The Holocaust will forever be remembered as the systematic genocide of the Jewish people, when approximately six million Jews in Europe were murdered under the Nazi regime. The question that comes to mind is why did nobody stop this event or speak against the horrors that occurred in the ghettoes or concentration camps? How could this happen in the 20th century, when the human race was thought to be evolved and modernized?
It occurred because there was a history of persecution, exploitation, anti-Semitism, and hate for the Jews, especially in Germany; as we have read in the articles and texts, the systematic elimination began during the 1930s when the Nazis enacted laws that effectively sequestered the Jews’ human rights. In March 23, 1933, Hitler was able to attain the majority in the Reichstag, the ruling German Parliament. On this day, he was able to pass the Enabling Act which, “Authorized the government to issue legislation on its own responsibility, even if that legislation deviated from the Reich Constitution (Dawidowicz, A Holocaust Reader, 35).
” We could say this was the beginning of the end for the Jews, as it enabled Hitler and his Nazi party to pass laws that would effectively take away the rights of the Jews. The Enabling Act was just the first step of many which would allow for the state-sponsored roundup and mass-murder of the Jews. The first law aimed at the Jews, or “non-Aryans”, was The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, which was passed on April 7, 1933. It dismissed non-Aryan civil servants, clerical employees, workers, and professionals.
And on that same day, non-Aryan lawyers were denied admission to the bar. This ensured that there wouldn’t be anyone to speak up against the Nazi regime, or defend the Jews. It also made those Jews unemployed, and they could only inquire employment opportunities within their neighborhood or Jewish community. It was the first step in removing Jews from public life and from then on the German government followed Nazi ideology. On April 11, 1933, “An implementing decree appeared, defining “non-Aryan” status (Dawidowicz, A Holocaust Reader, 36).
” This decree established that one was considered a Jew if one parent or grandparent was of Jewish faith. This decree also required that everyone have credentials of their family tree in order to prove their German heritage and blood. This was another step taken to separate the Jews and their German/Aryan counterparts. This decree identified individuals as Jews, and thus made them easier targets for the ensuing laws that were planned to be enacted by the Nazis, and eventual imprisonment in ghettoes.
On April 25, 1933, the Law Against the Overcrowding of German schools and institutions of Higher Learning was passed. This law put a quota of how many non-Aryan Jews could attend school, and eventually prohibited them from education. The Nazis wanted to ensure that the children were not educated; Perhaps they did not want them near other German schoolchildren. Also, this aided their state-sponsored discrimination, as German school children were taught to feel superior to other races. The Reich Citizenship Law was passed on September 15, 1935.
This declared German citizenship only to those of “German or kindred blood” Citizenship is “only that subject of German or kindred blood who proves his conduct that he is willing and suited loyally to serve the German people and the Reich (Dawidowicz, A Holocaust Reader,45). ” This law certainly separated the Jews from the German people as it took citizenship away from the Jews. The Jews were no longer protected by the State, even though the Enabling Act was already passed that allowed the Nazis to create laws that did not follow the German Constitution.
They were pushed to the fringes of society. Even the exemptions for Jewish War Veterans was removed. Another reason why this was an important law was that it removed the Jews from elections, as only Reich citizens were allowed to vote. If one was not German and part of the Reich, they were not allowed to vote; This seems like a prelude to the German people following the Nazi party because laws were implemented that demanded people to join the Nazi party before joining certain organizations, or working for certain institutions, and eventually voting.
Finally, The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, forbade marriage and sex between Jews and those of German or kindred blood. It further isolated Jews from the population. It also further defined one as a Jew if one was a mischling, or mixed descent. Another decree also required that Israel and Sarah be added to names of Jews, and required the Star of David badge and armband to further separate Jews. Eventually laws took Jewish property, business, industry, and put them under police surveillance.
The Jews were no longer part of society, but viewed as lower beings. They were a group of “other” things, who did not have rights or property. Not only did the Nazi regime effectively remove Jews from public life, but they oppressed them slowly. The Jews who were so used to migrating and being discriminated against could not have possibly predicted what was going to happen to them. The Nazis groomed the German population to believe that they were superior beings. This led to pogroms, such as Kristallnacht, when Germans destroyed the glass windows of Jewish owned shops.
Violence against property eventually became violence against their Jewish neighbors, and eventually murder. With the state sponsoring this type of behavior and nobody in the government to protect their rights, the Jews had nowhere to go, not even Germans who they used to call friends. “To restore Germany to its former greatness, Hitler believed that the Jews had to be purged from the political and public life of the German nation and removed from all positions of political, social, or cultural influence (Dawidowicz, A Holocaust Reader, 35).
” The Nazis successfully removed the Jews from public life because they were able to enact laws that slowly took away their human rights. The laws deprived Jews of equal rights; They enabled persecution, dehumanization, and made Jews outcasts of German society. The Jewish people had endured such a long history of exile, violence, and bloodshed that they did not foresee how these laws were preparation for the Holocaust.
Courtney from Study Moose