If you want to dispense racist, historically ignorant nonsense about wealthy Jews, you can hardly do better than Facebook. Quite a few memes have been going around about the Rothschild family (which, full disclosure, I have absolutely no link to other than having the same last name) and I wanted to take a look at three that caught my eye.
The first is a picture of prominent family member Jacob Rothschild, a respected British investment banker and a direct descendent of Mayer Amschel Rothschild. While Jacob is renowned for his business acumen and philanthropy, this particular meme isn’t so respectful, contrasting him to a crudely drawn picture of billionaire tyrant character Montgomery Burns from the Simpsons.
There’s also some text, full of the usual Rothschild-related distortions and lies. Part of it reads:
“My family is worth 500 trillion dollars.”
This is a ludicrous accusation that seems to have appeared out of thin air and been accepted as gospel truth by internet conspiracy theorists and anti-Semites. It obviously doesn’t pass the smell test, but just to be sure I looked for the source of the claim. There isn’t one, or at least not one I could find. It appears to be completely made up. It’s also impossible. The entire amount of financial assets held by the population of the earth is a bit less than $200 trillion. As of 2011, the total worth of the derivatives market was about $600 trillion, and there’s nowhere near enough money in the world to pay that off should the need arise.
The richest living member of the Rothschild family, Benjamin de Rothschild, is estimated to be worth about two billion dollars. Only two Rothschilds, but not Jacob, appear on the Forbes list of richest people in the world – which, of course, has led to a separate conspiracy about Forbes colluding with the family to keep their true wealth quiet. But not so quiet as to keep internet sleuths in the dark, I guess.
As usual, this is a nugget of information that only those “with their eyes open” know.
“We own nearly every central bank in the world.”
There are all kinds of goofy conspiracies about the Rothschilds having central banks in all but 3 or 7 or 9 countries. However, as Brian pointed out in his Skeptoid episode about the Rothschild conspiracy theory, the era of the Rothschilds “controlling the world’s money supply” is long over. There are far more powerful banks around the world, controlling far greater sums of money.
The very fabric of the claim is silly. A “central bank” is by definition not a privately owned institution, but a governmental mandate. It’s the entity responsible for overseeing monetary policy, interest rates and currency supply for a nation. Saying the current Rothschilds “own” the Bank of England is like saying Bill Gates owns the Federal Reserve. He doesn’t and they don’t.
“We financed both sides of every war since Napoleon.”
Yet another conspiracy theory based on a poor interpretation of history, mixed with old-fashioned Jew hating.
While the Rothschilds did invest greatly in the Bank of England during the Napoleonic Wars, the simple reason for this is that a French victory would have been terrible for their financial holdings. World War I saw the decline of the Rothschild fortune paralleled by the rise of the International Monetary Fund, and by World War II, the family was on the run from the Nazis. Financing “both sides” of these crushingly expensive wars would have bankrupted the family many times over. It’s also a repellant smear to accuse Jews of being complicit in financing the murder of millions of other Jews.
“We own your news, the media, your oil and your government.”
No, they don’t. They really don’t.
Another meme popping up on Facebook is specifically about Rothschild ownership of central banks. It reads:
“There are only 9 countries in the world without a Rothschild Central Bank: Russia, China, Iceland, Cuba, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, North Korea, Hungary. Isn’t it funny that we are always at war with these countries?”
Putting aside the non-existence of “Rothschild Central Banks,” this is a strange list of countries to be lumped together. China, Cuba, Venezuela and North Korea are communist countries with tightly regulated state-owned economies. Hungary and Iceland probably are on the list because their banks were nationalized in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Of course, conspiracy mongers interpret this as these countries “kicking the Rothschilds out” when no such thing is true. As for Russia, Iran and Syria – who knows? And it’s an arbitrary list, so who cares?
Also, while it’s true that the US seems to have perpetual conflict with many of these countries, that has far more to do with their oppressive and aggressive regimes suppressing human rights and provoking confrontations with the rest of the world than any mucking about by the Rothschilds. And I must have missed the last time we went to war with Iceland, but maybe it’s in a non-Rothschild funded history book.
The whole “Rothschild Central Bank” myth is many different kinds of wrong and should be dismissed without a second thought.
The third meme I want to knock down is by far the most anti-Semitic, and that’s saying something. It’s that Hitler was secretly a Rothschild, or generally had a Jewish grandparent.
One of the versions I found goes like this:
“Adolf Hitler was a Rothschild. This is the same family that owns the US Fed and controls our politicians.”
While some DNA testing has revealed that Hitler might have had some Jewish history in his lineage, this is probably true of almost any European born in the 19th century. It’s also a far cry from “Hitler was a Rothschild.” Because this is completely absurd.
The “Hitler’s grandfather was Jewish” claim comes from the fact that his family line gets a little murky when you trace it back to the early 1800’s. His father Alois was born illegitimately to a woman named Maria Shicklgruber, who never revealed the name of the child’s father and died 40 years before Adolf Hitler was born. There are several possibilities for who Alois’ father could have been, and historians have generally agreed that it was a journeyman named Johann Georg Hiedler. This was the name that ended up on Alois’ birth certificate, though it was long after his birth.
As with most internet rumors, this one rest solely on rumor taken as fact. As historian Ian Kershaw writes in his book Hubris:
Rumours [that Hitler’s grandfather was Jewish] circulated in Munich cafes in the early 1920s, and were fostered by sensationalist journalism of the foreign press during the 1930s. It was suggested that the name `Huttler’ was Jewish, `revealed’ that he could be traced to a Jewish family called Hitler in Bucharest, and even claimed that his father had been sired by Baron Rothschild, in whose house in Vienna his grandmother had allegedly spent some time as a servant. But the most serious speculation about Hitler’s supposed Jewish background has occurred since the Second World War, and is directly traceable to the memoirs of the leading Nazi lawyer and Governor General of Poland, Hans Frank, dictated in his Nuremberg cell while awaiting the hangman.
Frank, a Nazi stooge executed after Nuremberg, was ordered by Hitler to investigate his family history. He allegedly concocted a theory that Maria had been employed as a housekeeper for the Jewish Frankenberger family in Graz, Austria. While there, she was impregnated by the family’s 19-year-old son, Leopold – making a Hitler partially Jewish.
However, there’s no subsequent evidence that Leopold Frankenberger actually existed, or that there was a family of that name living in Graz at the time of Alois’ birth, or that Maria had ever been to Graz. Indeed, according to Kershaw, Jews weren’t even allowed to live in Graz until the 1860’s – two decades before Adolf was born.
Both theories, the Rothschild rumor and the Frankenberger story, are dismissed by serious historians. No compelling proof exists that links Hitler’s direct lineage to any Jews – and certainly not the Rothschild family. Without the fictional connection between Lionel Rothschild and Maria Shickelgruber, and no evidence of her working for the family has ever been found, the absurd idea falls apart completely.
To be completely clear, Evelyn Rothschild doesn’t “control the government” and his great-grandfather didn’t knock up Adolf Hitler’s grandmother. It’s completely insane and has no foundation in truth – like the rest of these Rothschild rumors.
Of course, Facebook memes like these don’t need a foundation in truth. They just need people gullible, ignorant and hateful enough to share them.