Germans who grew up during the 1930s are far more likely than their younger countrymen to have negative attitudes about Jews, according to a new study of anti-Semitism in Germany.
The study, released Monday by American and Swiss researchers, found that anti-Semitic views were particularly strong among Germans raised in regions of the country that were known for anti-Semitism even before Hitler came to power, The Associated Press reported.
According to the researchers, who analyzed surveys conducted in 1996 and 2006, the findings indicated that Nazi propaganda was highly effective, especially when it confirmed existing beliefs.
“It’s not just that Nazi schooling worked, that if you subject people to a totalitarian regime during their formative years it will influence the way their mind works,” Hans-Joachim Voth of the University of Zurich, one of the study’s authors, told AP. “The striking thing is that it doesn’t go away afterward.”
Voth added that the propaganda was particularly effective when “the overall environment where children grew up was already a bit anti-Semitic. It tells you that indoctrination can work, it can last to a surprising extent, but the way it works has to be compatible to something people already believe.”