The Myth: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are the records of 24 (or 27) meetings held in Basel at the time of the First Zionist Congress in 1897. They detail a secret conspiracy by Jews to subvert existing governments and take over the world. Sometimes Freemasons are included as allies of the Jews; liberalism and socialism are to be used as tools.
The Truth: While a text known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion exists this is, in reality, an absolute, 100% fake.
The Great Fraud
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is one the greatest and most perniciously successful frauds in European and world history: in some regions the Protocols remain in print today, providing a false justification for anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories. Rather than originating with the First Zionist Conference, the Protocols were created at the end of the nineteenth century in Russia, by people who Neil MacMaster has called “proto-fascists.” (MacMaster, Racism in Europe, p. 148). They were members of the Tsar’s secret police, and used the Protocols to try and undermine liberal reformers and socialist agitators. They were printed in a Russian newspaper in 1903, and then edited by an agent of the Russian Tsar called Serge Nilus, and reprinted.
After the First World War ended and the Tsar’s government had been swept away by the Bolshevik revolution, fears of uprisings were high in Europe, and the Protocols were spread in part to try and portray the Bolsheviks as part of a socialist-Jewish plot and rally opposition, and in part because they were seized upon by a major vein of anti-Semitism which ran through the continent at that time. Supposedly respectable newspapers printed stories based on them, the work was translated many times, certain Catholic priests promoted them, and the Protocols were adopted by many as evidence that their own nascent anti-Semitism was correct. Hitler believed them to be true and cited them when attacking Jews, and it has been argued there’s a direct line from the Protocols through Hitler to the Holocaust. When the Protocols spread to America Henry Ford initially used them as evidence of a Jewish plot, although he later recanted.