Nazis blaming the Jews for starting WW2--Did they actually believe it?

Upon watching my grandfather’s Holocaust history video (he spent time in Dachau and Buchenwald in 1938), I started to do some research on the Holocaust and Nazi anti-Semitism. One of the stated justifications for the Holocaust by the Nazis (and Hitler specifically) was that if the Jews started another world war, they would have to be erased from the Earth. Well, of course another World War started, and even though the Nazis were the aggressors, starting the the war through repeated imperialist expansion, they still blamed the Jews!

What I want to know is what twisted reason they had for the Jews starting WWII. Obviously they were probably going to blame the Jews no matter what happened, since they predicted it beforehand. But was it just propaganda and publicity? Or did the Nazi leadership actually believe that the Jews were to blame?

Most likely, it was the Jews behind the scenes in the UK and France that led them to declare war after Germany rightfully attacked Poland.

I sometimes show the 4th picture on this site in class when talking about propaganda. As per the explanation:

Many of the Nazis’ stated positions were so patently absurd that it was highly implausible that anyone in his right mind would truly hold such beliefs. On the other hand, it’s not a given that anyone in the Nazi leadership was in his right mind (except perhaps Hermann Goering).

For perspective, Hitler in several of his speeches (and no, I’m not going to go digging in the Nazi archives to provide a citation) opined that America was controlled by the Jews, and he gave the large concentration of Jews in New York City, the financial capital of the US, and the fact that Henry Morgenthau, Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Treasury, was Jewish as ipso facto proof of that. (Ironically, Morgenthau’s authorship of the “Morgenthau Plan,” a strategy for reducing postwar Germany to a nineteenth-century agricultural state, could have been seen as ex post facto proof that he, at least, did seek Germany’s destruction after all.)

It’s like asking if people “really believe” in lots of different kinds of conspiracy fantasies. Do Birthers and Truthers and Grass Knoll theoreticians “really believe” in their nonsense?

Some do… Some don’t… And some involve themselves in cognitive distortions to prevent themselves from examining their own beliefs in any way.

The Nazis, once in power, didn’t have to believe anything: they could simply yell, rant, pound on the table, and then summon up a squadron of goons with truncheons and break every bone in your body. That trumps “belief” pretty handily.

One of the reasons given was that ‘the Jews’ caused the economic Depression, and were profiting from it. And the Depression (plus WWI reparations) was much more severe in Germany than in most western countries. So Germany was forced to go to war to defend itself from the ‘economic war’ being waged against it by other countries and their secret Jewish financiers.

That probably sounded believable, if you were a poor or middle-class German, with your savings and retirement plan devestated by the Depression & inflation. What the Nazi leaders believed is anybody’s guess.

Probably one big reason to lead to conspiracy theories was the fact that both western and eastern fronts were mostly outside of Germany to the very end of the WW I. People were hearing all this propaganda that Germany was winning and suddenly one day they heard that Germany has surrendered.
No-one inside Germany even saw an enemy soldier, so it really makes one to wonder what the heck just happened. Generals like Hindenburg and Ludendorff of course never admitted any screwing up, so there had to be some kind of dagger stab in the back.
And who are the strangers in Your own country? Of course the Jews, who also had businesses that had at least seemingly profited from the war or maybe even started it to profit - who understood the reasons to its outbreak ( it’s a mess even in hindsight ).
And rich people were also able to avoid army, so maybe there wasn’t normal percentage of Jews in the front. If a guy lives in a neighborhood where’s 10% of Jews and in his army unit there’s just 1% ( his creditor is nowhere to be seen… ), he’s going to wonder that ( maybe in his best pal’s funeral ).
So when the Nazis began to tell the ‘facts’ many just wanted to believe, there has to be an explanation and some kind of logic behind everything - You’ve got to blame somebody for Your misfortune!
And if they successfully did it once, they were bound to do it again.

Hitler was clearly sincere in his anti-semitism. He adopted it early in his life when it held no political advantage to him and maintained it consistently throughout his life.

With others, it’s hard to say. At some point, it must have been clear that the Nazis were the rising power in Germany and some people who joined must have been opportunists who joined out of self-interest. Some of them presumably were faking their anti-semitism to fit in.

And I think the real anti-semites believed in their own conspiracy theories. They really believed the Jews had their own separate agenda from other people and were secretly controlling other groups - this idea long predated the Nazis. And being as the Nazis felt they were the opponents of the Jews, it seemed reasonable to them that the Jews were the opponents of the Nazis. So anytime anyone did something detrimental to the Nazis, they assumed it had been ordered by the Jewish secret conspiracy that they believed existed and opposed them.

I used to think that it was obvious that the Nazis, well Hitler in particular, didn’t believe it.

Then, I read Hitler’s last will and testament (written just before he killed himself, i.e. when he no longer had any reason to need a scapegoat for starting the war). In it, he states that he tried to avoid war but “international Jewry and its helpers” forced my hand.

So, yeah, it seems to me that Hitler, himself, at least, did believe it. RIght to the end.

And, of course, even if he (and any others) did believe “the Jews” were responsible, it’s just a bit of leap to use that "fact’ to justify the murder of every single Jew in Europe (i.e. what does a shtetl-dwelling 5-year-old Jewish child in Poland, whose family has never travelled more than a few miles from it, have to do with starting the War?)

It may be just me, but it seems that some of the answers to this thread might lead one to believe that prior to the rise of the Nazi, anti-semitism wasn’t mainstream. It certainly was: not just in Germany but throughout Europe and even North America. Of course, this has been to a large extent swept under the rug, but 100 or 150 years ago, you wouldn’t have raised many eyebrows by disparaging the Jews in public. What made the Nazi extreme, in their day, was not their racial hatred and paranoia, but what they decided to do with it.

The OP suggests that the Nazi’s blamed jews for starting WW1. Is there anything to that?

Have you checked thePrellinger Archive for possible remaining footage from Nazi propaganda films? It amy take some rummaging around because I think they use monkeys to index there. [some of the keyword searches seem fucked up- one used to not be able to find the movie M by Fritz Lang under Fritz Lang, you had to use morder as the keyword along with german movie or some such nonsense. <shrug>]

I know I have seen extant footage from nazi Germany demonizing Jews both online and on tv in documentaries.

Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt …

Nazi ideology was pretty ugly. They often compared Jews to a disease. So they wanted to eliminate all Jews because they believed that even the Jews who were weak and harmless now would be the source of future generations of Jews who would, according to Nazi ideology, once again form conspiracies against the Aryans.

You know, looking at the past, we tend to think everyone thought the same thing, had clearly defined yes/no beliefs, and actually thought clearly (if possibly superstitiously) about things.

But you realize that’s a little too simple a description, if say, you ask: Did the U.S. really believe there were WMDs in Iraq?

You know that there is an idea that it is the defenders, not the attackers, who start wars. If you are attacked, you can yield or fight. If you yield, no war. A kind of international “duty to withdraw”. Not really, since you have no such duty if someone is trying to rob you. So if you believe that France and Britain are run by Jewish interests, you could believe that Jews started the war. Also WW I, while you are at it.

Anti-semitism has long roots in Europe and is still alive and well there.

Or did the Israel Lobby bring about the war in Iraq?

I mean, they started WWI, then they caused the German Hyperinflation, then the Great Depression, then WWII-when do they ever quit?
Talk about gall, during the “Krystallnacht”, they had the effrontery to smash their own shop windows, then put in claims to German insurance companies!
They are diabolical, I tell ya!

I thought they blamed those warmongering Poles for the Gleiwitz Incident and other staged events, which they then used as justification for invading Poland. IOW, the war was already under way before England and the USA stepped in.