutionalised the growing suspicion and hate. Antisemitism was very much official Church policy.
In 1555, the new Pope Paul IV issued papal bull Cum nimis absurdum. In its opening phrase, the bull states:
“Since it is completely senseless and inappropriate to be in a situation where Christian piety allows the Jews (whose guilt—all of their own doing—has condemned them to eternal slavery) access to our society and even to live among us; indeed, they are without gratitude to Christians, as, instead of thanks for gracious treatment, they return invective, and among themselves, instead of the slavery, which they deserve, they manage to claim superiority.”
– The Jews, simply by not being Christian, are referred to as slaves. They are told they deserve slavery.
The Nazi precedent of forcing Jewish people to wear something that makes them identifiable as Jews, and inferior to the Christian population, was not a Nazi precedent at all. It began much earlier. The Nazis simply appropriated it. The Bull issued in 1555 states:
“Moreover, concerning the matter that Jews should be recognizable everywhere: [to this end] men must wear a hat, women, indeed, some other evident sign, yellow in color, that must not be concealed or covered by any means, and must be tightly affixed.”
– The Nazis are of course famous for the setting up of new Jewish ghettos in which they forced the Jewish populations of occupied cities and countries to live, in awful circumstances and conditions. But, much like forcing the Jewish population to wear identifiable clothing wasn’t a Nazi precedent, neither was the creation of Jewish ghettos. The Bull in 1555 states:
“…all Jews are to live in only one [quarter] to which there is only one entrance and from which there is but one exit, and if there is not that capacity [in one such quarter, then], in two or three or however many may be enough; [in any case] they should reside entirely side by side in designated streets and be thoroughly separate from the residences of Christians, [This is to be enforced] by our authority in the City and by that of our representatives in other states, lands and domains noted above.”
– The Ghetto of Rome was set up at this time, and Jews living throughout Rome were forced to move to it. Life in the Rome Ghetto was horrendous. It constantly flooded due to its location by the banks of the Tiber. The overcrowding led to apartments being built upwards, in dangerous conditions, by the inhabitants themselves, which blocked all sunlight, and often led to buildings collapsing and killing the inhabitants. It was the most undesirable part of the city of Rome, laced in poverty. Napoleon had freed the Jews from the Roman Ghetto, only to have the wall rebuilt and the poverty stricken conditions reinforced by Pope Pius VII in the early 1800s.
And so it continued. In 1823, the town of Velizh in Russia promoted the idea that a Jewish conspiracy led to the murder of a child. Local Jews were rounded up and imprisoned, released 12 years later on lack of any evidence.
In 1840, a Christian Monk was murdered in Damascus, and eight notable Jewish leaders were condemned to imprisonment, and torture, under which some died. The accusations were false.
In 1928, the Jewish community of Messena, New York, were accused and kidnapping and ritualistically murdering a Christian girl named Barbara Griffiths. She was then found alive, and described how she had become lost in the Woods and slept there.
By the 19th, 20th centuries, the suspicion had shifted from child-murdering rituals, to Jewish desire to control the World; through media, banking, left wing groups. The Papacy decided, in all its wisdom, that there was in fact two types of antisemitism…. ‘good’ antisemitism and ‘bad’ antisemitism. The good antisemitism was the Church’s crusade against the Jews trying to control the World. The irony of course being that the Vatican had controlled the World for the past 1600 years at the very least, and happened to be one of the most influential and wealthiest institutions on the planet. The idea of an international Jewish conspiracy can be found in 20th Century Christian literature, right winged literature, left winged literature, Islamic literature. It’s the new blood-libel. We seem unable to accept that it isn’t Jewish propaganda that has controlled our thoughts and actions for far too long, it is Christian propaganda.
Suspicion and hatred for the Jewish populations in Europe did not begin with Hitler. It was not motivated by secularism, by a lack of God in schools, by an attempt to separate Church from State, by Atheism, or by any other modern theories. It was the culmination of Centuries of antisemitic attitudes and rhetoric shaped by Christian communities both at local levels, by the evangelical reformers and by the Catholic Church. It wasn’t abandoned by the reformers of the 16th Century, is simply became more vicious when names with such power as Luther jumped into the argument. Hitler wasn’t reading Thomas Paine, Hitler was reading Luther. The Church, right up until the 20th Century openly preached and promoted antisemitism whilst aligning themselves with the Nazis. The Church’s attempts to deflect blame, shelter a deep rooted sense of guilt no doubt, over the fact that the attempt to eradicate the Jews entirely was the logical conclusion to 2000 years of vicious Church-made institutionalised antisemitism and blood libel.