Martin Luther was a German Catholic priest and scholar known for starting the Protestant Reformation.
In 1523, he wrote “That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew” with the hope that kindness would convince Jews to accept Jesus.
He claimed the Catholic Church “dealt with the Jews as if they were dogs rather than human beings.” He praised the Jews and declared they were “nearer to Christ than we are.”
He defended Jews and claimed Catholics “forbid them to labor and do business and have any human fellowship with us, thereby forcing them into money lending.”
However, Martin Luther’s admiration of the Jews eventually transformed into deep hatred.
In 1543, he wrote “On the Jews and Their Lies“, which claimed Jews needed to be expelled from society. He called them “miserable and accursed people” and claimed they try to “destroy the basis of our faith.”
He also declared there is “no value in arguing with or converting Jews.” He believed that “from their youth they have been so nurtured with venom and rancor against our Lord that there is no hope.”
Martin Luther attacked the Jews for their arrogance and financial greed. He declared they were “full of malice, greed, envy, hatred toward one another, pride, usury, conceit, and curses against us Gentiles.”
He claimed they were driven by their “lust for the Gentiles’ gold and silver” and that “no nation under the sun is greedier than they were, still are, and always will be, as is evident from their accursed usury.”
He also believed “they are venomous, bitter, vindictive, tricky serpents, assassins, and children of the devil who sting and work harm stealthily wherever they cannot do it openly.”
He feared what would happen to society if he did not expose them and hope his writing would “cleanse and exonerate his conscience.”
Therefore, he outlined a detailed plan to eliminate Jewish influence throughout Europe.
The first step was “to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn.” The second part was to destroy their homes. The third was to outlaw and destroy all their “prayer books and Talmudic writings”.
The fourth was to amputate the arms and legs of Jewish rabbis that continued to spread the teachings of Judaism. The fifth was to forbid Jews from traveling on the roads. The sixth was to prohibit them from money lending and confiscate all of their gold and silver. The seventh recommended Jews should be forced to earn financial wealth through manual labor.”
The entire source is posted on the University of Idaho website, UIdaho.edu.
The Protestant Reformation may have divided Europe, but all Germans still agreed on their view of the Jews.
This article is part three of “The German View of Judaism” series:
Introduction: Jett & Jahn Media Presents “The German View of Judaism”
Charlemagne: Capitulary for the Jews
The German Crusade of 1096
Martin Luther: On the Jews and Their Lies
Immanuel Kant: Anthropology From A Pragmatic Point of View
Johann Gottlieb Fichte: A State Within A State
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: The Spirit of Christianity
Arthur Schopenhauer: Parerga and Paralipomena
Johann Sebastian Bach: St. John’s Passion
Ludwig Von Beethoven: The Beethoven I Knew
Richard Wagner: Judaism & Music
Conclusion: Modern Germans & Judaism