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The Many Lives of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion"

Born obscurely in turbulent times, the notorious text describing a Jewish conspiracy to enslave humanity lives on even today. Why?

From the book jacket for a French edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion entitled The Jewish Peril. Itzhak Genut/alamy.

From the book jacket for a French edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion entitled The Jewish PerilItzhak Genut/alamy.

Essay
Dec. 4 2017
About the author

Walter Laqueur is the author of, among other books, WeimarA History of TerrorismFascism: Past, Present, Future, and The Dream that Failed: Reflections on the Soviet Union. His newest book, Putinism: Russia and Its Future with the West, was released in 2015 by Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s.


Turbulent times tend to produce turbulent voices—some of them insidiously persuasive. In particular, such times offer a fertile breeding ground for peddlers of conspiracy theories. Adducing supposedly definitive evidence of hidden hands, secret cabals, and sinister machinations, they feed the suspicion that unseen forces operating in the background of events are acting to undermine settled arrangements, pervert sane policy, scramble and transform political reality in order to promote their own diabolical aims—if not, indeed, to achieve total domination.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Europe, European Jewry, History & Ideas, Protocols of the Elders of Zion