The Physical Assault on Jews in Germany, 1938–1939
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Words in documents lose their ability to convey the real meaning of historical events when those events become violent. Until 1938 a major mode of attack on Jews and other racial inferiors was through the power of language. Jews were constantly confronted with signs of their persecution, ranging from the crudely lettered ‘Don’t Buy from Jews’ placards of the SA on 1 April 1933, to the officially printed ‘Not for Jews’ signs which proliferated in public places, to ‘Jews Not Welcome’ affixed to sites of service, entertainment, and transport. The Nuremberg Laws were proudly published for all to read. Less open forms of persecution also affected the entire German Jewish community: loss of jobs in the public sector, government-sponsored humiliations, and occasional threats of violence. Other despised groups were attacked more physically in 1933 to 1937. First socialists and communists, then Jehovah’s Witnesses and homosexuals were arrested and often brutalized in the system of concentration camps scattered across Germany. Jews were threatened in every way, but violence was only rarely directed towards them.
KeywordsPhysical Assault German Nationality Nazi Party Jewish Refugee Friendly Neighbour
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- 17.Translated from Walter Grab, ‘Die Juden sind Ungeziefer, ausgenommen mein jüdischer Schulkamerad Grab’, in Jörg Wollenberg (ed.), “Niemand war dabei und keiner hat’s gewußt”: Die deutsche Öffentlichkeit und die Judenverfolgung 1933–1945 (Munich: Piper, 1989), pp. 45–50, excerpt on pp. 47–50.Google Scholar
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