Who Was More Occult?
Still shot from Jud Süß of the Jewish religious ceremony
While abundant in many different Jewish stereotypes, one of the most interesting stereotypes contained within the film Jud Süß was the idea that the Jewish religion was fairly occult in its nature. In the film, the Jewish religious ceremony is portrayed as a very nonsensical and wild ceremony. The Jews appear to be worshipping some strange object while dancing and singing senseless words. In addition to this, the Rabbi in the film is portrayed as a sort of mystic; he interprets the stars and makes predictions. Instead of being the wise scholar and teacher, one pictures him more as a soothsayer. All in all, the viewer is shown a religion that is more paganish in its nature, the complete opposite of the actual Jewish religion.
However, there is a certain irony that lies in this portrayal of the Jews. While the Nazi film industry falsely portrayed the Jewish religion as an occult group, it was really the Nazis who tended to lean more toward the occult. This occult aspect of the Nazi party lies within one of the most powerful groups within the Party: the SS. Spielvogel discusses the SS’s obsession with the fantastic and Himmler’s role in creating this occult nature. It is very interesting that one of the prominent figures in the Nazi party initiated and supported this fetish for mythical rituals. Himmler’s reasoning behind this was that it was a return to true German heritage and therefore a representation of the Aryan. He established a group to “investigate all aspects of ancient German tradition”, whose research was then used to create “SS rituals and symbols appropriate to an elite racial group” (1). It seems to be fairly ironic that the Nazis wanted people to think negatively of the Jews because of their “mythical ways”, when in reality, a strong aspect of Nazi ideology was focused on more mythical and absurd notions, rather than rational fact.
- Jackson Spielvogel, Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History (United States: Pearson Education, 2014), 112.
Image Source: Yale Press. “The Music Libel Against Jews” Jud Süss. Courtesy of International Historical Film, Inc.