On September 15, 1935, German Jews were stripped of their citizenship, reducing them to mere “subjects” of the state.
After Hitler’s accession to the offices of president and chancellor of Germany, he set about the task of remaking his adopted country (Hitler had to pull some strings even to be eligible for office, as he was Austrian by birth) into the dream state, he imagined.
But his dream was soon to become a nightmare for many. Early on in his reign, the lives of non-Jewish German citizens were barely disrupted. But not so for Hitler’s “enemies.”
Hitler’s bigoted-scientifically ignorant ideology, which elevated those of “pure-blooded” German stock to the level of “masters” of the earth, began working itself out in vicious ways.
Within the first year of Hitler’s rule, German Citizens who were Jewish were excluded from a host of high-profile vocations, from public office to journalism, radio, theater, film, teaching, and even farming. The professions of law and medicine were also withdrawn slowly as opportunities.
“Jews Not Welcome” signs could be seen on shop and hotel windows, beer gardens and other public arenas. With the Nuremberg Laws, these discriminatory acts became embedded in the culture by fiat, making them even more far-reaching. Jews were forbidden to marry “Aryans” or engage in extramarital relations with them.
Jews could not employ female servants if they were less than 35 years of age. German Jewish Citizens found it difficult even to buy food, as groceries, bakeries, and dairies would not admit German citizens who were Jewish customers. Even pharmacies refused to sell them medicines or drugs.
WHAT WERE THE NUREMBERG LAWS?
Nürnberg Laws, two “race-based” measures depriving Jews of rights, were designed by Adolf Hitler and approved by the Nazi Party at a convention in Nürnberg on September 15, 1935.
One, the Reichsbürgergesetz (German: “Law of the Reich Citizen”), deprived Jews of German citizenship, designating them “subjects of the state.”
The other, the Gesetz zum Schutze des Deutschen Blutes und der Deutschen Ehre (“Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour”), usually called simply the Blutschutzgesetz (“Blood Protection Law”), forbade marriage or sexual relations between Jews and “citizens of German or kindred blood.” These measures were among the first of the racist Nazi laws that began the long slow ride culminating in the Holocaust.
Under these laws, German Citizens who were Jewish could not fly the German flag and were forbidden “to employ in domestic service female subjects of Aryan German or kindred blood who are under the age of 45 years.”
The first supplementary decree of November 14, 1935—one of 13 ordinances elaborating these laws—defined German Citizens who were Jewish as persons with at least one Jewish grandparent and declared explicitly that “a Jew cannot be a citizen of the Reich. He cannot exercise the right to vote; he cannot occupy public office.”
The other enactments completed the process of Jewish segregation.
Before long German Citizens who were Jewish had their passports stamped with a red “J” (for Jude; “Jew”), and Jews were compelled to adopt “Jewish” names. Jewish communities were deprived of their legal status by the decree of March 28, 1938, and steps were taken to exclude German Citizens who were Jews completely from the practice of medicine.
This “racial” definition meant that German Citizens who were Jews were persecuted not for their religious beliefs and practices but for a so-called scientifically ignorant “racial” identity transmitted irrevocably through the blood of their ancestors.
Science now knows that religion is NOT a DNA marker. It’s a human belief system and has zero to do with “Blood” or what science more appropriately calls DNA.
These laws ignorantly and viciously resolved the question of definition and set a legal precedent. The Nazis later imposed the Nürnberg Laws on territories they occupied. The laws also provided a model for the treatment and eventual genocide of the Roma (Gypsies).
Although the Nürnberg Laws divided the German nation it’s citizens into Germans and Jews, neither the term Jew nor the phrase German or kindred blood was defined.
Because the laws contained criminal provisions for noncompliance, the bureaucrats had the urgent task of spelling out what the words meant.
Two basic Jewish categories were established. A full Jew was anyone with three Jewish grandparents. That definition was fairly simple. Defining part-Jews—Mischlinge (“mongrels”)—was more difficult, but they were eventually divided into two classes.
- First-degree Mischlinge were people who had two Jewish grandparents but did not practice Judaism and did not have a Jewish spouse.
- Second-degree Mischlinge were those who had only one Jewish grandparent.
The efforts to prove one’s non-Jewish ancestry generated a new cottage industry employing hordes of “licensed family researchers,” offering their services to anxious Germans afraid of a skeleton in the family closet. These efforts also involved the Health Ministry and church offices, which had to provide birth and baptismal certificates.
What was the outside world’s reaction?
Because unemployment had dropped precipitously under Hitler’s early commandeering of the economy, the face of Germany seemed brighter. While some foreign visitors, even some political opponents within Germany itself, decried these ignorantly vicious laws and practices, most were beguiled into thinking it was merely a phase, and that Hitler, in the words of former British Prime Minister Lloyd George, was “a great man.”