Racism and Racist Legislation in Nazi Germany
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Racialism began to develop in Germany when Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party seized power in 1933 after the Enabling Act was performed. It gradually worsened as various Nazi legislations, such as the Nuremberg
Laws, were instated in the years following Hitlers rise to power which led to further discrimination against all Jewish people in Germany with the intentions of racial genocide. This was in spite of the attempts made by the Reich Deputation of Jews in Germany and the actions of the allied forces of WWII. Finally, in the latter part of the 20th century, these activities stopped and the laws were abolished when Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party were defeated, however Jewish persecution still remains in various forms in different areas of the globe.
The National Socialist German Workers Party, or more commonly known as the Nazi Party, always held ideals of anti-Semitism and racism, ever since its founding in 1920. This is known as the Nazi Party released “The 25-Point Program” which publicly declared their intentions to segregate Jews from “Aryan” society. When Hitler became chairman in 1921, he organized violent attacks on parties opposing these Nazi values using the SA, the Nazis private militia. For this, Hitler was imprisoned but when released he reorganized the Nazi Party and was eventually appointed Reich Chancellor in 1933. In addition to Hitlers activities and organization of the Second World War, he also set about the internal Ðcleansing of Germany. A process of removing those deemed ÐUn-Aryan, people who were mentally retarded, homosexual, had hereditary diseases or who were generally undesirable according the Reich. However, most persecuted were the Jewish people, who had three separate groups of anti-Jewish legislation pinned upon them during the years between 1933 and 1945. Legislation which justified and legalized the murder of hundreds of thousands of Jewish men, women and children for the Ðcrime of being Jews.
The first wave of anti-Jewish legislation to be instigated was the ÐLaw for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, which came into effect April 7th 1933. Its purpose was to exclude Jewish and Ðpolitically unreliable civil servants and employees, that is, any direct or indirect Reich official, from state service. This acted as a precedent for excluding Jewish people from other jobs or professions such as those in the medical and legal industries. This law also caused many Ðnon-Aryan students to be barred from enrolling in German schools and to be denied the right to complete final state exams for many professions. Additional clauses were added in the following two years and private businesses, clubs, societies and firms had adopted similar practices as German schools. The result of this law was severely detrimental to all Jewish peoples way of life, but this was only the mere beginning of the legal battle that would be waged against them.
The German-Jewish people could do very little about the ÐLaws for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service as all Jewish government representatives had been dismissed in accordance with the laws themselves. This proved a conundrum for Jews, added to this was the constant stream of anti-Semitic propaganda being put forth by Hitlers Minister of Propaganda, Goebbels, which turned the majority of non-Jewish-Germans against the minority of Jews. This further marginalized the ability for Jews to make a stand against the racist decrees of 1933. Because of these laws Jewish stores, doctors, lawyers and other commercial and industrial businesses were boycotted placing an even greater strain on the Jewish people. In 1934, President Paul von Hindenburg died, and instead of selecting a new President, the power was given to Hitler, the power of being president was combined with the power of being chancellor giving him totalitarian power over law-making. This power was used to create the second group of anti-Semitic legislation.
In 1935, the second set of anti-Jewish laws was released, these laws became known as “The Nuremberg
Laws of Race and Citizenship” as they were decreed in Nuremberg
. The laws were separated into two distinct parts, the first called “The Reich Citizenship Laws”. These laws stripped citizenship, and the rights pertaining to being a citizen, from people not of ÐGerman or kindred blood. They also defined a full-Jew as a person of three or more full-Jewish grandparents, and a mixed-blood Jew as a person of 1 or 2 full-Jew grandparents. People were also classed as Jewish if they were a member of Jewish religious community, they were ever married to a Jew or they were the result of any marital or extramarital relationship with a Jew. The commencement of this law alone was an extremely derogatory event for Jews. However, this was combined with the second part of the Nuremberg
Laws, known as the “Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor”. These laws made all of the following activities illegal, punishable with hard labor at labor camps, imprisonment at labor camps or with fines. The activities included marriages between Jews and non-Jews, any relationship between Jews and non-Jews outside of marriage, Jews could not employ female non-Jews, Jews could not have the Reich or German flag in their possession and Jews could not wear the German national colors. This law effectively segregated Jews from other German peoples lives, just as the Nazi Party had intended since its primary promulgation.
In response to the Nuremberg
Laws the Reich Deputation of Jews in Germany was established. Its purpose was to represent Jewish interests and rights at a national level and it was lead by its president, Rabbi Leo Baeck, and its chairman, Otto Hircsh. This attempt at the preservation of Jewish rights in Germany was completely ineffective due to Hitlers stranglehold on the countries military, government and media. The Reich Deputation of Jews in Germany was forcibly dissolved in 1943, making no effect on the legislative actions of the Nazi Party during its active period.
The third and final set of legislative actions by the Nazi Party was spread over the years following the Nuremberg
Laws announcement. The most severe anti-Jewish measures coincided with Kristallnacht, or “The Night of Broken Glass” in 1938, an event planned by the propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and other Nazi officials.