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The "Jewish Question": Nazi Policy 1933-1939

"So I believe that I act in the spirit of the Almighty God: by defending myself against the Jew. I am fighting for the work of the Lord." Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf. 1924

Poster for the German-produced antisemitic film, The Eternal Jew. CL:Bundesarchiv, Koblenz

From 1933 to 1939 the Nazis systematically excluded Jews from participation in German life. Jews lost their jobs, their citizenship, and their civic rights. They were isolated and cut off from society. But flight was still possible. Although the world knew the plight of the German Jews, little refuge was offered. The world watched while Nazi Germany became a testing ground for an accelerating persecution that ultimately became the epitaph for six million Jews.

Youth Aliyah in Marseilles port on the way to Palestine, 1934. CL:Leni Sonnenfeld
The Boycott in Berlin, April 1, 1933. CL:Bundesarchiv

1933 Jan. 30 Adolf Hitler appointed Chancellor of Germany March 22 Dachau concentration camp opens April 1 Boycott of Jewish shops and businesses April 7 Laws for the Reestablishment of the Civil Service barred Jews from holding civil service, university and state positions April 26 Gestapo established May 10 Public burnings of books written by Jews, political dissidents, and others not approved by the state July 14 Law stripping East European Jewish immigrants of German citizenship 1934 Aug. 2 Hitler proclaims himself Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor. Armed forces must now swear allegiance to him 1935 May 31 Jews barred from serving in the German armed forces Sept. 15 "Nuremberg Laws": anti-Jewish racial laws enacted. Jews no longer considered German citizens, could not marry Aryans, or fly the German flag Nov. 15 Germans define a "Jew": anyone with three Jewish grandparents; someone with two Jewish grandparents who identifies as a Jew. 1936 March 3 Jewish doctors barred from practicing medicine in German institutions March 7 Germans march into the Rhineland, previously demilitarized by the Versailles Treaty June 17 Himmler appointed the Chief of German Police Oct. 25 Hitler and Mussolini form Rome-Berlin axis 1937 July 15 Buchenwald concentration camp opens

Oranienburg Concentration Camp, 1933. CL:BPK

Students, some in SA uniforms, burn books in the Opera Square in Berlin, May 10, 1933. CL:BPK

1938 March 13 Anschluss: Incorporation of Austria: all antisemitic decrees immediately applied in Austria April 26 Mandatory registration of all property held by Jews inside the Reich Aug. 1 Adolf Eichmann establishes Office of Jewish Emigration in Vienna to increase the pace of forced emigration Sept. 30 Munich Conference: England and France agree to German occupation of the Sudetenland, previously western Czechoslovakia Oct. 5 Following request by Swiss authorities, Germans mark all Jews' passports with large red letter "J" to restrict Jews from immigrating to Switzerland Oct. 28 17,000 Polish Jews living in Germany expelled. Poles refused to admit them and 8,000 are stranded in the frontier village of Zbaszyn Nov. 9-10 Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass): anti-Jewish pogrom in Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland. 200 synagogues destroyed, 7,500 Jewish shops looted, and 30,000 male Jews sent to concentration camps (Dachau, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen) Nov. 12 Decree forcing all Jews to transfer retail businesses to Aryan hands Nov. 15 All Jewish pupils expelled from German schools Dec. 12 One billion Mark fine levied against German Jews for the destruction of property during Kristallnacht

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