Why Did Hitler Target Jews

Why did Hitler want to kill Jews?

I have taught units on Holocaust literature for years, and yet still don't feel like I have a concise explanation that I can give students for why Hitler wanted to exterminate all of the Jews.

Can anyone help me to explain?

Expert Answers
booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My sense of Hitler's skewed view stems from his personal sense of insecurity, the abuse he suffered at the hands of his overly harsh father, and true mental illness.

Hilter's dream of creating a super-race seems ironic to me because Hitler was not a blonde-haired, blue-eyed example of "purity" himself, and yet he believed he could create a super-race by achieving racial purity.

Hitler's desire to be an artist was never realized, a grave disappointment to him. He traveled about, painting to make money; the economy was bad, and people competed strongly for jobs. Disappointment, financial struggles, etc., can push people over the edge, and Hitler may have been radically close to that edge to begin with. Hitler was becoming enamored with the socialist society in Austria, and research indicates that his hatred for the Jews began to intensify at this time. Perhaps it also came from things he heard growing up. Besides the Jews, Hitler targeted anyone else he felt would do damage to the "gene pool" he hoped to create. His ethnic cleansing included the Romanians (gypsies), Catholics, homosexuals, political dissenters, etc.

One thing is sure: when dealing with mental illness, nothing makes sense because the mentally ill do not see things the way the rest of the world does: they have a different reality and their own set of rules. It is amazing and horrifying that one man was able to lead a nation to kill so many innocent people.

larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think we make a mistake when we attribute the Holocaust to Hitler alone. As his been pointed out in earlier posts, anti-Semitism was ubiquitous in Europe. At an early age, Hitler was exposed to anti-Semitic literature. He was a great fan of the music of Richard Wagner who was an unrepentant anti-Semite. As a teenager, he often read a publication somewhat pornographic in nature known as Ostara, which was anti-Semitic in nature. Hitler was first and last a product of his time. No one man, no matter how charismatic, could have generated enough support for such a horrible project. Those who worked with him were as anti-Semitic as he, and were the product of anti-Semitic parents.

The main problem in Europe with the Jews is that they were first of all not Christian, and secondly insisted on preserving their own religious identity in dress, diet, and custom. They were always "outsiders," and scorned/despised accordingly.

For those interested, an excellent source to discuss Hitler's anti-Semitism and the Fuerherprinzep, read R.G.L. Waite's The Psychopathic God

Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Finding a rational explanation for madness is perhaps an impossible task, but Hitler's perverted exercise of political power is more understandable in its perpetration of evil.

Making the Jews scapegoats served a political purpose; it provided a "reason" for all of Germany's woes and directed post-World War I public fear and frustration toward a single target. Exterminating Jews also enriched the Third Reich financially; businesses and private assets were confiscated. Land, homes, and possessions were appropriated by the Nazis. This greed was carried to the most obscene extreme when gold teeth and fillings were "harvested" from the Jewish dead. Even now, some German families are locating and recovering family treasures once stolen by the Nazis.

No single, simple explanation can explain Hitler's determination to eradicate the Jewish people. It was a perfect storm of madness, hatred, political power, and naked greed.

justaguide eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think Amy has a very valid point here, and this is something that has been going on everywhere and I guess will continue to go on. Leaders, politicians, just about everyone who wants to gain a following but can't solve the problems that their followers may have, find this an easy way out. Find a scape goat. Preferably a relatively smaller group and one that is better off. Place the burden of all the misery on that group. And that's it.

The members whom you want to join your following feel you have redeemed them of their problems and provided a solution which they had never thought of. You have your following and they have something to do, even if it isn't something that is going to help them in any way.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hitler used the Jews as a target for the anger of the disenfranchised masses of Germany.  He repeatedly told them that the Jews were the reason that Germany had economic problems and why there wasn't enough food.  He had cartoons drawn to portray them in ugly ways to reinforce his ideas...it was very 1984 like...all to get rid of a people whom he looked down upon for various reasons--some of which are listed above. 

I don't know that any of us have the exact reason Hitler did it.  While I recognize Hitler's military and leadership prowess (and even his genius), I lean toward the fact that this man was a crazy sociopath.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think others have provided plenty of reasonable (there's an irony related to a Hitler discussion) explanations. However, it would probably make this more meaningful if you left this open to your students. Let them lead the discussion on why people "pick" on others, "look down" on others, even hate others. Guide them in making the connection of how these attitudes and perceptions can rapidly get out of control if left unchecked.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Was not the Jews lack of nationality and their claim to a separate race that was part of the issue? As such, Jews were, in Hitler's eyes, a threat, as they could never become fully involved in the national spirit that he was working so hard to stoke up. The fact that Jews had a claim to a shared heritage and identity that superceded any claim to belonging to a country made them a threat.

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hitler shared the views of many of his contemporaries (read up on eugenics if you want to find some of those contemporaries, but count Woodrow Wilson as one of them) that certain races were superior to others.  Hitler believed that cleansing Germany of the undesireable races would help them to return to glory.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Wow! Thank you all for so many answers. I will definitely need to look into this before I teach this unit again.
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This depends on what level you are talking about this -- why he said he wanted to kill Jews or what his "real" reasons were.

What Hitler talked about was the idea that Jews were a kind of subhuman who could only destroy civilizations.  He believed in a three-part categorization of human beings.  Aryans, at the top, were the only ones able to create civilizations.  They were called "culture-creating" people.  The next category was "culture-bearing" people like Latins and some Asians -- they could maintain a culture once it was created but could not make their own.  Finally, there were "culture-destroying" people like blacks and Jews.  They would destroy cultures out of incompetence and malice and greed.

Hitler believed that Germany had become infested with too many Jews and that was why it was no longer able to hold its "rightful" dominant place in the world.  This is why he wanted to get rid of Jews.

Here's a link to a part of Mein Kampf where he talks about this.


The relevant portion begins

If we were to divide mankind into three groups, the foundersof culture, the bearers of culture, the destroyers of culture, only the Aryan could be considered as the representative of the first group.

Now... as far as why he would believe such a thing... that's beyond me.  I don't do psychological analysis of historical figures, though many people are happy to try.

Here is a video on the subject:

flyguy860 | Student

Something not discussed because of the contrevarsy is that Hitler knew that the jews were not who they claimed to be. JEWS... They were a caucasian people, not Semetic people. Hitler did research and made documentaries about the idegenous people's of africa holding the "customs" they hold. He also was a white supremacist, in which drove him to find out why they were keeping the heritage or customs of "oriental negroes". But, he showed documentaries about how the semetic lineage was traced back to the oriental negroes, the afro asiatic(hebrew) people who were TAKEN to west africa to be deported as slaves. Hametic people's help capture and sell the Shemetic people's. My references are the books The Nazis World War II pg. 132,  From Babylon to Timbuktu, Nature Knows No Color Line, and the Dictionary under the words hebrew, Afro-asiatic, Semetic, and etc... Also the bible in Revelation 2:9. Am I anti-semetic? No!!! Hitler was not a great man but he did show his people the truth about who the people who called themselves jews were and who the true descendants of the tribe of Judah were. This, your students will never accept and you could lose your job for teaching this information. But you can either help or harm some people. It truly are a people in this world that have been stripped of everything they know and are ignorant to the fact of where they came from causing them to act in an ignorant state of manner.

crystaltu001 | Student

Hitler thought the Jews were a threat because they were taking over the good jobs and were very successful. They were a very populated community. Hitler worried that they might over power the government so he wanted to destroy them in any way possible.

moustacio | Student

The Jews were one of the largest minority groups in Germany that were not only financially successful, but also disproportionately well-represented. They remained largely a separate community, refusing to assimilate but still retaining much influence in society due to their wealth and standing. Anti-Semitic sentiments, which were already present in German society, was thus taken to a higher level. Hitler consistently viewed the Jews as a cosmopolitan diaspora that were the parasites of society and a potent force that refused to integrate into the societies they lived in. He believed that they would in turn manipulate governments into waging war against Germany since it was in their interests to do so. Thus, he saw it as necessary that Jews be made to pay the price by destroying them through whatever means possible.

truthseekah | Student

It's easy to fall into the trap that Adolf Hitler was a "monster" and speculate why one could be so cruel.  While I do believe Hitler was a sociopath to a certain degree, I don't feel it can be explained by genetics or upbringing.  Many view him as the origin of the mindset of the Nazis, but I veiw him as a pawn, or maybe a knight.  The old adage of "follow the money" should be used here. Where was Hitler getting his funding?  Primarily his money came from the German bank which was controlled by the Rothchilds. The Rothschilds also owned the German news agencies during both World Wars and thus controlled the flow of "information" to Germans and the outside world.

The first instinct is to discount Rothschilds involvement to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust as being utterly absurd due to their being Jewish.  While their Jewish lineage is in question (see Russian Khazars), they are intimately linked to many wars and often funding both sides.  Among these are the French Revolution, War of 1812, American Civil War (tharted by Lincoln and Tsar of Russia), Bolshevik Revolution, both World Wars, etc., etc.  The Rothschilds are more than opportunistic, they are manipulative tirants with more control over the world than many want to believe.

This video is very revealing into the Rothschild involvement in US History.


jenniferlovesnerds | Student

He did not want to kill Jews only. He believed that the Aryan race is superior to other races, and wanted to "cleanse" his world for them by killing what he considered inferior, undesirable or dangerous people. During the Holocaust, He killed around 17 million people only a quarter was Jews. According to Wikipedia: his victims included Asians, Poles, Slavic people, Africans, gypsies, prisoners of war, Jews, homosexuals, mentally ill and disabled people. But as time goes by, the Jews talked about the event as if they are the only victims, and it was associated with them even though they were not the majority.

Murderous greed.
In addition, Adolf Hitler had his eyes and intent specifically on the Jewish religion. He studied and knew their culture, ways of life, and their systematic ways of doing business.


ameripak95 | Student

Hitler used the jews as a scapegoat. The german economy was failing at the time and hitler needed a way to make it look as if it wasnt the governments fault. he did that by using propaganda to make a generaly rich class of people already hated by a percentage of the population look evil. The german government was then able to confiscate thier goods and money. That plus money spent on the war built up the economy and reinforced the idea that getting rid of the jewish people meant a more stable government.

thegamecreator | Student

there is a word missing in the second last paragraph.

it is meant to say: 'getting rid of unwanted criminals'


again please message me for another queries relating to Ancient/ Modern Israel and the Holocaust.

thegamecreator | Student
Why did Hitler want to kill Jews?

I have taught units on Holocaust literature for years, and yet still don't feel like I have a concise explanation that I can give students for why Hitler wanted to exterminate all of the Jews.

Can anyone help me to explain?

let me begin with this, I am a Jew and I do tell this freely. I went on a six week program for Jewish 16 year olds only. We were told many things about Israel, Jews and the Holocaust.

Since your question is about the Holocaust, I will summarise in a few words what we were told otherwise I would have to right 5 of these messages (no joke). I understand that you have problems with this topic so my advice is this:

1.Go to The Jewish Museum and get a Holocaust survivor to talk about their experience and

2. Watch the movie Defiance and a documentry about The Warsaw Uprising.

Back to the answer, originally Hitler did not want to kill them but just to get rid of them. There was a meeting once about what to do about the Jewish population in Germany at that time. Reperentatives came from major countries and only a small part of the Jewish population was to be taken to another country. The rest he had to find another way to get rid of them. Thats were ghettos and concentration camps came in. We know the rest of the history on that.

Just so all you readers know, concentration camps were originally used for getting criminals.

If you have any further questions, please send me a message. I will be glad to answer them.

tradecraft | Student

I think others have provided plenty of reasonable (there's an irony related to a Hitler discussion) explanations. However, it would probably make this more meaningful if you left this open to your students. Let them lead the discussion on why people "pick" on others, "look down" on others, even hate others. Guide them in making the connection of how these attitudes and perceptions can rapidly get out of control if left unchecked.

However, it would probably make this more meaningful if you left this open to your students. Let them lead the discussion on why people "pick" on others, "look down" on others, even hate others. Guide them in making the connection of how these attitudes and perceptions can rapidly get out of control if left unchecked.

I think the above response provides way too much credit for students to come up with an answer. Such "connections" don't just happen! Hitlers actions are much different from a:

discussion on why people "pick" on others, "look down" on others, even hate others.

I also find it disturbing how history is continually being revised and becoming further from the truth in schools. The curriculums that are being designed today are a pathetic example of liberal bias and political correctness. Some countries want to completely eliminate teaching about the Holocaust. Many history books fail to mention the relationship between Islam and 9/11. History must remain factual to remain relevant. Sadly this seems to not being applied!

Students should not be left to come up with their versions of history or teachers will be failing at their jobs.

prashant86 | Student

Some would say, that when Hitler got rejected from the Art School he wanted to join, he got mad, and some other people say that the person who rejected him at the school was Jewish.

The real deal, is that Hitler wrote Mein Kamf during his time in jail, supposedly he blamed the Jews for everything, including the loss of WW1. I think it is a political way for him to be in control and rally more people he support his idea of taking the Jews out and blaming him. Since people, after WW1 were very depressed and wrecked, he would then need to rise and take over Germany, and plan revenge on the Allies and what they did to Germany, also known as WW2.
Another common belief is that Hitler's dad was very abusive and life threatening, his mother couldn't do anything, and he would get abused a lot. He might've gotten his bad habits and easy temper from his dad.

violet-rose | Student

Hitler belonged did not belong to the jews. He saw that the jews were taking over the country's economy ,occupying almost all the good jobs,and slowly coming to control over the country. He saw them as selfish people who would not share their wealth. He did not like this happening and therefore organized a holocaust to kill them !

jojo56 | Student

Sixth reason: On one hand, this is one of history’s great unknowns. Did Hitler intend genocide all along? That is plausible, especially as the landless Jews had become entrenched in the financial industry. But Hitler’s first mass murders were directed against the Poles and it was not until Hitler began Operation Barbarossa in the east that the death camps moved into high gear. Opening a second front was a fatal error for Hitler. It is here where functionality comes in. Hitler needed supply lines and materials. The concentration camps were a drain on his overextended warzone. And so the killings began on a massive scale.

I think it is important to note that Hitler liked the process of othering and killing. Yes, by far, the Jews got the worst of it. But no non-Aryan group was spared. The Wash DC Holocaust Museum has done a tremendous job of including all those who had been othered.

Just something to ponder, Anne Frank died of typhus in Bergen-Belsen one month after the war was over.

jojo56 | Student

Fifth Reason: Germany was hit hard by the reparations the Allies called for after WWI. Close to 40% of all Germans were unemployed and inflation was nearing triple-digits daily. Hitler got the Allies to demand less and then created an economic miracle PM Thatcher would later mimic. Hitler threw all Jews out of the workplace, all men under the age of 26 became conscripts, women were only allowed to work in a very few jobs, and, like the Jews, all Communists, gays, lesbians, deviant artists of all sorts, and one of the two nascent feminist groups were dismissed from the workforce (the other feminist group became Hitler groupies. No more unemployment problem. Thatcher did something similar when the UK’s unemployment hit 19%. She simply declared more than ½ of the unemployed to be disabled. It cost a bundle as disability payments are higher than unemployment benefits, but it meant she didn’t have to devalue the pound. In any event, Hitler got away with his devious economic scheme and also gave an indication of who he was willing to later kill.

jojo56 | Student

Can I make this more complicated? ;-) First reason: for centuries Jews had been forbidden to own land in Eastern Europe. Yes, some became kosher butchers, but many more acted as feudal manor managers. That meant that when the real feudal lord wanted to raise rents, his manager was charged with the task. To deflect violence away from them, the lords would encourage pogroms. That transformed the Jews, already disenfranchised, into the category of the other even more strongly. Second reason: Hitler was much like the Social Darwinists in the USA, who forcibly sterilized the "unfit" in pursuit of a utopian world. Third reason:  Hitler was born into an anti-Jewish society. That's where I think people over-read Mein Kampf. Hitler makes only a single statement about killing Jews, something along the lines if 20K Jews had been killed, WWI would have been worth it. 20K is not 6 million. Remember, too, that many of us were alive when the Catholic Church "forgave" the Jews for acts committed by the Romans. Fourth reason: like Marx, Hitler did believe in the perfectibility of man. But those who espoused Marxism went against all of Hitler's utopian dreams. There is a WWII Army film meant for inductees into the US military in which Hitler odd vision of geography is exposed. I think some of Hitler's worldview was colored by the fact that, despite its fast economic take-off, Germany had unified too late to be a colonial power.

user8707637 | Student

The Jews were killed because they were (and are) greedy, gold-loving, soulless parasites, without any moral fibre or physical prowess. They were a genetically stagnant smirch on the proud people of Northern Europe. 

sarthakp | Student

Actually, the real reasons were

1. When Hitler was at teenage, he used sell paintings, as the jews didn't respect him , he felt hatred for jews

2.Hitler had love for his country and he had a image that jews were from other countries and were looting the wealth of germany

riya-varshney | Student

Because Hitler thinks that Jews were responsible for the defeat of Germany in World War 1st.

doni2633 | Student

His Idea was to inffiltrate the world and make Germany as the new world wide super power country,and almost did it.


m31-ssa | Student

Many of the Jews were doing well during Germany's most impoverished period. The hatred surely emerged from Jealousy and envy. It's also possible that the richer Jews displayed  arrogance towards those suffering. Perhaps if the richer Jews had been more charitable, loving and giving Hitler would have not been able to ignite the Aryan's animosity to the point of genocide.

tshnickens | Student

I believe Hitler didn't act on his own but was nothing but a puppet of his higher masters as most so called leaders are. This crazy fuck was easily tricked into fulfilling the agenda of his puppeteers. This man did not have the intelligence to pull off what all of us are convinced he did without guidance. He merely accomidated the true objective which was to purify the Jewish people by the mass genocide of convert Jews. The end result of this was Isreal. Palestinians had nothing to do with this conflict yet they had to give their homeland up for the offenses of the nazi regime. Absolute madnes. Period. 

colingledhill | Student

I won't ramble, I will state the following topics to be examined.  


Pre, and Post Millennialism   

Mormonism and its mother, Freemasonry.


Central Banking



Fredrick the Greats military motivation

Bible Prophesy

In my opinion Hitler wanted the aspirations of Christianity as per "thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven", Lords prayer fulfilment to be something he helped established.  

His tools were destructive, counter productive, and failed.  The groups he targeted outside of culling the old, sick, and weak that didn't benefit the state in his mind, where zionist groups, and the idea of a rebuilt nation of Israel bringing forth a "messiah" that could set up a kingdom of G-d on earth based on Jewish law, only after a series of major calamities probably didn't sit well with him.

The idea of using force will never create any kingdom on earth, it's a dream that's been manipulated for over 2,000 years.  One war feeding the next, with power being fought over between the warrior, and the priest within each nation, until we are where we are.

Islam envisions a kingdom created, and based on their volume of sacred law.

Judaism envisions a kingdom created, and based on their volume of sacred law.

Christianity, even after their leader said the kingdom was found inside them, still envisions a kingdom created, and based on Judaism's volume of sacred law. 

Like radical Islam, we witnessed a faith based, lets follow the contract, then after it's all done, peace on earth good will to all men after "he" roots out the wicked, and rules with an iron rod.

emtheawesome | Student

There are actually many theories as to why he wanted to kill the Jews. Some people say it's because a Jew abused his mother. Others say that it's because a Jewish doctor accidentally overdosed and killed his mother. However, other people also say that he blamed the Jews for Germany's loss in World War 1, but I think that is just a cover he made to convince the people that the Jews were evil people.

tachoma | Student

      Hitler was a wanna-be. He looked around and saw what was successful and borrowed from it. Hitler was a white supremist. His decision to sterilize people he felt were unfit came from the eugenics movement of the 20's in the US. He borrowed fasism from Mussolini. As well as the salute fancy uniforms,(designed by Hugo Boss) title fürer (leader). From the Communist he borrowed the red they used in their brand. He wanted to copy the American manifest destination and expand the Germany people into Russia. He justified this by how Americans slaughter the Indians. On January 20th, 1942 Reinhard Heydrick met with 15 Germany officials to discuss "The Jewish Question" and "The final solution" Thus began the Nazis state sponsored mass murder. When the Germany invaded Russia, the stole blonde hair/blue eyed children from their parents. The children were imported back to Germany to be raised as Aryans. Hitler stated that the Slovak people were subhuman yet he steal their children. He systematically made the whole world his enemy. And killed himself before he would take any responsibility for his actions or his bad decision.

     During the Nuremberg Trials most of the top Nazis didn't want to take responsibility for their roles in the holocaust.