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Jewish Patriotism in WWI and Post War Germany PART II

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

POST-WAR DESCENT: THE LONG ROAD


Motto: If someone disputes my claim on my German fatherland, he disputes my right to my thoughts, my feelings, to the language that I speak and the air that I breathe. That is why I must defend myself against him – as against a murderer.” - Gabriel Riesser (1806-1863) Jewish advocate for equality in the emerging German nation.


Jews didn’t stop their support for Germany after the war. The Entente powers (UK, France, US, Italy) were busy slicing up German and Austro-Hungarian territory, in the process exacerbating ethnic divisions that would last for generations simular to what was occuring in the Middle East.


German Upper Silesia saw many Jewish leaders lend support in media campaigns, relief funds, and volunteers to fight against Poland. Which only weeks before were Russians fighting against imperial Germany and some slaughtering Jews in Russia, Poland, and occupied Austro-Hungary.


Many Jewish supporters of the retention of German lands were arrested, tortured, and executed by the Polish occupiers, most notably the city of Posen’s where Judicial Councilors and city council leaders were targeted. In the southern areas, resistance to French brutality in the occupation in the Rhine and Ruhr areas also saw patriotic Jewish leaders arrested and tortured by French and British authorities.


So how did these nationalist, patriotic German Jews suddenly become the enemy? How did the nation and individuals that once supported them turn either a blind or even an evil eye towards their former Kameraden?

The standard and somewhat lazy answer is that the “stab in the back” narrative which developed post-war. One version blamed the Jews for Germany’s surrender. The Nazis took advantage of this ill informed sentiment and propagated it to radicalize the citizens against the Jews.


The standard version omits several important details. The version the Nazis, and many anti-Semites today echo is one that says many Jews were Bolshevik supporters and left wing. It of course ignores the many right wing Jews that were proud Germans as well as the fact that even in the immediate post war period many Jews were fiercely anti-Communist and some of the first victims were Jewish.


Some of the first victims of communism in Germany were Jewish. (Although try to find this information in open source on the internet, and you will see why the Bolshevik is Jewish lie has been kept alive long past when it should have been debunked.)


The Jewish painter and professor Ernst Berger was brutally murdered along with other civilian men and women during the Munich hostage crisis by communists on 30 April 1919. Two Jewish student volunteers in the “white troops” that organized for the liberation of Munich from the communists were among those killed by the extremist left. “...there were special interest groups like the Association of National German Jews (Verband der nationaldeutshen Juden), which advocated nationalistic, anti democratic, and militaristic interests, and who were in line with the master narrative of the First World War, created by right-wing conservative authors in the 1920s…the Association decisively took the side of the new nationalists grouped around Ernst Junger. In this context, the Associations press organ, the German National Jew (Der nationaldeutsche Jude), gradually developed into a cultural magazine, which, through the discussion and evaluations of pro-war titles, pursued a Semitic-nationalist cultural policy... the association gave a form to militaristic (Jewish) writers like Friedrich Heilsher, Fritz Meyer Schonbrunn, and Franz Schauwecker...Thus, the association stood behind conservative representation of the war, like the new nationalists who embraced Ernst Junger.” (13)



PHOTO: Alfred Wiener was a decorated Jewish German war veteran. He noted the changes in Germany after the war and established an organization to investigate and document the growing Nazi movement and the promotion of Anti-Semetism. He escaped to London with his research materials before the war. SOURCE 

Veteran Alfred Wiener noted the changes in public perceptions of Jews after World War I and noted they didn't match with an organic paradigm shift. In his book Fatherland and the Jews, Wiener examined this phenomenon he was seeing:  “And now I ask you, you German men and women, what do you say to this shameless agitation, which seeks to put the lives and well-being of thousands of your fellow citizens in extreme danger? Is this the thanks of the fatherland to the thousands upon thousands of Jewish soldiers who shed their life’s blood for us all, without considering religion or origins, and who are now beneath cemetery lawns? Is this the consolation offered to the women mourning their spouses, to the children calling for their fathers, to the brides weeping for their betrothed?” (14)


The "stab in the back" narrative ignores many salient facts known at the time but whitewashed or suppressed as time went on. Post-war, the Jews in Germany were involved across the political spectrum as much as the Christians and secular Germans. With the Kaiser abdicating the throne and the increasingly despotic foreign demands and occupations, a severe sense of unease and chaos formed in the power vacuum. Russia had fallen to the horrors of the Bolsheviks, and the genocide that was occurring throughout the former Russian Empire was being watched with an anxious eye by many Germans.


The postwar period had far more “Right Wing” Jews that were active than “Left Wing” or other radical leftists. For example, many scholars note Rosa Luxemburg and other Jews in the communist sedition movements. Still, none have noted that the members of the German home guard unit of the immediate post-war period, the Freikorps, who eventually arrested and executed her, were also Jewish.


Indeed, the “Stab in the Back” theory is described by many as “anti-Semitic” in nature. Still, during the early years before the Nazi and some Communist movements infused it with that narrative, the Stab in the Back theory was believed and espoused by many German Jews, especially veterans. The Jewish narrative of many veterans in the early 1920s is indistinguishable from “right-wing nationalist” Germans. The anti-Semetism promoted by the Nazis for many years was at odds with the actual “right-wing nationalism” espoused by many veterans, Christian and Jew alike. Two Jewish-run papers, Deutsche Zeitung and Frankfurter Zeitung, among many smaller Jewish community papers, were outspoken in their opposition to the Versailles terms of submission to Germany as well as “oppose Poincare’s policies with unprecedented force.” The papers' editorial policies, again decided by Jews, were decidedly patriotic, conservative, and today would be called “right-wing.”


Three key factors are often overlooked:

  1. Organizational Structure Dictates Outcome: Kulturkampf

  2. Political chaos combined with foreign agendas and propaganda.

  3. Rape of the Mind techniques - Political and social menticide.


1. The first factor, the organizational structure left over from Kulturkampf, is too lengthy for this blog entry and will hopefully be covered elsewhere. But the brief outline is that Germany's first anti-religious state-centric campaign was not against the Jews but against the Catholics. In the 1870s and early 1880s, as Germany was forming its national state, the conflict between loyalty to a religious organization and, in some cases, religious thinking vs. scientific thinking caused German liberals and some conservatives to band together and attempt to eliminate the Catholic Church's influence from the new nation. The rules they put in place were eventually nullified, but many of the core concepts of state domination over religion remained, even if in the background. Kaiser Willhelm II had abolished the last of the Kulturkampf programs and fired Bismarck in part because of his support for them, but with Kaiser Willhelm II now removed from German politics and culture in Weimar Germany, the ghosts of Kulturkampf began to return, as the Prussian view on equality of religions faded into a Eurocentric "state over pulpit" concept started by England and put on steroids by France.


2. Political Chaos and Foreign Agendas. Alfred Wiener noted the parallel between wartime foreign propaganda against Germany and post-war domestic propaganda against Jews.


First, the Kaiser was increasingly seen after the war as a reason the Germans lost. Nazi and other anti-Semites even said he was of Jewish blood (via his British grandmother, Queen Victoria, who it was claimed had an affair with a Jewish physician named Wolf). So the Kaiser's call for a unified Germany was fast falling into disrepute as well.


However, there were isolated cases of assimilated Jews from the period hiding their Judaism or Jewish heritage in order to assimilate more fully into the nascent anti-Semetic political movements of the time. The propaganda that falsely equated Bolshevism with Judaism was, unfortunately, beginning to have its effect in Germany after the war.


One Jewish person trapped in this disinformation campaign was Anton Graf von Arco auf Valley, who was Jewish from his mother's side, Emily Freiin von Oppenheim. Despite his Judaism, Count Arco became an anti-Semite and, ended up killing the insurgent leader of the self-proclaimed Volksstaat Bayern (People’s State of Bavaria), Kurt Eisner, on 21 February 1919. Eisner, a Jewish pacifist that was reported to have been born in either Galacia or Berlin before the war was over in a move reminiscent of Mussolini’s March on Rome, recruited disaffected soldiers in Munich and other radicals and marched to the seat of government and declared his rule as the King of Bavaria fled the area. Eisner had contributed much fuel to the propagandist fire about “foreign Jewish Bolsheviks” by his life and actions in Germany’s desperate hours following the war. Eisner had bucked the trend among most German Jews during the war and was an anti-German, anti-Kaiser propagandist, going so far as to propagate the myth that Germany had given support to Autro-Hungarian moves against Serbia and trying to stop German munition factories while the war was going on.


The Volksstaat Bayern putsch in Bavaria in 1918, even before the war was over, set the cornerstone for the narrative and allowed the myth of the Jewish-led “stab in the back” to overshadow the other factors such as the assassin was also Jewish. The sudden rise of anti-Semetic disinformation that Wiener was investigating drowned out that fact and gradually fed the debunked "Jewish Bolshevik" myth to become the dominant narrative.


The simple, cartoon-like imagery of Eisner leading a Mussolini-like “March on Rome” overpowered the more subtle political maneuvers that had actually occurred during the final days of the German Empire in the mind of the population. The real story of how the civilian leadership went around Kaiser Wilhelm II and agreed to surrender was too complicated and never packaged for propagation. The simple-minded "Jewish element" was cartoon-like simple, made even easier by the treachery and wartime sedition of men like Eisner. Indeed, many Jewish veterans saw the politicians as having betrayed the army and Emperor and Versailles as “an unjust peace.” But these facts were gradually drowned out with effective, simple techniques. The conservative, patriotic Jewish voices in the Post War period were lost in the insane policy rants of coup leaders like Eisner in Bavaria and Rosa Luxemburg in Berlin.


Germans didn’t see the Jews that stood up to the excesses and horrors of militant communism, Soviet and Polish expansionism, and unjust occupation by the Entente in the South. Because ironically, those Jews looked and acted more German than German. The only Jew that stood out in public memory increasingly tended to be the potentially foreign Jew acting in opposition to the majority of the German Jews. That radical secular characterization was the one most memorable, rather than the patriotic conservative Jew that was in the majority of German communities.


At the same time, German patriotic Jews that served in the war, in the Freikorps, and in countless non-military ways during and after, including the military liberation of Bavaria, appear to be overlooked or intentionally de-emphasized. This began the long mutation of the “stab in the back” theory to one that incorporated anti-Semitic elements from the Bavarian Putch that eventually dominated the narrative and drowned out JewishGerman patriotism, especially when weaponized by the Nazi party and foreign powers that promoted the anti-Semetism within Weimar Germany.


Lost to memory then and now is the fact that in 1920, Professor Hanz Herzog of Berlin University and other leading Jewish intellectuals in Germany published a Protest of the German Jews against Communism. This opposition to Communism and Bolshevism at the physical, intellectual, and moral/spiritual level by the German Jews was erased by the propagandists both in Germany and outside Germany even today.


Another overlooked factor revealed by Alfred Wiener's investigations  1919 and 1924 is the evidence of foreign promotion of anti-Semetism in Germany. While every nation contains elements that are prejudiced against other elements, German anti-semitism was no more intense nor pervasive before Naziism than in other European nations or America.


The Russians were perhaps the most anti-Semitic of the late 19th and early 20th century, followed by the French and English, who each had used state power to discriminate or persecute Jews and other minorities. It was a French writer, Arthur de Gobineau (1816-1882), who first put the pseudo-academic literary contextualization on an “Aryan” supremacy and cultures that are only successful based upon the “pureness” of their Aryan population. Later writers such as Britain's Houston Steward Chamberlain (1855-1927) intensified Gobineau’s narrative and added the ideas that Hitler and others later adopted, such as the need for Aryans to colonize Eastern Europe and remove the” inferior” Slavs. Chamberlain moved to Germany, gained German citizenship, and eventually supported the Nazi Beer Hall Putsch and Hitler.


And one of the most ironic facts of foreign promotion of anti-Semetism, if it wasn’t so tragic, is that of the foreign, stateless migrant, Adolf Hitler, who did more to erase the memory of the Jewish veterans and patriots than any German. Hitler, a two-time draft dodger from Austro-Hungary, ended up agreeing to join the German Army in exchange for not being returned to Austro-Hungary for his second draft, this time during the war. He renounced his citizenship to Austria in 1925 but refused to undergo the process for German citizenship until 7 years later. During that time, Hitler was a stateless migrant who promoted and began to codify anti-Semetism as the main focus of the Nazi party and, through the party, spread the poisonous seed throughout Germany. Hitler didn’t even become a German until February 25, 1932. One year later, he was leading Germany. The migrant born in the multi-ethnic Austo-Hungarian Empire who ended up in Germany due to dodging the draft was now ripping away citizenship, community, and history of Germans veterans and their families. All of them had been German far longer than Hitler had.


Alfred Weiner noted the results of his 1919-1924 examination of the budding anti-Semitic movement in Germany that the movement was more what today we would call “astroturf” than organic grassroots. He noted a curious parallel between anti-German propaganda by the Entente powers and the anti-Semetic propaganda emerging in Germany post-war. Wartime racial propaganda by the Entente regarding German racial traits was almost perfectly mirrored by post-war propaganda about Jewish racial traits. Simply substitute the word “Jew” for “German” in wartime enemy propaganda, and you have postwar internal political propaganda.


Wiener also noted that many of the early anti-Semetic demonstrations from 1919-1924 were small but well funded and many times organized by persons not known to anyone in the city or towns where they occurred. “Who instigated the antisemitic tumult during the second week of July in the seaside resort of Kolberg? The Kolberg city council confirmed at its meeting of 14 July that it was ‘not a local’, but a penniless student called Banduin, who incited and led it; and that hired combatants were also involved.” (14)


The anonymous author of a picture postcard, which originates in Czechoslovakia and is being distributed in thousands of copies around Germany, is coarsely plain. The anonymous hero unworthily mixes together passages from the scriptures. Then he concludes: ‘Massacres of Jews must come to pass, so that they – the prophets and murderers of God – feel in their own flesh that the Mosaic prophecies are true." (15)


Granted, there were German anti-Semites and always had been. However, before the Nazi power, they were always a minority, and the state mechanisms tended to protect Jews from egregious behavior prior to the end of WWI. For example, Wiener notes a court case where Jews were provided justice when criminal charges were upheld in a case of blood libel accusations in one German town at the turn of the century.

With Jewish veterans, widows and orphans, and patriotic Jewish organizations prominent in WWI, and the Kaiser's call that there should be “no parties...only Germans.” was seen by many that the prejudices of Kulturkampf and Anti-Semitism be behind them, and with conservative nationalists recognizing the Jewish contributions to the nation, how did the descent to the Holocaust occur?


More needs to be investigated on this matter, including the various foreign influence operations in the Weimar Republic that would benefit from a divided population. However, for the purposes of this blog, we would refer to the work of Wiener in his investigations at the time, starting in 1919, as a starting point.


3. Rape of the Mind. For the final points on this blog, we will briefly cover this topic, as it helps to explain the fundamental processes needed to erase the memory and condition a population to turn against itself and its former heroes.

RAPE OF THE MIND: GLEICHALTUNG.


Dr. Joost Merloo was a psychologist in the occupied Netherlands during the first part of World War II; he examined the ability of the Nazi occupiers to turn previously rational, patriotic, and moral people into willing collaborators. He noted the parallel Communist techniques that did similar to populations under their control. Dr. Merloo defines of the process the Nazis utilized as Gleichschaltung or "leveling the mind". Dr. Merloo's insights into this process reveal a lot about the process and some inner workings that allowed the Nazis to turn Heroes into villains and co-opt the values of Germany and replace them with extremist left-wing socialist statism.


A specific goal of Gleichshaltung was to "erase the memory and instill a new memory" in masses of populations, or what Dr. Merloo called "Mentacide."


The full process of Rape of the Minds Gleichshaltung is too lengthy for this blog; however, a severely abridged version is as follows. The general flow of processes followed a basic pattern: Intimidating suggestions, dramatic persuasions, mass suggestions, humiliations, embarrassment, loneliness and isolation, continued interrogation, overburdening the unsteady mind, arousing more and more self-pity, and physical threats, once the subject begins to yield, promise a better life to come and begin to implant the new memories and conditioned responses.

Certain principles and techniques were applied throughout the process, including:


1. Freedom of discussion and free intellectual exchange must be reduced and eliminated.


2. Feelings of terror, fear, and hopelessness must be instilled and maintained, once achieved, provide a reduction in the terror so long as the conditioned responses required by the state are followed.


3. Political conditioning via catchwords, verbal stereotypes, slogans, formulas, and symbols is repeated constantly. "Thoughtless repetition...gives the delusion of understanding"


4. Remove all sense of logic, validity, and security in society and replace it with state "security."


5. Diminish the opportunity of communicating dissent and opposition.


6. Master the Press and Radio.


7. Neurotic compulsion is to be rewarded.


8. Social dependency on the state is to be increased. Social dependency on organizations outside the state must be attacked, discredited, and reduced.


9. Previous associations of loyalty for both the individual and group must be destroyed or co-opted. This includes parents, family, religious and social organizations, etc.


10. The more forceful and emotional verbal strategies tend to win over logic.


11. Logic can be met with logic. But illogic can not.


12. The weight of authority and authoritative figures is more important to most people than quality and legitimacy.


13. Always maintain political "noise."  Never allow people to rest from political messages and thoughts.


And finally, in a good description of how the stateless migrant and his party were able in a few years to take veteran heroes and throw them into concentration camps "The more fear there is in society, the more guilt each individual member of the society feels, the more need there is for internal scapegoats and external enemies...Any accusation, even if it is false, has a greater influence on the citizenry than subsequent vindication." (16)


The citizen/party member is encouraged to betray friends and family. The State provides the "justification" that allows the now primitive person to act on repressed selfish impulses. Infantilizing the individual and, eventually, society. "Homogenizing the Emotions" is an important aspect of this.


Further, the Nazis used a process of "criminalization," which was a process of "deculturation of the people in order to condition them to rebel against civilized frustrations. (17)


The act of dressing thugs, deviants, and criminals in pseudo-military uniforms is another process of criminalization. It made criminal behavior or the allowance/tolerance of criminal behavior to be associated with the military in the minds of the populace, even if only in the unconscious. For those too young to remember the disciplined Imperial Army, criminal behavior in uniform was the first formed association they developed. The SA and SS were the cosplaying "poison pill" for the nation.


Another reason that Hitler might have wanted to fixate on the Jews was that his personal beliefs about Jews formed in the art galleries and coffee shops of multicultural Vienna portrayed them as a weak and non-martial group. The war confronted Hitler with the reality that they were braver than he was. As Dr. Merloo noted, "The weak and the emotionally sick in any society kill out of fear, in order to borrow, in a magic way, their dead victim's strength and happiness, as well as...material possessions."(18)


Non-Jewish writers like the famous author Walter Bloem even noted that anti-Semetism was not in accord with either Jewish honor nor with the Prussian values ensconced by Frederick II of freedom of Religion. Bloem did not yet realize that through Rape of the Mind, information operations by the Nazis would overcome, erase, and replace these values, beliefs, associations, and memories. Bloem believed that German (or any modern, advanced Western nation) was too civilized to conduct pogroms on their own citizens like the Russians and later Bolsheviks did. Bloem, and other patriotic Jewish and Christian Germans, could not believe that Germans could engage in behavior that mirrored the brutality of the Tsar and Bolsheviks. This hubris contributed to many people ignoring the early warning signs as well as developing a fantasy of salvation by elements in the state authority to rise up and save them. The help, of course, never came, and the state mechanisms they believed would save them turned very quickly against them.


Effective propaganda, both domestic and foreign, allowed the memory of the handful of Jewish seditionists and foreign-born revolutionaries in post-war Germany to eventually overshadow the contribution of the majority of patriotic German-born Jews. When the Nazis took power in 1933, they utilized an effective “camel's nose” strategy that gradually erased the conceptualization of a “good German Jew completely.” By 1938, The Nazis were able to literally tear the medals off Jewish veterans' chests and beat them to death without any repercussions. It took only five years of “Rape of the Mind” techniques to erase Generations of patriotism and citizenship and over 4 years of wartime sacrifice to the Fatherland and replace it with a fantasy.


Remember. Despite the uniforms, most of the SS officers that beat the Jewish veterans on Kristallnacht and in the Concentration Camps had not served in the military. Rape of the Mind techniques includes co-opting and contaminating symbols, totems, and fetishes of the "enemy". The uniform was designed to trick the German mind into believing the SA and SS had both legitimacy to the state as well as a lineage to legitimacy that ." was held by the actual veterans. Even today, Germans and non-Germans alike view the Nazi SA and SS prewar members as military or military veterans. In reality, it was an ironic pantomime of stolen valor.

PHOTO: Richard Stern, a Jewish Veteran wearing his Iron Cross, stands outside his store as a non-veteran National Socialist attempts to boycott Sterns' business.



The famous photograph above is very telling. The date is April 1, 1933, in Cologne, Germany. The uniformed brown shirt SA had never served in the German Army or seen combat. The Jewish storekeeper is an Army Veteran wearing his Iron Cross. The German Army Hero is Richard Stern. Stern was fortunate. He was able to leave the Germany he loved, fought for, and almost died for. Many veterans felt the same way as Stern did. Still, sadly many stayed believing the German military, government, or people would eventually rebel against the Nazis who were destroying the values of “traditional” Germany or the new Weimar Republic. That magical response from above never came, and many Jewish veterans were sent to death and concentration camps.


The additional tragedy is these veterans were killed by SA and SS, that dressed like soldiers and paraded around, but few had ever served in WWI. These political cosplayers in military uniforms were led by a draft dodging immigrant; Adolf Hitler. Hitler, a non-German stateless migrant until 1932, was now defining who was German and, over time, removed the public and government's perception of Jews as German. Service, sacrifice, culture, and citizenship were no longer factors for being German. It was all about "race." The ghosts of Kulturkampf were resurrected with the additional "emergency powers" the Weimar Republic had enacted before. Hitler didn't invent the totalitarian state from scratch; he simply hijacked one whose foundations were already drying.



the Nazis had to change popular perceptions of “decent” Jews and make all Jews the same in the eyes of the German public...to subvert traditional discourses on military service and citizenship, and establish race as the central category of German national identity...In order to change these perceptions-and change how Germans talked about race and belonging-the Nazis had to erase the distinctions between veterans and “ordinary” Jews. The goal was to reduce the Jewish Frontkampfer to the status of nonentities, to make them “invisible” to the rest of the population.” (19)

To do that, laws and co-opting of military legacy were needed. Hitler and the National Socialists employed a gradual process that allowed the German public to remain silent for the most part when the Nazis eventually came for the Jewish veterans. This process roughly can be divided into three phases, each subtly building on the last providing a "camels nose" strategy for full dehumanization and erasure of the war record of German Jews.


PHASE I: Organizational Structure, Remove the Citizen's Rights and Equal Access.


The law that most affected the Jewish veterans during this time was the Military Service Law of May 1935. It cut to the core the Jewish ability to participate in the society that had imparted the most meaning and internally provided the most inclusive in society: Military Participation. In 1935 the German military suddenly made race the prime factor for service. Jews need not apply. The inability of Jewish soldiers to remain in the force, and those still wanting to prove themselves to the state by joining, was a crushing blow. Jews were removed from the warrior caste, so important in Western nation-states at the time.


Jewish organizations had lobbied hard for the participation of Jews in the military service, believing that this would prevent excessive measures against the Jewish community as a whole. Now that Jews were banned from the military and had no Jewish representation in the military, the Jews were further pushed to the margins of society, and the Jewish veteran's link to the current military was further eroded and broken. The Reich Citizenship Law went even further in both legally changing the relationship of all Jews to the state, citizens, and national image as well as destroying most of the legal rights the Jewish veterans had solidified through blood in the trenches fighting for Germany and the German people. The Reich Citizenship Law effectively defined Jews as “subjects of the state.” Combined with the banning from military service, Jews were not citizens but subjects.


Soon they would be even less.




The Nazis co-opted the legacy of the soldier and German values while destroying them at the same time and denying them to thousands that had actually earned and lived it. The Nazis used a gradual approach to brainwashing the population. In the early phases after 1933, the veterans were untouchable. This created two factors that blinded the Jewish veterans and others to the coming storm. Many veterans noted “the fact that members of Hitler's elite had been too young ever to hear the whistle of a bullet, that they were still wearing their diapers while the Jewish Frontkampfer had been in the trenches was used to destroy the credibility as soldiers, their credibility as soldiers and men. These brutes and bullies. These heroes in SS uniform may have appropriated the outer vestiges of the German military, but their behavior and indecency exposed them as frauds, weaker men who resorted to arrogance and brutality in order to compensate for their lack of masculine gravitas.” (20)


This provided a psychological separation of the Jewish veterans from the larger Jewish community that was beginning to be persecuted. Some Jewish Veterans like Walter Trausk, who became a salesman after the war, wrote how they thought there would be a point where the veterans would rise up against the Nazis, “show their teeth,” and then the Nazis would back down. Those fantasies of uprising or violent resistance among the veterans never materialized in the German or Austrian borders except in diary entries and letters. It removed the Jewish veterans from a feeling of powerlessness in helping their fellow Jews. They felt the time would come when they would band together with other non-Jewish veterans and overturn the darkness approaching. “I had long hoped that salvation would come from the army,” stated Victor Klemperer, who was an ethnic Jew but converted to Christianity, a move that didn’t save him from being identified and targeted by the Nazis. (21)


However, faith in traditional government institutions designed to protect citizens proved a fantasy, and it only delayed action on the part of Jewish veterans until it was too late. But for a few years, it did work to hold back overt violence against many Jews who had served in the military. “The gradual, incremental persecution of Jews in the early Third Reich forced Jewish men into inaction, conflicting with their previous identities as active, respected members of German society.” (22)



After 1933, most Jewish veterans would wear their wartime medals, even if they had not prior to that time. It proved a powerful totem to wear Christian and non-Christian wartime medals. However, as will be seen, once the Nazis had completed their menticide against the German population by Kristallnacht, the medals became a lightning rod that attracted violence.


The Nazis needed time to transform the public perception of the Jewish veterans and erase the memories and evidence of their patriotic service. Spearheading the effort were the SA/Brown Shirts and Hitler Youth. Both groups were radicalized, and initially, they refrained from violence. They were gradually radicalized to hurl insults and verbal threats against the Jewish Veterans. The process gradually removed the vaunted “veteran” mystique and laid the groundwork for future violence. But to start, the verbal taunts, threats, and property damage did their work.

Phase II: Isolate and Make Invisible


The second phase was isolation from the community. This was the most psychologically damaging to Jewish veterans and families.


The war had inculcated a deeper affinity between Jewish and Non-Jewish Germans, especially fellow veterans. Customers' and friends loyalties were strong, and so initially, the boycotts were not effective against veteran businesses. However, using various carrot-and-stick methods against the non-Jewish population to entice or threaten them from patronizing Jewish Veteran businesses, the toll began to mount. Germans, who in 1933 were outspoken in defending Jewish veterans against the Nazis, gradually faded into the background. Organizations that pushed back against harsh measures towards Jewish veterans by 1935 began to say nothing and even agreed to implement various programs. There were a few stalwart defenders of the Jewish veterans, but individuals were not able to turn back the tide of the politicized states, no matter how famous they were.


The last big defense of Jewish veterans occurred with the Labor Minister, Franz Seldte, who argued that Jewish invalid veterans should still receive their pension benefits. The Nazis, for a time, agreed, and while all the other Jews lost their benefits, the war invalids did not. Eventually, the bureaucratic state figured out ways to reduce and nullify the support as time went on.


Still, for the moment, it was a small bright spot. “by late 1935 the solidarity demonstrated by the German public, expressed openly and sometimes defiantly in the first months after 30 January 1933, had become increasingly passive. For many Aryan Germans, enthusiasm for the new regime eventually outweighed the indignities inflicted on “decent” Jews. They adapted quickly to the demands of the new government, either by rigorously pursuing their own personal and economic interests or by simply staying clear of any potential problems caused by having Jewish friends.” (23)


It was the Nazi's ability to shape conditions where Germans avoided Jewish Veterans that “constituted ‘among the most shameful things that I experienced during the entire Hitler period.” (24) Veterans, such as Albert Herzfeld, a former Army officer, and leader in his regimental association after the war, felt:

 “the most disturbing aspect of life in Germany after 1935 was the aloofness of the German public-the ‘shocking’ realization that ‘not a single high-ranking government official recognizes the egregiousness of the situation and lodges a complaint...not a single person steps forward and screams this injustice to the world.” (25)

By 1935, the Nazis were successful in forcing the former Band of Brothers to remove the Jews from their veteran rolls through harassment, gradual low-grade legal measures, and finally, public shaming and social manipulation.


Phase III: BREAK THEM AND BREAK THE MINDS OF THE GERMANS REGARDING THEM.


1938 saw the final stage of the erasure of the Jewish veteran from Germany. The “Social Death” as many other writers have noted. Kristallnacht was the transformative event that made manifest overt violence on a state level against the Jewish soldiers. Prior to Kristallnacht, the violence was “sub-governmental.” The Hitler Youth and SA were used to mask the violence and place it outside the context of the government and society at the time but served as a gateway for further violence. 1938 saw the state take over, shattering the Jewish Veteran's illusions they would be immune due to service, sacrifice, and loyalty to the state and, perhaps more importantly, shattered their image as warriors in the minds of the public that was not 20 years removed from the events that conferred their heroism and national honor. The respect for the military that the culture had required that the Nazis remove that aura from the Jewish veterans and transfer it to the costumed political SA and SS, many of whom had never fought. It was form over substance, a visual totem to trick the masses.


The values as well were substituted in a similar manner. Where the conservative, nationalist Germans like Ernst Junger and other veterans spoke of martial and national values, similar to other Jewish veterans, the Nazis managed to corrupt and co-opt that narrative in a bait and switch which transferred the legitimacy from the conservative nationalists to the national socialists. All while corrupting the values people thought they represented.


A non-German draft dodging stateless migrant was the head of the Nazi party that propagandized they were actually the "traditional German" party. Despite the


The Fuhrer, who hated his one photo op in Lederhosen (traditional German clothing), sent SS to arrest German Jews that wore and manufactured them.

Photo: Jewish German veteran Max Heinz, his Jewish wife and children in Trachten. Jews that were proud of their German culture were also targeted by the immigrant Hitler and his Nazis who sought to seperate and divide Germans and Germany. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Provenance: Terri Brahm



Who was the guardian of German tradition? Certainly not the Nazis. But the gradual Rape of the Mind techniques slowly replaced rational thought in the normally rational German population until up was down, left was right. And the disinformation campaign was effective not only in the borders of Germany in the 1930s but continues today in much of the globe, helped by other national and political disinformation campaigns that have an investment in concealing the nature of totalitarian socialism.


CONCLUDING THOUGHTS


The Jewish stereotypes present in many cultures today, and especially in Germany at the dawn of the 20th Century, were clearly refuted by the facts. Jewish Germans were, at times, more patriotic and dedicated than their non-Jewish brothers and sisters. Yet despite the clear examples of heroism in the trenches and sacrifice on the homefront by the entire Jewish community, the historical record was not only erased but malignantly reversed. Even today in the US, for example, the memory of the Jewish patriots in Germany is "qualified and contextualized" to reduce the scale in some research publications.


The Nazis as well tried to erase the memory of Jewish German patriotism, sacrifice, and solidarity during World War I and before. Sadly they succeeded in only a few short years. Many Jews failed to see the warning signs of the upcoming doom because of their faithful allegiance and belief in the institutions they had fought for and the comrades they had fought alongside. The sad truth is that the state, bereft of strong controls on state behavior itself, is fully capable of turning on its heretofore heroes. This is a lesson for all nations today.


NOTES and SOURCES: 13. Crouthamel, Jason, Michael Geheran, Tim Grady, Julia Barbara Kohne, ed. Beyond Inclusion and Exclusion Jewish Experiences of the First World War in Central Europe.  (New York: Berghahn Books, 2019.) p.378.


14. Wiener, Alfred. The Fatherland and the Jews, Two Pamphlets by Alfred Wiener 1919 & 1924.  Kindle Version. (London: Granta Publications, 2021.), p.58.


15. Ibid., p.55.


16. Merloo, Joost, M.D. Rape of the Mind The Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing. (Mansfield Centre: Martino Publishing, 2015.), p.130.


17. Ibid., p.134.


18. Ibid., p135.


19. Geheran, Michael. Combrades Betrayed Jewish World War I Veterans Under Hitler. (London: Cornell University Press, 2020.), p.99.


20.  Ibid., p.94.

 

21. Ibid., p.97.


22. Ibid., p.98.


23. Ibid., p.104.


24. Ibid., p.106.


25. Ibid., p.106.


Additional material on the Kulturkampf program that potentially laid organizational structures that facilitated the holocaust can be found in Spahn, M. (1910). Kulturkampf. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Retrieved May 19, 2023, from New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08703b.htm

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