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Review: "Ordinary Germans" before Hitler: A Critique of the Goldhagen Thesis

Author(s): Gustav Jahoda
Source: Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 29, No. 1 (Summer, 1998), pp. 69-88
Published by: The MIT Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/205975
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Journal of Interdisciplinary
History, xxIx:I (Summer, 1998), 69-88.

GustavJahoda

"Ordinary Germans" before Hitler: A Critique of
the Goldhagen Thesis
Hitler's WillingExecutioners:OrdinaryGermansand the Holocaust.By
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (New York, Knopf, 1996) 622 pp.
$30.00 cloth; (New York, Vintage, 1997) 634 pp. $16.00 paper

In the words of Le Bon, "Ce n'estnullementpar l'evident,l'immediat,
le clairet le simple que s'expliquentles phenomenesde l'histoire."This
notion fully applies to Goldhagen's claim that he is the first to
uncover the necessary and sufficient cause of the Holocaust.
According to him, it was an "eliminationist antisemitism" not
confined to Nazi activists but shared by practically all "ordinary"
Germans. His book propounds an oversimplified explanation of
a complex historical phenomenon-one that has been studied
extensively by other historians, whose views Goldhagen dismisses.
Under these circumstances, it is remarkable that the book should
have become a bestseller, extravagantlypraised by many reviewers.
Two major reasons spring to mind. First, although Goldhagen
states that he was concerned primarily with explanation and the-
ory, much of the work consists of what he calls "case studies."
These detailed descriptions of frightful atrocities are apt to evoke
what one commentator called "lajouissance de l'horreur," which
may well account for the book's popular appeal.'

GustavJahoda is ProfessorEmeritus of Psychology, University of Strathclyde.He is the author
of Psychologyand Anthropology(London, 1982); CrossroadsbetweenCultureand Mind (Cam-
bridge, Mass., I993).
The author is indebted to Bernd Krewer, Universitat des Saarlandes,for original material
and helpful comments on an earlier draft, and to Andrea Jack for tracking down graphics.
Thanks are also due to the J. A. Bart Verlag and to the German Bundesarchiv for permission
to reproduce figures I and 3, respectively.
? 1998 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the editors of The Journal of
Interdisciplinary
History.

I Gustave Le Bon, La Psychologiepolitique et la Defence sociale (Paris, I9IO), 353. The
translation is, "Historical phenomena can never be explained in terms of the obvious, the
immediate, the clear, and the simple." All page references to Goldhagen's book are from the
Vintage paperback edition and appear parenthetically in the text. Liliane Kandel, "La lettre
volee de Daniel J. Goldhagen," Les TempsModernes,LII (I997), 38-54. 4I.

Birn's masterly exposition of the work's numerous flaws- what justifies yet another critique. as well as historical setting. If he had said "insufficient. 1974).or by Milgram-fail to take account of the specific historical context. 1950). it also suggests an alternative interpretation of the reasons for the appeal of Nazi propaganda. Yet." Psyche. he fails to ascertain anything of substance about the 2 Ruth Bettina Birn. Obedienceto Authority(New The Authoritarian York. "Revising the Holocaust. 570-605. 3 Theodor W. Adomo. but that is no reason to dismiss them out of hand. "[Goldhagen] uses material as an underpinning for his pre-con- ceived theory.70 GUSTAV JAHODA Second.3 Goldhagen frequently uses psychological terminology. Werner Bohleber." one might well agree with him. 209. Psychological factors. Goldhagen purports to show that what he calls the "conventional" explanations are wrong. need to be considered. as Bohleber did in an illuminating essay about the determinants of antisemitism in Germany. among them historians. THE QUESTIONABLE VALIDITY OF KEY ARGUMENTS Numerous scholars from several disciplines have sought to throw light on the origins of the Holocaust. together with his frequent use of high- sounding (and often misapplied) social-science jargon. who stated. The most devastating review was by Birn (whom Goldhagen had acknowledged in the book). Daniel J. Seeking to explain genocide in terms of"eliminationist antisemitism" is a little like saying that alcoholism is due to an excessive taste for alcohol. most historians with specialized knowledge of the Nazi period were highly critical. 195-215. he calls eliminationist antisemitism the motivefor geno- cide. reviewers. Nevitt Sanford. were probably impressed by Goldhagen's display of a seemingly formidable ap- paratus of scholarship. Personality(New York." Historicalournal. and R. Levinson. XL (1997). For instance.LI (I997). "Die Konstruktion imaginarer Gemeinschaften und das Bild von den Juden-unbewusste Determinanten des Antisemitismus in Deutschland. He is right to claim that explanations based on universalist principles-such as those put forward by the authors of The AuthoritarianPersonality. Stanley Milgram. By contrast."2 Given the existence of several critical assessments-in par- ticular. Else Frenkel-Brunswik. this time by a psychologist who is a mere amateur historian? There is empirical evidence that not only contradicts some of Goldhagen's crucial claims about "ordi- nary Germans". .

Admitting that "no robust knowledge" about individuals can be attained (470). This observation applies particularlyto the "ubiquity" (Gold- hagen's favorite term) of eliminationist antisemitism that Gold- hagen detects in Nazi Germany. The data are especially deficient because the purposehere is not to trace the characterof antisemitismmerely among the political and culturalelites. would be an illuminating. 79. and also allow for generalizing both to the perpetrators as a group and to the second target group of this study. Goldhagen stresses that antisemitism was endemic and ubiquitous in German society before the advent of the Nazis (for example. Yet. Goldhagen is determined to tar all of them.luxurious additionto the existing record. the German people" (468). 84. 444). it is often used figuratively in a collective sense-for example. It needs to be emphasizedthat the analysishere cannot be definite. Thus. Even run-of-the-mill opinion polls."ORDINARY GERMANS" BEFORE HITLER j 71 motivations of individualsbeyond an occasional anecdote. The proper data simply do not exist. as a central plank of his argument. II6. (47) . Throughout the book. in a rare admission. that is at least roughly what Goldhagen has done. and projects backward into pre-Nazi history. which were "intended to do double analytical duty. the liberals who opposed the avowedly antisemitic parties during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are dubbed by him "antisemites in sheep's clothing" (58). "Americanreluctance to reduce pol- lution is motivated by greed"-but the absurdity of inferring from this statement that all Americans are motivated by greed is obvi- ous. he writes. with the same brush. In "A Note on Method. This is an astounding claim. 442. from the early nineteenth century until the end of the Nazi period. he nevertheless resorts to wide-ranging generalizations. Yet. Corporate entities can hardly be said to have "motives". the term refers to the psychological processes of individuals. but to gauge its nature and scope among the broad reaches of German society. for all their shortcom- ings. the loaded qualifier. In that regard. They should permit the motivations of the perpetrators in those particular institutions to be uncovered." he states that he concentrated on institutions." becomes tendentious. 31. "eliminationist. True. espe- cially when applied to the whole German people.

a professor of sociology at Columbia University. 2. they are not open to the objection that the formulation of the questions could have led to bias. and Goldhagen might have been expected to offer testimonies to this effect. as is sometimes the case with public opinion surveys. The central image of the Jews held them to be malevolent. Cash prizes were offered for personal life histories describing the experiences and ideas that led them to become adherents. powerful. Gold- hagen's summary of the situation in Germany prior to 1933 proceeds as follows. even before the advent of Adolf Hitler. in condensed form: I. Antisemitism was ubiquitous in Germany. relevant data do exist. There are indications that Goldhagen's picture of a Germany wholly inimical to Jews is false. Rubinstein.72 GUSTAV JAHODA As it happens. Interestingly. and dangerous. found that they were often reluctant to leave what they felt to have been their homeland. (77) If this were an accurate picture. 1997). for all intents and purposes. 4. their strength is that they were not collected primarily to assess an- tisemitism. no one anticipated genocide. Theodore Abel. the announcement being displayed at NSDAP offices 4 William Rubinstein. 3. Although the data are not extensive. Jews were symbolic of everything that was deemed awry in German society. the party hierarchy encouraged members to take part. organized an essay competition for pre-I933 Nazi party (NSDAP) members. in 1934. . Hence. Some thought that the virulent Nazi antisemitism might be only a temporary phase. Goldhagen either missed them or ignored them because the findings are not in conformity with his allegations. THE SALIENCY OF ANTISEMITISM AMONG "ORDINARY GERMANS" Excluding three points not relevant to the issue at hand. Germany would have been an extremely unpleasant country for Jews to inhabit.4 As for the prevalence and saliency of antisemitism. The Myth of Rescue(London. That. The preoccupation with Jews had an obsessive quality. who interviewed surviving German-Jewish refugees. he did not is significant-like the dog in the Sherlock Holmes story that failed to bark.

According to Merkl. manifested in these cases appears to have been the result of the German defeat in I918. Only with one- eighth was antisemitism the most salient concern. It is noteworthy that one-third of the Table 1 Shadings of Antisemitism NUMBER PERCENTAGE No evidence of prejudice 146 33 Mild verbal projections. . ."ORDINARY GERMANS" BEFORE HITLER | 73 and in the party press. Abel's early Nazis by two-thirds turned out to be anti-Marxists. Jews were not in general the primary object of hostility. with individual responses ranging from one to eighty pages. capitalists. The Judenkoller. I975). were not pervasive among as many as two-thirds of the biographies. those who contributed their anecdotes were not extreme in their views. . The resulting mass of material. It is reproduced in a slightly abbreviated version as Table I. attributed to the Jews. when Merkl carried out an intensive analysis. PoliticalViolenceunderthe Swastika:581 Early Nazis (Princeton. This is not to say that shadings of antisemitism . Merkl. PoliticalViolenceunderthe Swastika:581 Early Nazis (Princeton.5 Although. or virulent antisemitism. antisemitism was well represented. . The first is an attempt to identify dominant ideological concerns: Ranked by the chief object of their hostility. was not fully exploited until forty years later. 5 Peter H. . as one would have expected from a sample of early Nazis. reactionaries and Catholics. Merkl. as compared to one-seventh who vented their spleen most on liberals. or the result of a personal trauma. Merkl's book contains a table with a more detailed numerical breakdown. I975). or party cliches 63 14 Sudden Judenkollerfrom cultural shock 122 28 (19I8)/economic crisis Alleged negative episode with Jews 52 12 Preoccupation with "Jewish conspiracy" 57 13 Totals 440 I00 SOURCE Peter H. 499. 33. . two parts of which are particularly relevant in the present context.

" "ORDINARY" GERMAN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS According to Goldhagen's constantly reiterated statements. the overall picture does not suggest a uniformly fanatical antisemitism or a belief in "the Jewish conspiracy.6. Only about one-quarter of them held Jews responsible for inflation. Among the questions asked were. Since Goldhagen affirms that Com- munists (IOI) and Social Democrats (o16) shared the common antisemitism.I. Support for this conclusion is provided by a study conducted by Fromm just prior to the Nazi takeover. it seems legitimate to infer that antisemitism among the German population in general must have been considerably less pronounced. "6 Although only seventeen National Socialists were included in the sample. Although these are much higher proportions than those of the non-Nazi respondents. 84. finding that about four-fifth of the sample supported left-wing parties. 97." Since there is no reason to suppose that the views expressed by Nazis-in a contest that had the support of their party-were totally unrepresentative. however. It is important to note that the response with the highest frequency to both questions was "capitalism"or "capitalists. The WorkingClass in WeimarGermany(Leamington Spa.74 GUSTAV JAHODA respondents gave no evidence of any antisemitism. Table 3. it was not published until about half a century later. Who. in your opinion. surely a high proportion of respondents would have referred to it. In fact. only 2 percent of the respondents mentioned Jews in connection with inflation. and Who. but even if they did. is responsible for inflation. the "ubiquity and intensity" of anti-Jewish feeling in Germany (84) constituted a 6 Erich Fromm (ed. this affiliation has no bearing on the present purpose. they still fall far short of the quasi-unanimity postulated by Gold- hagen. and only 3 percent thought that Jews (either alone or with Freemasons and Jesuits) had the "real power. Wolfgang Bonss). their responses are of special interest. and about half believed that they dominated the state. If the idea of Jewish power or conspiracy had been as paramount among ordinary Germans as Goldhagen contends. has the real power in the state today? Note that these questions were framed in a general and neutral way. . They might have concealed it. in your opinion. This study focused on the working class. Table 3. Like Abel's. I984).

respectively. ibid. which advocated the advantages of a pictorial method. XLIII (1932). As it happens. 7 Hans Schneckenburger." Part I. the presence of this "cultural model" ought to have been evident among young Germans who grew up during that period.XLII (1932).. Zeitschriftfar angewandtePsychologie. he in- structed an artist to produce three stimulus pictures depicting "brutal acts" (Roheitsakten)."ORDINARY GERMANS" BEFORE HITLER 75 "cultural model" (for example. I69. an excellent study was carried out at that time. Because the two parts of the report extend to approximately o00 pages. If indeed antisemitism had become more threatening from the 1920s until the Nazi takeover than "during any other time since the dawn of modernity" (79). This type of cultural model is transmitted within the family during socialization through the generations (4I. repre- senting. 46). child-adult. not with antisemitism as such. part of the Durkheimian collective conscious- ness" (89). 448)-for many. "Die Altersentwicklung und Milieubedingtheit des sozialethischen Verstandnissesbeim proletarischen Kind. 151. "The Development of Socioethical Understanding on the Part of the Proletarian Child as a Function of the Social Milieu." it was published just one year before Hitler became chancellor. Although it dealt with the issue of moral development. according to his instructions.7 The introductory section is a theoretical review of the so- cioenvironmental factors that influence moral development. All page references hereinafter appear parenthetically in text. it provided ample opportunity for antisemitism to manifest itself Conducted by Schneckenburger and entitled (in translation). and adult-adult in- teractions (see Figure I). 55-82. child-child. 126. Part II. The emphasis is on the differences between "proletarians"(hereinafter Ps) and "non-proletarians" (hereinafter NPs). . Scheckenburger's general aim was to determine the effects of community norms and values on children by age. In deference to previous studies in this sphere. 369-447. The pictures were designed to evoke strong feelings. according to the then-current usage of the terms. "like mother's milk. only an abbreviated account of the contents is possible. Schneckenburger anticipated possible adverse re- action to this approach by writing. "reflected in a person's mind as it matures" (34). presumably based on research carried out a year or two earlier.

kt ?i-T I / s . \\ \\ \P gj r r -cS ..i % `57: A.4 f/aI-?sf i ???7.

and pictorial repre- sentations of a similarly realistic character reach every child these days. 393) The subjects of the study were two groups of boys and girls-one from Berlin's "proletarian" schools and the other from the "most genteel" section of the city-divided into three age cohorts (6-8. which reduced the number of them who partici- pated in its administration to about thirty in the two lower-age brackets. (Part I."ORDINARY GERMANS" BEFORE HITLER | 77 Fig. each numbering about fifty. 9-II. and I2-I4). 1 Pictures I-3 We should like to meet objections that might be raised against the contents by pointing out that children these days are seldom spared the sight of similar brutal delinquencies. The only major exceptions in the size of the divisions occurred as a result of displeasure among the non-proletarians concerning the third picture. and to nil in the oldest. .

Generally. Correspondingly. Its chief weakness was common to its time-the absence of statistical analysis. Schneckenburger maintained. All of the children. . and "no relevant comment. Schneckenburger noted that the action in picture I evoked more disapproval than that in picture 2. one for each scene. were presented in three tables. though he was only partially correct. though one finds occasional mention of gender differences. They possess the capacity to resolve in certain cases the conflict between their own interests and those of others in favour of the others (Part 2. for PS and NPs." The children's responses were also said to have been guided by a strong sense of justice. The study was sophisticated. to which it remained constant. apparently because the latter was sometimes seen as a mere harm- less jest." "approval. Schneckenburger took the positive view 8 The categories of"approval" and "disapproval"each had a "conditional"sub-division. but numbers were so small that they have here been grouped with the main category. knew about law and the existence of "socioethical" demands." "excuses" (which oc- curred only in response to picture 3). but not their names. He administered the three pictures separately at two-day intervals. carefully designed and competently executed. "The development towards becoming a morally matured human being has now been completed. decreased with age except for picture 3. With regard to the older children. he reported. The "approval" response. entailing the ideas of retaliation and punishment." increased with age. on each occasion showing the children a large picture and asking them to write about what was happening in it. The variable of gender was not included. Judgments about the actions portrayed in the pictures were categorized as "disapproval. girls being more moralistic than boys. He also asked the children to provide such personal details as their father's date of birth and occupation. They are so densely packed that it is not easy to gain a clear overall picture. 63). which Schneckenburger con- sidered to be an important indicator of developmental level.8 The reasons given for the judgments were tabulated and illustrated with ample quotations." Frequencies and percentages of each type.78 GUSTAV JAHODA Schneckenburger rejected the direct-question method em- ployed by most of his predecessors. respec- tively. he noted that the frequency of disap- provals. "in accordance with ethical maturation.

as proof of the existence of a sense of justice. Either his political mo- tivation. Their compassion was generally reserved for the attacker.for which the child makes the rich responsible. albeit taking somewhat different forms according to the social milieu. Significantly. his manner of organizing the numerical data in the table. depicting a man being attacked. His feeling forjustice also manifestsitself in the frequentexperiencingof a sense of retribution. . and the hatred that picture 3 elicited from them about the rich man.is enough reason to approveof the deed. leading him mistakenly to interpret even overt expressions of support for violence and aggression positively. many made excuses for him. His sympathies were plainly on the side of the have-nots. especially in those from the P children." One of his key statements about the "decidedly political position" of the P children. was distinct from the other two in the reactions that it elicited."ORDINARY GERMANS" BEFORE HITLER | 79 that his study documented steady moral progress. His main intention was to arrive at generalizations about the course of children's moral development within certain social contexts. Even if they did not approve of the deed. . Analysis of the percentages of "disapprovals"-graphically dis- played in Figure 2-in relation to the three pictures illustrates the point. WHAT RESPONSES TO PICTURE 3 REVEALED Schneckenburger was fully aware that picture 3. .of envy. runs as follows: Economic distressand the social inferiorityof the proletarian. or some combination of the two. 77) Schneckenburger explained the rarity of pity for the poor man among the NP children by their not having been adequately taught at home about the misery of the masses. Another of Schneckenburger's misinterpretations concerns the numerical data relating to picture 3. The criticalviewers also perceive the advan- tagesand privilegesof the rich as a diminutionof their own person. Schneck- enburger discussed these issues most extensively under the head- ing. disadvantagebecomes for the proletarianchild a strong root of his demandforjustice. (Part 2. and of punishment. "The Achievement of Socioethical Understanding as Conditioned by the Milieu. seems to have prevented him from appreciating the direction and extent of the age changes. .

P < .98. the missing data for the oldest age group about picture 3 might have had.ooI). "man" or "gentleman" versus criminal" or "robber". yielded sharp contrasts:for picture I. oUltLlldll 55- O -----. and P < .ooI).80 | GUSTAV JAHODA . however.6o.001. no significant trend. by P. The P responses.30. P < . "Non-proletarian" Children D 45- 40- 35 - 30 - 25 - Picture 3 20 - 15~ 10- 5- 0. if any. z = 3. and for picture 3. a highly significant trend for an increase of "disapproval"responses with increasing age (X2 = I5." . the very mode of referring to the charactersin picture 3 revealed the attitude taken toward them. Dltrin hlrn LIsIIu11 sSQ r. t = .OOI. The following pairs of terms were most commonly employed: by NPS. only about 20 percent were prepared to do so. Hence. I I I 6-8 yrs 9-ilyrs 12-14yrs Age Groups Fig. z = 5.50. though it is not possible to tell what effect. PERCEPTIONS AND In many of the cases cited by FEELINGS Schneckensburger. for picture 2. 2 Percentagesof ChildrenExpressingDisapprovalof the Actions Portrayedin Each of the Pictures The NP children's differences in the rates of disapproval be- tween the three pictures are not significant. T = -. "rich man" or "capitalist"versus "poor man" or "worker. and P < . df= 2. and often toward the behavior. a highly significant trend for a decrease of disapproval responses with age (X2 = 31.21. By the onset of adolescence.r _.48. the proportion of"proletarian" children willing to condemn outright an act of overt physical aggression decreased dramaticallywith age. df= 2.

Now when such people get into bad ways. Probably he wants to grab the briefcase and flee with it. Only P children made excuses. for if he paid the worker more. (P.. Part I. For the family does not want to die of starvation. one imprisons them to get peace from them. 440) . (P. He is just on his way to the bank. Therefore it is abominable that the thief attacks the unsuspect- ing man from behind. which followed much the same lines: Probably the criminal is out of work. Part I. Also everyone should have work and somewhere to live.. The man is quite carefree on his walk. girl. I think the worker does something that is wrong. He does it out of despair. He brings the money to his wife. he would not be robbed. 439) The capitalist with his diamond rings is being robbed by the poor man."ORDINARY GERMANS" BEFORE HITLER I 8 Some representative disapproval responses were. Part I. Naturally it is also the fault of the rich one. He will have had a busy day. boy. . It is just that the worker must also be able to feed his children.. But if he tries hard enough he will get some and will not need to earn his money in this way. girl. girl. boy. (P. 409). One is not allowed to do that. girl. the boy's condemnation seems half- hearted. and so they are forced to steal again and again. don't even have a roof over their head. (p. (NP. 419) This deed is shameful. It is strictly forbidden. Part I. (P. who can then again buy something to eat for the children.. 440) It is the rich people who should give the workers better wages. . Part I. Categorical disapprovals among P children seem to have been confined largely to girls. He enjoys his leisure hour and smokes his good cigar comfortably. But the powers that be [die Herren] do not understand that things only get worse with that. A worker follows him and wants to rob him. Part I. 427) The well-dressed man is a capitalist. . the poor people .. He should think of it that one is not allowed to do something like that..

A few years later.82 GUSTAV JAHODA This last argument is sophisticated. since not a single respondent. it would be a mistake to ignore the fact that hardship was widespread in Ger- many during that era. It serves the fat fellow right if he gets a good knock. for he could surely have given him a little. The rich give nothing to the poor but only exploit them. Goldhagen's sweeping assertions about the "ubiqui- tousness" of antisemitism as "a cultural cognitive model" transmit- ted to the young before the Hitler regime are not supported. so that he cracks up. (Part I. (Part I. 443) Although pictures provided these boys a means of acting out their strong feelings in fantasy. likely to have been in- spired by contemporary political views. It is intriguing to note that the rich man in picture 3 has stereotypically semitic features. of the kind constantly caricatured in Nazi antisemitic propaganda sheets. In light of the empirical evidence. and other groups during the Weimar years reveals that there was a good . at least among the large number cited. educational. referred to the caricature as a Jew. and the other nothing at all. while the other has no money to buy even the barest essentials. Even so. such proscription was no longer necessarily the case. That's as it should be. administrative. He has everything in abundance. Hence. (Part I. his glasses broken. Now he takes his revenge. His top hat is then smashed. 443) The rich snob does as if he were a president. Yet. they were aware at the time that the authorities condemned such behavior. But he didn't give him any. It serves him right. and his money bag rolls around the ground. The approval responses of p boys bristled with resentment and hatred: The man wanted money from the other to buy himself something. this characteristic would not appear to have been salient for working-class children and teenagers at that time. 445-446) The poor man knocks the rich fat-belly over the head. including that relating to adults. Niewyk's judgment is clearly more justified: This selected survey of attitudes toward the Jews on the part of representative German political.

prevented him from appreciating the profound and disturbing implications of his findings. it is clear that his own political sympathies colored his report. since his aim was to show.9 ANTISEMITISM AND ANTICAPITALISM The evidence provided by the Schneckenburger study is particularly valuable. Io The fact that the rich man was also portrayed with a semitic physiognomy probably reflects the conception of the artistratherthan of Schneckenburger. although he sought to maintain the required objectiv- ity.when few other occupations were open to them. 42."10 In Germany. purely scientifically. In fact.who had leftist sympathies and who frequently cited well-known Jewish psychologists like William Stern. 1980). However.but that it was very unevenly distributedand rarelyof the extremistvarietysometimesadvocatedby the Nazis. it was much more salient in that arena. The Rise of PoliticalAntisemitismin Germanyand Austria (London. The story of this link in Germany from the nineteenth century onward is complex. there has long been a close link between anti- capitalism and antisemitism. The rich man in pic- ture 3-fat. 1988). In the course of propagating their ideals. 79.1 Anticapitalism in its modern form began with Johann Gott- lieb Fichte's revolutionary patriotism during the Napoleonic in- vasions. TheJews in WeimarGermany(Manchester. The research was conducted in a social and political setting that influenced his choice of material and. not only for themselves but for Germany and Europe at large. Anti- capitalism was often confounded with a more general antimoder- nity that can only be outlined here. During the same period. briefcase. . together with his political opinions. 11 Peter Pulzer. Although the connection between anticapitalism and antisemitism was not altogether con- fined to night-wing politics. Pulzer has described anti- capitalism as "one of the oldest and most natural forms of antisemitism. and jewelry-was the prototypical image of the "capitalist. radical writers of Jewish origin-notably Ludwig Borne and Heinrich Heine-wanted to promote emancipation and freedom. they also made a point of criticizing what they viewed as the Jewish 9 Donald L. cigar."ORDINARY GERMANS" BEFORE HITLER j 83 bit of anti-Semitism. and bedecked with top hat. coupled among his followers with the strident antisemitism that prevailed between 800oand 1848." making reference to the traditionalJewish concen- tration in commercial and financial activities (their "usury"). Niewyk. that differences in children's moral judgments are a combined function of age and social milieu.

which had protected Jews. A significant section of the population. But he does not explain how what he perceived to be a central cultural feature transmitted over many generations could be eliminated so radically. Goldhagen notwithstanding. Thereafter. I3 Shulamit Volkov. As Uli Kinke shows. and some of the more lucrative professions. the stock exchange. Such a theme was later fully exploited by the Nazis in their racial mythology. They were accused of under- mining the very fabric of German society. Goldhagen asserts in the foreword to the German edition of his book that antisemitism and the mythology of race have all but vanished from contemporary democratic Germany. The radical socioeconomic changes that took place were far from universally welcome. banking." AmericanAnthropologist. I8. thereby paradoxically "cement[ing] the foundations of one of the most powerful elements of revolu- tionary antisemitism. and pamphlets attributed all of the country's eco- nomic troubles to Jewish capitalists. contemporary with Prince Otto van Bismarck's unification of Germany. Race. some of the symbolism of"Germanity" and "blood"still survives. the chorus of blame against "Jew- 12 Paul Lawrence Rose. . notably the honest thrift and toil of peasants and craftsmen. to certain public figures ("Gendered Difference. I978). Numerous articles in the press. as illustrated by the slogan Blut und Boden (blood and soil) from which true "Germanity"was said to spring."12 The mid-century upsurge in liberalism and the gradual eman- cipation of Jews. The Rise of PopularAntimodernismin Germany: The Urban Master Artisans. provided the Jews with opportunities for upward social mobility in an era of rapid industrialization.Nostalgia harked back to the medieval guild system. They were able to take so prominent a part in these economic changes that they were later accused of monopolizing business. namely. in milder versions. Violent Imagination: Blood. This creative (schaffendes) mode was con- trasted with the grasping (raffendes)operation ofJewish-dominated capitalism.84 GUSTAV JAHODA preoccupation with mammon. the image of the Jew as the em- bodiment of capitalism. I990). Revolutionary Antisemitismin Germany:FromKant to Wagner(Prince- ton. saw the advent of modern capitalism as a serious threat to both their livelihood and their ideals of"Germanity" (Deutschtum). it attaches not only to extreme neo-Nazis but. 56I). coupled with the romantic notion of a Volk attached to the land and characterized by ancient German virtues. books. Nation. especially the traditional artisanat discussed by Volkov. whenever economic downturns occurred. XCIX [I997]. 1873-1896 (Princeton.13 The strength of liberal opinion. 559-573. declined after an agricultural depression in the mid-I87os and the collapse of the Vienna Stock Exchange.

"creeping"toward the stock exchange (DiefrommeHelene [Heidelberg. 1872]). In a book originally published in 1911. records of a party meeting. I984). the following was argued at a meeting of the German Social Democratic Party. 224-unpub. "Die SozialdemokratischePartei und der Antisemitismus. the differences were more important. Sombart. . Reich und RepublikDeutschland1817-1933 (Stuttgart. Although there does not seem to be any research specifically concerned with how the concept of the "capitalist" evolved in pictorial representations. Because the symbolic power of the image was probably at its peak during that period. Okt. but against a phenomenon arising from that system.they direct their fight not againstthe capitalisteconomic system.who find themselves disadvantagedby capitalistdevelop- ment. Anti-semitism stems from the unease of certain middle-class strata. 1893). Yet in misunderstandingthe actual cause of their situation. and who in partare destinedto economic extinction by this development. the analysis presented above is neither recent nor novel. against jewish exploitation. 15 August Bebel.Koln 22-29."in Protokolluber die Verhandlungen ParteiDeutschlands. I858)-ap- pears an illustratedhumorous piece about a Jew. des Parteitagesder Sozialdemokratischen 1893 (Berlin.15 Despite a certain overlap between the ideas of the left and the right. TheJews and ModernCapitalism(New York. I95I). The anticapitalist workers' movement had Jews among its leaders. with a crooked nose."ORDINARY GERMANS" BEFORE HITLER l 85 ish capitalists"would swell again. Werner Sombart. the prominent sociologist. which was still used by the East German Communist Party into the Ig80s. This prototypical image was not confined to vulgar journalism or crude propaganda. the stereotyped image of the "capitalist" may have crystallized from the sharp illustrations of social and economic inequalities created by the left-wing graphic artists of the Weimar era-especially during the Great Depression-such as George Grosz. In a book by Wilhelm Busch-the immensely popular author of Max und Moritz (Munich. which becomes uncomfortable for them in the competitive struggle: namely. it is not surprising that school children would acquire the notion of the capitalist as a 14 The stock exchange was the symbolic epitome of both capitalism and Jews.14 In its broad lines. described as deeply flawed and soulless. As early as the end of the nineteenth century. quoted in Karlheinz Dedeke. I 4. It created the concept of the capitalist as the Klassenfeind(class enemy). also identified what he regarded as disreputable capitalism with Jews.

from their early days. By 1938. but anti- capitalism. violence was part of the everyday expe- rience of working-class children. I977). for these symbolic figures-so much so that they came to regard the transgression of the law as justified in this particular context. even hatred. 1984). the difference being that. Jugendim DrittenReich (Koln. Arbeiterklasseund Volksgemeinschaft (Opladen. the National Socialist Party recognized the need to stress an anticapitalist message as to attract the working class. Yet what children gradually absorbed was not antisemitism. they also developed intense resentment. the symbolism of working-class enslavement was common to both left and right extremes. Hence. and that no measure was too harsh to punish them.86 | GUSTAV JAHODA manipulator who grows rich at the expense of the impoverished masses. Capitalists were most commonly blamed for inflation and for abuses of 16 power. After I933. Both the Communists and the Nazis used this portrait of the "evil capitalist exploiter" extensively. the year of the pogrom known as the Krystallnacht. Chances are that the kinds of youngsters studied by Schneckenburger would have been enrolled. Sozialpolitikim Dritten Reich. in the Nazi case. according to Klonne. The widespread conviction was that the problems of Germany were the fault of capitalism and capitalists. they did not merely believe that capitalists were responsible for their misery. The economic depression of the period greatly contributed to political instability. many of whom were unemployed. Street fights between adherents of the left and right were frequent. 17 Arno Kl6nne. Although the membership of the Hitler Youth was still small before Hitler's seizure of power. All that the Nazis had to do was to persuade the young that Jewish capitalists were to blame.17 i6 Timothy W. As documented by Mason. . Thus was a vast reservoir of bitterness ready to be exploited. Moreover. as Goldhagen claimed. the capitalist displayed the Star of David (see Figure 3). Mason.many are likely to have been in the Sturmabteilung (Stormtroopers) and taken part in it. though not others. membership rocketed by a factor of Ioo within a single year. more than two-thirds of it came from the working class.

3a Propaganda of the Weimer Era: National Socialist Party Poster .~~~~~~~~ x /J Fig. / '1 I iA ^^SQ^^^^..

KPD Fig. is not supported by the evidence." . Uns aus dem Elend zu erlosen kbnnenwir nur selber fun. Goldhagen seems to have scanned the literature for antisemitic writings and utterances in order to bolster his prior thesis. was only one element in an intricate web of causation. This development. Unlike Niewyk. the Nazis were able to exploit the intense antagonism toward "capitalists"and redirect it toward what Goldhagen rightly characterized as a grossly distorted image ofJews. 3b Propagandaof the Weimar Era: Communist PartyPoster The bedrock of Goldhagen's argument. By no means does it supply proof of Goldhagen's thesis about the antisemitism of "ordinary Germans. ignoring contrary indications. namely that "elimination- ist antisemitism" was a ubiquitous cultural norm in Germany even before Nazi rule. Nonetheless.88 | GUSTAV JAHODA fl. however.