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Bodo Morgenstern, "Hitler's Dream"

Less than two months after Adolf Hitler was appointed German chancellor and the Nazi Party rose to power in Germany, a movement to boycott all German goods began within the American Jewish community. The effort was supported by several different Jewish and non-Jewish activist groups, religious societies, and labor federations. According to one supporter, the boycott aimed to "strike at the very foundation of the campaign that is being waged against the Jews in Germany."1

Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver stated the aim of the boycott in more dramatic terms: "The boycott gives us a chance to fight back, and to fight back so that we can see the visible effect of our blows... And if we can break that regime of blood and terror as a result of our will rebound to the prestige of the Jewish people for a century to come."2

But the boycott movement did not receive universal support. While the American Jewish Congress supported the boycott in principle, its honorary president—prominent Jewish leader Rabbi Stephen S. Wise—was far more hesitant. The American Jewish Committee and B'nai B'rith also opposed the boycott on the grounds that it would "immediately provide the pretext for further excesses against the Jews in Germany" and could "lead to a general retaliation against Jewish businesses."3

Ultimately, the boycott effort was inconsistent and failed to impact the German economy in a significant way. But it does serve as an example of the American Jewish community's response and understanding of the Nazi threat in its early stages.4

The following satirical poem appeared in a bilingual Yiddish-English pamphlet in support of the boycott in 1933. Written by Bodo Morgenstern and translated by William Schreiber, the piece is entitled "Hitler's Dream" ("Hitlers kholem" in Yiddish) and imagines a meeting between Hitler, Haman (the perpetrator of the Purim story, which tells of the attempted annihilation of Jewish people in Persia), and Ramses II (the pharaoh of the Exodus story). Both Haman and Ramses offer their support to Hitler's mission, which Morgenstern—using language common to nearly every Biblical reference to catastrophe—defines as "to smite and kill the Jews." The piece ends with the prediction that Hitler can expect Jewish people to celebrate their survival by creating a third holiday of liberation after Purim and Passover. 

The intent of the piece is clear—to gain widespread support among American Jews for the boycott effort. Using popular images of perpetrators throughout Jewish tradition to mock Hitler makes the poem a unique and innovative form of activism. By turning Nazi antisemitism into the potential source of a new Jewish holiday of triumph, Morgenstern symbolically reclaims Jewish agency in the face of persecution—precisely what he and others hoped the boycott movement would accomplish.

Moshe Gottlieb, "The Anti-Nazi Boycott Movement in the United States: An Ideological and Sociological Appreciation," Jewish Social Studies Vol. 35, No. 3/4 (Jul.-Oct., 1973), 206.

Gottlieb, "The Anti-Nazi Boycott Movement in the United States," 210.

Gottlieb, "The Anti-Nazi Boycott Movement in the United States," 222.

For a broader context of the range of American Jewish responses to the Holocaust, see essays in Henry L. Feingold, Bearing Witness: How America and Its Jews Responded to the Holocaust (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1995).

The villain of the Purim story who attempts to annihilate the Jews of ancient Persia and is himself hung by the very gallows designed for the Jewish population.

A reference to the text of the Book of Esther.

German, "Oh, those damned Jews!"

German, "Blast it! Once again!"

The Pharaoh of the Passover story.

Refers to the Spanish Inquisition (1478-1834) that forced Jews to convert to Christianity (often under torture) or leave Spain.

Refers to the Chmielnicki Pogroms of 1648-1650 in which the Ukrainian Cossacks murdered approximately 100,000 Jews in what is now Poland and Ukraine in the name of Ukrainian independence.

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On a soft and downy divan,
While Hitler lies asleep,
A vision in his dream appears
As only he could reap.
A noted personage is seen
Who from the spir't-world flew;
With arm raised in Nazi salute,
Nigt to the sleeper drew.
"Hello, renown'd Hitler, hello;
My greetings of the day;
I've made this trip to visit you
From very far away.
"My dear fam'd German Chancellor;
Your recent gracious deed
Has earned for you my great respect
In following my lead.
"Though I, Haman, of olden time
Have been long dead and gone,
Yet my spirit will ever live
To assist you anon.
"To harass and oppress the Jews
Is my eternal work;
It was ever my lifelong aim
Which I still do not shirk.
"My dear Chancellor, just listen;
To my advice give heed;
You do well to punish the sire
For his son's ev'ry deed.
"'Tis Kultural, and very good,
Which no one should deplore,
When ev'ry father you order
To drink up his son's gore.
"Lash them! Slay them!
Make the tremble with fear!
Smite them! Strike them!
When they e'en shed a tear!
"Punish them all, my enemies;
Avenge my loved ones;
Hang’d was I on the tall gallows
With all of my ten sons!
"Do not show them any mercy!
Of compassion deprive!
If you can possibly do it,
Just bury them alive!
"'Tis well that you do not permit
Them to leave your fair land;
To hound all these Jews unto death,
They must be near at hand.
"Confiscate all their lands and wealth;
E'en take away their bread;
So by committing suicide
Some Jews then will be dead.
“Nevertheless, my German friend,
To my words lend an ear;
If you will just heed it closely,
You’ll have no cause to fear.
"You see how they have all manag'd
To raise such loud outcry,
That if your country needs money,
All will a loan deny."
"Rest assured, comrade Haman, dear,
You need not be afraid;
I, Hitler, surely will complete
This plan that I have laid.
"Their boycott will not deter me,
Nor any world-protest;
My action will be only that
Which pleases me the best.
"I will smite and kill all the Jews;2
Secret pogroms incite;
Though constantly the whole world may
In loud protest unite.
"Their finest, the flow'r of my land,
The most renown’d and best,
All exil’d from my fair country
To elsewhere find some rest.
"Their books and learning will I burn;
Their good culture erase;
From all their finest, greatest work
There’ll not be left a trace.
"Ach, ach die verdamte Juden!3
They're such trouble; I'm sore;
Donner Wetter! Noch Einmal!"4
And fell asleep once more.
"I welcome you with great pleasure,
Egypt’s sov’reign of old!
I know that you have always been
An Anti-Semite bold.
"You tortured, you slayed, you scourged them!
Even broke all their bones!
To build your mighty pyramids
Made them drag heavy stones!
"Oh, Son of the Sun-God, tell me:
Has my plan of any worth:
To wipe out all of those damned Jews
From the face of this earth?"
"My sage, deep counsel, true advice,
Dear Hitler, you'll not lack;
To us, Jews are as bothersome
As a hump on one's back!
"To decimate and kill all Jews,
I know is your desire;
But, nevertheless, I'm fearful;
To harm you they'll conspire.
"Within my time, for example,
They were so much oppressed:
Their very bodies were then squeezed
To pulp by being pressed!
"So deprived of all their freedom,
So completely enslaved,
That from stark hunger and dire thirst
They all constantly raved.
"Though making them labour and sweat
With mortar and with bricks,
My overseers ever plied them
With heavy blows and kicks.
"When many, fully exhausted,
Like flies fell in the field,
My men would again and again
On their backs the whips wield.
"Faith, ever I deemed them to be
My slaves all eternal:
Who would have thought they'd bring me
Such mis'ry infernal?
"Came Prophet Moses, their hero,
To free them from their fate,
Who spoke to me in tones not as
Befits Pharaoh the Great.
"'Egypt will e'er know and recall
For many a sad year
Ten plagues that will be sent to you:
Stark mis'ry minus cheer!'
"But Moses with all his dire threats
Did I jeer and deride;
'He could not do me any harm,'
So quick did I decide.
"My hosts numbered thousands untold,
All armed and very brave;
'No, Moses,' was my sharp reply,
'The Jew must be a slave.
"'Not under any condition
Will I let them go free,
And this response, Spokesman Moses,
Is your reply from me!'
"Know ye full well, Chanc'llor Hitler,
How Moses made me wail;
By sending us Egyptian lice,
Worms, darkness, snakes, and hail!
"The final punishment I got
Will e'er leave me forlorn;
It was the greatest blow of all
When I lost my first-born!
"Those cruel plagues and those punishments
No longer could I stand;
Compell'd was I Moses to call,
And grant him his demand.
"'Remove, Oh Moses, all your Jews,
Far distant from my sight;
I pray thee, let me rest in peace,
Or I will die of fright!'
"But now, my protégé, Hitler,
Renowned may you e'er be,
Just take from all Egypt's gold
They borrowed but from me.
"From us, the ancient Egyptians,
In those historic days,
They took our gold and our silver,
Then travell'd their own ways.
"Their books to burn and to destroy
Is not 'nough to beset:
Collect with complete interest
That original debt!
"I begg'd the Inquis'tors in Spain,6
When burning Jews at stake,
This debt, and all the interest
Till doomsday to retake.
"And, too, Chmelnitsky the Cossack,7
I asked—'Sans pity! Smite!
Recover my jewels and gold,
My gifts will then delight."
"Though many decades have gone by,
While patiently I wait,
I know now that I've been fooled, but
I comprehend too late!
"But you, Oh Chancellor Hitler,
Will grant this one request:
For you surpass them all by far:
You act your role the best!
"When you deprived them of their work
You took away their bread.
By persecuting all these Jews,
Caused them to cringe with dread.
"Because I'm loathe to mislead you,
I must predict and warn:
That you can't hope long to exist:
Your pow'r will be shorn.
"Your many speeches and your bluffs,
Made to all your Nazi,
Bring shame ignoble 'pon your land;
Betray that fair country!
"Boycott will Germany e'er long
With a black shroud inter;
All Anti-Semites then will know
How Jews can make a stir!
"Boycott will be the medicine
That will cure all your pain;
Hitler, you will soon be again
A painter, but more sane.
"Boycott will cause your demotion
With your intellect small;
World's opinion will enfold you
With sorrow like a pall!
"So heed my friendly, good advice;
Best let these Jews go free;
To exterminate them all
Beyond your pow'r will be.
"Let me assure you, my good friend,
Your efforts they'll repay,
Just as they did my memory,
With a great holiday.
"This noble Thanksgiving of their
Will be their Number Three;
The one for me, and Haman two,
This third, Hitler, for thee!"

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Accession Number PJ5129.M728 H5 1933
Date Created
Author / Creator
Morgenstern, Bodo
Schreiber, William
Schreiber, William H.
New York, USA
Document Type Pamphlet
How to Cite Museum Materials

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