How Hitler recruited the media in the war on Jews
More than any work of history in recent years, The Jewish Enemy elucidates the connection between Nazi ideology and the rationale Hitler used to justify the ferocity of Germanys genocidal war against the Jews. Focusing on Nazi Germanys use of anti-Semitic propaganda, author Jeffrey Herf documents how, from the onset of Hitlers seizure of power in 1933 until Germanys defeat in 1945, the Nazis used their control of the media to demonize the Jews. The propaganda was relentless, and the public could not help but be aware of its governments intention to annihilate the Jews. As Herf writes:
Why? Hitler was a firm believer in conspiracy theory and maintained that the Jewish question was the key to understanding the events of world history. He blamed World War II on the Jews and was convinced that a Jewish cabal operating behind the scenes was the force that drove the Allies to declare war against Germany. Following the Allied bombing of German cities, Hitler convinced the population that the Jews were bent on exterminating the German people. He presented World War II as the Jewish war in the hopes of inflaming mass opinion against the Jews inside and outside Nazi-occupied Europe.
Hitlers notion of a world Jewish conspiracy was influenced by The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He believed in the notorious forgerys contention that the governments of Europe and the United States were merely agents of the Jewish cabal determined to attain world rule. Hitler viewed Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin as instruments of this vast Jewish conspiracy, and as World War II unfolded, he made no distinction between the conventional war and the Jewish war. Goebbels propaganda machine promoted the idea that all Jews, by virtue of their race, were waging war against Germany, and that genocide was the Nazis response to international Jewry.
Herf, who is a professor of history at the University of Maryland, notes that Hitler believed that the Jews were responsible for Germanys defeat in 1918 and vowed on the eve of World War II that should the Western nations forge an alliance against Germany, it would be the Jews, and not Germany, who would be exterminated. Thus the core ideological justification for the Holocaust, states Herf, lay in Hitlers depiction of Jewry as constituting a powerful international anti-German conspiracy that was the driving force behind the world war. The Final Solution, then, contends Herf, was Hitlers punishment of the Jews for starting World War II.
This view of the Jews as Germanys mortal enemy was starkly conveyed to the German people through such vehicles of propaganda as The Word of the Week posters, an innovative form of propaganda that consisted of placards posted on walls in large urban centers throughout Germany. The prominently displayed posters relentlessly caricatured the Jews as the enemy and featured photos of prominent Jews who were identified as being agents of the cabal in the United States, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union.
The canard of a Jewish world conspiracy did not disappear with the defeat of Nazi Germany. The dissemination of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion throughout the Muslim world as a weapon in the war against Israel is the legacy of the anti-Semitic campaign waged by Hitler and his cohorts. Herf attributes the spread of the Protocols to the Middle East to the close collaboration during World War II between Amin al Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, and the Nazis. The Muslim leader urged his fellow Arabs to support Germanys war against the Allies. In a speech by Husseini to officers and imams associated with the Bosnian SS, he stressed that as far as fighting against Jewry, Islam and National Socialism have moved very close to one another. Echoing Hitler, the mufti went on to state that a victory for the Allies would constitute a victory for Jewry and thus a great danger for the Moslems and for Islam in general. Herf notes that the muftis support for Hitler effected a relationship between Nazi ideology and Islamic fundamentalism in its early years that continues to reverberate in our own day.
Herf concludes that in perusing thousands of wartime memos and private documents, he found no evidence to suggest that Hitler and his cohorts were using anti-Semitism in a cynical attempt to fool the gullible masses. Rather, Hitler and the rest of the Nazi hierarchy were in the grip of an obsession that profoundly distorted their understanding of reality . The extent and reach of Jewish power that they imagined were a projection of the extent and reach of their own power.
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