7.1 Legal discrimination
Key question: Did Nazi anti-Semitism change over time?
Base answer: yes, it became considerably stronger
First official boycott of Jewish shops and professions 1 April 1933
Nuremberg Race Laws introduced: 15 September 1935
A boycott of Jewish shops was organised for April 1st 1933. Soldiers and members of the Nazi party stood outside Jewish shops and tried to persuade people not to use those shops on those days.
However, it did not really succeed and many Jewish shops were used as usual.
In addition, it was bad publicity for Germany aboard as other countries could see that there was anti-Semitic action.
Feelings of hopelessness were soon replaced by those of fear. To show sympathy for, or to protect Jews, was to risk one’s own freedom or one’s own life.
Der Stürmer was an anti-Semitic newspaper, pinned up all over Germany, spouting lies about the Jews. Propaganda against was no more obvious than this newspaper.
￼Radical Nazis wanted to take immediate action against Jewish people and their businesses, but even the party’s leadership was worried that it could get out of hand - an uprising could easily turn against any authority.
A one-day national boycott was organised for 1 April 1933. Jewish-owned shops, cafés and businesses were picketed by the SA, who stood outside urging people not to enter. However, the boycott was not universally accepted by the German people and it caused a lot of bad publicity abroad.
The Nazi leaders developed their anti-Semitism in a more subtle way. Once the Nazi regime had established the legal basis for its dictatorship, it was legally possible to initiate an anti- Jewish policy, most significantly by the creation of the Nuremberg Laws in September 1935. This clearly stood in contrast to the extensive civil rights that Jews had enjoyed in Weimar Germany. The discrimination against Jewish people got worse as an ongoing range of laws was introduced. In this way all the rights of Jews were gradually removed even before the onset of the war.
Here’s an illustration showing the Anti-Semitic Laws and their effects.
2.1 Propaganda and indoctrination
Nazism also set out to change people’s attitudes, so that they hated the Jews. Goebbels himself was a committed anti-Semite and he used his skills as the Minister of Propaganda and Popular Enlightenment to indoctrinate the German people.
All aspects of culture associated with the Jews were censored. Even more forceful was the full range of propaganda methods used to advance the anti-Semitic message, such as: posters and signs, e.g. ‘Jews are not wanted here’ newspapers, e.g. Der Angriff; Der Sturmer, edited by the Gauleiter Julius Streicher, which was very anti-Semitic with a seedy range of articles devoted to pornography and violence cinema, e.g. The Eternal Jew; Jud Süss.
An aspect of anti-Semitic indoctrination was the emphasis placed on influencing German youth. The message was put across by the Hitler Youth, but all schools also conformed to new revised textbooks and teaching materials, e.g. tasks and exam questions.
2.1 Terror and violence - Key dates
Night of the Long Knives (murder of opponents): June 30–July 2 1934
Kristallnacht (Crystal Night), anti-Jewish pogrom: 9–10 November 1938
Creation of the Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration: 1939
In the early years of the regime, the SA, as the radical left wing of the Nazis, took advantage of their power at local level to use violence against Jews, e.g. damage to property, intimidation and physical attacks.
After the Night of the Long Knives in June 1934 (an organised execution of anyone thought to be against Hitler), anti-Semitic violence became more sporadic for perhaps two reasons.
First, in 1936 there was a decline in the anti-Semitic campaign because of the Berlin Olympics and the need to avoid international alienation (see next page). Secondly, conservative forces still had a restraining influence.
The events of 1938 were on a different scale. The union with Austria in March 1938 resulted, in the following month, in thousands of attacks on the 200,000 Jews of Vienna.
In the Night of the Long Knives, Ernst Röhm, Hitler’s best friend for years, and 400 other Brown Shirts and the leaders of the Brown Shirts were murdered to consolidate Hitler’s grip on power.
Anti-Semitism in Germany was becoming much worse and in 1938, on 9–10 November there was a ‘sudden’ violent pogrom against the Jews, which became known as the ‘Night of Crystal Glass’ (Kristallnacht) because of all the smashed glass.
Kristallnacht (Crystal Night) was ‘sudden’ - in fact someone was killed and the murderer was supposed to have been a Jew, but there was no proof at all that the killer was Jewish. The incident was used as an excuse to allow a violent, vicious, destructive outburst against all Jews in the country.
Not only were businesses targeted but homes and Synagogues (Jewish places of worship). Hundreds of people were either killed or died afterwards or committed suicides. Thousands of Jews were rounded up and put into concentration camps.
2.1 Forced emigration
From the start of the Nazi dictatorship, many Jews with influence, high reputation or sufficient wealth could find the means to leave. The most popular destinations were Palestine, Britain and the USA, and among the most renowned émigrés was Albert Einstein.
The Jewish community in Germany 1933–45
* The cumulative figure of Jewish émigrés between 1933 and 1939 was 257,000.