For centuries, antisemitic propaganda has demonized the Jew as a conspiratorial, manipulative outsider, often with powers and designs of world domination. From the Middle Ages through the Holocaust, fabricated accusations against Jews as poisoners and corrupters have led to horrendous suffering for the Jewish people.
In more recent years, the antisemitic notion that "the Jews" dominate and command the U.S. Federal Reserve System and in effect control the world’s money has surfaced across the extremist spectrum. Contemporary economic anxieties and distrust of government have given new life to this timeworn myth.
The world of finance is an area of complexity, if not mystery, to most Americans, and confusions can easily be manipulated and suspicions aroused. The bigot’s rationale is often conveyed in inflated images of intricate, stealthy "conspiracies." For example, under the headline "The jews [sic] have a Plan," the Idaho-based Nazi-like group Aryan Nations has reported finding significance in the fact that the Federal Reserve System and the Anti-Defamation League were founded in the same year — 1913. Another "specialist" in antisemitic conspiracy fantasies, Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, recently expounded and embellished the same "historical" point.
In 1962, Omni Publications, a distributor of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, reprinted an early attack on the Federal Reserve called The Truth About the Slump (1931), in which author A.N. Field asserted:
"The Money Power that rules the world today is centered in the hands of individuals of a particular race and creed." Field labeled the founding of America’s Federal Reserve as that point when "the United States was enslaved under this German-Jew engine of control."
In the 1950’s, antisemite Wickliffe Vennard published The Federal Reserve Corporation,alleging Jewish domination of the "Fed" while declaring along the way that Hitler, like Jesus, had come into power "to chase the money changers from the Temple." But the most widely cited expositor of conspiracy theories regarding Jews and the Federal Reserve is probably Eustace Mullins — a longtime antisemitic propagandist and a Holocaust denier who still actively peddles this propaganda. Mullins, whose book, The Federal Reserve Conspiracy, is widely promoted in the extremist netherworid, argues:
"The American people have assumed the burden of hundreds of billions of dollars of debt simply because we let a handful of enemy aliens take over our monetary system. The three most important architects of our present monetary system are ...Paul Warburg, the German Jew who wrote the Federal Reserve Act, Emmanuel Goldenweiser, the Russian Jew who supervised the details of Federal Reserve Board operations through its first thirty years, and Harry Dexter White, son of Lithuanian Jews, who set up the International Monetary Fund."
The "Rothschild" Connection
"Most of the owners of the largest banks in America," wrote the late Sheldon Emry, an early leader of the racist and antisemitic "Identity" church movement, "are of Eastern European ancestry and connected with the Rothschild banks."
In the literature of bigots, the name Rothschild is a trigger for the most explosive of antisemitic tremors, and it usually sets off a litany of other Jewish names. In his recent book Called to Serve, Col. James "Bo" Gritz, the 1992 Presidential candidate of the extremist Populist Party, charged that "eight Jewish families control the FED" (Federal Reserve System).
In 1983, the charge that Rothschild banks and other international banking concerns, mostly with Jewish names, controlled the Federal Reserve was published (probably from earlier sources) in the newsletter of a local Pennsylvania chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees (NARFE) — not an extremist group. The article stated that the Federal Reserve System "is not a Federal entity but a private corporation owned in part by the following: Rothschild banks of London and Berlin, Lazard Brothers bank of Paris, Israel Moses Seif banks of Italy, Warburg bank of Hamburg and Amsterdam, Lehman Bros. bank of New York, Chase Manhattan bank of New York, Kuhn, Loeb bank of New York, Goldman Sachs bank of New York."
In fact the Federal Reserve Bank of New York — the largest and most significant of the Fed’s 12 banks — lists the banks in the Second Federal Reserve District that are members and stockholders in the New York Federal Reserve Bank. With the exception of the Chase Manhattan Bank, the institutions cited by the NARFE newsletter as allegedly owning and controlling the Federal Reserve system ("Rothschild ... Lazard Brothers ... Israel Moses Seif... Warburg ... Lehman Brothers ... Kuhn, Loeb ... Goldman, Sachs") were not members of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
About the Federal Reserve
The Federal Reserve System is the central banking authority of the United States. It is a fiscal agency for the U.S. Government and custodian of the reserve accounts of commercial banks; it makes loans to the commercial banks; and is authorized to issue Federal Reserve notes — that is, the hand-to-hand currency with which we run our daily economic lives.
Those commercial banks which are members of the "Fed" are required by law to purchase stock in their district Federal Reserve banks in order to supply them with a capital resource. These banks do not have any "control" over the Federal Reserve. Control is exercised only by a Board of Governors, each member of which is a public servant appointed to his or her position by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
The Federal Reserve System: Purposes and Functions, a book published by the Fed’s Board of Governors, states:
"Each of the twelve Federal Reserve banks is a corporation organized and operated for public service. The Federal Reserve Banks differ essentially from privately managed banks in that profits are not the object of their operations, and their stockholders, which are the member banks of the Federal Reserve System, do not have the powers and privileges that customarily belong to stockholders of privately managed corporations."
Nation of Islam: Echoing White Antisemites
"The Federal Reserve is owned by... the Jews. You go back to the Rothschilds, and you go back to a lot of the early Jews that are in that financial system."
This spurious allegation was among the many voiced by Khalid Muhammad of the Nation of Islam (NOI), in his infamous harangue at Kean College in New Jersey late in 1993. NOI leader Louis Farrakhan, in a March 19, 1995 speech, was more specific:
"The Rothschilds financed both sides of all the European wars. They always wanted to get their hands on the Central Bank of America. And they finally did. On Dec. 22, 1913, Congress passed into law the Federal Reserve Act... [T]he international bankers took control of the money by taking control of the Central Bank of America, the Federal Reserve..."
Farrakhan’s words echo the conspiracy tracts advertised in extreme right publications such as The Spotlight of the antisemitic Liberty Lobby and those of the antisemitic and white supremacist "Identity church" movement. Indeed, all of these varied hatemongers could have sat comfortably alongside one another in the audience at Howard University on February 23, 1994, when Malik Shabazz (a warm-up speaker for Khalid Muhammed) shouted sharp questions while more than a thousand persons responded in a manner reminiscent of the Nuremberg rallies:
"Who is it that controls the Federal Reserve?"
The charge that "Jews control the Federal Reserve" is a classic example of the hatemonger’s paranoid-style exploitation of legitimate concerns — in this case, the nation’s economy. Moreover, the wide appeal of this antisemitic conspiracy theory among all kinds of extremists strikingly demonstrates how the agendas of otherwise opposing hate groups meet on common ground: the scapegoating of Jews.