Appendix 3: Quotations on German anti-Semitism [Nietzsche and the Nazis]

[This is Appendix 3 of Nietzsche and the Nazis. Sources for the quotations are at the end of this post.]

Appendix 3: Quotations on German anti-Semitism

Martin Luther (1483-1546): “The Jews deserve to hang on gallows, seven times higher than ordinary thieves.” And: “We ought to take revenge on the Jews and kill them.”[189]

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804): The Jews are by nature “sharp dealers” who are “bound together by superstition.” Their “immoral and vile” behavior in commerce shows that they “do not aspire to civic virtue,” for “the spirit of usury holds sway amongst them.” They are “a nation of swindlers” who benefit only “from deceiving their host’s culture.”[190]

Kant: “The euthanasia of Judaism is the pure moral religion.”[191]

Johann Herder (1744-1803) quoting Kant from his lectures on practical philosophy: “Every coward is a liar; Jews, for example, not only in business, but also in common life.”[192]

Johann Fichte (1762-1814): “A mighty state stretches across almost all the nations of Europe, hostile in intent and in constant strife with all others … this is Jewry.” Also: “As for giving them [the Jews] civil rights, I for one see no remedy but that their heads should be all cut off in one night and replaced with others in which there would not be one single Jewish idea.”[193]

Ernst Moritz Arndt (1769-1860, professor at University of Bonn). Arndt was a poet, a historian, a deeply-religious Lutheran, and post-Kantian philosophical idealist whose hero was Arminius, who defeated the Romans in 9 C.E., thus saving the pure German soul from “contamination” by Latin races. According to Arndt, the Jews were “a rotten and degenerate race” that had “evil and worthless drives and desires.”[194]

G. W. F. Hegel (1770-1831): Germany cannot assimilate the Jews because the Jews live an “animal existence that can only be secured at someone else’s expense.” Also: “Spirit alone recognizes spirit. They [the Jews] saw in Jesus only the man … for He was only one like themselves, and they felt themselves to be nothing. The Jewish multitude was bound to wreck His attempt to give them the consciousness of something divine, for faith in something divine, something great, cannot make its home in a dunghill.”[195]

Johann Fries (1773-1843), professor at University of Heidelberg: Fries was a Kantian logician, a disciple of Fichte, and influential among student nationalist societies. He called the Jews “rotten,” “worthless cheats,” “bloodsuckers,” a “diseased people,” argued they should be required to wear special signs indicating to others their race, and called for their “extermination.”[196]

Karl Marx (1818-1883): “Let us consider the actual, worldly Jew—not the Sabbath Jew, as Bauer does, but the everyday Jew. Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew. What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money. Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Jewry, would be the self-emancipation of our time. … We recognize in Jewry, therefore, a general present-time-oriented anti-social element, an element which through historical development—to which in this harmful respect the Jews have zealously contributed—has been brought to its present high level, at which it must necessarily dissolve itself. In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Jewry.”[197]

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900): “I have not met a German yet who was well disposed toward the Jews; and however unconditionally all the cautious and politically-minded repudiated real anti-Semitism, even this caution and policy are not directed against the species of this feeling itself but only against its dangerous immoderation.”[198]

Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) in 1925: “I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator. By fighting off the Jews, I am doing the Lord’s work.” And in 1931: “The Jewish problem is a highly complex matter … our ideology is opposed to the interests of the Chosen Race in that we abominate their dance around the Golden Calf. For racial and financial reasons the Jews are basically opposed to communism.”[199]

Hitler: “Anti-Semitism is a useful revolutionary expedient.”[200]

Sidney Hook (1902-1989), a socialist philosopher: “anti-Semitism was rife in almost all varieties of socialism.”[201]


[189] Luther, quoted in Murphy 1999, p. 9.

[190] Kant, quoted in Weiss 1996, p. 67.

[191] Kant, Streit der Fakultaten, in Werke 11:321, quoted in Paul Lawrence Rose, Revolutionary Antisemitism from Kant to Wagner (Princeton, 1990), p. 96.

[192] Herder, quoted in Mack, 2003, p. 5.

[193] Fichte, quoted in Weiss 1996, pp. 72 and 68.

[194] Arndt, quoted in Weiss 1996, p. 74.

[195] Hegel, quoted in Weiss 1996, pp. 67 and 66.

[196] Fries, quoted in Weiss 1996, p. 74.

[197] Marx, “On The Jewish Question,” Viewed September 17, 2007.

[198] Nietzsche, BGE 251.

[199] Hitler, in interview with Richard Breiting, 1931, published in Edouard Calic, ed., “Second Interview with Hitler,” Secret Conversations with Hitler: The Two Newly-Discovered 1931 Interviews. New York: John Day Co., 1971, p. 86.

[200] Hitler, in Hermann Rauschning, The Voice of Destruction: Hitler Speaks, as quoted in George Seldes, The Great Thoughts. New York: Ballantine, p. 186.

[201] Hook, “Home Truths About Marx,” Commentary (September 1978) reprinted in Marxism and Beyond. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield, 1983, p. 117.


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3 thoughts on “Appendix 3: Quotations on German anti-Semitism [Nietzsche and the Nazis]

  • January 9, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Is there a more prickly subject than “anti-Semitism”? The term itself seems to alight on the purity of the Jewish people, being Semitic, or descendants of Shem through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We are dragged into a religious discussion, because to be a Jew (in ancient times) was to be descended from Jacob and, if a male, to be circumcised. Converts were always referred to as “proselytes”. Rabbinical tradition demanded a Jewish mother before the child could be considered “Jewish”. So, there is a blood-tie, as it were, a “racial” connection.
    However, according to their Scriptures, the “Jews” (the term does not appear in the Bible until later books, Ezra, Esther, e.g.) are disobedient and blasphemous. According to Isaiah and Jeremiah, they will be punished for 70 years in Babylon, but then the temple will be rebuilt (it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzer) by a certain date, which took place. Now we diverge. Jesus warned that the new temple would be destroyed and “that not one stone will be left upon another,” a prophecy which took place in 70 A.D. Indeed, he tells the Jews, “your kingdom is taken from you.” According to Moses, the Jews will be “scattered to the corners of the earth” which also comes to pass. At that point pointless and irrational persecution of these splinter groups will occur.

    According to the Greek Scriptures (ignored by Orthodox Jews in particular) one may only come to God through the Son, that is, the sacrifice of Jesus which removes the sin of Adam. This must occasion a baptism of water and spirit. Circumcision is no longer required. Where are we now?

    The comments of Karl Marx are the most pungent and somewhat opaque, for he also writes in private letters that when the Socialist revolution is complete, “the children of Israel shall have everything…” and other remarks. So the history of the Jews is pockmarked with hatred and revulsion, but in earlier days the Law of Moses was the most advanced code of regulations, and, the Ten Commandments critical to organized society. Adolf Hitler said in a speech, “As general rules of society these cannot be bettered.” Anti-Semitism therefore seems to be a reaction of the Gentile world to the Jewish minorities within it (Einstein’s view). The worst Shylocks and shysters among the Chosen have caused enormous hatred of the remainder of Jewry, who, like most people, just want to live in peace and prosper.

    There is no question that “Jews” control the media and most financial circles in the US today, and that they have infiltrated the US government (for better or for worse). The pro-Zionist stance of America and the advent of Kissinger types in higher office add to the flames of “anti-Semitism”. Most of the Israeli atrocities, such as the large scale selling of children’s body parts (after an “autopsy”), for which an Israeli general was convicted (twenty million dollars skim off) did not appear in US papers but, ironically, in Ha’aretz, via the Internet. But it was not kept on the website long. Other atrocities against the Palestinians are justified by previous Palestinian atrocities against the Israelis, ad nauseam, but are rarely covered in detail by US media. Whomever opposes Israel is either an “anti-Semite” or worse, “a Nazi.” Particularly after the disclosure of concentration camp horrors after WWII.

    Those who argue that the Jews have lost God’s blessing can not dispute Moses’ claim that “God will not forget the Israelites.” They can’t be exterminated or ignored, but as Christopher Hitchens claimed, “they use religion to dispossess Palestinians of the land on which they’ve lived for millennia.” The main source of sympathy and support for the Jews from Gentiles is their “chosen people” status, that Jesus was a Jew, and that “salvation comes only through the Jews,” as the Samaritan woman told Jesus at the well. We have a gigantic rolling snowball of religion, race, politics, finance, prophecy and misunderstanding. Atheists will disavow Moses and Christ, believers will say “We’ve got to help Israel” (or a curse will come on us?). The Bible suggests that those Jews who will be “saved” have become “spiritual Israelites, circumsized in the spirit [the heart]” whereas politicians vary from country to country, whatever its ‘religion’. In general the Jews are disliked more than ‘hated’, and among their own kind a formal distrust rules. I once worked with a Russian Jew in selling resort lots and he handed me the phone. It was a Jewish customer interested in the property. “You take this one,” he said, “a Jew can’t sell a Jew.”

    Crazy enough — one must agree! Perhaps Nietzsche was more accurate in saying that anti-Semitism is prevalent and permissible if it does not go to extremes such as concentration camps or pogroms. Let’s not forget the Jews built ghettos in European cities TO PROTECT THEMSELVES against Gentile corruption — both in religion and in dietary matters. Gentiles eat pork and crustaceans no Jew would touch. Whereas many of the above comments are hateful, we do not know their context. Perhaps Luther was cheated by a Jew. There is a Grimm’s fairy tale in which a Jew cheats a widow who dies and the Jew is hanged as an accomplice. Not very nice. But Hitler forbade the persecution of Dr. Bloch, who tended his mother’s cancer, and of his Lieutenant in WWI, with the regret that “if there were more Jews like this, we should not have to deport them all.” There are two unhappy sides to this fence, alas. The innocents suffer worse than the guilty. Jews like Trotsky and Lenin killed millions more than Hitler. But that does not excuse Hitler, and it does not entitle people to hate this people. It’s one of those issues which tend toward oversimplification and hypocrisy. It’s rather like blaming Einstein for Hiroshima, an event which horrified him.

    The argument has continued since the Enlightenment policy of freeing the Jews from their narrow bonds. The Jews are one of the most interesting peoples in history, and perhaps the only family of man vaguely preserved in their bloodlines. The Hittites, the Amorites, the Midianites, the Jebusites — pick any “ite” you want, they’re extinct. Perhaps the word “Jew” is also misleading, perhaps it should be “Yiddish” rather than “Jewish.” The latter word is a nickname derived from Judah, the only faithful section of the holy land. I’ve studied this conundrum for decades and can only say, “we have to live and let live.” At least in America there is ample space for ALL tribes!

  • March 17, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Starting at the top:
    1. Let’s make things simple. From an orthadox perspective, a Jew is a person whose mother is Jewish. This is both necessary, AND SUFFICIENT (a Jew can be un circumcised). This definition makes it hard to categorise Jews neatly into one type; race, ethnicity etc. An intersection of several factors is at play. There is no conspiracy theory with the term Jew. The original tribe was called Hebrews, but even they accepted converts. As many tribes were lost through roman occupation of the land of Israel. With the majority of remenants being specifically from the tribe of Judah. The name changed to jews.
    2. The massive amounts of history condensed into two paragraphs is a bit absurd. “the “Jews” are disobedient and blasphemous”; has no context. The old testement explains they are many things, at times they turn away from God and other times towards him. To pick out two adjectives as THE adjectives seems unfair. Further the orthadox tradition explains that the second temple would always be destroyed and this too is part of the plan (Rabbi Akiva, bMakkot24)
    3. Greek religious Scriptures are ignored by Orthadox Jews because they are Christian scriptures and have no bearing on the Jewish faith. Circumcision is not about the sin of Adam in the Jewish faith.
    4. “So the history of the Jews is pockmarked with hatred and revulsion”…I don’t see how this follows from anything that has been said. Also a source for the quote attributed to Marx is missing, and I suspect does not exist. And why Marx is even relevant to your point.
    5. “The worst Shylocks and shysters”, forgetting the particular choice of language. Every group/denomination/race, have good people and bad people, and the jews are certainly no worse than many others. Why then should it be the Jews who are painted with the same brush as their worst elements, as opposed to any other group.
    6. Paragraph beginning “there is no question”. Sorry to say it. This is a bigoted paragraph. Whilst in the US there are many Jews in media, there are also many non-Jews in media. Even if Jews are overrepresented in media the notion of “control” is not evidentially based. Same applies to financial circles. And the term “infiltrated the US government”, is also anti-semitic, “infiltrate” implies forcing your way in to a place you don’t belong. Jews are as much a part of American democracy as anyone else, and hence they are fully entitled to a role in political sphere.
    7. “Body parts” this is a conspiracy theory. Find one legitamate article from a single respected news agency on this topic, which brings evidence. You cannot. This is an anti-semitic allegation, a recreation of the blood libel.
    8. “atrocities against the Palestinians”…the Israel-Palestine conflict is horrible. But to summarise it so partially, with no sense of nuance or context, and 0 culpability on the side of the Palestinians is problematic. And biased.
    9. “Jews built the ghettos for protection”; you need to check your facts sir.

    With regards to excusing Hitler, and Luther etc. I refer you to point 5.

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