Meta-Marxism in Wilhelmine German anti-Semitism

Disclaimer: This is a further discussion built off of my Historiography seminar 4.14.2010, and the book The Butcher’s Tale, by Helmut Walser Smith.

This book is focused on the Jewish ritual murder case of Konitz in 1900. In his section on accusations, Smith refutes that they were inherently about class and power struggles. He argues that some of the cases were, but that not all of the charges were brought by a lower class person against a higher class and therefore there was something more than class struggle at play.

What struck me, though, was the rhetoric used by the anti-Semitic newspaper making the ritual murder charges. When the Prussian army deployed to stop the riots, the newspaper denounced the act as the result of Jews running the state and running the police and army. This sounded eerily familiar to another book, namely Mein Kampf. This led to me ask another question: if the rhetoric claims that Jews are in power, can there be a larger sort of analysis that will hold up in terms of groups, but not individual cases? May any attack on a Jew, no matter class in either situation, be seen as a class struggle because of the perceived class?

This further begs the question of whose worldview matters: the historian or the contemporary? For example, if a group claims that the world functions via class struggle, and shapes their actions accordingly, does a historian a hundred years down the line have the right to claim the world functioned differently?

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Nazi Germany

On this day seventy years ago, the National Socialist German Worker’s Party put out an official statement in regards to a well-loved children’s story and song about Christmas, put out just one year previous. It was bad enough that Saint Nick was the patron saint of Moscow, but this song was seen as contrary to the Nazi agenda since Santa, aka Saint Nick was now being led by a reindeer with a bright red nose. This could not stand.

To counter the influence, but to also stand with their agenda all of the stories in Germany were replaced with a new story: Adolph the White-Nosed Reindeer.