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The Nazification of Germany
Transcript of The Nazification of Germany
The Nazification of Germany (1933-1939)
How did he do this?
Domestically, during the next six years, Hitler completely transformed Germany into a police state. Germany steadily began rearmament of its military, in violation of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles. Internationally, Hitler engaged in a "diplomatic revolution" by skillfully negotiating with other European countries and publicly expressing his strong desire for peace.
Race Hygiene Program
Sterilisation and Euthanasia
Under Nazi doctrine, one major obsession of the party was to assure that the blood of the German "master race" remained "pure" of any contamination by people with undesirable features. Additionally, the advancement of German culture, in their view, required that there be a limitation on those who were not "productive" in work or who would otherwise not advance the goals and objectives of the State. The Nazi phrase, "Life unworthy of life" was used to describe such people, as well as criminals, the insane, and the physically handicapped. This characterization was soon extended to include Jews, Gypsies, and homosexuals.
Laws and Boycotts
As part of a policy of internal coordination, the Nazis created Special Courts to punish political dissent. In a parallel move from April to October, the regime passed civil laws that barred Jews from holding positions in the civil service, in legal and medical professions, and in teaching and university positions. The Nazis encouraged boycotts of Jewish-owned shops and businesses and began book burnings of writings by Jews and by others not approved by the Reich.
Within months of Hitler's appointment as Chancellor, the Dachau concentration camp was created in Germany. The Nazis began arresting Communists, Socialists, and labor leaders. Dachau became a training centre for concentration camp guards and later commandants who were taught terror tactics to dehumanise their prisoners. Parliamentary democracy ended with the Reichstag's passing of the Enabling Act, which allowed Hitler to issue laws without the Reichstag.
Nazi antisemitic legislation and propaganda against "Non-Aryans" was a thinly disguised attack against anyone who had Jewish parents or grandparents. Jews felt increasingly isolated from the rest of German society.
German students gather around books they regard as "un-German" in Berlin, Germany, May 10, 1933
Students and members of the SA unload books deemed "un-German". The banner reads: "German students march against the un-German spirit."
Scene during the book burning in Berlin's Opera Square.
Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels praises students and members of the SA for their efforts to destroy "un-German" books.
In 1933, Nazi German authorities strove to synchronise professional and cultural organizations with Nazi ideology and policy. In keeping with this endeavor, Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, began an effort to bring German arts and culture in line with Nazi goals. The government purged cultural organizations of Jewish and other officials alleged to be politically suspect or who performed or created art works which Nazi ideologues labeled “degenerate.”
Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels addresses the youth. "My fellow students, German men and women, the era of exaggerated Jewish intellectualism is now at an end. The triumph of the German revolution has cleared a path for the German way; and the future German man will not just be a man of books, but also a man of character and it is to this end we want to educate you. To have at an early age the courage to peer directly into the pitiless eyes of life. To repudiate the fear of death in order to gain again the respect for death. That is the mission of the young and therefore you do well at this late hour to entrust to the flames the intellectual garbage of the past. It is a strong, great and symbolic undertaking, an undertaking, which shall prove to all the world that the intellectual basis of the November Republic is here overturned; but that from its ruins will arise victorious the lord of a new spirit."
The Night of Long Knives
The SA, also known as "Brown Shirts," were the Nazi party's main instrument for undermining democracy and facilitating Adolf Hitler's rise to power. The SA was the predominant terrorizing arm of the Nazi party, from 1923 until "The Night of the Long Knives" in 1934. In early 1934, there were 2.5 million SA men compared with 100,000 men in the regular army. Hitler knew that the regular army opposed the SA becoming its core. Fearing the power of the regular army to force him from office, Hitler curried their favor by attacking the leadership of the SA in the "Night of the Long Knives." Hitler arrested scores of SA leaders and had them shot by the SS (guard detachments originally formed in 1925 as Hitler's personal guard) , which now rose in importance.They had now established control of the police and security systems, forming the basis of the Nazi police state and the major instrument of racial terror in the concentration camps and occupied Europe.
On August 2, 1934, President Hindenburg died. Hitler combined the offices of Reich Chancellor and President, declaring himself Führer and Reich Chancellor, or Reichsführer (Leader of the Reich).
Death of President Hindenburg
Key events in the Nazification of Germany
Key events in the Nazification of Germany
Dachau - The First Concentration Camp
March 22, 1933
Hitler announced the Nuremberg Laws on Septemeber 15, 1935. These measures stripped Jews of their civil rights as German citizens and separated them from Germans legally, socially, and politically. Jews were defined as a separate race under
"The Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor."
Being Jewish was now determined by ancestry; thus the Germans used race, not religious beliefs or practices, to define the Jewish people. This law forbade marriages or sexual relations between Jews and Germans, as well as the employment of German females under forty-five in Jewish households. The law known as
"The Reich Citizenship Law"
, stripped Jews of their German citizenship. Hitler warned darkly that if this law did not resolve the problem, he would turn to the Nazi Party for a final solution.
More than 120 laws, decrees, and ordinances were enacted after the Nuremburg Laws and before the outbreak of World War II, further eroding the rights of German Jews. Many thousands of Germans who had not previously considered themselves Jews found themselves defined as "non-Aryans."
Key events in the Nazification of Germany
The Nuremberg Laws did not define a "Jew" as someone with particular religious beliefs. Instead, anyone who had three or four Jewish grandparents was defined as a Jew, regardless of whether that individual identified himself or herself as a Jew or belonged to the Jewish religious community. Many Germans who had not practiced Judaism for years found themselves caught in the grip of Nazi terror. Even people with Jewish grandparents who had converted to Christianity were defined as Jews.
The Nuremberg Laws had the unexpected result of causing confusion and heated debate over who was a "full Jew." The Nazis then issued instructional charts to help distinguish Jews from Mischlinge (Germans of mixed race/ mixed blood) and Aryans.
The Nazis settled on defining a "full Jew" as a person with three Jewish grandparents. Those with less were designated as Mischlinge of two degrees: First Degree - two Jewish grandparents; Second Degree - one Jewish grandparent.
Nazi policies were initiated as early as 1933 to take steps to assure that people who were "undesirables" were unable to dilute the Aryan race by reproduction. The first step was the forced sterilisation of people considered "mentally deficient." A July 14, 1933 law legalized sterilization for persons with certain hereditary diseases, and empowered the Hereditary Health Courts to enforce this policy. The intent of the program was to eliminate the possibility that these people and their potential offspring would continue to be a burden to society.
Once sterilization became accepted, it was only a matter of time until the Nazis went one step further in approving a program of euthanasia, known as the Aktion T4 program. Intentionally masked by the onset of war, mentally and physically handicapped persons were rounded up and sent to special facilities for "treatment." Most were never heard from again. The families of the victims would often receive telegrams informing them that their loved one had died of a heart attack or pneumonia. In this way, the Nazis hoped to eliminate defective genes from the population, which would have the effect of strengthening future generations of the "master race." Early victims of this program were given fatal injections. These facilities were soon equipped with gas chambers.
According to the 1939 Reich census, there were about 72,000 Mischlinge of the 1st degree, some 39,000 of the 2nd degree, and tens of thousands more of higher degrees.
It was decided that the Mischlinge of the first degree would be sterilized, but the Mischlinge of the second degree (the ones with one Jewish grandparent) "without exception, were to be treated as Germans, but they too were to remain subject to Mischlinge restrictions."
It is of note to mention that in practice any Mischlinge could be deported if they simply appeared to be or looked Jewish.
Berlin Olympic Games
In 1936, Berlin hosted the Olympics. Hitler viewed this as a perfect opportunity to promote a favorable image of Nazism to the world. Monumental stadiums and other Olympic facilities were constructed as Nazi showpieces.
Hitler's Nazi dictatorship camouflaged its racist, militaristic character while hosting the Summer Olympics. Minimizing its antisemitic agenda and plans for territorial expansion, the regime exploited the Games to impress many foreign spectators and journalists with an image of a peaceful, tolerant Germany. Signs reading "Jews Not Welcome" were temporarily removed from most public places by order of the Fuhrer - to present a favourable and misleading picture to foreign tourists. Having rejected a proposed boycott of the 1936 Olympics, the United States and other western democracies missed the opportunity to take a stand that contemporary observers claimed might have restrained Hitler and bolstered international resistance to Nazi tyranny. After the Olympics, Germany's expansionism and the persecution of Jews and other "enemies of the state" accelerated, culminating in World War II and the Holocaust.
While two Germans with some Jewish ancestry were invited to be on the German Olympic team, the German Jewish athlete Gretel Bergmann, one of the world's most accomplished high jumpers, was not.
German Annexation of Austria
German troops entered Austria on March 11, 1938. As they advanced from the German border towards Vienna, they were welcomed in every town and village by cheering crowds. Austrian democrats and opponents of Nazism stayed indoors. They knew that the Nazi regime would persecute them mercilessly, as it had persecuted its critics and opponents in Germany for the previous five years.
On March 13, 1938, Hitler formally annexed Austria (Anschluss). Hitler now had control of Austria's 185,000 Jews, Five days later, a Gestapo headquarters was set up in Vienna - in the Hotel Metropol, which had been confiscated from its Jewish owners. That same day the offices of the Jewish community in Vienna, and the Zionist institutions were closed down, and their officials sent across the German border to Dachau. In all, 444 Jewish societies in Vienna, and 181 in the Austrian provinces, were forced to cease their activities.
From the first night of the German annexation, Jewish apartments were looted, and tens of thousands of works of art, rugs, pieces of furniture, and valuables confiscated. The Jews were singled out for beatings and humiliation. Hundreds of Jews committed suicide rather than face trauma and persecution. Tens of thousands emigrated, which the Nazis encouraged. Those who left were stripped of all their property and possessions.
As Hitler consolidated power, he pursued his goal to eliminate "non-Aryans" from the social and economic fabric of Germany and the countries he had ceased. By 1938, thousands of Jews had been fired or forcibly "retired" from their jobs as a result of laws and decrees. Jews were barred from serving in government posts, practicing law, participating in cultural enterprises such as theater, movies, arts, and literature and serving in the press.
By 1938, with the reins of power totally in Hitler's hands, the Nazis began a program to systematically remove the Jews from participation in the German economy. This policy, called "Aryanisation," made use of several government decrees:
January 5, 1938
- The "Law Regarding Changes of Family Names and Given Names" was issued, regulating name changes. One purpose was to make it more difficult for Jews to escape persecution by changing their names.
April 22, 1938
- It became a crime for a German to disguise the fact that a business was owned by a Jew.
April 26, 1938
- Jews had to report the value of their property, except for personal goods, if the value exceeded 5,000 Reichmarks.
- Joseph Goebbels suggests a "general distinguishing mark" for German Jews. (This was first implemented in September 1939 in towns and villages around Poland and then across different parts of occupied Europe. On September 1, 1941, Security Police chief Reinhard Heydrich decreed all Jews in the Reich six years of age or older were to wear a badge which consisted of a yellow Star of David.)
July 23, 1938
- Jews were required to carry identification cards.
July 25, 1938
- Jewish physicians were given until September 30th to give up their practices.
Best known for his appearance in a photograph refusing to perform the Nazi salute at the launch of the naval training vessel Horst Wessel on 13 June 1936. In 1931, hoping it would help him get a job, he joined the Nazi Party. In 1935, when he became engaged to Irma Eckler (a Jewish woman), he was expelled from the party. They registered to be married in Hamburg, but the Nuremberg Laws enacted a month later prevented it. He had 2 children, both of whom were Jewish. In 1937, Landmesser and Eckler tried to flee to Denmark but were apprehended. He was charged and found guilty in July 1937 of "dishonoring the race" under Nazi racial laws.
His image and reputation is that of: "An example of individual courage and conscientious objection."
Annexation of the Sudetenland
In September 1938, Hitler eyed the northwestern area of Czechoslovakia, called the Sudetenland, which had three million German-speaking citizens. Hitler's pretext for this effort was the alleged privations suffered by the ethnic German population living in those regions.
Hitler did not want to march into the Sudetenland until he was certain that France and Britain would not intervene. First, he met with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and threatened to go to war if he did not receive the territory. Then at a conference in Munich, Hitler prevailed upon Britain, France and, Italy to agree to the cession of the Sudetenland. At this conference in Munich, which became known as the
, Britain and France agreed to the German annexation of the Sudetenland (a part of Czechoslovakia) in exchange for Hitler's assurance that he would not attack the remainder of Czechoslovakia. No representative of Czechoslovakia was present at the meeting. As a result of the annexation, over 120,000 additional Jews came under Nazi control. The Western powers chose appeasement rather than military confrontation.The Munich Agreement was signed September 29, 1938 and Germany occupied the Sudetenland on October 15, 1938.
The Evian Conference
Between 1933 and 1941, the goal of Nazi anti-Jewish policy was to make the Reich "Judenrein" (cleansed of Jews) through forced emigration. Jews were eager to leave Germany, and for a while German policy and Jewish self-interest in survival coincided. 600,000 Jews lived in Germany at this time . By 1938, about 150,000 - one in four - fled the country. But in 1938, as conditions became more desperate, there were few havens left for Jewish refugees. The annexation of Austria (Anschluss) in March 1938 brought an additional 185,000 Jews under Nazi rule, incorporating overnight more Jews into the Reich than had left Germany in the previous five years. Where were they to go?
Many German and Austrian Jews who wanted to leave were unable to find countries willing to take them in. A substantial percentage tried to go to the United States but were unable to obtain the necessary immigration visas. The U.S. Congress had established immigration quotas in 1924 that limited the number of immigrants and discriminated against groups considered racially and ethnically undesirable.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, responding to mounting political pressure, called for an international conference to facilitate the emigration of refugees from Germany and Austria, and to establish an international organization to work for an overall solution to the refugee problem. In early July 1938, delegates from 32 countries met at the French resort of Evian on Lake Geneva.
Two days after Roosevelt's announcement of the Evian Conference, Hitler issued a characteristic statement:
"I can only hope that the other world which has such deep sympathy for these criminals (Jew) will at least be generous enough to convert this sympathy into practical aid. We on our part are ready to put all these criminals at the disposal of these countries, for all I care, even on luxury ships."
For 9 days, the delegates met at the Hotel Royal, along with representatives of 39 private relief agencies. The world press gave the event extensive coverage.
Delegates from each country rose in turn to profess their sympathy with the plight of the refugees. They also offered plausible excuses for declining to open their countries' doors.
had no room on its small island and refused to open Palestine to Jewish refugees. The
spoke abstractly about "political" refugees, using the euphemism to glide over the fact that most of the refugees were Jewish.
delegate was more candid. "We don't have a racial problem and we don't want to import one," he said. For
, still in the midst of the Depression, "none was too many." Canada would, however, accept farmers - small comfort for the urbanised Jews seeking to leave Germany.
delegate could not resign himself to believe "that two thousand years of Christian civilisation must lead to this terrible catastrophe." In any case, his country could offer nothing. The
delegate was reluctant to disturb the "demographic equilibrium" of his country. No Jewish merchants, peddlers, or intellectuals were wanted there.
were ready to extend temporary asylum for a few refugees. Only the
made a generous offer to receive 100,000 Jews. In the end, however, few came.
In an official response on the Evian Conference, the German Foreign Office was able to gloat how "astounding" it was that foreign countries criticised Germany for its treatment of the Jews, yet none of them opened their doors.
"Since in many countries it was recently regarded as wholly incomprehensible why Germany did not wish to preserve in its population an element like the Jews... it appears astounding that countries seem in no way anxious to make use of these elements themselves now that the opportunity offers."
It was clear that the policy of forced emigration would not work: no one
wanted the Jews.
Kristallnacht - The Night of Broken Glass
November 8-9, 1938
Ernst vom Rath, a German diplomat in Paris, was assassinated by a Polish Jewish 17-year-old student, Herschel Grynszpan, on November 7, 1938. Grynszpan's parents were Polish nationals who had lived in Germany for almost a quarter-century. Nearly 50,000 of these Polish nationals living in Germany were expelled by the Nazi government to provide more living space for German nationals. The government of Poland did not want to accept these Jews back into Poland, and issued a decree denaturalising the citizenship of Polish citizens who had lived abroad for more than five years unless they were issued a special stamp. The Polish government refused to issue these stamps. As a result, these Jews were barred reentry into Poland, and were forced to live as refugees at the German-Polish border under brutal conditions. Grynszpan's action was in protest against the treatment of his parents.
As von Rath lay mortally wounded, German Propaganda Minister Goebbels encouraged party leaders to incite "spontaneous" anti-Semitic riots throughout Germany and Austria. The S.A. was ordered to incite riots against the Jews.
The results of Kristallnacht were disastrous for Germany's Jews. 91 were killed and thousands more were beaten and tortured. In just one day, the Nazis destroyed over 7,000 Jewish-owned shops and businesses. The mobs burned anywhere between 300 to 1500 synagogues throughout the Reich to the ground.
During and immediately after Kristallnacht, the Nazis arrested over 30,000 Jews. They sent them to Dachau and 2 other concentration camps. Finally, the German government fined the Jewish community one billion marks. The government declared that the Jews were responsible for the riots and should pay for the cleanup costs.
After Kristallnacht about 150,000 Jews fled Germany. However, those who settled in neighbouring countries in Europe did not go far enough.
In September 1939, Nazi Germany invaded Poland, marking the beginning of World War Two. Suddenly, over 3 million Polish Jews were in the same terrible situation as Germany's Jews.
Jews had lived for hundreds of years in France, Belgium, Holland, Czechoslovakia and other countries in Europe. They considered these countries their homelands. But when the Germans invade and conquered these countries, Jews across Europe found themselves trapped with nowhere else to turn.
The Voyage of the St. Louis
On May 13 1939 the SS St. Louis set sail from Hamburg for Havana, Cuba. On board were 937 Jewish refugees fleeing persecution from Nazi Germany after the horror of Kristallnacht, the pogrom of shop-burning and mass arrests the previous November. Each passenger carried a valid visa for temporary entry into Cuba. It was one of the last ships to leave Nazi Germany before Europe was engulfed in war.
As the boat approached Havana on May 27, the Cuban government declared the visas invalid and refused entry to the passengers. The Cuban president was demanding a huge bribe to let the Jews into Cuba. Subsequent negotiations with the Cuban government to permit the landing ended in failure.
The United States, as the St. Louis steamed along its southern coast, refused to let the ship dock, in keeping with its straitjacket of a refugee policy, which would only tighten as the war progressed. After waiting 12 days in the port of Havana and off the Miami coast, the boat was forced to return to Germany.
As the St. Louis sailed for Germany, a Jewish organisation in Europe finally worked out a deal. France, England, Holland, and Belgium agreed to divide up the refugees. In the end, only the 228 Jews allowed into England were safe. Most of the refugees sent to France, Holland, and Belgium later died in the Holocaust.
On 15 November 1938, 5 days after the devastation of Kristallnacht, a delegation of British Jewish leaders appealed in person to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Neville Chamberlain. Among other measures, they requested that the British government permit the temporary admission of Jewish children, but without their parents. Great Britain allowed the entry of unaccompanied children ranging from infants up to the age of 17. This became known as the
The Kindertransport was a rescue mission that took place during the nine months prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. The United Kingdom took in nearly 10,000 predominantly Jewish children from Nazi Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland. The children were placed in British foster homes, hostels, and farms. Most of the rescued children survived the war. A small number were reunited with parents who had either spent the war in hiding or survived the Nazi camps. But, the majority, after the war, found their parents had been killed. They were often the only members of their families who survived the Holocaust.
World War II begins on September 1, 1939 with Germany's invasion of Poland.
July 27, 1938
- All 'Jewish" street names are replaced.
August 17, 1938
- As of January 1, 1939, all Jews must have only Jewish first names. If a Jew has a German name, 'Israel' or 'Sarah' must be added to it.
September 27, 1938
- Jewish lawyers were barred from practicing their profession after November 30th.
October 5, 1938
- Jews were required to hand in their passports, so that the passports could include the designation of "J."
November 15, 1938
- All Jewish children remaining in German schools are removed to Jewish schools.
November 23, 1938
- All Jewish businesses are closed down
December 3, 1938
- Local authorities allowed to bar Jews from the streets on Nazi holidays.
- Jews must hand in their driver's licenses and car registrations.
- Jews must sell their businesses, real estate, and hand over their jewelery.
All Jews over the age of ten wear a "Jewish Star": a white armband affixed with a blue six-sided star, worn over the right upper sleeve of one's outer garments. (Decree by Governor General Hans Frank, November 23, 1939, Poland.)