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Rhonda Spivak in Courtroom 600, Nuremberg Palace of Justice, Germany

Nuremberg Palace of Justice
photo by Rhonda Spivak

Nuremberg Palace of Justice
photo by Rhonda Spivak


by Rhonda Spivak, Feb 20, 2022

When Julius Streicher, who was one of the ten  high-ranking Nazis sentenced to death at the Nuremberg trials went to the gallows, his last dying words were "Purim Fest." Only moments before Streicher was hung on October 16, 1946, Newsweek reported: " He stared at the witnesses facing the gallows and shouted  "Purimfest, 1946." I became interested in understanding what was in Streicher's mind when he said this after I visited the famous courtroom 600 at Nuremberg's Palace of Justice where the trials took place.
Although many perceived these comments as the mad rant of a lunatic who was convicted of crimes against humanity, it 's worth examining  what Streicher meant. He certainly appears to have been aware of the Purim story which tells of the attempted genocide against the Jews that Haman planned, and how, when his plans were defeated, Haman and his ten sons were hanged. It appears that rather amazingly, Streicher was making a historic link between the Nazi genocide and  the attempted genocide by Haman, who, like the Nazis, also wanted to wipe out the entire Jewish people.
Stricher,was the founder and publisher of the anti-Semetic newspaper Der Stürmer, which became a significant part of the Nazi propaganda machine.The day after the Kristallnacht attack on November 10, 1938Streicher gave a speech  which referenced the Jewsh holiday of Purim. He proclaimed, “Just as the Jews butchered 75,000 Persians in one night, the same fate would have befallen the German people had the Jews succeeded in inciting a war against Germany . . . the Jews would have instituted a new Purim festival in Germany.”
As Rabbi Michael Samuel has written, "During the Holocaust years, Purim celebrations were forbidden to the Jews. Christians and Jews could not even own the book of Esther. Such decrees did not stop the Nazis from poking fun at the Jews on this Jewish holiday. With diabolical glee, the Nazis frequently orchestrated special killings with the Jewish festivals. On Purim in 1942, the Nazis hanged ten Jews in Zdunka Wola to avenge the hanging of Haman’s sons. Similar incidents occurred in the Piotrkow ghetto and in Czestochowa and Radom." (
 As Rabbi Samuel points out " Although Streicher’s execution did not occur on the Purim holiday itself, he perceived an irony here that nobody else noticed at the time. Ten Nazi leaders had been condemned and executed for their crimes against the Jewish people and humanity; their mode of execution was hanging, much like the ten sons of Haman were executed by hanging in the Purim story."  (  Note: Eleven men in fact had been sentenced ot death at the first Nuremberg trial but Hermann Goering committed suicide before his death sentence was carried out)
As Rabbi Samuel concludes, it appears  that  in Streicher’s twisted view of the world, he uttered the words "Purim Fest" since he believed that  the Jews would celebrate his death and the death of his nine fellow Nazis as a new Purim Festival. 
In May of 1924,  Streicher had authored  and published an article on Purim titled "Das Purimfest" (The Festival of Purim). We can surmise that in order to publish his venomous  attack Streicher must have had some knowledge about the Purim narrative. ( As an aside, Steicher complained throughout the process at Nuremberg that all the judges judging him at the Nuremberg trial were Jews. )
It's also interesting to note that   Streicher 's hanging took place on October 16, 1946, which corresponded on  the Jewish calendar to 21 Tishri, 5707. This day was the seventh day of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, the day called Hoshana Rabba. According to Judaism, this day represents the day on which G-d seals the verdicts of Rosh Hashana for the coming year. 
Moreover, since the Nuremberg trials were a military tribunal, the method of execution was usually by firing squad or electric chair as was the practice in the United States. However, the tribunal decided to prescribe hanging. As Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair notes, "Esther’s request 'Let Haman's ten sons be hanged' echoes down the ages." (

Also of interest is the fact that the book of Esther recorded that Haman's ten sons had been hanged on a tree (Esther 9:14). As Rabbi Samuels points out "The Hebrew word for a tree is eitz, which is also “wood” in English. The hangman at Nuremberg was named John C. Woods, an American army officer."

On the other hand, Ephraim Rubin has written that  the Nuremberg trials ought not to be linked to the book of Esther. As Rubin notes:

"In general, seeking parallels between the Nuremberg trial and the story of the Book of Esther is a most unprofitable business. The Nazis were tried for war crimes--not only for destroying the Jews, but even for instigating wars of aggression--a crime according to international law. Even the charge of mass murder of civilians was not limited to the Jews alone, but included other populations whom the Germans did not care for (Gypsies, for example). The Nazi leaders were tried for very specific crimes which actually took place, but what had Haman's sons done? This mystery has no solution. The Book of Esther, in any case, says nothing on the matter, and the impression given is that their only sin was that of being the sons of the man who planned to kill the Jews." (

It appears that rather amazingly, Streicher was aware of  the historic link between the Nazi genocide and  the attempted genocide by Haman, who, like the Nazis, also wanted to wipe out the entire Jewish people.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

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