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Antisemitism · Jewish history

Secondary antisemitism is a distinct kind of antisemitism which is said to have appeared after the end of World War II. It is often explained as being caused by —as opposed to in spite ofAuschwitz, pars pro toto for the Holocaust.[1] One frequently quoted formulation of the concept, first published in Henryk M. Broder's 1986 book "Der Ewige Antisemit" ("The Eternal Antisemite"), stems from Zvi Rex, an Israeli psychologist, who coined the sentence: "The Germans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz."[2][3] The term itself was coined by Peter Schönbach, a Frankfurt School co-worker of Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer, based on their Critical Theory.[4]

Adorno, in a 1959 lecture titled "Was bedeutet: Aufarbeitung der Vergangenheit" (published in his 1963 book "Eingriffe. Neun kritische Modelle."[5]) addressed the fallacy of the broad German post-war tendency to associate and simultaneously causally link Jews with the Holocaust. According to Adorno's critique, an opinion had been readily accepted in Germany, according to which the Jewish people were culpable in the crimes against them. Jewish guilt was assumed to varying extents, depending on the varying incarnations of that antisemitic notion, one of which is the idea that Jews were (and are) exploiting German guilt over the Holocaust.

"Sometimes the victors are declared to be the cause of what the defeated have done when they were still in charge, and for the crimes of Hitler those are declared guilty who acquiesced his rise to power, and not those who hailed him. The idiocy in all this is in fact an indication of something mentally uncoped-with, of a wound, although the thought of wounds should be dedicated to the victims."[5]

Initially, members of the Frankfurt School spoke of "guilt-defensiveness anti-Semitism", an antisemitism motivated by a deflection of guilt.[6]

The rehabilitation of many lower and even several higher-ranking Third Reich officials and officers appears to have contributed to the development of secondary anti-Semitism. These officials were rehabilitated in spite of their considerable individual contributions to Nazi Germany's crimes. Several controversies ensued early in post-World War II Germany, e.g. when Konrad Adenauer favoured Hans Globke as secretary of state although the latter had formulated the emergency legislation that gave Hitler unlimited dictatorial powers and had been one of the leading legal commentators on the Nuremberg race laws of 1935.[7][8] However, according to Adorno, parts of the German public never acknowledged these events and instead formed the notion of Jewish guilt in the Holocaust.


  1. EUMC. "Antisemitism. Summary overview of the situation in the European Union 2001-2005" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-06-23. 
  2. Broder, Henryk M. (1986) (in German). Der Ewige Antisemit. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer Verlag. ISBN 3596238064. 
  3. Weinthal, Ben (2007-06-06) ([dead link]Scholar search), The Raging Bronx Bull of German Journalism, Forward. The Jewish Daily,, retrieved 2007-06-23 
  4. Schönbach, Peter (1961) (in German). Reaktionen auf die antisemitische Welle im Winter 1959/60. Frankfurt am Main: Europäische Verlagsanstalt. pp. p. 80. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Adorno, Theodor W. (1996 (this edition), original 1963) (in German). Eingriffe. Neun kritische Modelle. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag. ISBN 3518133039. 
  6. Andrei S. Markovits (Spring 2006). "A New (or Perhaps Revived) "Uninhibitedness" toward Jews in Germany". Jewish Political Studies Review 18:1-2. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Retrieved 2007-06-24. 
  7. Wistrich, Robert Solomon (2001). Who's Who in Nazi Germany. Routledge. pp. 74–75. ISBN 0415260388.,M1. 
  8. Pendas, Devin Owen (2005). The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, 1963-1965: Genocide, History and the Limits of the Law. Cambridge University Press. pp. p. 18. ISBN 0521844061.,M1. 

See also

External links