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Julius Streicher

Julius Streicher Der Stürmer Publisher
Julius Streicher Der Stürmer Publisher.

Julius Streicher (February 12, 1885 - October 16, 1946) was a prominent Nazi prior to and during World War II. He was the publisher of the Nazi Der Stürmer newspaper, which was to become a part of the Nazi propaganda machine. His publishing firm released three anti-Semitic books for children, including the 1938 Der Giftpilz (The Poison Mushroom), one of the most widespread pieces of propaganda, which purported to warn about insidious dangers Jews posed by using the metaphor of an attractive yet deadly mushroom. After the war, he was convicted of crimes against humanity and executed.

Early life

Streicher was born in Fleinhausen, Bavaria, one of nine children of the teacher Friedrich Streicher and his wife Anna (née Weiss). He worked as an elementary school teacher until joining the German Army in 1914. Streicher won the Iron Cross and reached the rank of lieutenant by the time the Armistice was signed in 1918. In 1913 Streicher married Kunigunde Roth, a baker's daughter, in Nürnberg. They had two sons, Lothar (born 1915) and Elmar (born 1918).

National Socialism

In 1919 Streicher was active in the Schutz und Trutz Bund, an anti-Semitic organization. In 1920 he turned to the newly established German Socialist Party (Deutschsozialistische Partei), the platform of which was close to that of the Nazi Party. Streicher moved it in more anti-Semitic directions, which aroused opposition. His battles with other members led him to take his followers to yet another organization in 1921, the German Working Community (Deutsche Werkgemeinschaft), which hoped to unite the various anti-Semitic Völkisch movements. In 1922, Streicher merged his personal following with that of Adolf Hitler, almost doubling the membership of the Nazi Party, and earning Hitler's lifelong gratitude. He participated in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch in 1923, which later gave him the privilege of marching at the front of the annual reenactment of the event after the Nazi takeover of power in 1933.

In 1923 Streicher founded the racist newspaper, Der Stürmer of which he was editor, and used it to build up a deep hatred of everything and everyone Jewish. Eventually the newspaper reached a peak circulation of 480,000 in 1935.

Streicher argued in the newspaper that the Jews had contributed to the depression, unemployment, and inflation in Germany which afflicted the country during the 1920's. He claimed that Jews were white-slavers and were responsible for over 90 percent of the prostitutes in the country.

After the refounding of the Nazi party, Streicher became Gauleiter of Franconia. After 1933, he practically ruled the city of Nuremberg and was nicknamed "King of Nuremberg" and the "Beast of Franconia." In 1940, he was stripped of all party offices after being involved in major financial scandals involving Jewish property seized after the anti-Semitic outburst of Kristallnacht in November 1938, and also for spreading untrue stories about Hermann Göring, several furious outbursts towards other Gauleiters and unconcealed adultery. Streicher, however, remained on good terms with German dictator Adolf Hitler until the latter committed suicide on April 30, 1945. On May 23, two weeks after Germany's surrender, Streicher was captured by the Americans.

Streicher's wife, Kunigunde Streicher, died in 1943 after 30 years of marriage. Streicher was married to his former secretary, Adele Tappe, just days before his arrest.

Trial and execution

The corpse of Julius Streicher after his execution in 1946
The corpse of Julius Streicher after his execution in 1946. (R.J.Maranan).

Julius Streicher was found guilty of crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial and sentenced to death on October 1, 1946. During the trial Streicher declared several times that the jailers had tortured him. All his comments on this issue were erased from the official protocol but on the audiotape of the trial it is still present. His last words, before execution on October 16, 1946, were "Heil Hitler," and, "The Bolsheviks will hang you one day!". Streicher was not a member of the military and was not part of planning the Holocaust, the invasion of Poland, or the Soviet invasion. Yet his role in inciting the extermination of Jews was significant enough, in the prosecutors' judgment, to include him in the indictment. The hanging of Julius Streicher did not proceed as planned. The consensus among eyewitnesses is that he died by slow strangulation rather than by the quick death from spinal severing typical with the type of hanging used at Nuremberg. It is believed that the executioner had to intervene under the gallows to silence and finish Streicher, who was still groaning and swinging on the rope moments after the release of the trap-door.

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