Rare 1940 Audio: Thomas Mann Explains the Nazis’ Ulterior Motive for Spreading Anti-Semitism

Here’s a rare recording of the German writer Thomas Mann, author of Buddenbrooks and The Magic Mountain, explaining what he sees as the real reason behind the systematic spreading of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany.

It’s from an NBC radio address Mann gave on March 9, 1940, while he was living in California. Mann had gone into exile from Germany in 1933, shortly after Adolf Hitler was elected chancellor and began seizing dictatorial powers. Mann had been an outspoken critic of the Nazi party since its emergence in the early twenties.

In 1930, a year after he received the Nobel Prize in Literature, Mann gave a high-profile “Address to the Germans: An Appeal to Reason,” in which he denounced the Nazis as barbarians. A Christian man married to a Jewish woman, Mann often spoke against the Nazi’s anti-Semitism, which he saw as part of a larger assault on the Mediterranean underpinnings of Western Civilization. In the radio address, Mann says:

The anti-semitism of today, the efficient though artificial anti-Semitism of our technical age, is no object in itself. It is nothing but a wrench to unscrew, bit by bit, the whole machinery of our civilization. Or, to use an up-to-date simile, Anti-Semitism is like a hand grenade tossed over the wall to work havoc and confusion in the camp of democracy. That is its real and main purpose.

Later in the speech, Mann argues that the Nazi attack on the Jews is “but a starting signal for a general drive against the foundations of Christianity, that humanitarian creed for which we are forever indebted to the people of the Holy Writ, originated in the old Mediterranean world. What we are witnessing today is nothing else than the ever recurrent revolt of unconquered pagan instincts, protesting against the restrictions imposed by the Ten Commandments.”

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Comments (4)
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  • cjd says:

    I understand the spin that Mann was doing. I think that appealing to Christian values saved many lives back then. but today this opinion has become a monster of a lie. it is Holocaust revisionism of the worse kind. Christians have turned an act done BY them into something done TO them. here is the new Holocaust narrative….

    by necessity the anti-christ must be a Jewish male (so said Jerry Falwell) thus hitler had to kill the Jews to prevent the birth of the anti-christ and assume the dark lord’s position. his henchman were scouring the world (google nazi budda) for the spear of destiny which would grant hitler immortally or at least a very long life. with these things done hitler would rule the world.

    or hitler was himself a Jew and by killing all other Jews he wins the anti-christ crown by default and would rule the…well you get by now.

    James Baldwin said that after the Holocaust white people could no long claim to be superior to anyone else. he couldn’t have foreseen how the white Christians would claim the victim status of Jews for themselves. even the beautiful very Jewish looking Anne Frank is now recasted as a Taylor swift look alike to ease Christian feeling.

    the Holocaust was an inevitable event once a thousand years of Christian jew-bashing met 19th century eugenics.

  • M McL says:

    Thomas Mann confined his views on what was happening in Germany to his diary. On 10 April 1933 he wrote:

    But for all that, might not something deeply significant and revolutionary be taking place in Germany? The Jews: it is no calamity after all . . . that the domination of the legal system by the Jews has been ended.

  • rt says:

    It sounds as though Mann was also remarking on the Nazis’ adoption of Nietzsche’s philosophy of the “ubermensch” (super man, or superior race of men):

    “In Ecce Homo, Nietzsche called the establishment of moral systems based on a dichotomy of good and evil a “calamitous error”,[133] and wished to initiate a re-evaluation of the values of the Judeo-Christian world.[134] He indicates his desire to bring about a new, more naturalistic source of value in the vital impulses of life itself.” – Wikipedia

  • Eva Gehring says:

    my english is not good enough to write what i feel…!
    And if my knowhow would be good enough, eaven than i could not write what i feel! Because those words never could be enough to translate my inner sad feeling, about us, so called “humans”…. Like Martin Luther King, i must say: I HAVE A DREAM
    As long as iam here, i work for PEACE AND LOVE!

    I hope we wake up one day!


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