"We must not start with religion in order to explain Jewish history; on the contrary; the preservation of the Jewish religion or nationality can be explained only by the “real Jew,” that is to say, by the Jew in his economic and social role. The preservation of the Jews contains nothing of the miraculous."
Covering the span from the Roman era to World War II. Abram Leon takes as his point of departure Marx's observation that "Judaism continues to exist not in spite of history but owing to history."
Leon traces the historical rationalizations of anti-Semitism to the fact that Jews became a "people-class" of merchants and moneylenders in the centuries preceding the domination of industrial capitalism. And he explains how in times of social crisis renewed Jew-hatred is incited by the capitalists to mobilize reactionary forces against the labor movement and to disorient the middle classes and layers of working people about the true source of their impoverishment.
Leon, an activist in the underground factory committees in Belgium during the Nazi occupation, was arrested in 1944 and deported to Auschwitz, where he was executed in the gas chambers.