World War II in Europe began September 1, 1939 with Germany’s invasion of Poland, followed by Great Britain and France’s response declaring war on Germany. However, as the “Hossback memorandum” indicates,plans had been proposed at least since 1937 to begin the process of placing Germany on a war footing in Europe. (2019.2.8) Hitler began early in his administration with propaganda campaigns to influence German minds so that everyone would be “working toward the Fuhrer.” This included propaganda rationale for invading Poland (2014.1.439). Joseph Goebbels was minister of the agency that managed propaganda and promoted Nazi messaging through the diverse media outlets of the day: art, music, theatre, films, pamphlets, journals, radio, etc., all the while silencing the opposition and bolstering Hitler’s self-image as a messianic figure bent on saving Germany and building a thousand year Reich. Goebbels promoted a fierce nationalism on one hand and an ardent racial hatred of Jews and other perceived defectives: the Slavs, Communists, the mentally ill or anyone with abnormalities: all were seen as sub-human Untermenschen, or "Lebensunwertes Leben" (life unworthy of life) ( 2019.2.194) and subject to sterilization, slavery, or death. Blond, blue-eyed, muscular (from performing “real” work) Aryan men (vide Riefenstahl’s Olympia) were contrasted in every medium with the hook-nosed, deformed grotesques of the Jewish “race” who belonged nowhere and owed allegiance to themselves alone. The Eternal Jew exhibitions (2012.1.478) depicted Jews in unimaginably negative and unfavorable ways.
The movie Jud Suss (2012.1.492) or the pornographic caricatures of Julius Streicher’s tabloids (2012.1.494) portraying Jews as sexual perverts or his anti-Semitic cartoon books for children (2012.1.546) are merely a few examples of this form of propagandizing where Nazi memes become truth and reality (especially-as Goebbels remarked-if they are repeated often enough), thus facilitating and rationalizing the Nazi “solution to the Jewish problem”. Degenerate “Jewish” art would be contrasted in public exhibitions with, for example, Arno Breker’s, neo-classical, monumental, but ultimately unimaginative forms. Likewise, “Jewish” science or “Jewish” literature had to be expunged from Aryan paradise. Hans Schweitzer’s “Mjolnir” cartoons and Goebbels own writings and speeches blamed Jews for Germany’s economic problems .(2019.2.217). The “Parole der Woche”, was a weekly poster or propaganda card focusing on issues or individuals the Nazis wanted to dwell on to heighten their messaging. Subversive propaganda came as well in the form of postal forgeries of enemy stamps often with anti-Semitic messages; for example, the head of Britain’s King George VI surmounted with a Jewish star and the hammer and sickle, symbols in the Nazi worldview of the connection between Jews and Communism (2015.2.154). Stamps would also “predict” the end of the British empire. (2015.2.155). Parody postcards with caricatures of Churchill (2019.2.132) and Chamberlain (2019.2.135) were not meant to be amusing.
Winston Churchill created the British Political Executive at the beginning of the war to produce propaganda that to the Germans to whom it was disseminated seemed authentic but was in fact aimed at damaging morale. Most memorable were Churchill’s broadcasts to rally the British against the Nazi scourge. His very presence in walking among the British civilians who would gather around him in throngs was an important boost to British morale. What came to be known as black propaganda entailed sending subversive, at times subliminal, messages to the Germans, including leaflets, postcards (2019.2.133), and other forms of propaganda dropped from airplanes (2019.2.149).
In America, Roosevelt created the Office of War Information in 1942 to boost production and undermine enemy morale. OWI used available media-especially newsreels and film, posters (e.g. “Rosie the Riveter”) and radio broadcasts to help mobilize Americans to buy into the war and make them feel they were an important part of the war effort.The darker arts of espionage- “spywar”- were managed by “Wild Bill” Donovan, head of the OSS, the precursor agency of the CIA. One of his efforts- “Operation Snowflake”- was a parody of the Hitler 12 Pfennig postage stamp-known as the Skull or Death’s Head stamp- wherein the words Deutches Reich (German Empire) were replaced by “Futches Reich” meaning “Lost Empire.” These parody stamps and postcards-while amusing- had a deadly serious purpose and taken together with other forms of propaganda were also intended to demoralize the German public. (2012.1.443)
In the realm of American wartime propaganda, mention must be made of the work of Arthur Szyk, a Polish-born artist who thoroughly embraced the promise of democracy and human rights of his adopted country and expressed through his art his commitment to religious and racial tolerance for Jews and blacks. His political commitments, especially his concern over the persecution of European Jews by the Nazis, were expressed in his anti-Axis art as well (2012.1.417e, 2012.1.417a-d),but his patriotism and reverence for America were best displayed in his” Four Freedoms” stamps. Like Norman Rockwell’s posters, these stamps were also inspired by FDR’s 1941 speech before Congress. (2012.1.418).
There is a counter-narrative to Szyk’s adoration of America, one that has been proffered as a partial explanation for FDR’s hesitation about entering the war before 1941. Opinion polls taken from the mid 30’s to the late 40’s in the United States found that at least 60 per cent or more of respondents held a low opinion of Jews. Many felt they had too much power; that they were greedy or dishonest; and ultimately a threat to the welfare of America: indeed, more so than any other ethnic or religious group. Some 10 per cent of those polled were even in favor of deporting them. The State Department under FDR was teeming with anti-Semites, including Breckenridge Long (2016.1.18), a friend of the President who endeavored to keep immigration quotas for Jews artificially low during a time when European Jews were attempting to escape Nazi persecution. The Wagner- Rogers Bill of 1938 would at least have increased the quota of immigrants by allowing entry to 20,000 Jewish children under the age of 14. It never came to a vote, opposed by nationalist organizations and blocked by a Senator from North Carolina. Within a year, most of the refugees of the SS St. Louis were themselves denied visas to enter Cuba and the United States and were forced to return to Europe and the attendant danger of falling into Nazi hands. (2016.1.15), (2019.2.198).
The America First Committee, founded in 1940, was opposed to America’s entry into another European war. (2019.2.33-.58). Like the British Union of Fascists headed by Britain’s Oswald Mosely (2012.1.64), they believed that such a war would ultimately be instigated by Jews. Among this group were Catholic priest Charles Coughlin, known for his virulent ant-Semitic rants on radio. His magazine Social Justice (2019.2.59) contained writing indistinguishable from the fevered screeds of Joseph Goebbels, reporting that Jews were behind Communism; that they corrupted culture and politics; and that they were ultimately interested in world domination. The primary source for these beliefs was the discredited forgery Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Joseph P. Kennedy, father of the future president and ambassador to the Court of St. James- urged- as did Britain’s Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain (2014.1.180)- appeasement with Hitler. Charles Lindberg, important spokesperson for America First, and an avid admirer of Hitler, downplayed his own anti-Semitic views but believed nevertheless that Jews exerted too much influence over American culture, and that a European war would ultimately be instigated by them and redound to their benefit.
--Michael D. Bulmash, K1966
Browse the Bulmash Family Holocaust Collection.
A white postcard with an illustration of Hitler's face on a map of Germany. Titled, "Ein Volk Ein reich Ein Führer." [One Folk, One Reich, One Leader] Includes a message written in black ink.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: German postcard commemorating the Anschuss, the annexation of Austria into greater Germany March 13, 1938.
Front: An illustration of a golden German map with a photograph of Hitler's face in profile pasted onto it. Caption reads: "13 Marz 1938. Ein Volk Ein Reich Ein Führer."Back: Green printed postcard lines and a painted red, black and white sticker depicting a muscular man with a swastika hammer ready to strike a snake with the head of A Jewish man. The caption reads, "Tod dem Marxismus. Her zu uns!"
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Annexation of Austria commemorative postcard with sticker verso depicting a muscular man with a swastika hammer ready to strike a snake with the head of a Jew. The caption reads, "Tod dem Marxismus. Her zu uns!" ("Death to Marxism. Join us!") In Nazi ideology, Marxism and Judaism are indistinguishable foes.
Newspaper titled "Der Stürmer." Includes articles in German and cartoons with caricatures of Jewish individuals.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A copy of Julius Streicher's anti semitic Der Stürmer magazine. Note the "Fipps" cartoons and the ubiquitous "Die Juden sind unser ungluck" ("The Jews are our misfortune") tagline.
Yellow postcard with an illustration of a stereotyped Jewish man, holding a cane and map with the Communist hammer and sickle in one hand and coins in the other. Includes caption, "Der Ewige Jude" (The Eternal Jew) in type that mirrors Hebrew.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: To further promote Nazi anti-Semitic objectives, a travelling exhibition named “Der Ewige Jude” ("The Eternal Jew") was created in 1937. It appeared in five cities during the following eighteen months. The exhibition depicted Jews—their clothes, facial characteristics, cultural items and art- in every conceivable negative and unfavorable way, and markedly “degenerate” in contrast to the Nazi Aryan ideal. This postcard advertising the exhibition-in this case in Vienna- depicts a caricatured, unattractive image of a disheveled Jewish man against a yellow background clutching a knotted whip in his left hand with an inset map of the Soviet Union with red Communist hammer and sickle. In his outstretched right hand are gold coins. His eyes are closed against a secret he is hiding: the composite image represents a putative Jewish conspiracy for world domination. The two special cancellations on the back of the postcard commemorate the event.
Front: Chamberlain descending an aircraft. Back: A handwritten note reading, "Chamberlain arriving from Munich after signing Munich Pact with Hitler," and Culver Pictures, Inc. stamps and barcodes.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Arriving at Heston airport following the Munich Confrence, Chamberlain declares proudly that he has secured "peace in our time." Hitler had demanded that Czechoslovakia cede to Germany the Sudetenland territories of Bohemia and Moravia, regions inhabited by ethinic Germans. Chamberlain's appeasement policy in essence led to the dismemberment of the independent democratic state of Czechoslovakia.
Black and white photograph of Joseph Goebbels speaking to a young boy in uniform. Back includes text and title in German, "Ein Schnappschuss: Ein Hitlerjunge erzáhlt Dr. Goebbels feine Erlebnisse." "A Hitler youth tells Dr. Goebbels fine experiences. " Part 1 of a series of three (2012.1.447a-c).
Black and white photograph of Joseph Goebbels at a desk talking to a standing man in a suit and tie. Back includes text and title in German, "Dr. Goebbels und fein persönlicher Referent." Part 2 of a series of three (2012.1.447a-c).
Black and white photograph of Joseph Goebbels standing behind a podium and microphones in front of a crowd. Back includes text and title in German, "Dr. Goebbels eröffnet die Kundgebung der Jugend am 1. Mai 1933 im Lufrgarten." "Dr. Goebbels opens the youth rally on May 1, 1933" Part 3 of a series of three (2012.1.447a-c).
Front: Title centered on the top in black, “Warnung”. On the back the centered title is same text in a box with exclamation points on either side.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:This leaflet was Britain’s first propaganda effort of World War II. It is printed on both sides by “His Majesty’s Stationery Office” and was dropped by aircraft on September 3-4, 1939. In part it warns German citizens that the German government have forced a war on Britain which promises to involve mankind in a greater calamity than World War I. The Fuhrer’s assertions of peaceful intentions have proven as worthless as his claims that: “We have no more territorial claims to make in Europe.”
Includes a photograph of Nazis in the middle of a yellow and blue map of Germany. Titled, "Wir Danken Unserm Führer." [We Thank Our Leader]
White postcard with illustrations of people at a party and a group standing on the street. Includes a poem on the front and a message written in ink on the back.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Anti-Semitic multicolored postcard: "Greetings from Borkum." Includes a scene showing a German crowd singing with raised hands and glasses full while a group of Jewish stereotypes are refused admission to a hotel. City song reads "Those who come with flat feet, crooked noses and curly hair, cannot enjoy the beach but must be out! Leave Rosenthal and Levisohn. We want to keep our own town JUDEN REIN!" In other words, free of Jews. This exact term was used by Nazis during the Holocaust. Message posted from Nordseebad less than three weeks prior to the outbreak of World War II.
Brown leaflet titled, "Das Totenfeld der Volksdeutschen in Polen."
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: An imprint by the German authorities justifying the invasion of Poland. The leaflet, in German, reports on the alleged systematic massacre of the of ethnic Germans and claims that the Poles had killed 58,000 innocent civilians since the end of World War I. In small part "... Even by 1931, one million Germans had been displaced from their homes by the Poles. The German-Polish pact of January 1934 did not even bring the expected changes, but instead... more Polish rabble-rousing and terror in connection with their chauvinistic organizations and their Polish rape-and-torture adminstrations. The German-Polish contract was just a cloak for the Polish Government to continue their oppression of Germans... We have already informed the world press, that this Polish blood orgy happened against unarmed German men, women and children. The Bromberg night was just the beginning of a campaign of terror and murder against every single German in Poland..." The Bromberg incident, dubbed by German propagandists as "Bloody Sunday," involved the alleged massacre of ethnic Germans in the city of Bromberg (Bydogoszcz), which the Nazis used to further inflame public opinion against the Poles. The German government claimed "our special investigation group already found hundreds of mass graves. We could open just a few of them, because of the winter weather. We already identified 12,857 bodies. In the spring we will be able to open all those graves and identify those killed. The Chief of civil adminsitration founded an administration for finding and rescuing ethnic Germans, which has been ordered to investigate how many Germans were killed since the outbreak of the war... The total number of people murdered by Poles is actually 58,000. These victims of Polish terror were not just found at Bromberg. The field of dead extends to the Silesian and mid Polish sector. Even in these areas, thousands of Germans have been displaced as cattle and had been shot by the Polish Army with machine guns. The German nation paid a large amount of blood for this, the Polish nation will be burdened forever..." Sadly, such German propaganda is still cited by some today as "proof" of Polish atrocities toward ethnic Germans living there.
Cover: A circle of illustrations of everyday people surround an illustration of Adolf Hitler's face. Interior pages: Propagandistic photographs of and about Adolf Hitler intended for a French audience.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Vichy France: The Fuhrer and his People. After the fall of France in May, 1940, an armistice is signed at Hitler's insistence in Compiegne in the same railroad car in which the armistice ending WWI had been signed 22 years earlier. Under the terms of the armistice, France is to be divided into two parts: Occupied France under direct German control and Vichy France, a quasi-independent territory with the eighty-four year old Marshal Petain as its head. This booklet clearly intends to introduce the French to the conquering hero, and paints a benign, avuncular portrait of the Fuhrer. Here we see him shaking hands with everyone from world leaders to nurses and children as well as with his worshipful admirers. He signs autographs, is depicted as a lover of the arts, and is not above picking up a shovel to help construct the autobahn.
Cover includes a close-up photograph of a man with stereotypically Jewish figures. Titled, "Jud Süss." Interior includes black and white photographs of the film and text.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Promotional flier for the film Jud Süss. Jud Süss was a Nazi film directed by Veit Harlan, notorious for anti-semitic propaganda.
Flier with map of Northern French coast and text in French and English.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:Rare leaflet dropped by German Luftwaffe on Allied British and French soldiers trapped on the beach at Dunkirk in May and June, 1940. The Germans are shown advancing on the Allies from East, West and South. The message in French reads: Comrades! This is the situation! In any case, the war is over for you! Your leaders are going to run away by airplane. Lay down your arms! In what became known as the “Miracle of Dunkirk”, 338,000 desperate Allied soldiers were rescued with a combination of navel and civilian vessels over the course of nine days. More than 700 small lifeboats, fishing and pleasure craft—some piloted by civilians—the so-called “little ships” ferried soldiers to larger vessels or back to Britain. The British lived to fight another day, and Dunkirk became a rallying cry and symbol of British spirit. Expounding on he successful evacuation of troops from Dunkirk on June 4th in the House of Commons, Winston Churchill delivered his moral-lifting “fight on the beaches” speech.
Orange cover. In the middle is a brown dog with its tongue sticking out, and a large black spot on its middle. Red text above, black text below. White illustrations of bees, a locust, a bird, a lizard and a snake in the background.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:
The third-and rarest- of three antisemitic children’s books published by Julius Streicher’s Stürmer publishing house in 1940 was titled Pudelmopsdackelpinscher (Poodle-Pug-Dachshund-Pinscher) or The Mongrel. The author was again Ernst Hiemer, and the illustrations were provided by Willi Hofman. Jews are compared to repugnant forms of animal life: hyenas, chameleons, locusts, bedbugs, mongrel dogs, drone bees, poisonous snakes, tapeworms, and bacteria, etc. His audience notwithstanding, Hiemer exercises little restraint in his social-Darwinian solution to the Jewish problem in this crude, racist children’s book: to destroy the Jew before he destroys us in the same way that the danger of poisonous snakes is eliminated when these snakes are eradicated. For Streicher and those in his employ, eliminationist anti-semitism is the only way to build a new Germany under Adolf Hitler.
Postcard of vividly colored illustration of soldiers and others with supplies, marked “LA CLASSE – Le désarmement” in the lower right corner. Back includes “CARTE POSTALE” written at the top, as well as a red postage stamp and green postage stamp in upper right corner.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Staff Sergeant Eroll Hagerott sends his father regards from France on a French postcard with French stamps. The postcard was sent just four days after the armistice was signed between Germany and France at Compiegne on June 22, 1940.
Blank postcard with an illustration of shirtless German men pulling a plow over snakes with the Star of David on their heads.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Anti-Semitic German postcard from 1940, depicting German soldiers killing snakes in a field. The heads of the snakes have Stars of David.
Soft cover book with the title “De Joden” in black ink and “Nederland” in light blue. The cover features three caricatures of Jewish men with magenta skin in decreasing heights from left to right standing on a blue image of the Netherlands.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Dutch anti-Semitic propaganda pamphlet with the typical tropes, exaggerations, caricatures and stereotypes in both words and photographs; e.g., Jewish religious habits, greed, etc., comparing Jews of the day unfavorably to the “true” Netherlanders. Henry Ford, the American automobile magnate and notorious anti-Semite, who published his anti-Semitic screeds in the Dearborn Independent—a newspaper he in fact owned—is discussed herein. “Von Montis” was in fact the nom de plume of Hans Paul Kreutzer, who would be arrested during a corruption trial, and subsequently committed suicide while in jail.
A thin card with yellow and black print with a cartoon of a main in the center with a yellow star of David on either side of him within a chart of sorts that implicates Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: A small propaganda sheet- an example of the Nazi-themed, antisemitic Parole der Woche (watchword of the week) issued by the Nazi party in Berlin, alleging the existence of a conspiracy of Jews in positions of power with links to allied leaders. The diagram purports to be demonstrative of the interdigitated connections existing between powerful Jews-construed to be war profiteers and “rabble rousers”- and world leaders, including Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin and other Bosheviks. This network so described is nucleated by Bernard Baruch, wealthy financier, philanthropist, and friend and advisor of both Roosevelt and Churchill. The so-called “unofficial president of the United States”, Baruch was also involved in developing the treaty of Versailles. This propaganda appears heavily influenced by the conspiracy theory alleged in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the widely disseminated Russian antisemitic hoax purporting to describe a Jewish plan for world domination.
Postcard with Propaganda Stamp of Churchill "WERTLOSE MARKE" (Worthless Stamp) on Unofficial Card with Printer's Imprint
Envelope with four architectural themed postage stamps in brown, blue, red, and green and a fifth postage stamp of Winston Churchill in upper right corner. “LEIPZIG RECHMESSESTADT” stamped three times in black ink.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Caricature of Churchill, appearing somewhat dour, smoking a cigar, with a spitfire seeming to be falling from the sky behind him. Letters “WC” to Churchill’s left. Known as the Matthes card, vertical spine of card has the printer’s address: “Verlag Paul R. Matthes, Leipzig, etc.”
Tan poster with stylized red and brown text. Hitler's name in all-caps at the bottom in a different font.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Inspirational quotes were part of the "Poster of the Week'' program, which the Central Propaganda Office issued from 1937-1943. This example from week of July 2-26, 1941 and reads "In Bolschevism we see Jewry's attempt in the twentieth century to gain world domination." Adolph Hitler.
Image of man in uniform wearing a helmet and green shirt, holding a gun across his shoulder. Red background."Tag der NSDAP im Generalgouvernement" at bottom. Back: Purple stamp showing a statue in a piazza. Black circular handstamp 'Krakau, 15-17.8.41'
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Commemorative postcard NSDAP Day in the General Government with black circular commemorative cancel and stamp verso.
A booklet titled, "Der Untermensch." Cover includes title in red, and black and white photograph of a man in close-up, with people in uniform holding guns behind him.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Untermensch is one of the most revolting pieces of anti-Semitic and anti-Bolshevist racist literature, 50 pages of photos presenting Jews, Slavs, Bolshevists,etc., as morally degenerate, uncivilized, subhuman monsters, consistent with Hitler’s and Himmler’s belief in the necessity of the war of man against the subhuman, and ultimately rationalizing Nazi genocidal policies in the East.
Cover image of nude male statue, 72 pages plus many full page images.
Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash: Manual issued by the SS under Heinrich Himmler’s name: ”Rassenpolitik” (Race Politics), issued by the SS Hauptamt, 1942. The cover bears a statue of an “Aryan” man, while the contents expound upon the Jewish danger, non-Aryan blood in general, and the SS man’s role in guaranteeing pure Nordic blood lines and values. Chapters include the importance of SS men having racially pure children, the influence of blacks on race, and special attention is given to the Jews. The book also contains many illustrations and photographs, including images of Nordic ideal types compared with unflattering images of Jews, Russians and blacks. A library stamp remains on the cover.