Persecution of Jews between the years 1933-39 Essay
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By what stages and why did the Nazi Regime increase it’s persecution of Jews between the years 1933-39.
Jewish people had been a traditional enemy for several hundred years before Hitler came to power and he made it quite clear in his book, ‘Mein Kampf,’ that he hated Jewish people. It should be no surprise that even before he rose to power he had already took steps to increase persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany in 1933-39. Before any of the momentous stages began, Hitler had displayed plenty of propaganda to advocate Nazi opinions of Jews, he realised that it wouldn’t be a good idea to persecute Jews to the highest level to begin with as he needed to be established as a great leader.
Had he have began his stages with an event such as Kristallnacht the German people may not have accepted him as well as they did.
Hitler began his stages with unorganised persecution, in 1933 he organised the April Boycotts which involved the boycotting of Jewish businesses, encouraging Aryan Germans to stay away from Jewish owned stores. The members of the Nazi party were eager to begin anti-Jewish measures so Hitler didn’t want to carry on denying them this. This stage kept the members happy for a short while and was also backed by churches; increasing its influential value.
However the April Boycotts had to be kept fairly low key as Hitler did not want the public to resent him had they thought his measures were too much too soon; his suspicions were in fact correct, Hitler realised he didn’t have the public support he needed as despite the Boycotts the public seemed apathetic, they carried on shopping in Jewish stores; ignoring Hitler’s warning. Another factor controlling the force of the persecution was the fact that Hindenburg was still supreme to Hitler, he had already brought in the Hindenburg clause (whereby Jewish world war one veterans were exempt from the rule that Jews must be fired from certain professions) which hindered Hitler’s chance at early success. Hitler’s first attempt at unorganised persecution was supposed to last indefinitely, but in fact it only lasted a day.
The Nazi regime’s next step in 1935 marked a new phase in their bid to increase the persecution of Jews. Following Hindenburg’s death in 1934, Hitler introduced The Nuremburg Laws in August 1935 which basically stripped the Jews of their civil rights. Hitler had realised that the intense propaganda had succeeded in winning the public over and therefore decided to take his persecution to the next stage. He completely disregarded the Hindenburg clause and referred to the Jews not as citizens but as ‘subjects’ of Germany.
This step was to separate the Jews from the rest of the Germany nationality and could be seen as a result of the lack of progress made in the Nazi’s attempt to get Jews out of the country, statistics of Jews emigrating fell from 37000 to 23000 in 1934. However, in light of the Berlin summer Olympics in 1936, Hitler toned down the propaganda aimed at the persecution of Jews as he wanted tourists to see Germany as a pure country, free of people he though inferior such as Jews. The Nuremburg laws seemed to be as a result of Hitler feeling that he needed to start taking action that is easily recognisable as persecution; this however was nothing in comparison to his next step.
On November 9th 1938, following the assassination of a German official in Paris by a young Jewish boy, the Nazi’s embarked on an orgy of violence, destroying Jewish Property in predominantly Jewish towns in Germany. This seemed the final straw for Hitler, before this he had not let member of the Nazi party display this type of organised persecution.
The SS officers conducting the attacks broke the law, but Hitler let this go ahead as there was no popular outcry for it to stop, most resistance was very passive, probably Jew to the Nazi fear factor; no-one dear stand up to them. The intensity of Nazi officials complaining about a lack of action against the Jews encouraged this new wave of intimidation. To add insult to injury, the Jews were fined for the damage done to their towns and property; 1,000,000,000RM in total. 26,000 Jews were arrested and sent to work camps, Kristallnacht is thought to mark the beginning of the Holocaust.
Hitler’s 4th and final stage was to eliminate Jews; they were not emigrating anymore (as much as they wanted to) simply because other countries could not take them. The measures taken previous to this stage were not enough to get rid of the Jews so Hitler decided to cram the Jews into small ghettos, so he could take complete control of them ready for when they were shipped off in freight trains to concentration camps.
Hitler named this ‘the final solution of the Jewish question’ this stage seemed ooze a sense of desperation, nothing Hitler had done before had deterred the Jews enough for them to flee wherever they could. Once in concentration camps, had they not died of diseases such as Typhus, the Jews were systematically gassed in chambers, sometimes up to 2000 at a time. The name ‘final solution’ suggests that this really was the last straw for Hitler, he felt there was no other way to rid Germany of the Jews as although the first camp opened in 1933 (Dachau) they weren’t widely used until 1939, these camps could be seen as a precautionary measure.
It is evident that Hitler had many ideas as to how to persecute Jews; he started with quite mild measures and gradually escalated things as a result of unresponsive behaviour from Jews. The pressure he was under from other Nazi party members in the early stages probably pushed him to cross the line into breaking the law to persecute Jews. The latter stages of these measures may not have happened had the Jews emigrated when they were encouraged to.