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Julius Streicher (12 February 1885 - 16 October 1946) published Der Stürmer newspaper, became a part of the Nazi propaganda machine. His publishing firm released three anti-Semitic books for children, including the 1938 Der Giftpilz (The Poison Mushroom), one of the most widespread pieces of propaganda. The book said that Jews were dangerous, just like an attractive yet deadly mushroom. After the war, he was convicted at the Nuremberg Trials of crimes against humanity and executed.
Streicher was born in Fleinhausen, Bavaria. He was an elementary school teacher until joining the German Army in 1914. Streicher won the Iron Cross and was a lieutenant by the time the Armistice was signed in 1918. In 1913 Streicher married Kunigunde Roth, a baker's daughter, in Nürnberg. They had two sons, Lothar (born 1915) and Elmar (born 1918).
In 1919 Streicher was active in the Schutz- und Trutz-Bund, an anti-Semitic organization. In 1920 he turned to the newly formed German Socialist Party (Deutschsozialistische Partei). This party had nearly the same ideas as the Nazi Party. Streicher wanted to make it more anti-Semitic. Most members of the German Socialist Party did not want this, so Streicher and his followers moved to the "German Working Community" (German: Deutsche Werkgemeinschaft) in 1921. This community wanted to unite the various anti-Semitic movements. In 1922, Streicher joined his followers with those of Adolf Hitler, almost doubling the membership of the Nazi Party, and earning Hitler's lifelong gratitude. Streicher took part in the Munich Beer Hall Putsch in 1923. Later he had the privilege of marching at the front of the annual reenactment of the putsch after the Nazi takeover of power in 1933.
In 1923 Streicher founded the racist newspaper, Der Stürmer. He was also the editor. Streicher used the newspaper to stir up a deep hatred of everything and everyone Jewish. Eventually the newspaper reached a peak circulation of 480,000 in 1935.
Streicher argued in the newspaper that the Jews had contributed to the depression, unemployment, and inflation in Germany which afflicted the country during the 1920s. He claimed that Jews were white-slavers and were responsible for over 90 percent of the prostitutes in the country.
After the refounding of the Nazi party, Streicher became Gauleiter (district leader) of Franconia. After 1933, he practically ruled the city of Nuremberg and was nicknamed "King of Nuremberg" and the "Beast of Franconia." In 1940, he was stripped of all party offices after being involved in major financial scandals involving Jewish property seized after the anti-Semitic outburst of Kristallnacht in November 1938, and also for spreading untrue stories about Hermann Göring, several attacks on other Gauleiters and unconcealed adultery. Streicher, however, remained on good terms with German dictator Adolf Hitler until the latter committed suicide on April 30, 1945. On May 23, two weeks after Germany's surrender, Streicher was captured by the Americans.
Streicher's wife, Kunigunde Streicher, died in 1943 after 30 years of marriage. Streicher was married to his former secretary, Adele Tappe, just days before his arrest.
Trial and execution
Julius Streicher was found guilty of crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial and sentenced to death on 1 October 1946.
Streicher was not a member of the military and was not part of planning the Holocaust, the invasion of Poland, or the Soviet invasion. But because he encouraged so much support for the hatred and extermination of Jews the prosecutors' decided to include him in the indictment.
His last words on 16 October 1946, were "Heil Hitler," and, "The Bolsheviks will hang you one day!". He is also reported to have cried out "Purim Fest 1946!" - i.e., Streicher thought that Jews would start a new Holiday on the date of the hanging of himself and his fellow Nazis, just as they had started Purim to mark the execution of Haman.
The hanging of Julius Streicher was not as planned. Most eyewitnesses say that he died by slow strangulation rather than by the quick death from breaking the neck. Streicher was not the only Nazi this happened to. It was because of the type of hanging used at Nuremberg. It is thought that the executioner had to intervene under the gallows to silence and finish Streicher, who was still groaning and swinging on the rope some time after the release of the trap door.
- "Baker". http://nhs.needham.k12.ma.us/cur/Baker_00/03-04/Baker-scl-cap-3-04/nuremberg_war_crimes_trial.htm. Retrieved 2007-12-24.
- "The Nuremberg Trials". http://www.aish.com/holocaust/issues/The_Nuremberg_Trials.asp. Retrieved 2007-12-24.
- "Purim". http://www.talkreason.org/articles/Purim.cfm. Retrieved 2007-12-24.
- "Nuremberg News". http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/nuremberg/NurembergNews10_16_46.html. Retrieved 2007-12-24.
- Bytwerk, Randall L. (2001). Julius Streicher: Nazi Editor of the Notorious Anti-Semitic Newspaper Der Stürmer. New York: Cooper Square Press.
- Spiegel TV short biography (German)
- Caricatures from Der Stürmer
- Der Giftpilz ("The Poison Mushroom")
- Hanging Nazi war criminals Article on Streicher's controversial execution
- The Execution of Nazi War Criminals Primary account of the Nuremberg executions by INS reporter Kingsbury Smith