Oct 31, 2020

History of the Nuremberg Laws

The creation of the Nazi Party in 1920, after Germany’s loss in World War I, was a monumental period in history. It marked the start of a new era in which far-right ideologies became prevalent in Germany, especially after Hitler’s inauguration as Chancellor in 1933. 

The enactment of the Nuremberg Laws, however, fundamentally stripped Jewish people and other races of their basic rights, sparking widespread anti-Semitism throughout Europe.

The Nazi Party, or initially known as the German’s Worker Party, was an extremely far right political party formed by German nationalists who advocated for national socialism. The leaders of the party were outspoken, often emphasizing their opposition to the Treaty of Versailles, Marxism, and monarchies.

They believed that the Germans of the Aryan race were the "master race", and every other race was below them. The Nazis often blamed Jewish people for the problems associated with capitalism and held that Jewish people were the cause of Germany’s loss in the First World War.

Adolf Hitler joined the political party in 1919 and passionately spoke out against socialism, advocating that Germany should instead be controlled by Nationalsozialisten (National Socialists).

This ideology was perceived to be far-right, as it did not advocate for equal rights for all races and religions. Support slowly began to grow for the ideology, and Anti-Semitic laws, as well as the most commonly known Nuremberg Laws, would eventually set the precedent for the anti-semitism of the Second World War.

In early 1933, the same year Hitler became Chancellor of the country, Germany passed the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service. The act made it legal for Jewish state employees and Jewish civil servants to be terminated from their jobs. This hindered their ability to work at places they chose, and later that year, many cities began limiting the amount of Jewish students in educational institutions.

The mayor of Munich, a large city in Bavaria, forbade licensed Jewish doctors to provide medical care to any non-Jewish patients seeking care. The Nazi Party, now fully controlled by Chancellor Hitler, started to impose shocking nationwide restrictions on Jewish people. They established a 1.5% quota for the amount of ‘non-Aryans’ able to attend public universities and stopped allowing Jewish actors to be a part of the entertainment industry.

In the fall of 1935, the Nazis held their annual convention in the small town of Nuremberg, situated in Bavaria. At the convention, they proposed the Nuremberg Laws to the Reichstag (German Parliament), and the laws consequently got approved and enacted. The laws included restrictions that banned Jews from voting in elections and expelled Jews from the German army.

However, the most shocking part of the law was that it prohibited any person who was Jewish from getting married to Germans or having sexual relations with Germans. They classified a Jew as somebody who had at least 3 Jewish grandparents, which made it nearly impossible for couples of different religions to get married.

The Nazis made it a criminal offense to engage in such activity, and for those who still got married in secret or had romantic relations despite one of them being Jewish, they were severely punished. The laws got extended to other minorities a few months later, specifically to black and Romani people.

While the harsh laws initially only remained in effect in Germany, they were extended to Austria once Austria joined Germany in 1938. Germany was able to spread their anti-Semitic ideology and principles to the territories they took control of when the Second World War started, and the laws took effect in countries they controlled, such as Poland.

The anti-Semitic laws continued, and in 1938, German authorities forced Jewish men and women with non-traditional Jewish names to add the first name to their given names. For men, they were forced to add ‘Israel’, and for women, they were forced to add ‘Sara’ to their given name. Such laws promoting the persecution of Jewish people were prevalent in the pre-war era, due to the official enactment of the Nuremberg laws in 1935.

The Nuremberg laws remained in effect until the spring of 1945 when the Nazis surrendered to the Allies. However, the effect of the laws on both Jews and other minorities in Europe was long-lasting. The Nuremberg trials began in the same place where anti-Semitism had all started, as Nazi leaders and war criminals were put on trial for their terrible crimes.

Today, Nuremberg remains a symbol of hope for those affected by World War 2, as justice was achieved through the trials.

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