Soon after Hitler came to power in 1933, discriminatory laws were enacted against the Jews of Germany and the Nazis placed a boycott on Jewish stores. The reaction of Jews in the United States was outrage. Huge marches were organized with a million people turning out in cities throughout the country. Marches were held in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Newark, and even Atlantic City. The organizers called for a boycott of German products and urged everyone to write to their legislators and to President Roosevelt asking them to act against these discriminatory actions against the Jews. Jews in Britain also reacted with protest marches and boycotts.
David Cesarani’s new book, Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949 describes these marches and the reaction to them. “To the Nazis,” Cesarani writes, “the overseas campaign against them was proof that ‘the Jews’ were an international force. The diplomatic initiatives on their behalf in Washington and London, however, mild, were taken as evidence that Jews controlled the governments there.” (42)
The Nazis were incensed at these protests and boycotts. Goring told German Jewish leaders that they had to “persuade the Jews in London and New York to call off the boycotts and cut out the ‘atrocity propaganda.’” (43) The Jewish leaders obliged and contacted leaders in the United States and Britain, asking them to exert an “energetic effort to obtain an end to demonstrations hostile to Germany.” (id)
Did these large protests in the United States and Britain help the Jews of Germany? The Nazi government legally enact over 400 laws and decrees that led to the destruction of European Jewry. Many happened right away in Hitler’s administration – the equivalent of the first 100 days. Some include:
- Enabling Act – provided legal authority for dictatorship. Hitler was given powers, for four years, to promulgate legislation without the Parliament, even if it deviated from the German Constitution (March 23, 1933);
- Jewish judges were dismissed; Jews were prohibited from serving as prosecutors, judges, lawyers, journalists, conductors, musicians and professors in the University (March 1933);
- Law of the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service – eliminating Jews from civil service and political opponents of the regime;
- First boycott of Jewish businesses (April 1-3, 1933);
- Decree defining “non-Aryan” –anyone descended from non-Aryan, especially Jewish parents or grandparents (April 11, 1933);
- Law banning schita (Jewish ritual slaughter of animals) (April 11, 1933);
- Law Against Overcrowding of German Schools and Institutions of Higher Learning – non-Aryan Germans were restricted. Jews to 1.5% of the admitted students to specific schools and universities and a five percent limit on the total student population (April 25, 1933);
- Government declares the Nazi Party as the only political party in Germany (July 14, 1933);
- Law passed to denaturalize Jews who entered Germany after November 1918 (July 14, 1933);
- Jews prevented from going to cinemas, theaters, swimming pools and resorts. Boycotts and violence against Jews erupts in Berlin (Summer 1935);
- Sterilization law – Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Progeny. This “established Hereditary Health Courts consisting of doctors, psychiatrists and social workers who were empowered to order the compulsory sterilization of individuals deemed mentally or physically disabled and liable to pass on their disability if they had children.”(53) (July 14, 1933);
- Nuremberg Laws – marriage between Jew and “nationals of German kindred blood” – forbidden (Sept. 1935);
Beware: Alternative Facts are all around and newspeak is here.
Cesarani, David. Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933-1949. New York, NY. St. Martin’s Press. 2016.
Dawidowicz, Lucy S. The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945. New York, NY. Bantam Books. 1975.