The hoax was created by General Pyotr Rachkovsky – head of the foreign branch of Russia’s Secret Police from 1884-1902.
Trying to win European support for Russia he decided they needed a common enemy and decided to make Jews the scapegoats.
A state-supported campaign against the Jews began – The Pogroms. The policy was that all Jews were to be either killed, converted or driven out of Russia.
Rachkovsky sent fake letters to the French press explaining that French terrorists were Jews, and began spreading the story that a secret Jewish cabal was planning to take over the world.
He also stated that he had found a written copy of the Jews’ master plan; the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The truth was that he copied the text from a 19th century work of fiction and an anti-semitic novel by Herman Goedsche.
Many people believed the lie and the Protocols were published in newspapers in 1903 and in 1905 in Sergei Nilus’s new book.
Tsar Nicholas II, although anti-semitic, banned it and explained that the protocols were a fraud but when the Royal family were murdered in 1917, Tsarists found a copy of Nilus’s book.
Many believed the book was authentic and continued the Pogroms killing over 100,000 Jews.
After their defeat in 1921, white Russians spread the protocols outside Russia blaming their loss on Jews.
The book was translated with the British edition entitled ‘The Jewish Peril, an American version followed a few months later.
The Times of London exposed the fraud but in America car-maker Henry Ford extended the range of the hoax with his newspaper the Dearborn Independent with articles called ‘The International Jew’.
This coverage continued for years and helped the Independent become one of America’s largest newspapers.
In 1927, a lawsuit finally forced Ford to recognise that the Protocols were a sham, but the damage had been done. By then his articles had been reprinted in book form and translated into several languages.
After their defeat in World War I the Germans were quick to point the finger of blame at the Jewish community. German Foreign Minister was assassinated by right-wingers who believed he was one of the Elders of Zion,
Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf is thought to be influenced by Henry Ford’s ‘International Jew’ articles. Hitler studied the protocols avidly and publicly blamed Jews for the collapse of the German economy.
Hitler even hung a picture of Ford in his office and on Ford’s 75th birthday awarded him the Grand Cross of the German Eagle – the highest honour given to foreigners.
In the next eight years Hitler’s Nazis killed six million Jews. By the time of World War II the Protocols had become one of the most widely circulated written works in the world.
The succession of translations hid the hoax’s origins making the book seem more legitimate.
Despite the many times the hoax has been exposed the Protocols were later promoted by Libyan dictator Muammar El-Qaddafi and Uganda’s former leader Idi Amin.
It is thought that as long as people need a scapegoat, the Protocols will continue to resurface.
I’ve never been one to advocate book burning but this one deserves to deleted and destroyed by any means possible. Because someone somewhere will continue to believe the hoax.
Mark Davies is the author of ‘Nothing Important Happened Today’ and the upcoming novel ‘England’s Mean And Unpleasant Land’.