Selling Genocide II: The Later Films

Reason Papers 39 (1):97-123 (2017)
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In this essay I take up the later major anti-Semitic propaganda pieces, all of them released in 1940. They were produced under Goebbels explicit orders to each of the three Nazi-controlled studios to produce an anti-Semitic film. The three films produced were: The Rothschilds Share at Waterloo; Jud Suss; and The Eternal Jew. These films were much more powerful propaganda pieces in intensifying anti-Semitic feelings—those feelings of difference, disgust, and danger. For each film, I point to the scenes that arouse the feelings even more profoundly than did the earlier films. The Rothschilds’ Shares at Waterloo put forward the conspiracy theory (widespread to this day) that Jewish bankers form a conspiratorial cabal bent upon world domination. Jew Suss (which was presented as historically true) pushes the narrative of Jews using money to take power, and of their boundless lust for young Christian women (hence the danger of “racial pollution”). Of all the anti-Semitic propaganda films the regime produced, the top regime figures considered this to be the most powerful—about 40% of German adults of the time saw this film. It is banned in Germany to this day. Finally, The Eternal Jew—perhaps the most infamous of the group—is presented as a truthful documentary. While this sham documentary was a comparative box office flop, it was widely used as a training film.

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Gary James Jason
California State University, Fullerton


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