Baron Guy de Rothschild was head of the bank Rothschild Frères from 1967 to 1979. One of his passions was thoroughbred breeding; here he holds his horse Cerisoles after it won the Prix de Diane in 1957 at the Chantilly racetrack north of Paris. (AP)

This post has been updated.

In early 2011, a branch of the very rich Rothschild family bought a controlling stake in Weather Central, a provider of weather forecasts to hundreds of broadcasters.

“As weather becomes more extreme around the planet, with greater human and financial ramifications,” Sir Evelyn de Rothschild said in a news release, “we believe that Weather Central will play a major role in mitigating damage and improving lives.”

This was big news in meteorology and broadcasting circles: It appeared that the Rothschilds, a prominent business family, wanted to take on the Weather Channel to expand its media holdings.

This was also big news for conspiracy theorists: To them, it appeared as though the Rothschilds, a prominent Jewish family that made a fortune in European banking in the 1700s, wanted to control the weather and profit from natural disasters.

The Rothschilds’ supposed control of the weather is a long-running conspiracy theory most recently leveled by D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8), who tried to make amends this week with a special tour at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. (He left early.)

Controlling the weather is just one of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of unproved, bizarre and anti-Semitic allegations that have been leveled against the Rothschilds for centuries.

The list of their supposed atrocities, spread by militant pastors, fringe political candidates, and garden-variety nut jobs, includes controlling the world economy, bankrolling Adolf Hitler, plotting to kill Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, founding Israel, funding the Islamic State, inflicting financial distress on Asians and, most recently, messing with the weather.

“Man, it just started snowing out of nowhere this morning, man. Y’all better pay attention to this climate control, man, this climate manipulation,” White said in a video posted to Facebook. “And D.C. keep talking about, ‘We a resilient city.’ And that’s a model based off the Rothschilds controlling the climate to create natural disasters they can pay for to own the cities, man. Be careful.”

It wasn’t the first time White repeated anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds. During a Feb. 27 meeting with Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and other top city officials, he was captured on video claiming that the family controls the World Bank and the federal government.

When did this craziness about the Rothschilds begin?

A long time ago.

Why?

The Battle of Waterloo.


Napoleon’s retreat from the Battle of Waterloo. Original Artwork: After a painting by Steuben (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In 1846, three decades after Napoleon’s French army had been vanquished in what is now Belgium by a British, Prussian and Dutch force, a political pamphlet, signed “Satan,” went 19th-century viral. The Independent, a London newspaper, recounted the story of the pamphlet a few years ago under the headline, “The Rothschild Libel”:

Here is the story that “Satan” told.

Nathan Rothschild, the founder of the London branch of the bank, was a spectator on the battlefield that day in June 1815 and, as night fell, he observed the total defeat of the French army. This was what he was waiting for. A relay of fast horses rushed him to the Belgian coast, but there he found to his fury that a storm had confined all ships to port. Undaunted — “Does greed admit anything is impossible?” asked Satan — he paid a king’s ransom to a fisherman to ferry him through wind and waves to England.

Reaching London 24 hours before official word of Wellington’s victory, Rothschild exploited his knowledge to make a killing on the Stock Exchange. “In a single coup,” the pamphlet charged, “he gained 20 million francs.”

And the rest is anti-Semitic history.

“Although this type of speculation was widespread throughout anti-Semitic circles in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it was notably strong in the United States, where radicals of every stripe seemed obsessed by financial conspiracies,” political scientist Michael Barkun wrote in his book “A Culture of Conspiracy,” published in 2003. “The Rothschilds, who combined Jewishness, banking, and international ties, presented an attractive target.”

They still do, just not via pamphlet.

The conspiracy theories about the Rothschilds — and other groups, Jewish or not — are spread in online forums, self-published books, right-wing and religious radio programs, and especially YouTube, where seemingly normal and harmless people spin complicated, illogical theories that viewers seeking to confirm their owns views can easily find.

Take a YouTuber identified as “hudna1,” with nearly 5,000 subscribers.

In September 2017, a month after Hurricane Harvey laid waste to Houston, hudna1 posted a lengthy video in which she explained how it all came back to the Rothschilds.

“I am not an engineer,” she said. “But I have common sense.”

Her common sense goes like this:

Strange things have been happening on the planet. For instance, whales have been jumping out of the ocean.

Why?

Because, she claimed, of electric waves being sent out from Alaska by a U.S. government project to manipulate weather patterns. Her uncle, who served in the Air Force, told her all about it.

Anyway, the Rothschilds, she said, had “friends in high places.” They bought that weather company, after all.

So: They know the people in the government making the whales jump out of the ocean, which is very bad.

So: They are behind the hurricane.

Why is she convinced?

For one thing, she did research — on YouTube, not Google, which apparently can’t be trusted. “YouTube has more information,” she said. “Google is discreet.”

(Fun fact: Google owns YouTube.)

Besides that, she prayed on it. And what came to her, in a vision, was a “funny looking ogre” who had a “comedic sense” and was “very surreal.”

The Rothschilds.

“You,” a commenter wrote, “are a beautiful soul.”

Another wrote that “your observations are very insightful, I have learned so much from them.”

Just one quibble, however.

“The Rothschilds,” the commenter wrote, “are merely the Treasurer for the Vatican.”

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