The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion was first published in Russia in 1903. It was said to be the text of a speech given by a Zionist leader outlining a secret Jewish plan to achieve world power by controlling international finance and subverting the power of the Christian church.
The manuscript was used to justify hate campaigns against the Jewish people throughout the twentieth century, including the Russian pogroms of the early twentieth century and the Nazi persecutions of the 1930s and ’40s. Many copies of the Protocols are still in circulation today throughout the world.
However, the Protocols are a hoax. Journalists discovered in 1921 that the text had been plagiarized from an 1864 work, Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, by Maurice Joly. Joly’s book was an attack upon Emperor Napoleon III that didn’t mention the Jewish people at all. But when Joly’s work resurfaced in Russia at the turn of the century, it was transformed into pseudo-evidence of a vast Jewish conspiracy.