The Nuremberg Laws were aimed at preserving the purity of the German race. One of the intentions of the Nuremberg Laws was to provide for who was considered to be a Jew or what it meant to be a Jew. This paper therefore examines the Nuremberg Laws, with an aim of answering the comparative question of what it meant to be a Jew according to the laws. The Nuremberg Laws stemmed from the Nazi Racial Legislation of 1935, which was aimed at upholding the perceived Germanic racial superiority, and promoting it as such. According to Hoss (2013), the national identity in Nazi Germany was required to hold an extremely more superior race.
As Stimson (2013) points out, the German racial superiority was expected to be free from the Jews’ contamination. Hoss (2013) points out that during Nazi Germany, the Germans were considered better than Jews, and so the former was required to act in a manner that annihilated the latter. It is for this reason that Nuremberg Laws were formulated to define the identity of the Jews and minimize their contamination of the perceived German racial superiority, all in the hope of safeguarding the German nation for the entire future and upholding the perceive purity of the German blood (Ward & Gainty, 2011).
Article 5 of the Nuremberg Laws provided an elaboration of who was to be considered as a Jew. For instance, under Article 5(1) of the Nuremberg Laws, a person was to be considered as a Jew if he or she was a descendant of at least three grandparents who were racially full Jews. Article 5(1) was to be read together with the second sentence of part 2 of Article 2 of the Nuremberg Laws.
Article 5(2) of the Nuremberg Laws also provided that a person shall be considered as a Jew if both of his or her parents were full Jews (Ward & Gainty, 2012, p. 332). Under the statute of these formed laws (i. e. the Nuremberg Laws), a person was deemed to have descended from two full Jewish parents, if (a) he or she was a member of the Jewish religious community at the time the Nuremberg Laws came to force, or joined the said community after the laws came into force;
(b) he or she was in a marriage relationship with a Jew at the time the laws come into force or entered into such a marriage after the laws had come into force; (c) he or she was born to at least a Jewish parent in a manner provided under Section 1, and if the marriage from which he or she is an offspring was constructed consequent to the coming into force of the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor; and (d) he or she was an offspring an extramarital relationship, that involved a Jew, in the sense of Section 1, and was to be born outside wedlock after the 31st day of July, the year 1936 (Ward & Gainty, 2012).
Section 1 of the Nuremberg Laws prohibited any form of marriage relationship between German nationals or kindred blood and Jew. Such marriages were to be considered illegal and against section 1 of the Nuremberg Laws even if, for purposes of evading the law, they were concluded outside Nazi Germany. An individual who happened to be a Jew as provided under Article 5 of the Nuremberg Laws, and as has been explained highlighted in the previous paragraphs, was prohibited, under Section 1 of the Laws, from contracting any marriage relationship with a German national or kindred blood, whether within Nazi Germany or overseas (Ward & Gainty, 2012,).
Similarly, Section 2 of the said laws prevented any Jew from entering into any outside marriage with German nationals or kindred blood. According to Hoss (2013) this was aimed at protecting the superiority of the German nation and preserving the purity of the German blood by ensuring that no child of German origin was born outside wedlock, and worse still, with a Jewish parent, since the Jews were not expected to mingle with the German nationals. The Nuremberg Laws did not target the Jews within the context of marriage per se, but also sought to limit the rights of the Jews in terms of free and fair management of their households.
For instance, under Section 3 of the Nuremberg Laws, no Jew was allowed to employ a female German national or kindred blood as a domestic worker (Ward & Gainty, 2012). This was construed by Hoss (2013) as a way of preventing incidents of master-servant abuses (e. g. sexual abuse of female German national domestic servants by their Jewish masters), and which could, in some cases, lead to the breach of Section 2 of the laws. The Jews were also prohibited from associating with both the Reich and the German national flag. For instance, Section 4 of the
Nuremberg Laws prohibited any Jewish person from hosting the Reich and/or national flag as well as hosting the colours of the Reich (Ward & Gainty, 2012). The punishments that were to be meted against the Jews who were deemed to have acted in breach of sections 1-4 of the Nuremberg Laws varied in nature, and were provided under Section 5 of the laws. For instance, acting contrary to Section 1 of the laws attracted hard labour as punishment, whereas that who breached Section 2 of the said laws was liable for imprisonment or hard labour (Ward & Gainty, 2012).
Similarly, Section 5 of the laws provided that whoever (i. e. any Jew) was found to have acted contrary to the provisions of Sections 3 and 4 of the laws would be liable for imprisonment for a period of not more than 1 year, and with a fine or with one of the penalties provided thereof (Ward & Gainty, 2012). In conclusion therefore, the Nuremberg Laws, when viewed from legal and moral perspectives, appear to be both illegal (especially in the context of international humanitarian law) and immoral, as they aimed at legalizing open discrimination against the Jews and denying members of the Jewish community the right to freedom of association and expression of free will.
In addition, the supposed punishments for acting in breach of the various Sections of the laws were controversial, and so depended on the mood and attitude of whoever was presiding over as the ‘judge. ’ For instance, Section 5(3) of the laws fell short of defining what constituted a fine as a punishment for acting in breach of Sections 3 and 4 of the laws. The implication thereof is that a ‘judge’ may sometimes impose a fine that is not commensurate with the offence committed. References Hoss, R.
(2013). “Memoirs. ” Swerdloff, Howard. The World since 1924. Boston, New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press. Stimson, H. L. (2013). The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb. Swerdloff, Howard. The World since 1914. Boston, New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press. Ward. D. W. , & Gainty, D. (2011). Sources of World Societies vol II, since 1450. Second Edition (pp. 1-512). Boston, New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press. Ward. D. W. , & Gainty, D. (2012). The Nuremberg Laws: The Centerpiece of Nazi Racial Legislation (331-333), in Sources of World Societies. Volume 2: Since 1450 (2nd Ed). Boston: Bedford.
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