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Bad news for the Jews: How US and UK media moguls helped the Nazis

TJI Pick
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Published: 16 August 2022

Last updated: 5 March 2024

A new book shows how, in the lead-up to WWII, press barons worked to sway the public toward Hitler’s line.

In January 1934, Lord Harold Rothermere, owner of Britain’s Daily Mail, filed a story from Munich praising Adolf Hitler. 

Rothermere assured his readers that stories of atrocities were wildly exaggerated. The restaurants and hotels in Munich were bustling with German Jews during the festive season, and none “showed [any] symptoms of insecurity or suffering,” the British newspaper proprietor wrote. This was typical of the pro-Nazi line Britain’s Daily Mail continued to promote that year.

The Nazis needed to control the “alien elements and Israelites of international attachments who were insinuating themselves into the German state,” as Rothermere put it in another article he penned in July 1934. 

Rothermere was not alone. Also possessing Nazi sympathies were Lord Max Beaverbrook, owner of Britain’s Daily Express, Sunday Express, and Evening Standard; Robert McCormick, who owned The Chicago Tribune; William Randolph Hearst, who owned more than two dozen newspapers and a syndicate wire service that had a monopoly on the American media; and brother-sister duo Joseph and Cissy Patterson, who ran the New York Daily News and the Washington-Times Herald, respectively.

The newspapers owned by these six media moguls reached a combined audience of approximately 65 million daily readers in Britain and the United States. They regularly paid handsome fees to fascist leaders looking to promote their ideas to a global audience. 

“By giving fascist dictators access to the American public and allowing them to present themselves as peace-loving champions of order, Hearst helped to normalise [fascism] for his 30 million readers,” says historian Kathryn S. Olmsted’s, author of the recently published book, The Newspaper Axis: Six Press Barons Who Enabled Hitler.

 “These press barons did not just sell the news, they constructed it and lied as they reported events so they could make a lot of money and gain political influence, too.”

Bad news for the Jews: How six US and UK media moguls aided the nascent Nazi regime (Times of Israel)

How Bolivia’s ruthless tin baron saved thousands of Jewish refugees (Guardian)

To save Jews and keep the Nazis away, these doctors invented a fake infectious disease (JTA)

Photo: Lord Rothermere with Hitler during a 1938 visit to Germany

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