Thursday, November 13, 2014

Nuremberg Laws

Adolf Hitler
Nazis and its leader, Adolf Hitler, became notorious for their anti-Semitism. The Holocausts displayed their brutality driven by racism and hatred towards the Jews. Leading to the Final Solution and to the death of millions of Jews, during early years in power, they instituted new laws that made anti-Semitism systematic and legal and to protect the so-called superior Aryan race of Germany. These laws were dubbed as the Nuremberg Laws.

The Nuremberg Laws were laws decreed by Adolf Hitler during the annual Nazi party rally in Nuremberg on September 9 to 15, 1935. The laws were aimed against towards the Jewish community. It systematically and legally isolated the Jews from the rest of the country. It aimed to degrade them into second class citizens and strip them of their rights. It was also aimed to limit the social contact of the Jews with the rest of the “Aryan” Germany.

Even before the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, the Nazi Party had already displayed their displeasure and their disgust of the Jews. The Nazi Party were infamous for their anti-Semitic ideals. They saw the Jews as the cause of the hardship of Germany. Adolf Hitler himself saw his anger towards the Jews in his autobiography Mein Kampf. In his book, Hitler blamed the Jews for the fall of Germany during World War I. And in 1933, after the rise of Hitler and the Nazi to power, they made it the state against the Jews. In April 1, 1933, the Nazis launched a nationwide boycott of Jewish goods, businesses, and services. Six days later, on April 7, they kicked out from government positions, educational posts, and judicial offices all Jews with Civil Service Law. Also, in 1933, infamous concentration camps of the Nazis began to operate. Dachau, Buchenwald, and Sachsenhausen began to house critics, opposition, communist, homosexuals, gypsies, and most importantly, Jews.

And so the 1935 Nuremberg Laws were an escalation of the increasing government sponsored harassment of the Jews. They were intended to discourage Jews from staying in Germany by cutting further the Jews from the mainstream society. Previously, the laws were all aimed against their economic rights and their participation in the government. But the Nuremburg Laws leveled up by labeling Jews as second class citizens. And even a single stint of Jewishness caused huge consequences.

There are two laws that comprised the Nuremburg Law. Both were announced on the last days of the Nazi party rally from September 9 to 15, 1935. The first of these laws was the Reich Citizenship Law. Under the law, the Jews lost their German citizenship, hence their every single rights as one such as voting and political participation. Jews were demoted from citizens to merely “resident” status. The second and the more powerful law was the so-called Law for the Defense of German Blood and Honor. The law, as stated in the title, protects the purity of the German Aryan blood from any “impurities” brought by contacts with Jews. The law forbids and criminalizes intermarriages between a Jew and a German. It also forbade rich Jews to hire female German workers bellow forty five years old. Jews were also forbidden from carrying or displaying the National or the Reich flags. However, perhaps to easily identify the Jews, they were still allowed to display their Jewish color and flags. Under the law, Germans who have Jewish heritage were identified. Any German who had Jewish grandparents but doesn’t practice Judaism were labelled as Mischling. They, however, kept much of their rights and were not yet persecuted harshly, but they have to live with a derogatory like label of Mischling.

The Nuremberg Laws were short when they were decreed on September 1935. And so, in order to give further details, on November, supplements were given to the Nuremberg Laws. The Reich Citizenship Law received its additional details on November 14, 1935. The November 14 supplement provided the definition of being a Jew besides practicing Judaism. Individuals with three fully pledge Jewish grandparents were considered Jews. Individuals who only had two Jewish grandparents but married to a Jewish spouse was considered a Jew. And also, all those who practice Judaism at the time during and after the Nuremberg Laws were announced would be considered as Jews. The Law for the Defense of German Blood and Honor was given additional details on November 26, 1935. On it, it provided the different degrees of mischlinge and their marriages. A German with one Jewish grandparent was considered a second degree mischling. A German, on the other hand, with two Jewish grandparents were first degree mischling. Under the new supplement law, a marriage between a Jew and a Mischling was forbidden. A marriage between two second degree Mischling were also prohibited. Also, a marriage between a first degree Mischling and a German was even more prohibited.

Most of the enforcing power of the Nuremberg Law were passed to the internal ministry. Also the secret police, the Gestapo, also helped to capture violators of the laws.

The effects of the Nuremburg Laws were a terrible social disaster for the German Jews. The whole law threatened almost two million German Jews. Also, the Nuremberg Laws, precipitated for the increase of Jewish emigration out of Germany, sometimes to the United States. But the increase was never in an intense phase of an exodus. The Nazi government enforced laws that drained much of the wealth of the Jews who were deciding to emigrate. Also, the price of travel was expensive. For those Jews in Germany unlucky to leave Germany were forced to live in densely populated ghettos where they faced harassment, poverty, hunger, and death.

The Nuremberg Laws were a part of a horror show that the Nazi did. It brought hardship to many Jews in all aspects of their life, from their civil rights to even their basic right to marry. It brought isolation and discrimination to the Jews of Germany. The Nuremberg law was just a start of more horrors that followed, from the Kristallnacht to the Final Solution.

See also:
Code of Hammurabi
Decree 770
Purity Law

Blaimires, Cyprian & Paul Jackson (ed.). World Fascism: A Historical Encyclopedia. California: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 2006.

Friedman, Jonathan (ed.). The Routledge History of The Holocaust. New York: Routledge, 2011.

Turk, Eleanor. The History of Germany. Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1999.

Scheindlin, Raymond. A Short History of the Jewish People: From Legendary Times to Modern Statehood. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

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