‘It is Purim 1946’

Ahasuerus and Haman at Esther's Feast by Rembrandt.

“IT IS PURIM 1946”
These were the last words of a Nazi war criminal before his execution.

Condemned to death by the Nuremberg Military Tribunal, Julius Streicher, whose poisonous quill had rendered Germans indifferent to the fate of Jews, mounted the gallows on October 16, 1946.

According to eyewitness reports, while his manacles were being removed, this ugly, dwarfish little man, wearing a threadbare suit and a faded bluish shirt, shivered involuntarily in the damp and cold shadow of the scaffolds. He then gazed around the room, focusing momentarily on the small group of witnesses. By this time, his hands were tied securely behind his back. Two guards, one on each arm, directed him to Number One gallows on the left of the entrance. He walked the six feet steadily, but his face was twitching. As he mounted the steps, with the help of two GIs, he screamed, ‘Hail Hitler!’ At the upper gibbet, the greasy noose was placed around his neck. Before the executioner pulled the lever to remove the plank under his feet, he uttered his last words: “It is Purim 1946.”

Why? He was probably thinking of the Nazi phantasmagoria concerning Jews celebrating the ‘killing’ of their ‘innocent’ hosts during Purim. His remark might also indicate that he saw a connection between the fate of the ‘good’ Haman and his impending doom despite the 24 centuries separating these two events. The antecedents of this libel are rooted in pre-Vatican II Christian epistles. As late as 1882, the Catholic vicar Father Oreglia wrote: “On Purim, the Jews are busy capturing all the Christians they can, especially children. On this night, however, they kill one, pretending to kill Haman.”

It is also possible that Jews emerging once more victorious from the edge of the abyss would have tormented Streicher’s mind: were there, after all, supernatural forces protecting the people he loathed with a passion? This interpretation is based on the fact that during the trials, he told his co-defendants that he wanted to go to Palestine and fight with Jews as they had proven that they were indestructible!

Strange as it is the Nazis were concerned that the Book of Esther might predict their fall. The idea of Jewish redemption haunted their necromantic cosmology. This is why every single Jew had to be eradicated before another Esther could emerge to save them again. Indeed, the angst was so great that Hitler outlawed reading the Book of Esther throughout Germany. This trepidation grounded in Biblical prophecy bedeviled the Nazis throughout their short but deadly reign. Streicher, like so many other Nazis, was susceptible to the alleged ‘secret’ occult powers of Jews. Gustav Mark Gilbert, the Jewish psychologist who interviewed Streicher a few times during the Nuremberg Trials without hiding his identity, was astonished to find out how much the Bloody Cesar of Franconia admired the resilience of the ‘competing super Jewish race,’ knew a great deal about Judaism in general and Purim in particular. Note that Eichmann, too, astounded his captors by speaking in Aramaic! These two contradictory strains [evil Jews versus divinely protected Jews] would have wreaked havoc in his mind. He may well have gone to his watery grave burning with such confounding celestial possibilities contradicting his core beliefs about the pernicious Jews of Purim.

Purim, more than any other Jewish holiday, played a primordial role in Nazi eschatology. For Jews, Purim is a festival to celebrate ‘rest from their enemies’ and the turning of ‘sorrow to gladness’ and ‘mourning into a good day;’ for Nazis, it was a ‘reminder’ of Jewish duplicity and blood lust. For example, the March 1934, number 11 edition of Der Stürmer featured a lengthy report bearing the following title: “The Night of the Murder: The Secret of the Jewish Holiday of Purim is Unveiled” [“die Mordnacht: Das Geheimnis des jüdischen Purimfestes ist enthüllt] Purim, according to Streicher, was a festival dedicated to the hatred and murder of non-Jews. Deconstructing the Book of Esther by falsifying the fundamental cause and effect dynamics of the story, Streicher sought to demonstrate to his readers that Jews celebrated, through the drunkenness of Purim, the massacre of 75,000 innocent Persians and that this ‘murderous imperative’ was a ‘historical’ fact that governed the relationships between Jews and innocent people who generously welcome them into their lands. The notorious Nazi film The Eternal Jew [Der Ewige Jude] too featured scenes of a Purim festival, ‘celebrating’ the ‘slaughter’ of 75,000 Persians. The message was clear: ‘Purimfest’ is the ‘indisputable manifestation’ of how their elders inculcate Jews to destroy Germans who received them with ‘open hearts.’

Streicher’s daily Der Strummer, according to his biographer Randall L. Bytwerk, was “devoted entirely to arousing hatred against the Jews.” The tabloid-style paper was the most widely read journal in Hitler’s Germany. It featured vivid racist cartoons, photographs, comics, pornography, and illustrations that have become the hallmark of the Third Reich’s visual conception of ‘demonic’ Jews. For Streitcher, anesthetizing public opinion was the precursor to making so many Germans, in the Words of Daniel Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners. As Simon Wiesenthal observed, “The SS who murdered our families had ‘Der Strummer’ in their field packs. It contained the rationale for their crimes.”

The Third Reich’s Purim obsession was such that they posthumously enabled Haman in taking his revenge by reaching beyond the grave to accomplish what he had failed to do in the court of Ahasuerus, King of Persia.

In 1942, on Purim Day, the Nazis hanged ten Jews in the small Polish town of Zdunska Wola to “avenge” the murder of Haman’s ten sons. A year later, during Purim 1943, the Nazis executed ten Jews from the Piotrkow ghetto. Similar incidents also occurred in Czestochowa, Radom, and Szydlowiec. Adolf Hitler himself, in a speech on January 30, 1944, declared that if the Nazis were to be defeated by the Allied forces, the Jews would celebrate “a second Purim.”

Without wishing to indulge in speculations about celestial interventions and cosmic revelations, suffice to note that the US Major Henry G. Pitt, who inadvertently captured Streicher, was Jewish. The date of October 16, 1946, in the Hebrew Calendar [the date of his execution] was 21 Tichrit 5707, Hosanna Rabbah: The Final Judgement for one of the architects of the Final Solution.

Justice thus prevailed and from the ashes of the Holocaust, there emerged through the redemption of the light of Zion the blessing of peace upon all the nations choosing the path of righteousness. God’s promise to Abraham was accordingly fulfilled (Genesis 22:17-18): “And thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast harkened to My Voice.”

About the Author
Erol Araf is a strategic planning analyst and international business development consultant with years of experience in global marketing with an emphasis on developing and managing international projects. Before consulting, he was National Director of Public Affairs at the Canadian Jewish Congress and was Director of National Marketing & Quebec Regional CEO at Canada Israel Securities Limited. Canadian [born in Turkey], Conservative Party of Canada, Morachist League of Canada, International Churchill Society. He designed and developed the concept for the movie "Mozart in Turkey," which was filmed on location at the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. It won the Golden Rembrandt Award in 2002. B.A. Business Administration, University of Hertford, U.K.
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