Summary and Info
Attempts at modifying public opinions, attitudes, and beliefs rangefrom advertising and schooling to “brainwashing.” Their effective-ness is highly controversial. In this paper, we use survey data on anti-Semitic beliefs and attitudes in a representative sample of Germanssurveyed in 1996 and 2006 to show that Nazi indoctrination––withits singular focus on fostering racial hatred––was highly effective.Between 1933 and 1945, young Germans were exposed to anti-Se-mitic ideology in schools, in the (extracurricular) Hitler Youth, andthrough radio, print, and film. As a result, Germans who grew upunder the Nazi regime are much more anti-Semitic than those bornbefore or after that period: the share of committed anti-Semites,who answer a host of questions about attitudes toward Jews inan extreme fashion, is 2–3 times higher than in the population as awhole. Results also hold for average beliefs, and not just the share ofextremists; average views of Jews are much more negative amongthose born in the 1920s and 1930s. Nazi indoctrination was mosteffective where it could tap into preexisting prejudices; those bornin districts that supported anti-Semitic parties before 1914 show thegreatest increases in anti-Jewish attitudes. These findings demon-strate the extent to which beliefs can be modified through policyintervention. We also identify parameters amplifying the effective-ness of such measures, such as preexisting prejudices.
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