The Truth about the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion

The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion first appeared in Russia around 1903. They are supposedly the minutes of a secret meeting of Jewish conspirators which took place during the First Zionist Conference in Basel, Switzerland in 1897. They outline their plan for subverting and taking over the world. They can be read online here .

In 1917 after the Bolsheviks seized power and civil war broke out in Russia, the Protocols became popular among the anti-Communist “Whites” who believed they proved the Jews were behind Communism.

In 1920 the Protocols were published in English as The Jewish Peril. The Times newspaper of London originally wondered if they were authentic.

They were also popular in Nazi Germany. Norman Cohn writes,

“The Protocols and the myth of Jewish world conspiracy were exploited in Nazi propaganda at every stage, from the first emergence of the party in the 1920s to the collapse of the Third Reich in 1945. They were exploited first to help the party to power – then to justify a regime of terror – then to justify war –  then to justify genocide – and finally to postpone surrender to the Allies.” (Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, Serif, London, 2001, p 214)

“The Protocols did sell excellently – and, unlike that other sacred text of the Third Reich, Mein Kampf, they were not only purchased but read. It is certain, too, that many of those who read them became fanatical believers. In less than two years after Hitler’s accession to power intellectual and moral standards in Germany had dropped to a point where a Minister of Education could  prescribe the Protocols as one of the basic textbooks for schools.”(Warrant for Genocide, p 222)

A French edition of the Protocols
Arabic edition of the Protocols

The Protocols are still popular today in the Middle East and among anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi groups who believe there is Jewish or Zionist conspiracy to rule the world. The authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail , which I have discussed here, suggested that they were genuine, but they were about the Priory of Sion, not the Jews ( Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, Arrow Books, London, 1996, p 198-203 ). They are even promoted by some Christian conspiracy theorists such as Texe Marrs , Doc Marquis  and Kent Hovind.

Edition of the Protocols with a forward by Texe Marrs

There are some obvious problems with the Protocols (and not just because there is no international Zionist-Communist conspiracy to rule the world). For a start, it says things which do not sound like the sort of thing which Jews would say, such as,

“The king of the Jews will be the real Pope of the Universe, the patriarch of an international Church.” (Protocol No. 17)

Would Jews really use such terms?

Its supporters claim that the Protocols show that the Jews or Zionists were behind Communism and the Russian Revolution. However, the Protocols contain only a couple of brief references to Communism (Protocols No. 2 and 3). One would not get the impression reading the Protocols when they first came out in 1903  that the Elders of Zion were planing to orchestrate a Communist revolution in Russia. This interpretation was read into the Protocols after 1917 by anti-Semitic  anti-Communists.

The Protocols do take the credit for the introduction of liberalism,

“When we introduced into the State organism the poison of LIberalism, its whole political complexion underwent a change. States have been seized with a mortal illness – blood-poisoning. All that remains is to await the end of their death agony.” (Protocol No. 10)

100 years ago liberalism referred to liberal-democratic values which modern conservatives subscribe to. These are supposed to be the creation of the Elders of Zion. This is ironic since some believers in the Protocols, such as the League of Rights in Australia, say they are defenders of liberal-democratic values.

The Protocols also claim that they have been behind the idea of freedom of conscience to undermine Christianity (Protocol No. 17). They claim that their only serious foes at that time were the Russian aristocracy and the Papacy (Protocol No. 15). What about the rest of Europe and their colonial empires and the rising United States?

The Protocols also tell us that they are going to overthrow all the governments of the world on one day,

“When we at last definitely come into our kingdom by the aid of coups detat prepared everywhere for one and the same day…” (Protocol No. 15).

Over 100 years later, we’re still waiting.

The Protocols were exposed as a hoax not long after they were published in English.

On March 4, 1921 the New York Times reported that in a lecture at the Hotel Astor Princess Catherine Radziwill, a Polish aristocrat, said she had seen a Russian agent Mathieu Golovinski working on the manuscript of the Protocols in 1905. She appears to have got the date wrong because the Protocols had already been published in Russia in 1903.

Princess Catherine Radziwill

On August 16, 17 and 18, 1921, The Times newspaper of London published a series of articles “The Truth About “The Protocols” A Literary Forgery” by Philip Graves which can be read online here. They showed that the protocols wer a forgery. Rather than being the minutes of a real meeting of Jews in 1897, parts of it had been plagiarised from a 1864 French book Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu by Maurice Joly (1829-1878). The book was a veiled attack on Napoleon III (1852-1870) presented in the form of a dialogue between Montesquieu, who argued for liberalism,  and Machiavelli who argued for despotism. In 1865 Joly was imprisoned for 15 months for the book.

Maurice Joly

Over 160 passages from the protocols, around 40% of the text, were based on Joly’s Dialogue. Most of the passages are from Machiavelli’s arguments, since, like the supposed Elders of Zion, he was the one who thought despotism and tyranny were a good idea (Warrant for Genocide, p 82).

Examples of these plagiarised passages are printed in  The Times‘ articles, Norman Cohn’s Warrant for Genocide (p 295-289) and Will Eisner’s graphic novel The Plot (W.W. Norton New York, 2005, p 73-89)

In 1999 an article “The Origin of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” in the French newspaper L’Express, a Microsoft Translator copy of which can be read here, reported that the Russian historian Mikhail Lepekhine had found evidence in the Russian archives that in 1917 Henri Bint, a Russian agent in Paris, identified Mathieu Golovinski as the author of the Protocols.

Mikhail Lepekhine
Mathieu Golovinski

Mathieu or Matvei Golovinski (1865-1920) was  a member of the Russian aristocracy who worked for the Okhrana, the Tsarist secret police, in Paris. Conservative members of the Okhrana objected to the modernization and liberal reforms of Tsar Nicholas II. The purpose of forging the Protocols was to discourage those attempts at reform by portraying them as serving the interests of the Jewish conspiracy. This would explain why, as mentioned above, the Protocols claimed the Jews were behind liberalism. The Russian aristocracy was considered so important because the Protocols were written for a Russian audience.

After the Russian Revolution in 1917, Golovinski changed sides and joined the Bolsheviks. He died in 1920.

Eyewitness evidence and the obvious plagiarism in the Protocols show they are not the minutes of a secret meeting of Jews in 1897.


National Geographic on The Search for The Real Jesus

National Geographic’s December 2017 issue contains an article “The Search for the Real Jesus” by Kristen Romey which discusses the archaeological evidence for Jesus of Nazareth. It can be read online here. It was more positive than I was expecting in a secular magazine. It showed that the archaeological evidence tends to support, and does not contradict, the New Testament’s account of Jesus.

Some skeptics claim that Jesus never existed. I discussed this in New Atheists and the existence of Jesus.  Romey describes it as “an explosive question that lurks in the shadows of historical Jesus studies: Might it be possible that Jesus never even existed, that the whole stained glass story is pure invention?” (p  42-43)

It is not really an “explosive question” because there is no debate among historians about the existence of Jesus of Nazareth. Romey agrees the suggestion is groundless and is not supported by scholars. She quotes Eric Meyers of Duke University,

“I don’t know any mainstream scholar who doubts the historicity of Jesus. The details have been debated for centuries, but no one who is serious doubts that he’s a historical figure.” (p 42)

Romey writes, “Even John Dominic Crossan , a former priest and co-chair of the Jesus Seminar, a controversial scholarly forum, believes the radical skeptics go too far. Granted, stories of Christ’s miraculous deeds  healing the sick with a few words, feeding a multitude with a few morsels of bread and fish, even restoring life to a corpse four days dead – are hard for modern minds to embrace. But that’s no reason to conclude that Jesus of Nazareth was a religious fable.” (p 42)

It is not completely accurate to say that modern minds find it hard to embrace accounts of the miraculous and supernatural. The majority of people in the modern or postmodern world still believe in God, gods or the supernatural in some form. Those who reject the supernatural are in the minority.

It is hard for some scholars to accept the supernatural details in the life of Jesus not because science has somehow disproved the supernatural and modern people no longer believe in the supernatural.  They reject the supernatural details because of their preconceptions, their naturalistic, anti-supernatural worldview.

Historians and archaeologists agree that Jesus existed, but not all of them believe Jesus was the Son of God who died and rose from the dead. New Testament historians  talk about the quest or search for the historical Jesus, which basically seeks to answer the question, how much of the New Testament  portrait of Jesus is historically accurate and how much (if any) did the early church make up? I have discussed this in The Historical Jesus. Romey describes this division,

“Scholars who study Jesus divide into two opposing camps separated by a very bright line: those who believe the wonder-working Jesus of the Gospels is the real Jesus and those who think the real Jesus – the man who inspired the myth – hides below the surface of the Gospels and must be revealed by historical research and literary analysis. Both camps claim archaeology as their ally, leading to some fractious debates and strange bedfellows.” (p 43)

This is not really accurate. Bart Ehrman states that”most scholars in both the United States and Europe over the past century have been convinced that Jesus is best understood as a Jewish apocalyptic preacher who anticipated that God was soon to intervene in history to overthrow the powers of evil, now controlling the world in order to bring in a new order, a new kingdom here on earth, the kingdom of God.” (Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist?, Harper One, New York, 2012, p 270)

There is some truth to this, but not in the way that Ehrman is suggesting. God did intervene in history, evil was defeated and the old world did end in the death and resurrection of Jesus and the kingdom of God was established in the Church, in the lives of Christians where Jesus is king.

Likewise, there are also some skeptical scholars who still accept that Jesus performed miracles or appeared to perform miracles (Mark Strauss, Four Portraits, One Jesus, Zondervan, Michigan, 2006, p 363-365, 368)

Romey discusses the archaeological evidence for the events of Jesus’ life. She says that some scholars doubt that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The accounts of his birth in Matthew and Luke differ (p 46). New Testament scholars talk about the criterion of multiple attestation to determine the authenticity of events in the Gospels. If an event is recorded in more than one source,  it is more likely to be authentic. The fact that the two accounts of Jesus’ birth are not identical suggests that there are two independent sources for Jesus’ virgin birth at Bethlehem.

Romey writes, “Some suspect that the Gospel writers located Jesus’ Nativity in Bethlehem to tie the Galilean peasant to the Judean city prophesied in the Old Testament as the birthplace of the Messiah.” (p 46)

However, if Jesus had not been born in Bethlehem, his followers would have believed he was the Messiah.

Romey writes that archaeology cannot prove or disprove that two people visited Bethlehem and gave birth to a child;

“Many of the scholars I spoke to are neutral on the question of Christ’s birthplace, the physical evidence being too elusive to make a call.” (p 46)

Romey then turns to Nazareth. She does not mention it but some skeptics used to claim that Nazareth did not exist during Jesus’ lifetime. Their claims have been disproved by archaeological discoveries  showing that Nazareth was there before Jesus was born (Robert Hutchinson, Searching for Jesus, Nelson Books, Tennessee, 2015, p 98-100).

The modern “search for the historical Jesus” tends to focus more on Jesus’ Jewish background. Romey writes,

“Jesus was raised in Nazareth, a small agricultural village in southern Galilee. Scholars who understand him in strictly human terms – as a religious reformer, or a social revolutionary, or an apocalyptic prophet, or even a Jewish jihadist –  plumb the political, economic, and social currents of first-century Galilee to discover the forces that gave rise to the man and his mission….. Others imagine the onslaught of Greco-Roman culture molding Jesus into a less Jewish, more cosmopolitan champion of social justice. In 1991 John Dominic Crossan published a bombshell of a book, The Historical Jesus, in which he put forward the theory that the real Jesus was a wandering  sage whose countercultural lifestyle and subversive sayings bore striking parallels to the cynics.” (p 46)

The Cynics were basically ancient Greek hippies. Romey continues,

“Crossan’s unorthodox thesis was inspired by archaeological discoveries showing that Galilee – long thought to have been a rural backwater and an isolated Jewish enclave – was in fact more urbanized and romanized than scholars once imagined, and partly by the fact that Jesus’ boyhood home was just three miles from Sepphoris, the Roman provincial capital.” (p 47)

According to Crossan, Sepphoris was a Gentile city where the young Jesus was exposed to the ideas of Greek Cynic philosophers and he became a Jewish Cynic.

There are problems with Crossan’s theory. There is no evidence there ever were any Cynics in first century Galilee. Moreover, the archaeological evidence shows that Sepphoris was Jewish. Romey writes,

“At least 30 mitzvahs, or jewish ritual baths, dot the residential quarter of Sepphoris – the largest domestic concentration  ever found by archaeologists. Along with ceremonial stone vessels and a striking absence of pig bones (pork being shunned by kosher-keeping Jews), they offer clear evidence that even this imperial Roman city remained a very Jewish place during Jesus’ formative years.”(p 60)

As Craig Evans, Professor at Acadia Divinity college, put it,

“All this evidence leads to the firm conclusion that Sepphoris in Jesus’ day was a thoroughly Jewish city. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to think there may have been Cynics loitering in the streets of Sepphoris on the lookout for Jewish youths from nearby Nazareth.” (Craig Evans, Jesus and His World, The Archaeological Evidence, Westminster John Knox Press, Kentucky, 2013, p 26-27)

All these attempts to reinvent Jesus do not make sense in that they do not explain why Jesus was crucified. The Romans did not crucify people for being Cynic philosophers, religious reformers or apocalyptic prophets saying the world was going to end. They would have crucified Jesus for being a revolutionary or “Jewish jihadist” and trying to overthrow Roman rule. However, if that had been the case, the Romans would have crucified his followers who would have also been revolutionaries. Instead, they left them alone and they went on to found the church.

The fact that the Romans crucified Jesus while leaving his followers alone, suggests that they were not a political threat and Jesus had not taught or encourage them to overthrow Roman rule. The New Testament account, that Pilate did not believe Jesus was a threat, but the Jewish authorities, who were offended by his teachings and claims, pressured him into crucifying Jesus sounds more credible.

Moreover, there were times when Jesus condemned violence (Matthew 5:39, 26:52). He did not sound like a political revolutionary.

The theory, that Jesus was  a revolutionary, and all the other theories about who the supposed historical Jesus really was, basically have to ignore or explain away all the passages where Jesus said and did things which contradict their theories. They come up with different and contradictory ideas about who Jesus “really” was because they do not want to belive what the actual historical documents, the New Testament, say Jesus was, the sinless, miracle-working Son of God. The so-called search for the historical Jesus often rejects the historical evidence.

Getting back to Romey’s article, she also discusses the 1968 discovery of a first century house in Capernaum, Galilee, which was used as a meeting place and later converted into a Christian church. It cannot be proved but some scholars believe this was Peter’s house described in Matthew 8:14 (p 60-61).

She also mentions the discovery of the “Jesus boat” at the Sea of Galilee which dates to the first century AD, although we cannot know if it was one of the boats Jesus used in the Gospels (p 64).

Some skeptics claimed  that there were no synagogues in Galilee during Jesus’ lifetime, so the Gospel accounts of Jesus visiting synagogues must be wrong. However, Romey reports that in 2009 archaeologists discovered a first century synagogue in Magdala, Galilee, Mary Magdalene’s hometown (p 64-65).

I have written about synagogues from this period here.

Romey writes about archaeology and the death of Jesus,

“I marvel at the many archaeological discoveries made in Jerusalem and elsewhere over the years that lend credibility to the Scriptures and traditions surrounding the death of Jesus, including an ornate ossuary that may contain the bones of Caiaphas, an inscription attesting to the rule of Pontius Pilate and a heel bone driven through with an iron nail, found in the Jerusalem burial of a Jewish man named Yehohanan.” (p 68)

Some skeptics claimed that the victims of crucifixion were not buried, so the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ burial are wrong, Again, the archaeological evidence has disproved the claims of the skeptics (p 65).

The article also contains a good fold-out chart showing how the site of Jesus’ tomb was transformed into the Church of the Holy Sepulchre over the centuries.

Archaeology cannot prove that everything in the New Testament happened or that Jesus was the Son of God. Nevertheless, the archaeological evidence tends to support the New Testament accounts and does not contradict it.





Hans Bellamy and the Nazi Influence on Atlantis and Ancient Aliens

Hans Bellamy, aka Rudolf von Elmayer- Vestenbrugg, aka Elmar Brugg, aka Elmar Vinibert von Rudolf

In an earlier post Nazis Atlantis and Ancient Aliens I discussed how Nazi ideas about Atlantis were recycled by later writers on Atlantis and ancient aliens and some proponents of the ancient aliens theory were former Nazis or supported the Nazi war effort.

Robert Charroux, who wrote several books on Atlantis and ancient aliens in the 1960s and 70s, was a pseudonym for Robert Jospeh Grugeau, Minister for Cultural Affairs in the Nazi puppet state Vichy France. Erich von Daniken’s editor and ghost writer for Chariots of the Gods? was Wilhelm Utermann, a former Nazi journalist. Peenemunde rocket scientist Hermann Oberth endorsed the ancient aliens theory in the 1970 documentary Chariots of the Gods?  Josef Blumrich, who wrote The Spaceships of Ezekiel, worked on the design of the Messerschmitt 110 and served in the German army. Frank Joseph, author of several books on Atlantis and editor of Ancient American magazine, was born Frank Collins and was founder of the National Socialist Party of America.

After writing that post I learned that Brinsley Le Poer Trench, who was an editor of Flying Saucer Review and author of the 1960 ancient aliens book The Sky People, was a member of the British fascist group, the Right Club.

Heinrich Himmler believed that the Aryans had come from Atlantis. He believed in the World Ice Theory which was developed by Hans Horbirger (1860-1931). This said that the universe consisted largely of ice  and that Earth once had several moons. When one of them crashed to Earth, it sank Atlantis.

One Nazi believer in the World Ice Theory was Rudolf von Elmayer-Vestenbrugg. In his book Hitler’s Monsters, Eric Kurlander wrote about him,

“Another prominent supporter of the World Ice Theory who experienced a career renaissance in the Third Reich was the rabidly anti-Semitic writer and SA leader Rudolf von Elmayer-Vestenbrugg  (or Elmar Brugg). Like Himmler, Elmayer insisted that World Ice Theory provided the ony ‘scientific basis for a true Nordic worldview’. In his most influential book, The Enigma of Universal Phenomena (1937), Elmayer argued that World Ice Theory  would replace Darwin’s now ‘defunct’ theory of evolution and that the Aryan race had been incubated in the arctic world before founding the civilization of Atlantis. No wonder that Elmayer, despite his utter lack of scientific credentials, would later be tapped by Himmler to head the World Ice Theory division within the Ahnenerbe.” (Eric Kurlander, Hitler’s Monsters, A Supernatural History of the Third Reich, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2017, p 153).

Another proponent of the world ice theory was Hans Schindler Bellamy. His books were;

Moon, Myths and Man, A Reinterpretation, 1936 (This can be found online here)

The Book of Revelation is History, 1942

Built Before the Flood, 1943

In the Beginning God, 1945

The Atlantis Myth, 1948

Life History of our Earth, 1951

The Calender of Tiahuanaco, 1956

The Great Idol of Tiahuanaco, 1959

According to Atlantipedia, Hans Bellamy appears to have been a pseudonym for Rudolf von Elmayer-Vestenbrugg and he spoke at the World Congress of the Ancient Astronaut Society in Switzerland in 1975.

The world ice theory was too bizarre for the ancient aliens movement, which is saying something. Nevertheless, Bellamy appears to have been quite influential. The following ancient aliens and other fringe writers cite Bellamy’s books and his ideas about Atlantis and Tiahuanaco;

Worlds in Collision by Immanuel Velikovksy, 1950

Atlantis and the Giants by Denis Saurat, 1957

The Road in the Sky by George Hunt Williamson, 1959

The Sky People by Brinsley Le Poer Trench, 1960

The Morning of the Magicians by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, 1960

Timeless Earth by Peter Kolosimo, 1964

Chariots of the Gods? by Erich von Daniken, 1969

Our Haunted Planet by John Keel, 1971

In Search of Ancient Mysteries by Alan Landsburg, 1974

Gods and Spacemen of the Ancient West by Raymond Drake, 1974

Our Ancestors Came from Outer Space by Maurice Chatelain, 1978

Atlantis, The Eighth Continent by Charles Berlitz, 1984

Fingerprints of the Gods by Graham Hancock, 1995

From the Ashes of Angels by Andrew Collins, 1996

The Atlantis Blueprint by Colin Wilson and Rand Flem-Ath, 2000

The Destruction of Atlantis by Frank Joseph, 2004

Ancient Technology in Peru and Bolivia by David Hatcher Childress, 2012

Knowledge Apocalypse by Jason Martel, 2012

Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier mentioned both Elmar Brugg and Hans Bellamy on the same page. They were not aware that they appear to be the same person (Louis Pauwels and Jacques Begier, The Morning of the Magicians, Destiny Books, Vermont, 2009, p 224).

I am not suggesting that all these writers were pro-Nazi. The problem is they have ben unwititngly citing a former Nazi and they are not aware of the Nazi assumptions behind his ideas.