I have long desired to see a "great" novel or film depicting ordinary
germans' lives in the 20's and 30's -- to see how far well-woven
propoganda, and the scarcity of outside information and critical
thought, mixed with peer-pressure, strong and noble themes, etc, in
the context of severe economic depression and hyper-inflation, could
shape ones beliefs towards scapegoats, extreme measures -- and the

This non-fiction book appears to do that, or at least takes one down
that road. I just saw a great interview of the author on Booknotes

Anyone read this book?

Even if of lesser severity, the scope and severity of the dynamics may
be different from germany between the two WW, there are potentially
strong parallels to True Belief Syndrome, and US and western forays to
"root out evil": crusades (evil muslims), WWII, (evil, less than human
"japs"), cold war (evil russians), [before you go ballistic shemp, I 
never have and never will hate Maria Sharapova], war on terror [evil

Thus the US can kill 100,000 non-combatant citizens in fire bombs in
one night, and then again and again, and then millions in Hiroshima
etc, and rationalize it as justifiable.  As germans could rationalize
rooting out the 'source of allied aggression and agression against
germany' as justifiable. As "nuking those camel jockeys into a big
parking lot" -- is rationalized as justified by some even today in
thee "modern" US. 


Editorial Reviews
Here, practically for the first time, we can see how Germans before
and during World War II were at all times in their daily lives
confronted with a carefully designed view of the world in which a
mythical Jewish enemy was portrayed as threatening Germans and hence
had to be killed. No prior study has shown as clearly as this one how
central this theme was to German wartime propaganda in all its forms.
--Gerhard L. Weinberg, University of North Carolina
Jeffrey Herf has written a brilliant book that reorients our
understanding of the Holocaust. Arguing that racial antisemitism,
however vicious, was an insufficient basis for genocide, Herf
demonstrates that a major shift occurred in Nazi propaganda during the
war: Jews were now presented as a political threat to the German
nation, and as the instigators, through their puppets, America,
England, and the Soviet Union, of a deadly world war against Germany.
--Susannah Heschel, author of Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus
A commendable and compelling elucidation of the Nazi propaganda which
accompanied the Holocaust, indispensable for both students of the
Third Reich and general readers.
--Jay W. Baird, author of The Mythical World of Nazi Propaganda, 1939-1945
In this impressive book, Jeffrey Herf shows that the omnipresent image
of the 'international Jew' as the source of Germany's victimhood was
central to the propaganda and political imagination of the Nazi
leadership, which made no secret of its intention to destroy European
--Anson Rabinbach, Princeton University

Book Description

The sheer magnitude of the Holocaust has commanded our attention for
the past sixty years. The extent of atrocities, however, has
overshadowed the calculus Nazis used to justify their deeds.

According to German wartime media, it was German citizens who were
targeted for extinction by a vast international conspiracy. Leading
the assault was an insidious, belligerent Jewish clique, so crafty and
powerful that it managed to manipulate the actions of Roosevelt,
Churchill, and Stalin. Hitler portrayed the Holocaust as a defensive
act, a necessary move to destroy the Jews before they destroyed Germany.

Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda, and Otto Dietrich's Press
Office translated this fanatical vision into a coherent cautionary
narrative, which the Nazi propaganda machine disseminated into the
recesses of everyday life. Calling on impressive archival research,
Jeffrey Herf recreates the wall posters that Germans saw while waiting
for the streetcar, the radio speeches they heard at home or on the
street, the headlines that blared from newsstands. The Jewish Enemy is
the first extensive study of how anti-Semitism pervaded and shaped
Nazi propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust, and how it
pulled together the diverse elements of a delusionary Nazi worldview.
Here we find an original and haunting exposition of the ways in which
Hitler legitimized war and genocide to his own people, as necessary to
destroy an allegedly omnipotent Jewish foe. In an era when both
anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories continue to influence world
politics, Herf offers a timely reminder of their dangers along with a
fresh interpretation of the paranoia underlying the ideology of the
Third Reich.

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Suggestive New Interpretations, June 5, 2006
Reviewer:       Werner Cohn (Brooklyn, NY USA) - See all my reviews
Herf's materials are powerful and unsettling, even to readers who are
well acquainted with the literature on Nazism. He shows, in detail
that has not previously been seen, how the Nazi war-time hate
propaganda combined verbal attacks against Jews with attacks against
the Allies. To these Nazi propagandists, the Jews were the overall
enemy, standing behind and stage-managing the Allies.

Herf's interpretation differs in some respects from previous work by
others. He holds that the Nazis' anti-Semitic propaganda in wartime
was essentially different from what they had done in the pre-war
period: this war-time propaganda was, in his view, a deliberate
incitement to commit the Holocaust, while previous campaigns had been
no more than "traditional" anti-Semitism.

Since the Nazis were never explicit in their propaganda about the mass
killing of Jews, Herf's assertions about their intentions in this
propaganda cannot be proven. Nevertheless, I find his interpretations
highly suggestive, if not conclusive.

Other aspects of Herf's interpretations of the war-time Nazi materials
can be checked systematically. For at least fifty years, scholars have
practiced and developed methods of content analysis, which,
unfortunately, Herf does not use in this work. At least two of his
claims should have been subjected to such analysis:

1) The relative prominence of anti-Semitic themes as compared to other
themes, in the period in question, is a textbook example of the kind
of problem for which content analysis is appropriate.

2) The periodization that Herf proposes -- the new themes that he sees
in the wartime period -- can and should be tested by systematic methods.

Despite these shortcomings, the book is highly suggestive. It will no
doubt influence the scholarly work of the future.

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