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Defense Documents

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

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5.1For the following years, it can be documented that Hitler personally directed anti-Jewish policy and regularly intervened in anti-Jewish legislation. The measures in question were mainly concerned with excluding the Jewish minority from the economy.
5.2In the summer of 1936, Hitler charged Göring with preparations for the Four-Year-Plan (Vierjahresplan), by which the German economy was to be adapted for war. The memorandum which Hitler transmitted to Göring on this subject makes clear that preparation for war and further radicalisation of anti-Jewish policy were closely associated in Hitler's thinking. Hitler's position in this matter was that a war against a supposed Bolshevik-Jewish menace was unavoidable:
Since the outbreak of the French Revolution, the world has been moving ever faster towards a new confrontation. The most extreme solution to this conflict is called Bolshevism and its content and goals are the liquidation (Beseitigung) and replacement (Ersetzung) of the hitherto leading social stratum of mankind by international Jewry.48
5.3In the memorandum, Hitler also explained that preparations for the coming war against "international Jewry" should in part be financed through expropriation of Jewish property. To this purpose he demanded two new anti-Jewish laws: the first, a law "which makes all Jews answerable for the damages which are inflicted upon the German economy and the German people by individual specimens of this criminality"49; further, he called for the death penalty for what he called "economic sabotage", (Wirtschaftssabotage) meaning the accumulation of currency reserves abroad. This demand - as further developments would show - was particularly directed against Jewish "economic sabotage": It was satisfied by the law dealing with economic sabotage, promulgated in December 1936, which in fact called for lengthy prison terms or the death penalty for the illegal transfer of property abroad; in the following period it was primarily applied against Jews.50
5.4In order to put through the other law which Hitler had proposed in his memorandum on the Four-Year-Plan - the comprehensive accountability of German Jews - a draft of a "law concerning the compensation of damages incurred by the Jews to the German Reich" was prepared at the beginning of February 1937. After this draft was rejected, because of the anticipated negative implications for the economy,51 Hitler in April 1938 renewed his proposals for a special tax on Jews which could be raised "for the specific situation - behaviour by individual Jews detrimental to the Volk". A proposal of this kind was issued by the responsible departments of the government but was once again rejected by Göring.52 Only after the November pogrom was the project realised and an "atonement payment" (Sühneleistung) of billions charged to German Jews.53
5.5But on the other hand, in the Spring and early Summer of 1937, Hitler decided not to follow through on two important antisemitic legislative projects for the moment. One was the third decree of the law of citizenship (Reichsbürgergesetz) by which among other things, a special trade symbol (Gewerbezeichen) was to be introduced for non-Jewish businesses; as Frick told Göring in February 1937, this proposal was to be enacted according to Hitler's specific order. Nevertheless, the project was once again not treated - and this at Hitler's explicit behest - since the incorporation of holdings by foreign Jews would create complications; it would not be enacted until one year later.54 Similarly, due to Hitler's specific orders, the project to enact a special document on citizenship (Reichsbürgerbrief) into law was not further pursued.55
5.6To conclude this section, one can say that Hitler continued to be intensely preoccupied with anti-Jewish policy in the years 1936-37 and was once again prepared to be flexible for tactical reasons in pressing his goals, as is apparent in the different treatment accorded to the diverse laws - in particular, in this time period, to the further economic discrimination against Jews. However, as the following paragraphs will show, he has not given up his basic aim: to remove the Jews from Germany.


47. 'der Versuch der gesetzlichen Regelung eines Problems, das im Falle des abermaligen Scheiterns dann durch Gesetz zur endgültigen Looosung der nationalsozialistischen Partei übertragen werden müßte". Parteitag der Freiheit, pp. 110ff (p. 113f).
48. 'Seit dem Ausbruch der französischen Revolution treibt die Welt in immer schärferem Tempo in eine neue Auseinandersetzung, deren extremste Lösung Bolschewismus heißt, deren Inhalt und Ziel aber nur die Beseitigung und Ersetzung der bislang führenden Gesellschaftsschichten der Menschheit durch das international verbreitete Judentum ist." Treue (ed.), Hitlers Denkschrift.
49. 'das das gesamte Judentum haftbar macht für alle Schäden, die durch einzelne Exemplare dieses Verbrechertums der deutschen Wirtschaft und dem deutschen Volke zugefügt werden'. Ibid.
50. RGBl 1936 I, 999, 1.12.36. Although the death penalty was never pronounced, in many instances lengthy prison terms were imposed: Fischer, Schacht, pp. 199f.
51. Barkai, Boykott, pp. 126f; details in: BAB, R 2/31.097. For this and the other two anti-Jewish legal proposals which were deferred: Adam, Judenpolitik, pp.159ff.
52. 'gegebenem Anlaß (volksschädigendes Verhalten einzelner Juden'). IfZ, Nuremberg Documents, NG 4030, Memorandum from Reichsfinanzministerium, 25.4.38; Genschel, Vedrängung, pp. 150f.
53. RGBl 1938 I, 1579.
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