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Antisemitism in Germany in the 1930s

Antisemitism in Germany in the 1930s
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It appears that the need for a strong leader who promised stability to the nation was the main catalyst leading to the victory of Hitler and the Nazi party in the 1932 German elections. As stated, the extreme Nazi antisemitism was well known to the German public, and it did not deter a large plurality of the population from voting for the Nazis. Once Hitler ascended to power and actual antisemitic policies were implemented, a wave of antisemitism spread throughout the country. Let’s hear more about this and about the anti-Jewish policies of the years leading up to the outbreak of the Second World War. In this process of the 1920s, antisemitism was not a central…
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was not very central but - what is important - was not an obstacle. Antisemitism was widespread in German society, among certain circles in German society and, therefore, it was not an obstacle … because the Nazi party was very outspoken on its antisemitism and there were other right-wing parties that were also antisemitic. So, after the ascendance of Hitler to power in January, 1933, there is an eruption of
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antisemitic activity in many circles: in Christian churches - the Catholic ones, the Protestants, Lutheran one; in academia - in universities, in music, in the Language Association. Wherever you look, there is an activity to fight against the Jewish spirit - jüdischer Geist. And it’s not only the regime doing it. The interesting thing is that it is an eruption from below. So, suddenly we see that there is a vague Hitler vision but there are a lot of people in all spheres of German life that try to translate this vague vision of exorcising the Jewish spirit and getting the physical Jews out of the German living sphere; to translate it into something practical.
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Each segment of society and circle does it in its own domain and that is why we see suddenly such an eruption and a rapid transformation of German society from a society, in which antisemitism played a role, to a - I would say - society in which antisemitism is dominant. What policies did the Nazis pursue? First of all, internally in the 1930s, they sought to consolidate power and to engage in what they called Gleichschaltung in German - coordination of society - so that all society would be marching along with the Nazi way of dealing with Germany’s problems and looking to the future.
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They had achieved that with every branch of German society swearing an oath personally to Hitler within the first two years of the regime. They’d eliminated all political parties and everyone was coordinated. And regarding the Jews, they pursued a series of policies that were designed to isolate the Jews, separate them from the rest of society, and ultimately get them to emmigrate. From boycotts against Jewish businesses beginning in 1933, ongoing violence throughout Germany scattered all over Germany against Jews throughout the 1930s. Legislation against Jews climaxing, but not ending with, the Nuremberg Laws in September 1935, that took away the Jews’ citizenship in Germany.
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Aryanization of Jewish businesses; that is, handing Jewish businesses over to good Aryans and thereby getting the Jews out of the economy. And the climax of these measures was violence in 1938 - climax in the Kristalnacht - pogrom - the Nazi name for this massive pogrom against Jews across the Third Reich in November of 1938, following which, Jews were being pushed out of Germany and Jews were seeking to flee. By the end of the 1930s and the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, the Jews of the Third Reich found themselves facing this now powerful Nazi regime totally isolated and totally on their own.

Prof. Dan Michman, Dr. David Silberklang

Once Hitler ascended to power and actual antisemitic policies were implemented, a wave of antisemitism spread throughout the country. Let’s hear more about this and about the anti-Jewish policies of the years leading up to the outbreak of WWII.

What place did antisemitism hold in German popular opinion during this time period?

References

  • Bajohr, Frank, ‘Aryanisation’ in Hamburg: The Economic Exclusion of Jews and the Confiscation of their Property in Nazi Germany, trans. by George Wilkes (New York: Berghahn Books, 2002).

  • Bankier, David, The Germans and the Final Solution: Public Opinion under Nazism (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1996).

  • Barkai, Avraham, From Boycott to Annihilation, trans. bu William Templer (Hannover, NH: University Press of New England, 1989).

  • Benz, Wolfgang, “Exclusion as a Stage in Persecution. The Jewish Situation in Germany, 1933-1941,” in David Bankier and Israel Gutman, eds., Nazi Europe and the Final Solution (Jerusalem 2003: Yad Vashem), pp. 40 – 53.

  • Friedländer, Saul, Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939 (New York: Harper Collins, 1997).

  • Kaplan, Marion A., Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).

  • Kershaw, Ian , Popular Opinion and Political Dissent in the Third Reich: Bavaria, 1933-1945 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983).

  • Kulka, Otto Dov and Eberhard Jäckel, The Jews in the Secret Nazi Reports on Popular Opinion in Germany, 1933-1945 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010) .

  • Michman, Dan, The Emergence of Jewish Ghettos During the Holocaust (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

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Antisemitism: From Its Origins to the Present

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