France, for the anti-Semite, has long occupied a particular place in hell. It was France, the thinking has gone, that laundered the Jew, turned him into a human, a creature with rights, and thus helped him along the road to global domination. “He received civil equality with the French Revolution,” Adolf Hitler wrote. “With that the bridge was constructed over which he could stride to the conquest of political power within nations.”
Hitler wrote this in 1928, in his Zweites Buch, or “Second Book,” which his publisher failed to distribute, likely because sales of his first book had been so weak. That first book, of course, was Mein Kampf. It did not enjoy nearly the notoriety in its early years that it was subsequently—retrospectively—to achieve.
The Europe of today is not, as Jeffrey Goldberg writes in our cover story, the Europe of 1933, when Hitler took power. Not close. The elected leaders of the major European nations are united in their repugnance for anti-Semitism. Marine Le Pen, of the rightist National Front, a party shadowed by a history of anti-Semitic expostulations, asserts her concern for France’s Jews even as she fans anger against its Muslims.
And yet. Goldberg traveled through 10 European countries and spent a year reporting this story (though one could say a lifetime of reporting and thinking went into it). In Malmö, Sweden, he met a man he calls probably “the most persecuted Jew in Europe”: a rabbi, the only person in the city who dresses unmistakably as a Jew—kippah, black coat—and so makes himself a target.