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Nazi Propaganda


"Propaganda attempts to force a doctrine on the whole people... Propaganda works on the general public from the standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the victory of this idea." Adolf Hitler wrote these words in his book Mein Kampf (1926), in which he first advocated the use of propaganda to spread the ideals of National Socialism--among them racism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Bolshevism.

"The function of propaganda is to attract supporters, the function of organization to win members... Propaganda works on the general public from the standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the victory of this idea...."  - Adolf Hitler, 1924

At the core of the Holocaust we find modern anti-Semitism, the current version of Jew Hatred - that same phenomenon which appeared throughout the centuries, perhaps finding its most blatant manifestation with the medieval Church. The modern German anti-Semitism was based on racial ideology which stated that the Jews were sub-human (untermensch) while the “Aryan” race was ultimately superior. The Jew was systematically portrayed as a low-life, as untouchable rot (faulniserscheinung), and as the main cause of Germany's difficulties.

Germany had major problems resulting from World War I. Although no warfare had occurred on German soil, the Emperor had fled, and the Weimar Republic was only established after years of severe political instability, with localised Bolshevist experiments and street terror in the cities.  The Treaty of Versailles in 1919 brought the relinquishment of land on almost all fronts, especially to France (Alsace-Lorraine, Saar) and Poland (Danzig corridor); the reduction of the German army to a home militia; and reparation payments beyond the prevalent economic capabilities. The rocketing inflation of 1922 and 1923 caused further economic instability, which became even worse with the advent of the Great Depression of 1929. By 1932, unemployment in Germany peaked, and it was in this economic and political climate that Adolf Hitler established the Nationalist-Socialist Party (with "Mein Kampf" as its manifesto). With Hitler's rise to power in 1933 the national policy of organized persecution of the Jews began."

The Nazi ideal of a “community of the people” tapped into German traditions that lauded social harmony over conflict and in addition valued hard work, clean living, and law and order. For the Nazis, this idealized community could never see the light of day unless it was based on racial purity. To this end, the new regime set out to mobilize the nation around certain missions, including the elimination of recognizable social types (and stereotypes) who disturbed the peace or who did not conform to well-established German values, but also those who did not fit into the white “Aryan” race.

The Nazi version of the struggle between “us” and “them,” between the “community of the people” and the “enemies of the community,” was not just hostile, but vehement and full of language that dripped with war and images drawn from the Darwinian struggle for survival. In the kind of total-war rhetoric the Nazis used, it followed that mercy and compassion toward all enemies was portrayed as a vice, while intolerance and fanaticism were transformed into virtues.

Once social enemies were targeted, the police, the judges, and any number of civil servants were quick to take the initiative and swing into action, even trying to outdo one another in their fealty to the cause of making the new order. The authorities in state and society “below,” in the cultural realm, medicine, welfare, the penal system, and so on, showed they were pleased that Hitler allowed them the flexibility and freedom to implement measures that many of them had only dared to contemplate in earlier years.

No single target of Nazi propaganda took higher priority than Germany's young. By 1937, 97% of all teachers belonged to the National Socialist Teachers' Union. Every member of this union had to submit an ancestry table in triplicate with official documentary proof. Courses and textbooks in Nazi schools reflected the aims of Hitler. Of the topics that teachers were required to treat, the most important was racial theory and, by extension, the Jewish problem. In `The National Socialist Essence of Education’, a German educator wrote that mathematics was "Aryan spiritual property; … an expression of the Nordic fighting spirit, of the Nordic struggle for the supremacy of the world.”

One example of this propaganda is the publication known as Der Giftpilz (The Poisonous Mushroom) which appeared in Germany in 1938 and leaves little question regarding the intended Nazi solution to the "Jewish problem." The book begins innocently enough by describing a favourite German pastime, picking wild mushrooms in the woods. A young boy, Franz, accompanies his mother on a walk in a beautiful, wooded area and helps her gather mushrooms. After carefully describing and showing Franz several varieties of both edible and poisonous mushrooms, his mother compares the good mushrooms to good people and the harmful mushrooms to bad people. The most dangerous people are, of course, the Jews.

Franz proudly announces that he has learned in school that the Jews are bad people. His mother continues her comparison of Jews to mushrooms by emphasizing that, just as poisonous mushrooms are difficult to distinguish from edible ones, it is difficult to differentiate Jews from Non-Jews because Jews can assume many forms. Franz's mother repeatedly alludes to the terrible destructive force of the Jews. One Jew can destroy an entire people because the Jew is the Devil in human form. The Jew poses a deadly threat not only to the survival of the German people but to the survival of the world! It is Germany's obligation to warn the rest of the world about this terrible toadstool and thereby save humanity from destruction. Thus begins one of the most insidious storybooks ever composed for children.

Triumph of the Will

A further aspect of the insidious nature of Nazi propaganda was the work of director Leni Riefenstahl, in particular the documentary films “Triumph des Willens” (“Triumph of the Will”), a record of the Reich Party Congress of 1934, and the two-part chronicle of the Berlin Olympic Games of 1936, “Fest der Völker” and “Fest der Schönheit”, usually referred to as “Olympia – Part I and II.”  Although undoubtedly technically brilliant, indeed revolutionary in many respects, they unquestionably propagated Nazi ideals. Riefenstahl always claimed that she was merely a film-maker, a recorder of events, but there is no doubting the message that these films carried.

The Eternal Jew is a 1940 anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda film. Its title in German is `Der ewige Jude’, which is ambiguous and could be translated as “The Wandering Jew". It was directed by Fritz Hippler at the insistence of German Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, though the writing is credited to Eberhard Taubert. The film consists of feature and documentary footage combined with new materials filmed shortly after the Nazi occupation of Poland, which then had a Jewish population of about 3.3 million (roughly 10 percent of the total population).

The film was made in the style of a documentary, the central thesis being the immutable racial personality traits that characterize the Jew as a wandering cultural parasite. Throughout the film, these traits are contrasted to the Nazi state ideal: While “Aryan” men find satisfaction in physical labour and the creation of value, Jews only find pleasure in money and a hedonistic lifestyle. While members of the “Aryan” race have a need for aesthetic living, rich Jews live in bug-infested and dirty homes, even though they could afford better. While western man has an appreciation of northern culture and imagery, Jews only find satisfaction in the grotesque and decadent. Many things that run contrary to Nazi doctrine are associated with Jewish influence, such as modern art, cultural relativism, anarchic and socialist movements, as well as sexual liberation.

Jud Suss

Jud Süß was one of a trio of anti-Semitic films released early in the war. It received the full support of the entire propaganda system. Here, for example, is a full page advertisement for the film taken from the Nazi Luftwaffe magazine. The advertisement claims that 8,000,000 people had seen the film, which was released in late September 1940.


Julius Streicher & Der Stürmer. The course of Streicher's incitement and propaganda may be traced more or less in chronological order by referring to short extracts from "Der Stürmer." The extracts which follow were selected at random. They were chosen with a view to showing the various methods that Streicher employed to incite the German people against the Jewish race, but his newspapers are crowded with them, week after week, day after day. It is impossible to pick up any copy without finding the same kind of invective and incitement in the headlines and in the articles.

In a speech which Streicher made in 1922 in
Nürnberg, after abusing the Jews in his first sentences, he is reported as going on to say:

“We know that Germany will be free when the Jew has been excluded from the life of the German people."

In another speech in 1924 he stated:  "I beg you and particularly those of you who carry the cross throughout the land to become somewhat more serious when I speak of the enemy of the German people, namely, the Jew. Not out of irresponsibility or for fun do I fight against the Jewish enemy, but because I bear within me the knowledge that the whole misfortune was brought to Germany by the Jews alone.

May, 1934 Issue of Der Stürmer

I ask you once more, what is at stake today? The Jew seeks domination not only among the German people but among all peoples. The communists pave the way for him. Do you not know that the God of the Old Testament orders the Jews to consume and enslave the peoples of the earth?

"The government allows the Jew to do as he pleases. The people expect action to be taken. You may think about Adolf Hitler as you please, but one thing you must admit. He possessed the courage to attempt to free the German people from the Jew by a national revolution. That was action indeed."  

In a further speech in April 1925, Streicher declared: "You must realize that the Jew wants our people to perish. That is why you must join us and leave those who have brought you nothing but war, inflation, and discord. For thousands of years the Jew has been destroying the nations. Let us make a new beginning today so that we can annihilate the Jews."

This appears to be the earliest expression of one of the conspirators' primary objectives -- the annihilation of the Jewish race. Fourteen years later it became the official policy of the Nazi Government.


German Propaganda Archive Home Page 


Der Stürmer, No. 22 (1934).

Holocaust Enclyclopedia



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