In Europe, the Jews had always been a minority that clearly differed in their beliefs, culture, and way of life from the Christian majority. The attitude of European Christians toward the Jews had always been ambivalent. There were periods of good relations, even solidarity, between the Christians and Jews. However, expressions of hatred and outbreaks of violence against Jews have also been part of this long and complex history. This attitude towards the Jews is embedded in traditional Christian world-view and folklore.
Even in the modern age, beginning at the end of the 18th Century as the Jews began to assimilate into the surrounding society, many Christians continued to view them with suspicion. In the late nineteenth century, the concept of racism developed. Racism claimed that, "scientifically speaking", human beings could be divided into different races with immutable qualities and moral traits. "Scientific" racism even spoke of an ethnic hierarchy. The combination of religious and cultural hatred of the Jews and racism produced to the modern concept of antisemitism. This term was subsequently adopted as the standard expression for hatred of the Jews. Antisemitism reached its peak in Nazi ideology, which depicted human history as a struggle between races. The "Aryan" race was destined to take its place as the master race, subjugate inferior races, and wage war on the Jews. The Nazis classified the Jews as a dangerous anti-race that posed a significant threat to the welfare of the world. This ideology became a motivating force in the process that led to the annihilation of European Jewry.
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