Holocoust The events of the Holocaust occurred in two main phases: 1933-1939 and 1939-1945. I. 1933-1939: On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler was named Chancellor, the most powerful position in the German government, by the aged President Hindenburg who hoped Hitler could lead the nation out of its grave political and economic crisis. Hitler was the leader of the right-wing National Socialist German Workers Party (called the Nazi Party for short); it was, by 1933, one of the strongest parties in Germany, even though * reflecting the country’s multi-party system * the Nazis had only won a plurality of 33 percent of the votes in the 1932 elections to the German parliament. Once in power, Hitler moved quickly to end German democracy. He convinced his cabinet to invoke emergency clauses of the Constitution, which permitted the suspension of individual freedoms of the press, speech, and assembly. Special security forces the Special State Police (the Gestapo), the Storm Troopers (S.A.), and the Security Police murdered or arrested leaders of opposition political parties (communists, socialists, and liberals). The Enabling Act of March 23, 1933, forced through a Reichstag already purged of many political opponents, gave dictatorial powers to Hitler.

Also in 1933, the Nazis began to put into practice their racial ideology. Echoing ideas popular in Germany as well as most other western nations well before the 1930s, the Nazis believed that the Germans were racially superior and that there was a struggle for survival between them and inferior races. They saw Jews, Roman (Gypsies), and the handicapped as a serious biological threat to the purity of the German (Aryan) Race what they called the Master race. Jews, who numbered around 500,000 in Germany (less than one percent of the total population in 1933), were the principal targets of Nazi hatred. The Nazis mistakenly identified Jews as a race and defined this race as inferior. They also spewed hate mongering propaganda, which unfairly blamed Jews for Germany’s economic depression and the country’s defeat in World War I (1914-1918).

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In 1933, new German laws forced Jews to quit their civil service jobs, university and law court positions, and other areas of public life. In April 1933, a boycott of Jewish businesses was instituted. In 1935, laws proclaimed at Nuremberg stripped German Jews of their citizenship even though they retained limited rights. These Nuremberg Laws defined Jews not by their religion or by how they wanted to identify themselves but by the blood of their grandparents. Between 1937 and 1939, new anti-Jewish regulations segregated Jews further and made daily life very difficult for them: Jews could not attend public schools, go to theaters, cinemas, or vacation resorts, or reside, or even walk, in certain sections of German cities.

Also between 1937 and 1939, Jews were forced from Germany’s economic life: the Nazis either seized Jewish businesses and properties outright or forced Jews to sell them at bargain prices. In November 1938, this economic attack against German and Austrian Jews changed into the physical destruction of synagogues and Jewish-owned stores, the arrest of Jewish men, the destruction of homes, and the murder of individuals. This centrally organized riot (pogrom) became known as Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass). Although Jews were the main target of Nazi hatred, the Nazis persecuted other groups they viewed as racially or genetically inferior. Nazi racial ideology was buttressed by scientists who advocated selective Bibliography da History Essays.


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