In Defense of Christian Hungary. Religion, Nationalism and Antisemitism, 1890-1944
Published: Cornell University Press, 2006
In this important historical account of the role that religion played in defining the political life of a modern national society, Paul A. Hanebrink shows how Hungarian nationalists redefined Hungary—a liberal society in the nineteenth century—as a narrowly "Christian" nation in the aftermath of World War I. Drawing on impressive archival research, Hanebrink uncovers how political and religious leaders demanded that "Christian values" influence public life while insisting that religion should never be reduced to the status of a simple nationalist symbol.
In Defense of Christian Hungary also explores the emergence of the idea that a destructive "Jewish spirit" was the national enemy. In combining the historical study of antisemitism with more recent considerations of religion and nationalism, Hanebrink addresses an important question in Central European historiography: how nations that had been inclusive of Jews before World War I became rabidly antisemitic during the interwar period. As he traces the crucial and complex legacy of religion's role in shaping exclusionary antisemitic politics in Hungary, Hanebrink follows the process from its origins in the 1890s to the Holocaust and beyond.
More broadly, In Defense of Christian Hungary squarely addresses the relationship between antisemitic words and antisemitic violence and between religion and racial politics, deeply contested issues in the history of twentieth-century Europe. The Hungarian example is a chilling demonstration of how religious nationalism can find a home even within a pluralist and tolerant civil society.
A Specter Haunting Europe. The Myth of Judeo-Bolshevism
Published: Harvard University Press, 2018
For much of the twentieth century, Europe was haunted by a threat of its own imagining: Judeo-Bolshevism. This myth—that Communism was a Jewish plot to destroy the nations of Europe—was a paranoid fantasy, and yet fears of a Jewish Bolshevik conspiracy took hold during the Russian Revolution and spread across Europe. During World War II, these fears sparked genocide.
Paul Hanebrink’s history begins with the counterrevolutionary movements that roiled Europe at the end of World War I. Fascists, Nazis, conservative Christians, and other Europeans, terrified by Communism, imagined Jewish Bolsheviks as enemies who crossed borders to subvert order from within and bring destructive ideas from abroad. In the years that followed, Judeo-Bolshevism was an accessible and potent political weapon.
After the Holocaust, the specter of Judeo-Bolshevism did not die. Instead, it adapted to, and became a part of, the Cold War world. Transformed yet again, it persists today on both sides of the Atlantic in the toxic politics of revitalized right-wing nationalism. Drawing a worrisome parallel across one hundred years, Hanebrink argues that Europeans and Americans continue to imagine a transnational ethno-religious threat to national ways of life, this time from Muslims rather than Jews.