The First Anti-Jew Laws: ‘Non-citizens’.

With the Enabling Act of March 1933 in place, the first of over 400 anti-Jewish measures were introduced. Now classed as ‘Non-Aryans’, the Jews were banned from teaching, receiving a university education, working in the civil service, media and the military and from owning businesses. Books by Jewish authors were banned, including works by Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud. The Jewish population suffered daily torment and anti-Semitic hysteria triggered a mass exodus of Jews from Germany. Of the half-million Jews in Germany in 1933, about 280,000 had emigrated by 1939, among them Albert Einstein and Marlene Dietrich. Many emigrated to the US but others chose eastern Europe where, once the war had broken out, they were soon caught in the Nazi war machine.

In September 1935, the same month as the swastika became the official flag of Germany, the Nuremberg Race Laws came into effect, legitimizing anti-Semitism as part of the Nazi state. Deemed as ‘non-citizens’, Jews were denied German citizenship and all political and civil rights. The laws drew up definitions of Jewishness (depending on parents and grandparents), and prohibited marriage between Jews and Germans. Despite his rabid hatred of Jews, Hitler was, at this stage, still a relative moderate in how far to push state-sponsored anti-Semitism, resisting calls from within his party for more radical measures. Of the four drafts of the Nuremberg Laws presented to him, Hitler chose the most moderate. His moderation was motivated purely by diplomatic concerns, not wanting to overly outrage international opinion. He ordered, for example, a temporary suspension of media-led anti-Semitism during the Berlin Olympics of 1936.

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