The Riddle of the Jew’s Success
THE JEW’S SUCCESS
Translated from the German by Capel Pownall
HAMMER-VERLAG / LEIPZIG
Theodor Emil Fritsch (October 28, 1852 near Leipzig – September 8, 1933) was a German antijudaist whose views did much to influence popular opposition to Jewish supremacism in Germany during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
A believer in the absolute superiority of the Aryan race, Fritsch was upset by the changes brought on by rapid industrialization and urbanization, and called for a return to the traditional peasant values and customs of the distant past, which he believed exemplified the essence of the Volk.
In 1883 he founded the Hammer Publishing House.
One of Fritsch’s major goals was to unite all Jew-resister political parties under a single banner; he wished for opposition to Jewish supremacism to permeate the agenda of every German social and political organization. This effort proved largely to be a failure, as by 1890 there were over 190 various patriotic parties in Germany. He also had a powerful rival for the leadership of the patriots in Otto Böckel, with whom he had a strong personal rivalry.
In 1893, Fritsch published his most famous work, The Handbook of the Jewish Question also known as the Anti-Semitic Catechism which criticed the Jews and called upon Germans to refrain from intermingling with them. Vastly popular, the book was read by millions and was in its 49th edition by 1944 (330,000 copies). The ideas espoused by the work greatly influenced Hitler and his party during their rise to power after World War I. Fritsch also founded a journal – the Hammer (in 1902) and this became the basis of a movement, the Reichshammerbund, in 1912.
His better known book, The Riddle of the Jew’s Success was published in English in 1927 under the pseudonym F. Roderich-Stoltheim, and dealt with the negative impact that Jewish values and the centralization of the German economy in Jewish hands had on the German people. This book was recently republished by Noontide Press, and was the subject of a media controversy after it was banned by Amazon.com and other online book sellers.
Fritsch held the publication rights to the German edition of Henry Ford’s work The International Jew.
[Note: Clicking on the Chapter heading will take you to that post]
Chapter …………………………………………………………..……………………………………. Page
I Preface ………………………………………………………………………………………………… 5
II Jewish Methods in the Economic Life …………………………………………………. 10
III Particular Business Tactics of the Jew ……………………………………………….. 29
V The Peculiar Morality of Jewdom ………………………………………………………….. 53
VI An Explanation with Sombart …………………………………………………………….. 68
VII Jewish Successes in Modern Times …………………………………………………… 72
VIII The Stock-Exchange …………………………………………………………………………. 84
X Jewish Trade Specialities ……………………………………………………………………… 111
XI Moral Principles in Trade …………………………………………………………………….. 141
XII The Hebrews as Supporters of Capitalism …………………………………………. 154
XIII Business and Religion ……………………………………………………………………… 183
XIV The Race Problem ………………………………………………………………………….. 200
XV Origin of the Jewish Entity ……………………………………………………………….. 220
XVI The Influence of the Jew Upon Womankind …………………………………….. 242
XVII The Jews and the World-War ………………………………………………………….. 277
Concluding Words ………………………………………………………………………… 283
Errata …………………………………………………………………………………………… 290
Jewish Methods In the Economic Life.
The question, why the economic life flourishes wherever the Jews direct their footsteps, has not been answered by Sombart in a way which satisfies us. He is under obligation to us for important disclosures. We shall, to the best of our ability, present these as follow. The facts and phenomena, upon which light must be thrown, can be separated into groups, according to the points of observation:
1. The Hebrew enhances and accelerates the circulation of Money.
2. He mobilises slumbering values: lets loose balanced and reposing forces.
3. He practises “Raubbau”, (Predatory culture)* at the expense of the stored-up forces of Nature and Mankind.
At this juncture must also be taken into consideration:
4. The “Playing into one another’s hands” (secret understanding) of the Hebrews.
5. The strange Morality.
1. The Hebrew enhances the circulation of Money, enlivens business.
The sound merchant of the old school held the opinion that his duty was satisfactorily discharged, by satisfying the actual purchase-requirements of his customers. He allowed the latter to approach him of their own accord, and waited until they called upon him, believing that he had conformed in all respects to his business obligations, by procuring for the customer, at a suitable price, the goods which the latter required.
- Translator’s note. It is very difficult to find in English a concise equivalent for the admirable German expression “Raubbau”. “Predatory Culture” is, perhaps, the best.
He regarded it as beneath his dignity to run after customers, or to entice them, by all manner of tricks, to buy from him; in fact, in olden times, conduct of this kind was regarded as unbecoming and quite unworthy of an honourable trader. Far less did it ever occur to him to talk a customer into buying some article, which the latter would not have bought of his own accord. Thus trade remained a peaceful, and not unduly exciting occupation, and still the customer got what he wanted.
The Hebrew introduced into these relations, a new tendency and a violent revolution. Wherever he invaded trade, he refused to adopt this quiet and peaceful method of satisfying requirements. He endeavoured to entice the customers by advantageous offers and promises of all kinds. Above all, he emphasised the cheapness of his goods, and knew well how to delude the purchaser, by suggestion, into imagining that, in this cheapness, the latter would find an enormous advantage.
He recommended his goods, loudly and publicly, by methods, which were formerly known and forbidden as being those of a mountebank, and which are now called advertising, and very soon brought the practice almost to the verge of an art.
Yes, and when all these means of attracting customers proved of no avail, he went and looked for them, not only by sending out circulars and price-lists, but personally, by pedlars, agents and travellers. Thus, he did not wait until the requirement arose, and the demand set in of its own accord; he created an artificial demand; he aroused requirement by persuasion, and by other means. In this manner, a new and alien trait was introduced into all business life. Commercial business activity now became a wild hunt for customers, for each tradesman sought to tear away the buyer from his rival.
Certainly all this resulted in a violent application of the spur to business life, and the exchange of commodities was accelerated and increased thereby, but this kind of activity was of less service to political economy, in its higher sense, than it was to another purpose. If it was the aim of sound economy solely to satisfy a genuine want, and to direct goods wherever the same were really required, the new way of proceeding aimed mainly at gathering up or “assembling” actual money.
Trade, according to the new perception, was no longer a useful link in the chain of calm, constant economic development, but was rather a means to direct the circulating money as quickly as possible again into the hands of the trader.
It was not the transfer of goods, which was so important, but the fact that the transfer of goods gave the opportunity for getting hold of money.
Thus, extraction of money from the pockets of customers instead of satisfactorily meeting the need for commodities, now became the main purpose of trade. But trade forfeited thereby its proper and honourable character, and its former reputation as an important contributor to the well-being of the community.
One can only learn to understand correctly this particular tendency of the Hebrews, by considering their peculiar relations to their environment. The old-fashioned merchant was not particularly envious of his trade-competitors; his motto was, “Live and let live”; and he knew that if he conducted his business, honestly and conscientiously, that if he served his customers honourably and fairly, a portion of the universal volume of trade would fall to his share, through which his individual existence would be assured. The merchants of olden times did not feel themselves competitors with one another, to the extent which the modern ones do. They were not so numerous; and, through the guild privilege, each was assured of his particular market or sphere of activity. The mania to supplant one another did not force its way to the front, and was kept within bounds by the respect felt for the vocation.
A feeling of goodwill and of mutual tolerance — an attitude corresponding to the Christian view of life — prevailed amongst merchants and tradesmen, just as it did in other circles.
The attitude of the Hebrew towards this state of affairs was quite different. He came as a stranger into this kind of existence, which was a new world to him, as a supernumerary, whom nobody had summoned, and whom nobody desired to see. Moreover, he was not united to the native inhabitants of the land, either by the tie of blood, or by a common history, or by patriotism, or by religious and social views.
He felt himself to be an alien, and regarded the others as strangers, who did not interest him; but he desired to force a place for himself amongst them by any and every means. He did not look upon other competitors, striving all around him, as being either entitled to live, or as compatriots. His view of life, derived from his religion, had taught him that his nation was something out of the ordinary, that it had been “chosen”, and its holy books contained the promise that he should possess himself of all the riches in the world in order to rule over all other peoples. The “Nations of the World” were represented in the law of the Hebrew as strangers and as enemies. He had neither respect nor tolerance for them. All he cared about was to dispossess them, and to make them tributary to him. This is simply what stands written in the books of the Old Testament, which we also have accepted as “sacred books”; and it stands written still more distinctly in the laws, which Hebrewdom teaches within itself, but prudently conceals from the rest of humanity.
We shall return to these facts later on.
At all events, the Hebrew was not content to keep step with the other merchants, and to confine his attentions to those customers, who came to him of their own free will. He considered it as his right — yes, even as his duty towards himself and to his nation, to seize for himself as much as possible out of the total volume of trade, and to deprive his nonJewish competitors of as many customers as he could. He also recognised what a great advantage it was, to attract to himself as much as possible of the money in circulation, in order to obtain, by this means, power and mastery over the economic life.
This assiduity grew out of his natural disposition, for the sense of gain and the impulse towards self-enrichment have always been very pronounced in the Hebrews. The greed for Gold is an ancient and hereditary evil in the tribe of Judah. But one only half understands the situation, if one forms the opinion, that the Jew is actuated in his business operations solely by the desire for gain, or by the love of money.
Certainly the Hebrew is fond of money; but the mere possession of the metal is not enough for him; he knows that behind the glittering gold lurks the secret also that the precious metal gives him power over others. In his case, the possession of money is not solely a means for leading an independent and luxurious existence, but is, at the same time, a means for exercising power; he will, by means of money, rule and oppress.
And, through his intense — one might almost say, artificially forced — business activity, by which he strives to bring back all the circulating money quickly into his hands again, he achieves something further. By gathering up money on all sides, by every means in his power, and by retaining it in his possession and allowing it to accumulate, the Hebrew knows how to cause a scarcity of money in the nation; and the scarcity of money brings him fresh custom — not indeed as a merchant, but as a money-lender.
If anybody understands how to bring back the money, which is circulating amongst the people, quickly into his own hands again, by enticing, for instance, in his capacity as merchant or tradesman, his customers to make purchases, for which there is no immediate necessity, he withdraws money from the “market”, and money at once becomes scarce if unforeseen wants put in an appearance. Whoever then finds himself in monetary difficulties, is compelled to apply to those, who have known how to attract all the money into their own hands.
And, in this way, commercial activity, which had been so violently stimulated, became simultaneously an auxiliary to the loan-monger and usurer. It was not chance, nor was it by any means the pressure of circumstances in former times, which made a money-lender of the Jew, but a carefully thought out system. Money is a very peculiar commodity, and whoever trades in money has a tighter grip on the economic life than he who trades in ordinary goods. For this reason, all trade, as far as Jews are concerned, is, strictly speaking, merely a means for gathering together or “assembling” money, again and again.
For the Hebrew follows the money, which has been lent on loan, also with ever-watchful eyes, and knows well what precautionary measures to take, to ensure that it will soon find its way back into Jewish safes.
It is not disputed that the Jewish method of doing business produces a showy splendour, both in trade and traffic, in which everybody appears to be prospering. We often stand still, absolutely dazed by the precipitate development, which has overtaken all trade and traffic arrangements during the last few decades. But, — and we labour under no delusion in this respect — this blossom of external life, dazzling in all its splendour, is only produced by heavy sacrifice on the other side.
2. The Hebrew mobilises slumbering values, lets loose balanced and reposing forces.
I once knew a man, who could not behold any stately tree, either in garden or park, without indulging in an outburst, somewhat on the following lines;
“How crazy the people must be to allow a tree like that still to be standing! What an amount of capital is lying there locked up! What fine beams and planks could be sawn out of it!”
The man had Jewish blood in his veins, and gave vent to a feeling, which must be keenly alive in many Hebrews, although they do not venture to express it in such a barefaced manner. The Hebrew is incapable of allowing anything to rest in calm peace, which can be turned to some economic use. Instilled into his mind is the urgent impulse to make everything “liquid”, to convert everything into money, to “mobilise” everything.
And, on all sides, we see Hebrewdom, driven by this impulse, hard at work in order to scoop up with greedy hands the treasures of Nature and of Human Life. Certainly existence is enriched and broadened thereby, and civilisation is enlivened.
From the common economic point of view it has the appearance of being highly meritorious, when a forest, which has been standing for a hundred years in peace, slowly and laboriously growing up by virtue of the creative power in Nature, and has become a great potential source of value, that somebody should set to work with axes and circular saws to liquidate the reposing capital.
Hundreds of men are employed to lay the trees low, and to cut up and transport the timber, and thus life springs up in the district; wages are paid, and sales are effected. Regarded from this point of view, the man, who “mobilises” these sleeping values, may well appear to be a benefactor to the neighbourhood where he provides useful work for so many hands. But, not only will the lover of nature be saddened by what has taken place; the serious economist will also be of a very different opinion. Certainly the forest is there, reduced at last to a form, in which it can be utilised by the community as building-timber and fire-wood.
The wise forester, however, goes to work with care and restraint, and does not fell any timber without making provision for afforesting an area equivalent to that, which has been cleared.
Or, at any rate, he only allows the mature trunks to be felled, and spares all the younger timber. The Hebrew obeys an entirely different principle — his true commercial principle: he clears the ground to the last sapling; the afforestation he leaves to others.
The above is an example of reality rather than of symbolism.
The Hebrews have actually laid low enormous stretches of primeval forest, not only in our Fatherland, but also in Russia and in Poland; by doing so, they have certainly given a stimulus to business and commercial intercourse, and have caused money to circulate, but the reverse side of this activity will perhaps only be appreciated to its full and disastrous extent by future generations. The cut-down forest certainly brings profit for the moment, but, for the more or less distant future, it means nothing less than impoverishment of the district — in many cases, actual devastation. The springs dry up all over the now bare surface; permanent drought sets in, and when heavy rains do come, they simply sweep away the valuable upper layers of soil. The extirpation of great forests means, accordingly, nothing less than the exhaustion of fertility, and the conversion into desert land of vast tracts of country. Italy and the Balkan States furnish a grave enough warning.
As in the case of the forest, so does the Hebrew comport himself in other spheres of activity.
He is for ever intent upon mobilising or stirring up sleeping values, and bringing them into circulation, in order to derive an ostentatious and momentary benefit therefrom; but organic breadth of vision is completely wanting in this individual. He does not trouble to consider what the further consequence of this reckless and predatory method of proceeding on his part will be. This is quite in accordance with his nomadic nature. He does not feel himself in any manner linked to the soil; he forsakes the devastated territories, and seeks fresh profit elsewhere in the world. The conception of the Fatherland is altogether foreign to him, and, in this respect, he is true to his nature as a member of a desert and nomadic race.
3. The Hebrew piles his Predatory Culture at the expense of natural and human resources.
Once more, as in the case of the forest, the same fate befalls the treasures contained in the bosom of the earth. What has here been slowly formed in Nature’s laboratory by processes, which have taken hundreds of thousands, or even millions of years, are dragged to the light of day with insatiable greed; it must take its part in enriching and adorning life. At first this sounds very plausible — but how long can it last? Careful economists are already asking uneasily how much longer the world’s supply of coal will suffice to shield the human race against the ever-menacing forces of the cosmic cold. Certain geologists have spoken reassuring words: the world’s coal supply is plentiful, and will suffice, at any rate, for many centuries, perhaps, even for three or four thousand years. The foresight of humanity ought to enable it to project its conscience across this span of time, for it will be our descendants, who will — even if it is after the lapse of thousands of years — raise bitter reproaches against us because we have squandered the irreplaceable treasures of the earth, greedily and blindly.
And there are other treasures of the earth as well, which are not so plentiful as coal. The world’s supplies of iron ore, which are nearly all known, as they can be discovered and marked down by means of the magnetic needle, have been subjected to close calculation with regard to their extent and richness; and the result is, that if we continue to use up iron in the same way, as we have been doing for the last few decades, all the iron-ore fields of the world will be exhausted in from 50— 60 years. And then what?
Whether such calculations prove true or not, they provide us with a glance into the future, which must arouse apprehension, and cause us to regard the lordly culture, of which we boast so readily today, in a very questionable light.
The Hebrews are certainly not the only ones who practise Predatory Culture at the expense of the treasures of the earth, but it can be maintained with justice, that it was that class of men, who introduced the principle of ruthless mobilisation of values and of pitiless money-making into our economic life.
And it is precisely that which Sombart wishes to demonstrate, or actually does demonstrate, whether he does so intentionally or not; the Hebrew has made the principle of pitilessly carried out capitalisation supreme in the economic life, and it is not to be wondered at if others try to copy him — or rather, are compelled to do the same, in order to withstand the Jewish competition.
Not only do we squander these natural treasures, but we are dissipating another treasure as well, which finally is the most important of all, as far as culture is concerned. The mobilisation of the treasures of the earth, and the tremendous activity of economic life, which has risen to an almost morbid degree, impose a terrible strain upon man and his creative powers.
He may, perhaps, feel a pride in the results of his work, in the thousands of roaring and clattering machines, in the boldly executed constructions, with which he spans rivers, estuaries and mountain ravines, and in the ingenious technical appliances, which convey him with the speed of the wind across the face of the earth. But what does he run down and secure as booty or prize at the end of this wild pursuit? Generally only the loss of his best powers, and an early end to his days.
Who can now refuse to recognise the fact that the harassing hunt after business, which characterises modern economic life, is rapidly leading to an exhaustion of mankind, and that the race itself, in spite of all the technical perfections of the external world, is slowly sinking, as far as its personal constitution and powers of accomplishment are concerned, i.e., is decaying steadily both physically and spiritually?
In this respect also, the modern economy is carrying on ruthlessly another method of Predatory Culture. Industrialism entices men from the country into the town, and consumes them. It is a well-known fact that the families, born in the towns, very soon fade away, and that they seldom extend to more than three generations, and that the large towns and the industrial areas can only maintain themselves by a constant influx of human beings from the rural districts. But even the reserve of human strength in the country, taken as a whole, is not inexhaustible. It already shows an alarming retrogression.
Sixty years ago, two thirds of the inhabitants of Germany lived in the country, and derived their livelihood from agriculture and from forestry, and only a third of the population lived in the towns. Today, the proportion is almost reversed. The rural population has now shrunk to 37 per cent of the total, and will no longer be able to make up the deficiency in the births amongst the 63 per cent of the population, who now dwell in the large towns, and in the industrial districts.
We see accordingly how the magnificence of modern culture can only be produced by the expenditure of powers, which cannot be revived. It requires but a few more decades of this mode of existence, and the German Nation will have used itself up; foreign national and racial elements will stream in from all sides, and make themselves comfortable in the bed, which we, in our excessive and suicidal diligence, have so carefully prepared for them.
A typical example of the fanatical pressure, which impels the Hebrew to mobilise all values, is furnished by his attack upon the “Fidei-Kommisse”, namely the indivisible family estates.
The land-owning nobility, in particular, has frequently made the arrangement that the family estate shall descend undivided to the heir, in order to guard against the breaking-up and dispersion of the estate. It is of incalculable value, both for state and community, if, in this manner, strong, independent existences can be maintained; moreover, the community cannot suffer any detriment thereby. Notwithstanding this, the Jewish Press has, for years past, fiercely attacked this arrangement, as if it were an offence and an injury against the majority, and Parliament is overwhelmed, from the Jewish side, with motions to do away with the “Fidei-Kommisse”, as if the eternal happiness of the whole nation depended upon this. The innate hatred felt by the Jew towards the nobility plays, in this respect, no small part. The Jew wishes to see this nobility destroyed, which presumes, both by breeding and tradition, to be something out of the ordinary, while the “chosen people”, according to his opinion, alone possess a claim to pretensions of this kind. Do not the Jews, with predilection, refer to themselves as the “natural aristocracy of mankind”?
Moreover, this aversion to the “Fidei-Kommisse”, (the indivisible family estates) is only the old Hebrew urgency to mobilise values expressing itself afresh: there must not be anything durable or constant: everything must be cut up and handed over to speculation. — The new revolutionary government, directed by Jews, has no more urgent policy than that of breaking up all the “FideiKommisse”, and of prohibiting the formation of any new family estates. Who can compute today the harm which will be caused by such a policy? The undermining of the economic foundations must also make itself felt in the social and intellectual structure of society. Genuine men of nobility will become scarcer and scarcer: the nobility has already, in many respects, degenerated, and become degraded by the intrusion of the Jewish money- and business-spirit. The Jewish principle of life drags mankind back from the heights, which it has scaled. The final result is: universal vulgarisation.
We hear the ready answer: but wealth has increased enormously!
Have we not collected huge quantities of capital, which are a sufficient guarantee for the future? In this respect also the modern idea of economy arrives at a fateful and most erroneous conclusion. Even Sombart represents the situation as if the Hebrews brought riches with them wherever they went, and were continually producing new wealth. Even if we understand under the expression “wealth”, merely the gold and silver treasure of the earth, it certainly cannot be maintained that these are increased by the Hebrew and his economic activity.
We have already seen that his art consists in collecting and re-collecting these treasures into his own hands, as quickly as he can. But the Gold and the Silver in their totality form only an insignificant portion of the riches of the nation. What we call capital does not generally consist of coined metal.
Today we reckon also as capital, landed property, such as cultivated fields, forests, buildings etc. But the Hebrews certainly do not increase this kind of property either.
There is, however, another kind of capital, which plays the most important role of all in modern political economy: this is the Loan Capital those sums, which are lent out in return for the payment of fixed rates of interest. And it cannot be denied that the Hebrew possesses an extraordinary talent for increasing this particular kind of capital.
Let us, first of all, make it quite clear to ourselves of what such capital really consists. Whoever owns a million marks, which brings him in interest, does not possess this million marks in the form of gold and silver coins, lying in his safe, but has lent the million marks out on loan. But even the borrower— the debtor to the man who owns the money — no longer holds the actual money; he has passed it on further in the course of his business. All that is left to him of it is — the obligation to pay interest. He has taken over for himself — and generally also for his descendants for illimitable time — the duty of paying to the creditor, certain sums of money as interest, at certain stated intervals.
Out of all this the fact next emerges, that an equally great debt, on the other side, faces this sum of Loan Capital. Whoever is in a position to call his own a million marks of Loan Capital, and draws interest from the same, must hold other people as his debtors to the extent of a million marks. And thus arises the peculiar equation: the more Loan Capital there is here, the more Debts there are there. An increase of capital of this nature means, in reality, nothing else than an increase of debt.
Loan Capital thus consists of acknowledgment of debt, and of obligation to pay. It takes visible shape in the form of mortgage-deeds, bonds, shares, original or founder-shares, rent charges and similar devices. And, if we boast today that the number of rich people has increased enormously, that millions and thousands of millions are accumulated in the hands of single individuals, we must not forget that the debts and obligations of other people have increased in equal measure.
It is accordingly a bold assumption to maintain, that the general welfare of the nations is promoted by the increase of capital of this kind, i.e. Loan Capital. Whoever speaks of modern Wealth ought, if he is conscientious, to speak at the same time of the monstrous nature of the modern system of creating indebtedness. In whatever direction we look, we see an enormous development of this creation of debt; in the kingdom, in the province, in the parish, in the business, in the family — all are carried on by means of debts. The registered mortgages on land throughout the German Empire are computed at 60 – 70 thousand million marks* (three thousand to three thousand five hundred million pounds sterling).
It is a very remarkable and significant fact that we have n o statistics whatever concerning this so important question of political economy, while we are overwhelmed with statistics on all other matters.
- According to Jewish computation (v. Gwinner in the Prussian Upper House) the capital value of the land in the German Empire amounts to close upon 300 thousand million marks (Fifteen thousand million pounds sterling) and, according to other authorities, 220—250 thousand million marks (eleven thousand to twelve thousand five hundred million pounds sterling). Certainly, in most districts, the debts on the land are higher than 25 p.c.
If the above-mentioned sum of debt is approximately correct, it simply means that the nation has to find something like 3000 million marks (one hundred and fifty million pounds sterling) every year in order to pay the burden of interest, placed upon the ground, composing the Fatherland. Who, in the last analysis, provides this sum of money? It is simply the working and productive class of the citizens: the peasant, the craftsman and the workman. These are the powers, which create productive values, and who must, by the excess of their labour, produce the burdens of interest in order to satisfy the owners of Loan Capital.
If we reckon that there are 15 million working-men in the German Empire capable of production, a yearly impost of 200 marks (ten pounds sterling) is laid upon each of them in order to satisfy the owners of Loan Capital. That this crushing impost is not consciously perceived, is simply due to the fact that it is split up and distributed in such a way, that it is almost impossible to check or trace it, and that all kinds of roundabout ways and tricks are utilised, which make it quite impossible for the ordinary man to discover the source of his misery. The Loan Capital, which burdens our land, sucks in its interest by raising the rents of tenements, workshops and business premises, by increasing the price of food-stuffs and other necessary commodities, and by other similar indirect methods. Thus, the productive worker is not directly conscious of this impost, but feels only an inexplicable pressure on all his business activity. He sees that, in spite of all his effort and industry, the fruits of his toil disappear out of his hands, without his being able, at the same time, to discover any satisfactory explanation of this. In spite of all his toil, he cannot make any advance and prosper, becomes discontented with his lot, and vents his resentment in all directions, mostly against those, who are quite innocent of his hard fate. He complains about the high taxes and rates, which form only an insignificant particle when compared with that impost — the interest on Loan Capital.
He grumbles about the increasing cost of living, of rent, of food, of clothing, and of other things, including “bread-usurers” and bad government, and does not seem to have even the faintest idea, that it is just this invisible impost of the interest on Loan Capital, which is oppressing him by making everything dear.
Thus, this modern system of creating capital, by casting an intolerable burden on the entire national life, produces universal oppression and consequently discontent, which is causing an ever-growing resentment between the various classes, which compose the community, without the oppressed people being at all clear as to where the source of the oppression really is.
It is not very probable that the Hebrews invented that work of art — the loaning-out of capital against interest; it is quite likely that it was known and practised before their time.
It is quite certain, however, that they first introduced this branch of business to us in Germany, and, supported by the prohibition against practising usury, enforced by the Christian Church against its members, promoted and developed it to an extraordinary extent. Owing to their peculiar dexterity in always attracting to themselves again the money, which is in circulation, they know how to produce a constant shortage of money amongst the people. In this manner they compel the productive classes to borrow, and to continue borrowing.
The money, which has been gradually collected by commerce and other means, leaves the hands of the Hebrew, for the most part, only as Loan Capital, and continuously creates for him fresh circles of people, pledged to pay him tribute.
Is it then really such a great blessing for a nation if it can be shown, that the Hebrews, living in their midst, possess thousands of millions of marks in the shape of Loan Capital, for which the productive class have to find the interest? What does the saying now mean: wherever the Jews turn, there appear new riches, new capital? Should one not, before all other things, state emphatically: there arise, to a terrifying extent, fresh debts?
It is not the real wealth of the nations, which is increased by the Jews, but their debts and obligations, which, under the deceitful name of “mobile capital”, accumulate until they amount to sums of incredible magnitude, but which are in reality, only a phantom possession — an imaginary value.
We read, with aversion, the descriptions of the persecutions of the Jews, which are said to have taken place in the Middle Ages: if these were, in all cases, as many people imagine, can be left an open question; at any rate, one ought to explain conscientiously, what led up to these persecutions, and what was the real cause of the same. We can read, in every record, that it was by no means a religious hatred, which incensed the citizens against the Jews, because at all times and in all countries, a remarkable tolerance has been displayed towards the religious rites of the Jews, some of which rites are of a very peculiar nature. No one has prohibited their noisy method of praying; no one has disturbed their Sabbath and Passover festivals. Nobody has prohibited even their Purim, their festival of revenge, which they still celebrate annually, with unquenchable thirst for revenge, in recollection of the massacre of 75,000 Persian enemies of the Jews, by the direction of the minister Mordecai more than 2,000 years ago. What really incensed the people against the Jews were the insatiable hunger for interest, and the unchristian like usury of the latter; by reason of this diabolical greed for money, which stopped at nothing, this slinking, alien race became so repugnant to the ordinary German man, that he considered the Jews capable of anything.
As has been already stated, during the time when the influence of the Church was predominant (from the 11th till the 18th century) Christians were forbidden to practise usury; only the Hebrew was allowed to do this. Thus it naturally came about that everyone, who wanted to borrow money, was obliged to go to the Jews. According to the law, the Hebrews were aliens and on sufferance, and their sojourn, in either town or district, was only permitted when a tax (“Jew-tribute”) had been paid to the ruling prince or potentate; but it was precisely this arrangement, whereby the mild or stern treatment of the Jews depended essentially on the attitude of the ruling house, which relieved the situation to an extraordinary degree for the Jews living in the Empire, which was, at that time, split up politically to an endless extent.
Generally speaking, the legislation was very considerate, and allowed the Hebrew to devote himself wholeheartedly to his favourite occupation, viz traffic in Money, and to claim unheard-of rates of interest for his loans. A rate of interest of 30 — yes, even of 50 and 60 per cent per annum, was already known from the 12th to the 15th century, and was so well-established during the 16th and 17th centuries, that it was regarded as nothing out-of-the-way.
This arrangement, whereby the mild or stern treatment of the Jews depended essentially on the attitude of the ruling house, which relieved the situation to an extraordinary degree for the Jews living in the Empire, which was, at that time, split up politically to an endless extent.
Under these circumstances, and owing to the scarcity as well as to the extraordinary fluctuations in the value of money throughout that period, it was an easy matter for the Hebrew always to collect all the money again into their hands, and to force the remaining citizens to raise fresh loans.* A particular trick facilitated the obtaining of an exorbitant rate of interest. Even when the rate of interest was moderate, the debtor had, for the most part, to pledge himself to pay back his debt on a fixed date by weekly or monthly payments of interest.
* “At the end of the 14th century, the social position of the Jews deteriorated, chiefly on account of their arrogance and usuriousness. Up till then, they had been respected, were qualified to own landed property, and were appreciated as being necessary for the development of the towns. They had, in some instances, even found an entry into the municipal bodies, for instance at Cologne and Worms. In many towns, the highest admissible rate of interest reached 86-2/3 per cent for the year! Ludwig of Bavaria (1314-1347) decided, as a particular favour for the citizens of Frankfort, that the Jewish rate of interest was to be restricted to 32½ per cent. Since the canonical prohibition against the lending of money for interest was enforced sternly and universally against Christians, and the cloisters no longer loaned out money, the money-business remained almost exclusively in the hands of the Jews for a long period.” (Dürr and Klett) History of the World II, page 139) — “Thus a regular monopoly of usury by the Jews established itself, which was only broken into in the 18th century, to the extent that, towards the close of that century, it was permitted to charge generally a 5% rate of interest.” (Rich. Schröder: “Deutsche Rechtsgeschichte” II, 15, [German History of Law II, 15].
In case he was unable to keep to the appointed date, he was bound by the terms of his bond, to pay double the rate of interest from that time onward; often indeed, the whole debt was doubled. The well-meaning debtor, who had the best intention of paying off his debt at the appointed time, entered into such contracts with a light heart, in the certainty that, at the appointed date, money, from other quarters, would be at his disposal. The Hebrew, however, who had a complete understanding with his fellow-tribesmen, and knew accurately what call there was for money, and how much there was in circulation, took good care that his debtor did not get the expected money at the appointed time, and thus he compelled the latter to accept the new and still more onerous conditions. The Hebrew only granted an extension of the term on the condition that his claims, both with regard to interest and capital, should be increased, and as, thanks to the cooperation of Jewish friends, of which we have already spoken, delay in the repayment of the debt was frequently repeated, the Jew was more successful then, than now, in entangling, by means of a comparatively small loan, a whole family in the bondage of debt throughout their lives, or even in expelling them from their house and land.
Thus there is nothing strange in the fact that, already from the time of Charlemagne, unceasing complaints about the Jewish usurer were directed both to the civil and clerical authorities.
The earlier peasant-insurrections also, were not due to the “Priests” and to the Nobility, but to money-lending Jewry; for example, the Peasants’ Rising at Gotha in 1391, and the Peasants’ Rising at Worms in 1431. Later — when the Jews had drained the extravagant and quarrelsome nobility of their riches, and the latter had made an alliance with the clergy to oppress poor “Hans Karst” *, with tithes and compulsory labour, the peasants turned against all three tormentors.
- The German Peasant.
In 1450 the cup-bearer, Erasmus von Erbach, an ancestor of the present Princes von Erbach (in the Odenwald), who personally was quite prosperous, raised his voice thus against the Jews:
“The poor man is robbed and flayed by the Jews to such an extent that it has become intolerable, and may God have mercy on him. The Jewish usurers settle down, even in the smallest villages, and when they lend five gulden, they take six-fold security and take interest upon interest, and yet again interest, so that the poor man loses all that he possesses.”
How well founded this complaint was, is proved by the testimony of all contemporaries.
Elsewhere it is stated that;
“Jewdom sits on the necks of the citizen and of the poor man, and is the cause of the rapidly increasing poverty”.
The Jews are referred to as “vultures”, who;
“do not desist until they have consumed the marrow in the bones, and reduced the citizen to beggary”. (Petition of the Frankfort citizens June 10th 1612).
Sombart also mentions in his conscientiously collected material a number of similar expressions of opinion, taken from the same period, which confirm what has been said above.
Thus, it was not religious hatred, which incensed the people against the Jews, but the actual plundering of the masses by a system of charging an immoderate rate of interest. The wealth which the Jews “brought into a land”, was thus of very doubtful value. It was a kind of wealth, which had a dazzling appearance in certain places, whilst everywhere else it produced only poverty and misery.
Thus: the Hebrews did not create new values in the shape of goods, and consequently, actual new wealth; they merely understood, in a masterly fashion, how to obtain possession of the prosperity of other people; they did not produce any new possession, but only brought about a change of possession.
What they produced was merely an appearance of wealth, which in reality consisted only of the debts of those people, who were not Jews.
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