The Nazi racial policy summary study guide




The Nazi racial policy summary study guide


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The Nazi racial policy summary study guide

Notes on Nazi racial policy

Nazi views on race and community
The Nazis believed that Aryan people (Germans with blonde hair and blue eyes) were superior to all other races. He believed that Germanys problems were caused by problems created by non Aryans – Hitler believed that the solution was for Germany to become racially pure. He also believed in a form of social Darwinism – all races were involved in a war and only the strongest would survive and because the Aryans were the strongest race of all they would inevitable triumph. Germany had only lost the First World War because the blood line had been polluted by weaker and inferior races. He started by removing minority groups such as the Jews from positions of power and hounding them so that they would leave the country. People were also prevented from marrying people from other races. Women were encouraged to have babies and look after their racially pure families – children were needed to train as soldier in order to preserve the Nazi state and prevent Germany’s racially inferior neighbours under control.

The Nazis people believed that all racially pure Germans were part of one community (or “Volk”). Peoples own individual desires were less important than the needs of the community as a whole – therefore it was important to follow the party line as opposed to make up your own mind or protest against the government. To create this community the Nazis closed down organisations such as the church, political parties and even swimming clubs which might offer an alternative to the Nazi party. Even family loyalties were broken down – children were encouraged to spy and inform on their parents and relatives.

The ideal German
To the Nazis the ideal German should be young and strong with blonde hair and blue eyes – they should also be socially minded and give a positive contribution to the community as a whole. Anyone else was seen as being a burden to the community – such as the unemployed, the disabled, tramps and the mentally handicapped – would not be tolerated under the Nazi regime. They needed government money being spent on them and didn’t contribute to the Nazi community in the way that the Nazis wanted. Disabled people were prevented from having children. They also targeted other groups such as alcoholics, homosexuals, prostitutes and juvenile delinquents.

The gypsies
The Nazis had a particular fear of gypsies who were seen as being lazy and work shy. There were only 30 000 gypsies in Germany but the Nazis stopped them mixing with “racially pure” Germans and to this end banned marriage between gypsies and Germans in 1933. In 1938 a law was passed to register all Gypsies which also ensured that they remained separate from Aryan people.

How did the Nazis deal with groups that they did not like?
They used four steps to persecute minority groups

  • Propaganda – the Nazis started by distributing propaganda against all the groups that they did not like.
  • The Sterilisation Law – the idea of preventing breeding in undesirable groups became popular in the 1920s and 30s. In June 1933 a Law was passed which allowed the Nazis to sterilise anyone who they termed “simple minded” – this was a term that was used liberally. Between 1934 and 1945 around 350 000 men and women were forcibly sterilised by the Nazis.
  • The concentration camps – by 1936 tramps, beggars, alcoholics, prostitutes and homosexuals were being sent to concentration camps. In 1937 a special concentration camp had been set up for people under 18. In 1938 alone 11 000 undesirables were sent to Buchenwald concentration camp. Many Germans welcomed the removal up these groups from mainstream society.
  • The euthanasia campaign – In 1939 the Nazis began a secret programme to wipe out the disabled and mentally ill in Germany by a campaign of Euthanasia. 6000 people were murdered either by being starved to death or by lethal injection. They also used poisonous carbon monoxide gas. By 1941 72 000 people had been murdered under this programme but public protests made Hitler call a stop to this programme.

The city of Bremen decided to conduct an experiment to send the worst families to a special camp where they could be re-educated. Here there were 84 houses and conditions were strict

  • Men were made to work whilst the women were taught how to be good housewives and how to look after children
  • Children were made to go to school
  • Alcohol was banned
  • Punishments were harsh – could be locked up in cells without food for three days.
  • A family would usually stay for a year – they were allowed no contact with other families for the first six months.
  • The families were under constant surveillance.

Anyone could be sent to Hashude and families could be released if they showed major signs of improvement. If they did not improve they could be sent to concentration camps. The camp had to be closed in 1940 due to the war – out of 84 families who passed through it only 18 showed no signs of improvement. But in the end it was a failure – it cost a lot of money to run and others argued that these people should be sent to concentration camps straight away and not given a second chance.

Anti Semitism in Germany.
Hatred of the Jews (anti-Semitism) had been around in Europe for centuries – it was particularly bad in Russia at the turn of the century and many Russian Jews moved to Germany as a result. Many German Jews were poor but others had done well and were very rich – they only were 1% of the total German population but 16% of lawyers and and 17% of bankers were Jews. There were also 10 000 Jewish doctors.

The Nazi oppression of the Jews 1933 to 1938.
The Nazis were openly opposed to the Jews and advocated removing them from Germany – but many people thought that this was just talk and once they were in power they would quietly drop their anti-Semitism. Indeed many Jews even voted for the party. However as soon as they were in power they called for an immediate boycott of Jewish shops. The Nazi press – in particular the magazine Der Sturmer run by Julius Streicher – poured out a stream of anti-Semitic propaganda. Yet for the first two years of Nazi rule there was little organised persecution of the Jews.

By 1935 Hitler now felt confident to move against the Jews – he now felt able to move with more confidence against the Jews. He did this using “salami tactics” – increasing the pressure slice by slice. This is how they did it

  • May 1935 – Jews forbidden to join the army.
  • September 1935 – The Nuremburg Laws – Jews were banned from being married or having sexual relations with Aryans. Jews also lost their right to be considered as citizens of Germany.
  • 1936 – A lull in the campaign against the Jews during the Olympic games. Anti-Semitic signs were also taken down during the duration of the games.
  • September 1937 – Hitler made a very nasty speech against the Jews – Jewsish businesses were confiscated.
  • April 1938 – Jews had to register their property – this made it easier to confiscate it.
  • June 1938 – Jewish doctors, dentists and lawyers were forbidden to treat Aryans.
  • October 1938 – Jews had to have a red J stamped on their passports.

Kristallnacht – November 9-10th 1938
A power struggle had begun to take place in the high echelons of the Nazis party – Goebbels had fallen out with Hitler and wanted to regain favour. He suggested a two day campaign of violence and terror against the Jews followed by more repressive measures. Other Nazis objected to this – especially Goering. The excuse for launching this campaign of terror was the murder of a German diplomat in Paris – apparently by a Jew. The following night several synagogues and Jewish shops were set alight – up to 400 synagogues and 7500 Jewish shops were destroyed and 91 Jews were killed and 30 000 were sent to concentration camps. The reaction of the German people to these events was to stand by – although it was not clear if this was because they liked what the Nazis were doing or were too scared to protest. The oppression of the Jews then became of sinister in the run up to the Second World War as outlined below.

  • 12th November 1938 – the Jews were fined one billion Reichsmarks for causing the damage on Kristallnacht.
  • 13th November 1938 – Jewish children were banned from ordinary schools – they had be taught in Jews only schools.
  • December 1938 – all remaining Jewish businesses were confiscated.
  • January 1939 – All Jews were given the same first name – Sarah for women and Israel for men. Reich office for immigration established to encourage Jews to leave the country.
  • 12th March 1939 – first mass arrests of Jews – 30 000 men and boys sent to concentration camps.
  • September 1939 – Second World War begins – Hitler had promised that he would wipe the Jews off the face of the earth of war broke out.

The Jews and the war
After war broke out the persecution started to turn to genocide – this process is known as the holocaust (or Shoah in Hebrew). When Germany invaded Poland in 1939 3 000 000 Jews came under Nazi control – the Nazis decided to ship all German and Polish Jews to eastern Poland and stick them in ghettos where they would receive starvation rations. The largest of these was in Warsaw where 500 000 Jews were killed.


The final solution
The treatment of Jews got worse when Russia was invaded in June 1941. Special groups of SS soldiers – Einstazgruppen – were formed to murder all Jews that they could get their hands on. Jews in Germany were made to wear a star so they could not escape and were banned from public transport.

By the end of 1941 these groups had killed 500 000 Polish and Russian Jews. At a conference at Wannsee in January 1942 Hitler decided on a “final solution” to the Jewish problem – extermination of the Jewish population in Europe. Death camps were to be built in Poland – away from the German population – where Jews were to be worked to death or gassed in massive gas chambers. Work on building these gas chambers and crematoria was stepped up. A massive operation was put in place to move all Jews living in occupied Europe to these death camps.

Some children and adults were also used for hideous medical experiments – the Nazis tested vaccines and poison gas on children. Dr Josef Mengile was the most infamous of these Nazi doctors – he was particularly interested in experimenting on groups of twins.

Nearly 6 000 000 Jews were killed and other were gassed as well – political opponents, Homosexuals, Jehovah’s witnesses, Russian prisoners of war and gypsies. Out of 30 000 German gypsies only 5000 survived the war. In total 500 000 European gypsies were killed by the Nazis.

Jewish resistance to the Nazis
Many Jewish people did not resist what was being done to them – families wanted to stay together and die in dignity. Others thought that it would have been futile to resist as death was certain. Some Jews who escaped the Nazis joined resistance groups and attacked German soldiers. In the Polish ghettos resistance movements against the Germans were set up – in 1944 an uprising by 15 000 Jews in the Warsaw ghetto took four weeks for the Germans to repress. There were reports of uprisings in five concentration camps. In Auschwitz some Greek Jews managed to blow up one of the ovens.


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