The Nazi propaganda film, "Der Ewige Jude" ("The Eternal Jew"), was an apparent attempt to justify, to the German public, the Nazi policies of exclusion, separation, and eventual elimination of the Jewish people. It was produced between October 4, 1939, and September 3, 1940 and had its first public screening on November 28, 1940. Few people ever actually paid to see the film -- it was mostly shown in compulsory viewing sessions, to groups such as school children and soldiers.
Filming began only a month after the German invasion of Poland, and the film was supposedly a documentary of Jewish life in the Lodz ghetto in Poland. It was a joint project of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Goebbels took basic film footage shot in the ghetto and manipulated it extensively to suit his purposes. Hitler followed the production of the film very closely, contributing ideas and ordering several revisions.
It is widely believed that the film was meant to prepare the German public for the Holocaust that would soon follow. Indeed, one of the most infamous scenes in the movie compares the Jewish people to rats and, considering what one usually does to eliminate rats, the parallel to be drawn is quite apparent.
Some people may find this film difficult to watch, due to its objectionable content, but it presents an extremely clear explanation of Nazi prejudices toward the Jews, and as such plays an important role in understanding the origins of the Holocaust. When Hitler finally gave his approval for the film to be viewed by the public, many believe that he, in a sense, signed the order to initiate the Holocaust. For years, scholars have been searching in vain for an official written order signed by Hitler to signal the beginning of the Holocaust, but many believe that instead of looking for a written document, they needed to look no further than this film.
It was common in those days for 'film programs' to be distributed to viewers when films were shown. These film programs were pamphlets that summarized the film's contents and they were meant to be read by viewers just before the film was shown. The film program for 'Der Ewige Jude' was written by Joseph Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda and gave viewers a preview of what they were about to see in the film.
The film runs just over an hour and is narrated in English -- it can be found below in two different formats: