The "Eternal Jew" or the "Wandering Jew"
The concept of the "Wandering Jew" is far older than National Socialism. It derives from a literary and popular legend, about a Jew who mocked or mistreated Jesus while he was on his way to the cross and who was condemned therefore to a life of wandering on earth until Judgment Day.
The story of this wanderer was first recorded in the chronicles of Roger of Wendover and Matthew of Paris during the thirteenth century. The exact nature of the wanderer's indiscretion varies in different versions of the tale, as do aspects of his character, some of the more common themes being the doom of the "Wandering Jew" to travel the world forever, forsaken by all unfortunate enough to encounter him.
Nazi Propaganda saw in this proof that the Jews have been justifiably persecuted by all racers over the millenium.
The Eternal Jew exhibition first opened in the Library of the German Museum in Munich on November 8, 1937, and ended on January 31, 1938. Billed as a degenerate-art exhibition, it was the largest prewar anti-Semitic exhibit thus far produced by the Nazi's. The exhibit featured photographs pointing out the typically "Jewish" features of political figures, such as Leon Trotsky, and international film star Charlie Chaplin.
The displays emphasized supposed attempts by Jews to bolshevize Germany, It did this by revealing an 'eastern' Jew - wearing a kaftan, and holding gold coins in one hand and a whip in the other. Under his arm is a map of the world, with the imprint of the hammer and sickle. The exhibition attracted 412,300 visitors, over 5,000 per day.
The exhibition moved to Vienna for August 2 through October 23, 1938, and then to Berlin from November 12, 1938 through January 31, 1939. Police reports stated there was a direct correlation rise in anti-Semitic feelings, and in some cases violence against the Jewish community in each city the exhibition was held.
The film Der ewige Jude opened on November 29th, 1940 throughout the German Reich. Each city where the film played had it's own posters. In the Altenkirchen district of Betzdorf, the film was described as a "documentary film about world Jewry". "It is unique because it is no fantasy, but undiluted reality."
The Nazi goal of Der ewige Jude is to be the first film to portray a fully exposed picture of world Jewry, and to be a "valuable tool in the struggle to break the power of the Jews over the Aryan race."
The consistent theme throughout the film of the Jew as parasite in an otherwise healthy host, is found throughout the film in several forms, each of them designed to reveal to Germans the "true" Jew underneath the veneer of European culture that concealed the Jewish parasite.
Jews are introduced as a foreign, swarthy, hook-nosed, untidily bearded, sullen presence that clogs the teeming streets of middle Europe. They haggle, squabble over food at the table, hoard with wealth, conceal it from tax collectors, and grow sleek and fat at the expense of good Germans. Their religion and culture are seen as cabalistic sources of secret powers.
In one famous scene, swarms of rats scurry through cellars and sewers, the shots are intercut with images of Jews emigrating from Palestine to to all corners of the world. The overlaid text conveyed the message:
"Where rats turn up, they spread diseases and carry extermination into the land. They are cunning, cowardly and cruel, they travel in large packs, exactly the way the Jews infect the races of the world."
Artistically, the film is a "black masterpiece" of the cinematic conventions of 1940; a German version of The March of Time style that included animated maps, falsely labeled stock footage, segments of feature films borrowed to make some ideological point, stills, decoupages of evocative book jackets and headlines, and an omniscient voice-over narration.
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The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team