The Eternal Jew

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Original title The Eternal Jew
Country of production German Empire
original language German
Publishing year 1940
length 65 minutes
Age rating FSK according to a reserved film
Director Fritz Hippler
script Eberhard Taubert
production Deutsche Filmherstellungs- und Verwertungs GmbH (DFG) for the Reich propaganda
leadership of the NSDAP
music Franz R. Friedl
camera Albert Endrejat ,
Anton Hafner ,
Robert Hartmann,
Friedrich-Carl Heere ,
Heinz Kluth ,
Erich Stoll ,
Heinz Winterfeld ,
Svend Noldan (not in the credits, also for trick and cards)
cut Hans Dieter Schiller ,
Albert Baumeister

Harry Giese : Speaker

The Eternal Jew is an anti-Semitic National Socialist propaganda film and is considered the most aggressive representative of this type. The film was released in German cinemas at the end of November 1940 after the first year of the Second World War . It was filmed under the direction of Fritz Hippler and published by the Reich Propaganda Management of the NSDAP . Hitler and Goebbels exerted a strong influence on its form and content. The aim of this film was to get the German public in the mood for the planned “ final solution to the Jewish question ”.

The film, which was produced as a compilation film in the style of a documentary , was preceded by the anti-Semitically motivated feature film Jud Süß by Veit Harlan . This was supposed to arouse resentment against the Jews as an allegedly harmful “race” in the audience - resentments that were supposed to be underpinned by the film The Eternal Jew with an apparently documentary character.

The Eternal Jew , along with Jud Süß and Die Rothschilds, is one of the three films premiered in Germany in 1940 that no longer portray Jews as comic characters, as was customary under National Socialist film policy until then , but as dangerous " subhumans ".


The opening credits identify the film as a "film contribution to the problem of world Jewry ". The first sentence of the film in the subtitle , which makes use of the anti-Semitic cliché of Jewish mimicry , introduces its entire subject matter and intention:

“The civilized Jews we know from Germany only give us an imperfect picture of their racial characteristics. This film shows original footage from the Polish ghettos, it shows us Jews what they look like in reality before they hide behind the mask of a civilized European. "

The film can be roughly divided into four subject areas:

  1. Recordings from Polish ghettos (e.g. ghetto Litzmannstadt )
  2. List and assessment of numerous political, cultural and social greats on the international stage with Jewish origins
  3. Religious ceremonies, religious instruction , worship, slaughter
  4. Adolf Hitler's Reichstag speech, SA men parading

The film consists of a series of scenes in which Jews are depicted as socially inferior, cultureless, parasitic people. Most of the pictures come from Polish ghettos , which are represented as “the plague ... that threatens the health of the Aryan peoples”; People who were poorly dressed, partly toothless and grinning at the camera were deliberately chosen. The locations shown are dirty and infested with insect pests. The depicted migration of Jews from Eastern Europe is compared to the migration of rats , and Jewish people are equated with vermin to be destroyed (excerpt from the original setting ):

“Wherever rats appear, they bring destruction into the country, they destroy human goods and food. [...] They are insidious, cowardly and cruel and usually appear in large groups. They represent the element of insidious, subterranean destruction among animals - no different from the Jews among humans. "

The film claims that the Jews in the ghetto, shown as dirty and poor, are not really poor, but rather:

“Through decades of trading they have amassed enough money to create a clean and comfortable home for themselves and their families. But they live for generations in the same dirty and bugged apartment blocks. "

Jews are held responsible for inflation and unemployment in Germany. They would have sneaked into all professions and kept themselves harmless against German property through usury, swindles and crimes (excerpt from the original setting):

“There were only two Jews for every thousand Berlin workers. At the beginning of 1933, 15 out of 100 public prosecutors in Berlin were Jews. Out of a hundred judges, 23 were Jews. 49 Jews out of a hundred lawyers. Out of a hundred doctors 52 Jews. And 60 Jews out of a hundred business people. The average wealth of the individual German was 810 marks . The average wealth of the individual Jew was 10,000 marks. "

The scientist and Nobel laureate in physics, Albert Einstein , is described as a “Jew of relativity who hides his hatred of Germany behind an obscure pseudoscience ”. In other film clips Curt Bois , Charles Chaplin (who was not a Jew at all), Leo Kestenberg , Fritz Kortner , Peter Lorre , Ernst Lubitsch , Kurt Tucholsky and Rosa Luxemburg are shown as representatives of " international Jewry ".

Another scene shows the killing of a cow by Jews in great detail. This scene was cut from a version intended for women and children. (Excerpt from the original scoring):

“These pictures are clear evidence of the cruelty of the Schacht method. At the same time, they reveal the character of a race that hides its blunt rawness under the cloak of pious religious practice. "

This is followed by a scene from January 30, 1939 in the Reichstag , where Adolf Hitler proclaims the words that initiate the Holocaust and that end with the sentence:

"If international financial Jewry in and outside of Europe should succeed in plunging the peoples into a world war again, then the result will not be the Bolshevization of the earth and thus the victory of Judaism, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!"

The film ends with pictures of cheering Germans and manly soldiers.


The eternal Jew cynically claims that the humiliating and inhuman living conditions in the ghettos were willed by the Jews themselves. The fact that the inmates of the ghettos established by the German occupiers of Poland were in fact victims of the brutal anti-Semitic occupation policy is not revealed to the viewer.

An allegedly normal and self-determined Jewish life in the ghetto was later constructed by the German propaganda film Theresienstadt (1945) , which was also produced in the style of a documentary film . Since it was supposed to be aimed at an international audience, however, it painted a positive picture of ghetto life.

Compilation material

Even during the invasion of Poland took the film crew of the Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda , technically and logistically supported by propaganda companies of the Wehrmacht , photographs of Jewish communities in occupied Poland. A corresponding instruction from the Reich Ministry to assist Hippler and his cameramen was issued to Army High Command 8 on October 7, 1939, and named Warsaw , Łódź and Krakow as locations .

In addition to scenes shot especially for the film, Der Ewige Jude u. a. Material from the Ufa Tonwoche and Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph des Willens (1935), but also scenes from the American film The Rothschilds (1934) by Alfred L. Werker and from the Zionist film Land der Verheißung (1934) by Juda Leman .

Text and music

The film's spokesman is Harry Giese , who is also known as the voice of the German newsreel (1940–1945).

In foreign versions (one English, one French and two Dutch versions were produced) the text of the script by Eberhard Taubert was deleted; It was feared that the demagogic tone intended for the German audience could otherwise endanger the credibility of the “documentation”. As a result, the music gained in importance, which had “a pompous, oriental character” as soon as Jews were shown, while “images of Nordic people” were accompanied by Bach's toccata and fugue in D minor .

Contemporary reception

Production was completed on October 11th and Goebbels noted in his diary:

“The eternal Jew is finally finished. Now he can go out with confidence. We have worked on it long enough. "

In fact, Goebbels thought The Eternal Jew , Jud Suss and The Rothschilds were so important that he issued special instructions for the press.

The film premiered on November 29, 1940 in the Ufa-Palast am Zoo in Berlin. It was shown in two different versions, the complete one containing the scenes with the slaughter of animals. The performances of the uncut versions were not allowed to be attended by women and young people. The press briefings were positive and also expressed relief after the end of the film:

“When the film ends, […] the viewer breathes a sigh of relief. From the deepest valleys it comes to light again. "

- Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung , November 29, 1940


"In bright contrast to [the rats] the film closes after these terrible scenes with images of German people and German order, which fill the visitor with deepest gratitude to be allowed to belong to this people, whose leader solves the Jewish problem fundamentally."

The eternal Jew received the ratings “politically valuable” and “artistically valuable”, and the version, which was shortened to include the slaughtering scene and released by the censorship as youth-free, was also given the rating “youthful”.

A report from the Reich of the Security Service (SD) on January 20, 1941 stated that the film “[a] owing to the extensive announcements in the press and radio [...] from all parts of the Reich, the population was eagerly awaiting it " be. “After numerous reports” the film “met these high expectations” and

“More enlightening, convincing and memorable [...] than many anti-Jewish writings. The extent to which the accessible image material was designed into a whole was consistently recognized . The cartographic and statistical representations about the spread of Judaism (the comparison with the rats was emphasized as particularly impressive) and about the expansion of its influence in all areas of life and in all countries of the world were received with particular approval . The recordings of Jews in the USA attracted particular attention . One was surprised how openly the Jewish influence and the Jewish supremacy in the USA were shown [...]. Particularly impressive were the scenes in which the Jew was shown "in the original" and "in the European version" as a man of the world [...], and the juxtapositions (Jewish ghetto - German youth march at the Nazi party rally) were extraordinarily impressive. According to a report from Munich, there was almost liberated and enthusiastic applause during the film when the Fuehrer was shown at the point of one of his speeches with which he predicted that a new war would only result in the end and the annihilation of Judaism could. The presentation of the career of the Rothschild family and especially the evidence that the individual family members were naturalized in different countries, whereby they gained a foothold as recognized citizens in the most important countries, was particularly convincing. This representation and the comparison of types of individual Jews in all parts of the world - as could be deduced from numerous conversations - made strikingly clear that the Jew always remains a Jew despite all external adaptation to states, languages ​​and areas of life.
Due to the extraordinarily strong propaganda for the film and the impressive design of the documentary image evidence, the first performances also had an extraordinary number of visitors . However, local interest often soon waned, as the film followed the big film Jud Suss all too quickly . Since the film Jud Suss had already been visited by a large part of the population, according to the reports available it was very often assumed that the documentary film The Eternal Jew could not bring anything essentially new. It is unanimously reported [...] that often only the more politically active part of the population attended the documentary, while the typical film audience partially avoided it and locally word of mouth was driven against the film and its highly realistic portrayal of Judaism. The repugnance of the portrayed itself and especially the battle scenes were accordingly repeatedly expressed as the main reason against visiting the film. The film has repeatedly been described as an extraordinary 'nerve strain' [...]. The visit, especially in north-west, west and south Germany and in the East Markets, subsided very quickly. According to reports from West Germany and also from Breslau, individual visitors often left the movie theaters in disgust during the performance. Comments like 'We have seen Jud Suss and have had enough of the Jewish filth!' like. Occasionally women and men of younger age passed out during the performance of the battle scenes. It was often said that Jud Suss had already portrayed Judaism so convincingly that this new, even more blatant evidence was no longer required in the documentary that was shown immediately afterwards. On the other hand, very numerous statements are reported, especially from politically active sections of the population, according to which the film was very gratefully received as an extremely impressive document. "

The film was not a commercial success, although it was shown in many cinemas, e.g. B. after the premiere in 66 movie theaters in Berlin alone.

The film was also shown in the areas occupied by Germany. In occupied France, the premiere of the film, the French version of which was released in December 1941, was part of a comprehensive anti-Semitic campaign by the German occupation forces in early July 1942; shortly beforehand the Jewish star had been introduced and the first deportations to the extermination camps in the east had started. A pogrom broke out in Antwerp on April 14, 1941 after the film was shown : 200 to 400 people armed with sticks and iron bars (members of the Volksverwering, the VNV militia “Black Brigade” and the Flemish SS) devastated and looted the Jewish quarter Antwerp and set fire to two synagogues.

In some cases, cinema operators were obliged to show the film. Essentially, it was seen by party supporters and demonstrated in Nazi organizations such as the Hitler Youth . Nonetheless, people talked about the film because of its drastic scenes; large parts of the population probably perceived that there was such a film.

Situation in the Federal Republic of Germany

The film has not been released for distribution in Germany . Because of its propaganda effect, it may only be shown in a specially commented version - such as the reserved films managed by the Murnau Foundation .

See also


  • Yizhak Ahren et al .: The Eternal Jew or How Goebbels Hurried: An Investigation into the National Socialist Propaganda Film. Aachen 1990.
  • Peter Bucher: The importance of the film as a historical source: “The Eternal Jew” (1940). In: Duchhardt, Heinz / Schlenke, Manfred (Hrsg.): Festschrift for Eberhard Hessel on his 75th birthday. Munich 1982.
  • Saul Friedländer : The Years of Annihilation. The Third Reich and the Jews 1939–1945. Beck, Munich 2006, p. 126ff
  • Evelyn Hampicke, Hanno Loewy: "Jews without a mask". Preliminary remarks on the story of a compilation film, "Elimination of Jewish Influence ...". In: Anti-Semitic Research, Elites and Careers in National Socialism , 1998/1999 yearbook on the history and effects of the Holocaust, Fritz Bauer Institute (ed.), Campus, Frankfurt am Main 1999.
  • Dorothea Hollstein: Anti-Semitic Film Propaganda. Publishing house documentation, Pullach 1971.
  • Stig Hornshøj-Møller: "The Eternal Jew". Source-critical analysis of an anti-Semitic propaganda film. Contributions to contemporary film sources, Vol. 2, Institute for Scientific Film, Göttingen 1995.
  • Christian Hardinghaus: “The Eternal Jew” and the Facebook generation. Anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda and prejudice in social networks. Tectum-Verlag, Marburg 2012, ISBN 978-3-8288-2936-7 .
  • Erwin Leiser : “Germany, awake!” Propaganda in Third Reich film. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1968.
  • Stefan Mannes: Anti-Semitism in the National Socialist Propaganda Film. The eternal Jew and Jud Suss. Teiresias, Cologne 1999, ISBN 3-9805860-3-0 .
  • Johannes Schmitt: The threatened Aryan. Notes on the National Socialist dramaturgy of the racial incitement. Lit-Verlag, Münster 2010, ISBN 978-3-643-10620-9 , pp. 74-85.
  • Joseph Wulf: Theater and Film in the Third Reich. Rowohlt, Reinbek 1966, pp. 456-459.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ So the judgment of Bernward Dörner in The Holocaust - The Final Solution of the Jewish Question. In Wolfgang Benz (Ed.): Prejudice and Genocide: Ideological Premises of Genocide . Böhlau, Vienna / Cologne / Weimar 2010, p. 97, FN. 56.
  2. Erwin Leiser: "Germany, awake!" Propaganda in the film of the Third Reich . Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1968, p. 68.
  3. a b Quoted by Erwin Leiser: “Germany, awake!” Propaganda in the film of the Third Reich . Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1968, p. 73.
  4. Quoted from Erwin Leiser: “Germany, awake!” Propaganda in the film of the Third Reich . Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1968, p. 75.
  5. Full text on
  6. Erwin Leiser: "Germany, awake!" Propaganda in the film of the Third Reich . Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1968, p. 76.
  7. ^ Daniel Uziel: Wehrmacht Propaganda Troops and the Jews. (PDF) Shoah Resource Center, The International School for Holocaust Studies, p. 7f; (English translation of the Hebrew original in Yad Vashem Studies (29), Jerusalem, 2001, pp. 27-65).
  8. ^ Steven Spielberg Film and Video Archive - Anti-Jewish propaganda film: Jewish education; religious observances. In: October 10, 1939, accessed January 5, 2015 .
  9. DER EWIGE JUDE - Germany, 1940 ( Memento from April 4, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) In:
  10. Erwin Leiser: "Germany, awake!" Propaganda in the film of the Third Reich . Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1968, p. 73.
  11. a b c d Saul Friedländer : The years of destruction. The Third Reich and the Jews 1939–1945. Beck, Munich 2006, pp. 126–128.
  12. Erwin Leiser: "Germany, awake!" Propaganda in the film of the Third Reich . Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1968, p. 68.
  13. Stig Hornshøj-Møller: The anti-Semitic propaganda film "The Eternal Jew". November 6, 2004 .;
  14. The Eternal Jew. In: . German Film Institute , accessed September 30, 2016 .
  15. Wolfgang Benz: Prejudice and Genocide: ideological premises of genocide in the Google book search . Böhlau Verlag, 2010
  16. Dirk C. Loew: "Jud Süß" - anti-Semitic propaganda in the NS - "history film". In:
  17. Erwin Leiser: "Germany, awake!" Propaganda in the film of the Third Reich . Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek bei Hamburg 1968, p. 148.
  18. Quoted from Bundesarchiv Koblenz - R 58/157, pp. 7-9 by Erwin Leiser: "Germany, awake!" Propaganda in the film of the Third Reich . Rowohlt Verlag, Reinbek near Hamburg 1968, p. 137f.
  19. ^ Daniel Uziel: Wehrmacht Propaganda Troops and the Jews. (PDF) Shoah Resource Center, The International School for Holocaust Studies, p. 15. (English translation of the Hebrew original in Yad Vashem Studies (29), Jerusalem, 2001, pp. 27–65).
  20. ^ Tanja von Fransecky: Escape of Jews from deportation trains in France, Belgium and the Netherlands . Metropol Verlag, 2014, ISBN 978-3-86331-168-1 , p. 191 (based on Lieven Saerens: Vreemdelingen in een wereldstad: een geschiedenis van Antwerpen en zijn joodse bevolking (1880-1944) , Lannoo Verlag 2000).