Joseph Goebbels: The Holocaust

Figure 1.--Goebbels by the time that that Hitler had appointed him Peopaganda Minister was a fervent anti-semite and preparing to launch the first NAZI campaign against Jews, esentially the beginning of the Holocaust. Here we see him as the newly appointed Propaganda Minister in 1933 just after he was told that the German journalist photographing him was Jewish. The photographer brought his fmily to Ameica and both safety and in 1935. He took this photograph at the beggining of the NAZI tyranny. Click on the image to see another iconic photograph by a different famed Jewish photographer who captured the opening of the military campaign which drove men like this deep underground into a Berlin bunker and destroyed their murderous NAZI tyranny. Photographer: Alfred Eisenstaedt.

Goebbels showed no evidence of being anti-Semitic before joining the NAZI Party, at least that we know of. Perhaps readerwill know more and can help with understanding him. He even liked some German authors like Heinrich Heine. Our preliminary assessment is that he was not a convinced anti-Semite and did not believe in the need to persecute Jews, let alone murder them. He joined the NAZI Party (1922), but was part of the strong left-wing element of the Party. Anti-Semitism did not manifest itself in his hyperactive imagination, including his poetry, drama and a bohemian life-style. Nor do we see the imprint of anti-Semitism in his expressionist novel Michael: ein Deutsches Schicksal in Tagebuchblattern which more than anything idealize socialist and Christian values (1926). This changed after switching over to Hitler's side within the Prty. Perhaps his associations changd his mind. Goebbels could not be more far afield from strong, healthy, blond, Nordic NAZI ideal. He was even handicapped. This seems to have cused him to overcompensate by his fervent writings and speeches. There is no doubt that his position and career required him to promote Hitler's anti-semtic campaign. And he played a major role in Hitler's campaigns against the Jews after Hitler was appointed Chancellor (January 1933). By this time he had become one of the NAZIs most relentless Jew-baiters. He relentlessly propagated the the stereotypical figure of the 'International Jewish Financier' working in London, Paris, and Washington in a conspiracy with 'Jew-Bolsheviks' in Moscow as the mortal enemies of the Aryan German Volk. It was Goebbels who organized the boycotts of Jewish stores and shops, launching the economic campaign against Jews (April 1933). He also organized the book burnings that launched the NAZI campaign to elimate Jewish influence in German cultural life (May 1933). The 5th NAZI Party Congress was held in Nuremberg (August 30 – September 3, 1933). It was in honor of the Hitler's seizure of power called the 'Rally of Victory'" (Reichsparteitag des Sieges). Goebbels speaking at the Rally attacked Jewish 'penetration' of the professions" (law, medicine, property, theatre, etc.). He claimed that it was this assault on German values and resulting foreign Jewish boycott of Germany had provoked NAZI 'counter-measures'. And as Propaganda Minister he had absolute command of the German press and media with which he unleashed on German Jews, conducting the most vitriolic anti-semetic campaign in history, backed by pseudo science.. He became adept in hate filled attacks on Jews and supervised the production of viciously anti-Semitic films. His propaganda campaign helped popularize NAZI ideology and created public attitudes necessary for Himmler and Heydrich to launch the Holocaust. Goebbels diaries show that he was fully aware of mass killings of Jews. We are not sure to what extent he was aware of the precise details of the Holocaust or if he ever discussed it with Hitler. Another Hitler intimate, Albert Speer, if he is to be believed, suggests that it was not openly discussed around the Führer. [Speer] Hateful opinions about the Jews certainly was common, but as far as we can tell, not the mechanics of mass nurder. Terms such as 'evacuated eastward' suggest, however, that he was familar with just what was happening. [Goebbels] And he stated in his his own words that Jews along with gypsies should be regarded as 'unconditionally exterminable'. In another speeche he stated that, as a result of the war, "the Jews will pay with extermination of their race in Europe and perhaps beyond.' He carefully avoided, however, any hint of the actual killing process. His involvement was not just hate propaganda. As Gauliter of Berlin, he oversaw the seizure of Jewish property, including businesses, stores, shops, apartments, and homes (along with their contents) from the once vibrant Berlin Jewish community. And finally he orgized the transport of Berlin Jews to the murderous ghettoes and death camps estanlihed by the NAZIs in occupied Poland.


Goebbels, Joseph. ed, Louis B. Lochner, The Goebbels Diaries, 1942-1943 (Doubleday: New York, 1948), p. 566.

Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich (Avon, New York, 1970), 734p.

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Created: 3:58 PM 7/16/2015
Last updated: 3:58 PM 7/16/2015