- What was the Holocaust?
- Judaism and Jewish life
- What is antisemitism?
- How did the Nazis gain power?
- Life in Nazi-controlled Europe
- What were camps?
- What was the Final Solution?
- How did people respond?
- Survival and legacy
When the Christian Crusades started in 1095, the Crusaders attacked Jewish communities on their way to the ‘Holy Land’. The Crusaders had been taught that it was important to fight against non-believers and Jews were the non-believers in their midst.
There were already laws in the Christian world that made Jewish life difficult; however, more and more were introduced as the Crusading movement developed. Jews were not allowed to own property, to join the trade guilds or to move about freely; and in 1215 the Catholic Church required that Jews throughout Christendom be marked out with a special badge to identify them.
The Church had forbidden Christians to lend money to each other and charge interest. However, that was one of the few things the Jews could do, having been excluded from most other trades and professions.
In addition, Jews were accused of killing Christian babies in order to use their blood for their religious rituals. This vicious lie, known as the ‘Blood libel’, spread from country to country.
Thus the Jews were marked out as different. Not only were they seen as the enemies of the Christian God, they were also the only people from whom you could borrow money, which had to be paid back with interest.
A combination of these factors led to an increase in prejudice and hatred. Gradually Jews were expelled from one country after another, always at the mercy of someone else.