Julius Streicher


Streicher, Hitler, Hess and Himmler

Julius Streicher was born on 12 February 1885 in the Upper Bavarian village of Fleinhausen. Julius Streicher was an elementary school teacher by profession, as was his father before him. He served in a Bavarian unit during the First World War, and despite a warning for bad behaviour, received the Iron Cross, First Class, and he rose through the ranks to become a lieutenant. In 1919 he co-founded the anti-Semitic Deutsch-Soziale Partei and two years later joined the NSDAP, taking his own Party membership with him. Streicher was an intimate friend of Adolf Hitler and one of the earliest supporters of Nazism in northern Bavaria. In 1925 he was appointed Gauleiter of the NSDAP for Franconia and his headquarters in Nuremberg became a leading centre for violent anti-Semitism in Germany. Streicher’s un-becoming conduct and diatribes against the Weimar Government led to his dismissal from his teaching post in 1928.

A year later he was elected as a Nazi member of the Bavarian legislature. Streicher was a tireless speaker and plebeian rabble-rouser, whose political influence derived largely from the impact of Der Stuemer, which he founded in 1923 and continued to edit until 1945. This weekly newspaper became the world’s best known anti-Semitic publication with its crude cartoons, repellent photographs of Jews, its stories of ritual murder, pornography and its coarse prose style. Streicher reached millions of Germans, through his newspaper columns, and his endless speaking tours imbuing them, with his own poisonous brew of hatred, sadism and perversity. The impact of Der Stuermer as greatly enhanced by a nationwide system of display cases (Stuermerkasten) put up in parks, public squares, factory canteens, at street corners and bus stops, to attract passers- by. Their visual impact, their racists’ slogans and scandal- mongering style drew crowds, Der Stuermer consistently carried large- print slogans such as “Avoid Jewish Doctors and Lawyers” and gave listings of Jewish dentists, shopkeepers, and professional people whom “Aryans” were urged to avoid. Those who ignored this advice were in danger of having their own names and addresses listed. Letters to the editor denouncing Jews – and Germans who patronised them – became a regular feature of Der Stuermer, which claimed in 1935 that it was receiving 11,000 letters a week. The “Pillory” column created a climate of fear and intimidation not only in Nuremberg – where Streicher dominated all spheres of life – but throughout the Reich. Through Der Stuermer, Streicher provided a focus for the anti-Jewish measures of Nazi Germany, pressing already in 1933, for the banning of Jews from public baths, places of entertainment, State schools etc.

After Streicher spoke in Magdeburg in 1935, Jews were barred from using public transport; the general campaign which led to the Nuremberg racial laws in 1935 was initiated by his newspaper. One of Streicher’s most enthusiastic readers was Adolf Hitler, who declared that Der Stuermer was the only paper which he read avidly from first to last page. Undoubtedly the Fuhrer protected Streicher raising him to high office and praising him as the “friend and comrade in arms” who never wavered and would unflinchingly stand behind him in every situation.” Although aware of Streicher’s widespread unpopularity and unsavoury reputation, Hitler regarded him as a man of spirit, extremely useful, if not irreplaceable. He considered the Franconian Gauleiters’ primitive methods to be very effective especially appealing to the ordinary man in the street. Hitler told Hermann Rauschning that he gave Streicher a free hand because anti-Semitism was the most important weapon in the Nazi arsenal. In spite of repeated requests to suppress Der Stuermer as a ‘cultural disgrace,’ Hitler personally ordered that no action be taken and declared that Streicher’s material was amusing and very cleverly done. The German public appeared to share this view since Der Stuermer circulation rose from 2-3,000 in 1923 to 65,000 in 1934 and close on 500,000 in 1937. Circulation of Der Stuermer fluctuated increased, and then during the war dropped to about 200,000. Naturally, the ownership of such a widely read newspaper guaranteed Streicher a considerable income which was the envy of many other Gauleiter’s.

In March 1933 Hitler appointed Streicher “Director of the Central Committee for the Defence against Jewish Atrocity and Boycott Propaganda”. Two months earlier  Streicher became a member of the Reichstag for the electoral district of Franconia, and in 1934 he was promoted to SA – Gruppenführer. During his time as Gauleiter he enlarged his newspaper business to prodigious proportions, eventually owning about ten newspapers, including the Frankische Tageszeitung.He further extended his personal fortune by expropriating Jewish property in his district and allowing friends to acquire Jewish homes and businesses at a fraction of their real value. Julius Streicher was corrupt, dishonest, sadistic, obscene and brutal in manner, Streicher’s sexual peccadilloes and his disreputable transactions eventually became intolerable even to his colleagues and by 1939 Party officials were consistently complaining about his psychopathic behaviour. The fact that he had been charged with rape; admitted horsewhipping political prisoners and derided the virility of other Nazi top leaders created a solid front against him that even Hitler could no longer ignore. Streicher’s dismissal from his Nazi Party Posts in 1940 was sealed with his specific allegation that Hermann Goring was impotent and that his daughter had been conceived by artificial insemination. It was Goring who despatched a commission to Franconia to examine Streicher’s business transactions and personal life, which ultimately led to Streicher’s downfall. Nevertheless, Streicher was allowed to continue his anti-Semitic incitement as editor of Der Stuermer, for which he was eventually indicted and hanged at Nuremburg on 16 October 1946.

The Nuremburg International Military Tribunal held the view that Streicher’s incitement to murder and extermination, at the time, when Jews in the East were being killed en masse under the most horrible conditions, constituted persecution on political and racial grounds and a crime against humanity. A prison guard at Nuremburg where Streicher was confined after the war, recalled, “The other Nazi prisoners refused to speak him. Whenever women entered the prison, Streicher called out vulgar remarks.” Streicher, however, regarded his own trial and death sentence as “a triumph for world Jewry,” and went to the scaffold shouting angrily, “Purimfest,” and proclaiming his eternal loyalty to Hitler.


Robert S. Wistrich, Who’s Who in Nazi Germany, Routledge, London and New York 1995

Charles Hamilton, Leaders and Personalities of the Third Reich, R. James Bender 1984

Photograph – Bundesarchiv

© Holocaust Historical Society 2015