NAZISM affected the State and its people.

In particular, it saw an attack on the Jewish Community unprecedented until the Holocaust.

A woman who is concealing her face sits on a park bench marked "Only for Jews." Throughout the Nazi dictatorship, the German State and its people experienced significant changes politically, socially and economically. One of the most apparent of these changes being the countries newly found negative attitudes, and actions, towards the Jewish Community. Hitler and the Nazi party had previously spoken publicly, and proudly, about their anti-Semitism, however it wasn’t until a time of great need that the German people were actually willing to listen to such drivel; and even then they didn’t necessarily agree. With his and his party’s advancement to dictatorship, Hitler took with him his unethical and barbaric anti-Semitic views, and from then on prepared and pursued his parties attack on the innocent community he had come to hate. This attack came in many different forms, and was fierce enough to force hundreds of thousands of fearful Jewish civilians to flee their home country. For those that remained, a bleak and daunting life was to lie ahead. They were to suffer a life of great misfortune, with what seemed to be a whole community working against them. Through the use of carefully organised boycotts, the forbidding of Jewish political representation, public facility banning, anti-Jewish propaganda, the Nuremburg Laws, the banning of professional jobs and the constant threat of physical attack, Hitler and the Nazi’s made sure such a life occurred for these people. The once normal German citizen had now been successfully outcasted from mainstream society as a result of the actions by the Nazi Dictatorship.

In order to better understand the reasoning behind the Nazi’s sudden attack on the Jews, we need to look closer at the parties beliefs and values, in particular their anti-Semitic views. Believe it or not, the Nazi’s did not actually create such views themselves, the anti-Semitism “tradition” dates back for centuries; and Hitler wasn’t the only world leader at the time to link Jews with other serious issues. The overall Nazi anti-Semitism was based on three important ideas. The first idea was that the Jewish community was involved in a joint conspiracy with the Communists; apparently initiating a plan to take over the world. In Hitler’s very own book “Mein Kampf”, he states: “The Jew hates the white race and wants to lower its cultural level so that the Jews might dominate.” Like America’s Henry Ford, Hitler claimed that an enormous 75% of all communists were Jewish. Following such an idea, the Jews were accused of a range of issues including the promotion of pornography, prostitution and degenerate art; basically everything Hitler, and the Nazi’s, saw as problematic. The second idea was that Jews were associated with super capitalism and economic exploitation. This idea originated from the traditional and pre-Christian objection to the Jewish religion. Hitler himself linked Jewish super capitalism with communism, getting the idea from an event in which a Jewish banker financed a Russian Revolution in 1917. The third, and last, idea which creates the Nazi’s anti-Semitic views was that the Jewish religion was associated with the Christian religion. The Nazi’s argued that Christianity was not a product of native Europe, but of Middle Eastern thought instead. Unlike the first two ideas, the Nazis never dared to discuss this idea openly; most likely fearful of a public backlash. As you can see, all three extreme ideas, through the eyes of Hitler and the Nazi’s, would have substantial negative effects on the German State. With that said, the reasoning behind the Nazi’s treatment of the Jews was that by doing so, they believed they were actually protecting the German State and its people. 

Nazi Stormtroopers block the entrance to a Jewish shop.The Nazi’s first attack on the Jewish Community came on April 1st 1933, not long after Hitler and his party had assumed dictatorial status. This first attack came in the form of a one day boycott of Jewish-owned shops, business’s, lawyers and doctors; their mission: to attempt to create a trend and break the Jewish Community economically. The Jewish people were known for their excellent business skills, which was evident in the fact that they were deeply rooted in the Germany economy. Although Jews only represented 1% of the total German population, 16% of all lawyers, 10% of doctors/dentists and 17% of all bankers were Jewish1 . In order to combat these good business skills and to make sure the boycott was successful, members of the Nazi’s SA stood outside the shops and businesses to deter the public away. The public were already fearful of the SA, and as a result this tactic proved highly successful. After this day, the Nazi’s, by using the SA, continued to put pressure on the public to boycott Jewish owned businesses and even Jewish produced goods. These businesses felt the pressure, in some cases they weren’t bringing in any profit at all. A clear example of this was the situation of Ullstein Press in 1934. This Jewish-owned company was the largest publisher of newspapers, books and magazines in Germany however, were forced to sell to the Nazi’s as a result of actions by the SA making it impossible for them to bring in profit. As you can see, the Nazi’s had successfully created a trend in which many highly successful Jewish businessman had now lost what they had worked for their entire lives. The Nazi dictatorship’s first attack on the Jewish Community had begun the influence of change amongst the German State in relation to their attitudes, and actions, towards such an innocent group of people.

Only 6 days after the April 1st shop boycott, the “Law for the Restoration of the professional Civil Service” was passed in government. This new law meant that no Jewish civilians could be employed into government, and that higher, or privlaged, levels of employment in Germany were reserved for the “Aryan” race. This law effectively meant that “Aryan” Germans would always be above Jews in employment status (with government being considered the highest). With no political representation, the Jews could do little to fight for their rights and had noone to defend them in parliament. In September 1935, the “Reich Citizenship Law” was passed which removed all Jews, even half Jews, of their citizenship. This meant that they had no longer had any basic citizenship rights in Germany, including the right to vote in elections. Although the total votes by the Jewish population in Germany would have been small, they still could have brought about a new leader in an election. As you can see, the Jewish Community now had no political power whatsoever in Germany. This meant that they had no way of fighting for their rights with security, and simply had to take everything that was thrown at them. The Nazi Dictatorship had effectively changed the way Germany was governed, in the sense that they did not allow opposition to their decisions and did not govern on equal grounds. The Nazi’s had now successfully outcasted the Jewish Community from politics, and had continued to change their countries attitudes, and actions, towards this community.

In 1934, in many areas around Germany Jews had now had their access to public facilites such as parks, swimming pools and public transport banned by law, or in some cases reduced to an inadequate level. In regards to public transport, where still allowed, Jews would have to sit in areas on the bus or train marked specifically for them. In regards to parks, just like public transport, the Jews would have benches and/or areas marked out for them. Public facilities such as these were, and still remain to this day, an essential situation where people from different cultures or backgrounds are “forced” to mix. By removing the Jewish Community from these public facilites, the Nazi’s are effectively removing the everyday interaction which the German people, in particular children, would have with them. And by doing so, they are in actual fact seamlessly removing them from everyday society, ie. outcasting them. More importantly, as the new generation of children would no longer be having any interaction with Jews at these locations, the outcasting of Jews would have been secured for generations to come. And in effect, this proves that under the Nazi dictatorship, the German State’s attitudes, and actions, towards the Jews were changing.

 

Nazi supporters stand in front of a large, anti-Jewish propaganda poster.To further encourage the out casting of the Jewish Community, the Nazi’s heavily used propaganda to gain the publics support for the issue. We can see Hitler’s intriguing view on propaganda in his own book titled “Mein Kampf”, he states: "Propaganda attempts to force a doctrine on the whole people... Propaganda works on the general public from the standpoint of an idea and makes them ripe for the victory of this idea." The Nazi’s propaganda overseer, Joseph Goebbels, was considered an expert, and successfully managed to reinvent it in many different forms. He used newspapers, radio, films, posters, music, theatre, literature and even festivals. In the anti-Jewish campaign, newspapers, films, radio and posters were all major players. Within days of assuming dictatorship, the Nazi newspaper “Der Sturmer” began pouring out anti-Jewish propaganda, in the form of cartoons, articles and pictures. Although it had done so on a regular basis for the past 10 years, people only began listening to it after Hitler came to power. However, it wasn’t until 1934 that the anti-Jewish propaganda campaign was actually pushed into full swing. From this point onwards, anti-Jewish statements filled the radio waves, posters became more frequent in the streets and it was at this time that anti-Semitic films made their way to the cinema. One of the most significant anti-Semitic was titled “Jud Suss” which told the story of an evil Jew. In the summer of 1934, anti-Jewish propaganda began appearing in restaurants and shops, stating messages such as “No Jews Allowed” or “Jews enter at their own risk”. Propaganda didn’t just stop in the public’s eye though, the children in public schools were taught explicitly anti-Semitic ideals. The teachers openly ridiculed the Jewish students, and inevitably some Jews stopped attending; which the Nazi propagandists claimed was because Jews were lazy and not bothered about their education. As you can see, the German people were being fed anti-Jewish propaganda from all areas of society, making it impossible for many, especially the children, to resist. With so much pressure to do so, it was inevitable that, under the Nazi Dictatorship, the German State’s attitudes, and actions, towards the Jewish Community changed.

In the September of 1935, the Nazi’s passed a group of laws which would officially separate them from “Aryan” Germans. This group of laws are known as the Nuremberg Laws, which contained both the “Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honour” and the “Reich Citizenship Law”. The “Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honour” banned marriages between Jews and “Aryan” Germans. It also forbid sexual relations outside of marriage, which effectively stopped the mixing of the two races. The “Reich Citizenship Law” removed citizenship and its rights from the Jewish Community, affecting not only full and half Jews, but quarter also. They were to be considered “subjects” instead of citizens, and were expected to be treated as such. By separating the society in such a way, Hitler and the Nazi’s are clearly stating to the German people that the Jewish Community is some kind of threat, and that they should be considered as some sort of enemy. And by doing so, a sense of fear or tension amongst the society is created, which effectively changes the German State’s attitudes, and actions, towards the Jewish Community. It was only after this law that the violence against Jews really started.

Although many in the Jewish Community were still suffering from the boycott of Jewish business, some were still making do in professional jobs in areas such as education and industry. These Jews were extremely lucky compared to their counterparts, and were still bringing in a fine wage. However, in 1936 this luck was set to run out. It was the year of 1936 that saw the end of any good wage making its way to a Jew, as it was this year that the entire Jewish Community was banned from professional employment. With this ban in place, only menial positions of employment were available to the Jew. Not only did this mean that these Jews would be receiving substantially lower pay checks, it meant that they were effectively prevented from applying any influence in education, politics, higher education and industry; all key areas that could affect Germany economically, politically or socially. As you can see, the Jewish Community no longer had the power to influence Germany in any way, meaning there was nothing they could do whatsoever that could stop the vicious anti-Jewish campaign powering against them. The Nazi Dictatorship had successfully removed Jewish influence from the German State, and in effect the State’s attitude, and actions, towards the Jewish Community would change accordingly.

Any physical, or verbal, attacks towards a member of the Jewish Community, whether it be in a school yard or in the middle of a busy street, was tolerated and left unpunished. With this being said, the Jewish were forced to live their daily lives with a constant threat of being abused, and could expect no help or sympathy from law enforcement agencies as they were known to be offenders, and members of the Nazi party. Hitler had successfully instilled fear in every Jew throughout Germany. The most serious widespread example of violence against the Jewish Community came in 1938 after a young Polish Jew shot and killed 2 German officials at the German embassy in Paris. Josef Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, took the opportunity to impress Hitler and ordered retaliation. This retaliation came in the form of the night that we have come to know as “The Night of Broken Glass”. “The Night of Broken Glass” was a night of violence against the Jewish Community carried out by the SS on November 9-10. Historians have calculated that during the violent rampage, up to 400 synagogues and 7500 shops were destroyed, 91 Jews killed and 30,000 arrested and sent to concentration camps.2 As you can see, the Nazi’s were ruthless in their treatment of the Jewish Community that night, which would have intensified the fear that was already present in every one of them. Hitler and the Nazi party effectively showed the entire nation their view of the Jewish Community that night, and how they felt they should be treated. Previously the Jewish had been made out to be an enemy to the “Aryan” Germans, and now these Germans had seen an attack made against them. These two pieces of information fit together perfectly, so in turn some Germans would have agreed and supported the attack. Those that did not support it, would have seen enough that night to keep quiet and pretend to give their support. Either way, the Nazi Dictatorship had essentially changed the German States attitudes, and especially actions, towards the Jewish Community.

 

As you can see, through the use of carefully organised boycotts, the forbidding of Jewish political representation, public facility banning, anti-Jewish propaganda, the Nuremburg Laws, banning of professional jobs and the constant threat of physical attack, the Nazi Dictatorship managed to successfully change the German State’s attitudes, and actions, towards the Jewish Community. In the belief that what they were doing was right, Hitler and the Nazi party forced the Jewish Community into a life of misfortune by successfully out casting them from mainstream society. Whether or not the German people agreed with such behaviour, they were willing to turn a blind eye, through fear, to the events which inevitably lead up to the even most debated in German history - the Holocaust. With that being said, it is relatively safe to say that if it wasn’t for the Nazi’s foreign policy, Germany would never have invaded over 13 areas, the millions of these innocent Jews would have never been “discovered” and therefore, their bloodlines would still be existent to this very day. Despite what sceptics claim, it was therefore indeed this foreign policy that triggered the infamous Holocaust.

References

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

2 Greg Lacey & Keith Shephard, Germany 1918-1945 – A study in Depth (1997)


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