Jud Suss and Anti-Semitism

Jud Suss and Anti-Semitism
jud suss filmi analizi

In this study, the film Jud Suss which, was published in Nazi Germany during World War II, was examined and indicated anti-Semitic discourses.

An anti-Semitist Nazi propaganda film released during World War II and filled with Jewish stereotypes. It is only one of the films which released at that time shot at the request of the Nazi government itself. Ferdinand Marian and Kristina Söderbaum shared the leading roles of the 1940 Jud Suss film, which gained great success at the box office; a terrifying Jewish portrait was drawn via Joseph Oppenheimer. The work, which consists of high stereotypes, watched by masses, and left a great impact on them. In the film whose aim was to reveal the hatred towards Jews and camouflage the reasons of events that in the process; racist expressions were brought to the fore by presenting religious, political, or personal arguments.


Political regime changes cause changes in many areas from education to media, from economy to art in order to sustain and adopt the new ideology and bring it into daily life. This has always been the case throughout history, and with the developments in information and mass communication, new methods have been used for this purpose. The concept of propaganda, which has been defined as any kind of work carried out with words, writing, and similar tools that aim to introduce, adopt and spread any ideas or thought to others, has been used by governments, groups, or individuals throughout history. The propaganda methods used systematically in Nazi Germany, which especially focused on anti-Semitism, were very successful and efficient.

National socialism, the reflection of the fascism movement that emerged under the leadership of Mussolini at the beginning of the 20th century in Germany, was the official ideology of Germany for 12 months in which the National Socialist German Workers Party was in power. This racist and anti-Semitic ideology has a totalitarian structure. Its leadership belongs to Adolf Hitler and the holiness of the Aryan race is believed. Propaganda in Germany, which is under the influence of Nazism, which structures the body according to its own structure, was carried out through a single center; its ministry was given to Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels wanted to adopt to people the philosophy of Nazism via films because of the influence of cinema on ideological discourses. The Jud Suss movie is just one of the films shot for this purpose.

The movie, in which is consist of series of events such as appointing Jewish Joseph Oppenheimer as his financial advisor by Karl Alexander who the duke of Württemberg, and after this decision, collecting high taxes were, allowing Jews to enter the city, causing to start small rebellions and quelling of them by force, and living of big discussion between the council members and the duke, the anti-Semitic points are presented finely.

It begins with Karl Alexander’s oath ceremony that is celebrated with happiness and enthusiasm by the public. It was described that it was a stirring ceremony by the Duke’s adviser, Sturm.

Anti-capitalism which is one of the features of the Nazism ideology was emphasized in the conversation between duke’s assistant who came for jewelry exchange and Joseph. It is also stated in the same scene that Jews are prohibited from entering

Stuttgart. With Oppenheimer saying that if necessary steps are taken to go there, he can change his beard and Jewish appearance which is shown repulsive and spooky in many scenes explained that Jews were not fully connected to their religious foundations and that they could easily adapt to different environments by changing their clothes. Via Joseph’s expressions of “I shall open the door for all of you! You’ll wear velvet and silks, tomorrow or the day after” the Jews are depicted as ambitious and greedy. Oppenheimer’s entering Stuttgart with false documents, Rabbi’s lying to the Duke on astrological matters, etc. behaviors are staged; with these, it has been stated that they are fraudulent, liar and can exploit people upon from power and trust in the direction of racial interests.

Joseph, who offered the Duke to rent the Württemberg roads to him upon the Duke’s words that “I do not accept gifts from the Jews”, became his financial advisor. Thus, it was aimed to make a remark to Jews’ ruthlessness in the scenes, where he directed the Duke to suppress the revolts with harsh interventions upon the people, whose life became harder because of the rising taxes and wage increases, demolished half the house of the blacksmith, and, with saying his driver to crush people who block in front of his car. Oppenheimer, although unlike council members, fulfills the Duke’s demands, is humiliated by the Duke and other characters throughout the film (even if there is no discussion).

The scenes, which Dorean sing songs and Faber plays the piano by accompanies her, represent the innocence of life before the Jews. The absence of background music in scenes where Rabbi-Oppenheimer or Oppenheimer-Levy is alone supports this idea.

Through the events in the parties, explained that Jews, who are shown as greedy and as pitiless, in addition to them, are amoral, brought all evil and caused gambling and prostitution. Faber’s words of “A Jew plays for your daughters and the Duke holds the bank” sums up this situation.

While the council member was telling to the Duke that Martin Luther’s word, which includes anti-Semitic discourse, of that “Know, thou faithful Christian, that after the Devil thou hast no worse enemy than a real Jew. At best, one should set their schools and synagogues afire, take away their prayer books and Talmud study matter, forbid them money-lending, and–“, Oppenheimer and Levy listened to them in a dark environment behind the scary trinkets in the room. In this scene, it was taken attention to the dark aspects of the Jews. They added some dialogs to support the scenes which they said Jewish people are not clever but crafty. One of them is the scene the man insisted that to Rabbi about to tell the Duke what he wants. The other one is the part which the neighbor Jew said words of, He should give to him, so we can take, take, take.”

Throughout the film, only the punitive feature of God was emphasized in the discourses of God, which were cited by reference to Judaism. One of them is that an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

In the film, which was always reminded of the Jews’ brutality, Oppenheimer told Sturm that he wanted to marry Dorean, who did not want him, and offered bribe to him upon from money and position; the unfair gain which seen very normally by Oppenheimer, rejected by Sturm. As a result, while all the bad features represent the

Jews, good and suitable qualifies are explained over the Aryan race. Dorean was raped by the Jewish man Oppenheimer, who is greedy at the palace where she came to save her innocent father and patriotic husband. The woman, who could not stand it, committed suicide, and died.

Although Levy did not compromise his religious appearance, he was shown as odd and scary to represent Jews.

As stated in the last scene, although, the Duke, who swore to hold to his people based on their customs and traditions, said that “If I say it, it is law” when he allowed Jews to enter Stuttgart; even if the council members and the public are angry with the Duke, Oppenheimer had become the scapegoat of all the decisions taken by the Duke and the whole result has been attributed to him by them.

During the anti-Semitic film, which is decided under the close supervision of Goebbels, adapted by distorting from the novel of the Jewish author Lion Feuchtwanger, Jews were shown people who are ruthless, unreliable, poor, greedy, amoral, cunning, bringing evil like prostitution and gambling. As they wanted, it was tried to feel some feelings such as pity and victimization of the Aryan race.

Turkish Translation: https://www.sosyologer.com/jud-suss-filmi-ve-anti-semitizm/

Ben, Beyza Yıldırım. Marmara Üniversitesi Sosyoloji Bölümü öğrencisiyim. Ayrıca aynı üniversitede Halkla İlişkiler ve Tanıtım bölümü ile çift anadal yapıyorum. Çalışmalarımı sizlerle paylaşmak için buradayım.

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