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Antisemitism as a driving force in the Second World War

Antisemitism as a driving force in the Second World War
As we examine the deadly results of the Holocaust, we are amazed by what ideology and the hatred of the other can cause. Over the years, scholars of the Holocaust and the Second World War have discussed the place the antisemitic Nazi worldview held not only in the development of the “Final Solution,” but also in the course of the war in general. In the following videos, Prof. Yehuda Bauer and Prof. Jeffrey Herf each present their respective views on this matter. I think World War two was actually motivated, to a very significant part, by antisemitism. We know this because of some documentation.
It was quite clear to Hitler personally and, as a result of that, to the circle around him, that the Nazi Germany, after Hitler came to power, was threatened by Soviet Bolshevism and in Nazi ideology, Soviet Bolsheviks was Jewish. Didn’t matter, the facts didn’t matter there. The idea was that Bolshevism is Jewish and all Jews are Bolsheviks. In actual fact, Hitler believed that there was a danger to the physical existence of the German people if the Russian Bolsheviks, who were, Jews would conquer Germany and the idea of Bolshevism, in Hitler’s eyes, was to establish a world controlled by Jews and that would annihilate the German people.
Now in his speech in January, 1939, which actually can be seen because of film, Hitler combined that with the Jews as the capitalists and he says that if the Jewish international financiers will again - because they did it already in World War I - involve the world in another world war, then the result would not be the victory of Bolshevism by these international Jewish financiers and therefore the victory of Jewry but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe. In other words, the idea of Hitler was to defend Germany by attacking the world which was endangered by Jewish conspiracy.
So if in World War II in Europe alone, there were about 35 million dead, and over 29 million people were non-Jews who died, in large part, because of antisemitism.
Now if people today still favor antisemitic ideologies, they should be told: Last time it turned against Jews - yes, but the victims were not only Jews, but a huge number, many many millions of non-Jews, who died because of antisemitism. Nazi antisemitism was, of course, a form of hatred and a form of disdain and contempt, but it was something else; it was an interpretation of ongoing events, and it was a worldview, and this worldview
solved or presumed to solve, rather, various riddles of world history.
So the riddle of 1939 or, rather - excuse me - the riddle of 1941 was the following: After Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the Prime Minister of Britain, Churchill, announced on the BBC that Britain would aid the Soviet Union and so for Hitler the fact that Churchill would aid the Soviet Union was mysterious. Why would this famous colonialist, this man who praised the British Empire, who despised communism, why would Churchill want to aid the Soviet Union in its hour of need? Now, there were perfectly plausible reasons as to why Churchill made that decision.
Because he regarded the Nazi regime as the primary threat to Britain and that the only way to win the war was to ally with the Soviet Union. That would be the common-sensical interpretation of his famous speech of June,1941. But for the Nazis, the fact that the British wanted an alliance with the Soviet Union and that the Soviet Union wanted an alliance with Britain - why would the communists want to ally with the imperialists? - that made no sense. So none of this made any sense to common sense but it made perfect sense in the context of a paranoid conspiracy theory, that the Jews had established a connection between the Soviet Union and Britain. Nazi propaganda made this point.
Hitler and Goebbels made this point in their speeches and essays, that the reason that Britain and the Soviet Union had formed an alliance was because of the power of the Jews. Now the antisemitic conspiracy theory as an interpretation of the Second World War applied to the United States as well. Why would the United States not adopt a policy of “America first!” “America first!” “America first!”
“We should not be involved in Europe’s problems.” “It’s none of our affair.” “America first!” That’s what Charles Lindbergh said, Father Coughlin. The antisemites in the United States, the quote “isolationists”. “This doesn’t concern us what’s going on in Europe.” “America first!” And Hitler asked why would the United States, which has no national interest whatsoever in what happens on the European continent, be interested in intervening in this war. This is a mystery as to why the United States would involve itself in this war. It’s none of their business. But now we have an interpretation as to why the United States is intervening in this war.
It’s because Franklin Roosevelt, the president of the United States, doesn’t believe in America first; because he is a traitor to American national interests and because Franklin Roosevelt has been captured by the power of the Jewish lobby and his Jewish pals from New York, from New York City, the center of Jewish power and that is why, in opposition to the national interests of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt is driving the United States into a war against Nazi Germany and why Franklin Roosevelt and the United States are forming an alliance with the Soviet Union.
So yet again, the antisemitic conspiracy theory of the Second World War demonstrates why these mysterious events - that otherwise are completely inexplicable to anybody with an ounce of common sense - why would the United States bother itself with a war in Europe if it wasn’t for the power of the Jews in New York who were sending non-Jewish boys to Europe to lose their limbs and lose their lives so that the Jews can win a war, that they will benefit from and become very wealthy as a result of. And that’s what the German government told the German people and they told it to them again and again.
The longer the war went on, the more the war came home in the form of the air war against Hamburg and Dresden and many other cities, when 600,000 German civilians died under the bombs of the British and American air forces; when whole working class districts went up in flames and people in Hamburg jumped into the canals of the city and died in the boiling water in a firestorm … horrific events. What Joseph Goebbels said, the propaganda minister, was that the Jews have done this to you. It’s the Jews who are gaining revenge. You see, we were right. We said they would come and kill us all and now they’re doing it.

Prof. Yehuda Bauer, Prof. Jeffrey C. Herf

Over the years, scholars of the Holocaust and the Second World War have discussed the place the antisemitic Nazi worldview held not only in the development of the Final Solution, but also in the course of the war in general. In the following videos, Prof. Yehuda Bauer and Prof. Jeffrey Herf each present their respective views on this matter.

How did antisemitism serve as a driving force in the Second World War?


  • Bauer, Yehuda, Rethinking the Holocaust (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001).

  • Bauer, Yehuda, “Shoah, Antisemitism, War and Genocide: Text and Context,” in Zehavit Gross, E. and Doyle Stevick, eds., As the Witnesses Fall Silent: 21st Century Holocaust Education in Curriculum, Policy and Practice (Cham: Springer International Publishing AG, 2015), pp. 67 – 80.

  • Herf, C. Jeffrey, “The ‘Jewish War’: Goebbels and the Antisemitic Campaigns of the Nazi Propaganda Ministry,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies, vol. 19, no .1 (2005), pp. 51 – 80.

  • Herf, C. Jeffrey, The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust (Cambridge, M.A.: Harvard University Press, 2006).

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Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

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