Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Thomas G. Andrews

Second Advisor

Thomas W. Zeiler

Third Advisor

Mark Pittenger

Fourth Advisor

Elias Sacks

Fifth Advisor

David Roediger

Abstract

My dissertation argues that a politicized form of antisemitic violence developed in Denver, Colorado and remained remarkably persistent from the early to the late twentieth century. Politicized antisemitic violence toward Jews in the Mile High City took root and persisted due to the interactions between multiple factors. A rancorous economic environment in the region periodically drove extreme and sometimes violent competition between groups of workers and workers and management. Throughout the century, populism contributed to this violence, offering an outlet for hatred and intolerance toward any group that was perceived as threatening white Protestant American manhood. Starting with the advent of the Cold War and subsequent adoption among some white male Protestants on the far right of Christian Identity, an antisemitic worldview, continued the tradition of politicized antisemitic violence, stressing the demonic patrimony of Jews and the necessity to free the United States from Jewish political domination. Chapter 1 traces the origins of politicized antisemitism in Colorado to economic dislocation, turmoil within the Democratic and Republican parties, and the aspiration of Jewish industrialist Simon Guggenheim to become governor in 1898. Chapter 2 focuses on the lynching of Jacob Weisskind in 1905 and the double murder of Michael Weissblei and Teve Bokser in 1907. Chapter 3 describes the continuation and expansion of that violence against Jews by the Ku Klux Klan. Chapter 4 contends that the Great Depression precipitated a temporary decline of antisemitism in Colorado because of the implosion and discrediting of the Klan in the prior decade and the success of local Jews in the Anti-Defamation League when it came to expanding the civil rights of Jews. Chapter 5 demonstrates the demise of this vision with the reintroduction of politicized antisemitism in Denver by Gerald L.K. Smith, Harvey Springer and Kenneth Goff. Smith, an outspoken antisemite and leader of the post-war extreme right, was also responsible for the growth of the Christian Identity movement in Colorado, and mobilizing adherents of that ideology. And finally, Chapter 6 examines the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan and the connections between Christian Identity activism and the assassination of Alan Berg in 1984.

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