Hitler on ‘rational anti-Semitism’ (1919)


Adolf Hitler outlines his early views on ‘rational anti-Semitism’, in a September 1919 letter to Adolf Gemlich, a soldier in the Reichswehr. This letter is believed to be the oldest surviving document containing Hitler’s anti-Semitic beliefs:


“Dear Herr Gemlich,

If the threat with which Jewry faces our people has given rise to undeniable hostility on the part of a large section of our people, the cause of this hostility must be in the clear recognition that Jewry as such is deliberately or unwittingly having a pernicious effect on our nation, but mostly in personal intercourse, in the poor impression the Jew makes as an individual. As a result, anti-Semitism far too readily assumes a purely emotional character.

But this is not the correct response. Anti-Semitism as a political movement may not and cannot be moulded by emotional factors but only by recognition of the facts. Now the facts are these:

To begin with, the Jews are unquestionably a race, not a religious community. The Jew himself never describes himself as a Jewish German, a Jewish Pole or a Jewish American, but always as a German, Polish or American Jew. Jews have never adopted more than the language of the foreign nations in whose midst they live…

Through inbreeding for thousands of years, often in very small circles, the Jew has been able to preserve his race and his racial characteristics much more successfully than most of the numerous people among whom he has lived. As a result there lives amongst us a non-German, alien race, unwilling and indeed unable to shed its racial characteristics, its particular feelings, thoughts and ambitions and nevertheless enjoying the same political rights as we ourselves do. And since even the Jew’s feelings are limited to the purely material realm, his thoughts and ambitions are bound to be so even more strongly. Their dance around the golden calf becomes a ruthless struggle for possessions…

All this results in that mental attitude and that quest for money and the power to protect it which allow the Jew to become so unscrupulous in his choice of means, so merciless in their use of his own ends. In autocratic states he cringes before the ‘majesty’ of the princes and misuses their favours to become a leech on their people. In democracies he vies for the favour of the masses, cringes before ‘the majesty of the people’, but only recognises the majesty of money. The results of his works is racial tuberculosis of the nation.

Purely emotional anti-Semitism finds its final expression in the form of pogroms. Rational anti-Semitism, by contrast, must lead to a systematic and legal struggle against, and eradication of, the privileges the Jews enjoy over the other foreigners living among us. Its final objective, however, must be the total removal of all Jews from our midst. Both objectives can only be achieved by a government of national strength and not one of national impotence…

Adolf Hitler”