Date of Award
Mark Molesky, Ph.D.
Dermot Quinn, D.Phil,
Kirsten Schultz, Ph.D.
Holocaust, Spanish Inquisition, antisemitism, Anti-Judaism, Church, Third Reich
This work delves into the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust and indentifies the eras that preceded these events that laid a foundation, the major players in these events, and how the players interacted. Common features and differences are identified as well as a common philosophical thread that crossed generational gaps to link these events. The corruption that found such fertile soil created by the regimes that preached hatred was common to both events. The claim by the Inquisition that it preached Anti-Judaism as a philosophical, religious tenet rather than a racial antisemitic bigotry was in truth not even believed by many of the leaders of the Church and the Holy Office. If it held any validity there would be no reason for them to suspect all the New Christians of being heretics.
It would appear that the major difference between the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust is that the purity of blood in the Spanish Inquisition refers to Old Christian Spanish blood and in the Third Reich refers to Aryan blood. In both cases the internal inconsistencies, academic proofs, and the monetary corruption that accompanied both prejudices makes the whole system suspect to an external observer. Prejudices, however, fails to be logical but relies on appeals to emotions.
The Spanish Inquisition spanned many centuries while the Holocaust spanned much less than two decades. The Holocaust was responsible for a magnitude of murders hundreds or even a thousand times greater than the Inquisition. The Inquisition, however, created a terror that meant that the accused as well as his family and his progeny for generations would be condemned to a living hell. There are fates in this world worse than death.
It is interesting that both regimes were preceded by governments that were extremely tolerant of Jews and racial differences. While the Moslem rulers that dominated Iberia prior to the Christian takeover were not perfect they certainly were a beacon of light for that time period. Even the Christian rulers prior to King Ferdinand considered the Jews to be their personal property and protected them. In Germany prior to the Third Reich the constitution of the Weimar Republic was an extremely tolerant work. If franchised a large percent of its population, including the Jews, and provided a social safety net. Perhaps the take home message from this is that liberty is extremely fragile and must be guarded.
The concept of the Chosen People is discussed. It is interesting that the three major players, the Inquisition, the Nazis, and the Jews all laid claim to this title but the implications of this were very different for the Old Christians and Aryans compared to the Jews.
The concluding chapter lists many similarities and differences between both eras.
Wininger, Jon, "A Comparative Historical Analysis of the Spanish Inquisition and the Holocaust" (2022). Seton Hall University Dissertations and Theses (ETDs). 3037.