The Dialogue in Hell or the Protocols?

From the Lecture Series: The Real History of Secret Societies

By Richard B. Spence Ph.D., University of Idaho

There were many similarities between the Protocols and The Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu. Were these similarities merely limited to mutually shared interest and plagiarism, or was there more to this than meets the eye?

A heart pendent with Israeli flag.
It’s highly likely that Maurice Joly wrote the Protocols to attack the former friend-turned-enemy Adolphe Crémieux. (Image: JenWalters/Shutterstock)

The Revision of the Protocols’ Date

Italian researcher Cesare de Michelis found that the first version of Protocols appeared in 1903, and not 1905. It appeared in a small St. Petersburg paper called Znamya, which was a mouthpiece for violently anti-Semitic groups known as the Black Hundreds. Even the common portrait of the Protocols supposed publisher, Sergei Nilus, is wrong.

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The Publisher of Protocols: Sergei Nilus

Sergei Nilus was not a monk, nor a bearded mystic, nor a strange hermit. The Protocols he published in 1905 formed only a chapter of his book. About 40% of the Protocols are indeed lifted—or paraphrased—from The Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu, written in the late 19th century by the Frenchman Maurice Joly.

But it’s not simple cut-and-paste plagiarism. More than 300 separate bits and pieces of Joly’s work—a paragraph here, a phrase there; mostly a sentence or two—are scattered unevenly throughout the document.

Maurice Joly

The first page of 'The Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu'.
Maurice Joly wrote The Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu. (Image: Svarshavsky/CC BY-SA/Public domain)

Maurice Joly was the author of The Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu.

He was a Parisian attorney and a frustrated office-seeker. Joly worked in Emperor Napoleon III’s government for a decade without receiving the recognition and advancement he craved. That turned Joly from a loyal servant into a bitter enemy. He wrote the dialogues as a personal attack on Napoleon III.

Joly seems to have been a quarrelsome and vindictive person. He challenged enemies to duels and went to jail for assault.

The Relation between Maurice Joly and Adolphe Crémieux

One of Joly’s friends and a mentor was a fellow-lawyer Adolphe Crémieux. They shared an abiding hatred for Napoleon III. But they later fell out—as Joly did with almost everyone, sooner or later. Crémieux went on to play an important part in the French Third Republic, while Joly didn’t.

Adolphe Crémieux was Jewish and head of France’s Jewish organization, the Alliance Israélite Universelle. Crémieux was also a Freemason. In fact, he was master of the Grand Orient Lodge—France’s largest Masonic body. Moreover, Crémieux was simultaneously head of the Masonic Scottish Rite in France, and he organized a Scottish Rite ‘supreme council’ in Switzerland.

Something often ignored or glossed over in discussions about the Protocols is that they don’t just describe a Jewish conspiracy but a Judeo-Masonic one. The original 1903 version is clearly titled The Protocols of the Sessions of the World Alliance of Freemasonry and the Sages of Zion. Masonic lodges are described as the main front for the elders’ secret society.

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Shishmareff’s Story of the Protocol

Another story of the Protocols, aside from the Okhrana one, was popularized by the American writer Paquita de Shishmareff. She wrote under the pen name Leslie Fry. She was the widow of a Russian officer killed fighting the Bolsheviks. Shishmareff believed that the Protocols was an evidence of a vast Jewish plot to destroy Christian civilization. In April 1921, Shishmareff published an article identifying the author of the Protocols as Jewish Zionist writer Asher Zvi Ginsberg, which came as a big surprise to Ginsberg.

Worse, Shishmareff’s tale was picked up and spread by other anti-Semitic writers. Ginsberg sued one for libel and forced him to recant. But Shishmareff was undeterred. She even concocted an elaborate ‘Politico-Occult-Judaeo Masonic Chart’ to track the conspiracy. And in 1931, she published her magnum opus, Waters Flowing Eastward.

In this book, Shishmareff offered yet another version of the Protocols’ origins. Her tale starts in 1884. According to this, a Russian noblewoman and secret agent named Justine Glinka obtained a copy of the Protocols stolen from a Masonic Lodge in Paris. Glinka then purportedly gave the manuscript to her uncle, General P. V. Orzhevsky, who tried—and failed—to show it to Tsar Alexander III.

Eventually, Glinka’s stolen manuscript made its way to Sergei Nilus who published it in his 1905 book. But this tale, like the Okhrana one, again stumbles on the inconvenient fact that the Protocols had already appeared in print in 1903. Were there more than one prototype of the Protocols floating around?

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Yuliana Glinka: The Anonymous Lady

Front page illustrations from the Sergei Nilus' version of the Protocols.
Justine Glinka supplied the copy of the Protocols to Sergei Nilus. (Image: Unknown author/Public domain)

Justine (or Yuliana) Glinka was real. She came from a Russian military family and was herself a devout spiritualist and close friend of theosophy founder, Madame Helena Blavatsky. Glinka also served as a maid of honor to the wife of assassinated Tsar Alexander II.

Justine Glinka was almost certainly the ‘anonymous lady’ who supplied the copy of the Protocols that ended up in the hands of Sergei Nilus.

Final Hypothesis

Finally, the most likely hypothesis of all the hypotheses is that it was Maurice Joly who penned the Dialogue. Basically, Joly plagiarized himself. Or more accurately, he adapted his previous work for a new purpose: an attack on his former friend-turned-enemy Adolphe Crémieux.

Recall that Crémieux was one of France’s most prominent Jews and Freemasons. The biggest clue may be the ‘signature’ that comes at the close of the Protocols: ‘by the representatives of Zion, of the 33rd degree’. The 33rd degree exists only in Scottish Rite Masonry, and Crémieux was closely associated with the Scottish Rite.

It is reasonable to suspect that Joly concocted an original draft of the Protocols shortly before his suicide, or murder, in 1878. This draft could be what fell into General Orzhevsky’s hands a few years later. Or it may have ended-up with Joly’s son, Charles Joly, who later worked beside Golovinsky, Manasevich, and other potential conspirators. But, will we ever know the complete truth?

Common Questions about the Dialogue in Hell or the Protocols?

Q: Who first published the Protocols?

The first version of the Protocols appeared in 1903, and not 1905. But, the more popular version is the 1905 one, published by Sergei Nilus.

Q: Who is Maurice Joly?

Maurice Joly is the author of The Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu from which certain parts of the Protocols are plagiarized.

Q: Who wrote the Protocols of the Elders of the Zion?

There is no credible source that informs us about the author of the Protocols of the Elders of the Zion. However, it’s quite likely that the book was written by Maurice Joly, the author of The Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu.

Q: Is the Protocols a valid document?

Although the Protocols is a real document published in 1905, its story has been debunked as a forgery by many sources, including The Times.

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