In the years leading up to the Holocaust, Nazi Germany waged a propaganda campaign that sought to dehumanize Jews in the eyes of the German people. This campaign played a significant role in making the mass murder of Jews possible, by making them seem less than human and therefore not worthy of protection or compassion.
The campaign began in the early 1920s, not long after the Nazis came to power. It initially sought to paint Jews as a threat to the German people, emphasising their alleged role in various problems facing the country. This included economic problems, such as the hyperinflation of the early 1920s, as well as the political turmoil of the Weimar Republic. Jews were also blamed for moral degeneration, with Nazi propagandists arguing that they were behind the growing pornography industry and the spread of sexual diseases.
In the 1930s, the focus of Nazi propaganda shifted to the idea of racial purity and the need to purify the German bloodline. Jews were increasingly portrayed as an inferior race, polluted by their own “Seed of Evil”. This campaign reached its apex with the infamous Nuremberg Laws of 1935, which strips Jews of their German citizenship and legal rights.
The Nazi propaganda machine continued to churn out anti-Semitic material throughout the war years. Jews were blamed for the German defeat in the First World War, and were accused of orchestrating the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. They were also said to be behind the Allied bombing campaign, which was portrayed as a deliberate attempt to target and kill German civilians.
The Holocaust was, in part, a product of Nazi propaganda. By dehumanising Jews and making them seem like a sub-human race, the Nazis were able to justify their actions in the eyes of the German people. The propaganda campaign played a significant role in making the mass murder of Jews possible, and ultimately led to the death of millions of innocent people.
From its earliest days, the Nazi regime in Germany worked systematically to dehumanize the Jewish people. Nazi propaganda from 1927 to 1945 played a key role in this process, presenting Jews as subhuman creatures who were a danger to Germany and needed to be exterminated.
As the Nazi regime escalated its persecution of the Jewish people, this propaganda became more and more extreme, until it culminated in the Nazi genocide of the Jews, known as the Holocaust.
The dehumanization of the Jews in Nazi propaganda was not only a prelude to the Holocaust, but also helped to make it possible. By demonizing the Jewish people and portraying them as subhuman, the Nazis were able to justify their actions and garner public support for their genocidal policies.
The role of Nazi propaganda in the Holocaust is a reminder of the power of words and images to shape public opinion and to make atrocity possible.