Nazi Antisemitic Propaganda

Cover from the program to the antisemitic Nazi exhibition entitled, The Eternal Jew.

Cover from the program to the antisemitic Nazi
exhibition entitled, The Eternal Jew.

Courtesy of Randall Bytwerk.
Weekly quote poster from September 7-13, 1941: If International Finance Jewry should succeed once more in plunging the peoples into a world war, the result will not be the victory of Jewry, but rather the destruction of the Jewish race in Europe. - Adolf Hitler

Weekly quote poster from September 7-13,
1941: If International Finance Jewry should
succeed once more in plunging the peoples
into a world war, the result will not be the
victory of Jewry, but rather the destruction
of the Jewish race in Europe. - Adolf Hitler

Courtesy of Randall Bytwerk.
Poster that reads, The Jew: The inciter of war, the prolonger of war. It is from 1942 or 1943, during the height of the Holocaust.

Poster that reads, "The Jew: The inciter of war, the prolonger of war." It is from 1943 or 1944, during the height of the Holocaust.

Courtesy of Randall Bytwerk.

The Nazi Party was one of the first political movements to take full advantage of mass communications technologies: radio, recorded sound, film, and the printed word. The party also made extensive use of mass rallies and parades to spread its ideology among the citizenry. These events were coordinated in such a way as to provoke quasi-religious feelings in participants; night rallies with lighted torches combined with uniformed comrades united in a single cause made Nazis and their fellow-travellers feel like they were part of something greater than themselves. For many people, the grand spectacle of the Nazi movement replaced the void left by organized religion, which had been losing its influence in German society since the early nineteenth century. Nazi propaganda often referred to the notion of a "People's Community" in which all "racially pure" Germans would live together as part of an organic whole. Images of attractive, blond Germans working to build a new society appealed to people who were demoralized after Germany's defeat in World War I and the economic depression of the 1920 and 1930s.

Nazi leaders such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels were master orators with the ability to sway uncommitted audiences to the Nazi cause. Records were made of important speeches for individuals who were unable to attend rallies or for those who wanted to relive the experience. As one would expect, antisemitism was a reoccurring theme in Nazi propaganda.

Secular Jews in the educated professions (e.g., law, medicine, academia) or business were depicted as being dishonest, greedy, and lascivious. Politically active Jews were considered to be responsible for both communism and captialism. Religious Jews were ridiculed for their foreign clothing and customs. In any case, Jews were portrayed as being fat, ugly, and dangerous, either in terms of the German racial state or due to a perceived propensity for violence. These stereotypes were juxtaposed against idealized images of the "Aryan" type, who was always portrayed as being muscular, blond, and blue-eyed.

Picture of stereotypical Aryan and Jew, from the antisemitic children's book, Trust no Fox on the Heath and No Jew on His Oath

Picture of a stereotypical Aryan and Jew, from the antisemitic
children's book, Trust no Fox on the Heath and No Jew on
His Oath

Courtesy of Randall Bytwerk.
Illustration from the antisemitic children's book, The Poisonous Mushroom, in which a Jewish man is depicted as a child molester attempting to lure German children with candy

Illustration from the antisemitic
children's book,The Poisonous
Mushroom
, in which a Jewish man
is depicted as a child molester
attempting to lure German children
with candy

Courtesy of Randall Bytwerk.
Illustration from The Poisonous Mushroom, that depicts religious Jews from Eastern Europe as dirty, ugly, and dishonest.

Illustration from The Poisonous
Mushroom
, that depicts religious
Jews from Eastern Europe as dirty,
ugly, and dishonest

Courtesy of Randall Bytwerk.

A May 1934 issue of Der Stürmer that accuses Jew of ritual murder

A May 1934 issue of Der Stürmer that accuses a Jew of ritual murder.

Courtesy of Randall Bytwerk.

Racism was taught in public schools as a scientific fact, through the dissemination of antisemitic literature and textbooks with racist themes. For example, a mathematics problem from the Third Reich stated, "The Jews are aliens in Germany--in 1933 there were 66,060,000 inhabitants in the German Reich, of whom 499,682 were Jews. What is the per cent of aliens?" Teachers were given a guide that explained how to foster antisemitic attitudes in their pupils. Books with antisemitic themes were given to chidren at a young age. One of the most infamous was a picture book entitled, Trau keinem Fuchs auf grüner Heid und keinem Jud bei seinem Eid (Don't Trust A Fox in A Green Meadow Or the Word of A Jew). Written by eighteen-year old art student Elvira Bauer, this book reinforced Nazi antisemitism through simple rhymes and lurid illustrations. Not only did Bauer claim that Jews were the literal spawn of the Devil, but she also reiterated the claim that Jews were the eternal enemy of the German people. The The book would go through seven editions and sell more than 100,000 copies.

Der Stürmer was an antisemitic tabloid written by Nazi leader Julius Streicher. Unlike the official Nazi Party newspaper, Völkischer Beobachter, which maintained a facade of respectibility, the pages of Der Stürmer were filled with pornography, blood libel accusations, antisemitic cartoons, and sensational stories about Jewish misdeeds. Lest anyone misunderstand where this paper stood on the issue of antisemitism, on the bottom of the cover of every issue of Der Stürmer was the motto, "The Jews are our misfortune." To ensure that his publication received the largest possible readership, Streicher insisted that the articles be written in German so simple that even elementary school students could comprehend them. While Jews were the primary targer of Der Stürmer, the paper also attacked the other perceived enemies of the Nazi Party in equally lurid terms: capitalists, socialists, communists, Catholics, and pacifists. At the height of its popularity in 1938, Der Stürmer had a circulation rate of 478,000.

Works Cited

Arendt, Hannah. The Origins of Totalitarianism. Harcourt, Brace and Company: New York, 1951.

Bytwerk, Randall. Der Stürmer: "A Fierce and Filthy Rag." Calvin College Home Page. http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/faculty/streich3.htm (accessed June 15, 2008).

Mills, Mary. "Propaganda and Children during the Hitler Years." The Nizkore Project Home Page. http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/m/mills-mary/mills-00.html (accessed June 15, 2008).

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. "The Nazi Ideology of Race." The Holocaust Encyclopedia. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/article.php?lang=en&ModuleId=10007457 (accessed June 15, 2008).