Nazi rally
Nazi rally in Germany, 1936 Getty Images

The Nazi's were "extremely successful" at instilling anti-Semitic beliefs in the German population in the build-up to the Second World War, new research has claimed.

The new research, which looked at the strength of Nazi propaganda, shows that 5% of the total German population are "extreme" anti-Semites – those who answered in a very anti-Semitic fashion to three different questions about attitudes towards Jews.

However, this proportion doubles to around 10% when targeted at those who grew up under the Nazi regime, according to the findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"This is the first major finding; growing up under the Nazi's makes people much more anti-Semitic," Nico Voigtlaender from the University of California and co-author of the study told IBTimes UK.

"This suggests that the Nazi's were extremely successful at instilling these anti-Semitic beliefs in the population," said Voigtlaender.

The strength of the anti-Semitism also stems from the political history in the regions in which German's grew up in.

Voigtlaender adds: "What we found was that where there are deeper historical roots of anti-Semitism - as measured by where people had voted for anti-Semitic parties in the 1890s - the Nazi's were particularly successful at creating additional anti-Semitic sentiment."

For example, the survey of 5,300 respondents in 264 towns or cities, as part of an ALLBUS survey, shows that only 10% of the Hamburg population disagreed with the sentiment "Jews living in Germany should have equal rights with Germans in all respects" whereas this stretched to 48% of people living in lower Bavaria which has a history of anti-Jewish sentiment.

This supports the theory that anti-Semitism has been passed down through the generations.

Joachim Voth, co-author from the University of Zurich, told IBTimes UK: "In general we know that parents are pretty good at passing down their views to their children, and that's why in some locations anti-Semitism was raging."

However, he adds that the indoctrination from the Nazi's, such as the compulsory extra-curricular activity like the Hitler Youth, was a massive part of the Nazi's success – instilling these views at a young age, with the effects seemingly difficult to reverse.

"Our findings also imply that once people have changed their views, they don't really go back. Even when they're 75 and they've spent 40 years in a perfectly pleasant democratic place, they're still strongly influenced by all the hatred that's been spread in school," Voth continued.

The pair conclude in their report: "Our findings demonstrate that beliefs of Germans in their first decades of life were strongly malleable. Using data on racial attitudes today, more than half a century after the end of the Third Reich, we show that propaganda and schooling were highly effective in changing attitudes and beliefs of those growing up under the Nazis.

"The fact that Nazi indoctrination was particularly effective in areas where anti-Semitic beliefs were already widespread suggests that confirmation bias may play an important role in intensifying attitudes toward minorities."