The Sextant Christopher Newport University’s On-Line History Journal

Vol. 9, Fall/Winter 2012-13

Julius Streicher gave himself the nickname “Jew-Baiter Number One.”  Prominent American defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, however, referred to Streicher as the “cheerleader” of the Nazi Party, using his libelous newspaper Der Stürmer, as his megaphone.  The infamous weekly paper ran for 23 years, inciting the German people into an anti-Semitic fervor.  For his involvement in stirring the frenzy against the Jews, Streicher was one of twenty-one defendants at the Major War Crimes Trials at Nuremberg.[1]

Streicher was born on February 12, 1885 in the town of Fleinhausen, a small village near Augsburg that was funded by the dairy industry.  He was educated in the agricultural region, and followed two older brothers into a teacher preparatory school in Lauingen, as his parents encouraged him to make teaching grade school children a profession. Graduating from Lauingen in 1902, Streicher served briefly in the military before moving to Nuremberg to teach in 1910. He re-enlisted in the German army to fight in World War I.[2]

After the War Streicher returned to a Nuremberg rife with anti-Semitism.  Taking advantage of the frustration in Nuremberg, Streicher blamed the problems in the city on Hermann Luppe, the city’s mayor.  He soon turned to journalism to press forward his opinions.  On April 20, 1923, Streicher’s anti-Semitic weapon, Der Stürmer, made its first appearance, proclaiming itself as “Streicher’s Antwort an die Verleumder und Verräter!” (“Streicher’s answer to the slanderers and traitors!”)  The editor’s virulent anti-Communism gave the journal its name.  As Streicher’s himself put it, “Since the paper will storm the red fortress, it shall be called Der Stürmer.”[3]

Der Sturmer, however, was not Streicher’s first venture in journalism.  Prior to the 1923 launch of Stürmer, Streicher published two other newspapers, Deutsche Sozialist and Deutschen Volkswille.  Both papers were affiliated with Streicher’s German Socialist Party, which later merged with the Nazi Party.  In the first issue of Deutsche Sozialist, Streicher attacked Luppe for taking no action against Jews living in Nuremberg.  Later issues of the paper regularly attacked Jews and Communists.  Deutsche Volkswille, on the other hand, was an ethnic pride newspaper catering to non-Jewish ethnic Germans.  It regularly called on farmers to attack Jews for imposing restrictions on the agrarian community.  Deutsche Volkswille lasted one year before Streicher aligned himself and his political party with the Nazis.[4]

In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler notes that Streicher’s independent German Socialist Party joined the Nazis in 1922, but it was a far from peaceful process. Despite the initial animosity, Streicher became a reliable Nazi and led a column of followers through Munich during the 1923 Putsch that resulted in the arrest of Hitler and Streicher, among other prominent Nazis, according to Baird.  Imprisoned in Landsberg with Hitler, Streicher was stripped of all his teaching positions in Nuremberg, and his only income came via the profits of Stürmer.[5]

Stürmer began in 1923 with a small circulation, and was largely a gossip paper filled with falsified articles about Jews and Freemasons, both of whom were targets of the Nazi ideology. Throughout Nuremberg, as the Nazis grew in numbers and influence, Streicher demanded that women in the area who entered romantic relationships with Jews publish the announcement of relationship in Stürmer so they could be considered an aggravator of racial shame for intermingling.[6]

Nor did Streicher’s legal troubles did cease on his release from Landsberg. According to Varga, Streicher spent two months in a Nuremberg jail for slandering the city’s Jews during the late 1920s.  Even after the establishment of Der Stürmer, Streicher was faced with gag orders for libel, claiming that Jews murdered Gentiles for ritualistic practices.[7]

In 1925, Streicher hired cartoonist Phillip Ruprecht, who used the pseudonym “Fips”, to create the distinctive cartoons of anti-Semitism on the front cover of Stürmer.  “Fips” was always ordered by Streicher to create pictures of Jews that were dehumanizing and smutty.  Some examples of “Fips”’ racism include a 1934 drawing of a vampire bat with a Star of David on its chest and a stereotypical Jewish nose on its face, and a caption claiming that Jews were the devil on Earth.  Another, celebrating the arrival of 1932, depicted a disheveled Jew slumped in the corner of a boxing ring about to be pummeled by a fit Nazi, carries the caption “Auf zur lezten Runde” (on to the last round), and uses the boxing metaphor to symbolize the goal of the defeat of the Jews.[8]

While the cartoons of “Fips” were a distinguishing feature of Stürmer, the newspaper’s motto declared its mission: “Die Juden sind unser Unglück”—The Jews are our misfortune. This motto was seen across the Nazi state in newsstands as well as boxes, called Stürmerkasten, placed at bus stops. The commentary of Stürmer played on stereotypes and misconceptions about Jews, such as how few Jews worked in menial labor jobs.[9]

Streicher also taught hatred to children with a collection of books published by Stürmer’s book division. The two most infamous are Trau keinem Fuchs auf grüner Heid und keinem Jud bei seinem Eid! (Don’t Trust a Fox on the Green Heath nor the Oath of a Jew!) and Der Giftpilz (The Poison Mushroom.)  Both feature vignettes warning children about the dangers of Jews and promoted Stürmer as a means for children to gain enlightenment about the Jewish question.[10]

Don’t Trust a Fox featured stories that degraded Jews, such as one with a Jewish butcher who only sold refuse to his customers.  It also exhibited the theme of Jews raping German girls and children excited that Streicher is speaking in their town.[11]

Der Giftpilz carries similar themes of anti-Semitism.  Written by Ernst Hiemer and illustrated by “Fips,” the book derives its title from a vignette in which a mother teaches her young child to discriminate safe mushrooms from poisonous ones, likening it to weeding out Jews from Gentiles.  The book’s most notable story is the one in which a Jewish doctor molests a Gentile girl, who informs her mother that the Bund Deutscher Mädel had prepared her for the circumstance, despite the mother’s trust.[12]

Following the end of the war, Streicher was captured by US Army Major Henry Blitt, who—appropriately—happened to be Jewish.   American Col. Howard Brundage interrogated Streicher prior to the official indictments from the Major War Crimes Trials at Nuremberg, yet the session apparently yielded nothing useful.  When the Major War Crimes Trial began on November 14, 1945, Streicher found himself indicted on two charges: Count One (Common Plan or Conspiracy) and Count Four (Crimes against Humanity).[13][13]

Following the end of the war, Streicher was captured by US Army Major Henry Blitt, who—appropriately—happened to be Jewish.   American Col. Howard Brundage interrogated Streicher prior to the official indictments from the Major War Crimes Trials at Nuremberg, yet the session apparently yielded nothing useful.  When the Major War Crimes Trial began on November 14, 1945, Streicher found himself indicted on two charges: Count One (Common Plan or Conspiracy) and Count Four (Crimes against Humanity).[14]

During the opening testimony of Count One, a quote of Streicher was delivered that read “The sun will not shine on the nations of the earth until the last Jew is dead.”[15]  When the initial indictments on Count Four were read, Streicher was listed as an official member of the Nazi Party, former member of the Reichstag from Franconia as well as its Gauleiter, and the editor and publisher of Der Stürmer who promoted the rise to power of his Nazi comrades and also used his publication empire to incite the German public.

While on trial for his life, Streicher was represented by Dr. Hans Marx, a Nuremberg lawyer, according to Zillmer.48 Marx tried to have Streicher’s trial postponed on the grounds that Marx had inadequate time to establish a defense. Prosecutor Robert Jackson denied the petition, citing that materials were available.[16]

Marx had initially wanted to have Streicher removed from the dock entirely on the same reasons that got industrialist Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach exempted, but Streicher’s petition had no trace of physical hardship.  Streicher’s mental capacities also came into question before the deliberations.  The Soviet prosecutors requested a psychiatric examination of Streicher on November 16, 1945, believing he might be mentally incompetent to stand trial. Rudolf Hess also received such an evaluation. Streicher was ruled as sane, competent to stand trial, and aware of his activities in the Nazi state, despite claiming to establish a Zionist perspective and present such ideas in Stürmer.[17]

The evidence to indict Streicher on Crimes against Humanity was obvious, as he carried the reputation as “Jew-Baiter Number One,” and published the venomous Stürmer, which had a peak national circulation of 600,000 in 1935.[18]

On November 21, 1945, Julius Streicher pled not guilty to all charges, as did all other defendants in the dock.  The British prosecutor, Griffith-Jones named Streicher and his fellow defendant Alfred Rosenberg as the main perpetrators of the Nazi master race theories through their propaganda which supported the complete elimination of Jews. Streicher was the official leader of the 1933 one-day boycott of Jewish businesses, and led the anti-Semitic actions alongside Hermann Wilhelm Göring, Rudolf Hess, Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Baldur von Schirach, and Martin Bormann, Streicher signed a statement vowing his control for one day, April 1.[19]

Streicher was also involved in the propaganda supporting the passage of the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, which led to the prohibition of Jew-Aryan intermarriage, as well as the removal of Jewish citizenship within the Reich. Ever the anti-Semite and media whore, Streicher used his presence and popularity in Nuremberg to make a celebration out of the demolition of the city’s most frequented synagogue in 1938. At the demolition site, Streicher opened the ceremonies by delivering a lengthy speech and then set the wrecking ball in motion.  Also in 1938, Streicher also defended Kristallnacht in November 1938 by claiming that the violence was not a spontaneous reaction, and that the Nazi Party had prepared. Streicher also delivered a speech in Nuremberg the day after the pogrom, praising the violence.[20]

Griffith-Jones continued by mentioning that Streicher held very few official positions in the Nazi state, serving as a relatively powerless Gauleiter in Franconia, as well as an SA Obergruppenfürher, which was a largely honorary position also held by defendants Hans Frank, Baldur von Schirach, and Fritz Sauckel. Streicher’s propaganda machine was independent, despite the popularity of Stürmer, and the officially sanctioned Nazi propaganda originated through the Reich Propaganda Minstry of Josef Goebbels. According to Griffith-Jones, Stürmer led thousands into the Nazi Party despite not being an official publication. Outside of Stürmer, Streicher published other propaganda pieces that dehumanized the Jews, such as the hygienic journal German Peoples Health Through Blood and Soil, which suggested Jews and Jew-German “hybrid” people as resident aliens in the Nazi state.[21]

Griffith-Jones continued his prosecution with a discussion of the recurring theme of Jewish ritual murder in Stürmer. The first story mentioned dated to 1476, and was about a group of young Jewish boys who killed Gentiles for ritualistic practices. Stürmer gave many other references to ritual murder throughout history, including the 1345 murder of a boy named Heinrich, who was beatified by the Catholic Church[22].

Streicher’s involvement in Kristallnacht was also called into consideration, as Stürmer condoned and encouraged the violence in Nuremberg, despite Streicher claiming to have personally opposed the chaotic pogrom. The city police did nothing to quell the rioters, who had begun to demonstrate in the streets before turning to violence by burning synagogues and looting Jewish homes and shops across Nuremberg and the neighboring city of Fürth.[23]

In a document presented by the prosecution, Holz, the Deputy Gauleiter of Franconia, suggested to Streicher during the violence of Kristallnacht that Jews be removed from Franconia into an internment camp in order to free up suburban houses for Aryans in need of adequate housing. Holz also suggested to Streicher that due to the violence in Nuremberg, all anti-Semitic laws were virtually meaningless.[24]

At this point in the prosecution, Griffith-Jones moved into great detail about the children’s propaganda division of Stürmer, focusing on the two infamous books and a pamphlet published by Streicher for the local school system.  Griffith-Jones began by discussing the pamphlet entitled “The Jewish Question and School Instruction,” which was published by Stürmer, and was written by Fritz Frink, the school inspector for Nuremberg. Streicher admitted to writing the preface for the pamphlet, which required teachers in the Franconia Gau to incorporate racial issues into their classroom lectures.[25]

The two most infamous children’s books, Don’t Trust a Fox and Der Giftpilz, were brought to the attention of the tribunal. Don’t Trust a Fox was described in detail, with many stories about Jews cheating Gentiles out of money and preparing unsanitary food for Gentiles.  Der Giftpilz was written in the same vein of anti-Semitism as Don’t Trust a Fox, with stories about children for children with the brilliant illustrations of “Fips” aiding in telling the racist stories. Both books end with children becoming excited about an upcoming Streicher speech, showing the self-advertising of Stürmer through its publications. The children at the end of Giftpilz discussed a school play in which Satan influenced a Jew to murder a Nazi Party member, with the Jew being led away by Nazi policemen at the end.[26]

Griffith-Jones concluded his prosecution by stating while Streicher was not involved physically in the murder of Jews, his libelous and racist propaganda was utilized to make the concept of mass murder more acceptable to the German populace, spewing prosecution and hate from every issue of Stürmer.[27]

Hans Marx had six character witnesses for Streicher present, his wife Adele, son Lothar, Ernst Hiemer (editor-in-chief of Stürmer from 1933-45), Wurzbacher (an SA brigade leader who attended many of Streicher’s speeches), Herrwerth (Streicher’s chauffeur who opposed Kristallnacht), and a Dr. Strobel (who also opposed the 1938 violence).[28]

The Tribunal permitted Hiemer to testify as Streicher’s personal lieutenant, as he held intricate knowledge about Streicher’s positions on Jews85. Wurzbacher’s testimony was permitted, though much of it was considered redundant. Affidavits from Herrwerth and Strobel were considered sufficient testimony. Adele Streicher was permitted to testify for her husband, and she also provided an affidavit about her involvement with Stürmer during the war. Lothar Streicher also was permitted to testify, but his relevance was of concern.[29]

Streicher was called to the witness box on April 26, 1946. He motioned to fire Marx, citing that his defense counsel was unable to defend him in the way he wanted, a motion the Tribunal ruled as frivolous.[30]

 Streicher’s complaints included the fact that the Tribunal charter granted the rights for an unhampered, just defense, being forced to request Marx when another lawyer he wanted was unavailable, Streicher had to inform Marx to expect public attack from a communist newspaper (and the Tribunal was supposed to protect Marx), and the Counsel refused to submit important evidence.  Marx requested to the Tribunal that he be able to conduct Streicher’s defense in his own way, and was ordered by the President to continue with the defense, as Streicher may have had differing opinions on Marx’s professional conduct.[31]

He began a forced leave of absence in February 1940, during which he lived under house arrest on his farm until the end of the war and continued to operate of Stürmer from home. At the end of the war, Streicher and his wife fled into Austria, where he pondered suicide but decided against it.[32]

According to Oswald Dutch, Streicher once claimed that Stürmer was the only paper Hitler read cover to cover. Yet Randall Bytwerk demonstrated that the majority of the reader base for Stürmer was sexually curious adolescent boys who were only interested in the smut content as opposed to the anti-Semitic articles and literature.Streicher defended the content of Stürmer by saying that his paper wrote about race, history, the Old Testament, and the Talmud, among other topics. The prosecution claimed that Stürmer was a key instrument in inciting the Germans to rally together in exterminating the Jews. Streicher also claimed that his newspaper did not directly lead to pogroms or murder of Jews prior to World War II.[33]

Streicher told von Obernitz, an SA leader in Nuremberg, that the pogrom violence of Kristallnacht was wrong, and that the attacks were a mindless act of revenge for the death of Party Legation Councilor vom Rath. Streicher openly took a position of disapproval, which left him out of favor with Hitler. He was never invited to join Hitler again at the Hotel Deutscher Hof whenever the Führer visited Nuremberg.[34]

The fallout continued after November 1938, as violence largely replaced words as the way of handling the Jewish question, and Rosenberg became the official in charge of racial issues. Heinrich Himmler, Baldur von Shirach, Hans Fritzsche, and Martin Bormann all led efforts to outlaw Stürmer across the Reich. Rudolf Hess also ordered Streicher to cease giving speeches from Fall 1939 until the end of the war.[35]

In 1942 and 1943, before the Final Solution was made public, issues of Stürmer alluded to Streicher having knowledge of the extermination of Jews. His main source of information during the war years was a Jewish newspaper published in Switzerland (Israelitisches Wochenblatt- Israelite Weekly) that was considered contraband and became nearly impossible to import during World War II.  Despite apparently possessing knowledge about the Final Solution, Streicher proposed colonizing Madagascar as a Zionist state in 1941 and 1942, but those issues of Stürmer were censored by the Propaganda Ministry in Berlin. It was also made obvious that Streicher showed no interest in the positive aspects of Jews.[36]

After a lengthy discussion of his complicated legal history, as well as the synagogue demolition and Kristallnacht, Streicher finally finished his testimony by discussing at length the internationality of the Jewish question. He returned to the dock, and Fritz Herrwerth was called in to testify as a character witness. Herrwerth was an employee of Streicher, serving as his chauffeur from 1934 until 1943. Herrwerth included in his testimony a description of a conversation between Streicher and von Obernitz in which Streicher said that the Kristallnacht violence was wrong. Herrwerth also talked about Streicher’s providing Christmas dinner and family reunions for some Dachau prisoners, as well as finding work in the Mars motorcycle factory for released prisoners.[37]

Herrwerth continued about Streicher’s anti-Semitic activities, and was released from the witness stand. Adele Streicher was then called to the stand. Streicher’s wife served as her husband’s personal secretary during his house arrest, though never was a member of the Nazi Party.  Frau Streicher discussed correspondence between her husband and other key Nazis, including Robert Ley and Joseph Goebbels, who were forced to keep their visits secret from Hitler due to a prohibition on officials from contacting Streicher.[38]

When Streicher had his secret meetings with prominent Nazis, according to Frau Streicher, they never discussed the Jewish state or the concentration camps. She also claimed that the couple’s knowledge of the Final Solution was supplied to them in 1944 via the Swiss Jewish newspapers. Frau Streicher also denied wrongdoing in the Mars stock affair on her husband’s behalf. Adele Streicher was released from the dock at the conclusion of the April 29, 1946 session.[39]

The following day, Friedrich Strobel took the stand for Streicher. Strobel spoke about Streicher’s mental intensity, and the possibility that he had no idea that his hate speech was so venomous. Strobel was speaking in particular of a speech made in the wake of Kristallnacht, and that the Party was ordering the violence, which Streicher approved in his speech. The final two character witnesses, Hiemer and Wurzbacher, were not present in the courtroom, and a recess was called while they were found.[40]

Hiemer began, saying that he was hired by Streicher in 1934 to work for Die Deutsche Volksgesundheit, a health journal that Streicher’s firm published. Hiemer also was employed as a co-editor of Stürmer, and was promoted to responsible editor in 1938 when Karl Holz was appointed as Deputy Gauleiter.  Hiemer continued by saying that Streicher believed in emigration and deportation as the answer to the Jewish question, citing Madagascar and Palestine as the best options for Jewish homelands. [41]


Streicher began falling into irrelevance after the Nazis came to power, as Stürmer was not as necessary as it once was for publishing Nazi information.  After 1935, Stürmer’s circulation imploded from its peak of 800,000, despite Streicher’s grandiose books commemorating the annual Reichsparteitag at Nuremberg.  Streicher was in regular conflict with party officials, as Rosenberg and Himmler held the official jobs in the Party on the Jewish question. Despite the Zionist claims, Hiemer admitted that Streicher had talked of Jewish extermination in Stürmer, though Streicher had no knowledge of concentration camp activity.[42]

Hiemer discussed that all articles in Stürmer went through Streicher before publication, and that Stürmer built an archive of books on Jewish topics that included literature confiscated from Jewish homes. Streicher also held a private archive of pornography that was kept away from the rest of the Stürmer staff. After more discussions of the inner workings of Stürmer, Hiemer retired, and Philipp Wurzbacher was the last of Streicher’s witnesses.[43]

Wurzbacher was a member of the SA who had known Streicher from 1923, and attended many of Streicher’s rallies. Wurzbacher cleared the SA of wrongdoing in Franconia, as they never instigated any violence against Jews during Streicher’s tenure as Gauleiter. Wurzbacher was not on duty in Nuremberg on Kristallnacht due to a throat infection that required spa treatment at Bad Ems. The SA was divided over the violence, as some supported and some denounced the pogrom.[44]

Marx began his defense speech on July 11, 1946 by stating that Streicher was a major enemy to the Jews before and during the war, and ended up in American custody shortly after the surrender. He fueled the persecution which incited the extermination, and was charged with supporting the consolidation of power of Hitler and his close associates. Streicher was charged as well with his own aggressive war of propaganda, and encouraged hatred of Jews throughout the Reich.[45]

With regards to the Common Plan indictment, Streicher denied the existence of a Nazi conspiracy, or that if one existed, he was not involved. Despite not being indicted on Count Two (Crimes against Peace), Streicher was involved in the persecution that led to the war of aggression. As to Streicher’s indictment on Crimes against Humanity, Marx admitted that Streicher had long been an instigator of the Final Solution, and was an ardent supporter of the early Nazi platform opposing the Versailles Treaty.[46]

The argument Marx made was that Streicher committed no criminal activity if the words in Stürmer did not lead to any criminal activities by its readers. Marx criticized the prosecution for citing the idea that Stürmer was indeed responsible for the massive waves of anti-Semitism that were common in Weimar and Nazi Germany.[47]

Stürmer had no official capacity in the Nazi state, and was therefore ineligible to bear its standards and emblems. The Reich considered the newspaper a private entity written and published by a private citizen.[48]

While Streicher was easily proven as a Nazi fanatic, Marx said that he was also an outsider to the Third Reich who occasionally exhibited a humane side in his duties as Gauleiter (particularly reuniting some families for Christmas). With his last remarks, Marx retired from his presentation, and the defense for Reichsbank financier Walther Funk was called to the stand.[49]

The trials came to a close on October 1, 1946, and Julius Streicher was mentioned one last time as a key propagandist. The tribunal mentioned that Streicher was never involved in Hitler’s closest associates nor at any meetings in which military action was planned, therefore, Streicher was acquitted on Count One, the Common Plan/Conspiracy.[50]

The sentencing on Count Four, Crimes against Humanity, recalled his defamatory work with Stürmer, as well as the boycott, synagogue demolition, and Kristallnacht. However, the majority of the verdict’s information derived from Stürmer, which dehumanized Jews on a weekly basis, and suggested extermination rather than Zionism as the solution to the Jewish question. As a result of such public incitement, Streicher was convicted on Crimes against Humanity.[51]

Despite only being convicted on one count, Streicher was sentenced to death by hanging, which was carried out on October 16, 1946 by Sgt. John Woods of the United States Army. His last words were a final declaration of loyalty to Hitler, as well as a statement of love to his wife.[52]