It is perhaps a sine qua non of my posts here at SC that I am continually amazed at the idiotic claims made by a veritable cornucopia of individuals and groups about such and such a historical (or living) person being jewish or half-jewish. I have devoted a couple of articles on SC to dealing with claims of this kind: sometimes they are, surprisingly, based in arguable fact (for example, Fidel Castro), and sometimes they are just plain silly (for example, Joseph Stalin and John Calvin).
Predictably, this has gotten me on the bad side of the same half-baked horseshoe-sucking loons who have now decided that I ‘must’ be jewish, half-jewish or quarter-jewish (depending on whose opinion you read and how much they dislike me). That none of them even know my real first name is testament to their conception of who and what a jew is — irrevocably, it is bound up in their ego whereby anyone who disagrees with or argues against them must, per force, be some species of jew.
To such individuals then, jewishness is not a definite material condition that can be established based on consulting the totality of the available evidence but rather a subjective label they apply to those they consider ‘the other’ of their ideology; in other words, their enemy/opponents. You see much the same modus operandi when you debate those who believe that a Jesuit conspiracy and/or an Illuminati conspiracy and/or a conspiracy of Freemasons exist.
All that changes is the label applied to the individual or group who has offended the labelling party. This tradition of labelling any opponent or perceived major player on the ‘other side’ as being part of ‘the other’ without any evidence other than subjective opinion is a long one and can be reasonably dated back to the judicial murder of Socrates and the habit of Greek and Roman rulers of issuing ‘proscriptions’ (i.e. death lists) of those they alleged were plotting against them and the state.
This tradition also has a long history in anti-jewish circles, and one such legacy was to name Friedrich Engels as a jew. Such a (weird) claim is only found relatively late, and I have not been able to find to examples of it prior to the Bolshevik revolution (and even then it is a very unusual claim to make); this is probably because anti-jewish opponents of Marxism, and Bolshevism more specifically, could find more than enough influential jews in the history of the intellectual and political leadership of internationalist socialism (such as Karl Marx, Moses Hess, Ferdinand Lassalle, Leon Trotsky, Karl Radek, Rosa Luxemburg, Bela Kuhn and so on) to (accurately) argue the case that the Bolshevik revolution and the international socialist movements that it inspired were largely lead by jews in both the political and intellectual spheres.
There was simply no need for most anti-jewish anti-communist writers to claim (contrary to general academic and popular opinion) that Friedrich Engels was jewish, and this was no doubt helped by the common perception, fostered by Engels himself, (1) that Marx was the more important of the two, when in fact it is well-known among students of Marxism that Engels is by far the more important. (2) This belief that Marx was the key player, not Engels, led to Engels being largely assigned the rule of a typical idiotic dupe (aka Marx’s money box) of the parasitic jew Marx. (3)
This then accounts for the general lack of interest in the assertion that Engels was a jew, but as this claim (that he was jewish or half-jewish respectively) is listed on the cesspit of unchecked claims that is ‘Jew Watch’ (4) as well as on another site I could find in a quick Google search, (5) while also having some historical pedigree as it was believed as late as 1940 by some influential individuals, among them the father of US military intelligence Ralph van Deman, (6) I decided to address it here, albeit briefly due to the fact that no proponent of this position actually provides evidence of such. Instead, as before described, the proponents of this position simply assert that Engels was (respectively) a ‘jewish person’ or ‘half-jewish’ .
Now, what makes this claim really absurd is that we know an awful lot about Engels’s parentage, as his paternal family were very prominent merchants in the Rhineland from the mid-eighteenth century to the late nineteenth century. The first of the prominent members of this family (and Engels’s great-grandfather) was Johann Casper Engels (1715 - 1787) and passed through an unbroken chain of known and solid Protestant marriages (the Engels family were Pietists and deeply, if unorthodoxly for Pietists, religious) to Engels's father, also called Friedrich Engels (1796 – 1860). (7)
No evidence of jewishness there.
When we turn to his mother, Elizabeth Francisca Mauritzia van Haar (1797 – 1873), (8) we equally can find no signs of jewishness on her side of the family as her ancestry is well-known, belonging as she did to a prominent Dutch family of Pietist clerics (like her cousin Karl Snethlage (9) [who later tutored and had a significant influence on Engels and the formation of his impressive work ethic]) (10) and schoolmasters and academic linguists (such as Engels’s maternal grandfather Gerhard Bernhard van Haar, who was the long-time rector of the Hamm Gymnasium as well as a classical scholar of some repute). (11)
The claim by Pinay that Engels was the son of a ‘jewish cotton merchant’ (12) is without any citation of a source or specifics (as in, which of Engels’s paternal family members were jewish) and thus must be disregarded as being without foundation.
Thus all of Engels’s ancestors, going back to his paternal great-grandparents and maternal grandparents, were gentile, and there is no evidence of any jewish ancestry in either line. Thus, we must conclude that Engels was not jewish in any way, shape or form.
- For example see Tristram Hunt, 2009, ‘Marx’s General: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels’ , 1st Edition, Henry Holt: New York, pp. 7-9
- On this see Simon Rigby, 2007, ‘Engels and the Formation of Marxism: History, Dialectics and Revolution’ , 2nd Edition, Manchester University Press: Manchester
- Engels was certainly duped by Marx, but he was neither a typical socialist and was in areas except for his friendship with the Marx family: no fool.
- Joseph Bendersky, 2000, ‘The “Jewish Threat”: Anti-Semitic Politics of the U.S. Army’ , 1st Edition, Basic: New York, pp. 220-221
- Terrell Carver, 1989, ‘Friedrich Engels: His Life and Thought’ , 1st Edition, MacMillan: Basingstoke, pp. 2-3; John Green, 2009, ‘Engels: A Revolutionary Life’ , 2nd Edition, Artery: London, pp. 16-18; Hunt, Op. Cit., pp. 13-19
- Carver, Op. Cit., p. 4
- Ibid, p. 2
- Green, Op. Cit., p. 20
- L. F. Ilyichov, Y. Kandel, N. Kolpinsky, A. Malysh, G. Obichkin, V. Platkovsky, B. Tartakovsky, Yevgenia Stepanova, 1982, ‘Frederick Engels: A Biography’ , 3rd Edition, Progress: Moscow, p. 15
- Maurice Pinay, 1967, ‘The Plot against the Church’ , 1st Edition, Omni: Palmdale, p. 40