Julius Streicher defends himself at Nuremberg (1946)

On April 29th 1946, NSDAP propagandist and publisher of Der Sturmer Julius Streicher was cross-examined at Nuremberg by Dr Marx:

Marx: “Witness, what aims did you pursue with your speeches and your articles in Der Sturmer?”

Streicher: “The speeches and articles which I wrote were meant to inform the public on a question which appeared to me one of the most important questions. I did not intend to agitate or inflame but to enlighten.”

Marx: “Apart from your weekly journal, and particularly after the Party came into power, were there any other publications in Germany which treated the Jewish question in an anti-Semitic way?”

Streicher: “Anti-Semitic publications have existed in Germany for centuries. A book I had, written by Dr Martin Luther, was, for instance, confiscated. Dr Martin Luther would very probably sit in my place in the defendants’ dock today, if this book had been taken into consideration by the prosecution. In the book, “The Jews and Their Lies”, Dr Martin Luther writes that the Jews are a serpent’s brood and one should burn down their synagogues and destroy them…”

Marx: “Apart from your weekly journal, and particularly after the Party came into power, were there other publications in Germany which dealt with the Jewish question in an anti-Semitic way?”

Streicher: “Yes, even before the coming to power there were in every Gau weekly journals that were anti-Semitic and one daily paper called the Volkischer Beobachter in Munich. Apart from that, there were a number of periodicals which were not working directly for the Party. There was also anti-Semitic literature. After the seizure of power, the daily press was co-ordinated, and now the Party found itself in control of some 3,000 daily papers, numerous weekly journals, and all type of periodicals; and orders were given by the Fuhrer that every newspaper should provide enlightening articles on the Jewish question. The anti-Semitic enlightenment was, therefore, after the seizure of power, carried out on a very large scale in the daily press as well as in the weekly journals, periodicals, and books. Consequently, Der Sturmer did not stand alone in its enlightening activity. But I want to state quite openly that I make the claim of having treated the question in the most popular way.”

Marx: “Were the directives necessary for this issued by a central office, say, for instance, by the National Socialist press service?”

Streicher: “Yes. The Propaganda Ministry in Berlin had a National Socialist press service. In this service, in every issue, there were a number of enlightening articles on the Jewish question. During the war, the Fuhrer personally gave the order that the press, far more than previously, should publish enlightening articles on the Jewish question.”

Marx: “The prosecution accuses you of having contributed indirectly to mass murders by incitation, and according to the minutes of January 10th 1946, the following charge has been made against you: No government in the world could have undertaken a policy of mass extermination, as it was done here, without having behind it a nation which agreed to it; and you are supposed to have brought that about. What have you to say to this?”

Streicher: “To that, I have the following to say: Incitation means to bring a person into a condition of excitement which causes him to perform an irresponsible act. Did the contents of Der Sturmer incite, this is the question? Briefly stated, the question must be answered, “What did Der Sturmer write?” Several volumes of Der Sturmer are available here, but one would have to look at all the issues of 20 years in order to answer that question exhaustively. During those 20 years, I published enlightening articles dealing with the race, dealing with what the Jews themselves write in the Old Testament, in their history, what they write in the Talmud. I printed excerpts from Jewish historical works… In Der Sturmer, no editorial appeared written by me or written by anyone of my main co-workers in which I did not include quotations from the ancient history of the Jews, from the Old Testament or from Jewish historical works of recent times…”

“Allow me to add that it is my conviction that the contents of Der Sturmer as such were not incitation. During the whole 20 years I never wrote in this connection, “Burn Jewish houses down; beat them to death.” Never once did such an incitement appear in Der Sturmer. Is there any proof to be furnished that any deed was done from the time Der Sturmer first appeared, a deed of which one can say that it was the result of an incitement?”

Marx: “The prosecution also raise the charge against you that it was the task of the educators of the nation to educate the people to murder and to poison them with hatred, that you had devoted yourself particularly to these tasks. What do you want to answer to this charge?”

Streicher: “That is an allegation. We educated no murderers. The contents of the articles which I wrote could not have educated murderers. No murders took place, and that is proof that we did not educate murderers. What happened during the war-well, I certainly did not educate the Fuhrer. The Fuehrer issued the order on his own initiative.”

Marx: “I now continue. The prosecution further asserts that the Himmler-Kaltenbrunner groups and other SS leaders would have had no one to carry out their orders to kill if you had not made that propaganda and if you had not conducted the education of the German people along these lines. Will you make a statement on that?”

Streicher: “I do not believe that the National Socialists mentioned read Der Sturmer every week. I do not believe that those who received the order from the Fuhrer to carry out killings or to pass on the order to kill, were led to do this by my periodical. Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf, existed, and the content of that book was the authority, the spiritual authority; nor do I believe that the persons mentioned read that book and carried out the order on the strength of it. Based on my knowledge of what went on in the movement, I am convinced that if the Fuhrer gave an order everyone acted upon it; and I state here quite openly that maybe fate has been kind to me. If the Fuhrer had ordered me to do such things, I would not have been able to kill; but perhaps today I would face some indictment which it has not been possible to lodge against me…”

Marx: “In August 1938, the main synagogue in Nuremberg was demolished. Was this done on your orders?”

Streicher: “Yes. In my Gau, there were approximately 15 synagogues, in Nuremberg: one main synagogue, a somewhat smaller one, and I think several other prayer rooms… Even before 1933, during the so-called period of struggle, when we still had the other government, I stated publicly during a meeting that it was a disgrace that there should be placed in the Old City such an oriental monstrosity of a building. After the seizure of power, I told the Lord Mayor that he should have the synagogue torn down…”

Marx: “I now come to the demonstrations on the night of 9th and 10th November 1938. What can you say concerning those demonstrations and what role did you play in that connection? Were those demonstrations initiated by the population?”

Streicher: “Every year the Gauleiter and SA and SS leaders met the Fuhrer in Munich on the occasion of the historic day of November 9th. We sat down to dinner in the old Town Mall, and it was customary for the Fuhrer to make a short speech after the dinner. On November 9th 1938, I did not feel very well. I participated in the dinner and then I left; I drove back to Nuremberg and went to bed. Toward midnight I was awakened. My chauffeur told me that the SA leader Von Obernitz wanted to talk to the Gauleiter… I remember only that Von Obernitz told me that Goebbels had stated the synagogues were to be set on fire, and I cannot now remember exactly, but I think he told me that the windows of Jewish business houses were to be smashed and that houses were to be demolished.”