Jews in Nazi Germany

At the beginning of the 19th centuty there was a considerable amount of anti-Semitism in Europe. This was reflected in the speeches and writings of Adolf Hitler. In the 25 point programme drawn up by Hitler and Anton Drexler in 1920 for the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) it stated that "Citizenship is to be determined by race; no Jew to be a German."

In Mein Kampf Hitler argued that the German (he wrongly described them as the Aryan race) was superior to all others. He went on to say that Aryan superiority was being threatened particularly by the Jewish race who, he argued, were lazy and had contributed little to world civilization. (Hitler ignored the fact that some of his favourite composers and musicians were Jewish). He claimed that the "Jewish youth lies in wait for hours on end satanically glaring at and spying on the unconscious girl whom he plans to seduce, adulterating her blood with the ultimate idea of bastardizing the white race which they hate and thus lowering its cultural and political level so that the Jew might dominate."

According to Adolf Hitler, Jews were responsible for everything he did not like, including modern art, pornography and prostitution. Hitler also alleged that the Jews had been responsible for losing the First World War. Hitler also claimed that Jews, who were only about 1% of the population, were slowly taking over the country. They were doing this by controlling the largest political party in Germany, the German Social Democrat Party, many of the leading companies and several of the country's newspapers. The fact that Jews had achieved prominent positions in a democratic society was, according to Hitler, an argument against democracy: "a hundred blockheads do not equal one man in wisdom."

German Jews and Communism

Hitler believed that the Jews were involved with Communists in a joint conspiracy to take over the world. Like Henry Ford, Hitler claimed that 75% of all Communists were Jews. Hitler argued that the combination of Jews and Marxists had already been successful in Russia and now threatened the rest of Europe. He argued that the communist revolution was an act of revenge that attempted to disguise the inferiority of the Jews.

Jews in Nazi Germany

Once in power Hitler was quick to express anti-Semitic ideas. Based on his readings of how blacks were denied civil rights in the southern states in America, Hitler attempted to make life so unpleasant for Jews in Germany that they would emigrate. The campaign started on 1st April, 1933, when a one-day boycott of Jewish-owned shops took place. Members of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) picketed the shops to ensure the boycott was successful.

The hostility of towards Jews increased in Germany. This was reflected in the decision by many shops and restaurants not to serve the Jewish population. Placards saying "Jews not admitted" and "Jews enter this place at their own risk" began to appear all over Germany. In some parts of the country Jews were banned from public parks, swimming-pools and public transport.

Germans were also encouraged not to use Jewish doctors and lawyers. Jewish civil servants, teachers and those employed by the mass media were sacked. Members of the SA put pressure on people not to buy goods produced by Jewish companies. For example, the Ullstein Press, the largest publisher of newspapers, books and magazines in Germany, was forced to sell the company to the NSDAP in 1934 after the actions of the SA had made it impossible for them to make a profit.

Many Jewish people now left the country. This included a large number of scientists including Albert Einstein, Edward Teller, Otto Frisch, Felix Bloch, Eugene Wigner, Leo Szilard, Lise Meitner, Otto Meyerhof, and Fritz Haber. Most of these scientists went to live in Britain and the United States and later played an important role in developing technology that was used against Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

Nuremberg Laws

The number of Jews emigrating increased after the passing of the Nuremberg Laws on Citizenship and Race in 1935. Under this new law Jews could no longer be citizens of Germany. It was also made illegal for Jews to marry Aryans.

The pressure on Jews to leave Germany intensified. Hitler, Joseph Goebbels and Reinhard Heydrich organized a new programme designed to encourage Jews to emigrate. Crystal Night took place on 9th-10th November, 1938. Presented as a spontaneous reaction of the German people to the news that a German diplomat had been murdered by a young Jewish refugee in Paris, the whole event was in fact organized by the NSDAP.

Crystal Night

During Crystal Night over 7,500 Jewish shops were destroyed and 400 synagogues were burnt down. Ninety-one Jews were killed and an estimated 20,000 were sent to concentration camps. Up until this time these camps had been mainly for political prisoners. The only people who were punished for the crimes committed on Crystal Night were members of the Sturm Abteilung (SA) who had raped Jewish women (they had broken the Nuremberg Laws on sexual intercourse between Aryans and Jews).

After Crystal Night the numbers of Jews wishing to leave Germany increased dramatically. It has been calculated that between 1933 and 1939, approximately half the Jewish population of Germany (250,000) left the country. This included several Jewish scientists who were to play an important role in the fight against fascism during the war. A higher number of Jews would have left but anti-Semitism was not restricted to Germany and many countries were reluctant to take them.

Bernhard Rust, minister of education, also purged the universities of Jews. Over a thousand people lost their jobs. Rust justified his actions by claiming that: "We must have a new Aryan generation at the universities, or else we will lose the future."

The Final Solution

By the end of 1941 over 500,000 Jews in Poland and Russia had been killed by the Schutz Staffeinel (SS). At the Wannsee Conference held in January 1942, Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Muller, Adolf Eichmann and Roland Friesler discussed what became known as the Final Solution. It was eventually decided to make the extermination of the Jews a systematically organized operation. After this date extermination camps were established in the east that had the capacity to kill large numbers including Belzec (15,000 a day), Sobibor (20,000), Treblinka (25,000) and Majdanek (25,000).

It has been estimated that between 1942 and 1945 a total of 18 million were sent to extermination camps. Of these, historians have estimated that between five and eleven million were killed.

Primary Sources

((1) Adolf Hitler, The Road to Resurgence (1927)

Instead of raising aloft the merits of race and nation, millions of our people pay homage to the idea of internationally.

The strength and genius of the individual person are, in line with the absurd nature of democracy, being set aside in favour of majority rule, which amounts to nothing more than weakness and stupidity.

And rather than recognize and affirm the necessity of struggle, people are preaching theories of pacifism, reconciliation among nations and eternal peace.

These three outrages against mankind, which we can recognize through all history as the true signs of decadence in races and states, and whose more zealous propagandist is the international Jew, are the characteristic symptoms of Marxism which is progressively gaining a hold on our people.

(2) Joseph Goebbels, diary (1st April, 1933)

The boycott against the international atrocity propaganda has burst forth in full force in Berlin and the whole Reich. I drive along the Tauentzien Street in order to observe the situation. All Jewish businesses are closed. SA men are posted outside their entrances. The public has everywhere proclaimed its solidarity. The discipline is exemplary. An imposing performance! It all takes place in complete quiet; in the Reich too.

In the afternoon 150,000 Berlin workers marched to the Lustgarten, to join us in the protest against the incitement abroad. There is indescribable excitement in the air. The press is already operating in total unanimity. The boycott is a great moral victory for Germany. We have shown the world abroad that we can call up the entire nation without thereby causing the least turbulence or excesses. The Fuhrer has once more struck the right note. At midnight the boycott will be broken off by our own decision. We are now waiting for the resultant echo in the foreign press and propaganda.

(3) Victor Klemperer, diary (10th March, 1933)

Ever more hopeless. The boycott begins tomorrow. Yellow placards, men on guard. Pressure to pay Christian employees two months salary, to dismiss Jewish ones. No reply to the impressive letter of the Jews to the President of the Reich and to the government.

No one dares make a move. The Dresden student body made a declaration today and the honour of German students forbids them to come into contact with Jews. They are not allowed to enter the Student House. How much Jewish money went towards this Student House only a few years ago!

In Munich Jewish University teachers have already been prevented from setting foot in the University. The proclamation and injunction of the boycott committee decrees "Religion is immaterial", only race matters. If, in the case of the owners of a business, the husband is Jewish, the wife Christian or the other way round, then the business counts as Jewish.

(4) Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour (15th September, 1935)

Imbued with the insight that the purity of German blood is prerequisite for the continued existence of the German people and inspired by the inflexible will to ensure the existence of the German nation for all times, the Reichstag has unanimously adopted the following law, which is hereby promulgated:

(1) Marriages between Jews and subjects of German or kindred blood are forbidden. Marriages nevertheless concluded are invalid, even if concluded abroad to circumvent this law.

(2) Only the state attorney may initiate the annulment suit.

Extramarital intercourse between Jews and subjects of German or kindred blood is forbidden.

Jews must not employ in their households female subjects of German or kindred blood who are under forty-five years old.

(1) Jews are forbidden to fly the Reich and national flag and to display the Reich colors.

(2) They are, on the other hand, allowed to display the Jewish colors. The exercise of this right enjoys the protection of the state.

(5) Statement issued by the National Representation of the Jews in Germany in response to the passing of the Nuremberg Laws (24th September, 1935)

The laws decided upon by the Reichstag in Nuremberg have come as the heaviest of blows for the Jews in Germany. But they must create a basis on which a tolerable relationship becomes possible between the German and the Jewish

people. The National Representation of the Jews in Germany is willing to contribute to this end with all its powers. A precondition for such a tolerable relationship is the hope that the Jews and the Jewish communities of Germany will be

enabled to keep a moral and economic means of existence by the halting of defamation and boycott.

The most urgent tasks for the National Representation of the Jews in Germany, which it will press energetically and with full commitment, following the avenues it has previously taken, are:

1. Our own Jewish educational system must serve to prepare the youth to become upright Jews, secure in their faith, who will draw the strength to face the onerous demands which life will make on them from conscious solidarity with the Jewish community, from work for the Jewish present and faith in the Jewish future. In addition to transmitting knowledge, the Jewish schools must also serve in the systematic preparation for future occupations. With regard to preparation for emigration, particularly to Palestine, emphasis will be placed on guidance toward manual work and the study of the Hebrew language. The education and vocational training of girls must be directed to preparing them to carry out their responsibilities as upholders of the family and mothers of the next generation. An independent cultures structure must offer possibilities of employment to Jews who are artistically and culturally creative, and serve the separate cultural life of the Jews in Germany.

2. The increased need for emigration will be served by large-scale planning, firstly with respect to Palestine, but also to all other available countries, with particular attention to young people. This includes study of additional possibilities for emigration, training in professions suited for emigrants, particularly agriculture and technical skills; the creation of ways and means to mobilize and liquidate the property of persons who are economically independent; the broadening of existing means of transferring property and the creation of additional such means.

3. Support and care of the needy, sick or aged must be assured through further systematic expansion of the Jewish welfare services provided by the communities to supplement government social services.

4. An impoverished community cannot carry out these varied and difficult tasks. The National Representation of the Jews in Germany will try by every means to safeguard the economic position of the Jews by seeking to protect the existing means of livelihood. Those who are economically weak will be assisted by the further development of economic aids as employment bureaus, economic advice, and personal or mortgage loans.

(6) Westbrook Pegler, Suffer Little Children (1936)

The most pathetic victims of Adolf Hitler's slow massacre of the Jews in Germany are the children of the Jews who are too young to know what it is all about. These children are subjected to a method of torture far worse than the baby killing which was charged against the German infantry in the early days of the Great War in cartoons depicting little bodies wriggling on the bayonets of the marching armies.

It finally was shown that the German soldier, Michael, as he was called at home, was the soul of kindness, who often shared his rations with the waifs behind the Belgian lines, and reasonable people on the Allies' side of the fight ultimately admitted that the charge was false.

But it will be impossible ever to disprove the atrocities which are being perpetrated on the children of the Jews under the orders of Adolf Hitler as a policy of the German government of today.

The Chinese have a method of torture known as the death of a thousand cuts, in which the executioner is rated according to his ability to hack and mutilate the victim without permitting him to die until the maximum of suffering has been inflicted. They have a very good photograph of an execution by this method in the Chamber of Horrors in Madam Tussaud's Museum in London, but most people coming upon it unsuspectingly turn away revolted, and only the most morbid visitor lingers for a second glance.

Hitler's torture of the Jewish children is even more ingenious, however, for he has invented a way to convert the period of childhood into a term of unrelieved sorrow, fear, dread and suffering. It is commonly accepted among the civilized peoples of the world that any man who would inflict suffering on a child, wantonly or for the purpose of avenging some offense, real or imaginary, attributed to the child's parents, or for any other reason, is not quite right mentally and ought to be put away.

We had a case of that kind in New York. An old man tortured and killed a little girl for the pleasure it gave him, and public opinion pretty well agreed that he was insane. But even in that case the suffering of the little girl was of short duration. Then she was dead. Hitler's little victims, however, are not allowed to die. They have no such luck. Hitler keeps them alive, and they suffer day after horrible day at the hands of a nation which constantly boasts of its honor and manhood, as a matter of national policy.

The German child who is a Jew is compelled to listen to the most unspeakable vilification of his parents, and the child's first attempts at spelling out public notices on the billboards will inform him that he is not a human being, like other children, but a beast whose parents were not human beings, either, but loathsome animals.

If the child lives in a country town where there are not sufficient Jewish children to warrant the establishment of a ghetto school in which to segregate little Jews, then the torture of the victim is even more artistic. In that case the child may be compelled to sit in the classroom and pay attention while the teacher explains that little Isadore or Rosie is a vile creature, a species of vermin and a menace to the German nation. If the teacher so desires, the Jewish child may be dismissed from the room during the lecture, in which case the Aryan children, with the characteristic cruelty of children plus the sadistic delight in the infliction of pain which is now being fostered in young Nazis, will catch the young Jew after class and tell Isadore or Rosie what the teacher said.

If the radio is turned on in the home of a Jewish family the children will hear an orator somewhere in Berlin or Munich explaining that their parents are beasts and that they are little beasts themselves.

A lone Jewish child in a small community must play alone, for the true Nazi children, of course, will not admit him to their company, and a Gentile child with pity in his heart would be afraid to offer the victim any sympathy. He would be ostracized.

And then, of course, it is fair sport for the Nazi children to kick and beat and throw rocks at the little Jews, because that is preliminary training for one of the highest functions of Nazi citizenship and manhood in days to come.

(7) Reinhard Heydrich, instructions for measures against Jews (10th November, 1938)

Following the attempt on the life of Secretary of the Legation von Rath in Paris, demonstrations against the Jews are to be expected in all parts of the Reich in the course of the coming night, November 9/10,1938. The instructions below are to be applied in dealing with these events:

I. The chiefs of the State Police, or their deputies, must immediately upon receipt of this telegram contact, by telephone, the political leaders in their areas - Gauleiter or Kreisleiter - who have jurisdiction in their districts and arrange a joint meeting with the inspector or commander of the Order Police to discuss the arrangements for the demonstrations. At these discussions the political leaders will be informed that the German Police has received instructions, detailed below, from the Reichsfiihrer SS and the chief of the German Police, with which the political leadership is requested to coordinate its own measures:

(a) Only such measures are to be taken as do not endanger German lives or property (i.e., synagogues are to be burnt down only where there is no danger of fire in neighboring buildings).

(b) Places of business and apartments belonging to Jews may be destroyed but not looted. The police are instructed to supervise the observance of this order and to arrest looters.

(c) In commercial streets particular care is to be taken that non-Jewish businesses are completely protected against damage.

(d) Foreign citizens - even if they are Jews - are not to be molested.

II. On the assumption that the guidelines are observed, the demonstrations are not to be prevented by the police, who are only to supervise the observance of the guidelines.

III. On receipt of this telegram, police will seize all archives to be found in all synagogues and offices of the Jewish communities so as to prevent their destruction during the demonstrations. This refers only to material

of historical value, not to contemporary tax records, etc. The archives are to be handed over to the locally responsible officers of the SD.

IV. The control of the measures of the Security Police concerning the demonstrations against the Jews is vested in the organs of the State Police, unless inspectors of the Security Police have given their own instructions. Officials of the Criminal Police, members of the SD, of the Reserves and the SS in general may be used to carry out the measures taken by the Security Police.

V. As soon as the course of events during the night permits the release of the officials required, as many Jews in all districts, especially the rich, as can be accommodated in existing prisons are to be arrested. For the time being only healthy male Jews, who are not too old, are to be detained. After the detentions have been carried out the appropriate concentration camps are to be contracted immediately for the prompt accommodation of the Jews in the camps. Special care is to be taken that the Jews arrested in accordance with these instructions are not ill-treated.

(8) Victor Klemperer, diary (27th November, 1938)

On the morning of the 11th November two policemen arrived accompanied by a 'resident of Doeizschen'. Did have any weapons? - Certainly my sabre, perhaps even my bayonet as a war memento, but I wouldn't know where. We have to help you find it. The house was searched for hours. At the beginning Eva made the mistake of quite innocently telling one of the policemen he should not go through the clean linen cupboard without washing his hands. The man, considerably affronted, could hardly be calmed down. A second younger policeman was more friendly, the civilian was the worst. We said we had been without domestic help for months, many things were dusty and still unpacked. They rummaged through everything, chests and wooden constructions Eva had made were broken open with an axe. The sabre was found in a suitcase in the attic, the bayonet was not found. Among the books they found a copy of the Sozialistic Monatshefte (a Socialist monthly magazine) this was also confiscated. At about one o'clock the civilian and the older policeman left the house, the young one remained and took a statement. He was good-natured and courteous, I had the feeling he himself found the thing embarrassing.

(9) Richard Grunberger, A Social History of the Third Reich (1971)

While Jews formed just under 1 per cent of the total population of Germany, in certain professions and occupations there was a markedly higher percentage of them. Thus 16 per cent of all lawyers practising in the Reich were Jews, and about 10 per cent of all doctors and dentists. Among bankers it was as high as 17 per cent. Against their over-representation in certain areas of lucrative commercial activity must be set the fact that in 1933 one in three Jewish taxpayers had an annual income of less than 2,400 marks and one in four Berlin Jews was receiving charity.

(10) In 1933 Alice Hamilton visited Germany. She wrote to Jane Addams about her experiences on 1st July, 1933.

All the people we met in Frankfurt were Jews and all waiting - to see when the blow would fall - or left suddenly without position or income and with no possible chance of any employment. It is much worse than Russia. There the Whites were such a poor lot, one could be terribly sorry for them but nobody could wish them back in power. But in Germany the down-and-outs are the best people they have.

(11) Hjalmar Schacht, speech in Koenigsberg (18th August, 1935)

The Jews must realize that their influence in Germany has disappeared for all time. We wish to keep our people and our culture pure and distinctive, just as the Jews have always demanded this of themselves. But the solution of these problems must be brought about under state leadership, and cannot be left to unregulated individual actions, which have a disturbing influence on the national economy, and which have therefore been repeatedly forbidden by governmental as well as Party agencies.

The economy is a very sensitive organism. Every disturbance, from whatever direction it may come, acts as sand in the machine. Since our economy is closely allied with that of foreign countries, not one of us can be indifferent to what consequences these disturbances can have at home and abroad.

(12) Julius Streicher, speech (1937)

The Jew always lives from the blood of other peoples, he needs such murders and such sacrifices. The victory will be only entirely and finally achieved when the whole world is free of Jews."

(13) Julius Streicher, speech (31st October, 1939)

This is our mission at home, to approach these future decisions without hesitation, to do our duty and to remain strong. We know the enemy, we have called him by name for the last twenty years: he is the World Jew. And we know that the Jew must die.

(14) Arthur Seyss-Inquart, speech in Amsterdam (12th March, 1941)

The Jews are the enemy of National Socialism. From the time of their emancipation their methods were directed to the annihilation of the folkish and moral worth of the German people and to replace a national and responsible ideology with international nihilism. It was really they who stabbed the Army in the back which broke the resistance of the Germans (in the First World War). The Jews are the enemy with whom no armistice or peace can be made. We will smite the Jews where we meet them and whoever goes along with them must take the consequences.

(15) In September 1941 Victor Klemperer heard that all Jews in Germany had to display the yellow Star of David. He wrote about it in his diary (15th September, 1941).

Frau Kreidl Sr. was in tears. Frau Voss suffered a heart attack. Friedheim said this was the most difficult blow to date, worse than the confiscation of capital. I feel shattered, and cannot calm myself. Eva wants to take care of all errands from now on. I will leave the house only at night for a few moments.

(16) Anne Frank, diary entry (11th April, 1944)

Who has inflicted this upon us? Who has made us Jews different to all other people? Who has allowed us to suffer so terribly up till now? It is God that has made us as we are, but it will be God too, who will raise us up again. If we bear all this suffering and if there are still Jews left, when it is over, then Jews, instead of being doomed, will then be held up as an example. Who knows, it might even be our religion from which the world and all peoples learn good, and for that reason and that reason only do we have to suffer now.

(17) Hermann Goering, order to Reinhard Heydrich (31st July, 1941)

Complementing the task that was assigned to you on January 24, 1939, which dealt with carrying out by emigration and evacuation a solution of the Jewish problem as advantageous as possible, I hereby charge you with making all necessary preparations with regard to organizational and financial matters for bringing about a complete solution of the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe.

Whatever other governmental agencies are involved they will cooperate with you. I request furthermore that you send me before long an overall plan concerning the organizational, factual and material measures necessary for the accomplishment of the desired final solution of the Jewish question.

(18) Hans Frank, speech at a meeting of soldiers (December, 1941)

This war would be only a partial success if the whole lot of Jewry survived it, while we shed our best blood to save Europe. My attitude toward the Jews will therefore be based solely on the expectation that they must disappear. They must be done away with. Gentlemen, I must ask you to rid yourself of all feeling of pity. We must annihilate the Jews wherever we find them and wherever it is possible.

(19) Hans Scholl, Sophie Scholl, Christoph Probst, Kurt Huber, Alexander Schmorell and Willi Graf were executed in 1943 for publishing and distributing leaflets hostile to the government of Adolf Hitler. This is an extract from the second White Rose leaflet published in 1942.

It is impossible to engage in intellectual discourse with National Socialism because it is not an intellectually defensible program. It is false to speak of a National Socialist philosophy, for if there were such an entity, one would have to try by means of analysis and discussion either to prove its validity or to combat it. In actuality, however, we face a totally different situation. At its very inception this movement depended on the deception and betrayal of one's fellow man; even at that time it was inwardly corrupt and could support itself only by constant lies. After all, Hitler states in an early edition of "his" book (a book written in the worst German I have ever read, in spite of the fact that it has been elevated to the position of the Bible in this nation of poets and thinkers); "It is unbelievable, to what extent one must betray a people in order to rule."

We do not want to discuss here the question of the Jews, no do we want in this leaflet to compose a defence or apology. No, only by way of example do we want to cite the fact that since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way. Here we see the most frightful crime against human dignity, a crime that is unparalleled in the whole of history.

(20) Julius Streicher, Der Stuermer (6th January, 1944)

Developments since the rise of National Socialism make it probable that the continent will be freed from its Jewish destroyers of people and exploiters forever, and the German example after the German victory in World War II will also serve to bring about the destruction of the Jewish world tormentors on other continents.