Anti-Semitism is dislike or hatred of the Jews.
• Hitler’s believes have many links with Social Darwinism. Social Darwinism is a belief in the survival of the fittest. Hitler applied this to race and national politics.
• Hitler believed that the Germanic or ‘Aryan’ race were a ‘master race’. His belief in Social Darwinism led him to conclude that as such other races were inferior. The Jews were one of the most inferior races in Hitler’s eyes.
Why did Hitler hate the Jews?
A number of possibilities. A Jewish master at Art College rejected Hitler. This may have sparked his hatred, as he was a very keen artist. Jews were prominent within the Communist party of the Soviet Union; this led to a political reason to turn Jews into scapegoats. Many Germans blamed the Jews for ‘stabbing Germany in the back’ after the First World War; the hatred may have been fostered by his involvement in this conflict and a belief in this theory.
Political gains from anti-semiticism
The Jews were accused of exploiting ordinary German workers and for being communists. Both the communists and war profiteers were disliked by the German populace, blaming the Jews and promising to rid Germany of the problem could gain political support from the oppressed masses.
Anti-Semitic policies 1933-1945
Upon gaining power Hitler set about establishing a programme of selective breeding and racial indoctrination.
• The SS were in charge of a selective breeding policy. This involved selecting racially pure women for SS officers to father the children of.
• Important positions could only be filled by people who were racially pure.
• Educational programmes were introduced that taught Race studies and Eugenics (study of controlled reproduction). School curriculum was rewritten to teach about racial superiority: example being the Old Testament taught as being a struggle between the Jews and the Aryan race.
• Government sponsored boycotts of Jewish owned shops and businesses took place as early as April 1933.
An example of Anti-Semitic propaganda produced by the Nazi’s
Persecution of the Jews
Stage 1: Denial of rights 1933 -1938
• 1933. Jews lose the right to be German citizens.
• 1933. Refused the right to protection from the police.
• 1933. Illegal for Jews to inherit land.
• 1935. Enforced segregation. Jews banned from: parks, swimming baths, restaurants and public buildings.
• 1935. Nuremberg Laws. Illegal for Jews to marry Germans or to have sexual intercourse with a German.
• 1933-39. Government propaganda against the Jews.
• 1933-39. Jewish schoolchildren ridiculed and humiliated in front of classes on regular basis (indoctrination process).
During the period 1933 –1938 Jews were also sent to concentration camps. This was not in the large numbers that were to follow, nor were the camps ‘Death Camps’ at this stage. Jews sent to concentration camps in this period were imprisoned due to their response to the Nazi rule or a perceived threat of aggressive reaction to Nazi rule.
Stage 2: Acceleration of persecution 1938 –1941
November 1938: Kristallnacht (Crystal Night: so named because of the amount of glass smashed).
Kristallnacht was a massive pogrom (uprising against the Jews). Across Germany Jewish property, homes and synagogues were vandalised, burnt down and defaced. Thousands of Jews were injured and there were deaths. The SA probably organised and implemented this, although no official order has been found: the government said that it was a spontaneous uprising.
By 1941 the Jews had lost all civil liberties including: the right to choose their children’s names (official list of permissible names); forced to live in a ‘ghetto’ (sealed area of a town or city) and they had to wear a Yellow Star of David on their clothes.
Stage 3: 1941 –1945 The Holocaust.
After the conquest of Eastern Europe the Jewish population of ‘Germany’ had grown to in the region of 8 million (an exact figure is impossible to calculate). Many areas of Eastern Europe were highly populated with Jews. The Wannsee Conference in 1942 decided how to deal with these Jews.
At Wannsee the Nazi leadership decided upon the ‘Final Solution’ of the ‘Jewish problem’. Jews were to be exploited as far as possible (i.e. forced to work to the point of death on starvation diets) and, if incapable of or unsuitable for demeaning (dirty/ undesirable) jobs they were to be terminated.
The ‘Final Solution’ was therefore a policy designed to rid the third Reich of the Jews. This would be achieved through initially the deployment of Einsatzgruppen (Mobile Death Squads) and later the introduction of Death Camps such as Auschwitz, which were essentially factories designed for the purpose of killing as many people as possible and disposing of their remains. Other Jews would die as a result of sheer hard work.
The Holocaust is estimated to have resulted in the mass murder of an estimated 6 Million Jews. In addition to this there were many Gypsies, Homosexuals, Communists and Russian (Soviet) prisoners who perished at the hands of the SS in death camps or via the use of Einsatzgruppen.