Hitler's Role in the Persuection of the Jews by the Nazi Regime: Electronic Version, by Heinz Peter Longerich

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3. HITLER AND THE BEGINNING OF AN ANTI-JEWISH POLICY IN 1933

3.1From the very beginning, Hitler, as head of the National Socialist government, pursued a consistently antisemitic policy. Above all, he aspired to remove German Jews from public positions and to segregate them as much as possible from the German population. The decisive role which Hitler played in the enforcement of the Nazi government's anti-Jewish policy is apparent in the organisation of the "boycott" of Jewish businesses on 1 April 1933. Although it was Goebbels, Propaganda Chief   of the Party and newly appointed Minister of Propaganda, who organised the embargo on Jewish establishments, the decisive initiative was Hitler's. This was confirmed by Goebbels in his diary entry of 26 March 1933: according to this account Hitler called him to Berchtesgaden in order to inform him of his "resolution" according to which one could
only deal with the slanderous attacks from abroad if we lay hold of the originators or at least those who stand to profit from them- namely the Jews who live in Germany and who have remained unmolested.31
3.2Moreover, Hitler took over the full responsibility for the call for a boycott committee consisting of leading NSDAP officials when he made it clear in the Ministerial Conference of 28 March 1933 "that he, the Chancellor of the Reich himself had arranged for the proclamation issued by the National Socialist party".32 On 6 April 1933, Hitler once again explicitly acknowledged his antisemitic policy when on the occasion of a reception of leading medical officials he declared that
through the coming eradication of Jewish intellectuals from the cultural and spiritual life of Germany, Germany's natural title to spiritual leadership, which is characteristic for it, must be done justice.33
3.3Immediately after the boycott, still in April 1933, the Hitler regime passed three antisemitic laws: Jews were largely excluded from public office and the bar respectively34 and a quota for Jewish pupils and students was introduced.35   On the other hand, a series of utterances by Hitler from the first months of the "Third Reich" seem to give the impression, on first glance, that he might have been exercising a rather more moderate influence on the "Jewish policy" of the government and had turned against the more radical elements of the Party.
3.4Thus a pronouncement by Hitler which was issued on 10 March 1933 opposed the "individual actions" (Einzelaktionen) of party activists which might disturb the functioning of Jewish and other businesses.36 Further, a planned campaign against the Federal Court of Leipzig by the local Party organisation was stopped by a personal directive by Hitler.37 In the cabinet deliberation on the law concerning lawyers on 7 April, Hitler opposed further plans for exclusion and took the position that one should "at the moment ... only regulate that which is necessary"; legal discrimination against Jewish doctors - an official proposal of this kind had been submitted to the cabinet - was considered "not necessary for the moment".38
3.5Hitler's attitude of apparent restraint stemmed wholly from tactical considerations. Hitler wanted to avoid unnecessary quarrels with his conservative coalition partners; he didn't want to put new stress on the already difficult economic situation or to cement the "Third Reich's" isolation in foreign affairs.39 In his address to the recently appointed Reich Governors on 6 July 1933, Hitler explicitly articulated his foreign policy concerns: "To reopen the Jewish question means to agitate the whole world once again".40
3.6In fact, with the take-over of power in 1933, Hitler intended - over and above the assorted antisemitic laws - deliberately to create a special legal status for German Jews: to place them under "alien status" as had been projected in the NSDAP Party Programme of 1920, and gradually to diminish their position in German society. His earlier and considerably more far-reaching plans in the area of racial laws and the reasons why these plans had been deferred were clearly elucidated   in the report of his speech41 to the Reich Governors` Conference, held on 28 September 1933:
As concerns the Jewish question, we were not able to give way. For him, the Chancellor, it would have been preferable if we could have aggravated the treatment of the Jews step by step - beginning with a citizenship law and from that point on becoming gradually more and more severe with them. The boycott instigated by the Jews however obliged us to resort immediately to harsh counter measures. Abroad they complain mainly about the legal treatment of the Jew as a second-class citizens. They argue that the most we can do is to refuse citizenship to Jews who present a danger to the State.
 

Notes

29. 'Der Kopf einer anderen Rasse sitzt auf unserem Volkskörper, Herz und Kopf in unsrem Volk sind nicht mehr ein und dasselbe.' Ibid. IV/1, No. 97, speech in Munich, 29.8.30, p. 371.
30. 'Wenn wir heute als Deutsche auftreten und uns der Vergiftung durch ein anderes Volk zu erwehren versuchen, dann versuchen wir, in die Hand des allmächtigen Schöpfers dasselbe WEsen wieder zurückzulegen, das er uns gegeben hat. Sein Wille und seine Vorsehung ließ uns zu werden, was wir sind...' Ibid. IV/1, No.14, speech in Munich, 25.10.30., p. 31.
31. 'gegen die Auslandshetze nur ankommen, wenn wir ihre Urheber oder doch wenigstens Nutznießer, nämlich die in Deutschland lebenden Juden, die bisher unbehelligt blieben, zu packen bekommen'. Fröhlich (ed.), Tagebücher, 26.3.33.
32. 'daß er, der Reichskanzler, selbst den Aufruf der nationalsozialistischen Partei veranlaßt habe'. Akten der Reichskanzlei/Regierung Hitler, part I, vol. 1, p. 271.
33. 'durch baldige Ausmerzung der Überzahl jüdischer Intellektueller aus dem Kultur- und Geistesleben Deutschlands dem natürlichen Anspruch Deutschlands auf arteigene geistige Führung gerecht werden müsse' Völkischer Beobachter, 7.4.33.
34. Gesetz zur Wiederherstellung des Berufsbeamtentums, RGBl I 175; Gesetz über die Zulassung zur Rechtsanwaltschaft, RGBL I 188.
35. Gesetz gegen die Überfüllung deutscher Schulen und Hochschulen, RGBl 1933 I, 225.
36. Völkischer Beobachter, 12.3.33.
37. Gruchmann, Justiz, p. 126.
38. 'im Augenblick [...] nur das Notwendige regeln', 'zur Zeit noch nicht notwendig'. Akten Reichskanzlei/Regierung Hitler I/1, p. 323.
39. Longerich, Politik, pp. 46ff.
40. Akten Reichskanzlei/Regierung Hitler I.1, pp. 629ff.
41. 'Was die Judenfrage anlange, so könnten wir auf diesem Gebiet nicht zurückweichen. Ihm, dem Reichskanzler, wäre es lieber gewesen, wenn man schrittweise zu einer Verschärfung in der Behandlung der Juden in Deutschland hätte kommen können, indem man zunächst ein Staatsbürgerrecht geschaffen und dann hiervon ausgehend die Juden allmählich schärfer angefaßt hätte. Der von den Juden angezettelte Boykott habe jedoch zu sofortigen, schärfsten Gegenmaßnahmen gezwungen. Im Ausland beschwere man sich vor allem über die rechtliche Behandlung der Juden als Staatsbürger zweiter Klasse. Nach der im Ausland hauptsächlich vertretenen Auffassung sei es höchstens angängig, die staatsgefährlichen Juden abzulehnen.' Akten Reichskanzlei/Regierung Hitler I/1, p. 865.
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