The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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By DR. HANNS MARX, Continued:

The Prosecutor has maintained that without Streicher's
incitements, which lasted for years, the German people would
not have sanctioned the persecution of the Jews and that
Himmler would not have found among the German people anyone
to carry out the measures for the extermination of the Jews.
Should, however, the defendant Streicher be made legally
responsible for this, then not only must it be proved that
the incitement, as such, was actually carried through and
results achieved in this direction but - and this is the
decisive point - conclusive proof must be produced that the
deeds which were done can be traced back to that incitement.
It is not the question of the result obtained which has
first to be proved with such certainty, but the causative
connection between incitement and result.

Now how is the influence of Der Sturmer upon the German
people to be estimated, and what picture unfolds itself in
the handling of the Jewish problem during the years between
1920 and 1944?

It is easy to recognize here three stages of development.

The first period comprises the time of the defendant's
activity between 1922 and 1st September, 1939, or February,
1940; the third the time from 1940 to the collapse.

As regards the first period, it would show a considerable
lack of appreciation of the tendencies which had already
existed in Germany for a long time, and thereby a completely
groundless exaggeration of Streicher's influence, if no
mention were made of the fact that long before Streicher
there was already a certain amount of anti-Semitism in
Germany. For instance a certain Theodor Fritsch had touched
on the Jewish question in his journal Der Hammer long before
Streicher's time, and referred especially to the alleged
menace offered by the immigration of Jewish elements from
the East which might overflow the country and acquire too
much control in it.

                                                  [Page 323]

Immediately after the end of the First World War the so-
called "German National Protective and Defensive League"
(Deutsch-Volkische Schutz and Trutzbund) appeared on the
scene which, in contrast to Der Sturmer and the movement
brought into being by Streicher, was spread over the whole
of Germany and had set as its aim the repression of Jewish
influence. Anti-Semitic groups existed in the south as well
as in the north long before Streicher. In comparison with
these large-scale efforts, Der Sturmer could only have a
regional importance. For this reason alone it is easy to see
why its influence was never at any time or in any place of
great importance.

It is a decisive fact, however, that the German nation in
its totality was not to be influenced by all these groups,
either in its business relations or in its attitude to
Jewry, and that even during the last years before the NSDAP
came to power no violent actions against the Jews were
committed anywhere by the people.

However, when towards the end of the second decade after the
First World War a considerable increase of the NSDAP became
noticeable, it was not due to anti-Semitic reasons but to
the fact that the prevailing confusion in the various
parties had been unable to show a way out of the ever-
increasing economic misery. The call for a strong man became
ever more urgent. The conviction became more and more
compelling among the broad masses that only a personality
who was not dependent on the change of majorities would be
able to master the situation.

The NSDAP knew how to exploit this general trend for its own
ends and to win over the nation, sunk in despair, by making
promises in all directions. But never did the masses think,
when electing the NSDAP at that time, that their programme
would produce such developments as we have witnessed.

With the seizure of power by the NSDAP in 1933, the second
epoch was introduced. The power of the State was exclusively
in the hands of the Party and nobody could have prevented
the use of violence against the Jewish population.

So it would have been just the right moment for the
defendant Streicher to put into effect the baiting which the
prosecution has alleged. If at that time wide circles of the
people, or at least the veteran members of the NSDAP, had
been brought up as radical Jew-haters, as stated by the
prosecution, acts of violence against the Jewish population
would necessarily have taken place on a greater scale, due
to that feeling of hatred. Pogroms on the largest scale
would have been the natural result of a truly anti-Semitic
attitude of the people. But nothing like that happened.
Apart from some minor incidents, evidently caused by local
or personal conditions, no attacks on Jews or their property
took place anywhere.

It is quite clear that a feeling of hatred for the Jewish
people did not prevail anywhere, at least up to 1933, and
the charge brought by the prosecution against the defendant,
that ever since the very start of his fight he successfully
educated the German people to hate the Jews, can thus be

The year of the seizure of power by the NSDAP also put Der
Sturmer to a decisive test. Had Der Sturmer been considered
by the broad masses of the German people as the
authoritative champion against the Jews and therefore
indispensable for that fight, an unusually large increase in
the publication would have followed. No such interest was
shown, however, in any way. On the contrary, even in Party
circles demands were made that Der Sturmer should be
discontinued entirely or at least that its illustrations,
style and tone should be altered. It became more and more
clear that the already small interest in Streicher's Jewish
policy was steadily declining.

It must be added that with the seizure of power by the Party
the total Press apparatus came under the control of the
Party, which immediately undertook to co-ordinate the Press,
i.e. to direct it from a central office in the spirit of the
National-Socialist policy and ideology. This was done
through the Minister of Propaganda and chief of the Reich
Press via the official "National Socialist Party
Correspondence." Particularly Dr. Goebbels, the Minister of
Propaganda, described by different witnesses, such as
Goering, Schirach, Neurath and others, as the most bitter
advocate of the anti-Semitic trend in the Government, is
said to

                                                  [Page 324]

have given each week to the entire German Press several anti-
Jewish leaders, which were printed by more than 3,000
dailies and illustrated papers. If in addition we take into
account that Dr. Goebbels was making broadcasts of an anti-
Semitic nature, we need no further explanation for the fact
that the interest in a one-sided anti-Semitic journal should
diminish, and that actually happened.

It is particularly significant that at that time it had been
repeatedly suggested that Der Sturmer should be suppressed
altogether. This is brought out clearly in the testimony
given by Fritzsche on 27th June, 1946, who stated in
addition that neither Streicher nor Der Sturmer had any
influence in the Ministry of Propaganda and that he was
considered to a certain extent as non-existent.

It might have been for the same reason that Der Sturmer was
not even declared a Press organ of the NSDAP, and was not
even entitled to show the Party symbol. It was looked on by
the Party and State administration, in contrast to all
papers which were considered to be of any importance, as a
private paper belonging to a private writer.

The firm which published Der Sturmer and which belonged at
that time to a certain Haerdel was not inclined, however, to
accept so quietly the fading away of its circle of readers,
for it was now aided by the fact that Streicher had become
the highest political leader in Franconia, and he knew how
to make the most of this circumstance. Already at that time
pressure was exerted on many sections of the population to
prove their loyal political attitude and trustworthiness by
subscribing to Der Sturmer. The witness Fritzsche has also
alluded to this circumstance and stated that many Germans
only decided to subscribe to Der Sturmer because they
thought it would be a means of paving the way for their
intended membership of the Party.

So as not to give a false impression of the circulation
figures of Der Sturmer during the years 1923 to 1933, the
following analysis will show the different stages of its

In the years 1923 to 1935 Der Sturmer was able to increase
its circulation from some 3,000 to some 10,000 copies, and
this went up again to some 20,000 shortly before the seizure
of power. On the average, however, between 1923 and 1931 the
circulation was only some 6,000 copies. With the seizure of
power, by the end of 1934 it had reached an average of some
28,000 copies. It was only in 1935 that Der Sturmer became
the property of the defendant Streicher, who, according to
his statement, bought it from the widow of the previous
owner for some RM 40,000 not a very large sum. From 1935 on
the management of the business was taken over by an expert,
who succeeded by clever canvassing in increasing the
circulation to well over 200,000 copies, and this figure was
later increased still further until it reached more than
double. The relatively low circulation figures for Der
Sturmer up to the beginning of 1935 show that, despite the
Party's rise to power, popular interest in Der Sturmer
existed only to a small extent. The extraordinary increase
in the circulation which began in 1935 is to be traced back
to the adroit canvassing methods already mentioned which
were carried out by the new director Fink. The use of the
Labour Front shown in the proclamation of Dr. Ley in No. 36
of Der Sturmer, 1935 - which, Mr. President, I have taken
the liberty of submitting as an exhibit - and the
acquisition thereby of many thousands of forced subscribers
must be ascribed to the personal relations of the manager
Fink with Dr. Ley.

In that connection I further refer to a quotation from the
Pariser Tageblatt of 29th March, 1935, which is printed in
Der Sturmer of May, 1935. Here, too, it is stated that the
increase of Der Sturmer's circulation cannot be ascribed to
the desire of the German people for such kind of spiritual
food. It is neither presumable nor probable in any way that
the compulsory subscription to Der Sturmer, forced on the
members of the Labour Front in such a manner, could have
actually turned the subscribers into readers of the Sturmer
and followers of its line of thought. On the contrary, it is
known that bundles of Der Sturmer in their original

                                                  [Page 325]

were stored in cellars and attics and that they were brought
to light again only when the paper shortage became more

When, therefore, the defendant Streicher wrote in his paper
in 1935 - Exhibit GB 169 - that the 15 years' work of
enlightenment of Der Sturmer had already attracted to
National Socialism an army of a million "enlightened"
members, he claimed a success for which there was no
foundation whatsoever. The men and women who joined the
Party after 1933 did not apply for membership as a result of
the so-called enlightenment work of Der Sturmer, but either
because they believed the Party's promises and hoped to
derive advantages from it, or because by belonging to the
Party, as the witness Severing expressed it, they wanted to
insure for themselves immunity from political persecution.

The sympathy for the Party and its leadership very soon
decreased considerably. So the defendant Streicher too lost
authority and influence to an ever-increasing extent even in
his own district of Franconia, at least from 1937 on. The
reasons for this are sufficiently known:

Toward the end of 1938 he saw himself deprived of
practically all political influence even in his own
district. The controversy between him and Goering ended with
the victory of the latter. Hitler, on pressure by the
defendant Goering, had dropped Streicher completely, as the
Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe at that time was
naturally more important and far more influential than the
Gauleiter Streicher. The defendant even had to tolerate
that, the aryanization being carried out in the district of
Franconia was checked as to its correctness by a special
commission sent by Goering. In the course of the year 1939
Streicher was completely pushed aside and was even forbidden
to talk in public. At the outbreak of the war, in contrast
to all other Gauleiter, he was not even appointed to the
position of Wehrkreiskommissar of his own district.

During the last phase, in the war years, the defendant
Streicher had no political influence whatsoever. As from
February, 1940, he was relieved of his position as a
Gauleiter and lived on his estate in Pleickershof, cut off
from all connections. Even Party members were forbidden to
visit him. Since the end of 1938 he had no connections
whatsoever with Hitler, by whom he had been completely cast
off from that time on.

In what way now did Der Sturmer exert any influence during
the war period?

It can be said that during the war Der Sturmer no longer
attracted any attention worth mentioning. The gravity of the
times, the anxiety for relatives in the theatres of war, the
battles at the front, and finally the heavy air attacks
completely diverted the German people's interest from
questions dealt with in Der Sturmer. The people were weary
of the continuous repetition of the same assertions. The
best proof of how little Der Sturmer was desired as reading
matter can be seen in the fact that in restaurants and caf‚s
Der Sturmer was always available on the news stands, whereas
other papers and magazines were always in use.

The circulation figures decreased steadily and unceasingly
in those years. The influence of Der Sturmer in the
political sphere became non-existent. During the periods
just mentioned Der Sturmer was rejected by large circles of
the population from the very start. Its crude style, its
often objectionable illustrations and its one-sidedness
aroused manifold displeasure. There can be no longer any
question of influence being exercised by Der Sturmer upon
the German people or even upon the Party.

Although the German people for years had been deluged with
Nazi propaganda, or rather because of that very fact, a
journal such as Der Sturmer could exert no influence upon
its inner attitude.

Had the German people - as is maintained by the prosecution
- actually been saturated with the spirit of fanatical
racial hatred, other factors certainly would have been far
more responsible for it than Der Sturmer and would have
contributed far more essentially to a hostile attitude
towards the Jews.

But nothing of such nature can be established. The general
attitude of the German people was not anti-Semitic, at any
rate not in such a way or to such a

                                                  [Page 326]

degree that they would have desired or approved of the
physical extermination of the Jews. Even official Party
propaganda with regard to the Jewish problem had exerted no
influence upon the broad masses of the German people,
neither had it educated them in the direction desired by the
State leadership.

This is shown by the fact that it was necessary to issue a
number of legal decrees in order to segregate the German
population from the Jewish. The first example of this is the
so-called Law for the Protection of German Blood and German
Honour of September, 1935, by the provisions of which any
racial intermingling of German people with the Jewish
population was subjected even to the death penalty. The
passing of such laws would not have been necessary if the
German people had been predisposed to an anti-Semitic
attitude, for they would then of their own accord have
segregated themselves from the Jews.

The law for the elimination of the Jews from German economic
life, promulgated in November, 1938, was on the same line.
In a people hostile towards the Jews, any trade with Jewish
circles would have necessarily ceased and their business
would have automatically come to a standstill. But the
intervention of the State was needed to eliminate Jewry from
the economic life.

The same conclusion can be drawn from the reaction of the
greater part of the German populace to the demonstrations
carried out against the Jews during the night from 9th to
10th November, 1938.

It is proved that these acts of violence were not committed
spontaneously by the German people but that they were
organized and executed with the aid of the State and Party
apparatus upon instructions of Dr. Goebbels in Berlin.

The result and the effect of these State-directed
demonstrations - which in a cynical way were depicted for
effect abroad as an expression of the indignation of the
German people at the assassination of the secretary of the
Embassy in Paris, von Rath - were totally different from
that visualised by the originators of this demonstration.

These acts of violence and excesses, based upon the lowest
instincts, found unanimous aversion in the circles of the
Party and even of its leadership. Instead of creating
hostility towards the Jewish population they roused pity and
compassion with their fate. Hardly any other measure taken
by the NSDAP was ever rejected so generally. The effect upon
the public was so marked that the defendant Streicher in his
capacity as "Gauleiter" found it necessary in an address in
Nuremberg to give a warning against exaggerated sympathy for
the Jews. According to his statement he did not do this
because he approved of these measures but only in order to
strengthen by his influence the heavily impaired prestige of
the Party.

Previously, as it appears from the testimony of the witness
Fritz Herrwerth examined here, he gave a refusal to SA
Obergruppenfuehrer von Obernitz to take part personally in
the planned demonstration, and called it useless and
prejudicial. He publicly expressed this point of view later
also, during a meeting of the League of Jurists at
Nuremberg. In doing so he risked placing himself in open
opposition to the official policy of the State.

All these facts show that despite the anti-Jewish propaganda
carried on by the Government, actual hostility against the
Jewish population did not exist among the people themselves.
Thus it is proved already that neither Streicher's
publications in Der Sturmer nor his speeches had the
inciting effect upon the German people in the sense
maintained by the prosecution. Therefore, the general
attitude of the German nation provides no proof of
incitement to hatred of the Jews, successfully carried out
by the defendant Streicher and leading to criminal results.
The prosecution, however, has further supported its
accusation by the specific assertion that only a nation
educated to absolute hatred of Jews by men like the
defendant could approve of such measures as the mass
extermination of Jews. Thereby the charge is made against
the whole of the German people that they knew about the
extermination of the Jews and approved of it, a charge

                                                  [Page 327]

the severity and consequences of which on the whole future
of the German nation it is impossible to estimate.

But did the German nation really approve of these measures?

Proceedings can only be approved of if they are known.
Therefore, should this assertion of the prosecution be
considered as proved, then logically it must also be
considered as proved that the German nation actually had
knowledge of these occurrences.

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