Holocaust Survivors and Remembrance Project: "Forget You Not"
preserving the past to protect the future ...
Origins of the Holocaust
.A Nazi parade with soldiers carrying swastika flags.
Adolf Hitler's persecution of Jews began as soon as the Nazis came to power in 1933. A strident anti-Semitism had always been part of his party platform. Hitler's policies later found eager support in other European nations as well, where centuries of deeply ingrained Christian anti-Semitism erupted into violence under cover of war. Beginning in April 1933, Jewish businesses in Germany were boycotted and vandalized. Jews were driven from their jobs in government and universities. Other groups were also targeted. On May 10, tens of thousands of books written by "non-Aryans" and opponents of Nazism were gathered and burned. Alleged opponents of the government and male homosexuals were among the first to be sent to concentration camps. Jehovah's Witnesses and Roma were also imprisoned.
Adolf Hitler at the Nuremberg Rally, 1936.
During a meeting of the Nazi Party in Nürnberg in September 1935 laws --known as the Nürnberg Laws-- were developed to further aid in the discrimination of Jews. These laws were later modified to include Roma, who were the only group other than the Jews to be targeted for the gas chambers. Jews lost their citizenship and were forbidden to intermarry with other Germans. They became nonpersons in their own country with no claim to rights of any kind. Some Jews fled to other European nations, Palestine, or to the United States, but emigration was often problematic.
On Nov. 9-10, 1938, the Night of Broken Glass (Kristallnacht in German), nearly every synagogue in Germany was destroyed or damaged, Jewish businesses were looted and their windows shattered, and a number of other Jewish institutions were also attacked. More than 90 Jews were killed, and many others injured. Thousands of Jewish men were rounded up, stripped of their property, and imprisoned in concentration camps. In the aftermath, the Jewish community was subjected to additional restrictions and segregation. Although these outrages were reported around the world, there was almost no organized opposition to what was happening, even on the part of most churches. To Hitler, this silence implied tacit approval of his policies. [EB]