Cover image for Economic origins of antisemitism : Poland and its Jews in the early modern period
Economic origins of antisemitism : Poland and its Jews in the early modern period
Levine, Hillel.
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Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [1991]

Physical Description:
xiii, 271 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
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DS146.P6 L48 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In this examination of the economic roots of antisemitism, Hillel Levine traces the position of Jews in Poland from the end of the 16th century to the demise of the Polish state in 1795. Levine explains why Poland was not able to modernize its backward social, economic and political system at a time when Western European countries were rapidly evolving, and he shows that Jews were blamed for this failure to modernize, fueling an economic antisemitism that contributed to the Holocaust and is with us still.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This is a difficult, speculative, and highly specialized study of more than one subject, contrary to the specified content of its title. Levine goes beyond economics into theology, politics, international relations, philosophy, and ethnic relations. The attempt to illustrate the economic origins of anti-Semitism is not successful it only shows that economic crises tended to flicker the dormant feelings of anti-Semitism. The author admits that much of his interpretation is speculative, but his speculation goes a little too far. For example, it is not clear how the intellectual and theological debates were translated into daily economic and sociological behavior, especially in a period when the vast majority of the people were illiterate and communications were too primitive to allow the transmission of ideas between classes. As Levine admits, more research is necessary before any of the conclusions can be accepted. The book is short on definitions and is too generous with long footnotes, most of which could have been incorported in the text. It is doubtful that readers, other than highly specialized students of anti-Semitism, will be able to use this book, although they may find the bibliography useful.-E. H. Tuma, University of California, Davis