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Streicher, Julius

Streicher, Julius

[FEBRUARY 12, 1885–OCTOBER 16, 1946]

Nazi Party's primary anti-Semitic propagandist

Julius Streicher was the most visible and prolific anti-Semitic propagandist for the Nazi Party. Unlike Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, and Joseph Goebbels, who focused on a number of policy issues besides anti-Semitism, Streicher's career was single-minded in its devotion to rousing hatred against the Jews. From the founding of his weekly newspaper Der Stürmer (The Stormer) in 1923 to its final issue in February 1945, his slogan remained, "The Jews are our misfortune."

Streicher served with distinction in World War I. Like many others, he found it hard to accept the fact that Germany lost the war despite the country's enormous efforts. The Jews became his scapegoat. After joining several anti-Semitic organizations, Streicher brought his personal following of approximately five thousand to the Nazi Party in 1922, nearly doubling the membership of the party and earning Hitler's lasting gratitude. Streicher became the Nazi leader in the Nuremberg area, maintaining that position until he was deposed in 1938 for financial and personal irregularities.

Der Stürmer's circulation increased dramatically after 1933, reaching about 500,000 by the mid-1930s. Special editions on topics such as the alleged Jewish world conspiracy or ritual murder had print runs as high as two million. Many of Streicher's readers even proudly posted copies of each issue in display cases. He also owned a publishing house that produced three anti-Semitic children's books, an anti-Semitic teacher's guide, and several pseudo-scholarly works on the Jews.

Streicher chaired the April 1, 1933, Nazi boycott of Jewish shops and professionals. He had no other official role in Nazi anti-Jewish policy. However, Der Stürmer constantly attacked the Jews. It accused thousands of Jews, by name, of various crimes ranging from embezzlement to rape. Streicher took particular interest in sensational sexual accusations, earning the mocking title of "the national pornographer of the Third Reich." He also attacked any non-Jews who had contact with Jews. Between 1934 and 1938 Der Stürmer named more than 6,500 Germans for offenses such as buying from Jewish firms or attending Jewish funerals. These accusations often had unpleasant consequences, so Streicher made a major contribution to the climate of intimidation that made Germans who did not share Nazi views reluctant to protest.

Although Streicher called for the annihilation of the Jews as early as the 1920s, such calls increased dramatically once the war began. One of his children's books, published in 1940, stated: "[T]he Jewish question will only be solved when Jewry is destroyed" (Hiemer, 1940, p. 74). He made many similar comments in Der Stürmer.

Many Germans found Streicher's material and style repellent, but he was widely appreciated by the worst anti-Semitic elements. More than that, he provided a convenient excuse for others, who could justify their anti-Jewish attitudes by thinking that they were less crude than Streicher's.

Streicher was tried by the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal after the war, along with other such leading Nazis as Hermann Göring and Albert Speer, and sentenced to death by hanging for the widespread effects of his anti-Semitic propaganda. Although the court concluded that Streicher played no direct role in the Holocaust, it found that his propaganda was a crime against humanity that set the stage for Nazi genocide.

SEE ALSO Anti-Semitism; Derstürmer; Nuremberg Trials; Propaganda

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bytwerk, Randy L. (2001). Julius Streicher. New York: Cooper Square Press.

German Propaganda Archive. Translations of Streicher's writing available from http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa.

Hiemer, E. (1940). Der Pudelmopsdackelspinscher. Nuremberg, Germany: Der Stürmer Buchverlag.

Schowalter, D. E. (1982). Little Man, What Now?: Der Stürmer in the Weimar Republic. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books.

Randall L. Bywerk

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