When was antisemitism developed?

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Jews had been excluded from mainstream European life, and separated out in many different ways for centuries. During the 19th century some countries allowed Jews to take part in modern society. Once legal restrictions were lifted, many Jews became very involved with the societies in which they lived, often taking leading roles in arts, politics, science and business.

In societies that were undergoing changes many people felt insecure and some felt that the Jews were still outsiders. This led to resentment of those Jews who were successful.

In 1879 a German journalist, Wilhelm Marr, first used the term ‘antisemite’ to describe people who hated Jews. He defined the Jews as a separate ‘race’. He drew on old Christian prejudices against Judaism. He argued that everything that was wrong in Europe was wrong because of the Jews.

In contrast, Marr identified what he called the Aryan peoples, from Northern Europe, as the highest type of human being. He defined them as being biologically superior and claimed they were only held back by Jewish power.