The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
2nd July to 15th July 1946

One Hundred and Seventy-Seventh Day: Friday, 12th July, 1946
(Part 2 of 8)

[Page 322]

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 dropped.

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 development.

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 wrappings

[Page 325]

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

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 cafs 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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