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Although the term “anti-Semitism” was coined in 1860 by a liberal Jew named Moritz Steinschneider, it was Wilhelm Marr, a German nationalist, erstwhile socialist, and lifelong pamphleteer and agitator who popularized the term and added a layer of pseudo-scientific racial theorizing to anti-Jewish hatred when he published his best-known and best-selling work, The Victory of Judaism over Germanism, on this date in 1879. Marr worked as a businessman and journalist and married a series of four women, the first three of whom were Jewish or part-Jewish. A German nationalist who favored unifying the German states into a nation, Marr argued that Jews should be excluded from that unification unless they were thoroughly committed to assimilation. The Pan-German League in which he was active would eventually adopt Marr’s racist ideas and bar Jews from membership — yet in the final years of his life (he died at 84 in 1904) this patriarch of Nazism actually renounced his conjuring of “the business of anti-Semitism” in an essay, “Testament of an Anti-Semite.” To read his famous pamphlet, click here.
“I at least came to know the Semitic race in a thorough manner, in its most intimate details, and I warn against the mingling of Aryan and Semitic blood.” —Wilhelm Marr