Nuremberg Laws in the History of the Holocaust

In 1933 Jews in Germany were about 1% of the 55 million German population. Jews were very active in many fields in Germany. The Jews in Germany were very prosperous in businesses and other professions. Many Jews had served in the German military in World War I. They had lived for many years in Germany, which had made them consider themselves as Germans and as Jews only by religions. They took Germany as their home, their passionate ties and blind loyalties to Germany had made them, blind to the harsh realities of anti-Semitic measures. (Ben 2001)

Before the Second World War, Hitler used the law to effectively exterminate the Jews. This according to Hitler was an excuse for ensuring racial purity. Many decrees were passed allowing harassment, imprisonment, and murder of the Jews. These decrees were not only aimed at Jews but anyone regarded as non-Aryan by the Nazis. More than 400 anti-Jewish decrees were enacted in Germany. After the Enabling Act, mistreatment of Jews began on 1st April; The Nazi regime organized a national boycott of all Jews businesses. The boycott lasted for three days and revealed the Nazi intelligence on Jewish economic life. The idea that it was permissible to destroy life without impunity was strengthened. Most of the Jews believed that the Nazi regime would be short-lived. (Ben 2001)

The Germans Jews did not have an organized representative to protest against these discriminations. Therefore the first law specifically dealing with Jews was passed. The passing of this law led to the barring of Jews from civil services. On April 7th the Nazi government ordered the filling of all the civil servants who were not Aryan. This acted as the first racial discrimination in Germany that was consistent with German law. This move created more job opportunities for the Aryans. Another decree was issued on 11th April and defined an Aryan as only those who descended from Aryan grandparents. The Nazis then tabulated instructions charts that helped in determining Jews.

The issue concerning the differences between Jews and non-Jews Germans becomes an issue of legal interpretation. This legalization became a good move for the Nazi regime to organize for legalizing prosecution of the Jews. On April 26 the state police become under the control of the Nazi government. These Gestapo were given unlimited police power. These powers allowed them to arrest, interrogate and detain without outside influence.

The Jews seek help from their local police. Some appealed to the courts for protection or payment for damages caused by the Nazis. They could not believe that nothing could be done on their complaints as the new laws enacted the Nazi acts. Their right to a defense and appeal was no longer valid. In the pre-war period in Germany, book-burning became common. This was aimed at erasing all the scientific contributions done by the Jews in Germany. This led to excluding 28 Jews from all artistic, dramatic, literary, and film enterprises. (Rashut2001)

On September 29 Jews farmers or those with Jewish ancestors could no longer own farmlands and were denied family property inheritance in Germany. In 1934 when Hitler consolidated his powers the path was now clear for him and this was followed by implementations of the Nazi party program of anti-Semitism throughout Germany. Between 1933 and 1935 was marked with inconsistent policies. There were a lot of violent actions subjected to the Jews in Germany. Underneath these contradictory policies was the common thread of Jews being steadily deprived of their livelihood and legal status. Each of these regulations had the full support of the non-Jewish public and legal establishment. By the end of 1935, more than 75,000 German Jews had fled Germany. (The Nazi Genocide of the Jews)

On September 15, 1935, at the Nuremberg NSDAP party convention, new laws, which embodied Hitler’s racial visions in Mein Kampf, were passed. The purpose of these new racial laws, known collectively as the Nuremberg Laws, was to eliminate random discrimination and introduce a comprehensive body of laws aimed at excluding Jews from mainstream German life. The Reich Citizenship Law, Reichsburgergesets, was the most serious; the status of German citizenship was decreed to belong only to a national of German or related blood. It excluded Jews from any rights as citizens with race as a determining factor.

Loss of citizenship was the most important step in the process that leads to the ultimate exclusion and murder of German Jews. Citizenship, at that time, was the only status that conferred specific rights and privileges on individuals before International Law asserted that people have rights regardless of whether or not they have citizenship under a nation-state. The mistreatment of Jews became normal under a legal system based on extreme prejudice and violence. German Jews could now be expelled from the Reich without warning. Without being able to hold public or civic positions, a large number of the German Jewish population had no means of financial survival.

The legalization of Nazi policy meant that there was nothing illegal about the inhuman treatment of the Jews in the Reich. The Convention on Genocide in 1947 was a crucial turning point because it specified Genocide as a ‘crime against humanity;’ invoking a universal principle in the judgment of nations. It was deemed necessary to appeal to a law higher than that of any individual state in such cases. (Final Solution)

The second law, the Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor, Gesetz zum Schutze des Deutschen Blutes und der Deutschen Ehre, forbade marriage and sexual contact between Jews and Aryans. This law, also known as the Blood Protection Act or Blutschutzgesetz, had two more prohibitions: Jews were not allowed to carry the German flag or employ Aryans in their households (Laws of Nuremberg 1).

Jews were stripped of all basic civil rights and classified as a separate race of subjects rather than citizens The first amendment to the citizenship law defined a “full Jew” as a person with three Jewish grandparents. Jewish persons from mixed races were those who descended from one or two fully Jewish grandparents. “Half Jews” were defined as people with two Jewish grandparents. A “Quarter Jew” was a person with one Jewish grandparent (Laws of Nuremberg 1).

The Law for the Protection of Genetic Health of the German People soon followed. It required all persons wanting to marry to submit to a medical examination, after which a “Certificate of Fitness to Marry” would be issued if they were free of diseases. The certificate was required for a marriage license (Race Laws 1).

From the time the Nuremberg Laws were passed until 1938, sporadic legislation resulted in further severity against Jews. Street names that sounded Jewish were changed and Jews whose first names did not sound “Jewish” had to add “Israel” or “Sarah” to their names. Passports and identity cards were marked with a “J” for Jude. To enforce these laws, the SS increasingly began to take power over the Jews. The result of the Nuremberg Laws and the regulations, which followed, was to bring together the various policies toward Jews, which had been inconsistent and contradictory (Refugee Crisis 7).

The Nuremberg Laws were an important step toward the Nazi goal to exterminate all Jews. The Nazis now had a definition that was escalating in severity and leading to the destruction of European Jews. Once Jews could be defined and identified, they could be segregated socially, politically, and economically from other Germans. Jews were now outside the protection of a state they had placed their confidence in for generations. (The Nuremberg Race Laws)


Rashut H. (2001) The pictorial History of Holocaust: Oxford University Press: London.

The Refugee Crisis and the Persecution Years.” Holocaust Documentation and Education Center Florida International.

The First Steps Leading to the “Final Solution”. Web.

The Nuremberg Race Laws. Web.

The Nazi Genocide of the Jews, 1935-45: A Brief Introduction to the Holocaust. Web.

The Laws of Nuremberg . Web.

The Nuremberg Laws, by Ben S Austin 2001.

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