• 12 February 1885
  •  Fleinhausen, Bavaria, Germany

Julius Streicher


Julius Streicher was born in Fleinhausen, Bavaria, Germany, the son of a schoolteacher. He himself worked as a schoolteacher until the outbreak of World War I, when he joined the German army. He won the Iron Cross for bravery under fire and was promoted to lieutenant. After the war ended, Streicher, like many Germans, was extremely bitter about Germany's loss and its occupation by foreign troops, and began to place the blame for all of Germany's troubles on "the Jews". He became active in the Schutz und Trutz Bund, a violently anti-Semitic political organization. In 1920 he joined the right-wing German Socialist party, but his extreme anti-Semitic views alienated even them, and he left to join an even more extreme right-wing and anti-Semitic organization, the German Working Community, and became one of its leaders. In 1922 he became acquainted with Adolf Hitler, who made such a favorable impression on Streicher that he merged his organization with Hitler's much smaller Nazi party, giving Hitler the strength and political and financial resources he so fervently sought. Streicher was one of the participants in the abortive "Beer Hall Putsch" of 1923, when Hitler and his band of Nazis attempted to overthrow the Bavarian government, but which ended in a shootout with Munich police in which 16 Nazis were killed and Hitler, Streicher and other Nazi leaders were arrested. Streicher was sentenced to a month in jail, and upon his release began the virulently anti-Semitic newspaper "Der Sturmer", which was basically a Nazi propaganda sheet which Streicher used to build a groundswell of hatred against Jews and all things Jewish. Even his critics admitted he was a good writer and a spellbinding orator, and before long "Der Sturmer" had a circulation of more than 800,000. Every issue of the paper was filled with wild stories and articles "proving" that Jews were responsible for such calamities as the Great Depression, had deliberately caused the dire economic straits that many Germans found themselves in, were behind the kidnappings of "pure" German women who were then sold into slavery and prostitution to be defiled by "inferior" races, deliberately infected "Aryans" with syphilis and other sexually transmitted diseases in order to wipe out the Christian religion, and other tales even more outlandish. Eventually even high Nazi officials such as Hermann Göring and Rudolf Hess implored Hitler to clamp down on Streicher, as his outrageous Jew-hating propaganda was beginning to alienate even Nazi sympathizers, but Hitler ignored their requests. In 1933, after Hitler had assumed power in Germany, Streicher was named Gauleiter of Franconia. His heavy-handed rule made enemies of many Nazi officials, however, and in 1940 he was stripped off all his offices after becoming entangled in a financial scandal involving Jewish property seized by the Nazis after the infamous "Kristallnacht" in 1938. In addition, he had been spreading stories, later proved to be untrue, about Nazi leader Goring. Although he lost much of his power, he and Hitler still remained close friends. After the defeat of Nazi Germany Streicher tried to escape the country, but was spotted by an alert US Army captain and arrested. Because of his relentless and outrageous propaganda that year in and year out exhorted hatred of and violence against Europe's Jews, which the Allied authorities believed was a significant contributing factor in enabling the Nazis to carry out their "Final Solution" extermination program against them, and for his wholehearted approval of that program--he knew all about it, although he himself had no official part in it--Streicher was charged with crimes against humanity and was a defendant in the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. He was found guilty and sentenced to death, and hanged on October 16, 1946. Unrepentant to the end, he snarled at the hangman, "One day the Jews will hang you, too!" and his last words were "Heil Hitler!"