Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

Europe's Crumbling Myths: The Post-Holocaust Origins of Today's Anti-Semitism
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs/Yad Vashem/World Jewish Congress)

Manfred Gerstenfeld

A war criminal had better survival chances in twentieth century Europe than a Jew. This sad assessment underlines the gravity of the Holocaust bloodbath, as well as the Europeans' leniency toward the murderers in the post-Holocaust period.

Europe's Crumbling Myths explores how developments in post-Holocaust Europe already prefigured the adversities Israel and the Jews face there today. It shows how 'new' anti-Semitism is more a continuation and development, than an innovation. Few people realize how rampant anti-Semitism and discrimination of the Jews were in post-Holocaust Europe, and how the legacy of that period laid the basis for today's resurgence of European anti-Semitism. When exposing the persistent anti-Semitic character of many current European attacks on Israel, examples taken from Europe's recent history must play a major role.

This book provides an analysis of Europe's moral attitude toward the Jews in the post-war period. In an introductory essay, the author defines various criteria for assessing this attitude: How were the Jews' received into society after returning from concentration camps or hiding? How did European countries deal with economic restitution and its moral aspects? How much of an effort was made to bring war criminals to trial? How is the Holocaust remembered? What do European countries recount about their own post-war history? And how is today's generation educated about the Holocaust and its aftermath? Vignettes from various countries illustrate the above issues.

In the second part of the book, 15 interviewees refer to major issues concerning the post-Holocaust period, providing perspectives on the above issues and others.


  • Foreword - Emil Fackenheim
  • From the Aftermath of the Holocaust to Today's Anti-Semitism - Manfred Gerstenfeld
  • Wartime Jews in Post-War Europe: A Cool Reception at Best - David Bankier
  • Filling in for Governments: Chasing War Criminals - Ephraim Zuroff
  • From Propagating Myths to Holocaust Research: Preparing for an Education - Yehuda Bauer
  • Denial of the Holocaust and Immoral Equivalence - Deborah Lipstadt
  • Europe: From Guilt to Repackaging Anti-Semitism - Nathan Durst
  • Jewish-Vatican Relations: The Possible Beatification of Pius XII and Other Unresolved Issues - Aharon Lopez
  • The Israeli Government: Holocaust Issues and Anti-Semitism - Michael Melchior
  • Israeli Media Attitudes toward the Shoah - Yair Sheleg
  • Restitution Issues Destroy National Myths - Avi Beker
  • Restitution: Why Did It Take 50 Years or Did It? - Ronald Zweig
  • The Dutch Government: Discriminating Against the Survivors Through a So-Called Egalitarian Approach - Isaac Lipschits
  • Fighting for Crumbs: Financial Restitution in Eastern Europe - Naphtali Lavie
  • Poland: Changing Holocaust Perceptions - Laurence Weinbaum
  • France: Memory Versus Truth - Shmuel Trigano
  • Discrimination Against Israel in the International Arena: Undermining the Cause of Human Rights at the United Nations - Irwin Cotler

Excerpts from Reviews and Commentary:

A must read for anyone interested in understanding how contemporary European anti-Semitism is connected to post-War European attitudes of Jewish exclusion which set the stage for the moral, judicial, and educational failures that followed in the wake of the Shoah.
Alan L. Berger, Raddock Eminent Scholar Chair of Holocaust Studies, Florida Atlantic University

Widespread manifestations of anti-Semitism in Europe (and elsewhere) since the turn of the millennium have shocked Jews (and many non-Jews), who assumed the ancient hatred lay buried in the ashes of the Holocaust. Europe's Crumbling Myths shows how wrong that belief was. Manfred Gerstenfeld and his interlocutors shed light on the dirty secret of enduring animus everywhere in Europe towards Jews. The book is a call for further scholarly research, for honest self-scrutiny by Europeans, and for immediate policy review by governments, NGOs, and Jewish communities.
Michael Brown, Professor, Former Director of Jewish Studies, York University (Toronto)

This well-informed and exceptionally well-written book takes the format of an introductory essay and 15 interviews with prominent experts. Gerstenfeld convincingly argues that there is a new common ground on which right-wing Holocaust deniers, leftist European intellectuals and influential Arabs stand united: in their criticism of Israeli policy, and in their hatred of the Jews. This book deserves the widest possible audience.
Johannes Houwink ten Cate, Professor for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, University of Amsterdam

In a comprehensive and thought-provoking introduction, Manfred Gerstenfeld ties together a timely and incisive set of interviews with leading scholars, officials and journalists. It examines the relationship between the recrudescence of anti-Semitism in Europe and the recent resurfacing of unresolved and troubling political, economic, psychological and moral issues stemming from the Holocaust and its aftermath.
Professor Peter Y. Medding, Chairman, Political Science Department, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Manfred Gerstenfeld's book is an excellent analysis of contemporary anti-Semitism. It describes - and it explains. For the understanding of the ongoing hatred of Jews as well as of the changing faces of this hatred, the book provides provoking insights. It gives country-to-country description and an overall systematic explanation.
Anton Pelinka, Professor of Political Science, University of Innsbruck; Director of the Institute of Conflict Research, Vienna

Europe's Crumbling Myths is available from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs - Price: $23 - NIS70.