The Protocols, supposedly the record of secret meetings of Jewish leaders, describes an alleged conspiracy to dominate the world. The conspiracy and its leaders, the so-called Elders of Zion, never existed. Although the Protocols has been proven a fraud on many occasions, it continues to inspire those who seek to spread hatred of Jews.
French political satirist Maurice Joly writes The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu. Joly's book never mentions Jews, but much of the Protocols would be fabricated based on ideas contained in it.
Prussian writer Hermann Goedsche publishes the novel Biarritz, in which the twelve tribes of Israel meet secretly in Prague's Jewish cemetery. Goedsche's book, like Joly's, contains ideas incorporated in fabricating the Protocols.
Although the origin of the Protocols is still a matter of debate, it was most likely fabricated under the direction of Pyotr Rachovsky, chief of the foreign branch of the Russian secret police (Okhrana) in Paris.
An abbreviated version of the Protocols is published in a St. Petersburg, Russia, newspaper, Znamya (The Banner).
Russian mystic Sergei Nilus includes the Protocols as an appendix to his book, The Great in the Small: The Coming of the Anti-Christ and the Rule of Satan on Earth. By 1917, Nilus publishes four editions of the Protocols in Russia.
The first non-Russian language edition of the Protocols is issued in Germany.
The Protocols is published in Poland, France, England, and the United States. These editions blame the Russian Revolution on Jewish conspirators and warn of Bolshevism spreading to the West.
Lucien Wolf, a British journalist and diplomat, exposes the Protocols as a fraudulent plagiarism in The Jewish Bogey and the Forged Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion.
Automaker Henry Ford's Dearborn Independent publishes The International Jew, an Americanized version of the Protocols. The International Jew is translated into more than one dozen languages.
August 16–18, 1921
Journalist Phillip Graves exposes the Protocols as a plagiarism in series of articles in London Times.
New York Herald reporter Herman Bernstein publishes The History of a Lie: The Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion, the first exposure of the Protocols as a fraud for an American audience.
Nazi theorist Alfred Rosenberg writes The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Jewish World Policy. Rosenberg's book reaches a wide audience, necessitating three printings within the year.
Benjamin Segel, a German-Jewish journalist, exposes the Protocols as a forgery in his Die Protokolle der Weisen von Zion, kritisch beleuchtet (The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Critically Illuminated).
Joseph Goebbels, later the Nazi Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, writes in his diary:
“I believe that The Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion are a forgery. . . . [However,] I believe in the intrinsic but not the factual truth of the Protocols.”
In his treatise, Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler writes:
“To what an extent the whole existence of this people is based on a continuous lie is shown by the Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion, so infinitely hated by the Jews. . . . For once this book has become the common property of a people, the Jewish menace may be considered as broken.”
Henry Ford issues a public apology for publishing the Protocols, which he admits are “gross forgeries.” Ford directs that remaining copies of The International Jew be burned, and he orders overseas publishers to cease publishing the book. Ford's directives to foreign publishers are ignored.
Nazis rise to power in Germany. The Nazi Party publishes at least 23 editions of the Protocols before World War II begins.
A Berne, Switzerland, court rules against a party of Swiss Nazis charged with circulating the Protocols at a pro-Nazi demonstration. Walter Meyer, the presiding justice at the trial, refers to the Protocols as “ridiculous nonsense.”
US “Radio priest” Father Charles E. Coughlin serializes the Protocols in his newspaper, Social Justice.
An edition of the Protocols is issued in German-occupied Poland.
The US Senate Judiciary Committee issues a report titled The Protocols of the Elders of Zion: A Fabricated "Historic" Document. The committee concludes: “The subcommittee believes that the peddlers of the Protocols are peddlers of un-American prejudice who spread hate and dissension among the American people.”
The Protocols is published in India under the title International Conspiracy Against Indians.
An English-language edition of Protocols, published by the Islamic Propagation Organization, is issued in Iran.
Article 32 of the Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS) reads: “The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.”
The Protocols is declared a fraud in a Moscow trial of Pamyat, an ultra-nationalist Russian organization that published the Protocols in 1992.
Egyptian satellite television broadcasts a 41-part miniseries Horseman Without a Horse, which is based largely on the Protocols.
The US Senate passes a resolution urging the government of Egypt and other Arab states not to allow government-controlled television to broadcast any program that lends legitimacy to the Protocols.
A 30-part television miniseries called Al Shatat (The Diaspora) airs on Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV. The series depicts a “global Jewish government,” as described in the Protocols.
An exhibition of holy books of monotheistic religions at the Alexandria Library in Egypt includes a copy of the Protocols next to the Torah. UNESCO issues a public denunciation of the Alexandria Library exhibition.
The Protocols is published in Okinawa, Japan.
A edition of the Protocols published in Mexico City suggests that the Holocaust was orchestrated by the Elders of Zion in exchange for the founding of the State of Israel.
An edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, authorized by the Syrian Ministry of Information, claims that the Elders of Zion coordinated the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
A typical Internet search for the Protocols yields several hundred thousand sites.
Critical Thinking Questions
- How could the spread of a false story like the Protocols be a warning sign for genocide?
- Why do lies and conspiracy theories often exist long after they are proven false?
- How can individuals, groups, and governments combat the spread of and ill effects of misinformation?