The Nazi boycott of Jewish shops in 1933

Anti-Semitic propaganda in the Nazi era had a life-long effect on Germans long after they were schooled during that time, a study has shown.

Those taught during this period were left harbouring negative views towards Jews, compared to those educated before or after that period, researchers in the United States and Switzerland have shown.

After a detailed review of social surveys between 1996 and 2006, covering 5,300 people across Germany, analysts found that those born in the 1930s still held the most extreme anti-Semitic opinions decades after Nazi rule.

It shows that attempts to influence public attitudes are most effective when they target young people, particularly if the message confirms existing beliefs, the authors said.

“If you subject people to a totalitarian regime during their formative years it will influence the way their mind works,” said Hans-Joachim Voth of the University of Zurich. “The striking thing is that it doesn’t go away afterward.”

Nazi educators wove anti-Semitic propaganda into all subjects and every extra-curricular activity, even sending students trawling through church records for the names of Jewish families who recently converted to Christianity.