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Nazism’s Anti-Semitic Policies

Upon assuming the office of Chancellor, Hitler quickly dispensed with democratic institutions and made himself dictator. With total control, the Nazis were free to pursue anti-Semitic policies. In 1933, Hitler fired all Jews in the German civil service (which included all teachers in public schools and universities, as well as all government workers). The infamous Nuremberg Laws” of 1935, which defined Jews in terms of the religion of their grandparents, deprived Jews of German citizenship and forced greater segregation.

The Nazis organized violent demonstrations during which bands of “Brown Shirts” ravaged the homes, businesses and synagogues of the Jews. One night in particular, November 9, 1938, was so violent that it came to be known as Kristallnacht, the night of the broken glass.

Half of Germany’s 500,000 Jews fled to other countries between 1933-1939; those who remained still considered themselves German citizens and believed that their friends, neighbors, business partners and civic leaders would stop Hitler.  But few people either within Germany, or other foreign governments, for that matter, registered opposition to Hitler’s policies, which led him to intensify his anti-Semitic campaign. At the same time countries such as the United States, England and Canada made it very difficult for Jews to immigrate.

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