Development of Antisemitic Policies

Effect of the Anschluss

Although the anschluss with Austria was banned under the treaty of Versailles, it was a long term ambition of German nationalists and was achieved in March 1938. The German takeover of Austria was achieved without a shot being fired and German through to welcomed enthusiastically by the Austrian people. By 1938 therefore Hitler was growing in confidence that Germany was ready for war if necessary. His next target was Czechoslovakia. When the Allies agreed to the German takeover, he had achieved another bloodless victory. When he signed the Nazi Soviet pact he invaded Poland in September 1939, which led to war between Germany and Britain and France two days later. The more radical phase of Nazi anti-Semitism was part of the more general radicalising of the regime’s policies which began in winter 1937. The occupation of Austria in March 1938 lead to a rapid acceleration of the economic campaign against Jews as the Nazis in Austria were allowed to act against Jews without constraint.

Anti Semitic Decrees 1938

In April 1938 all of Jewish owned property worth more than 5000 marks was confiscated. This was part of their Aryanisation of Jewish Property and businesses. From the 40,000 Jewish owned businesses that existed before this point, a year later only around 8000 had avoided being closed down. Further legislation band choose from work as travelling salesman, security guards, travel agents and estate agents and they lost their entitlement to public welfare. From October 1938 the passports of German Jews had to be stamped with a large J in an attempt to make them easily identifiable and stripped them of their individuality. This led to a law in 1939 compelling all Jewish men to have an additional first name of Israel, and all Jewish women to take the name Sarah.

Kristallnacht 1938

On the night of the 9th - 10th of November 1938 life for Jews attempting to live a normal existence changed completely. Kristallnacht or the night of the broken glass, was when Jewish Homes and businesses were looted and vandalised, synagogues set on fire and thousands of Jews were arrested, beaten up and killed. This pogrom can be viewed as an uncontrolled outpouring of anti Semitic feeling, and although NAZI leadership attempted to say this was not coordinated, in reality it was orchestrated by the leadership and those involved in the violence were majority SA and SS men who were instructed not to wear uniforms. Although some ordinary citizens joined in the violence, many German people were horrified by the destruction. The events of Kristallnacht Warren watershed for Jews in NAZI Germany. Jews were made to that pay for the repair of premises and loss, and Goering made sure insurance companies did not pay out.


Hitler had spoken of making Germany Jew free from the beginning. The first method of achieving this was voluntary emigration. As war approached, and the NAZI regime became more radical, the focus moves to force to emigration. At first, the regime allows Jewish emigration to a pair but it was strictly controlled. In 1933 37,000 Jews left Germany including leading scientists and cultural figures. In total 150,000 Jews: Terry left Germany between March 1933 and November 1938. It was complicated as the Nazis were both encouraging the Jews to emigrate and threatening to confiscate some of their assets. They were willing to encourage scientists to emigrate to Palestine although most Jews did not choose this option. After Kristallnacht, this situation became more urgent and many Jews now desperately sought safe refuge from the obvious dangers they faced in Germany. Controlling immigration was a key policy aim of the NAZI regime. By forcing Jews to leave, the Nazis could illegally seized Jewish Property any use it to fund the emigration of poorer Jews.

Impact of War Against Poland

This situation changed for the outbreak of war in September 1939. The conquest of Poland provided the regime with new territories in which Jews could be settled and bought more Jews under NAZI rule. The emphasis now moved from forced emigration to deportations and resettlement, NAZI anti-Semitism had become more blatant and extreme but it was war that brought about the final radicalization of race policies. Between November 1939 and February 1940 the SS attempted to deport one million people eastwards, of which 550,000 were Jews.

Madagascar Plan

At the idea of removing your excuse to the island of Madagascar was first promoted by French anti semites in the late 1930s, but was picked up by the Nazis during their takeover of France. They felt they should take the island of Madagascar from the French to be a German and eight and send four million Jews there, financed by the sale that of British Property in Europe. Although Palestine was considered, there were practical problems with it as it was a small territory under British rule and not so far from Europe. Madagascar of the infinitely more space and there were no serious political problems to get around. By October 1940 Hitler was planning to take over the USSR and the Madagascar plan was shelved in favour of the plan to send Europe’s Jews deep into Siberia.

When was the Anschluss?
March 1938
When was Kristallnacht?
November 1938
When was policy intensified because of war with Poland?
September 1939