Background image to this page: Long before Jews in Europe were required to wear the Star of David on their persons in Europe or Germany, the Nazis were using the symbol. In April 1933, when the Nazi Party orchestrated a boycott of Jewish shops and businesses, Hitler's government ordered that Jewish shops be marked with placards featuring "a yellow badge on a black background" Robert Weltsch, a writer for the Zionist publication Judische Rundschau commented "this regulation is intended as a brand, a sign of contempt. We will take it up and make it a badge of honor."
In September 1941, Jews in the German Reich were ordered to wear badges with the yellow star and the word "Jude." Jews in the German-occupied lands of eastern Europe had been ordered to do the same two years earlier.


Jan. 30 -- Adolf Hitler is named chancellor of Germany by President Hindenburg. Hitler's partners in this coalition government agree that Nazi minister Hermann Goering, as Minister of the Interior for Prussia, would have jurisdiction over most of the German police. Goering quickly appoints members of the SA and SS as auxiliary police. Police increasingly do nothing while SA stormtroopers assault Jews in the streets.

Feb. 27 -- German Reichstag burns in act of arson, subsequently blamed on a Dutch communist. Hindenburg agrees to let Hitler use emergency powers and civil rights are suspended in Germany. The number of Nazi Party seats in the Reichstag increases with new elections. The new Reichstag soon passes a law that permits Hitler to rule by decree for the next four years.

March -- Joseph Goebbels is named Minister for Propaganda and Public Enlightenment, and immediately begins encouraging the German press to criticize Jews as a "cancer" within Germany. Heinrich Himmler, as provisional head of the police in Munich, orders the establishment of a large camp for keeping in "protective custody" Germans who"cannot be allowed to remain free as they continue to agitate and to cause unrest." This camp is built around an old gunpowder factory at Dachau.

April -- Nazi stormtroopers begin intimidating shoppers to boycott Jewish-owned businesses. Reichstag passes several laws to remove Jews from civil service jobs, restrict Jewish lawyers, judges and physicians, and establish a quota system limiting the number of Jewish students in German schools and universities.

May-July -- Books by Jewish writers, socialist writers and others who are condemned as "subversive" or "decadent" are burned in public bonfires. Reichstag passes law making the Nazi Party the only legal political party in Germany. Another law permits government to revoke citizenship of anyone who settled in Germany after November 9, 1918; this is applied to large numbers of Jews from Poland and other eastern European countries.

August 25 -- Germany concludes Haavara Transfer Agreement with Zionist officials, which will allow Jews to emigrate to Palestine with a larger part of their savings than they could otherwise take out of Germany. German press encourages Jews to take advantage of this and leave.

September 22 -- New law creating a Reich Chamber of Commerce is used to eliminate Jewish-produced paintings, books, music, and other cultural artifacts. Jewish writers, musicians, conductors, etc. are stripped of their positions.



June- July -- After purging the SA of leaders that he no longer trusts, Hitler grants the Heinrich Himmler's SS independence from the SA. The SS will play the dominant role in the persecution of the Jews from this time forward.

August -- After the death of President Hindenburg, Hitler becomes both chancellor and president of the nation. The German military and all public officials in Germany must now swear an oath of personal loyalty to Adolf Hitler, pledging to obey whatever orders he may choose to give.



May 21 -- A new law on military service now excludes Jews from serving in the military.

June 25 -- German government amends its 1933 sterilization laws to allow the state to mandate abortions for women who are deemed "eugenically unfit."

September 15 -- The New Racial Laws are announced at the Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg. These laws proclaim that German citizenship is restricted to those "who [are] of German or kindred blood." The state will decide who is and is not worthy of citizenship by issuing "Reich Citizenship Papers." Marriage and sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews is prohibited by the new law.

November 14 -- A special decree issued in conjunction with the citizenship law defines what a "Jew" is under German law and states "A Jew cannot be a citizen of the Reich." Earlier Nazi laws had exempted Jewish military veterans from the harshest anti-Semitic measures in education and the professions. This decree removes the exemptions.

December 31 -- Any remaining Jews in the German civil service, including military veterans, are now dismissed from their jobs.

(For the full text of the above laws, click here)



June 17 -- Hitler gives control of all police agencies in German to the SS and makes Himmler the head of all German police. Persecutions of the Jews fade as Germany prepares to host the Olympic Games at Berlin. Persecutions of gypsies in Germany increase as many gypsies are arrested placed in detention camps.

September 9 -- At the annual Party rally in Nuremberg, Hitler announces plans to have the German military ready for war within 4 years. Subsequent decrees make all Jews in Germany responsible for actions by "individual Jews" that may hinder this plan.



July -- The Buchenwald concentration camp is completed and opened.

December 14 -- Himmler issues a decree that permits the arrest and detention of any "asocial" person. While the decree is aimed at gypsies, it is applied to Jews and other "undesirables" as well.



March -- The Anschluss: Germany annexes Austria. All Austrian Jews are subjected to the retrictions of the 1935 racial laws.

April 26 -- A new decree orders Jews to register with the state all their assets greater in value than 5000 RM.

July -- Representatives of 32 nations meet at Evian France to discuss ways to help the growing number of Jewish refugees in Europe and the world. Only the Dominican Republic offers to take in a sizable number of Jewish refugees.

August 17 -- All Jewish men in Germany required to add the middle name "Israel" to their names, and all women to add "Sara" to their names.

September -- New decrees prohibit Jews from practicing law or medicine in Germany.

October -- German Jews must have their passports stamped with a "J" for "Jude," and over 15,000 "stateless" Jews in Germany (Jews who had been born elsewhere, but who had lived in Germany since 1919) are expelled and driven across the Polish border.

November -- A Jewish student in Paris, whose parents had been among those expelled into Poland, kills a German diplomat in the German embassy. In retaliation, Nazi Party members, led by SA leaders, go on a rampage in Germany on November 9-10, killing Jews and burning synagogues, homes, and businesses. Some thirty thousand Jews are arrested and detained in concentration camps in the aftermath of the "Kristallnacht" pogrom -- the night of broken glass.



January -- The SS takes charge of all emigration of Jews from the Greater German Reich. Hitler in a speech to the Reichstag says that a new war in Europe will lead to the "annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe." The German army is already planning the invasion of Poland.

March -- German troops occupy the remainder of the Czech state. Jews in Bohemia and Moravia are arrested and placed in concentration camps.

May 15 -- Ravensbruck concentration camp is completed and opened for women prisoners.

June-August -- The SS creates special units - Einsatzgruppen -- for the purpose of carrying out "special tasks" during the coming attack on Poland. These tasks will include the murder of Polish leaders and intellectuals, and the rounding up of Jews in Poland for the purpose of placing them in ghettos.

September -- Germany invades Poland. Britain and France declare war on Germany.

Sources: Gotz Aly, 'Final Solution': Nazi Population Policy and the Murder of the European Jews (1999); Yitzhak Arad, et. al., editors, Documents on the Holocaust (1999); Saul Friedlander, Nazi Germany and the Jews (1997); Donald Niewyk and Francis Nicosia, The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust (2000).
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