Streicher, Julius

Julius Streicher
Julius Streicher

Julius Streicher (12 Feb. 1885 – 16 Oct. 1946), a German newspaper publisher and National-Socialist politician, is most famous for his tabloid newspaper Der Stürmer – which translates to “The Striker” or “The Attacker.” This periodical is today most-renowned for its radical and at times vulgar anti-Jewish articles and cartoons. To this day, these cartoons epitomize National-Socialist anti-Judaism. However, Streicher’s sledge-hammer rhetoric was looked down upon by many leading personalities of the Third Reich. When he used his newspaper to attack other National Socialists, he was declared unfit for leadership by the Party Court, and was eventually stripped of all his positions. The only exception was his position as Gauleiter of Frankonia, which he had held since 1925. But even in this role he was limited to the formal title from 1940 on.

Streicher’s influence on the Holocaust is limited to his paper’s drastic anti-Jewish stance. During the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal (IMT), he was charged exactly for that.

Of interest in the present context is the way Streicher was treated while in U.S. custody in Nuremberg. He testified in court on 26 April 1946. In the transcript of the IMT published in 1947, we read how he first summarized his life, then explained how he first met Hitler during a 3-hour speech, and how he was proud to have handed over his own movement to Hitler. He mentioned that in 1940 he was given a “leave of absence,” which no doubt referred to the fact that he had factually been stripped of all positions within the National-Socialist state. Asked why he had been dismissed from a teaching position, he denied any wrongdoing of indecency. Then, a short while later, the transcript mentions him lashing out against a witness who had testified before him, for which he was reprimanded by the court after a complaint by U.S. prosecutor Justice Jackson (IMT, Vol. 12, pp. 309-311).

According to a journalist who was reporting daily on the IMT for the London Times, events unfolded somewhat differently, though. In an article published the next day under the headline “Streicher Opens His Case,” we read how Streicher recounted his first encounter with Hitler (The Times, 27 April 1946, p. 3):

“‘He [Hitler] had been speaking for three hours and was drenched in perspiration. […]’

Streicher said that he had been charged with handing over his anti-Jewish movement to Hitler. ‘Yes!’ said Streicher, ‘I am proud of it. For 20 years I have spoken at meetings every week, to thousands of people.’

Raising his voice to a shrill cry, he declared that after he found himself in allied captivity, he was kept for four days in a cell without clothes. ‘I was made to kiss negroes’ feet. I was whipped. I had to drink saliva,’ he declared.

He paused for breath, and then screamed: ‘My mouth was forced open with a piece of wood, and then I was spat on. When I asked for a drink of water I was taken to a latrine and told, ‘Drink.’ These are the sort of things the Gestapo has been blamed for.’

Saying that ‘allegations on my honour’ were false, he denied seducing a woman schoolteacher in France. Speaking of his place in the counsels of the Nazi Party, he said he was the only unpaid Gauleiter in the Reich.

Then he ejaculated suddenly: ‘The witness Gisevius was a traitor’ (Dr. Hans Gisevius, who ended his evidence earlier in the day).

Mr. Justice Jackson, the chief United States prosecutor, protested, saying that no question had been put to Streicher to which that observation could be an answer. He asked Lord Justice Lawrence to admonish Streicher.

Lord Justice Lawrence (to Streicher). ‘You have no right to comment on the evidence of a previous witness, and certainly no right to call a witness a traitor.’”

Therefore, we know that Streicher had complained during his testimony about having been tortured in captivity, and we know that this entire passage was deleted from the published record. This proves that the judges at the IMT colluded with the prosecution to remove anything from this transcript that shines a bad light on these proceedings. What else has been deleted or altered? We will never know. This episode undermines the credibility of the entire IMT record. Was Streicher tortured, and the IMT officials lied about it by deleting this passage off the record? Or was Streicher the liar by making false claims?

Streicher wrote a detailed account of his treatment in U.S. captivity, which eventually made it into the hands of German mainstream historian Werner Maser. The many verifiable details in this account make it a credible testimony, Maser later opined.

For his “crime” of anti-Jewish journalism, Streicher was sentenced to death and executed by hanging on 16 October 1946. Virulent, aggressive anti-Judaism was a capital offense.

(For more details, see Dalton 2020a; Irving 1996, pp. 51f.; Stimely 1984; see also the entry on torture.)

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