Persecution Perpetuated: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Violence in Nazi Germany

Quarterly Journal of Economics 2012, 127(3): 1339-1392

48 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2011 Last revised: 11 Oct 2012

Nico Voigtländer

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Hans-Joachim Voth

University of Zurich - UBS International Center of Economics in Society; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Date Written: February 10, 2012

Abstract

How persistent are cultural traits? Using data on anti-Semitism in Germany, we find local continuity over 600 years. Jews were often blamed when the Black Death killed at least a third of Europe’s population during 1348–50. We use plague-era pogroms as an indicator for medieval anti-Semitism. They reliably predict violence against Jews in the 1920s, votes for the Nazi Party, deportations after 1933, attacks on synagogues, and letters to Der Stürmer. We also identify areas where persistence was lower: cities with high levels of trade or immigration. Finally, we show that our results are not driven by political extremism or by different attitudes toward violence.

Suggested Citation

Voigtländer, Nico and Voth, Hans-Joachim, Persecution Perpetuated: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Violence in Nazi Germany (February 10, 2012). Quarterly Journal of Economics 2012, 127(3): 1339-1392. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1824744 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1824744

Nico Voigtländer (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Anderson School of Management ( email )

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Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
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+1-310-794 6382 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.anderson.ucla.edu/faculty/nico.v/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

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Hans-Joachim Voth

University of Zurich - UBS International Center of Economics in Society ( email )

Raemistrasse 71
Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

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