Die Juden sind unser Unglück!
At the bottom of the front page of most issues of the newspaper Der Stürmer, Germans were reminded that the Jews were their misfortune. What was inside, texturally and visually, was far worse.
Der Stürmer ("The Attacker") was the official unofficial newspaper of the Nazi propaganda machine. It began as a four page in April 1923 and was published almost continuously through February 1945, reaching a maximum circulation of almost 500,000 in the late 1930s (the actual readership may have been higher). It was one of the most important tools that drove and channeled the anti-Semitic ideology in Germany with its lurid and sensational stories and editorials and its crude and garish, stereotypical and titillating cartoons.
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.
Julius Streicher in a speech, April 1925
The Attack begins
The paper did not start as an anti-Semitic propaganda weekly. Julius Streicher, a former schoolteacher and honored World War I veteran, helped found the German Socialist Party (Deutsche-Soziale Partei), which merged with the Nazi Party (NSDAP) in 1921. This move gained him attention and affinity from Adolf Hitler (who mentioned Streicher's "generosity" in his 1925 Mein Kampf). This led to "protection" for him and the paper from Der Führer throughout its run.
The origin of the paper lies in conflict within the party at Nuremberg (Nürnberg) during attempts to establish power and control. Streicher was deeply entrenched in the struggle and in April 1923, opposition held an "Evening of Revelations" where he was accused of being "a liar and a coward, of having unsavory friends, of mistreating his wife, and of flirting with women" (www.calvin.edu). As response, Streicher published the first issue of the paper in early May.
In it, he answered the charges and made some of his own. Despite being primarily retaliation to claims by his political enemies, Streicher (an avowed anti-Semite) did mention the Jews: "As long as the Jew is in the German household, we will be Jewish slaves. Therefore he must go. Who? The Jew!" (www.calvin.edu). Subsequent issues continued focusing on animosity with Mayor Luppe of Nuremberg, but anti-Jewish content became more and more a part of the paper, a means for him to express his anti-Semitic views.
The supreme aim and highest task of the state is therefore to conserve people, blood, and race. But if this is the supreme task, any crime against this law must be punished with the supreme penalty. "Der Stuermer" takes therefore the view that there are only two punishments for the crime of polluting the race:
1. Penal servitude for life for attempted race pollution.
2. Death for committing race pollution."
Der Stürmer, January 1938
By August, he was running into problems for printing the paper. Party leaders were concerned with his "independent ways" and felt that since the conflict within the party at Nuremberg had been resolved, there was no point to continue with it. It was also felt it should be set aside in favor of the official party paper in Nuremberg. Streicher chose not to listen.
Two months later, Hitler led the Beer Hall Putsch, with the dutiful Streicher taking part. He was arrested and jailed for two months and the paper was on hiatus for four. At the time, it already had several thousand readers. Upon his release, he resumed publishing. A month later the first cartoon appeared.
Whoever does what a Jew does is a scoundrel, a criminal. And he who repeats and wishes to copy him deserves the same fate, annihilation, death
Der Stürmer, February 1944
Appealing to the "masses"
As time went on, the content, style, and presentation of the paper were refined. Streicher wanted the paper to appeal to the common person. In order to do this he made sure that short, declarative sentences were used and the vocabulary was simple. He was also familiar with the sort of rhetorical tricks that struck emotive chords with his growing audience. He also relied on something media throughout time have learned: sex and violence sells.
Scandal and sensationalism were staples of the paper. As the anti-Jewish content became the focus, any scandal or crime that could be alleged (then be claimed as fact) would make its way into the paper. Particularly tales of crimes against "German" (as opposed to Jews who were by definition de facto non-Germans) women and girls by evil, drooling, hunchbacked and hook-nosed Jews.
By 1925, the paper had expanded in size and circulation (by 1927, 14,000 copies were being sold, many outside Nuremberg). In December of that year, he added the artist Philippe Rupprecht (known as "Fips") as his official cartoonist. This was a masterstroke. His caricatures of the Jewish stereotype were "entertaining" and well-received by readers. In addition to pictures resembling the Jew of the last paragraph, they were generally short, fat, only in "traditional" clothing, with bulging or pig-like eyes. They would be drawn in the presence of or "as" vermin and insects, and other "loathsome" creatures.
What really worked was his gift of drawing the female form. Poor German girls who were victims were always conspicuously innocent and beautiful and often with revealing outfits orbeing victims of the "lecherous" Jewin states of undress, including being topless or with breasts exposed. Not only did this foster the desired sense of outrage, it was arousing, especially among the young boys (who would inevitably grow up to be part of the armed forces). It would be difficult for his ideas and the words of his inflammatory editorials not to have filtered down to his readers.
This brought other condemnation from within and outside the party. A 1925 letter from someone claiming to be neither Jewish or opposing Streicher, politically, wrote:
[Streicher] always brings something rotten to the light of day. He wants to keep his readers in constant suspense. But what do his readers want? Sensation and filth. Streicher gives that to them. He floods his readers with tastelessness. And who are his readers? Mostly adolescents who are still wet behind the ears. Thanks to Streicher's "education" every lad is familiar with homosexuality and prostitution. One cannot blame Streicher for speaking about these matters. Every newspaper today does. The question is how one speaks of them. Streicher gives them great prominence. May not one be concerned when one sees the Stürmer not only in the hands of older students, but also in the possession of elementary school children?" (www.calvin.edu)
Mayor Luppe was more succinct, calling it the "worst pornographic colportage literature" (www.calvin.edu). The mixture of scare tactics, sensation, speechmaking, and scandal (all given in both an arousingin both senses of the wordand "entertaining" manner) made Der Stürmer a highly potent and effective tool of incitement and indoctrination. Nazi propaganda at its finest even without the "official" stamp of the party.
Whoever had the occasion to be an eye-witness during the slaughtering of animals or to see at least a truthful film on the slaughtering-will never forget this horrible experience. It is atrocious. And unwillingly, he is reminded of the crimes which the Jews have committed for centuries on men. He will be reminded of the ritual murder. History points out hundreds of cases in which non-Jewish children were tortured to death. They also were given the same incision through the throat as is found on slaughtered animals. They also were slowly bled to death while fully conscious
Der Stürmer, July 1938
Along with the other things that made the paper so effective was its use of repetition. The same things would be brought up over and over, "teaching" by rote. One of the favorite topics was "blood libel" or "Jewish ritual murder." It is a charge that was common in the middle ages and has been traced back even farther. Its claim is that in order to perform religious ceremonies (usually Passover), the blood of other humansChristianswas necessary. The "best" blood was almost always the blood of infants or children and the task was accomplished by kidnapping, sacrifice/murder, and often accompanied by torture.
It became such a regular topic as to be something of an annual issue for the paper, including one devoted solely to the subject in 1939. Stories about incidents of this nature from the annals of "history" would be paraded for the readers as well as contemporary accusations asserted as fact. In 1937, there was a photograph printed (photos were added to the paper in 1930) that alleged to be of three Jews murdering a young girl by cutting her throat. Similar drawings and photos would appear alongside the text.
Readers were told that "the wine and Matzoh, unleavened bread, contains non-Jewish blood. The Jew prays before the [Passover] meal. He prays for the death of all non-Jews" (www.us-israel.org). This made for highly effective propaganda and incitement
Considering the success of various similar scares featuring alleged Satanists or similar and their defilement and murder of children and recalling the situation in Germany with Jews being non-citizens and a state that codified discrimination and if not fully encouraged it, tacitly approved (more likely to avoid international condemnation beyond what was already occurring). That it could lead to assaults and worse was practically inevitable (Julius Streicher, sid)
It was through things like this that Der Stürmer was able to outrage and motivate ideologically. Combined with nationalism-patriotism, availability, and ubiquity, this made the paper far more dangerous than even some of the rallies that were used to incite the German people. Recall that this was proffered as news.
A punitive expedition must come against the Jews in Russia. A punitive expedition which will provide the same fate for them that every murderer and criminal must expect: Death sentence and execution. The Jews in Russia must be killed. They must be exterminated root and branch
Der Stürmer, May 1939
Going too far
Even without an official seal of approval as the party paper, it enjoyed the unofficial imprimatur of Hitler, himself. When there would be protests from other ranking party members, calling for suspension or censoring of certain things, Hitler could be counted on to dig Streicher out. On numerous occasions it was felt Streicher had gone too far or was too over the top in his claims and editorials, leading to calls for banning the paper.
The Nazis already had public relations problems with the international community and Streicher's articles and editorials often outraged the wrong people which was bad for the Nazis politically. It was successfully stopped a few times (temporarily). A certain 1934 issue (one of the annual "blood libel" issues) drew strong criticism and condemnation from the Archbishop of Canterbury. Hitler allowed the paper to be bannedbut only after most of the copies had already been distributed. The reasoning being that the charges insulted Christians with comparisons of the sacrament of Eucharist ("communion") to the so-called Jewish ritual murder.
Five years later, in another of the annual issues, a picture was printed of the Archbishop and an elderly Jewish man (presumably) with the caption: "Dr. Lang, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the highest dignitary of the English Church, and his allies a typical example of the Jewish race" (www.us-israel.org).
There were other protests about content along the lines noted earlier, relating to the sexual content of the paper. Streicher appears to have been obsessed on the subject. While there was no need to solicit stories and informationmost ideas came from "concerned citizens" which also saved money because there was no need to payvery often he had help from the party, the Gestapo being particularly helpful. A memo from 1937 asks local branches to give the paper whatever it wanted. A letter from the paper in 1940 asked for materialparticularly "material relevant to Jews and pornography, requesting all pornography in any way connected with Jewsif Jews had written, printed, published, or sold it, the Stürmer wanted it" (www.calvin.edu).
In fact in 1933, the paper started to amass its archives, containing a large collection of anti-Semitic works from around the world, other material by and about Jews, cartoons and photographs, Jewish "paraphernalia," and other things. It also had a very large collection devoted to pornography, which was explained by Streicher to be for "scientific research into the Jewish question" (www.calvin.edu).
It's difficult to maintain (even within the twisted context of his Nazi anti-Semitism) that the reason had anything to do with "research" given his proclivities. In 1940, he lost his position as Gauleiter (district leader) in the party after a number "irregularities" piled up. What probably bothered the party most dealt with misappropriated and missing monies from the transfers of Jewish property to the State, but the report that had been commissioned (by Hermann Göring, no less) also found him to revel in sadistic attacks on Jews and even other party members (always in the company of others). A particular incident seems notable:
on 2 December 1938, three teenaged criminals (robbery) were taken to a room at the police station where Streicherwho had his son attendinterrogated them one by one about their sex lives and practices, taking particular note of whether they masturbated and how long it had been since they had last done it. After the last one was questioned, he beat him about the head and body with the whip (Julius Streicher, sid)
He also boasted of his power and how he could not be removed from his positionthat not even Hitler could beat him. After 1940, the paper would be all he had.
No one should be allowed to grow up in the midst of our people without this knowledge of the monstrous character and dangerousness of the Jew.
One who has reached this stage of understanding will inevitably remain an enemy of the Jews all his life and will instill this hatred into his own children.
Julius Streicher, two lines from his introduction to the book The Jewish Question and School Instruction, published through Der Stürmer
By 1937, the paper was established in its capacity as an unofficial part of the party, putting out over 400,000 copies an issue. Party members, such as the labor leader, pressured the membership to subscribe. Subscription drives were held and letters from high-ranking officials praising the paper and Streicher's work were commonthough this leveled off over the years when some felt he was going too far. Sometimes (anonymous) angry letters of protest were written to the paper. They were dutifully turned over to the police.
Apparently even those who had problems with Streicher's paper still read it. One wonders how much was due to political consideration and/or problems with how he treated the subjects. It may have been an argument over tactics rather than doctrine. What wasn't bought or subscribed to was plastered in display cases in public places in order for the average German to more easily read it (interestingly, vandalism to the display cases was common and led to groups of police or concerned citizens helping guard them).
For the most part, Streicher was unsupervised and printed what he wanted. People as high up in the Party as the press secretary, Hermann Göring, Joseph Goebbels (the Minister of Propaganda), and others sometimes tried to get something done about Streicher and his paper but nothing became of the attempts. On more than one occasion temporary bans of the paper were ended by Hitler (following personal appeals by Streicher). It was difficult to rein him in, besides the paper was popular and terribly effective.
Not only was it available in Germany, but it was distributed to any country with a large German population, including: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and the United States, among others.
The paper was so successful that Streicher branched out into publishing, including a children's reader and books of "fairy tales" (all properly anti-Semitic and full of warnings for children).
The best known was Der Giftpilz (1938, "The Poisonous Mushroom"). While it wasn't written by Streicher, it was published through the paper and the illustrations were done by Fips. It tells a story of a mother informing her young child, while walking in the woods, that there are two kinds of people: good and badjust like mushrooms. It goes without saying who are the "bad mushrooms."
A classroom discussion has the children learning "how to recognize a Jew" with the thick, drooping lips and thick, flashy eyelids, a nose that's crooked, and their "sly and sharp look" (another source substitutes "lurking" for "sly"). They proceed to recite a verse:
From a Jew's countenance, the evil devil talks to us,
The devil, who in every land is known as evil plague.
If we shall be free of the Jew and again will be happy and glad,
Then the youth must struggle with us to subdue the Jew devil. (www.nizkor.org)
Perhaps it takes a former school teacher to best know how indoctrinate the young.
Other stories in his little instruction manual include a German girl who learns why her mother and youth leader warned her that "a German must not consult a Jewish doctor! And particularly not a German girl," many of whom ended up finding only "disease and disgrace!" Fortunately, she slaps the man with the "devil's face" and "two criminal eyes" ("Now I've got you at last, little German girl!") and "escapes breathlessly from the Jew house" (www.nizkor.org). Streicher, himself, was worked into a section with German youths, excited over a billboard proclaiming Streicher to be giving a speech, then listen attentively to a friend describe a previous speech he had heard. Of note is his description of the style and presentation:
All he said was so clear and simple that even we boys could follow it. Again and again he told about examples taken from life. At one time he talked most amusingly and cracked jokes, making all of us laugh. Then again he became most serious, and it was so quiet in the hall that one could hear a needle drop. He talked of the Jews and their horrible crimes. He talked of the serious danger which Judaism is for the whole world.
"Without a solution of the Jewish question there will be no salvation of mankind".
That is what he shouted to us. All of us could understand him. And when, at the end, he shouted the "Sieg-Heil" for the Fuehrer, we all acclaimed him with tremendous enthusiasm. For two hours Streicher spoke at that occasion. To us it appeared to have been but a few minutes (www.ess.uwe.ac.uk).
The paper also helped publish collections of Streicher's speeches and writings, pseudoscholarly books, a book of anti-Jewish proverbs, books on the Nuremberg rallies, and an anti-Semitic medical journal.
If the danger of the reproduction of that curse of God in the Jewish blood is finally to come to an end, then there is only one way the extermination of that people whose father is the devil
Der Stürmer, Christmas 1941
As noted, the paper remained highly popular and successful in the late 1930s. There were over 300 people working for him by 1939including one Jew, Jonas Wolk, who wrote typical Der Stürmer stories (despite his contributions, Streicher refused to shake his hand). In 1937 the paper scored a coup by scooping the rest of the world by pointing out that
The first radio picture from the United States of America shows quite clearly that a Jew stands behind the explosion of our airship Hindenburg. Nature has depicted clearly and quite correctly that devil in human guise (www.us-israel.org)
Streicher was also fully aware that the extermination he spoke so passionately about (26 articles between August 1941 and September 1944twelve by Streicher) was taking place. He had a photographer visiting the eastern ghettoes at the time of the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto. He also received a Jewish newspaper that would list the thousands of casualties. In fact, in November 1943, he wrote:
It is really the truth that the Jews, so to speak, have disappeared from Europe and that the Jewish reservoir of the East, from which the Jewish plague has for centuries beset the peoples of Europe, has ceased to exist. However, the Fuehrer of the German people at the beginning of the war prophesied what has now come to pass (www.us-israel.org)
On the other hand, the ongoing "success" of the Final Solution and the war, itself, conspired against the paper.
As the war dragged on and resources became more important, there were paper shortages. While this never interrupted publication (Hitler saw to it that he had supplies), it dropped from as many as sixteen pages back to its original four by 1944.
And with the disappearance of Jews through the "disposal" of the "Jewish problem," there were fewer and fewer physical entities around for the Germans to project their hatred toward. It was easy to transfer disappointment, frustration, financial woes, and dissatisfaction on the Jewish scapegoats when they were an everyday fixture in German life but it was much more difficult to arouse people when they were "out of sight." They obviously weren't out there looting, raping, and ritually murdering Germans anymorethey were gone. The war, itself, was more of a concern to the German people than the warnings of a vast Jewish conspiracy that had help set national ideology.
The paper became a source for international news, no longer able to maintain the previous sensation of local scandal and dire warnings about the dangers of the "serpent Pan Juda." Interest waned and circulation dropped as the number of pages did. Only about half of the number of copies that were being printed during the late thirties were being distributed.
The final issue appeared in February 1945, a few months before the end of European part of the war. Streicher took the initiative to accuse the allies of being "tools of the international Jewish conspiracy" (www.calvin.edu). By then, there were few readers.
Streicher's incitement to murder and extermination at the time when Jews in the East were being killed under the most horrible conditions clearly constitutes persecution on political and racial grounds in connection with War crimes, as defined by the Charter, and constitutes a Crime against Humanity.
from the judgment at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials
After Germany lost the war, Streicher attempted to escape by hiding as a house painter. He was soon captured and brought before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg to be tried for war crimes. After his attorney tried to get his client's sanity examined (Streicher objected to the ploy, maintaining he was sane), the defendant was indicted on two counts: crimes against peace and crimes against humanity.
Despite his (un)official role in the propaganda machine and his positions as Gauleiter in the party, the court found that the "evidence fails to establish his connection with the conspiracy or common plan to wage aggressive war as that conspiracy has been elsewhere defined in this Judgment."
As for the other count, the court submitted his history of activities as district leader (including helping organize the Anti-Jewish Boycott and the Nuremberg laws) and quoted extensively from his own words, much of it from the paper. It rejected his claim that he was only interested in mass expulsion of the Jews (something that would later become a crime under international lawethnic cleansing without murder). Again it used his own words to convict him.
He was sentenced to be hanged, which was carried out 16 October 1946.
If in future years the history of the reawakening of the German people is written, and if already the next generation will be unable to understand that the German people was once friendly to the Jews, it will be stated that Julius Streicher and his weekly paper "Der Stuermer" have contributed a great deal towards the enlightenment regarding the enemy of humanity.
Heinrich Himmler, signed letter to Der Stürmer, April 1937
It is the historical merit of "Der Stuermer" to have enlightened the broad masses of our people in a popular way as to the Jewish world danger. "Der Stuermer" is right in refusing to fulfill its task in the tone of the aesthetic drawing room. Jewry has shown no regard for the German people. We have, therefore, no cause to be considerate and to spare our worst enemy. What we fail to do today our youngsters of tomorrow will have to suffer for bitterly
Reich Youth Leader, letter to Der Stürmer, January 1938
Epilogue: Streicher's children
In 1976, a Louisiana right wing Christian extremist group published an English edition of the 1934 "ritual murder" issue, calling it the "Julius Streicher Memorial Edition." It reportedly sold well.
An attempt to track down the group found a website (seems the last update was 2001). It has a listing for a few hundred booksmost of them probably very short or even pamphlet-sized as most were $3 or $4. It was a lot of the expected stuff on enemies: the Catholic Church, the United Nations, Illuminati, freemasons, communism, the federal government. There are books on racism (and inexplicably one on The Strange Death of Marilyn Monroethough one can guess the list of suspects), particularly the Jews.
One finds numerous Jewish conspiracies and links to the other official enemies. One finds that there is apparently a Jewish "fifth column" not only in India, but Islam and Japan. And that they wish to "dominate the Negroes." They were involved in Watergate (another plot to control the US government), Christ was not a Jew, and Jewish TV: Sick, Sick, Sick. It also offers the fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Henry Ford's embarrassing The International Jew and Martin Luther's vile The Jews and Their Lies. A further note: these are all listed under "patriotic books."
They offer audio cassettes, including the hit "Songs and Marches of the Third Reich" (on three tapes for $25) and movies, including the notorious Judd Suss and The Eternal Jew (needless to say Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will is represented). And of course: D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation ("favorable silent movie on the Ku Klux Klan").
Then there it was. For $5, one can purchase "JEWISH RITUAL MURDER by Julius Streicher. Translated from the German. Newspaper format. Well illustrated."
More about Julius Streicher
Sources: www.us-israel.org/jsource/Holocaust/Streicher.html, www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/faculty/streich3.htm, history1900s.about.com/library/holocaust/aa113098.htm, motlc.wiesenthal.com, www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/mushroom1.htm, www.nizkor.org quotes from the Nuremberg Judgment are from here, www.britannica.com
Scattered quotes are from above sources
Some portions are from/rewritten from my Julius Streicher writeup
Christian Defense League/New Christian Crusade Church website: http://www.cdlreport.com)