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.
Jeffrey Herf is Professor of History at the University of Maryland. Among his books is Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich.
Spanning the past century, the essays explore the continuum of critique from early challenges to Zionism and they offer criteria to ascertain when criticism with particular policies has and has not coalesced into an "ism" of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
Including studies of England, France, Germany, Poland, the United States, Iran and Israel, the volume also examines the elements of continuity and break in European traditions of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism when they diffused to the Arab and Islamic.
Essential course reading for students of religious history.
Herf explores the intellectual, political, and cultural context in which German and European radical anti-Semitism was found to resonate with similar views rooted in a selective appropriation of the traditions of Islam. Pro-Nazi Arab exiles in wartime Berlin, including Haj el-Husseini and Rashid el-Kilani, collaborated with the Nazis in constructing their Middle East propaganda campaign. By integrating the political and military history of the war in the Middle East with the intellectual and cultural dimensions of the propagandistic diffusion of Nazi ideology, Herf offers the most thorough examination to date of this important chapter in the history of World War II. Importantly, he also shows how the anti-Semitism promoted by the Nazi propaganda effort contributed to the anti-Semitism exhibited by adherents of radical forms of Islam in the Middle East today.