With the end of World War I and during the Weimar Republic, nationalist and anti-Semitic tendencies permeated society. After the failed National Socialist putsch of November 1923, Adolf Hitler, in the inflammatory pamphlet Mein Kampf, singled out the Jew as a “world enemy” and even as a “parasite in the body of other peoples” and called for a “struggle” against him. Just 10 years later and less than two months after the seizure of power on January 30, 1933, the first concentration camp was set up in Dachau on March 20, 1933.

For the rapid penetration of society with Nazi ideology, the Reich Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda under Joseph Goebbels primarily used radio to influence the masses and bring the party and state into line. On April 24, 1933, he declared over the radio that “the radio should hammer and chisel people until they become slaves to us.”

Earlier, in Darmstadt, as the first city in the German Reich, Jewish stores were closed for 24 hours on March 28, 1933, justifying this with alleged hate propaganda by foreign Jews. In university towns, books by Jewish and other authors were thrown into the fire and their works entered in a “directory of undesirable and harmful literature.” Civil servants were dismissed from the civil service and artists were excluded from cultural life.

More and more often, inflammatory speeches by Hitler, Goebbels and others were broadcast over the radio. Julius Streicher agitated viciously against Jews in the combat magazine “Der Stürmer” and in 1938 published the book “Der Giftpilz” (The Poisonous Mushroom) with invective caricatures as a supposed “mood book for young and old”.

After the seizure of power in 1933, propaganda minister Goebbels adapted the film industry to the goals of the Nazi dictatorship. Newsreels now had to serve propaganda and disinformation, but above all, quite a few anti-Semitic films were produced, such as “Jud Süß” (1940). Radio, publishing and the film industry had an important accompanying function in the political and propagandistic repression and elimination of Jews.

In addition, the National Socialists enacted the Nuremberg Laws or Race Laws in 1935. For this purpose, Friedrich Wilhelm Euler from Bensheim had compiled data on mixed marriages and Jewish mongrels for the Reich Ministry of the Interior from 1933 and statistics on Jewish baptisms and mixed marriages for the police and Gestapo in 1936. With the “Nuremberg Laws”, the National Socialists now also created legal conditions for the intensified persecution, expulsion and extermination of Jewish fellow citizens. The laws met with widespread approval, including the obligation to wear the so-called Jewish star from the fall of 1939 as an outwardly visible sign of exclusion.


Fig. 1: The first Nazi concentration camp in Dachau, today a memorial (source: Dachau 1991, Francisco Santos, via Wikimedia Commons).
Fig. 2: Ernst Hiemer, Der Giftpilz, edited by Julius Streicher, Nuremberg: Verlag Der Stürmer, 1938. (Source: Der Giftpilz cover, Julius Streicher, via Wikipedia Commons)
Fig. 3: “Jud Süß” movie poster, 1940 (Source: Jud Süss, Shawshots, via alamy.de).
Fig. 4: Nuremberg Laws (source: Nuremberg Laws, public domain, via Wikipedia Commons)
Fig. 5: Scheme for “Aryan Proof” (Source: Nuremberg Laws, in the public domain, via Wikipedia Commons)