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Pages from the Antisemitic Children's Book The Poisonous Mushroom

Poisonous Mushroom
US Holocaust Memorial Museum

In 1938, the publishers of the intensely antisemitic Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer released a children's book titled Der Giftpilz, or "The Poisonous Mushroom." The book was designed to teach children that Jewish people were a threat to Germany and could not be part of the Nazis' so-called "national community" ("Volksgemeinschaft"). The book compares German Jews to a poisonous mushroom hidden among other mushrooms that it may resemble, but the poisonous one carries great danger for those who come in contact with it. Der Giftpilz was one of the first and most well known examples of popular children's literature that transmitted Nazi racial ideology.1

Author and artist Phillip "Fips" Rupprecht designed the work as a series of short stories, each revolving around a different aspect of anti-Jewish stereotypes, including physical appearance, religious beliefs, and moral character. Featured here, one page illustrates Jewish people's supposed worship of money. Another shows German schoolboys discussing how to identify a Jew based on physical features. More dramatic passages show Jewish men attempting to kidnap young German children. Most of these short stories conclude with a poem or anecdote, echoing an already established tradition in Nazi textbooks of combining blatant antisemitic attitudes with more familiar nationalist storylines.2 The illustrations and language of the stories also appear to draw inspiration from the tradition of German fairytales.

The Poisonous Mushroom was just one among several texts marketed to children that aimed to instill them with antisemitism.3 The book appears to have been successful, appearing in four printed editions and numbering a total of 40,000 copies. To promote it, Nazi publishing houses arranged for Rupprecht to paint a set of large murals based on the book and present them at exhibitions at banks, community halls, and other small venues throughout the country. Those events were popular, drawing in crowds of German attendees, particularly women and children. Such exhibitions increased the popularity of Der Giftpilz and further expanded its reach to children and adults alike.4

Margaret Eastwood, "Lessons in Hatred: The Indoctrination and Education of Germany's Youth," International Journal of Human Rights 15, no. 8 (2011): 1291–1314. 

Rupprecht also produced an antisemitic coloring book, apparently a further effort to foster anti-Jewish attitudes in young children. These illustrations may have been more palatable to a wide range of Germans than were the more crude and outrageous depictions in publications such as Der Stürmer.

For more examples, see Marie Corelli, "Poisoning Young Minds in Nazi Germany: Children and Propaganda in the Third Reich," Social Education 66, no. 4 (2002): 228.

To learn more about how the Nazi regime used propaganda, see the related Experiencing History collection, Nazi Propaganda and National Unity. For more primary sources on efforts to target Jewish people during the first several years of Nazi rule, see the Experiencing History collection, Exclusion of Jews in Nazi Germany.

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"Just as it is often very difficult to tell the poisonous from the edible mushrooms, it is often very difficult to recognize Jews as thieves and criminals..."

"Money is the god of the Jews. He commits the greatest crimes to earn money. He won't rest until he can sit on a great sack of money, until he has become king of money."

 "The Jewish nose is crooked at its tip. It looks like the number six..."

"Here, little ones, have some candy! But for that you will both have to come with me..."

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Accession Number 40001
Date Created
Author / Creator
Ernst Heimer
Philipp Rupprecht
Julius Streicher
Nuremberg, Germany
Document Type Manuscript
How to Cite Museum Materials

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