The persecution of Jews in Germany commenced shortly after Hitler took over power in 1933 (Landau, 2006). The initial anti-Jewish policies were moderate and propagated exploitation to a small extent. However, further amendments and creation of additional laws intensified the persecution of Jews in many ways. The main aim of implementing these policies was to dismiss Jews from Germany by denying them access to social and economic opportunities. The first policy was the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service that illegalized the employment of non-Aryan individuals in government institutions (Landau, 2006).
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As a result of the law’s implementation, Jews were ejected from their job positions in government institutions. The anti-Jewish laws resulted in several outcomes that enhanced the persecution of Jews. In addition, they were denied jobs in business enterprises operated by Germans of Aryan descent. Examples of actions that emanated from the implementation of anti-Jewish laws include banning of books authored by Jews, closure and takeover of businesses, denial of voting rights, physical violence, illegalization of marriage relationships with Germans, denial of passports, and dismissal of students from German learning institutions (Cesarani & Kavanaugh, 2004).
Nazi anti-Jewish policies
The major policy that the Nazi implemented was the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service that excluded Jews from government jobs. This policy did not give the expected outcomes because it was ambiguous with regard to its definition of a Jew. Therefore, the government implemented more stringent and exploitative policies. Widespread persecution of Jews elicited international concern and Germany risked attracting economic sanctions. Individuals who propagated the persecution of Jews made calls for exemption from persecution by the Hitler government. In addition, requests were made for implementation of laws that would restrict the economic activities of the Jews, revoke their citizenship, and illegalize inter-racial marriages (Landau, 2006).
The Nuremberg Laws
The Nuremberg Laws were implemented after Hitler was pressured to take stern action against the Jews (Cesarani & Kavanaugh, 2004). A critical aspect of the laws was an in-depth definition of a Jew. The aftermath of much deliberation between Hitler and top Nazi officials was the drafting of two laws namely the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor and the Reich Citizenship Law (Browning, 2000). According to the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, a Jew was defined as an individual who had more than two grandparents of Jewish descent (Anti-Jewish Legislation in Prewar Germany, 2014).
Anyone who did not fit the description was considered as half breed. The law illegalized marriage unions between Jews and Aryan Germans. In addition, it barred young German women from working in Jewish homesteads. The Reich Citizenship Law held that only individuals of German descent were considered as citizens. This law abolished the citizenship of Jews and took away their voting rights (Browning, 2000). Jews who were working in government institutions were required to abdicate their jobs. The First Decree to the Reich Citizenship Law stipulated that under no circumstance could a Jew become a Reich citizen (Browning, 2000). As such, Jews were not supposed to hold any public office or participate in election processes.
Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service
The government drafted and implemented this law in order to retire Jews and other Hitler’s opponents from job positions in government institutions. Only individuals of Aryan descent were allowed to work for the government. This law barred Jews from working as teachers, lawyers, judges, doctors, tax consultants, musicians, and professors (Anti-Jewish Legislation in Prewar Germany, 2014). The law did not impress President Hindenburg who requested for amendments. In order to win his approval, Hitler amended the law and excluded individuals who had fought in World War I, individuals who had worked in the civil service since the start of the war, and people who had lost a loved one during the Great War. The amendments were effective for a short period because they were revoked after the death of Hindenburg. One of the monumental effects of the law was the resignation of the great scientist Albert Einstein from the Prussian Academy of Sciences (Cesarani & Kavanaugh, 2004).
The Hitler government argued that the law was aimed at simplifying administration and restoring the professionalism that was characteristic of the German civil service. These laws achieved the goal of blocking the emancipation of Jews in Germany because it rendered them aliens in their own country. The Nazi government was quick to defend these laws by claiming that they were aimed at emancipating Jews from the numerous legal restrictions that they had been subjected to. However, this claim was sheer propaganda. The laws ensured that Jews had no influence in education, politics, health, and other key sectors (Cesarani & Kavanaugh, 2004). Several laws were implemented to restrict the economic activities of Jews. For instance, they were denied government contracts that were only awarded to Germans of Aryan descent (The Holocaust, 2014). Access to health services was limited because the law did not allow Jews to work as doctors and nurses. The law had severe consequences on the lives of Jews because their companies collapsed and widespread persecution denied them their human rights.
Law against the Crowding of German Schools
This law limited the number of Jews that could be admitted to German schools and universities (Anti-Jewish Legislation in Prewar Germany, 2014). The government argued that the law was aimed at reducing overcrowding, which was cited as a common source of low quality education. In several programs, the number of Jews was restricted to a maximum of 5 percent of the number of students enrolled (The Holocaust, 2014). During the closing months of the year 1939, the law barred Jews from attending German public schools after several amendments were made (Cesarani & Kavanaugh, 2004). The law also specified the number of women that could be admitted to institutions of higher learning.
Law Regarding Change of Family Names
This law barred Jews from using certain names. They could only use names that were approved by the Reich Minister of Interior. Those who had other names were ordered to assume an additional name that would distinguish their descent. Males were ordered to take the name Israel and females were ordered to add the name Sarah (The Holocaust, 2014). The minister of interior issued a document that listed names that Jews could sue as first names in naming their children. The law excluded those of foreign nationality.
Laws that exploited Jews economically
The Hitler administration implemented several laws that had severe consequences on the economic wellbeing of Jews. For instance, certain laws required them to register their property. This was aimed at excluding Jews from the German economy. Many Jewish owned businesses were taken over by Germans who expelled workers (The Holocaust, 2014). The government determined the prices that the businesses could be sold to interested Germans. In 1939, a decree issued by the government ordered Jews to surrender precious stones that were in their possession (Anti-Jewish Decrees, 2014). The Gun Law barred Jews from participating in the gun trade (Cesarani & Kavanaugh, 2004). The laws played a key role in impoverishing Jews and making them inferiors in Hitler’s administration.
Anti-Jewish actions that emanated from the policies
Discrimination, persecution, exclusion from economic activities, and widespread exploitation were the results of the aforementioned anti-Jewish polices. Persecution was conducted through government sanctions and sometimes through unofficial attacks by Nazi radicals who argued that the laws were lenient. Jewish business people were intimidated and in other cases forced to shut down their enterprises, which were later seized and sold to Germans at low prices (Anti-Jewish Decrees, 2014). Their businesses were boycotted after government decrees that ordered Germans not to buy goods from businesses owned by Jews. Many employers revised their employment contracts to include clauses that barred non-Aryan Germans from taking jobs in their enterprises (The Holocaust, 2014). The laws further banned Jews from accessing certain public amenities such as libraries, recreational parks, theatres, exhibitions, restaurants, holiday resorts, and beaches (Anti-Jewish Decrees, 2014).
In addition, Jews were not allowed to enter premises that were operated by Aryan Germans. Other restrictions that they experienced included access to state pensions, insurance payouts, and government jobs. Access to health care services was a great challenge because the Hitler administration prohibited Jews from visiting government hospitals (The Holocaust, 2014). Religious freedom was highly restricted. For instance, a synagogue was demolished in Munich because it was considered as a traffic hazard. The Kristallnacht was characterized by mass murderers and arrest of Jews and destruction of synagogues. In order to propagate persecution, Jews were denied passports and those that had them were confiscated.
In 1939, Jews were evicted for their houses, had their radios confiscated, and were subjected to a curfew that limited their movements (Anti-Jewish Decrees, 2014). Persecution intensified in the 1940s when Jews were barred from using public telephones, owning pets, and leaving the country. In 1942, students were dismissed from German schools thus denying them access to education. The anti-Jewish laws encouraged discrimination because police officers and law courts halted their services to Jews (The Holocaust, 2014). All government institutions shunned Jews and treated them unfairly.
The Holocaust was characterized by implementation of anti-Jewish policies that exploited Jews. The laws were implemented shortly after Hitler took over power in Germany. The Nuremberg laws were implemented after pressure mounted on Hitler to take stern action against the Jews. They include the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor and the Reich Citizenship Law. The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service was the first anti-Jewish policy to be implemented by the Hitler administration. The aftermath of the law’s implementation was the dismissal of Jews from government jobs. Laws that exploited Jews economically were also implemented. These laws led to the collapse or takeover of businesses owned by Jews. Te anti-Jewish laws denied Jews voting rights, travel documents, access to public amenities, and enrolment in German schools. They perpetuated the murder of Jews and encouraged economic exploitation. Synagogues were destroyed and interracial marriages were banned. Jews were denied German citizenship and could only use specific names that were ratified by the Hitler administration.
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