Jud Süss ("The Jew Süss")
September 24, 1940
"Jud Süss... will be the anti-Semitic film..."-- Joseph Goebbels, in his diary, December 15, 1939
"The premiere of The Jew Süss. A very large audience with almost the entire Reich Cabinet. The film is an incredible success... The whole room raves. That's exactly what I had hoped for."-- Joseph Goebbels, in his diary, September 25, 1940
Premiering in the year of the Nazis' successful invasions of Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and France, Jud Süss was a box office hit, with over 20 million paid admissions. Goebbels insisted that the film not be advertised or announced as being anti-Semitic, but rather as a factual document. On-screen text stated, "the events represented in this film are based on historical occurrences." The ministry of propaganda used the film to sow hatred of Jews, showing it to concentration camp soldiers.
Set in 18th century Germany, the film follows Joseph Süss Oppenheimer from the Jewish ghettos of Frankfurt into the inner court of the Duke of Würtemberg in the city of Stuttgart. Oppenheimer brings misery to the region by raising taxes. He rapes the daughter of a district councilor, who then drowns herself from shame. Finally, he convinces the duke to mount an ill-fated coup that results in the duke's death. In the end, Oppenheimer is publicly executed for his crimes against the German people, and all Jews are forced to leave Stuttgart.