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Helen and Sol Krawitz Holocaust Memorial Education Center

Shimon and Sara Birnbaum Jewish Community Center

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Nazi Germany and the Jews 1933-1939

“That was the heart of the problem of German Jewry: it was so much a part of German society that the Nazi blow hit it from within. It didn’t come from without, as for the Polish Jews, who were occupied. No one occupied Germany.”Walter Zwi Bacharach

During the 1920s and 1930s Europe saw the outbreak of an aggressive and antisemitic nationalism that made racial and social claims and which saw the Jews as an inferior and dangerous race. It sought to limit Jewish economic activity and distance Jews from public life in their countries. With Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany this racial antisemitism became the official ideology and policy of the German regime. In 1938 an organized campaign took place that included destroying synagogues, mass arrests, destruction and looting of Jewish-owned businesses, and official registration of Jewish property in preparation for eventual confiscation. In addition to Jews, other groups who were deemed enemies of the Reich, such as the Roma and Sinti, homosexuals and the mentally ill, were also persecuted.

The synagogue in Oberramstadt (a town in southwestern Germany) burns during Kristallnacht. Oberramstadt, Germany, November 9-10, 1938.
— US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Trudy Isenberg