How Dead Jews Became a Valuable Political Commodity

Sometimes it makes sense to go back and read Mein Kampf.

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Our collective memory of the way genocidal hatred of the Jews was whipped up in Germany of the 1920s and 1930s is largely framed by the crude racist stereotypes of Der Sturmer, the drawings of avaricious and hook-nosed, dirty and bearded Jews debauching pure Teutonic maidens.

Those images make it easy to forget that there was a deeper and more ideological form of racial theory, which wasn’t just based on the demonization of Jews as degenerate creatures. One that could appeal to more cerebral and intellectual Germans and could apply itself to assimilated Jews who looked nothing like those cartoons.

In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler makes it clear that his particular obsession with Jews was not based on their being one of the inferior races. There were plenty of those, and the Germanic and Aryan races would fight them for domination of scarce natural resources and living-space.

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For Hitler, the Jews were a threat to the human race because they had brought to earth the notion that there was a way for humans to share the earth instead of killing each other for it.

The Jews, according to Hitler, had imposed their values on the natural order and were a force working against humanity. "All world-historical events are nothing more than the expression of the self-preservation drive of the races," he wrote. "It is Jewry that always destroys this order," and "murders the future."