The Story of the Jews: Simon Schama looks at a time of enlightenment for the Jewish people.


Simon Schama continues the series by exploring a moment bright with hope when Enlightenment thinkers and Revolutionary armies brought ghetto walls crashing down allowing Jews to weave their wisdom, creativity and energies into the very fabric of modern European life.

One of the most fruitful branches of this Jewish renaissance in music, and the stellar careers of Giacomo Meyerbeer and Felix Mendelssohn established the enduring tradition for Jewish musical prodigies.


But the remarkably successful integration of Jewish talent into the mainstream of European culture and commerce stirred up the ghosts of ancient prejudice, decked out in the new clothes of Romantic nationalism and the pseudo-science of anti-Semitism.

The road to hell of the Holocaust was paved by the diatribes of Wagner while the trial of Alfred Dreyfus let Theodor Herzl to conclude that without a homeland of their own, Jews would never be free of the millennia-old persecution.

The Story of the Jews continues tonight on BBC2 at 9pm

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