Karl Kautsky

Are the Jews a Race?

Chapter V
Physical Characteristics of the Jewish Race

We have seen that the traits derived from the primitive races of man tend more and more to disappear, as the economic evolution progresses. Race mixtures and a constant transformation in the economic conditions are ceaselessly at work on the creation of new types, again subject to progressive change, in part to new differentiations, in part to new combinations, causing a continual weakening of the definiteness and permanence of races, and also bringing about more and more variety in individual differentiation. The process of history is not a continuous struggle between immutable races, but a process of uninterrupted alteration in the economic environment, of constant change in the groups of interests struggling with each other, resulting in a constant mutation in the traditional race traits as determined by the original state of nature. Race, meaning the races of animals – wild animals as well as domestic animals – becomes more and more vague among men, departing further and further from the divisions of men into states and languages, as developed in the course of historical evolution.

It may therefore be assumed in advance, in the case of a group of humans that have marched for tens of centuries in the front rank of the process of economic evolution, that have undergone the most extensive migrations, economic and political revolutions, that there is no possibility that such a race may be a unit or a pure race.

But we are told this statement does not apply to the Jews. It is claimed, again and again, that the Jewish race has maintained itself in all its purity since time immemorial, and this alleged permanence of the Jewish racial type has become one of the most frequently utilised bases of the views of race theory among the anthropo-sociologists.

A full century ago, Blumenbach wrote: “It is generally known that the Jewish race has been spread for many centuries over all the earth; it has nevertheless maintained its racial traits pure and even typical. This remarkable fact has long been receiving the attention of scientists and physiologists.”

The well-known anthropologist, Richard Andree, declared

“Anthropologically considered, the Jews are one of the most interesting subjects. For no other race type can be traced back through tens of centuries with the same certainty as the Jews, and no other race type presents such permanent forms, no other has so well resisted the influence of time and the influence of its environment.” [1]

This view is widely accepted to this day as an irrefutable and unquestionable fact, a fact which is so irrefutable and unquestionable that its advocate forgets to state what are the appallingly constant and immutable traits of the Jewish race. The race theorists usually hand over this scientific task to the cartoonists of the comic papers.

These most dependable scholars have found the principal trait of Judaism in its nose. The comic papers picture no Jew without the Jewish nose. But what is the state of affairs outside of the comic papers?

Fishberg states

“The present author has investigated the subject among Jews in New York City and also in the various countries east and west of Europe, in North Africa, and Jewish immigrants of various countries in Asia. The results of these investigations do not bear out the popular notion that the hooked nose is to be considered the ‘Jewish’ nose, because only a small minority of Jews have the privilege of possessing this kind of nose. Among 2,836 adult male Jews in New York City, the percentage of noses was as follows:

Straight, or Greek


Retroussé, or Snub


Aquiline, or Hooked


Flat and Broad


Among 1,284 Jewesses, the percentage of straight noses was even higher, and of aquiline and hooked noses even smaller than among the men:

Straight, or Greek


Retroussé, or Snub


Aquiline, or Hooked


Flat and Broad


But a small portion of the Jews, therefore – thirteen or fourteen per cent – have the Jewish nose! [2]

Fishberg is not the only investigator who has found this percentage so low. Other scholars working in Russia and Austria have arrived at the same result.

On the other hand, we find that the aquiline nose is by no means possessed by Jews only. It is quite common in Western Asia, on the Mediterranean Sea, as well as among American Indians. We have already quoted Luschan’s observation that the Jewish nose is particularly frequent in the Alpine valleys that are cut off from all outside influences, that it is an earmark of the homo alpinus, the Alpine man. While but thirteen or fourteen per cent, of the Jews have a Jewish nose – as a rule – the conservative Catholic population of Ancient Bavaria [1*] shows thirty-one per cent of Jewish noses.

A further observation of Fishberg’s is very interesting: the forms of noses found among Jews have a tendency to vary with the forms of noses in the environment in which they live.

“It is noteworthy that Bavarian Jews also have a higher proportion of hooked noses than their co-religionists in other countries.” [3]

Wide noses are found more frequently among the Jews of Northern Africa than among those of Eastern Europe. But the snub nose, on the other hand, among Jews, is most numerous among those living in the midst of a Slavic population, where this type of nose, as is well known, is very frequent.

If we are obliged to relinquish the Jewish nose, we are giving up the most widely recognised race trait of the Jews. What other such traits do we still have? Skin pigmentation, eye pigmentation, hair pigmentation? These are often mentioned as race traits, but if we are to consider black hair, dark eyes, swarthy or sallow skin as particular traits of the Jews, we should have to regard as Jews all Europeans that are not blond.

Furthermore, there are blond and blue-eyed persons among the Jews. Among 4,235 Jews examined by Fishberg in New York, the following were the proportions:








Brunette Type



Blond Type



Mixed Types



“The brunette type, which is considered characteristic of the Jews from time immemorial, is thus reduced to only fifty-two per cent. among the European representatives of the race, while among the Jewesses it is not much larger, fifty-seven per cent.” [4]

But the blond Jew is not equally numerous everywhere:

“On the whole, it can be stated that most of the blond Jews are found in countries where the general population has a considerable proportion of blonds. This is exemplified by the number of blond Jews in England, twenty-five per cent., and in Germany, where over thirty per cent. of Jewish children had blond hair. On the other hand, in Italy, where the Christian population is distinctly brunette, less than five per cent. of the Jews are blond, while in Algeria, Bokhara, the Caucasus, etc., the percentage is even less.” [5]

We have still to consider the skull. The skull is said to be an unchanging race trait. Where the race has been preserved in its purity, the skull, according to many anthropologists, will not change, while others dispute this condition. This is not the place to attempt the solution of such controversies. Assuming that the form of the skull is the decisive factor, by which we mean whether the form of the skull, as viewed from above, shows a greater or less ratio between length and breadth, what are the results that may be said to have been determined by skull measurements?

“It may, in fact, be stated that there is no single type of head which is found among the Jews of all countries in which they live. Indeed nearly all varieties of skulls are met with among Jews of today.” [6]

The head-forms of the Jews in various countries are quite different from each other. The condition is as follows [7]:






Jews in








Hyperdolichocephalic (-76)




Dolichocephalic (76-77)




Subdolichocephalic (78-79)





Mesocephalic (80-81)





Subbrachycephalic (82-83)





Brachycephalic (84-86)




Hyperbrachycephalic (86+)




Number of Observations





The Jews in the Caucasus are therefore predominantly brachycephalic, while those in Northern Africa, and particularly those in Arabia, are predominantly dolichocephalic, and those in Europe predominantly of medium types.

Fishberg therefore rightly observes:

“As far as head-form is concerned, these three groups of Jews represent three different races as clearly as if they were of white, black, and yellow skin.” [8]

Here again, we find the characteristics of the Jews coinciding with those of the nations among which they live. The Caucasians among whom they live are brachycephalic. In Arabia, Mesopotamia and Northern Africa, the Jews are as distinctly dolichocephalic as the races native to these regions are. European Jews, like the rest of the Europeans, are midway between these extremes.

Within Europe itself the cephalic index of Jews and non-Jews striking coincidences within the same region. Thus Fishberg found the average cephalic indexes in the following countries to be:



Average Cephalic Index

of Jews


of Non-Jews













Little Russia





     84.40 [9]

In general, we find a great uniformity of head forms among both Jews and non-Jews in Eastern Europe; there is but slight divergence; this condition is attributed by the American anthropologist, Ripley, to “the perfect monotony and uniformity of environment of the Russian people”, to the unvarying conditions of nature “from the Carpathian Mountains, east and north”. [10]

What becomes now of the so-called immutable, sharply-defined race type of the Jews which “may be traced with equal certainty through the course of thousands of years”? We cannot even find such sharply-defined traits in our own day.

Being unable to prove the existence of the Jewish race type by those traits which are generally regarded as racial indications, the advocates of the presence of a distinct Jewish race are obliged to turn from anthropological to physiological traits. The Jew is to be distinguished, they say, not by the appearance of his body, but by its posture.

We are already leaving the ground of comparatively unchanging factors and entering the field of very alterable factors. Among Jews the chest measurement is declared to be strikingly small, menstruation to appear very early in life, their fruitfulness is said to attain extremely high figures, their adaptability to climate to be extremely great. On the whole, these statements appear quite true, but do not seem to be “Jewish characteristics” at all, if we take the pains to compare the Jews not with the totality of the population among whom they live, but with the classes in which Jews are most commonly found. It will then be found that narrow chests are as common among non-Jews who are accustomed – because they are merchants or intellectuals – to a sedentary mode of life, with little physical exercise, and that menstruation, not only among Jewesses, but among all city women, appears earlier than among country girls.

The faculty of acclimatisation in the tropics is possessed by the Jew in common with the other Europeans who visit those climates as merchants, not as soldiers or heavy labourers, and who are able to abstain from alcohol. For hard physical exertion and alcohol are the greatest enemy of the European in the tropics. We cannot consider the Jew’s faculty of acclimatisation as a specific Jewish quality unless we assume that alcoholism is one of the immutable race traits of the dominant blond race.

As for their fruitfulness, which has resulted in making the Jews as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore, this property also reveals how great is the dependence of “immutable race traits” on social conditions. As in all other urban populations, the Jewish population of cities also presents a distinct decline in the birth rate. This fact is well known in the case of Western Europe, but is even beginning to be observed in Eastern Europe. In Rumania, the rate of living births per thousand inhabitants shows the following changes:


For the Population
as a Whole

For the Jews









       32.6% [11]

The birth rate of the Jews was considerably higher than that of the entire population thirty years ago, but is now considerably lower.

In Western Europe and America the fruitfulness of the Jews is decreasing as rapidly as the general fruitfulness of the population of France. In fact, if the present tendency continues, it will actually mean the dying out of the Jews, which would be the most original manner of solving the entire Jewish question.

In Prussia, the excess of births over deaths per thousand of respective population groups was:

Natural Increase























        14.97 [12]

“In certain German cities the birth and death rates of the Jews are almost equal; in Breslau in 1906-1907, there were registered 507 Jewish births and 694 Jewish deaths. Here they do not replenish the earth.” [13]

Interesting figures are communicated by Felix Theilhaber in a book entitled Sterile Berlin [14], which contains far more information than is suggested by the title, being in fact a thorough discussion of the entire modern population problem.

Theilhaber had already issued in 1911 a book bearing the ominous title: The Destruction of the German Jews. [15] In the work above mentioned he communicates a number of new calculations based on Berlin conditions, referring to the relative number of Jewish births in that city:


Number of Jews

Jewish Births

per 1000 Jews of
Child-Bearing Age





















If the Jewish births are to replace the losses by death, there would have to be seventy-eight births per 1,000 Jewish women of child-bearing age. But with the present birth rate, 1,000 Jewish couples, in other words, “2,000 Jews of child-producing age, have a total offspring of only 1,400 persons, equivalent to a dying out of one-third their number. If this should continue to be the condition, the Jews of Berlin will, after two or three generations – in other words, in 80–120 years – be almost extinct.” [16]

Of course, we are here ignoring immigration from other regions. At any rate, our figures are sufficient to show that the “infinite fruitfulness of the Jews” as an “immutable” race trait is a non-existent quantity.

Physiology having transpired to be as poor a basis as anthropology, pathology is called upon for assistance. The race traits which a healthy Jew is incapable of contributing are now sought in the Jew suffering from disease. It is maintained that the Jew is more subject to certain diseases than the non-Jew, while he is less subject to others than the non-Jew. But here again we are dealing only with hasty generalisations.

Diabetes (sugar), for example, is commonly considered a “Jewish sickness”. As a matter of fact, many Jews do die of this disease.

From Auerbach’s Analysis of the Demography of the Jews in Budapest, it appears that of the 487 deaths reported as due to diabetes in 1902-07, 238, or more than one-half, occurred in Jews, although they only constituted 22.6 per cent. of the population. The rates were 5.9 deaths due to diabetes per 100,000 Catholics and 21.4 per 100,000 Jews. [17]

But comparisons of this kind between Jews and non-Jews are quite misleading, whether they are concerned with diseases or with criminality or with school attendance. We know that certain diseases are more common in certain vocations and social strata than others. A comparison between Jews and non-Jews is legitimate when the non-Jews are compared with Jews of those classes to which most of the Jews belong. Proceeding in this manner, we shall observe that diabetes is a very common complaint among merchants and intellectuals, including non-Jewish merchants and intellectuals. Accordingly, Fishberg determined that diabetes is a specifically Jewish disease only in places where the Jews are predominantly in business. In New York, German Jews, according to the records of the hospitals, suffer from diabetes three times as frequently as non-Jews. The Russian Jews, on the other hand, most of whom are workers, do not show a higher percentage of diabetes than that of the population as a whole. Diabetes also is, therefore, not a race disease but a class disease.

On the other hand, it is declared that Jews are not so susceptible to certain diseases as non-Jews; such diseases are: cholera, smallpox, tuberculosis, etc. Where this declaration agrees with the facts, it may be explained by the social conditions of the Jews, who, in Germany, for instance, are members of the wealthier classes, are less addicted to alcohol, and are always more inclined to consult a physician at once, while the uneducated masses of the people usually regard physicians with mistrust. Even the most orthodox, most superstitious Jew will not seek to oppose the epidemic by prayers and sacrifices alone, as is the custom among the Italian and Russian masses.

“As a matter of fact, it is well known to every physician of experience among the Jews that they are always ready to take advantage of every new measure to prevent or cure disease. There are practically no anti-vaccinationists among them; nor are there any other kind of cranks among them to urge them on to resist the attempts on the part of the authorities to vaccinate them. The Jewish clergy is always in favour of placing medical matters in the hands of physicians and is not in favour of leaving such matters in the hands of Providence.” [18]

Shall we consider ignorance among the masses as a race trait of the “Aryans”? For the present, we still explain such traits by the social and political conditions in which the nations live.

It appears that disease as a race trait also is a poor argument. There remains for the advocates of Jewish racial purity a single refuge, the last refuge of the race theorists who aim to construct races on the basis of the modern nations, namely, language.

Of course, language as a race trait is particularly unreliable in the case of the Jews, more unreliable than in any other human group, since the Jews – with the exception of the Polish and Russian Jews – everywhere speak the language of their environment. Unable to use the criterion of language in the case of the Jews, the criterion of pronunciation is resorted to. We are told the Jew may always be recognised by his pronunciation. In all the languages he speaks, the Jew has his Jewish accent. Said the famous African explorer, Gerhart Rohlfs:

“We know that the Jew in Germany can always be recognised by his discordant accent. The same is the case with the Jews in all European countries, also in Northern Africa.”

And Andree says

“The so-called Jewish accent (mauscheln) is a Jewish race trait, as ineradicable in them as the Jewish type itself ... This is very decidedly a race trait, since it is found among the Jews of all countries.” [19]

Richard Wagner’s reasoning to show that the Jew is incapable of producing good music is based on the so-called Jewish pronunciation. After pointing out in his essay, The Jews in Music [20], that the physical appearance of the Jew always has for us an “unpleasantly foreign quality we involuntarily feel that we desire to have nothing to do with a person who has this appearance”, he continues

“Far more important – in fact, of decisive importance – is the nature of the influence of the Jew’s pronunciation upon us; particularly, this is the essential point of departure in a study of the Jewish influence on music. . Particularly repulsive to us is the purely sensual manifestation of the Jewish language. Civilisation has not succeeded in surmounting the peculiar stubbornness of the Jewish character in the matter of the Semitic mode of pronunciation, in spite of their two thousand years of contact with European nations. Our ear feels the absolutely foreign and unpleasant sound of a certain hissing, strident, lisping and choking pronunciation in the Jewish speech; a distortion and peculiar rearrangement of the words and of phrase constructions, entirely foreign to our national language, finally imparts to this pronunciation the character of a confused babbling, to listen to which causes our attention to dwell rather on this repulsive manner of the Jewish speech, than on the substance it conveys. The exceptional importance of this circumstance in explaining the impression made upon us by the musical works of modern Jews must be recognised and emphasised from the outset.

If the quality of his mode of speech makes it almost impossible for a Jew to acquire the ability of an artistic expression of his feelings and views through speech, his capacity for manifesting such moods and thoughts in song must be even far inferior, etc.”

No doubt a Siegfried speaking with a Jewish accent would be impossible on the stage. Richard Wagner’s dialect was not a Jewish dialect but that of Saxony. If we should use Wagner’s arguments, we might say: “Civilisation has not succeeded in surmounting the peculiar stubbornness of the Saxon character in the matter of the Saxon mode of pronunciation, in spite of their two thousand years of contact with European nations.” But it is not unreasonable to assume that Direktor Striese in The Rape of the Sabine Women [21] would hardly do much better in the role of Siegfried than the well-known Schmock. [22] Would it be reasonable to assume that the influence of the Saxons on music could not but be disastrous?

Pronunciation is a most peculiar element in language. Grammar and vocabulary may be fixed in writing and taught through books; pronunciation may be but roughly indicated by our limited alphabet; it cannot be precisely set down. To learn to pronounce, we must be in personal contact with persons who speak the language as natives. Pronunciation is far more tenacious in its retention of the influences of the life of the people, of the masses, than are grammar and vocabulary, which may be fixed in writing and thus isolated from life. The differences between the dialects are chiefly differences of pronunciation. Furthermore, contrary to the condition in the case of grammar and vocabulary, which may be learned by purely theoretical means, the acquisition of a correct pronunciation requires constant practice of tongue and ear.

If a child has practised no other pronunciation than that of his home dialect, it will be difficult for him to get rid of this dialectic tinge. Very few persons have so fine a hearing and so ready a tongue as to be able to acquire the correct pronunciation of a foreign language late in life, or, for that matter, of a strange dialect. Even those persons who are complete masters of the foreign language, who speak it fluently, will reveal in their pronunciation that they are not speaking their mother-tongue. On the other hand, having less occasion to practise their own language when abroad, these persons will forget its words and its constructions more easily than its pronunciation. I met German workers living in England who had been in that country since their childhood, and who were already having difficulty in speaking German at all – in fact, who preferred to speak English but whose pronunciation both of German and English revealed the part of Germany from which they had come.

If the Jews have their specific accent always and everywhere – so do the Saxons, so do the Swabians. Does this justify us in erecting race traits on this basis? In Saxony everybody speaks with a Saxon accent, regardless of his country of origin. On the other hand, the children of Saxon parents, if they are raised in Wurttemberg, will not speak the Saxon dialect but the Swabian dialect; they will speak Bavarian in München and Plattdeutsch on the Baltic coast. Pronunciation is no more hereditary than vocabulary and grammar, but acquired. It is acquired, however, in a somewhat different manner, and the environment of the individual is a more important factor.

If the Jews have a different pronunciation of the languages of the nations among whom they live than these nations themselves, this proves only that the Jews form a separate community in the individual nations, thus remaining in close contact with each other; only to the extent that they lead such a separate existence will they preserve their peculiar pronunciation. Jews that have not been raised in a closed Jewish community but together with non-Jewish people will have as little of the Jewish accent as the other people. There is a well-known anecdote of a Jewish boy sent by his father into the country in order that he might get rid of the Jewish accent. When his father calls for him at the expiration of a year, he finds to his horror that little Baruch has not only not relinquished his Jewish pronunciation but has imparted it to the entire village.

Little Baruch’s infectious influence deserves all our respect, but an anecdote of this type could be considered as having scientific value only by a Sombart or by the protagonists of Jewish ritual murder. The so-called Jewish accent disappears more quickly even than their narrowness of chest when they begin to live in a different social environment. The fact that some persons have sought to elevate this condition into a race trait proves only that there are persons who would represent the Jews as a separate race at any cost, and who yet are put in the most embarrassing position if asked to state what are the permanent and unmistakable traits of this race.

The Jews of the present day are not a pure race, either geographically or chronologically; even the most superficial acquaintance with their history will prove this statement. Judaism arose on the soil of Palestine, a border region between two areas, each of which embraces a distinct race, probably the result of the peculiarities of the two regions: in Palestine, the foot-hills of mountainous Asia Minor (in the widest sense of the word, therefore, including Armenia), whence originated the Armenoid type, and the beginnings of the extensive steppes of Arabia, extending as far as Mesopotamia. In the latter regions there arose the type commonly designated as the Semitic type, but which might perhaps better be ascribed to a certain area and not to a certain language group, namely, the Arabian type. Some members of the Armenoid type must be counted with the Semitic language family; for example, the Assyrians. [23]

Both these geographical races must have come in contact, at an early period, as well as repeatedly thereafter, and have intermingled at their border points, therefore in Palestine also. Primitive Israelitic history is of course still very obscure: the reports in the Bible are absolutely unreliable. But there is no doubt among scholars that the population of Palestine must have constituted a mixture of races at a very early period, however greatly they may differ in minor points.

But Palestine was a border region in another sense also. The “spheres of influence” – to use a modern term – of the first two great states of the historical era, of Babylonia and Egypt, met in Palestine. Before the development of navigation on the Mediterranean, the entire commercial intercourse between these two empires passed through Palestine, which also afforded passage for their military forces, and often even served as their battleground.

Palestine has, therefore, seen merchants with their slaves and mercenaries, who often came from great distances, and belonged to the most varied races. The mercenaries often remained garrisoned in the fortresses of Palestine for long periods. Such elements have never failed to provide a numerous posterity in any country in which they have been stationed.

Furthermore, the Israelites were at first by no means averse to conjugal relations with persons of other races. Stade informs us on this point:

“The people of Israel were no more a people of pure blood than any other people on earth: for, in addition to Canaanitic, Hebraic, Arabic components, individuals of Aramaic and Egyptian origin were also absorbed by them.

“How slight was the effort they made to be exclusive is apparent from the circumstance that we meet with an Ishmaelite in David’s family. In addition, the ancient Israelites were distinctly surprised by the timidity with which the ancient Egyptians guarded themselves against any contact with foreigners. [24] Of course, this does not mean that the Jews did not prize their own nationality and the purity of their Israelitic origin. But since such purity was surely quite unusual in the oldest period, its absence was not considered a blemish. This makes it easy for us to understand that while, according to the most ancient form of the legend, Isaac, the son of promise, was to have married a woman of his kindred, it is narrated without apparent surprise that other fathers marry foreign women: Judah, a Canaanitic woman; Joseph, an Egyptian woman.” [25]

While the position of Palestine facilitated the incursion of foreign elements and an intermingling with them, it also facilitated the spreading of the inhabitants of the country among their neighbours. Being a poor, unproductive country, Palestine was likely to suffer from excess of population. It was too small and weak, the superior power of its neighbours too crushing, to enable Palestine to dispose of its population by settling it in conquered regions. The territory of the Phoenicians cut Palestine off from good seaports and the practice of navigation. Therefore the path of colonisation beyond the seas was also closed to the Israelites. Their surplus population had no other alternative than to go abroad as merchants (sometimes as mercenaries, but these played no important part in history). In this capacity, they travelled further and further and founded a number of settlements. In many cities they became so numerous as to conduct not only trading operations, but also to employ artisans of their own; the number of their intellectuals also increased.

Constantly crowded and congested in their homeland by the overwhelming strength of their neighbours, this little race had no other path of expansion. This path was pursued so energetically that the Israelitic population abroad finally became more numerous than the home population. The home population repeatedly loses its status as an independent nation, finally losing it forever. But before this time had come, the centre of gravity of Judaism had been shifted from its original location to a number of cities in Egypt, Syria and Mesopotamia.

As long as the Israelites had remained in Palestine, the uniform natural environment necessarily favored the existence of a tendency in the direction of the production of a uniform geographical race, thereby somewhat opposing the differentiation of types resulting from race mixture. But their migrations and their distribution to the most different natural environments completely abolished this tendency toward a uniform geographical race. But the mixture of races, which was already traditional, now went on with redoubled speed.

The greater number of the Jews now lived outside of their homeland. Strangers among strangers, tolerated only, quite often regarded with hostility, they found no support in the little nation whose capital was Jerusalem. They could maintain themselves only by observing the most intimate unity among them. This unity applied not only to the specific locality, but also to all the localities; there was a sort of interlocal solidarity. In the immense region over which they were spread, they were never simultaneously persecuted, plundered, exiled, in all their colonies. If such events came to pass in one region, the victims, the despoiled and homeless, always found active assistance and support in other regions.

But this unified organisation became less and less national. The Jews had never constituted a uniform race; they now ceased to be even a nation. Everything that constitutes the essence of a nation had been lost to them; they had lost their common land, even their common language.

“The Jews living abroad had to speak the foreign tongue, and if several generations had already been living abroad, the younger generations finally would be able to speak only the language of their native country, forgetting their mother tongue. Greek particularly became very popular among them. Already in the Third Century B.C., the sacred writings of the Jews were translated into Greek, probably for the reason that but few Alexandrian Jews still understood Hebrew and possibly also for purposes of propaganda among the Greeks ... Several centuries before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, Hebrew already ceased to be a living tongue.” [26]

There remained to the Jews of their existence as a nation practically only their national aspiration, their desire to become a nation again, and as no bounds may be set to man’s wishes, they felt that this nation would be headed by an indomitable saviour, the Messiah. But, as a matter of actual fact, the Jews were becoming more and more transformed from a nation into an international association. Their bond of union was the remnant of their ancient national life that was still maintained, namely, their religion. But precisely the religions, in the form of myth and philosophy, were in a state of constant flux in the centuries before and after the birth of Christ, particularly in the circles from which the Jews were then exclusively recruited, namely, the populations of the cities. The firm and tangible symbol of the Jews’ community was not the philosophy of religion, but the religious ceremonial; this it was that served the Jews of all the regions then involved in world traffic as the bond recognised and recognisable by all. And simultaneously as a means of keeping outsiders out.

We must not infer that the Jews aimed to preserve a rigid exclusiveness toward all new elements. On the contrary, with the progress of their loss of a national existence, and their assumption of the character of a mere international association for mutual aid, we find a simultaneous increase of the desire to swell their ranks by means of propaganda and thus to acquire new forces. Conquests of new territory were impossible under the circumstances; propaganda was resorted to.

“‘But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!’ the gospel lays these words into the mouth of Jesus, ‘for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte and, when he is made, ye make him twofold more a child of hell than yourselves’.” [27]

I have treated the causes and effects of this propaganda in full detail in my Foundations of Christianity. [28] It would lead us too far afield to go over all this ground again. It is sufficient to state here that this propaganda met with great success; and the greater the success, the more necessary would it, of course, seem to be to keep aloof from all undependable newcomers. The strict observation of the ritual prescriptions now became doubly necessary. In Freemasonry we find a similar rich development of ceremonial which, particularly for intelligent persons, frequently makes a very stupid impression, and is valuable only because it serves as a means of making it difficult for frivolous interlopers to gain admission. Those who subjected themselves permanently to the Jewish rite might be depended upon as reliable fellow-members.

But every stranger was welcome who would recognise this rite – without regard to origin. Jewish exclusiveness was not an exclusiveness of race. The Jewish propaganda in all the regions of the ancient world was rather calculated to stimulate tremendously the mingling of races within Judaism.

In spite of the great success of this propaganda, it did not take hold of the masses of the pagan peoples. These rather displayed an increasing aversion to Judaism, as the latter ceased to constitute a nation and became an international league. The more Judaism lost the character of a nation, the more did it cease to embrace all the classes of society as then known, now including only the urban groups, in many cases only those concerned with commercial and financial business. As long as the Jews had been a nation, and a very small nation at that, they had been a source of concern to their nearest neighbours – by reason of their aspirations for expansion or for maintaining themselves – only in occasional instances. The more they developed into a league of members of a specific class, spread throughout the world, the more were they involved in the class struggles of the entire world. And this in a two-fold manner. In the first place, they were drawn into the struggles of their own class against other classes, and in the second place, they were also drawn into conflicts with competitors within their own class, for this class was much annoyed by the strength drawn by the Jews from their international dissemination and solidarity. These two varieties of class struggle were ultimately combined in a manner that was quite uncomfortable for the Jews: competitors in their own commercial class made efforts to turn aside the hostility of other classes, particularly to the Jewish members of their class, thus transforming struggles against middlemen, tax farmers, usurers, into struggles against the Jews. This distortion of conditions was favoured by the fact that the Jews were defenceless foreigners, and also – to just as great a degree – by those properties of the Jews by which they sought to maintain themselves, since they were defenceless foreigners, by their close union and their international solidarity. Elements of the population thus constituted easily become suspicious in the eyes of popular masses with local prejudices. It was just as easy in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, in England, to instigate a massacre of Catholics for the most trivial causes as it was throughout the last two thousand years to inaugurate occasional pogroms against the Jews everywhere in Europe. But no one has ever thought of ever designating the English persecutions of Catholics as race struggles and the English Catholics as a peculiar, pure race.

The situation became a desperate one for the Jews when the Government authorities also rose against them. Before Caesarism felt itself firm in the saddle, it had considered the Jews to be a valuable ally. But as imperial absolutism became solidified, it became more suspicious of all independent organisations, including Judaism. And when the Jews of Jerusalem went so far as to seek to maintain their independence as opposed to the Romans, by actual warfare, Judaism was completely outlawed. [29]

From now on, the propaganda of Judaism was deprived of every foundation; everywhere the Jews were forced into the defensive, all accessions from non-Jewish circles were cut off. The Jews then became a caste which had to increase by inbreeding, within their own ranks. For the first time, the isolation of the Jews became quite marked.

This condition found its culmination in the ghetto of the feudal era, in the Jewish quarters in which the Jewish population of each city was strictly confined. This condition might perhaps have succeeded in maintaining the Jews as a pure race if they had been a pure race to begin with. But the Jews never were a pure race, and even at the period of their most stringent isolation there were two conditions opposing the formation of a uniform race.

The Jews could not become a geographical race, for their settlements extended over the most varied and distant countries. On the other hand, even if the Jews had originally constituted a pure race, they could not have maintained their purity, owing to the impossibility of preventing a mingling with foreign elements.

Precisely the period of the most rigid isolation of the Jews is also the period of their greatest legal disability, subjecting them to one persecution after another. They were not robbed only of their valuables; not only were men slain, but women were violated in great numbers. But the posterity of these women were considered as Jews and bred as such. Even though we should assume that all Jewish women had always been inaccessible to the seductive arts of their non-Jewish neighbours, the fact of the persecutions of the Jews alone would be sufficient to preclude the possibility of an immutable “purity” of Jewish blood during the last two thousand years. A mixed race from the very outset, the Jews, in the course of their migrations, have come into contact with a great succession of new races, and their blood has thus become more and more mixed.

We have already pointed out the significant fact that the Jews of each region present many physical traits in common with the non-Jewish population of the same region. This may, perhaps, be an effect of like natural conditions on both Jews and non-Jews. But it is just as plausible to assume that it may be the result of a sexual contact between Jews and non-Jews. Probably the case is the same as in the world of organisms in general: both factors, adaptation and heredity, have had considerable [amount] to do with the determination of bodily traits.

But the non-Jews among whom the Jews live are no less a mixed race than the Jews themselves. Jewish blood flows in their veins also. It is not only the extra-conjugal relations between – let us say – Jewish business men or students and Christian servant girls or waitresses that makes many a Christian child an “offspring of the Jews”. Perhaps even more Jewish blood was transmitted to the body of the Christian population by the conversion of Jews, a process which has been going on for centuries. In Spain, for example, in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries, hundreds of thousands of Jews were converted to Christianity. Their posterity infected the Aryan race with their blood. There is no Jew today who can say to himself with certainty that he has not a drop of non-Jewish blood in his veins, if only for the reason that there never has existed a Jewish race either in the sense of a pure breed of domestic animals or in the other sense, that of a geographical race.

But even if we should assume that all those who were following the ritual laws of the Jews two thousand years ago constituted a specific race, no Jew of the present day can assert with absolute sureness that his ancestors included only elements that had descended from the Jews of that period.

On the other hand, also, there is not a single Christian who can declare with absolute certainty that his own antecedents include no Jew among their members.

No race traits can be mentioned which could be used as a criterion for determining this question. The “Jewish countenance”, black hair, flashing eyes, and particularly the aquiline nose, heritages from one of the many races out of which the Jews were built up, cannot serve as a criterion, no matter how outspoken these traits may be considered to be, for they are found also, as we have seen, among many non-Jewish races. Furthermore, they are found only among a small fraction of the Jews themselves. This characteristic countenance has probably become associated with the Jewish type, as in those regions of Northern Europe in which the Jews lived together in rather great numbers, namely, east of the Elbe and north of the Carpathians, it is less frequent among the non-Jews, and therefore most sharply distinguished from the countenance found in the most frequent types, and therefore most striking.

Yet even in those regions, the “Jewish face” does not of itself determine the Jewish type. Particularly striking qualities of dress and coiffure, kaftan and pajes (side curls), pronunciation, bodily carriage, play of the features, and gesticulations – all of which are social peculiarities, handed down by more or less involuntary imitation of one’s environment – must co-operate with the hereditary Jewish face in order to make the unmistakable, the “correct” Jewish type apparent.

The cartoonists of the comic papers are quite justified in depicting Jews as possessing the “Jewish countenance”. The task of the caricaturist is to exaggerate and emphasize striking and unusual traits. But when anthropologists dignify this countenance by making it an earmark of a specific Jewish race, they are creating a caricature of their own science. Werner Sombart, of course, imagines that Jews may always be detected by their faces:

“A later age will hardly find it possible to believe that persons existed in our day who were incapable of distinguishing the Jew as a member of a specific nation or of a specific race (it does not at all matter whether the Jews be called Jews or not) from a Negro or an Eskimo, or a Pomeranian, or a Southern Frenchman”,

and this is the more culpable, for:

“Our eye has been obviously much sharpened, owing to training in the natural sciences, in its ability to detect the influence of the blood in man, during the last generation.” [30]

This sharp eye has been rendered so acute in the case of Sombart that it is sufficient for him to cast a glance at a portrait, even though it be but a wood-cut or a copper engraving, to determine at once whether the original was a Jew or not:

“It is well known that the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indian Company who, though he may not be considered as the founder of the Dutch power in Java, nevertheless contributed much to the solidification of this power, bore the name of Cohn (Coen). And we can easily convince ourselves that he was not the only Jewish governor of the Dutch East Indian possessions, if we glance through a set of portraits of these officials.” [31]

If a man’s name is Coen, Sombart, owing to his acute sense of the blood in man, “knows” that his name was Cohn, and that he was a Jew. Those who are acquainted with the Dutch colonial policy, and who “know” more of Coen than his name, are of course aware that Coen had nothing to do with Cohn, and that he was as little a Jew as the other governors whose portraits have been examined by our conscientious professor. [32]

By means of the same profound method, Sombart declares the Scotchman Law as likely to have been a Jew, for Law might have been Levy and in “many (!) of his pictures” he looks Jewish!

Another example of this splendid method is the following, also taken from Sombart: “In order to prove the significance of the Jews as financiers in France, it is sufficient to recall the influential position occupied by Samuel Bernard during the later portion of the reign of Louis XIV and the entire reign of Louis XV.” [33]

In other words, to prove the importance of the Jews, “it is sufficient” for Sombart to remind us of – a single Jew. This is quite funny, and is made even funnier if this Jew should happen to be not a Jew. Sombart’s critic in the Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, Julius Guttmann, has the following to say on this subject.

“In so important a country as France, the Jews remained for a long time of very subordinate importance as financiers. The only great Jewish financier discovered by Sombart as far down as the Eighteenth Century is Samuel Bernard. Bernard, according to the evidence of his baptismal certificate, which has been long available, was a Christian by birth, and the only circumstance that could be adduced in favour of his Jewish descent would be the fact that his father and grandfather had already lived in France as painters.” [34]

Houston Stewart Chamberlain seems to be just as skilful in detecting the “influence of the blood”, for he declares concerning Marx and Engels that they were two “highly gifted Jews, who sought to transplant to Europe from Asia many of the best thoughts of their race”. [35]

The “scientific” method of the Sombart and Chamberlain school of Jewish studies was already anticipated by our friend Schönlank more than twenty years ago in a delightful parody in the feuilleton of the Vorwärts – it happened to be an April First number – in which he proved that Hammerstein, the well-known editor-in-chief of the Kreuzzeitung, was of Jewish extraction, originally bearing the name Chamer Stein. And how about Chamer Laihn – has not this name also a Jewish sound, Mr. Chamberlain?



Translator’s note

1*. Altbayern, former designation for the Bavarian provinces of Upper and Lower Bavaria – Translator.



1. Quoted by Fishberg, p. 9.

2. Fishberg, p. 79.

3. Fishberg, p. 83.

4. Fishberg, p. 66.

5. Fishberg, p. 70.

6. Fishberg, p. 49.

7. These figures (the cephalic index) indicate the width of the skull expressed as a percentage of its length. For instance, if the skull length is 200 mm., and its width 160 mm., the cephalic index will be 80, and the head-form is termed mesocephalie.

8. p. 33, German ed.

9. Fishberg, p. 52,

10. Fishberg, p. 51

11. Fishberg, German ed., p. 229.

12. Fishberg, p. 69.

13. Fishberg, German ed., p. 60.

14. Das sterile Berlin, Berlin 1913.

15. Der Untergang der deutschen Juden.

16. Das sterile Berlin, pp. 106–107.

17. Fishberg, pp./nbsp;297–298.

18. Fishberg, p. 128

19. Fishberg, German ed., p. 77.

20. Das Judentum in der Musik.

21. Direktor Striese, a character who speaks in the Saxon dialect in the farce, Der Raub der Sabinerinnen (1885) by Fry von Schönthan (1849–1913) and Paul von Schönthan (1853–1905).

22. Schmock is a Jewish journalist in Freytag’s (1816 1895) play Die Journalisten, who speaks German with exaggerated Jewish mannerisms.

23. Cf. among others, Eduard Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, 2nd ed., i, ii, p./nbsp;377 et seq.

24. Compare Genesis xliii,/nbsp;32, where we read of Joseph and his brothers: “And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians.”

25. Stade, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, vol. i, p. 111.

26. Karl Kautsky, Foundations of Christianity, New York, 1925, pp. 257, 258.

27. Matthew xxiii, 15; Kautsky, ibid., p. 260

28. Kautsky, ibid., pp. 253–264.

29. Kautsky, ibid., pp. 167–171.

30. Werner Sombart, Die Zukunft der Juden, pp. 50, 65

31. Werner Sombart, Die Juden and das Wirtschaftsleben, pp. 30, 31.

32. Cf. W. v. Ravesteijn, Kapitalismus und Judentum, Die Neue Zeit, vol. , part 2, pp. 714, 715.

33. Sombart, Die Juden and das Wirtschaftsleben, p. 56.

34. Archiv für Sozialwissenchaft und Sozialpolitik, vol. xxxvi, p. 159.

35. Die Grundlagen des neunzehnten Jahrhunderts, 1899, vol. ii, p. 835.


Last updated on 4 June 2020