The Clare Spark Blog

August 15, 2010

Nazis exhibit Der ewige Jude, 1937

Jullius Streicher’s rage

For a related blog see https://clarespark.com/2010/11/16/good-jews-bad-jews-and-wandering-jews/.]

On November 8, 1937, the Nazis opened a Fair in the German Museum at Munich to commemorate the fourteenth anniversary of The Beer-Hall Putsch.  The show was entitled Der ewige Jude (variously translated as “The Wandering Jew” or “The Eternal Jew” in British and American newspapers).  In his study of British press coverage of Nazism, Andrew Sharf complained that Der ewige Jude had been incorrectly regarded by journalists “as yet another nasty aberration,” not as a sign of mainstream Nazi malice.  Sharf further noted that the Manchester Guardian was one of the few British newspapers to transmit the organizers’ declared intention: “the exhibition is educational in purpose and will show particularly why it was necessary to introduce the Nuremburg laws.”  Sharf thought that the Times had erred in their translation of the title:

” It is surprising that [they used “The Wandering Jew” instead of “The Eternal Jew”].  Can it have been due to the subconscious belief that an adjective so expressive of antiquity as the latter could scarcely have borne a derogatory meaning–even for the Nazis?”   [1]

Sharf is instructively wrong on this point.  There is no positive myth of “The Eternal Jew” contrasting with the negative image of “The Wandering Jew” as Sharf implies.  No European myth is benign or even neutral with regard to Jews or to the liberal values that Sharf wants to defend, nor can it be otherwise.  All Jews, including the “eternal” ones, are “bad”; the antithesis of Christian and Jew corresponds to the antipodes of Christian [organic] conservatism* and Jewish [classical] liberalism: (heartfelt) mysticism and (heartless) science, trust and withering skepticism, loyalty and betrayal, community and mob, busy bee and parasite, garden and wasteland.  “Good Jews” like Lessing’s Nathan the Wise, Cumberland’s Sheva, Walker’s Schechem, and Dickens’ Riah who appeared in the humanitarian literature of the late eighteenth and early to mid-nineteenth century were good only because they were more Christian than the bourgeois Christians who were behaving like Shylock and Fagin; capitalism purged of its Judas red-beards would presumably lose its heartless and exploitative character.  Christian landlords would never evict a tenant, Christian bankers would never foreclose a mortgage: this demented idea is fundamental to the völkisch revolution of Nazism,[2] but was not their invention.  Nazi anti-Semitism, then, was only partly about the considerable material advantages in expropriating Jewish property and expelling Jewish rivals: Nazis, to maintain their credibility as redeemers and protectors, would have to plunge a stake in the heart of the “demon Thought” (to use Byron’s expression).  For the antifascist critical mind is not found in a guilt-ridden Adam shrinking from conflict with illegitimate authority or from the perception of other irreconcilable conflicts.  Instead, the anti-Semitic/ anti-intellectual mind anxiously mystifies structural antagonisms by positing (an unattainable) harmony as “normal.”  Brandishing images of solidarity, the fascist bonds people only to “romance” in a false utopia necessarily maintained through deceit, terror and catharsis.

“Moderate” conservatives (including some Jews) have disabled themselves and their readers by discarding the tools of Enlightenment to embrace the myth of American classlessness: the “Holocaust” becomes strangely inexplicable: Germans are alien, irrational and muddled, to be sharply contrasted with the tolerant, rational Western democracies.  Take the following critical remarks of a revered figure in American Jewish history, describing the peculiarities of German anti-Semitism:

“The Jew could be represented as the embodiment of everything to be resented, feared, and despised.  He was a carrier of bolshevism, but curiously enough, he simultaneously stood for the liberal spirit of rotten western democracy.  Economically, he was both capitalist and socialist.  He was blamed as the indolent pacifist, but, by strange coincidence, he was also the eternal instigator to wars.”

Writing in 1946, Max Weinreich, Research Director of the Yiddish Scientific Institute, was agonized but unable to account for the historical record [Weinreich, 28]: How odd it all seemed that Germans could conflate capitalists and socialists.  Yet any streetwise empiricist could have told him that the eighteenth-century bourgeoisie brought forth a new class, the industrial proletariat; like its parent, arguing for emancipation in a discourse of natural rights; that the endlessly reproduced forgery of “the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” had warned that Jewish agitators would dupe the suffering masses into throwing off their nationalist masters, only to deliver their victims to the newer and more deadly tyranny of finance capital or “the international Jew.”  In other words, [classical] liberalism was a confidence-game: scabrous Jewish “socialists” concealed their loyalty to one great poison spider.  In the antidemocratic, antimodern discourse of organic conservatives, the newly literate “lower orders” were bludgeoned with images of hypercritical Moral Mothers or greedy Rothschilds or Frankensteins or femmes fatales: they are versions of Eve big with Cain or Prometheus: versions of the modern bourgeoisie tied to its monstrous birth, tugged and tugging around the globe.  It is hard work not to see this.

Here and elsewhere on this website I compare the discourses of the “moderate men” who revived “Melville” with the European and American “moderates” (in all political factions) who paved the way for the rise of Hitler, and who today cannot or will not explain fascism (or corporatist liberalism) as a rational response to democratic social movements and the Universal Reason which classical liberals (but not corporatist liberals[3]) defend.  Instead, as we shall see, the “moderates” have delivered a history of Nazism that, while exculpating high Western culture, blames the moby-sentimental culture of the lower-middle class (including authoritarian workers) for both fascism and “the Holocaust”:  Hitler (like Ahab) is Poe’s “Man of the Crowd”; the feminized Byronic figure who bears the stigmata of “mass culture.”  In the struggle between Nazis and “the West,” however, romantic fascists and classicizing conservatives were not pitted against each other, as many “liberals” argue: rather, the battle, one that rages still, is between rival Appollonians, each faction claiming to be the sole legatee of science and Enlightenment.  Each side champions critical, independent thought; each side depicts its rival as “the shadow” bringing cancer (the lethal disease that initially masks its alien character to its fellow cells) to the body politic.[4]

[Dr. C.G. Jung diagnoses wasteland maladies, 1946:] As I said before, the upheaval of mass instincts corresponds to a compensatory move of the unconscious.  Such a move became possible because the conscious state of the people had become estranged from the natural laws of human existence.  Because of industrialization, large parts of the population became uprooted, and they were herded together in large centres.  And because of this new form of existence–with its mass psychology and its social dependence upon the fluctuations of markets and wages, an individual was created who was unstable, insecure, and suggestible…Germany…is by no means the only nation threatened by this dangerous germ.  The influence of mass psychology has spread far and wide.  It was the individual’s feeling of weakness, and indeed of non-existence, which was compensated by the upheaval of hitherto unknown desires for power…Nothing but materialism was preached by the highest intellectual authority….Hitler…was the most prodigious personification of all human inferiorities.  He was a highly incapable, unadapted, irresponsible, psychopathic individual, full of empty childish fantasies, but cursed with the keen intuition of a rat or guttersnipe.  He represented the shadow, the inferior part of everybody’s personality, in an overwhelming degree, and this is another reason why they fell for him.[5]

The Christian legend of the Wandering Jew framed a Nazi multi-media event because Julius Streicher, chief organizer of Der ewige Jude, had correctly identified the time-tested bedtime story that puts the (hypercritical Jewish) mind to sleep: the preferred social theory for stress-managers seeking to distinguish their materialism and order from the chaos-producing delusions of “the Jews”: Jewish carnality, legalism, blindness and bigotry.  Like their Christian predecessors, (pagan) Nazis defined themselves against Jewish arch-refusers and murderers of the Good Father.[6] Nazis would expose ruthless, rootless cosmopolitans and coin-clippers to protect gentle, rooted, and upright workers and peasants from the deceptions of the confidence-men.  Julius Streicher, the martyred, peace-loving good father invited German children to avenge and rescue him before the next onslaught of Jewish sadism and murder.  Raul Hilberg quotes from “a typical Streicher speech to the Hitler youth” of June 22, 1935:

[Streicher:]     “Boys and girls, look back to a little more than ten years ago.  A war–the World War–had whirled over the peoples of the earth and had left in the end a heap of ruins.  Only one people remained victorious in this dreadful war, a people of whom Christ said its father is the devil.  That people had ruined the German nation in body and soul…[The rise of Hitler meant] the human race might be free again from this people which has wandered about the world for centuries and millenia, marked with the sign of Cain.

Boys and girls, even if the people say that the Jews were once the chosen people, do not believe it, but believe us when we say that the Jews are not a chosen people.  Because it cannot be that a chosen people should act among the peoples as the Jews do today.

A chosen people does not go into the world to make others work for them, to suck blood.  It does not go among the peoples to chase the peasants from the land.  It does not go among the people to make your fathers poor and drive them to despair.  A chosen people does not slay and torture animals to death.  A chosen people does not live by the sweat of others.  A chosen people joins the ranks of those who live because they work.  Don’t you ever forget that.

Boys and girls, for you we went to prison.  For you we have always suffered.  For you we had to accept mockery and insult, and became fighters against the Jewish people, against that organized body of world criminals, against whom already Christ had fought, the greatest anti-Semite of all times.” [7]

In the same issue of The New York Times that mocked “the exposition on the Eternal Jew” (11/9/37, 15), a front-page story datelined October 8, Berlin, reported that chaplains in the armed forces had warned the government that as a result of Nazi antichristian policies “the nation as a whole is now divided into two opposing camps.”  The people would fight for Germany, the chaplains predicted, but “with little confidence in their leaders.” This apparent legitimacy crisis (surely part of an ongoing need to promote the Nazis as the true humanitarians against the rival claims of both Christians and Jews) is part of the context in which we might consider the (public)[8] unleashing of Julius Streicher.  In George Mosse’s opinion, Streicher (who had been forced to withdraw his May 1934 Der Stürmer, a special issue on the blood libel or ritual murder) had initially been viewed as harmful to the “respectable” image of the Nazis.[9] Writing in the same vein, Robert Wistrich believes that conservative nationalists made distinctions between good and bad Jews: After their accession to power in 1933, Nazis were somewhat checked by the coalition with Hugenberg, von Papen, von Neurath and Schact (who would be ousted in the late 1930s, and who believed that radical anti-Semites should be curbed by Hitler to protect “useful” Jews).[10]

Although the headline in The New York Times wryly noted that Streicher was “twitted” by Goebbels after his opening speech at the 1937 festivities,[11] Streicher was no common pornographer or cranky extremist; he had already joined the ranks of those American and European Social Darwinist cultural historians, anthropologists, moralists and purity reformers who designed expositions and museums to uplift the masses and promote progress through science and technology. [12] And like his predecessors in the exposition and museum worlds, Streicher’s objective was avowedly eleemosynary: by annexing the well-worn and venerable Christian myth of the Wandering Jew, a story long accorded respectful treatment by European “greats,” perhaps Streicher thought he could demonstrate to nervous Germans that Jews were never “useful,” and that Jews, not Nazis, were the divisive forces, parasites and decadents hindering the blossoming of the “people’s community.”

Julius Streicher and other curators barraged audiences with “historical material”[13] while at the gala opening ceremonies, actors buttressed “the moral of the exposition” with the testimony of Luther, Bismarck, Goethe, Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg and an abridged Merchant of Venice to prove that Jewish dirt was fatal to blood everywhere, that a race of Shylocks would never be satisfied until it had extracted its pound of flesh.  The contemporary press reports of “Der ewige Jude” I have found in English give only tantalizing glimpses of Streicher’s X-rated method of adult education in physiognomy and prophecy:

[Press clips follow:]  Twenty rooms of the exhibition show “Jewish” noses, ears and lips a foot wide.  A wall is hung with immense photographs of Charlie Chaplin, Max Baer…Mr. Litvinoff, Stavisky, and others, with inscriptions like “Are these Englishmen, Americans, &c.?  No, Jews.”  In one room reserved for the foreign press is a huge poster reading, “How the English press is directed by Jews.”  Another room shows a replica of a Masonic lodge.  Only adults are admitted to the exhibition. [Manchester Guardian, Nov. 9, 1937, 14].

Jews who have contributed to Germany’s fame and prestige and to the service of humanity are pilloried, among them Heine, Mendelssohn, Borne, Einstein, Walter Rathenau, and Albert Ballin. [The [London] Times, Nov. 9, 1937, 15].

Julius Streicher, Nazi anti-Semitic leader, opened the exposition on “the Eternal Jew” here today with the statement that Jews are “children of the Devil” and with a threat “to bring to an end the reputation of eternal life possessed by this race of world criminals.”  The democratic form of government, which Herr Streicher also regards as criminal, he attributes to Jewish influence….The exposition contains historical material and citations from the Talmud and other works designed to prove that Jews are instructed to cheat and murder their non-Jewish neighbors. [New York Times].

[Julius Streicher, “the notorious Jew-baiter”:]  The Jew is a mongrel race mixed with the blood of Negroes, Mongols, and Nordic people.  They are the incorporation of the sin against the blood and destined never to work creatively.  The Jewish people at all times were the destroyers of good….Bolshevism is the most brutal revelation of this Jewish desire to rule the world. [Manchester Guardian].

The Times account (like the New York Times) played off the extremist Streicher against the moderate and gentlemanly Dr. Goebbels, whose blood curdled upon viewing a film “showing the Jewish method of ritual slaughter,” but who nevertheless reassured the 3,000 present (including leading Party men) that “the exhibition was not a ‘demagogic or propaganda one,’ but if they as Nazis, and consequently as anti-Semites were to bring together all the material they had against the Jews, this, he thought, would be rendering the world a service.”  The reporter did not measure the full extent of Nazi beneficence, particularly in Streicher’s inspired grasp of the demand for euthanasia latent in the myth of the romantic Wandering Jew, the guilty victim who would prefer to be put out of his misery: Nazis would have preferred not to have done it, as one S.S. Officer testified at Nuremburg:

Q. Do you wish to say that they (i.e., Jewish victims) soon reconciled themselves to what awaited them?  A. That is how it was.  For them it was as if human life had no value.  Those people either had some experience of their own or did not recognize their own inner values.  Q. In other words, they went to their deaths joyfully?  A. I would not say “joyfully.”  They knew what awaited them.  They had been told.  They reconciled themselves to their fate.  That is the peculiar character of those people in the east.  I would say that the nerves of men who took part were torn to pieces.  They were more depressed than those who had been condemned to be shot.” [14]

Ahasverus (or Cartaphilus), the Wandering Jew, the shoemaker who cruelly refused Christ, had been condemned by Him to wander the earth until the Second Coming, to “Tarry till I come.”  The story of Ahasverus (resonant with both the Christian myth of the repentant Adam [15] and with the ambivalent representation of Cain in early Jewish thought [16]), had been recruited to the side of order since the thirteenth century (and especially after the Reformation): the repentant Wandering Jew was the witness to the historical fact of the Incarnation and an implicit reproach to lower-class religious skepticism and obduracy.[17] After the French Revolution, the French poor associated the Church with reaction and applauded both Napoleon and the Wandering Jew, now a defiant hammer-swinging little man (and once again the unregenerate Cain), the bearer of political liberty and its associated artisanal or proletarian anti-clericalism and rationalism.[18] Romantic poets (Byron, Shelley, later Yeats) identified ambivalently with the Wandering Jew, the fully feeling, fully thinking adolescent Self, an incorruptible independent creature who would never yield to the duplicities of the Fathers, who would never sell out.[19] Writing in the mid-1840s, and synthesizing the opposed variants of the myth, the popular novelist and conservative reformer Eugène Sue made the Wandering Jew and the Wandering Jewess symbols for the oppression of labor and of women, but the Wandering Jew brought cholera in his wake, moulded everything he touched and longed for death.  By the 1920s and 30s, the Wandering Jew symbolized not only the dispersal, endurance and passive (yet threatening) character of the Jewish people, but the alienation of the modern artist,[20] indeed of modern man; for James Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus, Bloom was the “victim predestined”: immolated, consenting, sad, still, silent.  It is fitting that on July 19, 1937, four months preceding the appearance of Der ewige Jude in Munich, the infamous exhibition of Degenerate Art (timed to coincide with the Great German Art Exhibition) signaled the death throes of modernism in the Third Reich.

Melville scholars have rarely seen the Ahab/Cain/Wandering Jew connection.[21] They are aware, however, that Benito Cereno and Billy Budd were translated into German and published in 1938, that Nazi censors accepted these stories into the House whose visual arts were judenrein–purged of cultural Bolshevist cubism, expressionism and Dada–the House that sponsored heroic vitalism [Grosshans, 1983], and that refused “problematic and unfinished work” [Hinz, 1979, 9]; furthermore Melvilleans have been told by Charlotte Mangold that Frederich Schönemann, an American Studies scholar at the University of Berlin and director of the first Melville dissertation in Germany), was a German patriot hostile to United States democracy.[22] Nevertheless, Mangold’s disturbing opinions and research, like Melville’s Jewish problem, have generally been evaded, denied, minimized, or misunderstood, perhaps for the very good and simple and obvious reason that “the Melville problem” is “the Jewish problem,” indeed, as Julius Streicher made emphatic, “democracy” (i.e., America) is the Jewish problem.

For the conservative narrator of Clarel, Hebrew fanaticism was carried in the Judaised Christian Nathan’s Puritan blood; I suspect that Melville identified with all his brainy Jewish characters and Wandering Jews (including Ahab, Isabel, Margoth, Nathan, and Mortmain) but postwar cultural politics must have made it nearly impossible to mention, let alone analyze, Melville’s Jews.  The Melville scholars are not uniquely weak or cowardly; rather, we are dealing with a cultural taboo: thou shalt not make comparisons between the structures and cultures of “the western democracies” with Nazi or Stalinist “totalitarianism” lest thou exude the odour of pushy and meddling atypical English radical puritans/ un-American ‘Jewish Marxism”, yet nothing is more American than the lusty empiricism, materialism, and libertarian hankering for democracy, self-knowledge, and self-management that I understand the radical liberals to have been advocating, values that have been transmuted into their opposites by organic conservative promoters of Anglo-American cultural hegemony.

*Organic conservatives may be found among those reacting to the French Revolution and who populate today’s paleoconservatives, or may be found among “progressives” professing “multiculturalism.” For these conservatives, social bonds are mystical, not based on a community of material interest. [Added 3-28-12: At the time I wrote this essay, I had not yet encountered the works of von Mises, Hayek, the Friedmans, and other classical liberals.]

NOTES.

[1] The British Press and Jews Under Nazi Rule (London: Oxford U.P., 1964): 51.

[2] Purging the Jewish Marxist materialists would restore natural i.e., racial, unity, a theme Mosse saw in American conservatism and Gaullist France.  See George Mosse, Nazi Culture: Intellectual, Cultural and Social Life in the Third Reich (New York: Schocken, 1981).

[3] In the blood-libel against the Jews, it is claimed that Jews murder Christian boys at Passover to mingle their blood with matzohs.  Speaking at UCLA April 6, 1990, the distinguished folklorist Alan Dundes (and author of an anthology on the Wandering Jew) took sharp exception with my alternative historical explanation for the persistence of the blood-libel against the Jews in European culture since the twelfth century, and which dramatically accelerated during the nineteenth century.  Dundes told his audience that he was disturbed by this “folklore of evil,” responsible for hundreds of deaths, and an embarrassing blot on the normally benign and charming body of culture he studies.  But Dundes could only explain it as a response to Christian guilt over the cannibalism of the Eucharist, psychodynamically as “projective inversion.”  For Dundes as for other conservatives, art and folklore alike float free from contaminating family and related social conflicts.  As Dundes told us, one variant of the blood libel has a temptress wheedling a young boy to enter a garden, where he is murdered; its resemblance to the lesson of the Fall is clear enough, but Dundes was firm in not drawing comparisons to that all-purpose cautionary tale or to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which it also resembles.  Throughout I have placed such “evil” in the narratives of antidemocratic propaganda responding to rational threats from below, not untestable unconscious conflicts.

[4] Cf. Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1978).  Sontag rightly criticizes organicism as demagoguery, but she flogs consumerism, psychoanalysis, apocalyptic revolutionaries and the Romantics from the point of view of the higher (liberal) moderation, science, and rationalism.  By describing cancer as “Other” she misses the crucial point: its stealthiness and masquerade are connected to democracy and the People.

[5] C.G. Jung,”Individual and Mass Psychology,” Essays on Contemporary Events (London:Kegan Paul, 1946): xiii-xv. Originally broadcast on the BBC, Nov. 3, 1946.

[6] My description of Nazi anti-Semitism (as indebted to traditional Christian anti-Semitism) is a composite of characteristics drawn by Rosemary Radford Ruether, Faith and Fratricide (New York: Seabury Press, 1973) and Robert Wistrich, Hitler’s Apocalypse (New York: St.Martin’s Press, 1986): 151.  But Wistrich, while emphasizing the claims Nazis made in the name of Enlightenment, still classifies Hitler as a “monomaniac” assisted by a bureaucratic society (121).  Ruether’s book is especially valuable for her identification of the Jewish stereotype with social criticism/ madness, and her argument that the patristic church fathers of early Christianity had already formulated the anti-Semitism we tend to associate solely with the scientific racism of the nineteenth century. But the analysis lacks a materialist dimension, perhaps because she is a pluralist and does not want to implicate German Romanticism in the story of genocide.

[7] Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: Harper Colophon paperback, 1979): 12.

[8] See Max Weinreich, Hitler’s Professors: The Part of Scholarship in Germany’s Crimes Against the German People, 1946, op.cit. 50-53.  Weinreich reported that Streicher had been invited to several innovative scholarly meetings in Berlin and Munich (1936-38) engaged in a scientific, activist, interdisciplinary study of the Jewish question, and not as a reporter or witness but as a respected leader and valued participant: History, politics, and science, past and present, were to be spiritually and holistically fused (but until 1938, away from the public eye).  This of course puts Streicher and the Nazis in the mainstream of European conservative culture, not in the lunatic fringe.

[9] But see Ian Kershaw, Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third Reich (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983): 162. “…Streicher’s newspaper Der Stürmer associated the Christian Communion with Jewish ritual slaughter, an allegation which brought a storm of outrage from Evangelical (and Catholic) pulpits.”  Kershaw’s point was that Protestants who had supported Hitler were becoming disillusioned as they realized that the Nazis were attacking Christianity tout court; there could be no rival source of cultural identity to undermine German nationalism or single-issue politics.  The theme of disillusion, resistance, and disapproval among the working-class and petit-bourgeoisie is developed throughout Kershaw’s book, an attempted corrective to overly irrationalist interpretations advanced by conservative scholars stressing propaganda blitzes or national character to explain “the Holocaust.”

[10] Wistrich, 1986.  There seems to have been a change in 1937-1938; Kershaw’s and Mosse’s (or Wistrich’s) emphases might be seen as complementary.  Cf. Ernest K. Bramsted, Goebbels and National Socialist Propaganda 1925-45 (Michigan State U.P., 1965) noted a turning point in Goebbels’ propaganda themes between 1935 and 1938; newly apocalyptic imagery responded to the London Times complaint in 1935 that Nazis and Bolsheviks were similar: Goebbels retorted that parasitic Jewry, the “son of Chaos” was the source of the Bolshevist disease (379-383).  Or, Goebbels had broken the triangular view of the Spanish Civil War: two parties and the “neutrals”: “For the first time the image of a rejuvenated and German-sponsored Europe was projected, as the vision of a better world to come.  Goebbels contrasted the wicked deeds of the archfiend of the martyred in Spain with the fata morgana of a better Europe–a technique which he was to employ again and again in days of war to the very end of the Hitler regime” (164). But Hitler came to power with just such claims: the Sun-God would bring a new dawn to Germany and leave the rubble of the Jewish-Marxist night behind; a view that élite theorists suppress in their attempt to render Hitler as a romantic.  There should be a detailed study of the origins and conception of Streicher’s Wandering Jew exhibition; I am taken with the striking coincidence between the intensified anti-Semitism and anti-modernism of the Nazis in 1937, C.I.O. labor movement militancy, and the mounting anti-Ahab/Melville offensive in the United States.

[11] The headline copy was “Streicher Opens Anti-Semitic Fair/ Democracy is Jewish Device, He Warns at Munich–He is Twitted by Dr. Goebbels”.

[12] Robert W. Rydell, All the World’s a Fair: visions of empire at American international expositions, 1876-1916 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984).

[13] Streicher and Goebbels both appealed to facts: Regarding Streicher’s speech and Goebbels’ response, the Times wrote “‘There are still nations believing in the Jews’s divine mission and proud of their democratic government.  For those who know, however, this much-famed democracy of Western states is a measure of the Jew’s power.  History will open these nations’ eyes.’  The exposition contains historical material and citations from the Talmud and other works designed to prove that Jews are instructed to cheat and murder their non-Jewish neighbors.  A photograph of Mayor La Guardia of New York has been placed in a hall devoted to “international Jews.”  Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels indicated in a speech delivered after Herr Streicher’s that the Nazi leaders are not wholly unaware of a certain humorous element in Herr Streicher’s fanaticism.  Smiling at the high priest of anti-Semitism, Dr. Goebbels said: “Our critics answer us with the assertion that the Jews also are human beings.  Now, as a matter of fact, even Party Comrade Streicher will grant that the Jews are human beings.”  The audience of 3,000 laughed, but the sally failed to amuse Herr Streicher, who continued to stare stolidly at the back of the hall.”

It is most peculiar that the Western press could have separated Goebbels from Streicher; in the spring of 1937, Goebbels propaganda department distributed a pamphlet to students and party leaders, calling for the recapture of “a lost identity” (to overcome the skepticism and despair of an industrialized world).  The late Israeli historian Uriel Tal wrote, “political faith needs an anti-hero,” a scapegoat, a devil.  Indeed it was the Jew who “having been a degraded sufferer for ages” was supposed to make the myth somewhat tangible and acceptable.  Through the “universal conspiracy of the Jew” as well as the “defilement of his blood” the Jew brings about “the systematic decomposition of the Aryan race and the Germanic Folk.”  In “Political Faith” of Nazism Prior to the Holocaust (Annual Lecture of the Schreiber Chair of Contemporary Jewish History, Tel Aviv University, 1978): 19.  But would such appeals have had any impact unless they benefited individuals and social classes in material ways?

[14] See Stanley Rosenman, “The American Nazi and the Wandering Jew,” The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol.39, No.4 (1979): 363-368, quoting from the Nuremburg Military Tribunal testimony of S.S. Colonel Paul Blobel, 363.

[15] Hyam Maccoby, “The Wandering Jew as Sacred Executioner,” The Wandering Jew: Essays in the Interpretation of a Christian Legend, ed. Galit Hasan-Rokem and Alan Dundes (Bloomington: Indiana U.P., 1986).

[16] Ruth Mellinkoff, The Mark of Cain (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981).

[17] See Uriel Tal, Christians and Jews in Germany (Ithaca and London: Cornell U.P., 1975): 16 on post-Reformation class anxieties.  Tal describes two strategies to deal with the corroding skepticism fostered by persistence of the obdurate Jew: one should either convert them or humiliate them so that their “abject state” testified to “the triumphant religion of Christianity.”  My distinction between Good Jews and Wandering Jews fits Tal’s categories (but he does not name the Wandering Jew myth here).

[18] Champfleury, “French Images of the Wandering Jew,” The Wandering Jew, 1986.

[19] See Erik Erikson’s influential wartime theory: Hitler was not the good father but the big brother who would never yield to the duplicities of the fathers.  I suspect that Erikson has applied the romantic Wandering Jew myth to Hitler (a motif throughout this study).

[20] Edgar Rosenberg, From Shylock to Svengali: Jewish Stereotypes in English Fiction (Stanford: Stanford U.P., 1960): 302-303.

[21] See for instance, Wyn Kelly of Stanford University, “Melville’s Cain,” American Literature (March 1983): 24-40, who attempts to classify  variants of the Cain legend, 31, but there is no mention of the Wandering Jew in her text or references (nor in Sontag’s work, although she knows that Jews were blamed for cholera and other plagues).

[22] See Berthold Hinz, Art in the Third Reich (N.Y.: Pantheon, 1979);  Henry Grosshans, Hitler and the Artists (N.Y.: Holmes and Meier, 1983); Charlotte Weiss Mangold, Herman Melville in German Criticism From 1900 to 1955 (University of Maryland diss., 1959): 109, fn 2.  Mangold (and other Melvilleans) should have more fully identified Schönemann. Max Weinrich’s index in Hitler’s Professors, op.cit. (282) identifies him as an important Nazi scholar in the following entry: “[b.] May 30, 1886. Instructor, Harvard U., 1913-1920. Professor of North American Civilization, U. of Berlin. Author: “Der Anglo-Amerikaner und das Judentum,” Wk II (1942); “Das geistige Geschichte Amerikas,” NSMon, October, 1942, 657-666; “Hintergrunde und Tendenzen des USA-Imperialismus,” Völk und Reich, 1942, 697-706; Die Veinigten Staaten von Nordamerika (Berlin, Junker und Dunnhaupt, 1943, 160).”

September 20, 2009

Jungians on the loose, part one

Filed under: 1 — clarelspark @ 8:49 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

Jung as Aryan Christ

This is the first of two posts on Jung’s relation to the moderate men or what I have called Conservative Enlightenment. The Henry A.  Murray excerpt from his confidential report to FDR is particularly bizarre. The actual denazification of Germany is a special field in itself. I have found the literature on Wilhelm Furtwängler’s rehabilitation to be helpful. Look for bureaucratic clumsiness and the need to align with the New Deal progressives against the Soviet Union for clues. [For a related blog, see https://clarespark.com/2012/11/03/the-social-work-of-progressives/.]

[Dr. C.G. Jung diagnoses wasteland maladies, 1946:] As I said before, the upheaval of mass instincts corresponds to a compensatory move of the unconscious.  Such a move became possible because the conscious state of the people had become estranged from the natural laws of human existence.  Because of industrialization, large parts of the population became uprooted, and they were herded together in large centres.  And because of this new form of existence–with its mass psychology and its social dependence upon the fluctuations of markets and wages, an individual was created who was unstable, insecure, and suggestible…Germany…is by no means the only nation threatened by this dangerous germ.  The influence of mass psychology has spread far and wide.  It was the individual’s feeling of weakness, and indeed of non-existence, which was compensated by the upheaval of hitherto unknown desires for power…Nothing but materialism was preached by the highest intellectual authority….Hitler…was the most prodigious personification of all human inferiorities.  He was a highly incapable, unadapted, irresponsible, psychopathic individual, full of empty childish fantasies, but cursed with the keen intuition of a rat or guttersnipe.  He represented the shadow, the inferior part of everybody’s personality, in an overwhelming degree, and this is another reason why they fell for him.[1]

THE  SWITCH…? Interdisciplinary tolerance and more tolerance.

[Max Weinreich describes speech by Walter Gross, M.D., at reception for diplomats and newspapermen, Germany, 1935, their joint (interdisciplinary) project to synthesize applied biology, history and politics.  Weinreich’s assessment of their sole deficiency: no free speech, no checks and balances, no equal opportunity to express both sides of a controversy:]  ‘The National Socialist Rasse idea stands as an indivisible and undivided whole, above all compartmentalized learning of the former era.  Consequently, the idea of race cannot be taught by an old-fashioned specialist, he insisted, but only by a National Socialist who combines knowledge and material of the most different fields into a new insight and on its basis shapes the world picture of a new era….’ [Dr. Martin Staemmler:] ‘I believe and hope just after the events of the last years that German idealism, heroism, and spirit of sacrifice are still alive….Let us,therefore, free the Nordic soul from the fetters of materialism; then it will again attain its former bloom.  Then we will again recognize it as what we would like to set before our people as the breeding aim.’ [2]

[Hitler, Oct. 21, 1941:]  Nobody was more tolerant than the Romans. Every man could pray to the god of his choice, and a place was even reserved in the temples for the unknown god.  Moreover, every man prayed as he chose, and had the right to proclaim his preferences.

St. Paul knew how to exploit this state of affairs in order to conduct his struggle against the Roman State.  Nothing has changed; the method has remained sound.  Under cover of a pretended religious instruction, the priests continue to incite the faithful against the State.

The religious ideas of the Romans are common to all Aryan peoples.  The Jew, on the other hand, worshipped and continues to worship, then and now, nothing but the golden calf.  The Jewish religion is devoid of all metaphysics and has no foundation but the most repulsive materialism.  That’s proved even in the concrete representation they have of the Beyond–which for them is identified with Abraham’s bosom….(Table Talk, 77).

[Dr. Henry A. Murray, Director of the Harvard Psychological Clinic and a Jungian, advises FDR, October 1943, on the best ways to apply the lessons of (patrician) psychoanalysis to the postwar treatment of the German people (his emphasis through out:]

It can be predicted that we will find the German people profoundly humiliated, resentful, disenchanted, dejected, morose, despairing of the future.  Accustomed to obeying an arbitrary external authority, they will have no dependable inner guides to control behavior.  There will be a wave of crime and suicide.  Apathy will be wide-spread.  Having passed through a period of intense unanimity and cooperation, Germany as a social system will fall apart, each man to suffer pain and mortification in private.

Disorganization and confusion will be general, creating a breeding ground for cults of extreme individualism.  A considerable part of the population will be weighted down by a heavy sense of guilt, which should lead to a revival of religion.  The soil will be laid [sic] for a spiritual regeneration; and perhaps the Germans, not we, will inherit the future.

It is assumed that the Allies will demilitarize Germany, will insist on efficient guarantees against future conspiracies, will take steps to liquidate the Junker Class, will prevent rearmament and the misuse of raw materials.  As Dr. Foerster has said: a soft peace for Germany will be a very hard peace for the German people, delivering them to the Prussian caste who led them astray.

Nothing permanent, however, can be achieved by such measures alone.  What is required is a profound conversion of Germany’s attitude: abandonment of the idea (1) that they are innately superior; (2) that they are destined to govern the earth; (3) that there is no human law or authority higher than the good of the German State; (4) that power is to be admired above everything; and (5) that Might makes Right.

In treating the Germans psychologically we must realize that we are dealing with a nation suffering from paranoid trends: delusions of grandeur; delusions of persecution; profound hatred of strong opponents and contempt of weak opponents; arrogance, suspiciousness and envy–all of which has been built up as a reaction to an age-old inferiority complex and a desire to be appreciated.

Possibly the first four steps in the treatment of a single paranoid personality can be adapted to the conversion of Germany.  In attempting this we must not forget that the source of their psychic sickness is wounded pride.

3.(a) First Step.-The physician must gain the respect of the patient.  (i) Individual paranoid.– Paranoids cannot be treated successfully if they are not impressed (consciously or unconsciously) by the ability, knowledge, wisdom, or perhaps mere magnetic force, of the physician.  Special efforts must sometimes be made to achieve this end, since paranoids, being full of scorn, are not easy to impress.

(ii) Germany.  The regiments that occupy Germany should be the finest that the United Nations can assemble – regiments with a history of victories, composed of tall well-disciplined soldiers commanded by the best generals.  Rowdiness and drunkenness should not be permitted.  The Germans should be compelled to admit: “These are splendid men; not the weak degenerates (democratic soldiers) or barbarians (Russian soldiers) we were led to expect.”  The Germans admire orderliness, precision, efficiency.

3. (b) Second Step. The potential worth of the patient should be fully acknowledged. (i) Individual paranoid.-The indwelling burning hunger of the paranoid is for recognition, power and glory–praise from those he respects.  This hunger should be appeased as soon as possible, so that the paranoid thinks to himself: “The great man appreciates me.  Together we can face the world.”  It is as if he thought: “He is God the Father and I am his chosen son.”

(ii) Germany.– Germany’s countryside, its music, historic culture, and monuments of beauty should be appreciated and praised.  The army of occupation should manifest intense interest in the culture of Old Germany and complete indifference to all recent developments.  The troops should be instructed and coached by lectures and guide-books covering the district they will occupy.  They should be told that the war is not won until the heart of the German people has been won.

Germans of the old school should be hired to teach the German language, to guide the soldiers on tours of the country and of museums, to teach native arts and skills.  Concerts should be arranged, omitting pieces that have been specially favored by the Nazis.  Editions of books burned by the Nazis should be published and put on sale immediately.

All this will serve a double purpose.  It will provide education for our troops and occupy their time; thus helping to maintain morale.  Also the submerged inferiority feelings and resentments of the Germans will be alleviated.

3 (c) Third Step.Insight should be tactfully provided, a little at a time. (i) Individual paranoid.– Very gradually, step by step, the patient is enlightened as to his own paranoid mechanisms.  Pride in being uncriticizable and always in the right must be gradually replaced by pride in being able to rise above his own mechanisms and criticize himself, pride in being strong enough to admit some weaknesses and erros [sic].  He should be made to understand that he has been victimized by unconscious forces which gained control over his proper self.  During the course of these talks the physician should freely confess his own weaknesses and errors, the patient being treated as an equal.

(ii) Germany. The last ten years of German history should be interpreted as a violent infectious fever, a possession of the spirit, which took hold of the people as soon as they gave ear to the false prophets of Fascism.

A series of articles, editorials, essays and short books should be written now by Germans in this country (Thomas Mann, Reinhold Niebuhr, Foerster, and others), aided possibly by suggestions from psychiatrists, to be published in German newspapers and distributed soon after the occupation.  They should be therapeutic essays essentially- perhaps signed by a nom de plume as if written by a minister, physician, or writer in Germany.

Not too much should be said in any one paper; but, in time, the lies, delusions, treacheries and crimes of the Nazis should be reviewed objectively and in historical sequence.  The German people should be made to understand that the world regards them as unwitting and unhappy victims of instinctual forces.  The Allies should be magnanimous enough to admit their own errors and misdeeds.

3. (d) Fourth Step. The patient should be insociated in a group.  (1) Individual paranoid.  Having attained a measure of satisfaction by winning the respect and friendship of his physician and then having gained some insight and control, the patient is ready for group therapy.  Later, he can be persuaded to join outside groups.  Gradually he must learn to take his place and cooperate on an equal basis with others.  The group he joins should have a goal.

(ii) Germany.  If Germany is to be converted, it is of the utmost importance that some strong and efficient super-government be established as soon as possible, providing a new world conscience, that her people can respect.  As said above, Germans must have something to look up to – a God, a Fuehrer, an Absolute, a national ideal.  It can not be a rival nation, or a temporary alliance of nations.  It must be a body – a strong body with a police force–which stands above any single state.  A supranational symbol would eventually attract the deference that is now focussed upon Hitler.  Lacking such a symbol, many Germans will certainly fall into a state of profound disillusionment and despair.  At the proper time Germany should be insociated as an equal in whatever league or federation of nations has been established.

From here on the therapy of a single paranoid personality fails as an analogy, principally because the German people will not be in the position of a patient who comes willingly to the physician’s office.  The Nazis will be in no mood to be educated by their enemies.  Furthermore it would be very presumptuous of us to try it.  The most that the Allies could do would be to close all schools and universities until new anti-fascist teachers and faculties had been recruited.  The greatest problem will be in dealing with a whole generation of brutalized and hardened young Nazis.  (Perhaps exhibition games of soccer, football, lacrosse and baseball between American and English regiments would serve to introduce ideas of fair play and sportsmanship; but much else must be done – by German educators).

For the conversion of Germany the most effective agency will be some form of world federation.  Without this the Allied victory will have no permanently important consequences.[3]

[J.M. Broughton explains that “neutral” psychology and science (the Enlightenment) will kill us all; summons “theory” to the rescue:]  A psychology constructed upon such an epistemology, compelled solely by the empirical, has never been compatible with theory.  Yet, central to its approach is a highly theoretical precept that human beings are fully individuated, unifed [sic] rational subjects.  Such subjects are conceived after the Cartesian model, as radically distinct from and standing over against the world of objects that they do and can know.  Unified rational individuals are typically construed in the image of scientists: not only are they to be studied with objective methods, but they themselves experience only objectively.  Their subjective life is allowed no fictive, fabricative power; it is confined to cognitive categorization and decision-making; resulting in the formation of informational structures, attitudes and beliefs.  The “subjectivity” of such subjects is confined to their biases, defined in terms of the objective invalidity of their knowledge or literal inaccuracy of their beliefs and attitudes.  Such prejudices are subject to correction through sustained contact with external reality mediated by methodologically legitimate procedures of inquiry.  Subjects constituted in this way can only be connected outwardly, through mutually objectifying relationships.

” [Henry A.] Murray’s (1938) empirical studies identified this methodological objectivist tendency and termed it “extraceptiveness.”  A major deficit of the extraceptive individual is that “he may be confused by complex emotional situations…(and is) deficient in his interpretations of the more irrational phases of human experience.” Moreover, such a personality orientation, guided by a preoccupation with control, tends to social conformism and uncritical acquiescence to the group.  Nevitt Sanford (1966) and Adorno, et al (1950) went on to show that extraceptiveness actually served the defensive purpose of “anti-intraceptiveness,” self-deceptive disowning of any interior life other than rationally organized ideation.  Modern philosophy of science has indicated how the objectivist antipathy to subjectivity, and particularly to the dynamism of emotional life, is an epistemological opposition to interpretation, the latter being precisely that process most generally implicated in all the activities of human beings.

“The final link in our chain is provided by the cognitive psychologist, Dinnerstein (1976), who has demonstrated how the authoritarian stress on external reality and the anti-interpretive reduction of subjective life to objectifiable data are central to the etiology of the nuclear dilemma.  Rather than the more familiar view espoused by organizations of physicians and psychiatrists that nuclear threat has led to a disregard for internal life, she shows that it is the other way round.  Moreover, she points to the way in which the “external reality” favored by scientific psychology is more accurately described as an externalized reality, since the outer world of the self-deceiving agent is constructedchiefly by objectified forms of disowned inner experience.  There is an irony here: Precisely that discipline which denies to the subject any power of fabrication of “reality” is guilty of an elaborate fabrication of “reality” itself.

“In short, authoritarianism is endemic to scientific psychology, and contributes significantly to the very nuclear dilemma that it claims to be able to distance from itself as an object of democratically dispassionate observation and rational analysis. [4]

 


[1] C.G. Jung,”Individual and Mass Psychology,” Essays on Contemporary Events(London:Kegan Paul, 1946): xiii-xv. Originally broadcast on the BBC, Nov. 3, 1946.

[2] Max Weinreich, Hitler’s Professors: The Part of Scholarship in Germany’s Crimes Against the Jewish People (N.Y.: Yiddish Scientific Institute): 34, 35, 51-52, 80.

[3] Henry A. Murray, M.D., “Analysis of the Personality of Adolph [sic] Hitler with predictions of his future behavior and suggestions for dealing with him now and after Germany’s surrender,” 46-53.  Declassified confidential document, in J.F. Carter papers, FDR Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.  Cf. the antimodern films of Fritz Lang on the crazy scientist, Doctor Mabuse (1923) and Metropolis (1926).  Mabuse is the charismatic psychoanalyst with the evil eye, a money-mad chameleon who changes his form (he is “the player” like all artists?); he has chosen “the will to power” and “desire” over “love.”  Bored German aristocrats caught in his net have been previously weakened by their decadent affair with primitivism and expressionism (i.e., the body).  The group of film critics with whom I viewed Mabuse had no doubt that he was a prototype of Hitler.

[4] John M. Broughton, “Babes in Arms: Object Relations and Fantasies of Annihilation,” The Psychology of War and Peace: The Image of the Enemy, ed. Robert W. Rieber (N.Y.: Plenum Press, 1991): 88-89. Broughton describes Melanie Klein’s mind map with the same images deployed by “democratic pluralists” and Symbolic interactionists treated by me as proto-fascist/counter-Enlightenment: “[Klein sees] the mind as an inner world populated with a plurality of diverse, interacting objects, or, initially, object parts…Klein was an avid adherent to the notion of biologically based life and death instincts; her theory could be seen as a development of the concept of Thanatos suggestively formulated in Freud’s later work.(94)…she finds adult consciousness suffused with unconscious, fantastic, and barbarous distortions that tend to remove us systematically and dangerously from a realistic perception of the human situation and the social world.”(97)

I did not include all of Broughton’s citations in the passage I have quoted.  Dr. Henry A. Murray, head of personnel assessment for the OSS, recommended that Hitler’s uncanny ability to see into and manage the minds of “the average man” be appropriated by the U.S.  These numerous achievements were published without attribution in the Walter Langer report on Hitler’s mind (Basic Books, 1972).  Murray made his mark devising projective tests to identify latent radicalism in future leaders, an approach strongly endorsed by Harold Lasswell, another powerful corporatist liberal political scientist, and admired as a progressive figure by Blanche Wiesen Cook and Stanley Aronowitz, two New Left intellectuals.

Cf. editorial, The Nation, May 18, 1992, on the jury that acquitted the policemen who beat Rodney King: “Racial fears and prejudices are planted so firmly in their unconscious (not one of them was black) that nothing prejudicial need be said to produce the desired effect…The venue was moved from multicultural Los Angeles to the suburban Simi Valley in the far reaches of Ventura County, conveniently close to the Ronald Reagan Library in case anyone wanted to dash over during a break and see how racism was instituted in America on a truly grand scale (651-2).

September 17, 2009

Moderate Men and “Dirty” Jews: Part One

dirtyjew2[Edward Augustus Freeman, renowned Oxford historian, relays impressions of America (as quoted by his biographer):] ‘This great land of which I am speaking is essentially an English land, it is no small witness of the toughness of fibre in the English folk wherever it settles that it is so: a land must be reckoned as English where the English kernel is so strong as to draw to itself every foreign element, where the foreign settler is adopted into the English home of an English people, where he or his children exchange the speech of their elder dwellings for the English speech of the land.  Men of various nationalities are on American ground easily changed in to good Americans, and the good American must be, in every sense that is not strictly geographical, a good Englishman….Truly we may rejoice that with so much to draw them in other ways, this great people still remains in all essential points an English people, more English very often than they themselves know, more English it may be sometimes than the kinsfolk they left behind in their older home.’

[Rev. Stephens:] One special interest, in his opinion, of examining the old records and institutions of the several States was that each of the colonies had reproduced some features of English life, but different colonies reproduced different sides and, so to speak, different dates of English life.  All these points in the local history of the colonies needed to be put in their right relation to one another, and to other English, other Teutonic, other Aryan institutions.  This he thought was a study to which the scholars of the United States were especially called…[Freeman’s time in America, 1881-82] had been spent chiefly amongst professors, lawyers, statesmen and generally speaking, men of intellect and information of various kinds.’  Of the pushing, meddling, questioning American,’ he said, ‘described in so many stories and caricatures, I have seen nothing, or at least not on American soil.’ [1]

[Sir Michael Sadleir, director of the Constable publishing company, renowned bibliographer, book collector, and true Father of the 1920s Melville, Gothic, and Trollope Revivals, on filthy lucre:]  In later years, Trollope expressed regret for [The Way We Live Now], declaring it to be ill-natured and over satirical.  But one cannot wish it other than it is.  The author’s impulse to its composition was twofold.  In the first place, the England of 1873 was to Trollope, no less than to Henry Adams, an England in the grip of evil and transforming powers.  The international finance adventurer had settled in London in his swarms; embarrassed country gentlemen, touched with the fever of speculation, were selling their names to shady directorates; the wrong Jews came ever more blandly to the right houses; success was wealth and wealth was God.  To such as Trollope, this alien tarnishing of the bright shield of English manners, this betrayal of a self-contained suavity in the interests of a hustled luxury, were bitter indeed. [2]

Moderates confronting dirty Jews. On November 8, 1937, the Nazis opened a Fair in the German Museum at Munich to commemorate the fourteenth anniversary of The Beer-Hall Putsch.  The show was entitled Der ewige Jude (variously translated as “The Wandering Jew” or “The Eternal Jew” in British and American newspapers).  In his study of British press coverage of Nazism, Andrew Sharf complained that Der ewige Jude had been incorrectly regarded by journalists “as yet another nasty aberration,” not as a sign of mainstream Nazi malice.  Sharf further noted that the Manchester Guardian was one of the few British newspapers to transmit the organizers’ declared intention: “the exhibition is educational in purpose and will show particularly why it was necessary to introduce the Nuremburg laws.”  Sharf thought that the Times had erred in their translation of the title:

“It is surprising that [they used “The Wandering Jew” instead of “The Eternal Jew”].  Can it have been due to the subconscious belief that an adjective so expressive of antiquity as the latter could scarcely have borne a derogatory meaning–even for the Nazis? ”  [3]

Sharf is instructively wrong on this point.  There is no positive myth of “The Eternal Jew” contrasting with the negative image of “The Wandering Jew” as Sharf implies.  No European myth is benign or even neutral with regard to Jews or to the classical liberal values that Sharf wants to defend, nor can it be otherwise. ((?) All Jews, including the “eternal” ones, are “bad”; the antithesis of Christian and Jew is one of the binary oppositions of Western culture and corresponds to the antipodes of Christian conservatism and Jewish liberalism: (heartfelt) mysticism and (heartless) science, trust and withering skepticism, loyalty and betrayal, community and mob, busy bee and parasite, garden and wasteland.  “Good Jews” like Lessing’s Nathan the Wise, Cumberland’s Sheva, Walker’s Schechem, and Dickens’ Riah who appeared in the humanitarian literature of the late eighteenth and early to mid-nineteenth century were good only because they were more Christian than the bourgeois Christians who were behaving like Shylock and Fagin; capitalism purged of its Judas red-beards would presumably lose its heartless and exploitative character.  Christian landlords would never evict a tenant, Christian bankers would never foreclose a mortgage: this demented idea is fundamental to the völkisch revolution of Nazism,[4] but was not their invention.  Nazi anti-Semitism, then, was only partly about the considerable material advantages in expropriating Jewish property and expelling Jewish rivals: Nazis, to maintain their credibility as redeemers and protectors, would have to plunge a stake in the heart of the “demon Thought” (to use Byron’s expression).  For the antifascist critical mind is not found in a guilt-ridden Adam shrinking from conflict with illegitimate authority or from the perception of other irreconcilable conflicts.  Instead, the antisemitic/ anti-intellectual mind anxiously mystifies such antagonisms by positing (an unattainable) harmony as “normal.”  Brandishing images of solidarity, the fascist bonds people only to “romance” in a false utopia necessarily maintained through deceit, terror and catharsis.

“Moderate conservatives” (including some Jews) have disabled themselves and their readers by discarding the tools of radical Enlightenment to embrace the myth of American classlessness: the “Holocaust” becomes strangely inexplicable: Germans are alien, irrational and muddled, to be sharply contrasted with the ever-tolerant, rational Western democracies.  Take the following critical remarks of a revered figure in American Jewish history, describing the peculiarities of German antisemitism:

“The Jew could be represented as the embodiment of everything to be resented, feared, and despised.  He was a carrier of bolshevism, but curiously enough, he simultaneously stood for the liberal spirit of rotten western democracy.  Economically, he was both capitalist and socialist.  He was blamed as the indolent pacifist, but, by strange coincidence, he was also the eternal instigator to wars.”

Writing in 1946, Max Weinreich, Research Director of the Yiddish Scientific Institute, was agonized but unable to account for the historical record [Weinreich, 28]: How odd it all seemed that Germans could conflate capitalists and socialists.  Yet any streetwise materialist could have told him that the eighteenth-century revolutionary bourgeoisie brought forth a new class, the industrial proletariat; like its parent, arguing for emancipation in a discourse of natural rights; that the endlessly reproduced forgery of “the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” had warned that Jewish agitators would dupe the suffering masses into throwing off their nationalist masters, only to deliver their victims to the newer and more deadly tyranny of finance capital or “the international Jew.”  In other words, liberal capitalism was a confidence-game: scabrous Jewish “socialists” concealed their loyalty to one great poison spider.  In the antimodern discourse of organic conservatives, the newly literate and potentially radical lower orders were bludgeoned with images of hypercritical Moral Mothers or greedy Rothschilds or Frankensteins or femmes fatales: they are versions of Eve big with Cain or Prometheus: versions of the revolutionary bourgeoisie tied to its monstrous birth, tugged and tugging around the globe.  It is hard work not to see this.

It was the first task of my study of culture in the interwar period to compare the discourses of the “moderate men” who revived “Melville” with the European and American “moderates” (in all political factions) who paved the way for the rise of Hitler, and who today cannot or will not explain fascism (or corporatist liberalism) as a rational response to democratic social movements and the Universal Reason which left-liberals (but not corporatist liberals[5]) defend.  Instead, the “moderates” have delivered a history of Nazism that, while exculpating high Western culture, blames the mobbish-sentimental culture of the lower-middle class (including authoritarian workers) for both fascism and “the Holocaust”: Hitler (like Ahab) is Poe’s “Man of the Crowd”; the feminized Byronic figure who bears the stigmata of “mass culture.”  In the struggle between Nazis and “the West,” however, romantic fascists and classicizing conservatives were not pitted against each other, as many “liberals” argue: rather, the battle, one that rages still, is between rival Apollonians, each faction claiming to be the sole legatee of science and Enlightenment.  Each side champions critical, independent thought; each side depicts its rival as “the shadow” bringing cancer (the lethal disease that initially masks its alien character to its fellow cells) to the body politic.[6]

The Christian legend of the Wandering Jew framed a Nazi multi-media event because Julius Streicher, chief organizer of Der ewige Jude, had correctly identified the time-tested bedtime story that puts the hypercritical “Jewish” mind to sleep: the preferred social theory for stress-managers seeking to distinguish their materialism and order from the chaos-producing delusions of “the Jews”: Jewish carnality, legalism, blindness and bigotry.  Like their Christian predecessors, (pagan) Nazis defined themselves against Jewish arch-refusers and murderers of the Good Father.[7]  Nazis would expose ruthless, rootless cosmopolitans and coin-clippers to protect gentle, rooted, and upright workers and peasants from the deceptions of the confidence-men.  Julius Streicher, the martyred, peace-loving good father invited German children to avenge and rescue him before the next onslaught of Jewish sadism and murder.  Raul Hilberg quotes from “a typical Streicher speech to the Hitler youth” of June 22, 1935:

“Boys and girls, look back to a little more than ten years ago.  A war–the World War–had whirled over the peoples of the earth and had left in the end a heap of ruins.  Only one people remained victorious in this dreadful war, a people of whom Christ said its father is the devil.  That people had ruined the German nation in body and soul…[The rise of Hitler meant] the human race might be free again from this people which has wandered about the world for centuries and millenia, marked with the sign of Cain.

“Boys and girls, even if the people say that the Jews were once the chosen people, do not believe it, but believe us when we say that the Jews are not a chosen people.  Because it cannot be that a chosen people should act among the peoples as the Jews do today.

“A chosen people does not go into the world to make others work for them, to suck blood.  It does not go among the peoples to chase the peasants from the land.  It does not go among the people to make your fathers poor and drive them to despair.  A chosen people does not slay and torture animals to death.  A chosen people does not live by the sweat of others.  A chosen people joins the ranks of those who live because they work.  Don’t you ever forget that.

“Boys and girls, for you we went to prison.  For you we have always suffered.  For you we had to accept mockery and insult, and became fighters against the Jewish people, against that organized body of world criminals, against whom already Christ had fought, the greatest anti-Semite of all times.” [8]

In the same issue of The New York Times that mocked “the exposition on the Eternal Jew” (11/9/37, 15), a front-page story datelined October 8, Berlin, reported that chaplains in the armed forces had warned the government that as a result of Nazi antichristian policies “the nation as a whole is now divided into two opposing camps.”  The people would fight for Germany, the chaplains predicted, but “with little confidence in their leaders.”  This apparent legitimacy crisis (surely part of an ongoing need to promote the Nazis as the true humanitarians against the rival claims of both Christians and Jews) is part of the context in which we might consider the (public)[9] unleashing of Julius Streicher.  In George Mosse’s opinion,  Streicher (who had been forced to withdraw his May 1934 Der Stürmer, a special issue on the blood libel or ritual murder) had initially been viewed as harmful to the “respectable” image of the Nazis.[10]  Writing in the same vein, Robert Wistrich believes that conservative nationalists made distinctions between good and bad Jews: After their accession to power in 1933, Nazis were somewhat checked by the coalition with Hugenberg, von Papen, von Neurath and Schact (who would be ousted in the late 1930s, and who believed that radical anti-Semites should be curbed by Hitler to protect “useful” Jews).[11]

Although the headline in The New York Times wryly noted that Streicher was “twitted” by Goebbels after his opening speech at the 1937 festivities,[12] Streicher was no common pornographer or cranky extremist; he had already joined the ranks of those American and European Social Darwinist cultural historians, anthropologists, moralists and purity reformers who designed expositions and museums to uplift the masses and promote progress through science and technology. [13]  And like his predecessors in the exposition and museum worlds, Streicher’s objective was avowedly eleemosynary: by annexing the well-worn and venerable Christian myth of the Wandering Jew, a story long accorded respectful treatment by European “greats,” perhaps Streicher thought he could demonstrate to nervous Christian conservatives that Jews were never “useful,” and that Jews, not Nazis, were the divisive forces, parasites and decadents hindering the blossoming of the “people’s community.”

Julius Streicher and other curators barraged audiences with “historical material”[14] while at the gala opening ceremonies, actors buttressed “the moral of the exposition” with the testimony of Luther, Bismarck, Goethe, Hitler, Alfred Rosenberg and an abridged Merchant of Venice to prove that Jewish dirt was fatal to blood everywhere, that a race of Shylocks would never be satisfied until it had extracted its pound of flesh.  The contemporary press reports of “Der ewige Jude” I have found in English give only tantalizing glimpses of Streicher’s X-rated method of adult education in physiognomy and prophecy:

“Twenty rooms of the exhibition show ‘Jewish’ noses, ears and lips a foot wide.  A wall is hung with immense photographs of Charlie Chaplin, Max Baer…Mr. Litvinoff, Stavisky, and others, with inscriptions like ‘Are these Englishmen, Americans, &c.?  No, Jews.’  In one room reserved for the foreign press is a huge poster reading, ‘How the English press is directed by Jews.’  Another room shows a replica of a Masonic lodge.  Only adults are admitted to the exhibition.” [Manchester Guardian, Nov. 9, 1937, 14].

“Jews who have contributed to Germany’s fame and prestige and to the service of humanity are pilloried, among them Heine, Mendelssohn, Borne, Einstein, Walter Rathenau, and Albert Ballin.” [The [London] Times, Nov. 9, 1937, 15].

“Julius Streicher, Nazi anti-Semitic leader, opened the exposition on ‘the Eternal Jew’ here today with the statement that Jews are ‘children of the Devil’ and with a threat ‘to bring to an end the reputation of eternal life possessed by this race of world criminals.’  The democratic form of government, which Herr Streicher also regards as criminal, he attributes to Jewish influence….The exposition contains historical material and citations from the Talmud and other works designed to prove that Jews are instructed to cheat and murder their non-Jewish neighbors.” [New York Times].

[Julius Streicher, “the notorious Jew-baiter”:]  “The Jew is a mongrel race mixed with the blood of Negroes, Mongols, and Nordic people.  They are the incorporation of the sin against the blood and destined never to work creatively.  The Jewish people at all times were the destroyers of good….Bolshevism is the most brutal revelation of this Jewish desire to rule the world.” [Manchester Guardian].

     The Times account (like the New York Times) played off the extremist Streicher against the moderate and gentlemanly Dr. Goebbels, whose blood curdled upon viewing a film “showing the Jewish method of ritual slaughter,” but who nevertheless reassured the 3,000 present (including leading Party men) that “the exhibition was not a ‘demagogic or propaganda one,’ but if they as Nazis, and consequently as anti-Semites were to bring together all the material they had against the Jews, this, he thought, would be rendering the world a service.”

The reporter did not measure the full extent of Nazi beneficence, particularly in Streicher’s inspired grasp of the demand for euthanasia latent in the myth of the Wandering Jew, the guilty victim who would prefer to be put out of his misery: Nazis would have preferred not to have done it, as one S.S. Officer testified at Nuremburg:

Q. Do you wish to say that they (i.e. Jewish victims) soon reconciled themselves to what awaited them?  A. That is how it was.  For them it was as if human life had no value.  Those people either had some experience of their own or did not recognize their own inner values.  Q. In other words, they went to their deaths joyfully?  A. I would not say “joyfully.”  They knew what awaited them.  They had been told.  They reconciled themselves to their fate.  That is the peculiar character of those people in the east.  I would say that the nerves of men who took part were torn to pieces.  They were more depressed than those who had been condemned to be shot.[15]

Ahasverus (or Cartaphilus), the Wandering Jew, the shoemaker who cruelly refused Christ, had been condemned by Him to wander the earth until the Second Coming, to “Tarry till I come.”  The story of Ahasverus (resonant with both the Christian myth of the repentant Adam [16] and with the ambivalent representation of Cain in early Jewish thought [17]), had been recruited to the side of order since the thirteenth century (and especially after the Reformation): the repentant Wandering Jew was the witness to the historical fact of the Incarnation and an implicit reproach to lower-class religious skepticism and obduracy.[18]  After the French Revolution, the French poor associated the Church with reaction and applauded both Napoleon and the Wandering Jew, now a defiant hammer-swinging little man (and once again the unregenerate Cain), the bearer of political liberty and its associated artisanal anti-clericalism and rationalism.[19]  Romantic poets (Byron, Shelley, later Yeats) identified ambivalently with the Wandering Jew, the fully feeling, fully thinking adolescent Self, an incorruptible revolutionary who would never yield to the duplicities of the Fathers, who would never sell out.[20]  Writing in the mid-1840s, and synthesizing the opposed variants of the myth, the popular novelist and conservative reformer Eugène Sue made the Wandering Jew and the Wandering Jewess symbols for the oppression of labor and of women, but the Wandering Jew brought cholera in his wake, moulded everything he touched and longed for death.  By the 1920s and 30s, the Wandering Jew symbolized not only the dispersal, endurance and passive (yet threatening) character of the Jewish people, but the alienation of the modern artist,[21] indeed of modern man; for James Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus, Bloom was the “victim predestined”: immolated, consenting, sad, still, silent.  It is fitting that on July 19, 1937, four months preceding the appearance of Der ewige Jude in Munich, the infamous exhibition of Degenerate Art (timed to coincide with the Great German Art Exhibition) signaled the death throes of modernism in the Third Reich.


[1] W.R.W. Stephens, The Life and Letters of Edward A. Freeman (London and New York: Macmillan, 1895): 181, 183-84.  Freeman (whose vulgarly expressed attitudes toward non-whites, the Irish, Jews and feminists pepper his letters), was an important influence on Frederick Jackson Turner.  His biographer, the Winchester cleric Stephens, was quoting from Freeman’s Impressions of America.

[2]Michael Sadleir, Trollope, a commentary (London: Constable, 1927): 396-97.

[3] The British Press and Jews Under Nazi Rule (London: Oxford U.P., 1964): 51.

[4] Purging the Jewish Marxist materialists would restore natural i.e., racial, unity, a theme Mosse saw in American conservatism and Gaullist France.  See George Mosse, Nazi Culture: Intellectual, Cultural and Social Life in the Third Reich (New York: Schocken, 1981).

[5] In the blood-libel against the Jews, it is claimed that Jews murder Christian boys at Passover to mingle their blood with matzohs.  Speaking at UCLA April 6, 1990, the distinguished folklorist Alan Dundes (and author of an anthology on the Wandering Jew) took sharp exception with my alternative historical explanation for the persistence of the blood-libel against the Jews in European culture since the twelfth century, and which dramatically accelerated during the nineteenth century.  Dundes told his audience that he was disturbed by this “folklore of evil,” responsible for hundreds of deaths, and an embarrassing blot on the normally benign and charming body of culture he studies.  But Dundes could only explain it as a response to Christian guilt over the cannibalism of the Eucharist, psychodynamically as “projective inversion.”  For Dundes art and folklore alike float free from contaminating family and related social conflicts.  As he told us, one variant of the blood libel has a temptress wheedling a young boy to enter a garden, where he is murdered; its resemblance to the lesson of the Fall is clear enough, but Dundes was firm in not drawing comparisons to that all-purpose cautionary tale or to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which it also resembles.  Throughout I have placed such “evil” in the narratives of antidemocratic propaganda responding to rational threats from below, not supposed unconscious conflicts.

[6] Cf. Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1978).  Sontag rightly criticizes organicism as demagoguery, but she flogs consumerism, psychoanalysis, apocalyptic revolutionaries and the Romantics from the point of view of the higher (liberal) moderation, science, and rationalism.  By describing cancer as “Other” she misses the crucial point: its stealthiness and masquerade are connected to democracy and the People.

[7] My description of Nazi anti-Semitism (as indebted to traditional Christian anti-Semitism) is a composite of characteristics drawn by Rosemary Radford Ruether, Faith and Fratricide (New York: Seabury Press, 1973) and Robert Wistrich, Hitler’s Apocalypse (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1986): 151.  But Wistrich, while emphasizing the claims Nazis made in the name of Enlightenment, still classifies Hitler as a “monomaniac” assisted by a bureaucratic society (121).  Ruether’s book is especially valuable for her identification of the Jewish stereotype with social criticism/ madness, and her argument that the patristic church fathers of early Christianity had already formulated the anti-Semitism we tend to associate solely with the scientific racism of the nineteenth century. But the analysis lacks a materialist dimension, perhaps because she does not want to implicate German Romanticism in the story of genocide.

[8] Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: Harper Colophon paperback, 1979): 12.

[9] See Max Weinreich, Hitler’s Professors: The Part of Scholarship in Germany’s Crimes Against the German People, 1946, op.cit. 50-53.  Weinreich reported that Streicher had been invited to several innovative scholarly meetings in Berlin and Munich (1936-38) engaged in a scientific, activist, interdisciplinary study of the Jewish question, and not as a reporter or witness but as a respected leader and valued participant: History, politics, and science, past and present, were to be spiritually and holistically fused (but until 1938, away from the public eye).  This of course puts Streicher and the Nazis in the mainstream of European organicism, not in the lunatic fringe.

[10] But see Ian Kershaw, Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third Reich (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983): 162. “…Streicher’s newspaper Der Stürmer associated the Christian Communion with Jewish ritual slaughter, an allegation which brought a storm of outrage from Evangelical (and Catholic) pulpits.”  Kershaw’s point was that Protestants who had supported Hitler were becoming disillusioned as they realized that the Nazis were attacking Christianity tout court; there could be no rival source of cultural identity to undermine German nationalism or single-issue politics.  The theme of disillusion, resistance, and disapproval among the working-class and petit-bourgeoisie is developed throughout Kershaw’s book, an attempted corrective to overly irrationalist interpretations advanced by conservative scholars stressing propaganda blitzes or national character to explain “the Holocaust.”

[11] Wistrich, 1986.  There seems to have been a change in 1937-1938; Kershaw’s and Mosse’s (or Wistrich’s) emphases might be seen as complementary.  Cf. Ernest K. Bramsted, Goebbels and National Socialist Propaganda 1925-45 (Michigan State U.P., 1965) noted a turning point in Goebbels’ propaganda themes between 1935 and 1938; newly apocalyptic imagery responded to the London Times complaint in 1935 that Nazis and Bolsheviks were similar: Goebbels retorted that parasitic Jewry, the “son of Chaos” was the source of the Bolshevist disease (379-383).  Or, Goebbels had broken the triangular view of the Spanish Civil War: two parties and the “neutrals”: “For the first time the image of a rejuvenated and German-sponsored Europe was projected, as the vision of a better world to come.  Goebbels contrasted the wicked deeds of the archfiend of the martyred in Spain with the fata morgana of a better Europe–a technique which he was to employ again and again in days of war to the very end of the Hitler regime” (164).  But Hitler came to power with just such claims: the Sun-God would bring a new dawn to Germany and leave the rubble of the Jewish-Marxist night behind; a view that élite theorists suppress in their attempt to render Hitler as a romantic.  There should be a detailed study of the origins and conception of Streicher’s Wandering Jew exhibition; I am taken with the striking coincidence between the intensified anti-Semitism and anti-modernism of the Nazis in 1937, C.I.O. labor movement militancy, and the mounting anti-Ahab/Melville offensive in the United States.

[12] The headline copy was “Streicher Opens Anti-Semitic Fair/ Democracy is Jewish Device, He Warns at Munich–He is Twitted by Dr. Goebbels”.

[13] Robert W. Rydell, All the World’s a Fair: visions of empire at American international expositions, 1876-1916 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984).

[14] Streicher and Goebbels both appealed to facts: Regarding Streicher’s speech and Goebbels’ response, the Times wrote “ ‘There are still nations believing in the Jews’s divine mission and proud of their democratic government.  For those who know, however, this much-famed democracy of Western states is a measure of the Jew’s power.  History will open these nations’ eyes.’  The exposition contains historical material and citations from the Talmud and other works designed to prove that Jews are instructed to cheat and murder their non-Jewish neighbors.  A photograph of Mayor La Guardia of New York has been placed in a hall devoted to “international Jews.”  Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels indicated in a speech delivered after Herr Streicher’s that the Nazi leaders are not wholly unaware of a certain humorous element in Herr Streicher’s fanaticism.  Smiling at the high priest of anti-Semitism, Dr. Goebbels said: “Our critics answer us with the assertion that the Jews also are human beings.  Now, as a matter of fact, even Party Comrade Streicher will grant that the Jews are human beings.”  The audience of 3,000 laughed, but the sally failed to amuse Herr Streicher, who continued to stare stolidly at the back of the hall.”

It is most peculiar that the Western press could have separated Goebbels from Streicher; in the spring of 1937, Goebbels propaganda department distributed a pamphlet to students and party leaders, calling for the recapture of “a lost identity” (to overcome the skepticism and despair of an industrialized world).  The late Israeli historian Uriel Tal wrote, “political faith needs an anti-hero,” a scapegoat, a devil.  Indeed it was the Jew who “having been a degraded sufferer for ages” was supposed to make the myth somewhat tangible and acceptable.  Through the “universal conspiracy of the Jew” as well as the “defilement of his blood” the Jew brings about “the systematic decomposition of the Aryan race and the Germanic Folk.”  In “Political Faith” of Nazism Prior to the Holocaust (Annual Lecture of the Schreiber Chair of Contemporary Jewish History, Tel Aviv University, 1978): 19.  But would such appeals have had any impact unless they benefited individuals and social classes in material ways?

[15] See Stanley Rosenman, “The American Nazi and the Wandering Jew,” The American Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol.39, No.4 (1979): 363-368, quoting from the Nuremburg Military Tribunal testimony of S.S. Colonel Paul Blobel, 363.

[16] Hyam Maccoby, “The Wandering Jew as Sacred Executioner,” The Wandering Jew: Essays in the Interpretation of a Christian Legend, ed. Galit Hasan-Rokem and Alan Dundes (Bloomington: Indiana U.P., 1986).

[17] Ruth Mellinkoff, The Mark of Cain (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981).

[18] See Uriel Tal, Christians and Jews in Germany (Ithaca and London: Cornell U.P., 1975): 16 on post-Reformation class anxieties.  Tal describes two strategies to deal with the corroding skepticism fostered by persistence of the obdurate Jew: one should either convert them or humiliate them so that their “abject state” testified to “the triumphant religion of Christianity.”  My distinction between Good (Christianized) Jews and Wandering Jews fits Tal’s categories (but he does not name the Wandering Jew myth here).

[19] Champfleury, “French Images of the Wandering Jew,” The Wandering Jew, 1986.

[20] See Erik Erikson’s influential wartime theory: Hitler was not the good father but the big brother who would never yield to the duplicities of the fathers.  I suspect that Erikson has applied the romantic Wandering Jew myth to Hitler (a motif throughout this study).

[21] Edgar Rosenberg, From Shylock to Svengali: Jewish Stereotypes in English Fiction (Stanford: Stanford U.P., 1960): 302-303.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.