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The Progression of Antisemetism in Nazi Germany prior to 1941

Throughout human history, hatred and fundamental misunderstandings have caused great suffering and persecution. There are dozens of these groups of people who have, at some point in their history, incurred the wrath of their governments for various political reasons. Antisemetism, the hatred of the Jewish peoples, is one such discrimination that persisted in several societies. Perhaps the most extreme and horrific example of this phenomenon is the antisemetism pushed by the Nazi regime in the years during and prior to the Holocaust. The most prominent and influential figure in the Nazi party was, of course, Adolf Hitler.
The Progression of Antisemetism in Nazi Germany It has been speculated Hitler himself may have had Jewish heritage, but no evidence supports this assertion. It is widely believed that Hitler’s antisemitic ideas stemmed from the years he lived in Vienna, from 1908-1913. These two influences were Mayor Karl Lueger and the Pan-German politician Georg von Schonerer, who were both anti-Semites in the public eye during that timeframe. After living in Vienna and serving in World War I, the antisemitic mindset among his fellow soldiers also helped cement the matter in Hitler’s mind. According to Hitler himself, his initial attraction to Nazi-esque and antisemetic ideas was for a number of reasons, among them being his inability to fully commit to any other established German political party (Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler.) By 1919, Hitler successfully, officially founded the Nazi party. The German public was very willing to submit to Nazi ideas of antisemetism thanks to widespread propaganda and public disenchantment with the current government following World War I. Hitler’s charisma and excellent public speaking skills also persuaded the masses to follow this extreme outlook. Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf , was bought by millions. Later the following year, the Nazi 25 point Party Program was published. This work detailed, among other unrelated sociopolitical issues, the Nazi’s desire to segregate Jews from Aryan society and abolish Jewish political and legal rights(The 25 Points 1920: An Early Nazi Program.) The Nazi party then grew in power and prevalence relatively fast.
In late March of 1933, the German parliament transferred full legislative authority to the Nazi party. Exercising their new power, 1 April 1933 the Nazis boycotted Jewish businesses and Jewish professionals. Acts of vandalism and violence occurred against Jewish citizens, but the police rarely acted to stop such crimes. Although the boycott only lasted one day and seemed to have little immediate impact, the full brunt of the action manifested a mere week afterward. A law passed stating employment in civil service positions could only be held by Aryans. Jewish workers in all sectors and educational levels were fired as a result. During the next few years, book burnings targeting Jewish authors and subject matter were carried out. A blacklist of books deemed un-German was compiled by Wolfgang Herrmann and served as a template for the Nazi book burners.Joseph Goebbels, a Nazi minister, did all within his power to align German popular art and culture with Nazi goals. Goebbels used his contacts to enlist university students into the Nazi party, bringing in new blood. On 10 May 1933, students burned several thousand deemed un-German books and marched by torchlight in support of Germany. About 40,000 people gathered to hear Goebbels’ speech about Jewish corruption. His focus was on the youth in the crowd as he shouted in German, “As a young person, to already have the courage to face the pitiless glare, to overcome the fear of death, and to regain respect for death; this is the task of this young generation.”(Bonfire speech, Joseph Goebbels.)Meanwhile, antisemetic laws continued to be passed. These laws ranged from forbidding Jews admission into medical school, to not allowing Jewish actors stage or screen time.
In 1935, The Nuremberg Laws redefined a Jew in the popular mind. The first amendment identified a Jew as anyone who had three or four Jewish grandparents. There was no mention of religious alignment or good standing within the Jewish community; if an individual met the criteria, they were Jewish. Other regulations and addendums further alienated the Jewish population. December of 1935, the Reich Propaganda Ministry issued a decree stating the names of Jewish soldiers would not be listed alongside the other dead at World War I memorials. To prevent Jewish citizens from making an honest living, Jewish employees were systematically fired and their businesses were sold to Germans at far below actual market value. The only real lull in openly displayed antisemetic propaganda was during the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Hitler and his regime were worried about the loss of revenue if any other countries caught wind of the current policies. After the Olympics, government sanctioned hatred of the Jews resumed at full force. According to the researchers at The Holocaust Memorial Museum, one of the worst incidents that occurred in these years was Kristallnacht, the ‘Night of Crystal.’ Kristallnacht, a particularly violent night in late November of 1938, spanned across Austria and areas of Czechoslovakia as well as Germany. Nazi troops scoured the streets and vandalized Jewish homes, remaining businesses, synagogues, and related buildings. The properties were ransacked and rivers of broken glass flooded the streets, lending the night it’s misleadingly beautiful title. KRISTALLNACHT: A NATIONWIDE POGROM,
In the years directly proceeding the Polish invasion, Hitler and his inner circle displayed an even stronger public platform of German supremacy from a biological standpoint. Dr. Ley, who held a number of important positions within Hilter’s regime, said the following during his May 1939 speech;“My party comrades, today the swastika forces the world to take a position for or against us. The world must decide. It has no choice. There can be no compromise. The Jew leads the other world. It is all or nothing. There is no going back.”(The Jews or Us, Robert Ley.)On the morning of the 1941attack, Hitler told his fellow Nazis; “The purpose of this front is no longer the protection of the individual nations, but rather the safety of Europe, and therefore the salvation of everyone.” (The Fuhrer to the German People, Adolf Hitler.)Later that day the Holocaust officially began, forever staining history.

Works Cited

  • "Antisemitism in History: Nazi Antisemitism." United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. N.p., n.d. Web.
  • Franz, Eher, ed. The 25 Points 1920: An Early Nazi Program. N.p.: Central House of the N.S.D.A.P., n.d. Print.
  • Hitler, Adolf. "The Fuhrer to the German People."N.p., n.d. Web.
  • Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.



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