Life for the Jewish community and minorities in Nazi Germany

Life for the Jewish community and minorities in Nazi Germany

Life for the Jewish Community in Nazi Germany

  • The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 formally defined a person as Jewish and stripped Jews of their citizenship, subjecting them to racial discrimination.
  • Anti-Semitic propaganda was prevalent, with media outlets like Der Stürmer used to spread anti-Jewish sentiment.
  • The campaign of Kristallnacht in November 1938 directly targeted Jewish properties, with Jewish synagogues, homes, and businesses destroyed.
  • Jews were systematically removed from cultural, economic, and social life. They were expelled from professions, public schools, and the arts, which is now referred to as Aryanisation.
  • The Wannsee Conference in January 1942 marked the Nazi’s shift towards the ‘Final Solution’, the plan for systematic, total extermination of Jews in Europe.

Persecution of Minorities in Nazi Germany

  • The Nazis were guided by a distorted version of Darwin’s theories, which led to their eugenics programme. They sterilised those with disabilities and enacted the T4 Aktion or ‘euthanasia’ programme that resulted in the systematic murder of those deemed ‘unfit’.
  • Homosexuals were targeted, with homosexual acts between men criminalised by Paragraph 175. An estimated 5,000 to 15,000 homosexuals were placed in concentration camps where they faced brutal treatments.
  • The Nazis pursued a policy of racial purity, persecuting those they did not classify as racially pure. The Romani people (often pejoratively referred to as gypsies) were particularly targeted, with thousands sent to concentration and extermination camps.
  • Political dissidents, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Freemasons, and other groups regarded as anti-social or asocial by the Nazis were also subjected to persecution and placed in concentration and extermination camps.

Resistance and Survival

  • Despite the intense persecution, resistance and survival efforts existed among Jews and minorities in Nazi Germany. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 is a notable example of Jewish resistance.
  • Individuals and groups, such as the White Rose Movement, protested against Nazi rule and disseminated anti-Nazi leaflets, demonstrating bravery and resistance in extremely adverse circumstances.
  • Many in the Jewish community engaged in hiding and smuggling operations, lifelines for thousands of Jews who otherwise would have been sent to extermination camps.
  • There were also instances of non-Jewish Germans who risked their lives to hide Jews, known as the “Righteous Among the Nations”.