Paul de Lagarde on Jews and Indo-Europeans; [extract from Ch. 13: “Juden und Indogermanen” (“Jews and Indo-Europeans”) of Mittheilungen (Cummunications), II (1887).]
Translated by Alexander Jacob
Paul de Lagarde (1827–1891) was a distinguished Orientalist and Biblical scholar who was appointed Professor of Oriental Languages at the University of Göttingen in 1869. He was a prolific author, and many of his books remain in print. Lagarde (who was born Paul Bötticher but adopted Lagarde from his great-aunt’s surname) also contributed to the development of the ideology of the Conservative Party of Prussia, especially in the essays collected in his Deutsche Schriften (1878). As a theologian, he was in favour of a return to an original Christianity that predated the established Church, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, and he encouraged the development of a new religion that would be fully nationalist in form and feeling. His anti-Semitism, displayed in many of his essays, was based on the fact that the Jews always constituted a nation within a nation and one that was deleterious to the host nation. The arguments he presents in this last section of Chapter 13 of his 1887 work, Mittheilungen II, are consequently pivoted on the primary mistake of Jewish emancipation and on the rapid social depredations that Jewry was enabled to undertake as a result of this unfortunate event.
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I find that the term ‘anti-Semitism’ requires explanation.
Europe suffers from some peoples who belong to an earlier human epoch and remain from the latter, incapable of development as nations—the gypsies, the Basques, the Irish, the Jews.
Of these, the gypsies can remain outside consideration. They are acknowledged to be a burden on Europe but a burden that can be borne.
The Basques make life difficult for the Spanish: for the Carlists would be impossible if they did not repeatedly find in the Basques the point from which they could plunge the Iberian Peninsula into a civil war.
What the Irish are for Great Britain and—through their influence on the politics of Great Britain incapacitated by them—directly for all of Europe is known to everybody.
That the Jews groan under the hatred, the contempt, the aversion of the people of Europe is a fact so obvious that the Jews themselves will not deny it quite easily; that, however, the people of Europe have more than sufficient reason for those feelings follows naturally from the fact admitted by the Jews.
I speak here of the Basques, the Irish, the Jews as nations, for individual Basques, Irishmen and Jews have at all times been accepted in their midst happily and cordially by the Europeans.
These four nations raise the claim to live in the Europe of the nineteenth century under conditions which this Europe is not in a position to grant. They wish to be foreigners and citizens at the same time, nourish views of long-lost centuries and nevertheless be allowed the full possession of all the rights of modern men.
As a consequence, they are not only foreign to us but also abhorrent. They act on us like antipathetic guests with whom one cannot come to any understanding because one wishes always that they would go away.
We Germans know that we are of Indo-Germanic, Aryan origin. But we do not feel as Indo-Germans or Aryans but as Germans separate from the Romans and Slavs—who likewise belong to the Indo-Germanic family—and separate from even the non-German Teutons.
If we all together, with the exception of the strictly progressive people, reject the Jews not as Jews but as Semites or, in rarer cases, as Phoenicians, there is in this expression at the same time the reason why we do it: the instinct of the people has, without knowing what is happening to it, stamped the term, and the view underlying the term is therefore also right: it has emerged from the psyche of the nation. I recall an expression of similar import: ‘reptile’. We are anti-Semites because Jewry living among us in the nineteenth century and in Germany represent views, customs, and claims that date back to the times after the division of the races close to the time of the Flood and, because they do, seem as strange to us as flint knives and nephrite arrowheads. We are anti-Semites, not anti-Jewish, because in the middle of a Christian world the Jews are Asiatic heathens. Circumcision and the dietary laws of the Jews are atavisms. The monotheism of the Jews stands on the same level as the report of a petty officer commanded to the commissariat who announces the existence of only one copy of any object: one God, two tables, three fathers, four mothers, and the 2307 Passover foods to be found in nature. The belief in the chosenness or, as it is now called, the “world-historical mission” of Israel then crowns the absurdity: a people who through the centuries have not produced anything for history—name one if it really does exist—are able to shout in the face of the Indo-Germans—who have indeed developed everything on which we live—that they are the favourite people of God.
Thousands of Israelites were accepted into the German nation—I limit my observation to it—before 1830, have amalgamated into it and the descendants of those who were first converted have already no inkling any more that they originate from Israelites. This amalgamation, however, proceeded so felicitously only because the people accepting made no bones about the fact that they were the ones giving, the ones drawing others up. Even the Jews leaving the old racial community without clear knowledge knew fully, at that time, that they were improved by the conversion, that they had escaped a fully unsustainable condition, a “heathen religion,” as Goethe had told them in Wilhelm Meisters Wanderjahren 2,1, that they had been permitted into a nation that could not be mentioned in the same breath as the Jewish nation, one of the earliest in history, that they were able to become men first through the conversion to us. We Germans were, and are, obliged to give individual Jews our best; but it is a betrayal of our best, it is a gross ignorance of our property and our life, if we call this Asiatic famed for intellectual gifts that are not existent equal to ours. We enjoy now the fruits of the tree planted by our liberal and humane grandfathers and fathers. The first condition of achieving peace with the Jews, of benefiting the Jews as well as ourselves, is that of returning—even after the unfortunately declared emancipation—to the standpoint of the time before the emancipation. The Jews will become Germans only if they always hear from us that they are not yet that, and that they, as Jews, present to us nothing but a burden that is for us odious and useless for history by continuing to carry that upon which we squander strength that can be better employed.
But, after the emancipation, the Jews are rather worse than what they were before. We told them that they are equal to us, had the same rights as us: in thanks the Jews tell us that they are better than us and we have to learn from them.
Anyone who matters knows that the modern education of Germany, insofar as there is one, is based on the Germanic character of the people, of which also their monarchical sensibility is a part, next, on the Church, and third on the effect of the spirit of the Greeks. Anybody who matters knows that we Germans are a historic people.
Since they were emancipated, the Jews have done more than just begin to deny all of that, to speak to us about their Asiatic rubbish as our salvation; they are also so insolent as to expect a rejection of our history. In political life they always stand on the side of the progressives standing in the way of all progress who demand that we build a house without foundation, who call it freedom not to become free and tolerance to act like apes.
Mr. Kaufmann explains on p. 45: “I shall not be silent for the sake of Zion.” He speaks in the manner of Deutero-Isaiah 62.1.7, That had been done before him already by K. Lippe, M.D., and Mr. Lippe appears as a protector of our sacred sites, of our immortal ancestral heritage, of the humane law-giving of Zion and the pure civilisation of Jerusalem.
What do Zion and Jerusalem have to do with the fellow countrymen of Siegfried and Hermann? Mr. Delitzsch, as a Protestant and Jew, Mr. Kaufmann and Mr. Lippe, as Jews, are not at all in a position to understand what the circumstance means that Luther has changed—and how!—the ancient Church forms of the names of the Old Testament in his contrary wisdom. HEBREW and HEBREW= Zion and Jerusalem are suitable only for the Jews, and for the Jews as Jews; the Church became acquainted with, and named, those places not through the Jews but through the mediation of the Greek-speaking synagogue and with the sense that these Hellenistic synagogues imparted to the place names translated into Greek; the Church then further placed its interpretation in the tradition dating therefrom, and that is why the Church speaks of Zion and Jerusalem and considers the people speaking of Zion and Jerusalem as ἐθvιxoí [ethnikoi], as heathens. The Church sings the best Psalms, those expressing most fully the regular religious service of the ancient synagogue, the cantica graduum (119–133=120–134), according to the synagogue, but it sings these in its own sense. Zion and Jerusalem are, for Germans who have not sunk into Liberalism and Protestantism, nothing at all, for the Jews as important as the Forum in Rome for the Italians, the Kaaba for the Mohammedans. But even the German born after the heartless and mindless Reformation, still full of the ancient faith, sighs
Jerusalem, thou lofty city,
God will that I were there.
And the theologian who has studied his subject knows very well how he has to deal with the passages in the Letters to the Hebrews, which my readers may wish to consult 12,22,13,14. Zion (rather, Çiyyón), Jerusalem, Ezekiel=Kaskel=Yeḥezqeél, Yirmeyohu or the Jeremiah of Ewald and his five-penny pupils are, for sensitive men all over Europe, not at all existent. One who praises them to us—quickly over the border with them! Our “Lord” arose from the Adonai of the ancient synagogue read as Yahweh; the new synagogue, which has become Jewry, that is, ἔθνος [ethnos], understands neither Adonai nor Yahweh; it must throw aside the significance of these names—which became apparent first to me—for Yahweh and Adonai lead to the Lord of the Church, whom the Protestants do not recognise and the Jews ridicule and malign.
Related to the explanations of Mr. Kaufmann and Mr. Lippe is the answer that Goethe gave in Wilhelm Meister’s Wanderjahre 3, 11:
We tolerate no Jew among us; for, how can we grant him a share in the highest culture, whose origin and convention he denies?
Here nobody objects that Goethe was in his old age a man of a past age who had become childish—one hears now many things. I cite from the Vossische Zeitung, certainly a paper that is not suspicious, from 19 April 1884, the approval of the “golden sentence that should be pondered on” that Alfred Christian Kalischer, a baptised Jew, ventured in a volume on Spinoza published by Franz von Holtzendorff:
It cannot be in the long run acceptable to want to constantly sustain a nationality at the cost of the eternal eradication of that spirit of this nationality that all epochs of creative cultured peoples praise and respect as their most excellent divine spirit.
Much is to be objected to in Kalischer’s sentence: One must acknowledge that the merely reactionary aspect of Jewry, these cinders of an age that has long been burnt out, is judged by him clearly enough.
The view expressed here would long ago have been the universal one if Protestantism had not stood in its way, itself a cinder like Judaism. Mr. Moritz Lazarus has, in his writings to the German Jews, 10,11, cited the statement of a man of “famed Christian piety,” the Privy Church Counsellor, Franz Delitzsch:
On the part of the Christians there enters into the anti-Semitic movement an un-Christian racial hatred that cries out to the heavens and, since the roots of Christianity are the same as those of the Old Testament religion, represents the disgusting conduct of a bird that dirties its own nest
Mr. Delitzsch would perhaps have come out better from this affair since he himself is of Jewish origin, thus an interested party. If that which is propounded in the sentence just quoted, which is ill-considered beyond pardon, should be taken as Protestant theology this theology no longer deserves to be considered as a subdivision of Christian theology.
The Church does not recognise any Judaism and any Christianity but the Old Testament and the New Testament: the form of the latter is the Church. The Church teaches that Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, and rejects through these formulae every connection of the head of the Church, and therewith of the Church, with Judaism. The Church calls Jesus the Christ, that is, it sees in him the fulfiller not of the old expectations of Judaism but of the old promises of God. The Church calls Jesus Christ the Lord, that is, it finds in him the Yahweh of the Old Testament, not the one belonging to the Semites or one of their race, but to the theologians of Israel, the ones who called forth the promises of God into being. It is not true that the Jews living today adhere to the “religion” of the Old Testament, for one who speaks of the Old Testament recognises therewith a New Testament. It is not true that the canon of the synagogue has been the central point of the life of any Jew after Christ for, although it modelled its expressions after this canon, the synagogue further matured through the Mishna and the Gemara to the Neoplatonism and Aristotelianism of the Middle Ages transmitted by the Arabs to the Jews and, thereafter, through the Deism of the English to Mendelssohn, Geiger, Holdheim, Graetz, Lazarus, Lasker, Sonnemann, Sabor and Singer. In the course of this development, whose direction will not be unclear to anybody, the race remained identical, only the clothes with which the race covered—and covers—its shameful nakedness have changed. But the fourth Gospel [according to John], the most anti-Jewish book of the New Testament, maintains in 1:13 against the Jews that the children of God are not produced by the blood (of Jewish patriarchs) and not out of the flesh and the will of man but by God; this Gospel recognises, in 4:22,23, that salvation derives from the Jews but it sets the genuine worship of God in spirit and truth in opposition to the Jewish worship; this Gospel announces straightforwardly, in 3:5, that one who is not born from above cannot see the kingdom of God; it therefore denies that which the Bible-believing Royal Saxon Privy Church Counsellor teaches, that a Christian dirties his own nest when he sets forth against the unashamed claims of a nation that once, through its prophets and pious men, stood closer to the Church than the other heathens, through their sibyls and prophets, from which however the light and warmth has disappeared because they were foolish enough to consider the revealed and gifted wealth as the fruit of their own natural development.
 For my translation of part of this work, see Alexander Jacob, Europa: German Conservative Foreign Policy 1870–1940 (University Press of America, 2002).
 Carlism is a legitimist movement that began in Spain around 1830 and sought to establish the dynasty of Don Carlos (1788–1855) on the Spanish throne. It lasted until the Spanish Civil War, when the Carlists allied with General Franco. The movement found regular support in the Basque territories and among the Basque nationalists.
 Lagarde: See my Deutsche Schriften, in Vollständige Werke (Complete Works), 448ff.
 “For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.”
 Franz Delitzsch (1813–1890) was a Protestant Hebraist who was assumed by many to be of Jewish descent. He attacked both the anti-Semitic movement in Germany and the attacks on Christianity in the Jewish press.
 Bartolomeo Botta’s edition of Psalms, the Cantica graduum was published in Milan in 1563.
 Heinrich Ewald (1803–1875) was a German orientalist and Protestant theologian.
 Moritz Lazarus (1824–1923) was a German-Jewish philosopher who established “Völkerpsychologie” (national psychology) as a branch of philosophical studies.
 LaGarde: Cf. the Complete Edition of my [Lagarde’s] Deutsche Schriften, 292, 293.
 Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786) was a philosopher and theologian of the “Haskalah” or Jewish Enlightenment.
 Lazarus Geiger (1829–1870) was a philologist and philosopher.
 Samuel Holdheim (1806–1860) was a rabbi and a leader of early Reform Judaism.
 Heinrich Graetz (1817–1891) was a Jewish historian and apologist who wrote a 11-volume Geschichte der Juden (History of the Jews) (1853–1875).
 Eduard Lasker (1829–1884) was a Liberal politician.
 Leopold Sonnemann (1831–1909) was editor of the Frankfurter Zeitung and a founding member of the Liberal “Deutsche Volkspartei.”
 Adolf Sabor (1841–1907) was a Social Democratic member of the Reichstag.
 Paul Singer (1844–1911) was a founding member of the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD).