10 Famous People From History You Didn’t Realise Where Anti-Semitic

When you hear someone called an 'anti-Semite' your mind immediately jumps to Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich - and there's nothing wrong with that. It's worth knowing however that anti-Semitism runs a lot deeper than the history textbooks may have you believe. Hating Jewish people is not new, nor is it confined to ideological lunatics like Herr Hitler.

Anti-Semitism comes in many forms and guises. René König, a German sociologist, mentions social antisemitism, economic antisemitism, religious antisemitism, and political antisemitism as key examples. The differing nature of each of these manifestations means that some people may slip under the radar, and go unchallenged.

Here are 10 pretty famous people from world history that you probably didn't know where anti-Semitic.

1. Charles Lindbergh

Known for piloting his plane "Spirit of Saint Louis" in a non-stop flight from New York to Paris in 1927, Charles Lindbergh was also famously a white supremacist. How did you get into it all? Nazi Germany of course! He developed an affinity for the Nazi party while visiting Germany in the 30s, and became a supporter of eugenics (a set of beliefs and practices that aims at improving the genetic quality of the human population).

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2. Roald Dahl

Sad to see Dahl's name on here, as he is one of my favourite childhood authors. In a 1983 interview Dahl was quoted as saying: "There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere; even a stinker like Hitler didn't just pick on them for no reason. I mean, if you and I were in a line moving towards what we knew were gas chambers, I’d rather have a go at taking one of the guards with me; but they [the Jews] were always submissive.”

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3. Coco Chanel

Famously a Nazi collaborator when the Germans invaded France, Coco Chanel also held close ties to anti-Semitic illustrator Paul Iribe, and helped fund his publications. Still want that perfume for your birthday? Thought not.

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4. Henry Ford

Despite being the inventor of the motor car, Henry Ford let himself down by being a vocal anti-Semite, and blamed Jewish people for World War I due to their influence in the financial industry. I don't think you can get away with that Henry...

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5. Winston Churchill

While I'll always have a soft spot for the greatest Briton to have ever lived, anti-semitism is a black mark on his copybook. Churchill openly associated Jewish people with Bolshevik conspiracies, and once said they were partly to blame for anti-Semitism. Harsh much?

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6. Walt Disney

Creator of countless brilliant films and godfather to an amazing movie legacy, Walt Disney was constantly accused of being an anti-semite throughout his career. Say what you want about his films; prior to the start of World War II, Disney was known for his support of some pro-Nazi organisations. The jury is still out on this one for me.

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7. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Surely an American President wasn't an anti-semite? Never one to openly criticise Jewish people, privately it was a different story. The president expressed condescending views toward Jews, with some historians believing it contributed to the weak response from the United States toward Jewish refugees.

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8. Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Despite expressing blatant anti-Semitic views in his diaries, the Russian author advocated for equal protection of Jews under Tsarists Russian law (an unpopular stance in Russia). So where did he actually sit on Jewish people? Critics have claimed that Dostoyevsky was a product of his time; meaning he made antisemitic remarks, but was not entirely comfortable with these views.

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9. Ezra Pound

One of history's most acclaimed poets, Ezra Pound had a dark anti-Semitic past. During World War II the American was vocal in scapegoating Jews as the cause of both World Wars. Thankfully though he realised the error of his ways and renounced his beliefs in later life. Smart move Ezra.

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10. T.S. Eliot

Famous for epic poems such as "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "The Waste Land", T.S. Eliot expressed anti-Semitic views in a number of his works. In a 1933 lecture on cultural homogeneity he wrote, “What is still more important is unity of religious background, and reasons of race and religion combine to make any large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable.”

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While I'd definitely heard some of these names labelled as anti-Semitic (such as Walt Disney, cheers Family Guy...), I wasn't prepared for all of them. I mean, who'd have thought that an American President could be labelled anti-Jewish? The mind boggles. You just like think that if they'd have been living in a more enlightened age then they'd have made a different choice.

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