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Der ewige Jude

The "Eternal Jew" or the "Wandering Jew"



Nazi propaganda art  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.


One of the exhibits from Der ewige Jude

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.


The film was directed by Fritz Hippler, the Director of the Film Department of the ministry subordinate to only Joseph Goebbels, for all films produced by the Reich ministry. Born in Berlin in 1909, Hippler studied at Berlin and Heidelberg universities, completing a thesis on Marx, Mill and Lagarde for which he was awarded a doctorate of philosophy.


As a student he was already enthusiastic about the Nazis, joining their various organizations as early as 1926. They promised to create work for all, end corruption and restore Germany's place in the world, this appealed to Hippler who managed to obtain a position working on newsreels. The quality of  of his work did not go un-noticed and several reels  impressed Goebbels who later promoted him to Director in 1939.


Fritz Hippler

Throughout the making of Der ewige Jude, Hippler kept in daily contact with Goebbels, he returned with final footage to Berlin on October 16, 1940. The rushes were developed the same day and shown to Goebbels during the evening. The pictures of half-an-hour with ritual slaughtering, deliberately staged as cruelty to animals, shocked Goebbels who wrote in his diary the next morning:


"Dieses Judentum muss vernichtet werden." (This Jewry must be annihilated).

After having shown these rushes at the Führer’s dinner-table on October 28, 1940 - where everybody according to his diary were deeply disturbed, Goebbels went to Lodz to see for himself on October 31. He wrote in his diary, that the Jewish Question was more a task for the surgeon than a humanitarian one.


The importance of Der ewige Jude lies not in its technique but in its brutal service to the cause of Nazi racism. Hippler's Der ewige Jude,  would "fill the spectator with a feeling of deep-seated gratification for belonging to a people whose leader has absolutely solved the Jewish problem." It is believed that films such as Der ewige Jude helped prepare the German people to accept the eventual policy of genocide inflicted upon Jews.




Pamphlet written by Joseph Goebbels distributed prior to the start of the film,

outlining we are expected to see and think in the film


The film begins with an impressive expedition through the Jewish ghettoes in Poland. We are shown Jewish living quarters, which in our view cannot be called houses. In these dirty rooms lives and prays a race, which earns its living not by work but by haggling and swindling. From the little urchin to the old man, they stand in the streets, trading and bargaining.

Using trick photography, we are shown how the Jewish racial mixture in Asia Minor developed and flooded the entire world. We see a parallel to this in the itinerant routes of rats, which are the parasites and bacillus-carriers among animals, just as the Jews occupy the same position among mankind.


The Jew has always known how to assimilate his external appearance to that of his host. Contrasted are the same Jewish types, first the Eastern Jew with his kaftans', beard, and sideburns, and then the clean-shaven, Western European Jew. This strikingly demonstrates how he has deceived the Aryan people. Under this mask he increased his influence more and more in Aryan nations and climbed to higher-ranking positions. But he could not change his inner being.

After the banishment of the Jews from Europe was lifted, following the age of Enlightenment, the Jew succeeded within the course of several decades in dominating the world economy, before the various host nations realized - and this despite the fact that they made up only 1 per cent of the world population. An excerpt from an American film about the Rothschild's, made by Jews, reveals to us the cunning foundations of their banking empire.


Then we see how Jews, working for their international finance, drive the German people into the November Revolution. They then shed their anonymity and step out openly on to the stage of political and cultural life. Thus the men who were responsible for the disgraceful debasement of the German people are paraded before us. Incontestable examples are shown of how they robbed the country and the people of immense sums.


As well as gaining financial supremacy they were able to dominate cultural life. The repulsive pictures of so-called Jewish "art" reveal the complete decline of cultural life at that time.  Using original sequences from contemporary films, the degrading and destructive tendency of Jewish power is exposed. For hundreds of years German artists have glorified figures from the Old Testament, knowing full well the real face of Jewry.


How the Jew actually looks like is shown in scenes shot by Jews themselves in a "culture film" of a Purim festival, which is still celebrated today to commemorate the slaughter of 75,000 anti-Semitic Persians, and the doctrine with which future Rabbis in Jewish schools are educated to be political pedagogues. We look into a Jewish 'Talmud' class and experience the oriental tone of the ceremony in a Jewish synagogue, where Jews conduct business deals among themselves during the holy services.


However, the cruel face of Judaism is most brutally displayed in the final scenes, in which original shots of a kosher butchering are revealed. These film documents of the inhuman slaughter of cattle and sheep without anesthesia provide conclusive evidence of a brutality which is simply inconceivable to all Aryan people. In shining contrast, the film closes with pictures of German people and German order which fill the viewer with a feeling of deep gratification for belonging to a race whose Führer is fundamentally solving the Jewish problem.






One of many varied posters for Der ewige Jude

Two different versions of the film were made, the original version, and a toned down one without the gory scenes of ritual slaughtering. In Berlin the film opened simultaneously in sixty six theaters with the two versions shown at different times of the day.


One review by the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung stated:


"Only when the film ends, can the viewer breathe again, from the darkest recess does he come back to the light again."


Despite such press reviews, the commercial success of Der ewige Jude paled in comparison to other anti-Semitic films such as Jud Süss. SD reports from many regions in Germany and Austria were consistent: "The horror scenes disgusted viewers and the documentary aspect was considered nerve racking."


Despite the commercial failure of the film, images were replicated onto posters and publications throughout the Reich and occupied Europe. The goal of eliciting fear, disgust and hatred, toward the Eternal Jews was summed up by one critic:


"One has a deep sense of salvation after seeing this film. We have broken their power over us. We are the initiators of the fight against world Jewry, which now directs its hate, its brutal greed and destructive will toward us. We must win this battle for ourselves, for Europe, for the world."


Hippler was captured by the British in 1944. He escaped prosecution as a criminal when Allied tribunals failed to convict other filmmakers, such as Veit Harlan,(Jud Suss).  After a process of "de-Nazification" he served the American Army as a translator. In later life, he earned his living as a travel agent.


Der ewige Jude


Directed byFritz Hippler
Produced byDeutsche Film Gesellschaft
Written byEberhard Taubert
Narrated byHarry Giese
Music byFranz R. Friedl
Distributed byTerra
Release date(s)1940
Running time62 minutes
LanguageGerman w/subtitles




Inhaltsbeschreibung im Programmheft (Illustrierte Filmkurier No. 279/1940, November 27, 1940).
Der ewige Jude in der dichtung, vornehmlich in der englischen und deutschen_. Leipzig, Mayer & Muller, 1928.
Propaganda and the German Cinema, 1933-1945 By David Welch
Hasan-Rokem, Galit and Alan DundesThe Wandering Jew: Essays in the Interpretation of a Christian Legend Indiana University Press) 1986.
German Propaganda Archive Home Page
The "Years of extermination" by Saul Friedlander. First Harper Perennial 2008

Yad Vashem.






Copyright: Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T  2008



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