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4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 1 2006
In a fascinating work of historical and literary detection, Norman Cohn unravels the origins of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the enormously influential literary forgery that served as a cornerstone of Nazi propaganda. Warrant for Genocide sets the story of the Protocols within the broader context of the history of anti-Semitism and remains one of the key books for understanding the murderous folly of the twentieth century.

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From Publishers Weekly

The myth of Jews as children of the Devil, mysterious, uncanny and possessed of sinister powers, has persisted since the second century, when they were accused of killing Christian children, torturing the consecrated wafer and poisoning wells. In his history of the demonizing of Jewry, British academic Cohn (The Pursuit of the Millennium), describes the modern adaptation of that myth as promulgated through the turn-of-the-century forgery "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." This document was purported to plan Jewish domination of the globe through control of political parties, banks, the press and public opinion, "casting a net of gold and steel around the world." Although soon to be proven a blatant hoax by the Berne trial in 1935, the "Protocols" sold 120,000 copies in Germany in one year and helped convince 17 million Germans to vote Nazi in 1933. Cohn shows how the fiction of a Jewish conspiracy then combined with volkisch-racist ideology to produce the Holocaust: civilization needed to be rescued from this dark, earthbound race by the "world of good, of light, incarnated in blond, blue-eyed people" marching under the sun-god's symbol, the swastika. This, Cohn argues, with convincing evidence, was the justification used for murdering two thirds of all the Jews in Europe. Long out of print, Cohn's book, complete with a new afterword and extended extracts from the "Protocols" in the appendix, is a well-documented, accessible introduction to a key factor in the history of the Holocaust.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Cohn here does a little literary detection as he unravels the history of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a forged volume that allegedly laid out a plan for Jewish world domination. Though a fake, the Protocols nonetheless was at the root of a great deal of anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere and was quite popular in the Third Reich. "This important work is well written and thoroughly documented, and should be available in even the smallest library" (LJ
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended Feb. 21 2002
When you read the Protocols of the Elders of Zion the first thing you wonder is how could anybody have taken them seriously. Yet that's exactly what thousands of people did - and not only ignorant Russian peasants but also scholars and intellectuals from all kinds of backgrounds and nationalities. The origins of the myth of the Jewish world-conspiracy and its devastating effects are clearly explained by Norman Cohn in this fascinating book. What originated as a fabrication concocted by a few obscure fanatics, eventually became a major influence in the treatment Jews received in Russia and Germany. Jewry, imagined as a closely organised, world-wide political power was seen as an embodiment of modernity, a symbol of all those forces in the modern world that the most reactionary members of society feared and hated.
The Protocols originated in France but found their most ardent adherents in Russia - a country with a well established anti-Semitic tradition - and later in Germany, where Hitler found in them a "rational" explanation for his beliefs and a justification for his actions. Save in Britain, the unmasking of the forgery in 1921 made little difference and they ultimately became a warrant for genocide during WWII, when millions of Jews were systematically exterminated by the Nazis. As Mr. Cohn puts it: "Behind the massacre as a whole there was a blind fanaticism which was largely inspired by the Protocols and the myth of the Jewish world-conspiracy."
Norman Cohn's book is populated with obscure, half-crazy, half-criminal political adventurers who used this ridiculous fake as a device for obtaining influence, privilege and power. His well documented and brilliantly written analysis of the origins and effects of the Protocols is an essential work for understanding the extreme anti-Semitism that led to the murder of millions of people.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good book about an important subject. March 17 2001
Cohn's study of the creation and the effect of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion is enlightening, disturbing and at times maddening. He traces the beginnings of the myth, moves on to how it developed and then ends with its use. As an historical piece this book is worth reading, but its real strength is in explaining how a patently unbelievable story could have had such a devesting effect on so many people. The effected were not just the peasants of Russia but the educated class of Germany, France and other parts of Europe.
When one first understands thesis of the myth the reaction is how could anyone have believed this .... It would be akin to convincing a nation that Alice in Wonderland is an accurate description of a little girls journey. However, the historical truth is that thousands if not millions relied on the myth as a framework that led to the holocaust. Nations used the myth as a framework for policies and laws. What becomes clear is that no matter how unbelievable the story is that many believed it and acted on it. Given this historical fact, Cohn's book can best be seen as a warning and reminder to think before one believes.
This is a good book about an important subject.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One excellente book. Jan. 30 1999
By A Customer
This book is more than a simple history about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, it is a very interesting way to understand how fanatics and crazy men move peoples and countries to hate and kill another people. The title of this book is very explicit : " Warrant for Genocide ".
The exposition of the book is very clear, from first times of cristianism when the antisemitism started to our days, when still today groups of new nazis or fascists , including Ku-Klux-Klan and skin heads , believe in one imaginary " secret jewish world government ". Nietzsche wrotte :
" But the clown imagen of these sick spirits, of these paranoic of ideas, influences over the mass. Humanity prefers see stupids faces rather than to hear reasons ".
Great !!!, Nietzsche wrotte this 50 years before Hitler spechees.
Precisally Protocols of the Elders of Zion are a perfect example about how supertision, fanatism, no tolerance, can influence to people to kill or at least to be partner of the crime. Today we know that even Catholic Chruch cooperate with nazis and keep a ciminal silence about all the germans crimes. And the cristian bases of antisemitism, is more clear reading this book, in fact, the first " discover " of Protocols of the Elders of Zion was Sergey A. Nilus, a cristian priest.
One of the principals points of view of this book is how people don`t think, don`t analize, don`t see, people just " believe " in a blind way. For exampe, was stupid the nazi believing that Elders of Zion cause the First World War and the germany defeat, this war was a product of complex socials, economic and politics conditions. But fanatics don`t understand real causes.
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By A Customer
I read this book while taking a semester of school in Jersalem. I had always known about the holocaust, but never did I understand the lies and fabrications that accompanied and fueled that hate. This book exposes the deception and lies that caused the people of Europe, and Eastern Europe to foster what really amounts to fear that manifested itself in hate acts. The author documents his claims well, and dose a good job avoiding emotional baggage. The work is well written, well documented, and a well argued book. I would recommend it to anyone for its educational value. You will never think of the holocaust the same again. E-Mail me and we'll talk about it. -Santa Clarita,Ca
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