Hanebrink, Paul. A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018. 353 pages. Hardcover, $29.95.
The idea of Communism as a Jewish machination and Jews thereby guilty for the exploits of communist organizations and governments became a primary trait of diverse promoters of authoritarianism, counterrevolution, and racism in twentieth-century Europe. The accusation that Jews invented and promoted Bolshevism, and should therefore be held accountable for its offenses, had horrific consequences for Jews. After some Jews became Bolsheviks, Europe's deep-rooted and longstanding anti-Judaism reappeared through the myth of Judeo-Bolshevism, which updated timeworn anti-Jewish stereotypes while associating Jews with Russian Bolshevism. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Russian Civil War was fought between Bolshevik and anti-Bolshevik forces, chiefly the White Army, whose leadership comprised former officers of Russia's imperial army. Supporters of the defeated White Army moved west into exile. Some found safe haven in Romania, where they encountered young anti-Semites like Corneliu Codreanu, the future founder of the Iron Guard, the fascist organization that would play a significant role in Romanian politics between 1930 and 1941. Stories about the terror of Bolshevik rule in Russia from those who went to France were well-received by Roman Catholics and French monarchist groups. With many others, Alfred Rosenburg fled to Germany. Rosenburg became a primary ideologist of Nazism.
Revolution and the Great War put an end to the empires of Eastern Europe. A new order came about amidst fierce struggles, as assorted nationalist groups fought each another and the Bolsheviks. Fear of Judeo-Bolshevism stirred several European nations to pass discriminatory legislation against Jews, who came under increasing surveillance by various European governments. In A Specter Haunting Europe: The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism, historian Paul
Hanebrink presents a gripping account of the national and transnational dimensions of this myth that stimulated aggression and bloodshed against European Jewry. Hanebrink aptly describes how the figure of the Jewish-Bolshevik became a potent stereotype, especially in Hungary, Poland, and Romania. In books, newspapers, travel accounts, and government-issued posters distributed across borders, Hanebrink finds ample evidence that Jews were perceived as...