10 Political Conspiracies That Changed The 20th Century

Himmler (R) with unidentified military policeman in Warsaw after German invasion of Poland.

When it comes to political scandals it is all about trying to change the future, either to change the way the government operates, change the opinion of the people or try to have an effect on the people within the government. These political scandals all had an effect on the future of their countries, some succeeded, some failed but all had an lasting effect. These 10 conspiracies are some of the greatest stories of the 20th century.

1. The Protocols of the Elders of Zion


The Protocols of the Elders of Zion also known as the Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Members of Zion was a book published at the turn of the century that suggested a Jewish plan for world domination. The document first surfaced in Russia in 1903 and from there was translated into many languages and spread around the world. Many believed it was a true plot that detailed how members of the Jewish faith were conspiring to take control of the entire world. The book was supposed to be the minutes of a meeting that occurred in the late 19th century that was a guide for members of the Jewish community from all walks of life. It detailed how Jewish bankers were to gain control of the economy, plans for how Jewish leaders could subvert the morals of the world and how to gain control of the press.

Hitler believed in the book so much that a translated version was given to German children to learn in school following the Nazi rise to power in 1933. Henry Ford believed the book to be real and sponsored a printing of 500,000 copies in order to distribute them as a way to spread anti-Semitism in the U.S. In Berne, Switzerland two men were convicted of distributing “immoral, obscene or brutalizing” texts after giving out copies of the protocols.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was found to be a forgery in 1921. The Times of London received word through a writer in Constantinople that the person responsible for the Protocols was willing to come forward and admit to the forgery. Michael Raslovleff was an anti-Semite who came forward after it was discovered that the protocols were plagiarized from parts of Dialogue in Hell by Maurice Joy. The protocols were written at the beginning of wide-spread anti-Jewish programs in the Russian empire, which caused thousands of Jews to flee Russia.  Despite proof the forgery, the book is still available today and some still believe it to be real.

  • Brent Richards

    Col. Stauffenberg was not killed in the blast, he was executed by General Fromm in Berlin

    • Stephanie Schoppert

      Thanks for catching that. It was supposed to be that Colonel Heinz moved the briefcase and died as a result.

  • I thought I knew a great deal about WWII, but Operation Himmler is new to me. And the euphemism “canned goods” is pretty chilling, but not unexpected. As a first generation German Canadian, with family members involved in the war (both grandfathers were in the Wehrmacht), I’m continuously fascinated and appalled by German atrocities during the war.

    • Jake

      The Wehrmacht was cleared of war crimes and not treated as a criminal organization like the other nazi branches because it was the standard military populated by average Germans and non party members and party members, often people confuse it with the Waffen SS. If bombing civilians and invading nations was a crime we would have to be found guilty as well, so by that logic neither were they. As I understood it the navy and the army conducted themselves with as much honor as a killing machine of warfare can.

  • Ray fleischman

    Uh that would be Pogrom not program.

    • Stephanie Schoppert

      Pogrom has been used after the fact to refer to the violent riots against the Jews in Russia. I chose not to use it for two reasons, the first is that the article refers not only to violence but also an entire propaganda machine and political persecution against the Jews, not just violence. I also felt that rather than having to explain Pogrom as a term that might not be familiar to everyone, program was just as accurate and would not cause anyone confusion.
      But you are right I could have chosen to use it in this instance.

  • The unidentified policeman is Rienhard Heydrich.

    • Stephanie Schoppert

      Which unidentified policeman are you referring to? Reinhard Heydrich is included in the photo on Operation Himmler.

  • H. McNicholas

    Very good article. Not mentioned is the U.S. invasion of Cambodia which was authorized by Richard Nixon. A covert war where American commandos, many operating under Delta Force were engaged. They could not wear their uniforms since it was illegal for them to be in Cambodia. The biggest hero was one Sgt. Rose a medic but one with a rifle. Two choppers shot down by N Vietnamese fire. He made it but found 1/3 of the force dead or wounded. One troop was beyond reach and wounded. Rose ran through the tire, put the man on his shoulder and ran for it shooting all the way. He made it. He then took metal to his foot and legs and was bleeding really bad but instead of tending his own wounds, went to treat 52 of his comrades. He then helped some onto a chopper but it was shot down. He got out but went back in to get the rest out even though the chopper could explode at any moment. The military would never acknowledge the invasion and Sgt Rose then was denied a Congressional Medal of Honor along with others in Delta. This past year after years of fighting a group was able to convince Congress to act and Sgt. Rose received the medal. So what of him today? He lives in a little town in Alabama and every morning he gets up and goes out to help the poor and disabled. He is a Saint

  • John Nuck

    More misspelled words–Hungary: “After the assassination, Austria-Hungry quickly found the assassins and declared war against Serbia.

    • Stephanie Schoppert

      Thanks for catching that! It’s been fixed.

    • jeffsalzberg

      “The protocols were written at the beginning of wide-spread anti-Jewish programs”


    • jeffsalzberg

      “Britain stroked those fires”