Walter Laqueur’s thesis, stated in the first sentence of his incisive essay in Mosaic, is both disturbing and indisputable: “Turbulent times tend to produce turbulent voices.” As Laqueur also points out, such voices can lead to horrendous behavior on the part of ruthless politicians and their followers. As a prime example, he cites the case of Hitler’s Germany, where the Protocols of the Elders of Zion was distributed in millions of copies and where Jews were systematically subjected to unprecedented humiliation and violence. What is more, he writes, even in democracies like the United States, public figures in diverse walks of life have gained substantial followings by adopting the slogans of the most extreme anti-Semites.
How the "Protocols" Emboldened a Notorious Far-Right Russian Party
In the early 1900s, the Protocols encouraged Russia’s largest and most influential monarchist party to adopt an even more extreme form of anti-Semitism.