Rezensionen aus dem Archiv für Sozialgeschichte online
Manfred Böcker, Antisemitismus ohne Juden. Die Zweite Republik, die antirepublikanische Rechte und die Juden. Spanien 1931-1936 (= Hispano-Americana, Bd. 232), Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt/Main etc. 2000, 392 S., brosch., 98 DM.
This work is a welcome addition to the literature on European anti-Semitism. Over the last half century it has been natural for historians of European anti-Semitism to concentrate their work on Germany and those lands that came under German sway and participated in the National Socialist effort to round up and exterminate Europe's Jews. In recent years much attention has been paid not only to the nature of German anti-Semitism, but also to the historical role of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe. Böcker's book shifts our historical focus substantially. It is one of the relatively few studies to examine anti-Semitism in republican Spain and, more importantly, it demonstrates clearly that, although anti-Semitism was a pan-European phenomenon, Spain's deeply rooted religious and culturally based anti-Semitism was ideologically and practically different from its racially based counterpart in Germany.
Böcker's book is essentially an intellectual history of Spanish anti-Semitism during the republic. He begins with a concise, well-written description of the history of anti-Semitism in Spain from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century and explains its religious, social, and political roots. Under a monarchy that regarded unity of all Catholics as the highest religious and political priority, Jews and Judaism became associated with all that was contrary to the interests of Christianity and the crown. Spanish anti-Semitism culminated in the expulsion of the Jews from the country in 1492 and in the subsequent discrimination against those who had converted to Christianity (Conversos). Thereafter Spain became a nation "without Jews" in which anti-Semitic sentiment remained a potent element of Spanish cultural and intellectual life. Judaism was counter posed to Catholicism and the interests of the social order and state.
It is this "traditional" anti-Semitism that stands at the core of Böcker's analysis in the remainder of the book. Böcker shows how, as secular and republican ideas became increasingly important in Spain during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, elements on the Spanish political right fell back on anti-Semitism to explain society's problems and to attack political, social, and cultural changes they opposed. Following the establishment of the republic, Böcker argues, right-wing groups such as the National Catholics, the Accidentalists, the Carlists, the Alfonsinists, and the fascists all used various forms of anti-Semitism to attack it. Many rightist intellectuals were inspired by the rise of National Socialism in Germany and defended Nazi discrimination against Jews, but, largely due to Catholic influence, very few agreed with the racist basis of Nazi anti-Semitism. They argued that Jews, along with the Free-Masons, communists, socialists, and democrats were part of an international conspiracy to destroy the national state, undermine the social order, destroy Christianity, and take power for themselves. Böcker carefully notes that for most Spanish anti-Semites, the real enemies were not Jews but the Masons, Communists, Socialists and other political opponents. Anti-Semitism was part of a series of myths that the right used to explain and criticize modern society and the republican order.
In fact, according to Böcker, anti-Semitism was not even a major element in the right-wing ideological arsenal. It was a part of the journalistic and literary discourse of the right, but it was always "a subordinate, small part of a radical, anti-liberal, Catholic world view." (S. 332). Unlike Germany, where the Nazis used anti-Semitism to rally the masses to their cause and to take real steps against the Jewish community, in Spain, where Jews were not present, anti-Semitism was important primarily as part of the national historical consciousness. No group promoted it as an integral part of its program. Instead, it was used as an instrument to attack other enemies.
Böcker's study is highly detailed and very narrowly focused. He has read widely in the secondary sources and drawn heavily on publications of the various groups that formed the Spanish extreme right. He also does a good job examining the impact of French and German anti-Semitism on Spanish intellectuals. The book's narrow focus allows Böcker to review the content of rightist papers and publications, especially the influence of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, with particular thoroughness. I think, however, that the book would have benefited from more attention to the groups and leading individuals that constituted the right. As presented, it is a rather bloodless (and sometimes repetitive) analysis of the right's anti-Semitic ideology, but the reader wants to know more about its actual proponents and their intended audience than the author provides. If, as Böcker argues, anti-Semitism remains of secondary importance in the ideological struggle, it would strengthen his evidence to show why it may not have resonated among the people in the same way that anti-republicanism or anti-communism did. Some bare bones information is there, but more material on the social basis of the Spanish right would be helpful.
Finally, it should be noted that this is a book intended for an extremely small group of specialists. As a contribution to a scholarly series one would, of course, not expect it to appeal to a very popular readership, but with its text in German and all block quotations in Spanish, its readership will be smaller still. If the author had translated the quotations into German or at least provided the translations in the notes, the book would be friendlier to non-readers of Spanish. The summation in Spanish that is appended to the book is a nice addition as is the detailed bibliography.
William Smaldone, Salem, OR