Western Michigan University Student Research Paper

How Much Did the Germans Know about
the Final Solution?: An Examination of Propaganda
in the Third Reich

by Melissa A. Braman

In 1925, while Adolf Hitler was serving a short sentence in jail for his failed Beer Hall Putsch, he wrote in Mein Kampf, “With the year 1915 enemy propaganda began in our country, after 1916 it became more and more intensive till finally, at the beginning of the year 1918, it swelled to a positive flood.” Hitler, a soldier of World War I, had experienced first hand the power of propaganda during the war. With the failure of Germany to counter-act the Allied propaganda, Hitler noted, “The army gradually learned to think as the enemy wanted it to.”[1]

Hitler applied this same concept to promoting the rhetoric of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP). He was able to give the impression that the Nazi movement was huge and unstoppable. The Nazis would saturate campaigning in certain districts for a week, especially in areas where there was likely to be a breakthrough. Through this first basic propaganda element, the NSDAP was able to gain national attention, while leaving the other parties in their shadows.[2]

The implementation of this concept can be seen in a collector’s series of photographs titled “Deutschland erwacht. Werden, Kampf, und Sieg der NSDAP. (Germany awakens. Progress, Struggle, and Victory of the NSDAP).” In particular, picture 83 of group 32, titled “Propagandamarsch, München 1932 nach der Aufhebung des Uniformverbotes. (Propaganda march, Munich 1932, after the repeal of the uniform ban),” sold the concept of a wide spread party, full of power and strength. The image shows the streets lined by Germans, while the SA, marches in perfect precision down the middle of the street, being led by the National Socialist flag. The image is taken from the air heightening the awe of the viewer in sighting the unending line of both Nazis and their supporters.[3]

The Nazi Party and Hitler entered a political realm, where Germany had been tormented by the outcomes of World War I and citizens were looking for answers. One problem residents had faced was hyperinflation. When the war ended in 1914, the exchange rate for the U.S. Dollar was 4.21 marks. By January 1922 the exchange was 191.81 marks. By January 1923 the exchange was 17, 972 marks and finally by December 1923 the exchange rate was 4.2 trillion marks to 1 U.S. dollar. This instability made waves in society allowing the extremist party of National Socialism to take root.[4]


Weighing in on Germans’ fears of these past events, Hitler presented many reforms to the German masses within the Programm der NSDAP (Program of the NSDAP) on February 24, 1920. Included was the union of Greater Germany based on self-determination, abolition of the Treaty of Versailles, formation of a national army, and tight control of the national press for the national welfare. Most important of all these points is number four, “Staatsbürger kann nur der sein, wer Volksgenosse ist. Volksgenosse kann nur sein, were deutschen Blutes ist, ohne Rücksicht auf Konfession. Kein Jude kann daher Volksgenosse sein. (Only members of the German nation may be citizens of the State. Only those of German blood, whatever their creed, may be members of the nation. Accordingly, no Jew may be a member of the nation).” Hitler and the Nazi Party used the Jewish population of Germany as their scapegoat by blaming them for all of the country’s sorrows and extensive problems. Hitler saw the Aryan race as the founders of culture, and the Jews as the destroyers of culture. The question of how to deal with the Jewish population within Germany would continue to dominate the agenda of the Nazi Party following the election of Adolf Hitler as chancellor in 1933.[5]

The anti-Semitism pushed by the Nazi Party had elements of religious, economic, political, and racial explanations. The new racist element was a result of “eugenic” research that scientifically proved the existence of inferior races. These elements encouraged the conclusion that the Jews were unchangeable and impossible to integrate into the German population. As a result, Nazi propaganda pushed that Germany’s future depended on eradicating them; it was a simple matter of “life or death.” Either Germany or the Jews would have to perish.[6]

There are two questions that have plagued historians since the fall of the Third Reich. The first is the question over whether mass extermination was the original goal of the Nazis or if it developed over time. The second question is in regards to the mass extermination that eventually took place; how much did the general German public really know? In short, the Final Solution (die Endlösung) was the result of a policy that developed over time with increasing violence. Regardless of the increasing violence and eventual mass extermination of the Jews, the general public had little knowledge of the Jews’ fate, based on the weekly newspaper reports from the time. This paper will demonstrate the lack of reporting of the Final Solution within the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung during the years of 1938 – 1943, while utilizing additional sources available in the Edwin W. Polk and Howard Mowen NSDAP Collection of Western Michigan University Library’s Special Collections.[7]

The first violence against the Jews occurred immediately after Hitler took power in 1933. Both members of the Sturmabteilung (SA) and the Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth) participated in smashing windows of Jewish businesses under the organization of local Gauleiters. During this same time period, Jews were removed from civil service and German public life. This discrimination was officially outlined in the 1935 Nuremburg Law, which defined the distinction between Jews and non-Jews, and also banned marriage between Jews and those of German blood. This was then followed by the night of mayhem, Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass) on November 9-10, 1938, which was a coordinated attack on the Jewish people and their property. The destruction was a joint effort by the Hitler Youth, the Gestapo (Secret State Police), and the Schutzstaffel (SS).[8]

It was, however, after the annexation of Austria, that the Nazi government established special centers in order to facilitate emigration. All ministers were forced into promoting the program and on January 24, 1939 Herman Göring wrote to Reich Minister of the Interior Wilhelm Frick outlining the Reich Office for Jewish Emigration’s responsibilities.

The Reich Office shall assume the following responsibilities for the territory of the entire Reich: 1.) to take all measure to promote increased Jewish emigration; 2.) to coordinate emigration, which includes giving preference to the emigration of poorer Jews; 3.) to speed up the emigration process in particular cases.[9]

However, as the office continued this operation they realized that other nations still suffering from the Great Depression were not accepting droves of Jewish immigrants and that there was not enough money from the government or the Jewish citizens themselves for relocation. The most infamous of all these stories is the voyage of the M.S. St. Louis, which departed from Hamburg, Germany on May 13, 1939 with 938 passengers of which all but one were refugees. Upon arrival in Havana, Cuba, on May 27, the vast majorities were denied entry. This was due to struggles within from the Great Depression, growing hostility toward immigrants, and anti-Semitism within Cuba. Despite being reported on heavily in the United States Press, only a few journalists and American citizens suggested they be admitted into the United States. With nowhere left to go, the ship sailed back to Europe on June 6.

 At this time the Nazis were only dealing with the Jewish populations of Germany and their recently annexed areas, Austria and the Sudetenland. However, in what has famously become known as Hitler’s prophesy, those paying attention soon realized that more would be coming. In a speech to the Reichstag on January 30, 1939, Hitler stated, “Wenn es dem internationalen Finanzjudentum in und außerhalb Europas gelingen sollte, die Völker noch einmal in einen Weltkrieg zu stürzen, dann wird das Ergebnis nicht der Sieg des Judentums sein, sondern die Vernichtung der jüdischen Rasse in Europa!” (If international Jewry in and outside Europe once again force the nations into a World War the result would not be Bolshevization of the earth and victory for the Jews but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe).” This quote implied that if there was a war coming it would be caused by the Jews, and that the Jewish goal would be the destruction of Germany, but would actually result in their own destruction.[10]

This threat would soon be tested seven short months later as the Germans launched World War II with the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. With the invasion and quick victory the Nazis gained two million Jews in addition to those still within Germany. On March 12, 1940, Hitler declared that the Jewish question was a matter of space and he had none. Invasions of Denmark and Norway in April 1940, and then France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands on May 10, 1940, were underway before an answer of what to do with the Polish Jews could be found.[11]

Following quick German victories in all these campaigns the Nazis had gained an additional five million Jews. Various solutions were discussed, including using Madagascar as a Jewish haven and using them for work labor, but there was little action behind these ideas. It was therefore, the invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 in Operation Barbarossa that violent actions against the Jews occurred in mass quantity. These actions moved feelings toward mass extermination. The invasion included a new force, the Einsatzgruppe, which followed behind the invading German army.[12]

The Einsatzgruppen, were trained to kill civilians who were dissenters of the Nazi Party including Jews, communists, intellectuals, and others. The focus eventually switched completely to the Soviet Jews. In action from June 1941 until late 1942 the typical procedure was to round up large numbers of Jews, force them to dig their own mass grave, disrobe themselves, and finally kill them in a stream of machine gun fire. Nonetheless, there was never a systematic procedure put into place and the power was left to officers in the field to decide who lived and who died. By mid-August a new level was reached when children were included alongside men and women in mass extermination.[13]

Photographers and reporters following the rapidly moving front in the Soviet Union caught few photos of the described actions. One photographer, Hugo Pfeiffer of Itzehoe, Germany, captured images of both battles and the aftermath, in the Soviet Union, including images of prisoners. These photos were then printed and supplemented by his captions on the back. A set of three photographs he captured of Soviet prisoners near Leningrad in 1941, tells the story of how these men were viewed and identified by Germans. All three men appear in a Soviet uniform with no identifying buttons or badges, and are merely waiting around.

However his captions on the back state a different idea, “Noch so ein prahletexemplar (Another one of those prize examples)” and “Nitschenor, Stalin Kaputt (No good, Stalin Kaputt),” accompany two of the three pictures. However, the third picture is identified with, “Ich bin ein Jüd!! (I am a Jew).” One can only speculate the reasoning behind his interpretation for identifying this man as a Jew, but obviously the stereotypical large nose of the Russian would aid him in reaching this conclusion. Regardless, of how or why this man was set aside and categorized as a Jew, the fact that he is singled out as a Jew displays the anti-Semitism of the German photographer and the men undoubtedly in the Einsatzgruppen.[14]

Due to the inefficiency of the system and the toll it was having on the men of the Einsatzgruppen involved, a different solution to the Jewish problem would soon be devised through the work of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) office, under the leadership of Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich. The task became Heydrich’s following Göring’s infamous Ermächtigung (authorization) on July 31, 1941.

In completion of the task entrusted to you in the edict dated January 24, 1939, of solving the Jewish question by means of migration or evacuation in the most convenient way possible, given the present conditions, I herewith charge you with making all necessary preparations with regard to organizational, practical, and financial aspects for an overall solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe.
Insofar as the competencies of other central organizations are affected, these should be involved.
I further charge you with submitting to me promptly an overall plan of the preliminary organizational, practical, and financial measures for the execution of the intended final solution of the Jewish question.[15]

Once this power was granted to Heydrich, he received the full responsibility of the Jewish question as his own personal task.

Therefore, it was through this authorization that Heydrich entrusted Adolf Eichmann with drafting invitations to various government ministries involved in the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.” Finally, on January 20, 1942 in a villa located in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee, key officials met for the Wannsee Conference and those in attendance made little or no objections to Heydrich’s plans for the Jews.[16]

According to Eichmann’s testimony in Jerusalem, the main intentions for Heydrich calling the meeting was to speed up the process since “all the offices were always trying, for departmental reasons, to delay things and make reservations” and “to press through, on the highest level, his will and the will of the Reichsfürer-SS and Chief of the German Police.” The protocol identified a population of around 11 million Jews in German occupied lands and the best tactics for achieving a final solution.[17] 

Most historians disregard the Wannsee Conference as a turning point towards mass extermination due to the rising violence prior to its inception. However, the meeting does signify the switch from machine gun small-scale killing to large-scale death camps and crematoria. Despite this final push for complete Jewish extermination by the Nazis, the general public still had little knowledge of the Final Solution since the weekly newspapers of the time, including the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung (BIZ) contained no information on the extensive camp system and mass slaughter. This lack of news coverage was due to a combination of factors: the press was under the control of the Nazis; the final solution was considered a secret Reich matter (Geheime Reichssache); there was a desensitization of the German population to the Jews following years of propaganda; the NSDAP lower officials pushed for genocide as a means of gaining power in the party; and the German population and government remained continuously focused on the war effort.

The German citizens relied on the German press to stay informed about the Nazi Party activities, which included the increasing violence towards the Jews. Radios and film would later also play important roles in sharing information, as cheap radios became mass-produced. Despite these various news sources, overall German trust stayed with newspapers due to their history of reliability and credibility. One such newspaper was BIZ. It was established in 1891 and was an illustrated weekly magazine that was known for its photojournalism.

It was a prevalent newspaper that appealed to the general public and reached its height of popularity between 1924 and 1933, becoming the leading German illustrated weekly in terms of circulation. It’s influence into the war years is demonstrated in the July 29, 1940 issue of Facts in Review, published by the German Library of Information in New York, where the BIZ is included in a photomontage of “Popular German Magazines and Periodicals.” The accompanying article stated, “Picture weeklies, such as the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, still satisfy in an interesting manner the needs of the mass of German readers for the pictorial representation of current events.” The author’s choice to choose BIZ amongst the numerous other available illustrated newspapers displays its prominence amongst the general population.[18]

The newspaper was printed in black and white and offered a large number of photographs with accompanying captions, weekly cartoons, a small section of brain teasers (Rätsel), and excerpts from contemporary novels. Coverage in the newspaper ranged from current German and global issues to special stories on other countries, cultures, and themes. During the early years of appeasement and war (1938-1939), a typical BIZ was around 40-50 pages, however, as paper became scarce (1940-1943) the newspaper dwindled down to around 20-30 pages, and finally by the end of World War II (1944-1945) the paper became much shorter and at times unavailable. 

Due to this reliance on public institutions to gain information, the NSDAP established the Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda (RMVP). Dr. Joseph Goebbels was the Reichspropagandaleiter, the head of the party propaganda apparatus. The ministry officially began working in 1933 with five divisions; propaganda, radio, press, motion pictures, and theater. Hitler believed that, “It (the State) must particularly exercise strict control over the press; for its influence on these people is by far the strongest and most penetrating, since it is applied, not once in a while, but over and over.” These areas of focus were chosen in order to gain the most control over the aspects of communication that were essential to the German population. Inclusion of the press as early as 1933 emphasizes this important role.[19] 

The press was under the control of both the State and the Party, therefore the boundaries were unclear. Goebbels, Josef Dietrich, and Joachim von Ribbentrop maintained control for the state, while party control was sustained under Goebbels, Dietrich, and Max Amann. In 1935, Goebbels outlined the system,

Take the control of the press: that we do through the state. For the party cannot do that since it lacks both the means and the legal authority. The press obeys me as a minister. If I went to it as Reich Propaganda Leader, it would say: You have no legal authority. Say, however, that we want to fill the Tempelhof Field with people. That is the job of the party. When we want to reach the people with a propaganda campaign through meetings, the party is responsible. When we want to do it through the press, the ministry handles it. The whole influence over public opinion remains in our hands in either case.[20]

Essentially, despite the two competing factions, the press was under the complete control of the party. Therefore, what they wished to have reported in the press was included, and what they wished to have left out, was ignored. Max Amann testified at the Nuremburg Trials, on October 23, 1945, that by October 1941 two-thirds of the larger and medium sized papers in Germany were controlled by the state.

Goebbels stressed the importance of the relationship between the press and the government on March 15, 1933. Right after being named Propaganda Minister, he declared to the press,

You should obviously get your information here, but you should also get your instructions. You should know not only what is happening but also what the Government is thinking and how you can most usefully explain this to the people. We want to have a press that works with the Government, just as the Government wants to work with the press.[21]

This statement stresses the fact that what is important is not the issue, but how the government views the issue for the people. Instead of the facts being presented to the Germans from the source, the government first filtered them in order to match the government’s seal of approval. To ensure that this continually occurred, the Propaganda Ministry held a daily noon press conference, sometimes attended by up to 150 journalists, to push the news the Ministry viewed as most important.

 Censorship was accomplished through the Propaganda Ministry’s Reich Chamber of Press, which assumed control over the Reich Association of the German Press. Measures were laid out in the Editorial Control Law of October 4, 1933, that excluded Jews and those married to Jews from the profession of journalism. As a result, BIZ was nationalized in 1934, and the Jewish editor-in-chief, Kurt Korff, was fired. This allowed the party to not only remove Jews from places of power, but also to halt any type of possibility that there could be reporting from someone active in the Jewish community who would be facing the discrimination first hand. Not only was the editor forced out but also the owner, Leopold Ullstein. The Ullsteins were a Berlin Jewish family and among the largest publishers in Germany. After losing control of the paper in 1934, continued publication was facilitated by the publishing house of Deutscher Verlag, Berlin.[22]

In addition, under the Editors Law, editors were made legally responsible for the content of their newspapers. In 1937, Harald Lechenperg became editor-in-chief of BIZ, and would maintain control throughout the war. He was an active member of the Nazi Party, joining the Austrian Nazi Party in 1933. In order to obtain the position he had to be a member of the Reichsverband der Deutschen Presse (Reich League of the German Press) and was expected to follow all the mandates and instructions given to him by the ministry. The law went so far as to even require that editors omit anything “calculated to weaken the strength of the Reich abroad or at home.” As a result a system of self-censorship was incorporated into the newspapers in order for journalists and editors to maintain their jobs.[23]

Above all, was the fact that Goebbels believed that of all the other offices in the Reich, his was the most important and the most influential,

I believe that when a propaganda ministry is created, all matters affecting propaganda, news and culture within the Reich and within the occupied areas must be subordinated to it. I emphasized that I insist in totalitarianism in carrying out the propaganda and news policies of the Reich.[24]

The idea was that regardless of what the people or the press wanted, Goebbels and his Propaganda Ministry would make the final decision regarding anything and everything, which would and could be included.

The success of the German propaganda machine was recognized by the Allied powers and as a result the United States Office of War Information acknowledged the value of creating leaflets to drop over Axis troops. The leaflet, “Propaganda and Wirklichkeit (Propaganda and Reality)” attempted to break through the lies of the press and notify German, Soviet, Austrian, and Polish troops of the truth behind the Normandy invasion. The cover featured on the left, a quote from Hitler that guaranteed that no matter where Churchill opened a second front, he would be lucky to remain on land for nine hours. On the right was a photo of the Normandy invasion with the caption, “Diese Photographie wurde von einem Alliierten Kriegsberichter aufgenommen – neun Stunden nach den ersten Landungen in der Normandie. (This photograph was taken by an Allied war correspondent – nine hours after the first landing in Normandy).” For most of the men fighting, this would certainly have been their first notification of the success of the invasion.[25]

The BIZ fits perfectly into the “ideal” newspaper for Nazi propaganda. It related well with the masses, which was the ideal group that the Nazi party hoped to win over. This concept was stressed since the early years of the party, “To whom should propaganda be addressed? To the scientifically trained intelligentsia or to the less educated? It must be addressed always and exclusively to the masses.” The readers from this newspaper would most likely be those that think little about what they are reading and would believe everything. This is because the newspaper’s focus is not only on political or world items, but also, often on more relaxed culture stories, addressing the current films and changing fashion trends, much like a modern Life magazine. The reason behind this demographic choosing BIZ as their source of news information implies that they are not highly interested in politics and therefore what they are presented with through the articles, due to disinterest; they would readily accept.[26]

Like Life magazine, BIZ presents the majority of its articles through photojournalism. This emphasizes a typical type of reader, one who wishes to gain knowledge quickly and with little effort. Hitler emphasizes this point in the power of film, “Here a man needs to use his brain even less; it suffices to look or at most to read extremely brief texts, and thus many will more readily accept a pictorial presentation than read an article of any length.” In spite of this being a newspaper, the articles often read more like a film than press due to the power of the photos chosen which grab the reader’s attention immediately before the words or events are even considered.[27]

The most powerful example of this is BIZ’s reporting on Kristallnacht. In a two page spread printed on November 17, 1938 with the headlines “Der 9. November in München (The 9th of November in Munich)” and “Nach dem Mord in Paris (After the Murder in Paris),” not one image shows violence against the Jewish businesses and synagogues. In fact, the images displayed under the headline of “The 9th of November in Munich” deal not at all with the current events of 1938, but rather with the annual ceremonial march in Munich to honor the first martyrs of the NSDAP who were killed during the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. Led by the Blutfahne (blood flag), National Socialism is honored and celebrated, while simply ignoring the modern day news. The deceiving title and images lead the reader into believing that this certainly was the most important news of that particular day.[28]

In the article, “After the Murder in Paris” the modern events are actually addressed, but the images and captions tell a different story than the one known today. A portrait of Ernst vom Rath, and his mother emerging in mourning dominates the article. No mention of the destruction of Jewish property is evident, and certainly no picture that displayed the atrocities is seen. All of these images promoted the idea that while something horrible like the murder of vom Rath by a Jew had taken place, the events that subsequently followed were peaceful moments.  Obviously, the power of photograph is strong within this article because the reader is left with a completely different concept of the events that took place than what is true, due to the careful selection of the photographs and headlines in deterring the attention away from Kristallnacht.[29]

A few years after the conclusion of World War II, American journalist Fred Taylor recalled a press conference held for foreign correspondents late in the afternoon on November 10, 1938, the day following Kristallnacht. Unlike other previous press conferences no chairs were provided and the journalists all waited around for Goebbels to appear. Suddenly he appeared and stated, “all the accounts that have come to your ears about alleged looting and destruction of Jewish property are a stinking lie (sind erstunken und erlogen), not a hair of a Jew was disturbed (den Juden ist kein Haar gekruemmt worden).” For Goebbels and the Propaganda Ministry, despite the fact that these journalists had witnessed with their own eyes the destruction, some even on their way to the meeting, denial was the best option. Taylor remembered, “a few paralyzing moments,” and once the press recovered to ask questions, Goebbels had disappeared. His statements were of course reported, in order for the foreign correspondents to remain at their posts in Germany. This press conference emphasized that the Propaganda Ministry not only wished to control the press within Germany, but also the international press in the presentation of the Nazi – Jewish relations.[30]

With a firm grip placed on the press by the government and party, it is easy to understand why the papers included little to no information about the actions being taken against Jews. However, included in this equation was the fact that the Final Solution was considered to be a Geheime Reichssache (secret Reich matter). The only lasting Wannsee Conference Protocol was stamped with a red Geheime Reichssache stamp, as well as other memorandums, reports, and letters dealing with the Final Solution.

As a secret Reich matter, the information about the “Jewish Question” that was shared behind closed doors amongst leading Nazi officials would not be passed onto others unless mandatory to accomplishing the task of final mass extermination. For this reason, the activities of the Einsatzgruppe and the decisions made at Wannsee were never presented or viewed by members of the press. The Wannsee Protocol was actually not even discovered until after the war, in March 1947, by the Americans as they were collecting information for the Nuremburg Trials.[31]

While the press did not have access to the Wannsee Protocol or the Einsatzgruppe’s reports back to the RSHA from the East, historians have argued that, Hitler and the Nazis never attempted to hide their disdain or hatred towards the Jews, and therefore, despite the Final Solution being a Reich secret, the people of Germany should have known. The Nazis were aware of their crimes and in an attempt to keep them covered; they were most popularly expressed through speech and rarely through the printed word.

The beauty of the spoken word over the written word was understood throughout all ranks of the NSDAP and promoted as the better alternative to press. In the preface of Mein Kampf Hitler wrote,  “I know that fewer people are won over by the written word than by the spoken word and that every great movement on this earth owes its growth to great speakers and not to great writers.” Hitler knew the power of speech was founded in being able to hide messages amongst theatrics. Goebbels and the Ministry of Propaganda focused their efforts on stealing the audience, rather than placing real significance on what was being said. As a result, the message was simply hidden behind layers of emotions both from the speaker and from the participating crowd.[32]

More than theatrics, the real fear of the written word was that it was enduring. It is published, can be saved for generations, and hard to destroy quickly as the Nazis learned in 1945 while trying to burn away evidence to their many crimes. In addition, being presented with a written document allows the reader to take their time to absorb the information, and contemplate it. Meanwhile in spoken word, the listener has little time to think before being presented with more information. Also, through the press the party did not have the ability to gauge the reactions of its’ readers instantly, which was a positive aspect of speeches. This would be dangerous for the party when it came to the issue of the Jews, since they feared the printed truth would cause opposition to arise within the Germans.

The party did have some reason to fear German dissent, because they knew that the German citizens held their own limits on the Jewish question. This limit was most tested when it came to the question of how to treat Mischlinge and Germans in mixed marriages. This area of question was addressed during the Wannsee Conference and the protocol reflects the frustration with the subject and conflicting ideas amongst those present.  Hitler and the party were sensitive to public morale and knew that mixed within this question there were far too many full-blooded German relatives to consider.[33]

With so many Germans affected by the decision, the party understood that the newspapers would not have to publish the information for it to become common knowledge, threatening keeping the Jewish fate a secret. As a result, the final decision for marriages between full Jews and persons of German blood is reflected in the protocol, “Here it must be decided from case to case whether the Jewish spouse should be evacuated or whether he or she should be sent to an old-age ghetto in consideration of the effect of the measure on the German relatives of the mixed couple.” For the party, when it came to secret Reich matters, part of keeping the secret was the ability to further push aside what would be the complicated issues, and address them after the war was won, or when they had gained even more power.[34]

These issues were once again discussed in a follow up meeting to the Wannsee Conference chaired by Eichmann on March 6, 1942 and discussed in a note by Franz Rademacher, Head of the Jewish Section in the Foreign Office. The note addressed how to deal with dissolving the mixed marriages previously discussed. Rademacher stated, “The representative from the Ministry for Propaganda and I opposed the dissolution of marriages through a simple act of law for propaganda reasons.” Every aspect of planning was necessary in order to ensure that the Final Solution could remain a secret since the extreme task of mass slaughter of the Jewish population in Europe would have been highly unpopular, even with the large amount of anti-Semitism rife within Germany.[35]

Avoidance was also the solution when dealing with the deportation of the Jewish populations within Europe to the established death camps. Countries considered likely to be problematic like those in Scandinavia were set aside with the intention of being addressed following the annihilation of the Jews within the Baltic States, Poland, and other countries that already had high amounts of anti-Semitism within their borders. The country of Romania for example had a strong sense of anti-Semitism in its politics since the late 1930s, and in anticipation of the invasion of the Soviet Union, commanders of the Romanian gendarmerie issued orders that called for regional officers, “to cleanse the land” of Jews, to concentrate urban Jews into ghettos, and to bring about their extermination in the rural areas. Enthusiasm in regions like this allowed the Nazi officials to conduct their plans peacefully without dissent. Avoidance of all these controversial issues kept the topic of the Jews away from the German population and allowed the party even more time to develop and hide their plans.[36]

A pastor in the Third Reich remarked about the Nazi system that, “One would be pushed further, step by step, until he had crossed over the line, without noticing that his spine was being bent millimeter by millimeter.” The Propaganda Ministry understood that persuasion was a gradual process and it became their task to convince the masses that the Jews were the enemy. When it came to the general public, the party understood their limited intelligence and as an answer believed that, “all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.” Continually identifying the Jew as the enemy eventually turned them into the enemy, eventually leading to desensitization of the Germans toward the Jews’ fate.[37]

In order to achieve this, the first thing that needed to be accomplished was for the people of Germany to feel as if they did not need to work hard in order understand the complexities of the government or the world. Hitler and Goebbels flattered the citizens of Germany into believing that their leaders would make the right choices for them. In doing so, the citizens of Germany placed all their faith into the system; relying on the new regime to place food on the table, put men back to work, and to return Germany to its previous state of glory.[38]

These promises were the guiding arguments behind the pamphlet, “Führer, wir Danken Dir! (Führer, we thank you)!” compiled for voters before the April 10, 1938 vote for the annexation of Austria. This pamphlet included images of increased industry, booming architecture, and promising that, “Keiner soll hungern! Keiner soll frieren! (Nobody should go hungry! Nobody should freeze)!” These sorts of promises and actions convinced Germans and Austrians to side with the party and the ideals that came along with it.[39]


The party appealed to the emotions, feelings, and passions of the people in order to win them over. Articles continuously appeared in BIZ, which helped to gain the trust of the people and to make them prideful of Nazi Germany. On June 20, 1940 BIZ included a poster from Britain that said, “If we are not ‘fighting the German people,’ who are we fighting?” Published in Britain in an effort to combat Chamberlain’s idea that the British were fighting the Nazis and not the Germans, BIZ flipped it arguing that all Germans are united under one Führer. As a result, this propaganda piece from Britain actually turned into effective propaganda within Germany, by representing that there is no difference between the civilians of Germany and Nazis.[40]


Also, in appealing to the passions of the Germans and their previous state of glory prior to World War I, the article “Paris 1871, Paris 1940” was published. This three-page article dedicated the first page to pictures and captions about the occupation in Paris in 1871 when Bismarck declared the German Empire, igniting the flame of pride in the people of Germany. The second page displayed contemporary pictures of soldiers marching through the streets of Paris once again in front of the same landmarks of 1871. This comparison when seen side by side induces strong emotion today, and would have certainly evoked pride in a nation so destroyed by their loss of World War I. The third page however, displayed the most telling picture of all. Versailles is shown, where 21 years earlier the Allied Powers, demanded Germany take the blame for World War I making them responsible for reparation payments. This was all outlined in the hated Treaty of Versailles, which was formulated and signed within this very room. The caption below explains that now, it is French Marshall Philippe Petain requesting that France lay down their weapons against Greater Germany. This picture certainly would have stirred up the emotion of pride within Germans, appealing to their history and exemplifying their current status.[41]


Along these same lines Facts in Review published for American citizens a comparison between the peace of 1918 and 1940. The article, “The Two Armistices at Compiegne,” charges that Germany is indeed acting less harsh upon France, than France and the rest of the world had treated them in November 1918. While the comparison tells the story of a noble Germany, willing to treat France with respect now, despite their history with France, the real Germany is shown in the fact that they choose as a location for surrender the same exact spot as 1918. By doing so Nazi Germany is not only humiliating France in their surrender but also regaining Germany’s respect lost in World War I. This action speaks much louder than the words of the armistice. Even this surrender was simply another way for the NSDAP to connect to the history of Germany.[42] 

Due to the faith in the system, when anti-Semitism from the government turned into action against the Jews, the Germans felt a sense that it was “what they had coming to them.”  Anti-Semitism was not a new concept within Europe and therefore provided the building block the Nazis needed. One tactic of propaganda was to refer to Jews as “the Jew.” The purpose of this was to combine the complex image of the diverse Jewish community into one concise icon. The concept was to remove emotion from personal relationships and project the particular negative stereotype. All Jews were the same, one enemy, and were not simply inferior (like blacks and Untermenschen) but the embodiment of evil.[43]

The major focus of Goebbels and the Propaganda ministry was to dehumanize the Jews of Germany. This dehumanization took place by associating the Jews with two different images, demonic and parasitic. The image of the demonic Jew comes from Christian anti-Semitism, which assumes that only the devil would have killed the Messiah. Fueling this fire was, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which was a notorious text, printed in 1905, and despite being proven to be a forgery, formed a part of the foundation of the Nazi ideology.[44]

The image of the parasitic Jew compared Jews to vermin such as, rats, insects, and also bacilli or viruses. The image promoted the concept that “the Jew” did not have their own nation and culture; therefore, they must survive off of other nations. The animal imagery coincides with the term “exterminate” in association with dealing with the issue. This concept was one that the party meant to attach to “the Jew” in order for the Germans to view them as pests, rather than human.

The article “Der ewige Verrat (The perpetual Treason),” published in the National-Sozialistische Monatshefte, a journal produced by the Nazi Party, addressed throughout history occasions where “the Jew” acted as a traitor. Most interesting is that in the conclusion the Jewish population is identified as the, “Weltparasit (world parasite),” and not just in an economic sense but also in a much deeper sense. Therefore, the article defined the Jew as worst than previously even considered and ought to be taken care of before they could do more damage.  However, the average German would rarely have read this journal, but instead members of the party, which shows how, information is passed down from the highest authority, through the Gauleiters, to the people.[45]

Hitler saw “the Jew” as not only a threat to Germany, but to everyone. On July 22, 1941 while visiting Croatian Marshal Slavko Kvaternik, Hitler said, “For if even just one state for whatever reason tolerates one Jewish family in it, then this will become the bacillus source for a new decomposition.” The Nazis not only saw them as dependent on other cultures, but also as a sickness that was able to spread quickly and pollute everything around them. These associations did not push for mass murder, however they did dehumanize Jews in order to make murdering them much more understandable.[46]

In the article “Juden unter sich (Jews among Themselves),” the Jew as a disease is taken literally. This article was the only one from 1938 until 1943 within BIZ to deal directly with the fact that the Jews were being placed into ghettos throughout Poland, and was focused on the largest of these, the Warsaw ghetto. The image of a young boy behind a closed door features the warning, “Fleckfieber, betreten und verlassen ist stengstens verboten (Typhus, entering and exiting are strictly prohibited). Beneath, the caption describes the high rate of disease amongst the Jews in comparison to the German and Polish, justifying their entrapment into the Warsaw Ghetto. This concept of the parasitic Jew went so far as to become the reasoning behind the “need” to trap people into a closed off area, away from all other types of people.[47]   


Another illustrated newspaper around this time, the Kölnische Illustrierte Zeitung, also addressed the Jew and disease. In the article, “Ghettos in Generalgouvernement (Ghettos in General Governorate),” a streetcar in Krakow is shown displaying a sign that it is only for Jews. The caption underneath explains that the city divided the streetcars for a preventative measure (Schutzmaßnahme), against the dirty and overpopulated Jews who were the origin of infectious diseases. Once again the Jew is compared to a disease and considered to be a threat to others, leading to their separation.[48]

These images also took on a variety of forms appearing in films, radio addresses, posters, schoolbooks, and even parade floats. The Jews themselves became a case of propaganda by the yellow Star of David inscribed with Jude (Jew) that they were forced to start wearing within Germany in September 1941. It was the technique of simplification, clear propaganda presented in black and white, rather than shades of gray. The Jew was the unchangeable enemy, out to destroy the Aryan race.

Another tactic was the art of continuous repetition, which was a staple of the techniques employed by the Propaganda Ministry. Repetition from the time Germans were youths, was necessary in order to ensure their loyalty and to further impress their ideas upon them. Hitler summed up this concept in a speech given September 8, 1938 in Reichenberg,

These young people will learn nothing but to think German and act German. When a boy or girl joins our organization [the Jungvolk and Jungmaedelbund] at the age of ten, it is often the first time in their lives that they get to breathe and feel fresh air; then four years later they will leave the Jungvolk and go into the Hitler Youth. We will keep them there for another four years, and then we definitely will not put them back into the hands of those who created our old class and status barriers; rather we will immediately take them into the Party or into the Labor Front, into the SA or into the SS, into the NSKK [Kraftfahrerkorps, Motorcycle Corps], and so on. If they haven't turned into complete National Socialists there, then they'll go into the Labor Service where they'll be polished for another six or seven months. Those who still harbor remnants of class-consciousness or snobbishness will be taken in hand for further treatment by the Wehrmacht [the army]. And so they will never be free again for the rest of their lives![49]

It was therefore under this concept that children were presented with party ideals and ideas of anti-Semitism from a very early age.

Girls in both the Jungmadelbundes and the Bundes Deutsche Madel received a Leistungsbuch (achievement book) in order to help them prepare for the Jungmädelprobe (Young Girl’s challenge), which when they passed made them “full” members allowing them to wear the black neckerchief and brown leather knot. This acceptance required knowing, the birthplace and birthday of Hitler, the story of the SA and Hitler Youths struggle, the other important leaders of the NSDAP, and all the songs of the movement. Through this method, young girls became incorporated into the party.[50]   


Boys in the same sense joined the Jungvolk first and then the Hitlerjugend (HJ). The boys in HJ were given appointment books; “Mein Dienst (My Service)” that included everything the boys would need in order to become good Germans. The different areas included a calendar of important dates for the year of 1938 – 1939, history and laws of the organization, instructions on proper dress, and more. Included, as required reading for all members of the Youth organizations was Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which included many anti-Semitic ideas that the youths would certainly obtain.[51]


With all of these images already in the minds of the German citizens the newspapers by 1941 no longer had to promote the image of the Jew as the enemy, because the Germans had already internalized it. This was again best displayed in the article “Juden unter sich.” This four-page article managed to evade the politics behind why the Jews were being placed in the ghetto, even promoting the ghetto as a nice place with a working streetcar and three wheel wagons to facilitate commerce. Mostly however the article focused its effort on how, despite being placed into the ghettos, they still managed to be uncivilized and greedy. The second page of the article shows a young boy with the following caption,          

Gegensätze im Getto: Verwahrloste Jugend Zerlumpt, zwei Wodkaflaschen im Leibriemen, ein fahles zynisches Lächeln im Gesicht, treibt er sich tagein, tagaus durch die Straßen bettelnd, stehlend, asozial wie seine asoziale Umgebung. (Differences in the ghetto: neglected youth tattered, two bottles of vodka in his belt, a cynical smile on his pale face, he pushes himself day by day through the streets, begging and stealing in his anti-social environment).

The picture next to it displayed a show being held with an attractive singer and backup men with the headline “Und der Reiche amüsiert sich (And the Rich Man Amuses Himself).” This comparison evoked in the reader the idea that the Jew is only greedy, only cares for himself and cannot waste time or effort in helping others, even if the other is a fellow Jew. Along this same theme, a picture of the Jewish cemetery is shown, highlighting poor being buried in shallow graves with no markings. The German reader, who for years internalized hatred for the Jews, readily accepted these images as stereotypical Jewish actions.[52]

The second notion this article suggested and promoted was the Jew as a thief. Two pictures on the third page displayed this concept. The first was a man grabbing a dirty youth’s hand with the caption heading, “Haltet den Dieb! (Stop Thief)!” Below the caption explains the problem with theft within the Warsaw Ghetto. The second photo with the heading “Die kluge Marktfrau (The Clever Market Woman),” displayed a basket filled with bread covered by chicken wire (Drahtgitter), in order to deter theft. Again, neither caption nor pictures explained really why theft was so prevalent within the Ghetto. There was no explanation that poverty was the result of the fact that most of these Jews had lost their businesses, possessions, livelihood, and were forced to move into various Ghettos. Instead, the article assumed that the Germans would understand it simply because the Jew was a thief, a parasite, that must always live off of others.[53]

Avoidance of the real questions such as, why are the Jews confined to Ghettos?, why must they steal?, and why are there so many destitute people?, encourages the concept that these questions do not need to be addressed. The Germans, after years of propaganda viewed the Jews as undeserving of the same rights they cherished. By previously winning citizens trust and associating “the Jew” with parasitic imagery, this article turns into a propaganda piece itself; promoting the stereotype of the dishonest and materialistic Jew.

The most prevalent of all the tactics employed by the Nazis was the art of keeping silent about uncomfortable facts. When a situation was awkward, much like Stalingrad during the 1942 offensive in the Soviet Union, it was simply avoided. By doing so they hoped to distract the population away from the issue. The fact that such few articles dealing with the Jewish Ghettos are included is an example of this. The sealing off of the Ghettos throughout Poland are never mentioned, no mention of the actions of the Einsatzgruppen ever appear, and the various death camps being built are never addressed in any article up to the end of 1943. Out of sight, out of mind was what the party hoped to promote with this tactic.

The Nazi system of government was much different than the other standing governments at the time. A statement from 1934, discovered by Ian Kershaw identifies what really held the system together,

Everyone who has had the opportunity to observe it knows that the Führer can hardly dictate from above everything which he intends to realize sooner or later…and it is the duty of everybody to try to work towards the Führer along the lines he would wish. Anyone who makes mistakes will notice it soon enough. But anyone who really works towards the Führer along his lines and towards his goal will certainly both now and in the future one day have the finest rewards in the form of the sudden legal confirmation of his work.[54]

Under this system, there was rarely an answer or command to action, but instead a system where you acted first and asked for permission later.

In fact, the Germans did not reject this system and the government promoted it. In the March 26, 1942 issue of BIZ, this matter was addressed by criticizing the inefficiency of the government in the United States. A cartoon map is shown with two paths. The first is one that is a straight route from Idee (idea) to Ausführung (completion), however the plan is being halted by a police officer forcing it to take the two other paths. The one side of this path has various stoplights including, Komitee (committee), Spezial Komitee (special committee), Unterkomitee (sub-committee), and Oberkomitee (upper committee). All of these halts from various committees forced the American government to delay decision-making. The German citizens appreciated a government that was able to act quickly and effectively in protecting their interests, instead of waiting for action like the American structure.[55]

It was under this German system that the Final Solution was implemented. Hitler was careful to conceal his involvement with the Jewish Question, leaving behind no diary, letters, or written proof of his complete approval of the death camps. Mark Roseman explains how it was Hitler himself who promoted this system,

Never a man to create clarity where confusion might keep his subordinates in a permanent state of insecurity, he also did not place any one person in charge of Jewish affairs. In Nazi Germany in general, the lack of clear responsibilities and the overlap between old state institutions, new party agencies, and the hybrid parties in between encouraged competition for power.[56]

This left the Jewish Question as the ideal place for middle-ranking and second-tier officials within the Nazi Party to move up through the system.[56]

The most active of these middle-level officials were Himmler’s Höhere SS – und Polizeiführer (HSSPF), and the Einsaztgruppen chiefs. These men, together with the Wehrmacht and the men in the civil administration filled the void that was created by the absence of a centralized decision making process. As a result, the men who were making the decisions about the fate of the Jews often did so without consulting others. This resulted in a system where various Nazis received differing amounts of information and had differing degrees of awareness, which led to different interpretation and concepts of the Jewish Question. With confusion amongst party members, the German population, with little to no information about what was happening to the Jews, was left completely in the dark about the reality of what was occurring in the East.[57]

The reason middle-level officials created the perfect strategy for keeping the German people uninformed was because the Germans believed in Hitler as their sole leader. Consequently, when issues and statements were not attached to him they were often ignored. Frequently mumbled amongst the Germans was, “If only Hitler knew.” This belief was fueled by the many distributed propaganda pamphlets highlighting the accomplishments of Hitler and Germany. One such pamphlet, titled “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer (One People, One Reich, One Führer),” displayed prominently on its cover the image of greater Germany. The following pages are filled with Nazi imagery and praise for Hitler. The most telling of all the pages is on page seven where Hitler is shown speaking with the caption, “Im Anfang war das Wort / München 1920 (In the beginning was the word / Munich 1920).” This quote is a direct parallel to John 1:1a in the Holy Bible, “In the beginning was the Word.” This correspondence demonstrates the profound faith and devotion that those around Hitler felt by actually make his words comparably to God.[58] 

Those within the party shared their devotion to Hitler in many forms; one man Heinrich Anacker did so in the form of poetry. Anacker was a member of the NSDAP since 1924, and he wrote many poems idolizing National Socialism and its leader. One of these poems “Unser Führer (Our Führer)” displays once again Hitler’s power, beginning with the cover of the leaflet, “Ein Führer, Ein Volk, Ein Wille zum Sieg (One Führer, One People, One will to Win.)” Symbolizing the switch in sayings from the previous sample, this demonstrates the new effort on the war now taking place. The poem began by praising Hitler and his patience, “Du wartest lang: du läßt die Dinge reifen…Verhaßte Fesseln endlich abzustreifen. (You waited long, you allowed things to mature…Hateful shackles cast off at last.)” Then it criticizes those who do not believe in him while it venerates the followers of Hitler, “Wir aber die dein Wort zur Klarheit weis, Erkenne dein Gesetz im Tiessten Grunde (We however, who know your words preciously, recognize your law in the deepest reason).” For Germans open to the elements of this poem, certainly the lure of being a member of National Socialism is exposed through the words of Anacker.[59]

The most active man outside of Heinrich Himmler, dealing with the Jewish Question was Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich served as SS-Obergruppenführer (General) and General der Polizei (Chief of the Reich Main Security Office), and Stellvertretender Reichsprotektor (Deputy Reich-Protector) of Bohemia and Moravia. Heydrich helped to coordinate Kristallnacht, was involved in many mass deportations, and also chaired the Wannsee Conference in 1942. Wilhelm Hoettl, a member of the Nazi security service, said of Heydrich,

Truth and goodness had no intrinsic meaning for him; they were instruments to be used for the gaining of more and more power…Politics too were…merely stepping stones for the seizing and holding of power. To debate whether any action was of itself right appeared so stupid to him that it was certainly a question he never asked himself.[60]

For Heydrich, the only goal was to gain more and more power, and for him the best opportunity was to impress Hitler with his handling of the “Final Solution.”

Heydrich matches the representation of Hitler’s “best man,” one who bothers him the least. Heydrich did not think that permission was required in implementing the Führer’s wish of annihilation of international Jewry, in spite of the fact that deportations had drastic consequences. The Jewish question continued to dominate Heydrich’s agenda and he viewed it as the solution to gaining power in the party. Heydrich was ambushed on May 27, 1942 in Prague, and harmed by a bomb. He later died on June 4, 1942 at the age of 38 from the injuries he sustained. He was bestowed the German Order posthumously and in honor of his dedication to the Final Solution the first three trial death camps Treblinka, Sobibór, and Belzec were constructed and put into operation. It has been hypothesized that the project was named Operation Reinhard in his honor.[61]

Heydrich appears for the first time in BIZ, on June 18, 1942 in a pictorial obituary to his life. The obituary is complete with pictures emphasizing the greatest moments during his life. The first was his excellence in the sport of fencing, “In der Reihe der besten Fechter (In the line of the best fencers).” The second picture highlights his loyalty to both the party and his comrades, displaying his participation in a march for the Reich sports badge in Berlin. The final picture and caption depicts his service in the army as a fighter pilot serving over Norway, Holland, and the Soviet Union. For his service he was awarded the Iron Cross First Class and Second Class and the bronze and silver combat mission bars.[62]

Noticeably missing is the mention of his role in the Final Solution. For a man who dedicated his time and career to resolving the Jewish Question and cleansing Europe of the Jews, his career is summed up for all the readers of BIZ with no mention of it. The article highlights only what the party thinks are the most important parts of Heydrich’s life, and chooses to present those to the reader instead of what Heydrich would have thought most important. Also, the fact that Heydrich is only given page space following his death, displays the effectiveness in using second-tier officials in implementing policy in the final solution. Within the party hierarchy, Heydrich was just below the likes of Goebbels, Göring, and Himmler and surely well known throughout the Nazi Party for his power and position. However, this power was not apparent to the German population due to their everlasting focus on the Führer.

The war, starting with the invasion of Poland, and especially after the Soviet front opened in the East, stole all the focus of the Germans and their government. With nearly every young man serving in some capacity, each family had an interest in their father’s, husband’s, brother’s, and friend’s life and safety. When soldiers wrote back home from the front lines in the East they rarely mentioned the Jews, and instead focused on the war, primitive conditions, filth, and lack of hygiene. If the Jews were mentioned, it was only in the terms of familiar stereotypes. This ever-increasing war effort, culminated in 1943 when Goebbels pushed the nation towards total war in his speech, “Nation, Rise Up, and Let the Storm Break Loose.” By this time of course, the fate of the Jews in German controlled lands had been determined.[63]

For example, focus on the war and soldiers following the invasion of the Soviet Union, dominated the covers of BIZ. Starting on June 26th and until the last edition of 1941 on December 31st, of the 28 covers, 23 featured images of war. These covers included combat scenes, images of soldiers during their down time, and also photos of new weaponry (Group A). Out of the remaining five, three featured pictures of the Führer or Nazi officials meeting to discuss or show their support of war plans for the East (Group B). One cover featured an image of a Soviet couple, which displayed the strain on them due to the war (Group C). The final one was the only cover to not deal with the image of war in any capacity (Group D). This constant reminder of the ongoing war left the Germans with little else to think about or consider.[64]

The mindsets of the people were preoccupied with the war effort and now, on their new enemies. With an increasing field of countries in conflict, the German propaganda machine had the task of showing the enemy for who they were. Suddenly, a focus was placed on the Americans, British, and Soviets and how they threatened the German way of life. Instead of replacing the old enemy, the Jew, the newspapers and propaganda used the image of the Jew to identify why the Allied powers related to them. Association with the Jews allowed for instant recognition, of new and old adversaries. 

For example, in an article about the newly emerging war with the United States, one caption’s heading declared, “Wo Krieg ist, taucht Ahasver auf” (Where War is, the Wandering Jew Emerges).” The caption then continues on “Der Bolschewist Stalin und der Plutokrat Roosevelt haben sich gefunden. Stalin hat den Juden Litwinow-Finkelstein, den er für eine solche Aufgabe in Reserve gehalten hatte, als Botschafter nach Washington entsandt. (The Bolshevik Stalin and the Plutocrat Roosevelt have found each other. Stalin has kept the Jew Litwinow-Finkelstein in reserve for such a task, to send as ambassador to Washington).” This statement implies many things, the first being the use of adjectives in describing the three people. The terms Bolschewist (Bolshevik) and Plutokrat (Plutocrat) were common terms in describing the governments of the Soviet Union and America. However, prior to the war with the Soviet Union, these terms were not used indicating the switch from friend to enemy, most notably in the reporting of the secret clauses of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact between the Soviet Union and Germany in dividing the territory of Poland. The most important aspect is the identification of Litwinow-Finkelstein as a Jew. This association of “the Jew” to both the United States and Soviet governments portrayed the conspiracy that the Jew was trying to destroy Germany as fact.[65]

This association carried on in propaganda distributed by the German government to American soldiers in the hopes to sway their commitment to the war. On the front of the leaflet titled, “Who Rules the United States” is the Star of David and in the center is F.D. Roosevelt identified as the “Stooge of the Jews.” Surrounding his name in four corners of the star were the names of leading officials in Roosevelt’s government that were connected to Jewish society. The back makes the bold statement that, “The Roosevelt government is Jewish and not American.” This comparison being included in propaganda provided to American soldiers displays the strong belief of the German government in believing it held some weight in swaying their ideals towards the war. This demonstrates how deeply anti-Semitism played a role.[66]  

Hitler’s speech on May 4, 1941 before the German Reichstag, published in Facts in Review addressed the issue of the ongoing war against Great Britain and its necessity, which in all essence has no correlation to the Jewish question. Despite this, Hitler managed to mention Jewish society eight times in the printed eleven-page speech. He blamed them for the war, stating

Behind these men (Churchill) stood the great international Jewish financial interests which controlled the banks and the stock exchange as well as the armament industry…And just as before, there was no scruple about sacrificing the blood of the people for the sake of their gold.[67]

Meanwhile, Hitler avoided Germany’s own interest in fighting Britain. Most telling of all, is the finishing statements of the speech where he uses Jewish capitalism as the direst antithesis of National Socialism. “In a Jewish capitalistic age obsessed by the lure of gold, rank and class, the National Socialist state stands like a solid monument to social justice and plain common sense.” This statement not only shows Britain as a Jewish capitalist society, combining the new and old foe, but also highlights the prestige and honor of National Socialism.


This same connection between “the Jew” and Britain was presented twice in regards to Jewish men serving in the British army. The first appeared in BIZ on, April 11, 1940, in an article titled, “Schwarz und gemischt (Black and Mixed).” This article identified not only the Jews serving within the army but also other inferior races. Standing shoulder to shoulder (Schulter an Schulter), the article not only linked the two, but also provided the message that the British army was weak due to the races they allowed to fight amongst them.[68]


The second association appeared on October 22, 1942, in the article “Zittre Europa: Der Löwe von Juda kämpft für den britischen Löwen (Tremble Europe: The Lion of Judah is Fighting for the British Lions).” Intended to be sarcastic this article makes fun of the idea that the British are recruiting Jewish soldiers to fight the German army. The caption provided the information that the British news stated they, “vorzugsweise auf solchen Posten engesetzt werden, die ihnen auf Grund ihrer Zivilerfahrung liegen (would be inserted primarily in posts, on the basis of their civil experience).” The caption then continues to state that the German assumption is that it would be, “Schieben (banking),” which fits perfectly into the stereotype of the greedy Jew.[69]  

The most infamous comparison was the Jew to Bolshevism. Both enemies to the Nazi Party from the start of the movement, the two became one when the war with the Soviet Union started. On July 10, 1941, the article “Greuel jüdischen Sowjet-Kommissar (Horrors of Jewish Soviet Commissars),” stressed this idea. The article shows the atrocities of the Soviet Union with the report Gronefeldt stating, “In bestialischer Weise haben die jüdischen bolschewistischen Kommissare vor ihrer Flucht wahllos Männer und Frauen und Kinder hingeschlachtet. (In a bestial way, the Jewish Bolshevik commissars have butchered, before their escape, numerous men and women and children).” The accompanying pictures prove his information. However, what it really promoted was the link between the Jew and the Bolshevik. It promoted the idea that the Jew was the driving force behind Bolshevism, and as a result of this relationship, the Jew had once again caused destruction. The combination of these two concepts allowed the party to show the Soviet Union as uncivilized and needing of the German way of life, while also promoting the Jew as the everlasting enemy.[70]

In conclusion, the Holocaust could not have occurred in 1933. Neither the Germans nor the Nazis were ready for the task of complete annihilation of the Jews. Germans did not become Nazis because they wanted to kill Jews; they became Nazis because the party appealed to their traditions and the Nazis knew that with their continuous growth in power and emphasis on propaganda, eventually their ideas could be put into action. The violence against the Jews increased slow and steadily throughout the early years of the Third Reich and reached the maximum amount of violence during the final years of the war in the death camps of the East. For the readers of the BIZ the information they needed was simply unavailable.

The destruction of the Jews by large-scale mass murder was not reported within the press due to a varying combination of factors. The first reason was the ever-increasing grip on the press by the party, by lawful means of the Editorial Control Law of 1933, and also by structured control and supervision by the Propaganda Ministry. The second aspect was the ability to maintain the Final Solution as a Reich secret by an effective and secret system built on a need to know basis. The third factor was coupling trust within the Nazi Party with the continued association of the Jew with demonic or parasitic images to desensitize the Germans to the increasing violence. The fourth cause was allowing unknown officials to be the face of the campaign instead of highly recognizable officials such as the Führer. Lastly and, most importantly, the war was used an effective means of covering up the atrocities happening outside of major cities throughout Europe. Through all these methods, the Nazi Party was able to murder six million Jews, while the average German remained, to varying degrees of truth, in the dark.


Melissa Braman took HIST 3616: European History, 1914-1945 with Dr. Kenneth Steuer in Fall 2008 and completed an intensive-writing research paper on “German Media and the Final Solution.”  This research paper became the basis for her honors thesis.  Ms. Braman collected primary materials while attending the University of Bonn in Germany in a WMU Study Abroad Program in Spring 2009.  Returning to Western, Ms. Braman worked with Dr. Steuer in Spring 2010 in HIST 4990: History Thesis Credits and developed her Honors Thesis Project.  She successfully defended her research, entitled “How Much Did the Germans Know about the Final Solution?” in April 2010.


[1] Adolf Hitler along with other members of the NSDAP planned and participated in the Beer Hall Putsch to overthrow the Bavarian government, which took place on the evening on November 8, 1923. Following the fiasco Hitler was put on trial between February 16, 1924 and March 27, 1924. He was found guilty of high treason and sentenced to 5 years of jail time and a small fine. He was released just before Christmas in 1924.

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (London: Hurst and Blackett, 1981), 187.

[2] Robert Gellately, Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007), 187.

[3] Wilfrid Bade and Heinrich Hoffman, “Propagandamarsch, München 1932 nach der Aufhebung des Uniformverbotes,” Deutschland Erwacht. Werden, Kampf und Sieg der NSDAP, 1933, Western Michigan University Library Special Collections, Kalamazoo, MI.

[4] Gellately, Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, 105.

[5] Herbert Kanzler, Programm der National-Socialistischen Deutschen Arbeiter-Partei, ca. 1933, Western Michigan University Library Special Collections, Kalamazoo, MI.; Hitler, Mein Kampf, 5.

[6] Randall Bytwerk, “The Argument for Genocide in Nazi Propaganda,” Quarterly Journal of Speech, no. 1 (February 2005), 38.

[7] The Final Solution refers to Nazi Germany’s plan, execution, and systematic genocide of the European Jews during World War II.

[8] Sturmabteilung is usually translated as “stormtroopers,” and often called “brownshirts,” functioned as a paramilitary organization of the Nazi Party. The organization played an essential role in Hitler’s rise to power in the 1920s and 1930s.

Gauletiers acted as the party leaders of regional branches for the Nazi Party. There were 36 within the “old Reich” of Germany, and this number increased with the annexation of Austria, the Sudetenland, Danzig, and Western Poland.

Gestapo is a contraction of Geheime Staatspolizei and served as the secret police of Nazi Germany.

[9] Gideon Botsch, Florian Dierl, Elke Gryglewski, Marcus Gryglewski, Norbert Kampe, Peter Klein, Wolf-Dieter Mattausch, Thomas Rink, and Christa Schikorra, The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of the European Jews (Paderborn, Germany: Bonifatius Druck, 2007), 29.

[10] The Sudetenland is the western regions of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans, specifically the border areas of Bohemia, Moravia, and parts of Silesia associated with Bohemia.

Adolf Hitler, “Der Führer: Ich glaube an einen langen Frieden! Die große Rede Adolf Hitlers zeigte die politischen Ziele des Großdeutschen Reiches” Berliner Illustrierte Nachtausgabe, January 31, 1939. Bytwerk, The Argument for Genocide, 39.

[11] Mark Roseman, The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration (New York: Henry Holt and Company, LLC, 2002), 31.

[12] The Einsatzgruppen (Special-operation units) were Schutzstaffel (SS) paramilitary death squads. They were formed under the direction of Heinrich Himmler and 2,500 – 3,000 men were organized into four groups. Einsatzgrupppe A was commanded by SS-Brigadefüher Dr. Franz Stahlecker and assigned to the Baltic area. Einsatzgruppe B was commanded by SS-Brigadeführer Artur Nebe and assigned to Belarus. Einsatzgruppe C was commanded by SS-Gruppenführer Dr. Otto Rasch and assigned to north and central Ukraine. The final Einsatzgruppe D was commanded by SS-Gruppenführer Dr. Otto Ohlendorf and assigned to Moldova, south Ukraine, the Crimea, and eventually the Caucasus. 

[13] Christopher Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939 – March 1942 (Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 2004), 297.

[14] Hugo Pfeiffer, Noch so ein prahletexamplar, 1941, Western Michigan University Library Special Collections, Kalamazoo, MI.

Hugo Pfeiffer, Nitschenor, 1941, Western Michigan University Library Special Collections, Kalamazoo, MI.

Hugo Pfeiffer, Ich bin ein Jüd, 1941, Western Michigan University Library Special Collections, Kalamazoo, MI.

[15] Reich Main Security Office whose stated duty was to fight all enemies of the Reich inside and outside of Germany.

Roseman, The Wannsee Conference, 52-53.

[16] Attendees and their associated ministries include: SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhardt Heydrich (Reich Main Security Office), Gauleiter Dr. Alfred Meyer and Reich Office Director Dr. Georg Leibbrandt (Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories), State Secretary Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart (Reich Ministry of the Interior), State Secretary Erich Neumann (Office of Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan), State Secretary Dr. Roland Freisler (Reich Ministry of Justice), State Secretary Dr. Josef Bühler (Office of the Governor General), Undersecretary of State Martin Luther (Foreign Office), SS-Oberführer Gerhard Klopfer (Party Chancellery), Permanent Secretary Friedrich Wilhelm Kritzinger (Reich Chancellery), SS-Gruppenführer Otto Hofmann (Race and Settlement Main Office), SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller and SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann (Reich Security Main Office), SS-Oberführer Dr. Karl Eberhard Schöngarth, Commander in Chief of Security Police and the Security Service in the Government-General (Security Police and SD), SS-Sturmbammführer Dr. Rudolf Lange, Commander of Security Police and Security Service for the District General of Latvia acting as deputy of the Commander in Chief of Security Police and the SD for the Reichskommissariat Ostland (Security Police and SD).

[17] Eichmann was captured in Argentina in 1960 and was charged before an Israeli court on 15 criminal charges, including crimes against humanity, crimes against the Jewish people, and membership in an outlawed organization. Eichmann was convicted of all counts and sentenced to death. He was hanged May 31, 1962.

Roseman, The Wannsee Conference, 122.

[18] Christian Ferber, Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, Zeitbild, Chronik, Moritat für Jedermann 1892-1945 (Berlin: Ullstein Verlag, 1982).

German Library of Information, “German Periodicals of Today,” Facts in Review, July 29, 1940.

[19] Reich Minister for People’s Enlightenment and Propaganda.

Randall Bytwerk, Bending Spines: The Propagandas of Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic (East Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2004), 60.

Hitler, Mein Kampf, 242.

[20] Quote from: Robert Edwin Herzstein, The War That Hitler Won: The Most Infamous Propaganda Campaign in History (New York: Putnam, 1978), 148.

Other sources for this paragraph: Hitler, Mein Kampf , 58-59

Max Amann, Nazi Acquisition and Suppression of the German Press, http://www.historiography-project.com/nca/nca0B/nca0B_2-17.html, (accessed February 17 , 2010).

[21] Quote from: David Welch, The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda (London: Routledge, 2002), 144.

Other sources for this paragraph: Jeffrey Herf, The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006), 18.

[22] Herf, The Jewish Enemy, 24.

[23] Bytwerk, Bending Spines, 90.

Herf, The Jewish Enemy, 18.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “The Press in the Third Reich,” Holocaust Encyclopedia, http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007655, (accessed February 17, 2010).

[24] Fraenkel and Manvell, Doctor Goebbels, 228.

[25] United States Office of War Information, Propaganda and Wirklichtkeit, 1944, Western Michigan University Library Special Collections, Kalamazoo, MI.

[26] Hitler, Mein Kampf, 22.

Hitler divided the audience to the press into three groups. First are those that believe everything they read, second are who you cease to believe anything, and third are those, which critically examine what they read and judge accordingly.

[27] Hitler, Mein Kampf

[28] Heinrich Hoffmann, “Der 9. November in München,” Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, November 17, 1938.

[29] Heinrich Hoffmann, “Nach dem Mord in Paris,” Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, November 17, 1938.

[30] Joseph Goebbels, The Goebbels Diaries 1942 – 1943, Edited and Translated by Louis Lochner, (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1948), 16 – 17.

[31] Roseman, The Wannsee Conference, 1.

[32] Fraenkel and Manvell, Dr. Goebbels, 72.

[33] Mischlinge were persons of mixed blood that were deemed to have Jewish ancestry. They were first identified in the Nuremburg Laws of 1935. Those who had two Jewish grandparents were classified as Mischling of the first degree. Those who had one Jewish grandparent were classified as Mischling of the second degree.

[34] Botsch, Wannsee Conference and Genocide, 126.

[35] This note was also marked with the red stamp of “Geheime Reichssache.”

Botsch, Wannsee Conference and Genocide, 103.

[36] Botsch, Wannsee Conference and Genocide, 120.

Browning, Origins of the Final Solution, 275-276.

[37] Bytwerk, Bending Spines, 1.

Hitler, Mein Kampf, 180-181.

[38] Bytwerk, Bending Spines, 43.

[39] Broschek and Co., Führer, wir Danken Dir!, ca. 1938, Western Michigan University Library Special Collections, Kalamazoo, MI.

[40] Harald Lechenperg, “Der Zussamenbruch,” Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, June 20, 1942.

[41] Helmut Laux, “Paris 1871 Paris 1940,” Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, June 27, 1940.

[42] German Library of Information, “The Two Armistices of Compiegne,” Facts in Review, July 22, 1940.

[43] The term Untermenschen was used in Nazi racial ideology to describe “inferior people,” including the masses from the east, the Jews, Gypsies, Poles along with other Slavic people including Russians, Serbs, and Ukrainians.

[44] Yehuda Bauer, Genocide: Was it the Nazis’ Original Plan? Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 91, (February 2005), 37.

[45] Hermann Erich Seiffert, “Der ewige Verrat,” National-Sozialistische Monatshefte, July/August 1934, 368.

[46] Browning, Origins of the Final Solution, 315.

[47] Cusian, Knobloch, and Koch, “Juden unter sich: So lebt und haust das Volk, aus dem die Mörder von Bromberg, von Lemburg, Dubno, Bialystok hervorgingen. Ein Bericht aus dem Warschauer Getto,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, July 24, 1941.

[48] Associated Press, “Ghettos im Generalgouvernement,” Kölnische Illustrierte Zeitung, February 6, 1941.

[49] Jost Hermand, A Hitler Youth in Poland: The Nazi Children’s Evacuation Program During World War II (Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1997), 17. 

[50] Amt für Leibesübungen, Leistungsbuch des Bundes Deutscher Mädel und des Jungmädelbundes in der RJ, 1938, Western Michigan University Library Special Collections, Kalamazoo, MI.

[51] Reichsjugend der NSDAP, Mein Dienst, 1938, Western Michigan University Library Special Collections, Kalamazoo, MI.

[52] Lechenperg, “Juden unter sich”.

[53] Lechenperg, “Juden unter sich.”

[54] Ian Kershaw and Moshe Lewin, ed., Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorships in Comparison, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 104.

[55] Kraayvanger, “USA – Zahlen – rausch auf dem Papier,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, March 26, 1942.

[56] Roseman, The Wannsee Conference, 49-50.

[57] (HSSPF): Higher SS and Police Leader

Browning, Origins of the Final Solution, 308.

[58] Bytwerk, Bending Spines, 67.

Axster Heüdtlass, Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Führer, ca. 1938, Western Michigan University Library Special Collections, Kalamazoo, MI.

John 1:1

[59] Anacker, Heinrich, Unser Führer, ca. 1940-1941, Western Michigan University Library Special Collections, Kalamazoo, MI. 

[60] Steven Lehrer, Wannsee House and the Holocaust (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc, Publishers, 2000), 54.

[61] Browning, Origins of the Final Solution, 262.

[62] Helmut Laux, “Reinhard Heydrich,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, June 18, 1942.

[63] Browning, Origins of the Final Solution, 264-265.

Joseph Goebbels, Translated by Bytwerk, Randall. Landmark Speeches of National Socialism, (College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2008), 7.

[64] Group A: Spieth, “Nur noch wenige Minuten Ruhe,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, June 26, 1941. Hoffmann, “Gegen Englands rote Front im Osten,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, July 3, 1941; Hahle and Hoffmann, “Straße frei?,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, July 17, 1941; Henisch, “Gegen Sonne und Straßenstaub des Ostens: Wasser!,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, July 24, 1941; von Estorft, “Der deutsche Offizer,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, July 31, 1941; Mauritius and Wisniewski, “An der Stätte des Sieges: das Eiserne Kreuz,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, August 7, 1941; Hackl and Hoffmann, “Im Sturm über den Dnjester!,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, August 14, 1941; Borchert, “Vor dem Sturm: Auf Handgranaten sitzend,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, August 21, 1941; Dietrich and Hoffmann, “Auf dem Ozean: U-Boot-Reparatur bei grober See,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, August 28, 1941; Roth, “Panzer machten Gefangene,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, September 4, 1941; Hoffmann, “Der Führer und der Duce,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, September 11, 1941; Borchert, “Afrikas Sonne brat Spiegeleier,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, September 18, 1941; Hermann, “Trotz Dreck und Schlamm: Panzer vor!,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, September 25, 1941; Alex Stöcker, “Die erste Aufnahme: Das deutsche Torpedoflugzeug,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, October 2, 1941; Wetterau, “Haus um Haus,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, October 9, 1941; Lehr, “Vernichtet, zerschlagen, ausgelöscht!,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, October 23, 1941; Wetterau, “Ein neuer Freund des deutschen Gebirgsjägers: Asiens Steppen-Kamel,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, October 30, 1941; Baumann, “Der Gefechtsbericht am Himmel: Umkreist und vernichtet,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, November 6, 1941; Borchert, “In einem Bunker vor Tobruk,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, November 13, 1941; Röder, “Von Sowjets verwundet, com deutschen Truppenarzt verbunden,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, November 20, 1941; Kirsche, “Von dem Schneebergen hinab in die Sowjet-Riviera,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, December 4, 1941; F.F. Bauer, “Der erfolgreichste Kampfflieger der Welt,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, December 18, 1941; Leif Geiges, “Dem Norpol am nächsten,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, December 23, 1941.

Group B: Eitel Lange, “Der Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring im Osten,” Berliner Illustriete Zeitung, July 10, 1941; Helmut Laux, “Der Führer empfing Europas Staatsmänner,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, December 11, 1941; Helmaut Laux, “An der Wande eines weltpolitischen Jahres,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, December 31, 1941.

Group C: Bernd Lohse, “Das Sowjet-Paar,” Berliner Illutrierte Zeitung, October 16, 1941.

Group D: Helmut Laux, “Unterm Brandenburg Tor: Der Grossmufti von Jerusalem,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, November 27, 1941.

[65] Dating back to the 17th century, the name Ahasver has been given to the Wandering Jew.

Clemens, “An diesem Tag begann der Zweifronten Krieg gegen USA!,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, January 15, 1942.

Helmut Laux, “Die Unterzeichnung des Nichtangriffspaktes Berlin – Moskau,” Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, August 31, 1939.

[66] NSDAP, Who Rules the United States?, ca. 1944, Western Michigan University Library Special Collections, Kalamazoo, MI.

[67] German Library of Information, “Speech of the Fuehrer Before the German Reichstag, May 4, 1941,” Facts in Review, May 19, 1941.

[68] Hoffmann, “Schwarz und gemischt,” Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung, April 11, 1940.

[69] Harald Lechenperg, ed., “Zittre Europa: Der Löwe von Juda kämpft für den britischen Löwen,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, October 22, 1942.

[70] Gronefeldt, “Greuel jüdischen Sowjet-Kommissare,” Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, July 10, 1941.