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Why did Adolf Hitler and the Nazis hate the Jews?

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Roots of Hitler's and the Nazis' Hatred of Jews.
For a short answer see the Related Questions listed at the bottom.
  1. Many of the 'theories' about Hitler's hatred of the Jews, especially those claiming to be based on a single experience early in his life, are no more than fanciful guesswork.
  2. The reasons given by Hitler in 'Mein Kampf' should be treated with caution. The book is not a reliable source.
  3. In the last 30 years or so historians have generally distinguished between the ordinary prejudices of his background and time (Roman Catholic, Upper Austria, lower middle class, around 1880-1910) and the obsessive hatred that later became one of his hallmarks.
  4. It appears that, contrary to what he says in 'Mein Kampf', Hitler's extreme antisemitism only arose towards the end of World War 1 or even later. (See Volume 1 of Ian Kershaw's two volume biography, Hubris, Penguin Books 1998).
  5. There had been anti Jewish prejudice of varying degrees of intensity in many parts of Europe and elsewhere for a long time. A distinctive feature of Hitler's antisemitism was that it was formulated as conspiracy theory. For many, especially in Bavaria, this went hand in hand with the 'stab-in-the-back' theory, that is, with the view that Germany had not been defeated on the battlefield but had been brought down by liberal, socialist and Communist subversives on the home front. In other words it was claimed that 'the Jews had caused Germany's defeat in World War 1'. Potentially, this made antisemitism explosive in Germany.
  6. In much of Europe it was assumed that Jews were Communists. In many hardline right wing circles there was talk about a supposed 'Judeo-Bolshevist conspiracy'. This was highly inflammatory. Despite his ranting against Jewish businessmen Hitler saw the Jews as the 'biological root' of Bolshevism. (See the link below on the influence of emigres from Russia).
  7. In Bavaria but not in other most parts of Germany a number of Marxists of Jewish origin had been prominent in the upheavals of 1918-1919. Most, like Ernst Toller and Erich M$$hsam, for example, were idealistic utopians. They were not conspirators or traitors or anything of that sort. However, their origins were shamelessly exploited for propaganda purposes.
  8. Many extreme German Nationalists (not only the Nazis) called the new German republic a 'Jewish republic' (though almost none of its leaders were Jews). There was a widespread tendency, not only in Germany, to equate the Jews with subversion and Communism. In many of his speeches Hitler often used the words Jews and Bolshevists almost interchangeably. He merged rabid anti communism with equally fanatical antisemitism. To this he later added the claim that Jews were homosexuals, allegedly undermining the manliness and and fighting spirit of the German people. This combination was potentially a 'witches' brew'.

Against this background there are also many contributing factors and possible theories. Here is some further input:
  • Jealousy. Some Jews were successful and held "visible" positions in Austria and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. In the Great Depression. Germany was hit the hardest by the worldwide economic depression, and successful Jews were envied.
  • Some Germans believed that "Jewish bankers" were responsible for the Treaty of Versailles.
  • Jews became a scapegoat for Germany's economic problems. (According to this racist sentiment, "international Jewish financiers had plunged the world into a war and the Depression for their business profit.")
  • Hitler and many Nazis were influenced by the notorious anti Semitic book called "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion."
  • Hitler lived in Vienna from 1907 to 1913 and those were the most difficult years of his life. Hitler was trying to become an artist or to make himself a name in field of arts. He was twice rejected from the Vienna Academy of Fine Art. He claimed that the professors that rejected him were Jewish ... [However, none of the members of the selection panel was Jewish].
  • The Nazis had a vision of an Aryan German race that specifically excluded Jews and many other groups of people.
  • Here is an example of Hitler's anti Semitic racism from a speech given in Munich in July 1922: "His is no master people; he is an exploiter: the Jews are a people of robbers. He has never founded any civilization, though he has destroyed civilizations by the hundred...everything he has stolen. Foreign people, foreign workmen build him his temples, it is foreigners who create and work for him, it is foreigners who shed their blood for him."
  • Some say Hitler and the Nazis were opportunistic demagogues. Inciting hatred of the Jews was the means to an end. The Nazis used hatred of the Jews to unify the German people and create a new German empire. Nothing unites a people more than when they believe they are constantly under attack and fighting a common enemy. The Jews were convenient enemies. Christianity had traditionally blamed the death of Christ on the Jews. One can see in the Bible the statement that the Jews demanded the death of Jesus, and said, "let it be upon our heads and that of our children." This became an excuse to abuse the Jews for more than a thousand years. It was not until the 1960s that the Catholic Church stated that the Jews were NOT to blame for the death of Jesus. Antisemitism was deeply embedded in European and American culture.
  • In the 1930s there was a lot of anti Jewish feeling and resentment in the Western world. Many Jews who tried to escape the persecution in Germany were refused entry into the US and other European countries and also many countries further afield.
  • Antisemitism has been rife throughout European history, largely because the Jews were a distinct, identifiable group, who did not integrate. (Those who really wanted to integrate converted.) Of course, many now see pluralism as a virtue, and a variety of ethnicity's and religions as a positive thing. However, in the inter war period diversity was often regarded as divisive and "disloyal".
  • Another key element of a dictatorship is fear, and a visible scapegoat experiencing the wrath of the state is a good way to keep people from stepping out of line.
  • Hitler stated: "The war is to be a war of annihilation". His henchman Heinrich Himmler declared: "All Poles will disappear from the world. . . . It is essential that the great German people should consider it as a major task to destroy all Poles."
  • The Jews did absolutely nothing to deserve the treatment they got. Like the Africans and the Indians the Jews were just picked for hatred and unjust things but again they did absolutely nothing!
  • Since the 1870s the Jews had been the object of a new wave of demonization and conspiracy theories. On the whole this wasn't taken too seriously in Germany, but in Austria anti Jewish conspiracy theories were spread by extreme right wing politicians and also by the Roman Catholic Church, which knew perfectly well that these theories were rubbish. Young Adolf was a server (altar-boy) and may have been influenced by this.
  • Well, there were more "sub humans", as Hitler called those poor people, than he could handle. He had to find ways to kill them without making it too obvious. That's when the real Holocaust started [1941]! He built extermination camps, where he could kill many thousands of people at a time.
  • Hitler blamed Germany's defeat in WWI on the Jews, and he hated them. When he took power he started rounding them up. He did the same when he started taking over other countries. He used the Jews, Poles, gays, gypsies, Russians and mentally challenged people as slave labor and then started to annihilate them in gas chambers. His reason - hatred. He classed the above mentioned people as sub human and basically in his Nazi world there was no place for the "sub human", only the 'Aryans'.
  • To understand the Holocaust you have to understand the Darwinian biology of the time. There was a growing sense, particularly since Ernst Haeckel, that there were those in society who were 'biologically' inferior and that for a 'fit' world to survive and thrive, those who were 'unfit' should be done away with. Instead of letting nature take its course, there was a unspoken sense that humans could take matters into their own hands. I am obviously not supporting this twisted logic, but that is a key to understanding how a number of things converged to create the nightmare of the century. [However, 'biological inferiority' is subjective. In Britain, for example, many Social Darwinists, especially those active in education, were most impressed by the achievements of Jews in schools and universities and concluded that they were a 'superior breed' ... This view was to some extent echoed in Nazi conspiracy theories, which painted a picture of diabolically cunning Jews].
  • Hitler blamed the Jews for Germany's defeat in World War I.
  • He didn't only kill Jews. He killed Communists, liberals, homosexuals, gypsies and many other groups, including millions of victims of warfare. Why he did is up for debate, but I'd guess a mixture of antisemitism and stereotypes of the as Jews as Communists, subsersives and all kinds of other things - as a means to an end. A common way to gain power is to spread fear and panic about an enemy (real or imaginary), stir up hatred and present yourself as the only person able to 'save' the country.
Of course, hatred does not in itself account for the Holocaust. How the Nazis moved from hatred and persecution to genocide is another matter. Please see the links and related questions. because He Took Over THere Land
The only reason that the Nazi party hated Jews was because of Hitler's convincing. He was convinced that it was a Jewish professor that had rejected his art work; he became convinced that a Jewish doctor had been responsible for his mother$s death. He had convinced himself that the Jews had been responsible for Germany$s defeat. He believed that Germany would never have surrendered normally and that the nation had been "stabbed in the back" by the Jews. Hitler had a dream world filled with people of Ayrian Race (tall, Blond, blue-eyed and of great intelligence) But the point is Hitler was damn close to trying to be GOD.
Thanks for the feedback!

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