Module 4: Antisemitism and Racism

Law and the De-Emancipation of German Jews

A black and white presentation slide illustrating the Nuremberg Race Laws with German text.
Slide from a Hitler Youth propaganda training film. Text on the slide states, “This explains who is of German Blood.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Stephen Glick.

Introduction to Part IV: Law and the De-emancipation of German Jews

In our last section, we looked at Hitler and his antisemitic ideology as laying the groundwork for genocide. In this section, we are looking at the way the Nazi State used law to identify its victims. Hitler came to power on January 30, 1933, and yet the Holocaust did not start in earnest until the summer and fall of 1941 when the Nazis adopted an extermination policy referred to as the “Final Solution.” Hitler always intended to get rid of the Jews, but he could not do it immediately. Not only were Germans not prepared for it in 1933, but logistically it was impossible because the targeted group was so well integrated into German society, they were largely indistinguishable from it. To carry out a genocide, the state needs to be able to identify members of the targeted group. It took time to determine who was and was not Jewish. The first seven years of the Nazi regime, the period before World War II (1933-1939), are crucial to understanding the larger genocidal project. Between January 30, 1933 and September 1, 1939, Hitler and the Nazis revolutionized Germany and paved the way for the genocide that was to take place between 1941-1945.

Representation of Charts Illustrating the Nuremberg Race Laws

This interactive drawing was created by digital artist Jessika Thiffault. Explore the archival material represented by clicking on the information icons. Below the interactive image is a text-based dropdown version.


Oral Histories

Luna Kaufman (1983)

In this 3:07 clip, survivor Luna Kaufman describes the impact of anti-Jewish laws on her life, especially the impact it had on her family’s identity as assimilated.

Mendel Good (1981)

In this 2:10 clip, survivor Mendel Good describes the impact of Nazi anti-Jewish legislation on his family.

Marcel Tenenbaum (2012)

In this 6:13 clip, survivor Marcel Tenenbaum describes wearing the Jewish star on his clothes, as well as experiencing other anti-Jewish laws that the Belgians implemented in 1939.


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