LONDON, Nov. 22 (JTA) — A Russian propagandist who served both Czar Nicholas II and the Bolsheviks has been identified as the author of a notorious forgery that has inspired generations of anti-Semites.
According to leading Russian historian Mikhail Lepekhine, the true author of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” was Mathieu Golovinski, a member of an aristocratic Russian family who embarked on a life of espionage and propaganda for the czarist secret service before switching sides and joining the Bolsheviks.
Lepekhine’s findings are based on research in recently opened archives and published in the current issue of the French news weekly L’Express.
The work purports to reveal a Judeo-Masonic conspiracy to overthrow the established order by fomenting wars, revolutions and capitalism in order to pave the way for world Jewish domination.
The book has drawn attention in Hungary, where three editions of it have been printed. Police recently confiscated copies of the books in three towns.
Golovinski was born in 1865 in Ivachevka in the Simbirsk region. After his father, a childhood friend of the writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, died when he was 10, he was brought up by his mother and a French governess.
He briefly studied law before being inducted into the Holy Brotherhood, a secret, anti-Semitic society that routinely published forged newspapers and tracts in its battle against the revolutionary elements in Russian society.
Using his contacts in the Holy Brotherhood, he found a job in the government press department, where he acted as the czarists’ spin doctor, placing articles in compliant newspapers and paying the salaries of certain journalists.
After being publicly denounced by the writer Maxim Gorky as a czarist informer, Golovinski emigrated to Paris, where the head of the Russian secret police, Pierre Ratchkovski, employed him to write pro-Russian stories for the French press.
Dismayed by the modernization that was occurring in the court of Nicholas II, reactionary forces decided to use a forgery to demonstrate to the czar that the rising tide of capitalism in Russia was a Jewish conspiracy aimed at overthrowing him and the established order.
Golovinski started work on the forgery toward the end of 1900 or the beginning of 1901, drawing liberally on an 1864 pamphlet by an anti-Bonapartist lawyer who had claimed that Napoleon III was engaged in a plot to usurp all the powers of the French people.