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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living The Lie, 22 Jun 2009
Neutral "Phil" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust (Paperback)
By April 1945 Adolf Hitler was probably clinically insane, driven mad by his obsessive belief that Germany had been ruthlessly attacked by the supposed "International Jew" who had forced Germany into a defensive war in order to survive. This claim that "Jews are to blame for everything" was an integral part of Nazi propaganda during the 1930's during which time opposite or dissenting views were driven out of public education and "enlightenment".

Antisemitism in Germany had a long tradition, Luther was frequently quoted by the Nazi's, while German nationalism and racial theory was boosted by the writings of Stewart Houston Chamberlain - English born but German in outlook - and the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which depicted an alleged Jewish plot for world domination. Although the Protocols were proved to be a forgery they are still reproduced in many Muslim countries as fact.

Jeffrey Herf shows how Nazi propaganda moved not too subtly from threats against Jewry to crude declarations of murderous intent, articulated by Goebbels with increasing ferocity after 1941 but facilitated by Otto Dietrich. Herf points out that when Hitler and the Nazis stated what they intended to do to the Jews it was preceded by claims that it was the Jews who were seeking to exterminate or annihilate Germany.

To justify the latter they relied on identifying the Jewish manipulators in Britain (Sir John Simon), America (Bernard Baruch) and Russia (Maxim Litvinov) as justification for their claim that it was the Jews who wanted the war as a means to facilitate world Jewish domination. They relied heavily on a self-published book by Theodore Kaufman entitled Germany Must Perish as representing the Allies' real war aims, although Kaufman received no official recognition, had to distribute the book himself via the US Postal Service and was widely panned in the American press.

What could not be denied was that the Nazis sworn enemies (the Bolsheviks) had a number prominent Jews, Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev, amongst its leaders (although all perished at Stalin's behest). The removal of Soviet Foreign Minister Litvinov (derided by the Nazis as Litvinov-Finkelsten) and his replacement by Molotov facilitated the signing of the Soviet-Nazi Pact in 1939. Approval of Soviet actions was only temporary as after the launch of Operation Barbarossa the Soviets were cast into the same mould as their Allies as being a front for the world wide Jewish conspiracy.

The Nazis convinced themselves they were battling against such a conspiracy and, as the theory was self-contained, any reverses could be explained by the unseen power of the conspiracy itself. Constant propaganda reinforced the message to the populace at large demanding that there was an intimate connection between American and British plutocracy on the one hand and Bolshevist communism on the other. Both were different manifestations of the same manipulating force, World Jewry.

As Herf notes, such propaganda was "crackpot realism based on a combination of mental derangement, political fantasy, unjustified hatred, pathetically erroneous causal connections and inferences - all of which amounted to a sick grotesque falsification.". If there is a weakness in Herf's book it is in his refutation of the claims of Jewish influence in American and British policies. Only those who suspend reason would give any credence to the notion.

The book is completed with a valuable appendix of the Nazis antisemitic campaigns, superb references to original documents, pictures and posters and an excellent bibliographical essay. This book serves as a first class reference which should be read by everyone with an interest in the subject of intellectual history and its influence on political practice. Five stars without a doubt.
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