British Journal of Holocaust Education ISSN: 0966-095X (Print) (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rhos18 ‘Jews Out!’ Anti-Semitic Film Propaganda in Nazi Germany and the ‘Jewish Question’ David Welch To cite this article: David Welch (1992) ‘Jews Out!’ Anti-Semitic Film Propaganda in Nazi Germany and the ‘Jewish Question’, British Journal of Holocaust Education, 1:1, 55-73 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17504902.1992.11101975 Published online: 19 Feb 2015. Submit your article to this journal View related articles Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at http://www.tandfonline.com/action/journalInformation?journalCode=rhos18 Download by: [Florida State University] Date: 25 October 2017, At: 18:19 'Jews Out!' Anti-Semitic Film Propaganda in Nazi Germany and the 'Jewish Question' Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 DAVID WELCH It was during the beginning of 1933 that Joseph Goebbels began to finalise his plans for a Ministry of Propaganda. Since Goebbels was closely involved in the elections due on 5 March, it was decided to delay any announcement about the new Ministry until after the Nazis' electoral success was guaranteed. From Goebbels' own account of his rise to power, it is quite clear that the decision to create such a Ministry had been agreed for some time: 'we are thinking of a Ministry of Public Education within which film, radio, art, culture and propaganda would be combined. Such a revolutionary organisation will be under central control and firmly embody the idea of the Reich. This is a really big project, as big as the world has seen. I am to start at once working out the structure for this Ministry' .1 At first, Goebbels is said to have been unhappy with the open use of 'Propaganda' in the title on the grounds that it was psychologically counter-productive. Given his voluminous writings on the subject and that he felt confident enough to form the Nazi Party Reich Propaganda Directorate in 1930, this claim, which is based on little substantive evidence, seems out of character to say the least. The Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda (Reichsministerium fur Volksaufklarung und Propaganda - RMVP), was established by a Presidential decree, signed on 12 March 1933, and promulgated the following day. This defined the task of the new Ministry as the dissemination of 'enlightenment and propaganda within the popuThe British Journal of Holocaust Education, Vol. 1, No. 1, Summer 1992, pp.55-73 PUBLISHED BY FRANK CASS, LONDON Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 56 THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF HOLOCAUST EDUCATION lation concerning the policy of the Reich Government and the national reconstruction of the German Fatherland'. In June, Hitler was to define the scope of the RMVP in even more general terms, making Goebbels responsible for the 'spiritual direction of the nation'. Not only did this vague directive provide Goebbels with room to out-manoeuvre his critics within the Party, it also gave the seal of legitimacy to what was soon to be the Ministry's wholesale control of the mass media. The creation of the RMVP in March 1933 was a significant step towards the merging of the Party and State. Goebbels continued to be Head of Party Propaganda, but he greatly strengthened both his own position within the Party and the scope of propaganda by setting up this new Ministry- the first of its kind in Germany. Two days after his appointment as Propaganda Minister, Goebbels outlined his view of the role of the new Ministry in a revealing speech to representatives of the German press: we have established a Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda. These two titles do not convey the same thing. Popular enlightenment is essentially something passive. Propaganda, on the other hand, is something active. We cannot be satisfied with just telling the people what we want and enlightening them as to how we are doing it. We must replace this enlightenment with an active government propaganda, that aims at winning people over. It is not enough to reconcile people more or less to our regime, to move them towards a position of neutrality towards us, we would rather work on people until they are addicted to us. 2 With the creation of the RMVP, propaganda became primarily the responsibility of the State, although its departments were to be supported and reinforced by the Party's Central Propaganda Office (Reichspropagandaamt), which remained less conspicuous to the general public. Indeed, the two institutions would often merge into one apparatus: not only would their respective organisations and responsibilities correspond closely, but many of the leading positions in the Ministry and the Reichspropagandaleitung were held by the same officials. Goebbels saw the RMVP as the main policy and decisionmaking body, providing directions and delegating responsibilities to the numerous subordinate agencies that lay under its control. The most Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 ANTI-SEMITIC FILM PROPAGANDA IN NAZI GERMANY 57 important of these was the Reich Chamber of Culture (Reichskulturkammer - RKK). Kulturpolitik (cultural policy) was an important element in German life but the Nazis were the first party to systematically organise the entire cultural life of a nation. As the RMVP ominously proclaimed when it announced the Theatre Law of 15 May 1934, 'the arts are for the National Socialist State a public exercise; they are not only aesthetic but also moral in nature and the public interest demands not only police supervision but also guidance'. The Reich Chamber of Culture was set up by a law promulgated on 22 September 1933. It represented a triumph for Goebbels in his bitter struggle with the Nazi ideologist, Alfred Rosenberg, who before 1933 had claimed responsibility for cultural matters through the establishment of his 'Combat League for German Culture'. The Reich Chamber of Culture allowed the Minister of Propaganda to organise the various branches of the arts and cultural professions as public corporations. Seven individual areas were organised as separate chambers: Literature, Theatre, Music, Radio, Film, Fine Arts, and the Press. Goebbels was designated President of the RKK with power to appoint the presidents of the subordinate chambers. The creation of the RKK is an excellent example of the process of Gleichshaltung, the term employed by the Nazis when they came to power to signify the obligatory assimilation within the State of all political, economic, and cultural activities. The RKK acted as an agent of this 'co-ordination' in that it allowed the RMVP to exert its control over almost all aspects of German cultural life. As Propaganda Minister, Goebbels acted as President of the seven chambers, and through him their jurisdiction spread down to both the nation's regional administration (Lander) and the Party's own specifically political areas (Gaue). This not only facilitated the RMVP's control over individual chambers but, equally importantly, it also allowed the Ministry to co-ordinate its propaganda campatgns. The chief function of each chamber was to regulate conditions of work in its particular field. This involved the keeping of a register and the issuing of work permits. Nobody refused such a permit could be employed in his or her profession, and refusal therefore meant professional ruin. To those sympathetic to the regime, on the other hand, enforced membership of such an immense organisation represented Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 58 THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF HOLOCAUST EDUCATION financial security and public recognition. The law which established the RKK conferred on Goebbels the power to exclude all those who were considered racially or artistically objectionable. After the Nazi 'seizure of power', and corresponding to its importance as a medium of propaganda, film was immediately recognised when a Reich Film Chamber (Reichsfilmkammer - RFK) was established on 14 July 1933. This was some two months before Goebbels decided to extend the idea to the whole of German life and form the Reich Chamber of Culture. Apart from regulating the finances of films, one of the main purposes of establishing the Reichsfilmkammer was the removal of Jews and other entarte Kunstler (degenerate artists) from German cultural life, since only racially 'pure' Germans could become members. Whoever wished to participate in any aspect of film production was forced to become a member of the RFK. Goebbels was, however, given the power to issue exemptions to these conditions should he require to do so. By 19 36, the Kulturpolitische Abteilung of the NSD AP Film Department had published its new illustrated magazine, Der Deutsche Film. Its main aim was to spread the Party policy relating to the film industry through consciously anti-Semitic film propaganda. Statistics were published in film magazines and books which purported to expose an overwhelming Jewish influence in film production. The standard Nazi work on the German film industry purported to show the situation on the eve of the Nazi seizure of power: 70 per cent of all scripts were written by Jews, 50 per cent of all directors were Jewish, and 70 per cent of all production companies were owned by Jews. 3 Although the German film industry had been heavily dependent upon Jewish artists and executives, these figures were a gross exaggeration. However, because Nazi propaganda identified Jewish influence with the downfall of German culture, it was only to be expected they would use the struggle in the film industry to stir up racial hatred. The man entrusted by Goebbels for the Entjudung (removal of Jews) was Hans Hinkel, who in May 1935 was given overall responsibility for all matters relating to RKK personnel policy. Hinkel radicalised RKK policy. By arranging for the Jews to have their own separate cultural organisation (a sham organisation called the ]udische Kulturbund, the showpiece for which was a theatre in Berlin), Hinkel justified the total elimination of Jews from German culturallife. 4 Not surprisingly, the Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 ANTI-SEMITIC FILM PROPAGANDA IN NAZI GERMANY 59 result of such policies was the emigration of all those who either could not or would not submit to these conditions. The loss of talent was naturally severe, but the Nazis were able to retain the services of many highly qualified technical and artistic staff, and a veritable reservoir of talented actors. Perhaps the most outstanding stylistic device in film propaganda is the use of contrasts. Not only do strong contrasts contain a greater emotional intensity than the more subtle nuances, but they also guide the audience's sympathies with more certainty. This aspect of film propaganda is full of confrontations between good and evil, beauty and the beast, order and chaos. In each case, the contrast serves to force the individual into the desired and firmly established commitment. In this ultimate purpose, propaganda is aided by man's psychological need for value judgements in simple black and white terms. This is especially so if a country is in a state of crisis or war, when there is a corresponding need for a simplification of the issues. Even under National Socialism and the relentless fanaticism demanded by such a regime, some form of diversion was needed as a focus for national unity. Hatred of the enemy was manipulated to fulfil this need. To succeed, this, the most spontaneous of all reactions, needed to be addressed to the most simple and violent of emotions and through the most elementary means. All misfortunes, shared in common unity by the nation, were attributed to 'outsiders' such as the Bolshevik, the Jew, or the Anglo-Saxon. The Nazi attitude to the Jews is an excellent example of this facet of propaganda. It cannot be argued rationally that anti-Semitism was a result of National Socialism, or that the propaganda of Joseph Goebbels made Germans anti-Semitic. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the Third Reich was responsible for an attempt at genocide of unparalleled scope and brutality. This may be attributed partly to the effects of propaganda itself which could depend upon widespread latent antiJewish feeling, and partly also to the close political environment within which that propaganda worked. Thus, when Hitler came to power, he needed the Jews as a permanent scapegoat on which those in the movement could work off their resentment: the Jew was manipulated to fulfil a psychological need for Germany. Nazi propaganda simply used the historical predisposition of the audience towards an antiSemitic explanation for Germany's cultural, economic, and political Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 60 THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF HOLOCAUST EDUCATION grievances. Thus, an important negative function of anti-Semitic propaganda was to divert the population from the economic and social measures that the regime had promised but had failed to deliver. It proved increasingly significant for retaining the loyalty and unity of the Party that, in the absence of positive features, the administration could still point to negative goals being fulfilled. Prejudice against Jews derived largely from a profound ignorance. Forming less than one per cent of the population, Jews had for the most part been successfully assimilated into the German community for generations. In 1933, only 20 percent of Germany's half a million Jews still retained their distinctive Jewish garb and these so-called 'Eastern Jews' tended to live together in certain quarters of major cities like Frankfurt, Berlin, and Breslau. Only a relatively small percentage of the German population therefore came regularly into contact with Jews. The Nazis, nevertheless, claimed that Jews had dominated the cultural and economic life of Germany. While it is true that Jewish artists were prominent in the cultural life of the Weimar Republic, Jewish involvement in commercial and professional life does not bear out such claims. In certain professions, there was a higher proportion of Jews than Aryans. For example, just under 17 per cent of all lawyers were Jews (but rarely was a judge Jewish); 17 per cent of all bankers - a percentage that had declined since the end of the nineteenth century; and almost 11 per cent of all doctors were Jews. While it is true that in the clothing and retail trades, Jewish influence was pronounced, statistics show quite clearly that Jews did not exert a disproportionate dominance. However, because Nazi propaganda identified Jewish influence with the downfall of German culture and economic life, it was only to be expected that they would grossly exaggerate Jewish influence to stir up racial hatred. Some recent works on this topic have controversially maintained that anti-Semitic propaganda was by no means as effective as had previously been assumed. 5 The relative success of elements within the Catholic Church in forcing the regime to suspend its secret euthanasia campaign has been cited to support the claim that Christian and humanitarian values had not been entirely destroyed by the regime. 6 While the 'euthanasia issue' did prompt an unparalleled episcopal protest against 'mercy killings', the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) reports throughout the country revealed that the campaign was not without its Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 ANTI-SEMITIC FILM PROPAGANDA IN NAZI GERMANY 61 supporters. The fact that 'mercy killings' were only spasmodically continued after the Fuhrerbefehl of late 1941 is attributable not only to the forceful reaction of the Catholic Church, but perhaps more importantly to the military reverses that were shortly to occur and the fact that it coincided with the preliminary stages of the 'Final Solution to the Jewish Question'. Moreover, the 'euthanasia issue' involved not Jews but 'unhealthy' Aryans. Although anti-Semitism was in principle unacceptable to the Churches, latent anti-Semitic prejudices shared by clergy and parishioners in both the Protestant and Catholic Churches, continued to undermine their defence of Jews. While anti-Semitism may have involved many Germans who could not find any rational argument for Jew-baiting in a crisis of conscience, such revisionist interpretations go perhaps too far. The Sopade reports (the underground reports to the Social Democratic Party's headquarters in exile) confirm that a plurality of attitudes towards Jews - ranging from virulent hatred to apathy and indifference - continued to exist during the Third Reich and that these attitudes were shaped as much by geographical, class, and religious affiliations as by propaganda. 7 There is also evidence to suggest that in the early years of the regime, Nazi propaganda encountered some resistance from Germans who were not entirely persuaded to break off commercial or professional contacts with Jews. 8 Anti-Semitism was not only the core of Nazi ideology, but the Jewish stereotype that developed from it provided the focal point for the feeling of aggression inherent in the ideology. Before 1939, antiSemitism was propagated chiefly by means of the educational system and the press. Three major campaigns were waged in 1933, 1935, and 1938. By the late 1930s, the increasingly fanatical tone of propaganda reflected the growing radicalisation of the regime's anti-Semitic policies. Not only had racial propaganda convinced the population that a 'Jewish Question' existed, a point acknowledged by Sopade as early as 1935, but Jews were now being openly driven from public posts and their property confiscated. The Jewish stereotype depicted in Nazi propaganda served to reinforce anxieties about modern developments in political and economic life, without the need to question the reality of the Jewish role in German society. The massive increase in the circulation of the obnoxious and virulently anti-Semitic Der Sturmer was an indication of this trend. Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 62 THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF HOLOCAUST EDUCATION An important function of Nazi propaganda was to disseminate Nazi racial ideology. Press directives had ensured that racial issues would figure prominently in the daily newspapers. Goebbels had even suggested that not a week should pass without a discussion of racialpolitical questions. Emphasis would often be placed on Jewish aspects of 'criminality' against German interests. Before the proclamation of the Nuremberg Laws in September 1935, for example, a 'public enlightenment' programme had been instigated to demonstrate the history of Jewish 'crimes' and 'conspiracies'. A similar campaign followed the Reichskristallnacht ('Night of Broken Glass') of 9-10 November 1938 when Party activists unleashed by Goebbels and the RMVP, burnt down synagogues and vandalised thousands of Jewish shops. Nothing illustrates this intention more clearly than the use the Nazis made of film. To this end, a number of films were prepared in coordination with campaigns in the other media in an attempt to make the German people aware of the 'dangers' posed by Jewry and also to rationalise any measures that were, or might be taken, by the administration, either publicly or in secret. Anti-Jewish characters and themes recur throughout the cinema of the Third Reich. The features attributed to Jews in film propaganda can be classified as follows: they are cruel and heartless; sly and ridiculous; avaricious; unscrupulous; they fail to respect their own religion; and they seek to rule the world. In the early Kampfzeit (time of struggle) films, the Jews are shown to have deliberately fragmented German society by creating a rift between worker and government (SAMann Brand, Hitlerjunge Quex, and Hans Westmar- all 1933). However, the first two anti-Jewish films, Robert und Bertram and Leinen aus Irland (both 19 3 9), caricature the subhuman Jew within the framework of comedy. In the same year, Goebbels forbade the term 'anti-Semitic' and replaced it by 'defence against Jews' or 'opposition to Jews'. 9 In Hans H. Zerlett's Robert und Bertram, the farcical pretensions of the Jewish nouveau-riche are ridiculed. The Jewish characters are made to look ridiculous, they are shown to be cunning and deceitful but unable to conceal their ghetto origins. The central character is an embezzling Jewish councillor, Ipelmeyer, who is himself duped and robbed by two Aryan heroes of the film who are portrayed as likeable characters. Robert und Bertram was released after the Reichskristallnacht and the central message that it was permissible to Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 ANTI-SEMITIC FILM PROPAGANDA IN NAZI GERMANY 63 steal from Jews as they had acquired wealth only through theft and embezzlement, would not have gone unnoticed by German film audiences. When a guest at a masked ball in lpelmeyer's palace admires its splendour and speculates on its cost, the reply is that 'it cost a fortune, but not to Herr Ipelmeyer, it has been paid for by the people he has embezzled'. In Herbert Selpin's Carl Peters (1941), set in the 1880s, the colonial pioneer Peters (played by Hans Albers) is constantly obstructed by short-sighted Jewish politicians who require him to justify his ideals to parliamentary committees and Jewish bureaucrats in the German Foreign Office. In a scene where his Jewish adversary in the Foreign Office refuses to support his expansionist policies, Peters remarks: 'I'm in a better position to do so. Bismarck and I speak the same language. We are both from the Elbe where we were baptised. I'd rather not discuss where you were baptised'. It is a Jew who attempts to assassinate the Iron Chancellor (Bismarck, 1940). It is the Jews who prompt the Poles to commit atrocities against German minorities (Heimkehr, Homecoming, 1941). A brief exchange between the heroine in Heimkehr, Marie, the ethnic German teacher, and Salomonsson, the Jewish shopkeeper, gives some indication of how the archetypal cowardly and rootless Jew was portrayed in Nazi films. In the market-place where Marie is shopping, Salomonsson solicits her to buy from him. He is an old man with a hooked nose, wearing a long kaftan-like robe typical of all Jews. He proclaims the cheapness and quality of his goods in strong Yiddish tones, but Marie waves him away indifferently: MARIE: 'No. Salomonsson, you know very well we don't buy from Jews!'. SALOMONSSON: 'How can you be so hard, when I enjoy doing business with Germans. And why? Because you're honourable! German people are great people, a proud race. And the Fuhrer, Hitler is a great manit's only a pity he wants nothing to do with us Jews!'. MARIE: 'I'll write to him about it!' [She then brushes him aside]. 'How can you make such fun of us poor Jews, when I'm always friendly to you ... Vengeance shall come upon you!'. SALOMONSSON: Nazi propaganda could permit itself the luxury of depicting in Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 64 THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF HOLOCAUST EDUCATION every detail a situation that was an analogy of the Jewish tragedy, without risking being misunderstood by a critical and unprejudiced film audience. In reality, 'vengeance' was being heaped not on 'ethnic' Germans, but the Jews. Deportation of the Jews from Austria and Czechoslovakia to Poland had begun in October 1939 and by February 1940, some Jews were being deported as a result of 'local initiatives' from Germany to the east, although this was stopped for a while due to the strains on limited food supplies in the Generalgouvernement (the remainder of German-occupied Poland governed by Hans Frank). In 1940, three major anti-Semitic films, Die Rothschilds, ]ud Suss Uew Suss, and Der ewige Jude (The Eternal/Wandering Jew), were released to justify these measures and to convince the German population that a 'Jewish Question' did exist and needed to be 'solved'. These films, together with an intensification of anti-Jewish accusations in the radio and press, were intended to inflame and justify such a situation. They achieved their purpose by the grotesque distortion of Jewish characteristics while bluntly declaring themselves to be 'merely factual reportage' and by no means intended as propaganda. In May 1940, Goebbels informed all film-makers and critics, 'films in which Jews appear are not to be labelled as anti-Jewish. We want it to be made perfectly clear that such films are not determined by any tendentious considerations, but reflect historical facts as they are'. Die Rothschilds was first released in 1940 and rewritten and rereleased a year later with the new title, Die Rothschilds Aktion von Waterloo (The Rothschilds' Shares in Waterloo). In its final form, Erich Waschneck's film is as virulently anti-British as it is anti-Semitic. The Nazi press referred to the 'wholly historical facts' that explain the rise to power and wealth of the Rothschild family and the emergence of the 'Jewish-British Plutocracy' based on the Rothschilds' ethos that 'blood always pays off'. In accordance with the propaganda aim, the whole film is structured around the theme of Stock Exchange manoeuvres in which English bankers and the Rothschilds speculate at the expense of brave soldiers. England is shown to be a decaying society dominated by Jews, but a society that deserves to be robbed by the Jews. When Nathan Rothschilds's secretary, Bronstein, suggests 'I want to learn to be an Englishman like you', Rothschild replies: 'Nonsense! All week I'm an Englishman. On the Sabbath, I'm a Jew and do business with God!'. International business relations are por- Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 ANTI-SEMITIC FILM PROPAGANDA IN NAZI GERMANY 65 trayed in the film as a global conspiracy by Jewish finance which filters large sums of money from the emancipated European Jewish merchant ('We are the branches of Jerusalem') to the ghetto Jew who is seen to be the 'real' Jew. If German audiences failed to grasp the appropriate message, the final scene in the film, in which Nathan demonstrates the extent of Rothschild influence, heavily underscores it. He uses a map of Europe to illustrate the centres of Rothschild power and draws a family tree which, when its branches are drawn together, forms the Star of David. The film ends with the flaming star superimposed over a map of England and a final caption that declares: 'as this film was being completed, the last members of the Rothschild family are leaving Europe as refugees and escaping to their allies in England'. In Die Rothschilds, Jews are seen to pose an economic as well as a racial threat. British plutocracy, based on the capitalist ethos, is shown to be dependent upon Jewish financial support. By rejecting such an economic system and by exposing the 'Jewish problem', the film highlights the fundamental conflict between Germans, Jews, and the British, and suggests that under National Socialism these two enemies of the Reich are receiving their just deserts. The second film in this trilogy is ]ud Suss (Jew Suss), a story of Jewish machination in eighteenth-century Wiirttemberg which ends with the hanging of Siiss after he brutally rapes the Aryan heroine, and the banning of all Jews from Stuttgart. It was hailed in the press as a 'decisive breakthrough in creating cinematic art out of our National Socialist ideology' and was referred to by Goebbels as the 'first genuine anti -Semitic film'. 11 Reichsfuhrer-SS Heinrich Himmler was so impressed that he ordered every SS man and the police to see ]ud Suss. 12• Directed by Veit Harlan, the film combines Martin Luther's religiously motivated hostility towards the Jews, with Nazi racism. In an early scene, Sturm, a Councillor, warns the Grand Duke ofWiirttemberg of the Jewish 'menace' by reading aloud from Luther: 'Your Excellency should heed Luther's advice. Know dear Christ, you have no more venomous enemy than the Jew. Hear my advice. First the synagogue and then the schools should be burnt. Second, ban their prayer books. They preach idolatry and lies. Third, they should be forbidden usury.' The rest of the film details the folly of the Duke's failure to take this advice. Siiss is appointed Finance Minister and he institutes a penal system of taxes, duties, and tolls, causing great suffering among the Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 66 THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF HOLOCAUST EDUCATION people of the Duchy. Suss increasingly extends his power, obtains more and more privileges and eventually persuades the Duke to throw the city open to Jews who arrive in their thousands to the disgust of the German inhabitants. The parallel between Wiirttemberg in 1738 and Germany in 1940 could not have been missed by German film audiences. According to SD reports on the reception of the film, it succeeded in bringing together themes and archetypes that created the desired antipathy towards Jews- and it did so under the guise of entertainment that resulted in a great box-office success. Newspapers reporting on the film referred to 'a phantom that was caught in time', while the Party newspaper, the Volkischer Beobachter, saw it as a fight to the end between the 'polluting Jewish spirit and a healthy German national core'. In his diary, Goebbels commented favourably on the reception of the film and held Jud Suss to be an example of the power of the cinema to persuade. 12b The SD report of 28 November 1940, for example, noted that, 'among the scenes singled out- apart from the rape sceneis the entry of the Jews and all their belongings into Stuttgart. This scene has repeatedly prompted demonstrations against Jews. In Berlin, for example, there were shouts of "drive the Jews from the Kurfiirstendamm!" and "throw the last of the Jews out of Germany" '.U Some teachers and parents felt the film should not be shown to children because of its 'extremely powerful psychological after-effects'. However, these objections were overruled by the Propaganda Ministry which encouraged the film to be exhibited during the 'Film Hour for the Young' (jugendfilmstunde) arranged by the Hitler Youth for its members. These Jugendfilmstunden were in addition to the compulsory film events in the schools. Here, special performances of selected current feature films, invariably with overt political themes, were shown in ordinary commercial cinemas. 14 At the post-war Auschwitz trial, former SS-Rotenfuhrer Stefan Baretzki confessed that the effect of showingJud Suss was to instigate maltreatment of prisoners. 15 The film was also shown to 'Aryan' populations in eastern Europe where concentration and extermination camps were being established, to elicit hatred against evacuated Jews and in order to prevent any sympathy from being shown to them. Jud Suss was always shown in these territories when a new deportation was imminent. 16 Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 ANTI-SEMITIC FILM PROPAGANDA IN NAZI GERMANY 67 However, the most notorious of all anti-Semitic films is Der ewige Jude (The Eternal!Wandering Jew), described by the Allied Commission after the war as 'one of the most striking examples of direct Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda, probably the most vilest and subtlest of its kind ever made for popular consumption'. The film received its premiere two months after Jud Suss in November 1940. It was subtitled, 'A cinematic contribution to the problem of world Jewry'. Produced by the Deutsche Film-Herstellungs und Verwertungs, a euphemism for the Reich Propaganda Department, this documentary film was directed by Fritz Hippler, Head of Film Section of the RMVP, from an idea and with a commentary by Dr Eberhard Taubert. The concept of the 'eternal or wandering Jew' was older than National Socialism. It derived from the Christian legend of Ahasver, a Jew who prevented Jesus from resting while he was carrying the cross on His final journey. Since then, he had to travel the world without release of death. Nazi propaganda saw in this proof that other races had already persecuted the Jews. In 1937, they mounted in Munich an exhibition of 'degenerate art' under the heading of the 'Eternal Jew'. The point of resurrecting and amplifying this old legend was to demonstrate that Jews had no feelings or civilised qualities. These accusations are repeated in Der ewige Jude. By appealing to primitive, medieval conceptions of a wandering Jew bearing great epidemics of the plague in an effort to desecrate other races, the film attempts to strengthen existing prejudices and to create new ones. Since it was believed that the Jew never revealed his true face, the facts could be distorted and presented as revelations. The film runs through the whole gamut of Nazi allegations against Jews and these can be seen as a fivepronged attack which begins with scenes of the Warsaw Ghetto designed to show the reluctance of Jews to undertake creative labour; the migration of Jews and their attempts to assimilate with European peoples; the development of Jewish banking houses; the destructive influence of Jews in the Weimar Republic; and an attack on the nature of Jewish religion and its teaching, culminating in the slaughter of animals for Kosher meat. Like most effective propaganda films in documentary format, Der ewige Jude moves from the general to the specific. Thus, by the time the film has come to make detailed allegations against the Jews, the audience is already in an anti-Semitic frame of mind and entirely Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 68 THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF HOLOCAUST EDUCATION receptive to the virulent ending. By a mixture of half-truths and blatant lies, the spectator is gradually won over to at least a passive receptiveness to Nazi racial theories. Context is thus important to the internal structure of the film, but it is also important in terms of the material used. Scenes of the Warsaw Ghetto are accompanied by a commentary claiming that the Jews have always lived like that. In fact, those scenes were shot in Warsaw and !.Odz where the Nazis had herded together almost half a million Jews, sometimes 13 or more to a room, en route to extermination at Auschwitz and Treblinka. The ghetto life depicted in this film is thus entirely a creation of the National Socialists themselves. The cynicism of the exercise is confirmed by evidence that the more ruthlessly realistic shots of the ghettos were excised from the finished film lest they should arouse sympathy for the suffering Jews amongst the German population. Writing in his diary before the film had been completed when it was referred to as the 'Ghetto film', Goebbels wrote: 'and then footage of the Ghetto film. Never seen anything like it. Scenes so horrific and brutal in their explicitness that one's blood runs cold. One shudders at such barbarism. This Jewry must be eliminated' . 17 Those not convinced by these 'rational arguments' cannot fail to be affected by the thoroughgoing emotional exploitation of the film's conclusion. The culminating theme of the final section is the Jewish slaughter of animals for Kosher meat. After a title warning 'all sensitive Volksgenossen' not to look, the audience is shown 'original' film of Jewish ritual slaughter. The emotional effect of its presentation quite overshadows the scenes of violence and the final execution in ]ud Suss. The slaughter scenes are introduced by a narrative which claims: 'the following pictures are genuine. They are among the most horrifying that a camera has ever recorded. We are showing them even though we anticipate objections on the grounds of taste. Because more important than all objections is the fact that our people should know the truth about Judaism'. Press cuttings from the 'Jewish controlled press' show how, before 1933, the National Socialist campaign against ritual slaughter was hindered by liberal and socialist newspapers who defended such 'dubious practices'. The solution to Kosher slaughter is shown as a rationalisation for the Nuremberg Race Laws which are read out in some detail, followed by Hitler's speech to the Reichstag on 30 January Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 ANTI-SEMITIC FILM PROPAGANDA IN NAZI GERMANY 69 1939: 'if international financial Jewry inside and outside Europe should succeed in pushing the nations once more into a world war, then the result would not be a victory for Jewry but the destruction of the Jewish race in Europe'. The film ends with an idealised sequence of blonde Nordic stereotypes against a background of sky, Nazi salutes, and close-ups of flags and banners with a final warning that the Aryan race will only triumph if racial purity is preserved: 'the eternal law of nature, to keep the race pure, is the legacy which the National Socialist movement bequeaths to the German people in perpetuity. It is in this spirit that the nation of German people march into the future'. One interesting aspect of Der ewige jude is that by using the extract from Hitler's notorious Reichstag 'death threat' of 30 January 1939, the Party appeared, publicly for the time, to be associating Hitler with a radicalisation in the 'Jewish Question', without mentioning details of the 'Final Solution'. Throughout the 1930s, Hitler's public pronouncements on the 'Jewish Question' are cautious and surprisingly few and generally confined to the more popular 'legal' type of discrimination found in State legislation. He had, in fact, taken great pains to distance himself from the violent and generally unpopular pogrom associated with the Kristallnacht of 1938. At the height of his popularity, Hitler's hatred of the Jews, although well known, was of secondary importance to the fact that he was widely perceived as an outstandingly successful politician. So far as the general public was concerned, Hitler's views were more closely associated with legal measures that attempted to exclude Jews from economic and social life. Party activists, on the other hand, interpreted his writings and speeches as 'ideological metaphors' that provided authorisation to implement a 'final' solution to the 'Jewish problem'. By allowing himself to be shown in 1940 in such a virulently anti-Semitic film as Der ewige Jude, Hitler appeared to be deliberately associating himself with the more radical elements in the movement. 18 By means of alleged 'documentary proof', Der ewige Jude was intended as definite evidence to support not only the racialist theories expressed in films such as Die Rothschilds and ]ud Suss, but also the more vehement anti-Semitism found in magazines such as Julius Streicher's infamous Der Sturmer. By contrasting Jewish individualism and 'self-seeking' with the National Socialist ideal of a 'peoples' or 'national community' (Volksgemeinschaft) and by showing that Jews Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 70 THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF HOLOCAUST EDUCATION were only motivated by money, it was possible to demonstrate that Judaism was the total antithesis of the cherished values of the German cultural tradition as interpreted by Nazi ideology. But more importantly, the constant analogy made with rats and parasites in the film was intended to suggest, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that not only did the Jew differ from the Aryan in body, but more significantly in soul, for the Jew had no soul. The implication was that here was a menace which had to be 'resisted'. Thus, the conclusion to be drawn from watching the film was that the killing of Jews was not a crime but a necessity. After all, Jews were not human beings but pests which had to be exterminated. Der ewige jude represents a form of National Socialist 'realism' depicting not what was, but what ought to have been, in accordance with the preconceived notions of Nazi racial ideology. In a State which openly compared human beings to rats, the logical consequence of such propaganda was mass murder. The use of film for this purpose- to prepare rather than to justifywas a new departure in propaganda techniques and a measure of the success theN azis felt they had achieved in attaining their main purpose of mobilising mass support of the population for the Party and its Leader. Reports from the Secret Police to the Propaganda Ministry, however, suggested that the Germans were rather tired of anti-Semitism by the time The Eternal jew was released. ]ud Suss had been very effective, but it had also been enough. In the event, The Eternal jew was shown mainly to the populations of the occupied countries and to guards at the extermination camps before new batches of victims arrived for 'processing' and extermination. It would not have done for them of all people to think of the Jews as human beings. The purpose of illustrating anti-Semitic propaganda by means of film is to demonstrate that propaganda had its limitations, even when it could depend upon the existence of extensive latent anti-Jewish feeling for its campaigns. The public's reaction to anti-Semitic films reveals that propaganda had considerable success in persuading the population that a Jewish 'problem' existed, but equally that there was a limit to the type of virulently anti-Semitic propaganda to be found in films like Der ewige Jude and publications such as Der Sturmer. Germans did not wish to visit the cinema to be 'entertained' by films like Der ewige jude- and they made this perfectly clear. Moreover, although years of Nazi propaganda had unquestionably hardened anti-Jewish Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 ANTI-SEMITIC FILM PROPAGANDA IN NAZI GERMANY 71 feelings, there still remained a question mark in Goebbels' mind as to whether such propaganda had convinced Germans to condone open violence against the Jews. To the extent that Goebbels thought it unnecessary to repeat such an exercise, the trilogy of anti-Semitic films released in 1940 achieved their purpose. From the Nazi point of view, the Jew provided an important escape valve from serious political and economic problems. The 'image' of the Jew portrayed in the mass media as 'self-seeking' and 'parasitic' was outside the range of serious intellectual analysis, and that was its strength. In this way, racial propaganda was able to rationalise any doubts that may have existed, minimise possible dissent, and at the same time provide the emotional basis for a totalitarian solution to the 'Jewish problem'. In fact, the only evidence of antiSemitism to be found in film propaganda during the final years of the war can be seen in the Deutsche Wochenschauen (German newsreels). Occasionally the newsreels would contain some element of anti-Jewish propaganda, but generally such propaganda was not propagated through this medium. The explanation as to why overtly anti-Semitic propaganda did not figure so prominently after 1941 is closely related to the wider policy decisions that had been taken by this time. The nature of the German public's reaction to the largely unplanned Kristallnacht of 1938 had convinced the Nazi leadership that during 1940, anti-Jewish propaganda would have to be intensified in order to prepare people for the future treatment of Jews in Germany and in the occupied territories. At the same time, anti-Jewish policy would have to be better co-ordinated, more centralised and less public in its vulgar 'rabble-rousing' attempts to solve the 'Jewish Question'. Once it was agreed that there was a Jewish 'problem', solving it could be carried out by the SS with the public largely excluded. It may well be true that the 'Final Solution' did not follow a more or less 'programmed' development and that Hitler was not its prime mover. 19 What remains unchallenged, however, is that the culmination of such a policy resulted in a network of concentration and extermination camps where hundreds of thousands were confined without trial and six million Jews were slaughtered during the Second World War. Precisely at the time when persecution of the Jews was being intensified and final details of the 'final solution' arrived at (that is, in the summer Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 72 THE BRITISH JOURNAL OF HOLOCAUST EDUCATION and autumn of 1941), the SD reports were noting either boredom with, or massive indifference to, the 'Jewish Question'. Such indifference proved fatal. Interest in the fate of Jews had in fact rapidly evaporated after the Kristallnacht. Ian Kershaw has written that 'the road to Auschwitz was built by hate, but paved with indifference'. 20 It was no longer necessary after 1941 to 'publicise' the threats posed by Jews, and as a result the 'Jewish Question' became no more than of marginal importance in the formulation of popular opinion within the Third Reich. Film, the mass medium of the first half of the twentieth century, had helped to create such apathy and indifference by persuading people that they could retreat into the safety of their depoliticised private lives and leave the 'solutions' to such 'problems' to others. NOTES 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. J. Goebbels, Vom Kaiserhof zur Reichskanzlei (Munich, 1935), entry of 22 January 1932. Speech to representatives of the press on 15 March 1933, taken from Wolffs Telegraphisches Buro (WTB) press agency report of 16 March 1933 deposited in the Bundesarchive, Koblenz (hereafter, BA). C. Belling, Der Film in Staat und Partei (Berlin, 1936). Hans Hinkel had worked his way up to the rank of SS-Gruppenfuhrer by 1943. For further information of the ]udische Kulturband, see H. Freeden, ]udisches Theater in Nazi Deutschland (Leo Baeck Institute, Band 12, 1964). For recent interpretations of public reactions to the Nazi anti-Semitic campaigns, see 0. D. Kulka and A. Rodrigue, 'The German Population and the Jews in the Third Reich. Recent Publications and Trends in Research on German Society and the "Jewish Question"', Yad Vashem Studies, 16 1984), pp.421-35; 0. D. Kulka, 'Major Trends and Tendencies of German Historiography on National Socialism and the "Jewish Question" (1924-1984)', Yearbook of the Leo Baeck Institute, 30 (1985); I. Kershaw, 'The Persecution of the Jews and German Popular Opinion in the Third Reich', Yearbook of the Leo Baeck Institute, 16 (1981); K. Kweit and H. Eschwege, Selbstbehauptung und Widerstand. Deutsche Juden im Kampf um Existenz und Menschenwurde 1933-45 (Hamburg, 1984); S. Gordon, Hitler, Germans, and the 'jewish Question' (Princeton NJ, 1984); H. Mommsen, 'The Realisation of the Unthinkable: the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" in the Third Reich', Chapter 6 in G. Hirschfeld (ed.), The Policies of Genocide (London, 1986), pp.97-144. See I. Kershaw, 'How Effective Was Nazi Propaganda?', in D. Welch (ed.), Nazi Propaganda: the Power and the Limitations (London, 1983), pp.193-94. For detailed reconsideration of the question of popular attitudes towards the 'Jewish Question', and particularly the question of 'public indifference', see Kershaw's contributions, 'German Popular Opinion During the "Final Solution": Information, Comprehension, Reactions', in Y. Gelber (ed.), Comprehending the Holocaust (New York, 1987). For a wellresearched overview of the literature on euthanasia in the Third Reich, seeM. Burleigh, '"Euthanasia" in the Third Reich: Some Recent Literature', The Society for the Social History of Medicine (1991), pp.317-28. Downloaded by [Florida State University] at 18:19 25 October 2017 ANTI-SEMITIC FILM PROPAGANDA IN NAZI GERMANY 73 7. Deutschland-Berichte der Sozialdemokratischen Partei Deutschlands (Sopade) 19331940, 7 vols. (Frankfurt-am-Main 1980). 8. See H. Muth, 'Jugendopposition im Dritten Reich', Vierteljahrshefte fur Zeitgeschichte (hereafter VfZ), 30 (1982), pp. 369-417; and the excellent historiographical survey by K. Kweit, 'Zur historiographischen Behandlung der Judenverfolgung im Dritten Reich', Militargeschichtliches Mitteilung (1980), Heft 1, pp.149-92. 9. Zeitschriften Dienst (ZD), Issue 6, Nr. 222, 13 June 1939. 10. Bundesarchiv Koblenz, BA, Zsg. 102/62 (Sammlung Sanger), 3 May 1940. ZD, Issue Nr. 2390, 17 May 1940. 11. F. Taylor (ed.), The Goebbels Diaries 1939-41 (London, 1982), p.43, entry for 9 November 1939. Cf. also Goebbels diary entry for 15 December 1939, p. 67. 12a. The order is dated 30 September 1940, and is reproduced in J. Wulf (ed.), Theater und Film im Dritte.n Reich. Eine Dokumentation (Giitersloh, 1964), p.405. Goebbels later wrote in his diary: 'Himmler is at the moment carrying out the transportation of Jews from German towns to the ghettos in the east. I've ordered that extensive film documentation be made of this. We'll use this material to great effect in the subsequent education of our people': Institut fur Zeitgeschichte, Munich (hereafter IfZ), Goebbels Tagebuch, 27 April 1942. 12b. Taylor (ed.), Goebbels Diaries, 259, entry for 8 March 1941. 13. BA. R.58/156 (Akten des Reichsministerium fur Volksaufklarung und Propaganda), 28 Nov. 1940. 14. For more detailed information regarding film education in the Third Reich, see D. Welch, 'Educational Film Propaganda and the Nazi Youth', in D Welch (ed.), Nazi Propaganda. The Power and the Limitations (London, 1983), pp.65-87. 15. Quoted in E. Leiser, Nazi Cinema (London, 1974), p.85. 16. See J. Wulf (ed.), Theater und Film, pp.405-6. 17. Taylor (ed.), Goebbels Diaries, 23, entry for 17 Oct. 1939. 18. For an excellent summary of Hider's personal role in the genesis of the 'Final Solution', see I. Kershaw, 'Hider and the Holocaust', The Nazi Dictatorship. Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation (London, 1985), Ch. 5, pp. 82-105. See also the well researched article by D. Bankier, 'Hider and the Policy-Making Process in the Jewish Question', Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 3 (1988), pp.1-20. 19. See Martin Broszat's devastating critique of D. Irving's Hitler's War (London, 1977), 'Hider und die Genesis der "Endlosung". Aus Anlass der Thesen von David Irving', VfZ, 25 (1977), pp. 737-75. English translation, 'Hider and the Genesis of the "Final Solution". An Assessment of David Irving's Theses', in H. W. Koch (ed.), Aspects of the Third Reich (London, 1985), pp.390-429. See also the outstanding essay by H. Mommsen, 'The Realisation of the Unthinkable', op. cit. 20. I. Kershaw, Popular Opinion and Political Dissent. Bavaria 1933-1945 (Oxford, 1983), p.277.