Biography: Julius Streicher (1885-1946)


Figure 1.--Hitler Youth Leader Baldur von Schirach here salutes the Hitler Youth boys in Nuremberg, assembling for the 1933 NAZI Party Congress. One day was reserved for the Hitler Youth. Julius Streicher can be seen in the light-colored jacket. He had just been made Gauleiter of Franconia where Nuremburg was located.

Julius Streicher was one of the more reprehensible NAZIs, a prototype-Jew baiter. Stricher emerged from the War a coarse and morally depraved individual. He has been described as a bully with a hair-trigger temper. He was a truly twisted person. Streicher was born in Fleinhausen, Bavaria (1885). He taught primary school for a time. He married Kunigunde Roth, a baker's daughter, in Nürnberg (1913. The Streichers had two boys, Lothar (1915- ) and Elmar (1918- ). He enlisted in the German Army when World waar I broke out. During the War he was awarded the Iron Cross and promoted to lieutenant. He was an early recruit to Hitler and the NAZI Party. He was one of the most virulent promoyers of anti-Semitism through his vulgar, ponographic magazine, Der Stürmer. Although he was not directly involved in the Holocust, he was apparently perparing a photograph collection from the NAZI death camps to celebrate it. He proved so offebsive that Hitler removed him from office, but allowed him to continue publishing.

Parents

Julius' father was a school teacher, Friedrich Streicher. He married Anna Weiss. His parents were Catholic.

Childhood

Streicher was born in Fleinhausen, Bavaria (1885). Julius was one of nine children.

Education

Stricher's secondary school was a teacher-training institute. He began there at age 13. Many authors suggest that Streicher was not very inteligent. Some suggest he was insane. He appears to have been an individual of average inteligence. [Bytwerk] As to his mental state, there may well have been some kind of mental disorder. There is a tendency to label twisted individuls as insane or mad. We tend to think that there is a difference between insanity and evil.

Early Career

He taught primary school for a time. He began teaching immneduately after finishing his teacher training course. We're not sure what kind of teacher he was. One biographer suggests that he was a fairly effective teacher. Bytwerk At least he had a nack for motivting or getting the children interested in what they were studying. [Bytwerk] He joined the German Democratic Party (1909). After World War I along with right-wing politics he went back to teaching.

Family

He married Kunigunde Roth, a baker's daughter, in Nürnberg (1913). The Streichers had two boys, Lothar (1915- ) and Elmar (1918- ). He was not a faitful husband and conducted adulterous affairs. Kunigunde died (1943). They had been married 30 years.

World War I (1914-18)

He enlisted in the German Army when World waar I broke out. During the War he was awarded the Iron Cross and promoted to lieutenant.

Right-wing Politics

Stricher emerged from the War a coarse and morally depraved individual. He has been described as a bully with a hair-trigger temper. He seems to be the arch-typical NAZI Stormtrooper, but he did not join the SA. Like many veterans, he did not understand how with the sacrifices made that his beloved Germany could have lost the War. The trauma appears to have driven him to radical right-wing politics. He joined the Schutz-und-Trutz Bund (Society for Defense and Protective Action) (1919). He was somewhat successful in the heated-atmopsphere of right-wing politics in part because he was a gifted orator. He strongly opposed the socialist Bavarian Republic. It is at this time he begins to articulate the vurulent anti-Semitic rhetoric for which he would become so associated. The fact that some prominant German socialists were Jews, helped to inflame right-wing anti-Semitism. He established Wistrich, an anti-Semitic organization (1919). He organized the Nuremberg wing of the Deutschsozialistische Partei (German Socialist Party). This was essentially his own personal party. The use of socialism in the part's name was to attract worker support and did not reflect left-wing policies. The Party was right-wing ultra-nationalist, anti-Catholic, and anti-Semitic. As time went on, Jew baiting became an increasing focus. He was one of Hitler's earliest and most loyal supporters. He turned his Party over to Hitler (1922). Hitler mentions this in glowing terms in Mein Kampf. Streicher helped Hitler gain a foothold in Nuremberg which proved very useful. [Bytwerk] Streicher participated in Hitler's abortive Beer Hall Putsch (1923). Streicher was suspended from teaching. He organized a surrogate local party as the NAZI Party was outlawed for a time. Despite his participation in the Putch, he was elected to the Bavarian parliament (1924).

Der Stürmer

Streicher was one of the most vile promoters of anti-Semitism through his vulgar, ponographic tabloid, Der Stürmer (The Stormer or Stormtrooper). Streicher founded Der Stürmer (1923). Anti-Semetic articles were featured prominently in NAZI-era publicatins. The NAZIs generally took what strangely may be called an "intellectual" approach, offering reasons for taking actions against Jews. They even presented suposed scientific evidence for expelling Jews from German society. And there was no shortages of scientists willing to lend their support. Streicher's approach was different. It was both vulgar and violent, even pornographic in the rather prudish NAZI state. It was widely read. Even thise who did not buy a cooy could read it on the street kiosks where it was posted. It was also posted on the bulletin boards at concentration camps. Hitler indicated that Der Stürmer was his favorite newspaper. He made sure that it was widely available throughout Germany. Editions were posted for the public. There were glassed-in display cases especially for the publication called "Stürmerkasten". Actually this caused a problem because parents while apparently not overly offended with the vile antti-Semitism, were offended by the pornography envolved, both in the artcles and cartoons. The actual circulation peaked at 480,000 (1935). Streicher continued publishing Der Strümer until the end of World War II (1945).

Other Publications

Der Strümer was the publication that Stricher was best known for publishing. It was not, however, his only publication. His publshing house also produced color illustrated anti-Semitic children books, a short-lived anti-Semitic medical journal, and a variety of academic books. One example of this literature is Der Giftpilz (Toadstool), a collection of stories about Jews published by the vicious anti-semite Julius Streicher who operated a publishing house. The caption is a quotation from Streicher, "He who fights the Jews batles the Devil." It went with an article "Without solving the Jewish question no salvation for mankind". The children are wearing their Hitler Youth uniforms.

Gauleiter of Franconia

After seizing power in Germany (January 1933), Hitler moved to take power in the German states and municiplities which under the emar constitution had considerable power. With the constitution suspended, The SA Stormtroopers were used to simply eject state and city officials throughout the country. He then appointed Gauleiters who were essentially govenors, but govenors unrestricted by legislatures or very quickly without an independent judiciary. The Gauleiters thus had enormous power. Hirler appointed Streicher Gauleiter of Franconia (April 1933). Franconia was a historic region of Germany which was based on a medievel duchy. It was mase up of northern Bavaria and an area to the west. It included Nuremberg where the NAZIs held their annual party congress. One of his first action as Gauleiter was to organized a 1-day boycott of Jewish businesses in the Gau. This was essentially a dress-rehearsal for more-widespread boycotts of Jewish business and commercial actions against Jews in the Reich. With virtually unlimited power and aclose assiciation with the Führer, Streicher virtually ruled Franconia like a feudal lord. He came to be called the "King of Nuremberg" and the "Beast of Franconia". He came to see his association with the Führer as protecting him from any accountability. It is unclear what his connection with the Holocaust was. Streicher claimed that he was not consulted on the racist Nuremberg Laws of 1935. He is said to have felt slighted. Stricher was part of the public face of the NAZI rgime. Not only did he have his own personal publication, but he made speaking tours attracting large audiences throughout the country. On Kristallnacht, he ordered the Great Synagogue of Nuremberg destroyed (November 1938). He claimed after the War that he did not like the architectural design.

Removal as Gauleiter

Streicher’s excesses as Gauleiter eventually led to his downfall. A Gauleiter served at the pleasure of the Führer. They generally hekd their post depending on how well they implemented NAZI policies set in Berlin. They were expected to support both bith NAZI policies and the Party itself. Hitler had a prudish streak, meaning that he expected Gauleiter and other public officials to maitain exempkery family lives. Even Propganda Minister Goebeels ran into trouble when he and Frau Goebbels quareled. Stricher convinved himself that his personal relationship with the Führer meant that he could act with impunity in Franconia. Spreading lies about Jews of course was not a problem in NAZI Germany, but Streicher made enemies with other NAZI officials. His behavior came to be seen as irresponsible. He attacked other Gauleiters, not privately but in bombastic verbal attacks. This made him widely unpopular within the Party. And he seems to have picked a quarel with Reichs Marshall Hermann Göring, the second most powerful man in the Reich. He apparently spread the rumor that Göring's daughter Edda was conceived by artificial insemination. Göring was furious with this, in large part because it questioned his verility. Generally top NAZI's avoided antagonizing others who were close to the Führer. Göring came to despise Streicher and made no secret of it. Göring prohivited his staff from reading Der Stürmer. Streicher's position began to unravel after Kristallnacht (November 1938). Stricher's graft and corruption reached levels beyond which even Hitler refused to tolerate. His enemies in the Party charged that he kept property seized from Jews during the NAZI pogrom. The property seized was suposed to go to the NAZI state. Of course many NAZIs kept somne of the valuables for themselves. Stricher appears to have been guilty of extrene avarice and his enemies were more than happy to pursue the issue. His personal behavior was also a problem. He openly flaunted an adultrous affair. The outcome was that he was removed as Gauleiter (February 1940). This all go prominant NAZI then withdrew from the public life. Hitler allowed him to continue publishing Der Stürmer. Hitler ordered Stricher to end his public speaking.

The Holocaust

While he used his authority to abuse and steal from Jews while Gauleiter, there is no evidence that he participated directky in the Holocaust. This is presumably because this was done by the SS and Streicher was not in the SS. He was fully aware of what was being done. Another reason he is not believed to have been directly involved in the Holocaust is that he was removed from public office (February 1940). Hitler did allow him to continue publishing Der Stürmer. Stricher's actions and writing and statements show that he was well aware that Jews were being killed in large numbers. He ordered his press photographer to visit the ghettos of the East (spring 1943). There are numerous statements, such as, "It is actually true that the Jews have so to speak disappeared from Europe and that the Jewish 'Reservoir of the East,' from which the Jewish pestilence has for centuries beset the peoples of Europe, has ceased to exist. But the Führer of the German people at the beginning of the war prophesied what has now come to pass." [November 4, 1943] One report suggests that Streicher collected and organised photographers to document the Holocaust and death camps. This of course was not a document of crimes, but as a celebration of NAZI achievements.

Relationship with Hitler

Streicher despite his removal from office continued on good terms with the Führer. Few people in Germany were as aware of the Führer's attitudes as Propaganda Minister Goebbels. He wrote in his diary some time after Stricher had been removed from office, "The Fuehrer sent word to me thatvhe does not desire the circulation of the Stuermer be reduced or that it cease publication all together. I am very happy about the decisioin. The Fuehrer stands by his old Party members and fellow fighters and won't let occasional trouble abd differences affect him. Because he is so loyal to his co-workers, these, in turn, are equally faithful to him." [January 25, 1942--Goebbels, p. 47.]

Arrest (May 1945)

NAZI Germany surrendered to the Allies (May 7, 1945). Streicher like many NAZIs decided to commit suicide. He chaznged his mind, however, and married his former secretary, Adele Tappe. Only a few days later he was captured in the town of Waidring by American soldiers (May 23). Stricher was one of the most easily recognizable NAZIs. He claimed to be a painter named Joseph Sailer, but soon admited who he was. The American officer in command was Jewish, Major Henry Plitt.

Trial (November 1945- October 1946)

The first and best known of these trials was the Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal (IMT) in Nuremberg--the location of the annual NAZI Party meetings. Allied jurista tried 22 of the major NAZI leaders. Hirler and Himmler were absent because they committed suiside. The trial was held from November 21, 1945 to October 1, 1946. Streicher was found guilty of crimes against humanity at Nuremberg War Crimes Trial. He was not accused of actually participating in the Holocaust. He was removed from office by the NAZIs because of a wide range of illegal activities envolbing using his office for personal enrichment. Thus he was out of Givernent when the Holocaust was perpetrated. The case against him was that he played an important role in creating an atmosphere of hatred which made the Holocaust possible. The Tribunal felt that his hate-filled tabloid and other publications helped inflame German public opinion against the Jews, make the Holocaust possible.

Execution (October 1946)

Accounts of Streicher's execution vary somewhat. While climbing the stairs, he was the only one of the condemned to shout "Heil Hitler!" His last words before he was habged were "The Bolsheviks will hang you one day. Heil Hitler" (October, 16, 1946). One source claims that Just before he fell to his death, he shouted, "Purim Festival, 1946!" As the black hood was drawn over his head, a muffled voice could be heard, 'Adele, my dear wife.' Rge execution was bungled somewhat and Streicher sid not die immediately when the trap dropped.

Sources

Bytwerk, Randall L. Julius Streicher: Nazi Editor of the Notorious Anti-Semitic Newspaper Der Sturmer.

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









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Created: 1:44 AM 12/15/2004
Last updated: 9:17 PM 1/6/2010