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Anti Jewish legislation in prewar Nazi Germany

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Anti-Jewish legislation in prewar Nazi Germany

Anti-Jewish legislation in prewar Nazi Germany comprised several laws that segregated the Jews from German society and restricted Jewish people's political, legal and civil rights. Major legislative initiatives included a series of restrictive laws passed in 1933, the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, and a final wave of legislation preceding Germany's entry into World War II.


Enabling Act

The Enabling Act established the power of the Nazi Party to pass law by decree, bypassing the approval of parliament. It was passed on March 24, 1933, and effectively nullified the Weimar Constitution.

Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service

In April 1933 the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, or 'Civil Service Law', as it was more commonly known when passed, established the ability of the Nazi Party to legally remove undesirables from the civil service profession, including doctors, teachers and lawyers.

Many local governments also did not allow for the Jews to slaughter animals. In turn, this prevented the Jews from obeying Jewish dietary laws.

This Law created the basis for the years to come, the Nazi party saw "racial purity [as a] condition of superior cultural creation and of the construction of a powerful state". The Civil Service Law was used to purify Germany through excluding Jews from key areas of the German community.

The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service "defined the three groups of undesirable civil servants and provided for their dismissal". The first group included those who had been appointed after November 9, 1918, and could be removed if they did not have the proper training, which essentially meant anyone could fit into these standards. The Second group were those who were deemed by their past that they would not always support the national state. The third group were any non-Aryans, a way of excluding the Jews without explicitly mentioning 'Jews' in the legislation.

Law Concerning Admission to the Legal Profession

This act of legislation was also passed in April as a supplement to the Civil Service Law. This law specifically attacked judges and public prosecutors, and forbade any Jews from taking the bar exam which was necessary to become a lawyer.

Decree Regarding Physicians' Services with the National Health Service

This law affected Jewish doctors and subsequently Jewish healthcare. Passed also in April, under this legislation patients who saw a non-Aryan doctor would not be covered under the national health insurance. Thus excluding Jewish doctors from German society.

The Law Against the Overcrowding of German Schools

As a revolutionary group, the Nazi party then looked toward curbing educational policy. On April 25, 1933 the Law Against the Overcrowding of German schools was passed and required an end to any Weimar teachings that discussed democracy and equality, it enforced the teaching of racial pride.

As a legitimate concern of overcrowding conditions in German Schools, the Nazis limited the amount of Jewish students enrolled in German schools to 1.5% of the total enrollment.

July 1933 Citizenship and Denaturalization Law

With the goal of excluding Jews from having full citizenship rights an Advisory Committee for Population and Race Policy met at the ministry of the Interior to discuss a new citizenship law.

What followed was the Denaturalization Law passed on July 14. As a result of this law, the Reich government could take away the citizenship of those who were deemed "undesirable", applying to anyone who had been given citizenship by the Weimar government. Those who saw the results of this law first were the "150,000 Eastern Jews in Germany".

Hereditary Farm Law

Passed on September 29, 1933 this law "excluded Jews from owning farmland or engaging in agriculture". It stated that only Germans could now be farmers. Though the law had minimal effect due to the lack of Jews involved in farming, it still displayed a central idea of the Nazi party that "The Reich government passes this law to secure the peasant foundations of our blood line through instituting the ancient customs of land inheritance."

Establishment of the Chambers of Culture

On September 29, 1933 the power of Jewish Cultural life in Germany was transferred to Joseph Goebbels who established chambers of culture that would regulate activity in their chamber of either film, theater, music, fine arts, literature, broadcasting and the press.

Each Chamber had the power to exclude anyone involved in any of the facets of culture even without an Aryan clause written into the legislation.

For example, the film chamber could dismiss any Jews involved in any stages of the film-making process including the "producer, actors and ticket collectors in the theater". To continue involvement in the film industry one would need "licensed permission from the chamber president".

As a supplement to the Chambers of Culture, a journalism law went into effect on October 4, 1933, stating that to produce work for the press, journalists and editors would also need specific legal permission.

Nuremberg Laws

At their annual party rally held in Nuremberg in September 1935, the Nazi leaders announced a set of three new laws to further regulate and exclude Jews from German Society. These laws now known as the Nuremberg laws served also as the legality for the arrests and violence against Jews that would come to follow.

The Nuremberg Laws were created in response to Hitler's demands for broadened citizenship laws that could "underpin the more specifically racial-biological anti-Jewish legislation." They were made to reflect the party principles that had been outlined in the points Hitler had written in the party program.

Reich Flag Law

The first law stated that black, red and white were the national colors and the swastika flag was the new national flag. Per Hitler, this law was stated to "repay a debt of gratitude to the movement, under whose symbol Germany regained its freedom, in that they fulfill a significant item on the program of the National Socialist Party."

Citizenship Law

The second law established who would be granted full political and civic rights and those who would now be deprived of them. Citizenship rights were to be granted to those who were citizens of the Reich, which were only individuals of German blood, therefore Jews were excluded from any and all citizenship rights becoming Staatsangehörige or state subjects, essentially making them foreigners in their own country.

The Law for the Defense of German Blood and Honor

The third law forbid marriage and any relations between Jews and German citizens. The law also made any previously existing marriages or those contracted outside of Germany invalid. Furthermore, Jews were forbidden from employing German female citizens who were under 45 years old. Under this law Jews were also forbidden to raise the German Flag.

Supplemental Decrees

After the Nuremberg Laws were passed the Nazi Party also introduced supplemental decrees to the Citizenship Law and the Law for the Defense of German Blood and Honor to specifically outline who would be considered a Jew and who would therefore be subject to the Nuremberg Laws' exclusionary principles

On November 14, the first supplemental decree was published and it defined a Jewish person as anyone who had at least three full Jewish grandparents, had two Jewish grandparents and were married to a Jewish spouse, belonged to the Jewish religion at the time of the law's publication, or who entered the Jewish religion later. Mischlinge or the German legal term for those who had Aryan and Jewish blood, were also clarified to determine who would be considered a Jew. Those that were one and three quarter Jewish were Jewish as well as those who were half Jewish due to their choice of becoming Jewish via a Jewish spouse or through joining a Jewish community.

A second decree was published on December 21 which stated that Jewish professors, teachers, physicians, lawyers and notaries who were state employees and had previously been exempt would now be dismissed from their positions.

In the first decree to the Law for the Defense of German Blood and Honor it stated which specific marriages were forbidden. These included those "between a Jew and a Mischling with one Jewish Grandparent, between a Mischling and another each with one Jewish Grandparent, and between a Mischling with two Jewish Grandparents and a German."

1936 Berlin Olympic Games

In order to prevent foreign criticism of Germany and keep the 1936 Olympics in Berlin to prevent economic loss and a blow to German prestige, Hitler eased the anti-Jewish stance momentarily.

On December 3, all anti-Jewish signs near the sight of the winter Olympics were to be removed. Though normally this would be considered a sign of good faith it was in actuality only an action taken to ensure the Olympics would be held in Germany by preventing international disapproval.

Second wave of anti-Jewish legislation, 1938-1939

After the Nuremberg Legislations and during 1938 "worse than total expropriation was to follow: Economic harassment and even violence would henceforward be used to force the Jews to flee the Reich or the newly annexed Austria. Within the second phase 1938 was the fateful turning point."

Decertification of all Jewish physicians, who were no longer allowed to treat German patients and forced to refer to themselves as "sick-treaters", a degrading term.

March 22, 1938 Jews were forbidden from owning private gardens

July 27, 1938 a decree was enforced stating all streets in Germany needed to be renamed

November 12, 1938 Jews were forbidden from attending movie theaters, the opera and concerts.

November 15, 1938 Jewish children barred from attending public school

The essential robbery of Jews became legal when Jews were forced on February 21, 1939 to turn in all jewelry of any value.

In this second wave of legislation Jews were ostracized even further from society, with strict restrictions living under "a German regime that practiced terror and arbitrariness through the judicial system."


Kristallnacht or the night of broken glass refers to Jewish pogroms that took place on November 9 and 10 in 1938. This wave of violence took place in Germany, annexed Austria, and areas of Sudetenland that were occupied by Germany. These attacks took place against synagogues, Jewish owned businesses, other Jewish establishments, and Jewish citizens in general. More than 100 Jewish people were killed and thousands more were arrested during these attacks. This was also the start to organized Nazi attacks, and the mass incarceration of the Jews. There was no clear Instructions on how to execute the violence, so it caused the destroying of Jewish property and inhumane treatment of Jewish people. The rioters destroyed 267 synagogues throughout Germany, Austria, and Sudetenland. The firefighter were instructed to prevent the flames from spreading to nearby buildings, but not to put the fires out on the burning synagogues. There was also about 7,500 Jewish-owned establishments that were robbed and had their windows shattered. About 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and moved the prisons or concentration camps as well. What made things even worse is the fact that the German government placed full blame on the Jews for the destructions and imposed a fine of one billion Reichsmark on the Jewish community. The government also took away all insurance payouts that would go to the Jews whose businesses or homes got destroyed. This left the Jews responsible for the costs of all repairs.

This led to many decrees in the weeks following. These decrees were designed to deprive the Jews of their means of living. Many of these movements enforced Aryanization policy. This meant that Jewish-owned property would be transferred to Aryan ownership for a fraction of the true value. To further remove the Jews from public life, the Jews were expelled from attending German schools, and they lost the right to have a driver's license or own an automobile.

Kristallnacht was essentially the turning point in the Nazis persecution of the Jewish people. It expanded the efforts to removed Jews from German economics and social life. It also led to forced emigration of Jews in order to make Germany free of Jews. Kristallnacht and the events that followed it showed the Nazi regime that they can count on the nationwide support of anti-Semitism from the general public. This showed the Nazis that they can easily move forward with their plans without a lot of opposition from within Germany. The events of Kristallnacht foreshadowed the Holocaust and mass murders of the Jewish people.

Timeline of anti-Jewish legislation and movements in prewar Germany

During the prewar Nazi Germany period (1933-1939) there were more than 400 laws, decrees, and other type of regulations thats goal was to restrict Jews. There were national laws that affected all the Jews, and there was state, region, and city laws that only affected the Jews in those communities. These regulations limited Jews in all aspects of life, both public and private. Almost all people were involved in the support of Anti-Jewish legislation in some way, whether it was passive agreement or direct involvement. These movements and were all part of Hitler's intention and plan to rid the planet of all Jewish population. Hitler's plan started off with stripping all Jews of their basic rights, before moving into the mass murdering of the Jewish people.


  • March 24: The Enabling Act was passed. This act brought an end to democracy in Germany. It gave the government the power to govern legislation by decree. It gave them the legal to make discriminatory policies in the future. Hitler was allowed to make laws that violated the Weimar constitution without the approval of the parliament or Reich President with this act.
  • March 31: A decree in the city of Berlin said that Jewish doctors were suspended from the city's charity services.
  • April 7: There was a law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service. This law removed all Jews from government service. Also, a law on the Admission to the Legal Profession forbade the Jews from taking the bar exam, which is a test needed to become a lawyer.
  • April 25: A law about overcrowded Schools and Universities limited the number of Jewish students allowed in public schools. The number of Jewish students in one school was limited to no more than 5% of the total population. The schools helped to spread Hitler's ideas. They taught students to love Hitler and to obey the authorities.
  • July 14: The Jewish people lost citizenship because of a Denaturalization Law. This took citizenship away from all Jews, including naturalized Jews and undesirables.
  • October 4: The Jews were banned from editorial post by a law on editors.
  • 1934:

  • The national Nazi Government forbade Jewish actors from performing on the stage or the screen.
  • Local governments issued regulations on other aspects of Jewish life. The Jews were no longer allowed to slaughter animals which prevented them from obeying Jewish dietary laws.
  • 1935:

  • May 21: A law was made on military participation that outlawed Jewish officers in the army.
  • September 15: The Nazi leaders announced the Nuremberg Laws. These laws excluded Jews from having citizenship and marrying or having sex with German women. They also deprived the Jews of basic political rights such has voting rights, and the right to hold a political office. The laws also restricted the Jews economically by making it difficult for the Jews to make money. The laws reduced Jewish-owned businesses in Germany by two-thirds. Under the Mischling Test, individuals were considered Jewish if they had at least one Jewish grandparent.
  • 1936:

  • January 11: An Executive Order on the Reich Tax Law forbade Jews from being a tax consultant.
  • April 3: The Jewish people were banned from the veterinary profession by the Reich Veterinarians Law.
  • October 15: The Reich Ministry of Education banned Jewish teachers from teaching in public schools.
  • 1937:

  • April 9: The mayor of Berlin ordered public schools to not allow Jewish students to attend the public schools until further notice.
  • 1938:

  • January 5: Jews were forbidden from changing their names by a law on the Alteration of Family and Personal Names.
  • February 5: A law on the profession of auctioneer banned Jews from being auctioneers.
  • March 18: Jewish gun merchants were excluded by the Gun Law.
  • April 22: Jewish owned businesses were forbidden from changing their names. This decree's goal was to protect against the camouflage of Jewish businesses.
  • April 26: All Jewish people were required to report all property worth over 5,000 reichsmarks.
  • July 11: The Reich Ministry of the Interior banned the Jews from health spas.
  • August 17: An executive order on the law on the alteration of family and personal names required all Jews to adopt names. For women "Sara" and for men "Israel".
  • October 5: The Reich Interior Ministry invalidated all German passports owned by Jews. The only way for the Jews to get their passports validated was to get a J stamped on it.
  • November 12: All Jewish owned businesses were closed by a decree on the Exclusion of Jews from German Economic Life.
  • November 15: All Jewish children were expelled from public schools by the Reich Ministry of Education.
  • November 28: The freedom of movement was highly restricted by the Reich Interior Ministry.
  • November 29: The Reich Interior Ministry also forbade Jews from keeping carrier pigeons.
  • December 14: An executive order on the Law on the Organization of National Work Canceled all state contracts held with Jewish owned firms in order to attack the Jews economically.
  • December 21: A law banned all Jews from being in the occupation of midwives.
  • 1939:

  • February 21: A decree required Jews to surrender precious metals and stones that they owned.
  • August 1: The president of the German Lottery outlawed the sale of lottery tickets to Jews.
  • September 1: World War Two started.
  • References

    Anti-Jewish legislation in prewar Nazi Germany Wikipedia

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