Hugo Valentin's scholarly campaign against antisemitism
1920s to the early 1950s
Keywords:Antisemitism, Anti-Nazism, Historiography, Hugo Valentin, Jewish question, Sweden, Zionism
The Swedish Jewish historian Hugo Valentin (1888–1963) founded the field of Swedish Jewish history in the 1920s. Valentin was also a prominent and public figure in Swedish Jewish affairs, as a writer, Zionist and refugee activist. This article focuses on Valentin’s analysis of antisemitism, from the 1920s to the early 1950s. It pays equal attention to the continuity and change of his writings on the topic, analysed in relation to such political contexts as the ‘Jewish question’, Zionism and anti-Nazi responses, and advances within scholarly research on antisemitism. It shows that Valentin staked out a new approach to the topic of antisemitism, in which Jewish characteristics and the so-called Jewish question, while not completely absent, were placed within parentheses. Instead, he presented antisemitism and individual antisemites as problems in their own right, which, given Nazi German expansionism and the outbreak of the Second World War, seemed to be a greater and more urgent issue than whatever questions might have pertained to Jews and their place in modern society.
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