Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fraudulent document that reported the alleged proceedings of a conference of Jews in the late 19th cent., at which they discussed plans to overthrow Christianity through subversion and sabotage and to control the world. The Protocols first appeared in their entirety in Russia in 1905. They were widely disseminated in the 1920s and became a classic defense for anti-Semitism. First published in the United States in 1920, the Protocols were championed by Henry Ford in his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent, and cited throughout the 1930s by some anti-Roosevelt and fascist groups. As early as 1921, the English journalist Philip Graves exposed the similarity between the Protocols and a political satire by Maurice Joly, Dialogue aux enfers entre Machiavel et Montesquieu (1864). Subsequent investigation showed the original document to be a forgery written by members of the Russian secret police.
See H. Bernstein, The Truth about the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" (1935, repr. 1972); N. Cohn, Warrant for Genocide (1967, repr. 1970).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.