Robert Wistrich, leading scholar on anti-Semitism, dies at 70

World-renowned scholar Robert Wistrich, who dedicated his life to the research of anti-Semitism, died suddenly of a heart attack in Rome. 

By: Atara Beck, World Israel News

Professor Robert Wistrich, one of the world’s foremost authorities on the history of anti-Semitism, died on Tuesday of a heart attack at the age of 70.

Wistrich was in Rome at the time, where he was reportedly slated to address the Italian Senate on the growing wave of anti-Semitism on the continent.

A professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Wistrich was known for his erudition, wit and academic mastery. He authored tens of books and scholarly essays on anti-Semitism during his distinguished career.

Wistrich was born in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in 1945.  His parents were Polish Jews who had moved to Lvov in 1940 to escape rampant anti-Semitism, but they suffered there under Soviet totalitarianism. In 1942 they moved to Kazakhstan, where Wistrich’s father was imprisoned twice by the Communist secret police. The family returned to Poland under a repatriation agreement between Stalin and the Polish government-in-exile, and later, finding the post-war environment dangerously anti-Semitic, emigrated to France.

Wistrich grew up in England. In December 1962, at the age of 17, he won an Open Scholarship in History to Queens’ College-University of Cambridge, where he received a BA with honors and, in 1969, a Master’s degree. During the 1969-1970 academic year, while studying in Israel, he became the youngest-ever literary editor of New Outlook, a left-wing monthly in Tel Aviv, founded by the famous 20th-century Jewish philosopher Martin Buber. He received his Ph.D. from the University of London in 1974.

He subsequently became head of the Hebrew University’s Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Antisemitism.

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Some of his more famous books include Socialism and the JewsThe Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph and The Longest Hatred.  His most recent works include Hitler and the and Nietzsche – Godfather of fascism?