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Adolf hitler rise to power and his final solution

Print this page Apartheid Despite years of anti-Semitic rhetoric, when Adolf Hitler and the Nazis first came to power in Germany in January 1933, they had few concrete policies for dealing with the Jews. During his first years in office Hitler concentrated on destroying his political enemies, improving the economy, and rebuilding German power. Hitler was also aware that foreign opinion and trade might be adversely affected by harsh persecution of the Jews. He did not, however, ignore pressure from the anti-Jewish elements in the Party and the SA the Sturm Abteilung or storm troopers - the party militia.

In April 1933 he permitted an organised boycott of Jewish businesses and his government enacted a string of laws that gradually excluded the Jews from government employment and public life. Under the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 German Jews were reduced to subject status and lost the rights of citizens. Germany became, in effect, an apartheid state. However, Jews who had fought in the 1914-18 war were excluded from discriminatory measures for as long as Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg was President.

Hindenburg had led Germany during the war, and felt a sense of obligation to Jewish veterans. When he died in 1934, and Hitler became head of state, this restraint was removed.

From Persecution to Genocide

As a consequence, 1936, the year of the Berlin Olympics, when there were many foreign visitors in Germany, was notably 'quiet' for German Jews. The economy was strong and he was popular. He now embarked on an expansionist foreign policy. Expansionism helped to radicalise the treatment of the Jews.

Rise of the Nazis and Beginning of Persecution

In March 1938, Hitler ordered the occupation of Austria, and a wave of anti-Semitic violence descended upon Austrian Jews. As part of the process of gearing the German economy for war, Hitler sanctioned semi-legal measures to seize the businesses and assets of German and Austrian Jews - a process called 'Aryanisation'.

It became Nazi policy to 'solve the Jewish question' by emigration, forcing the pace by the use of terror. Following the annexation of the Czechoslovakian borderlands, Hitler permitted his propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels to incite a huge pogrom against Jews in the Reich supposedly in revenge for the assassination of a German consular official in Paris by a Jew.

On 9-10 November 1938, hundreds of synagogues were burned down, thousands of Jewish homes and stores were ransacked, around 30,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps, and more than 90 were murdered. The November pogrom, dubbed Kristallnacht, or the 'Night of Broken Glass', by the Nazis, represented a significant radicalisation of attitudes towards the Jews. Few top Nazis were involved in organising Kristallnacht, and several were annoyed at the disruption it caused.

But all noted that the German population did not object - instead it seemed to take the role of spectator. Another important consequence of the pogrom was that the SS security apparatus, the Gestapo secret policethe SD Sicherheitsdienst or security service and the SS asserted its leadership of anti-Jewish policy.

Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich, who controlled the SS, complained that the violence did nothing to 'cleanse' the Reich of Jews.

The First Moments of Hitler’s Final Solution

Instead, they suggested there should be a concerted effort to make Jews emigrate. While war removed the need to worry about international opinion, it diminished the opportunities for Jewish emigration - just when the conquest of Poland added 1.

The Polish Jews were soon afflicted by mass starvation and disease. Occupied Poland, though, did offer a radical alternative. In late 1939, the Nazi leadership considered using the area around Lublin as a 'Jewish reservation'. Adolf Eichmann, an SS officer running emigration offices in Vienna, Prague and Berlin, was tasked with organising the first deportation of Jews from Austria and the Czech lands to Poland.

Eichmann later described the 'Nisko project' as the first of several attempts to find a 'territorial solution' to the 'Jewish question'.

  • A week later the Nazis dismissed Jews from the civil service , and by the end of the month the participation of Jews in German schools was restricted by a quota;
  • The Nazis arrested some 30,000 Jewish men between the ages of 16 and 60 and sent them to concentration camps;
  • Most countries, however, were unwilling to receive large numbers of refugees;
  • On 9-10 November 1938, hundreds of synagogues were burned down, thousands of Jewish homes and stores were ransacked, around 30,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps, and more than 90 were murdered;
  • In October 1941, Hitler agreed to the deportation of German and Austrian Jews to 'the East' but stipulated that they were not to be murdered.

It failed, however, because the Nazis had other priorities. In the meantime, Heydrich decreed that Polish Jews should be concentrated in towns and cities prior to being removed. They were stripped of their rights and property, denied work except forced labour for the Germansand crammed into the worst slum districts. To prevent the spread of epidemics the Nazi authorities built walls around the Jewish districts - and thus the ghettos were created. But this was a temporary measure and more a case of desperation than design.

  • When the Nazis prohibited schools, they opened clandestine schools;
  • In this job, he began to collect confidential reports on Party members made by his spies, thus building up secret files later used by Reinhard Heydrich in the Security Service S;
  • Among the first actions of the new Chancellor was enactment of an Emergency Decree directed at eliminating political opposition from the Communists;
  • Germans who tried to buy from Jews were shamed and exposed publicly;
  • In April 1933 he permitted an organised boycott of Jewish businesses and his government enacted a string of laws that gradually excluded the Jews from government employment and public life.

But the fall of France offered a promising new 'solution'. Eichmann, at the behest of Heydrich, enlarged the plan to include all the Jews of Europe. The war against Russia had a radicalising and brutalising effect. This was a radical new step, based on a barbaric vision of uprooting millions of people and shipping them to an island, under SS rule, that would clearly be unable to support them all.

The 'Madagascar Plan' was latently genocidal. It was never implemented, because as long as Britain held out against the might of the Third Reich the Royal Navy denied the freedom of the seas to Germany. Within months another territory suggested itself. In late 1940, Hitler ordered his generals to prepare the invasion of the Soviet Union. When the Nazi governors in occupied Poland learned of this, they stopped building ghettos - in anticipation of the imminent removal of the Jews to 'the East'.

The Nazi leadership was convinced that the USSR would be easy to subdue - and thought that after victory they could despatch Europe's Jews to the wastes of Siberia. It was conceived as a genocidal war - Nazi planners and the German army envisaged the death by starvation of 30 million Russians.

Hitler ordered his army commanders to kill all captured commissars Communist Party officials and Jews in the service of the Communist Party and the state apparatus. Mobile killing squads staffed by the SS and police, known as the Einsatzgruppen, were assigned to this murderous task.

In mid-summer, policy shifted towards genocide and Himmler transferred thousands of SS and police troops to the killing fields. By the end of the year, around 500,000 Jews on Soviet territory had been slaughtered. The news that more Jews would be added to those in their charge dismayed the Nazi rulers of Poland. On 31 July 1941, Heydrich obtained authorisation from Hermann Goering to prepare a plan for the 'complete solution of the Jewish question in Europe', probably a grand scheme of deportations eastwards.

Unexpectedly, however, the invasion of Russia did not culminate in a quick victory, and the resistance of the Red Army prevented the Nazis from using Siberia as the destination for unwanted Jews.

ADDITIONAL MEDIA

German policy-makers faced a dilemma - albeit one of their own making. In Poland the Jews were stuck in ghettos, although many were now manufacturing goods for the German war effort in return for food supplies, and living conditions had stabilised. Nevertheless, the ghetto economies were never viable in the long term, and the Nazi governors still wanted to be rid of the Jews.

Hitler was under pressure from Nazi party bosses to remove the remaining Jews from German cities, in order to re-house Germans bombed out of their homes, and to fulfil the Nazi promise to 'cleanse' Germany of Jews. In October 1941, Hitler agreed to the deportation of German and Austrian Jews to 'the East' but stipulated that they were not to be murdered.

For one thing, they were useful as hostages to prevent Jews in the free world bringing America into the war which Hitler fantastically believed lay within their power. Where would they put them?

When Hitler solidified his plan to exterminate Jews – and why it matters 75 years later

As a solution, the Einsatzgruppen massacred tens of thousands of Jews from the ghettos of Vilna, Kovno, Minsk and Lublin, to make room for the incoming transports. But mass shooting was too public, and too wearing on the killers.

Himmler and SS commanders were already looking at more discreet and efficient killing methods. They made a connection with the Nazi programme of compulsory euthanasia that had been in operation since August 1939. The euthanasia killers, mostly from the SS, had developed gas vans and gas chambers to murder thousands of the physically and mentally disabled in Germany and Poland.

With the termination of the so-called euthanasia programme they could be reassigned to eastern Europe to kill Jews. In late Autumn 1941, construction work began on the first death camp at Belzec, near Lublin.

In early December 1941, gas vans operating from a makeshift camp in the town of Chelmno began the systematic murder of Jews from Lodz. This was still not a European-wide genocide.

Although anti-Jewish measures had been enacted throughout western Europe, the Jews were physically untouched and there were no plans to deport them.

  1. Nazi Concentration Camps In 1933, ten concentration camps were set up in Germany — the first at Dachau — at first for the purpose of imprisoning political opponents of the regime and then for specific victims, such as Jews and homosexuals.
  2. Toward the end of the war, however, when the defeat of Germany was all but certain, the Romanian government found more value in living Jews who could be held for ransom or used as leverage with the West. Categorization was the first stage of destruction.
  3. Book burning — An activity, usually by a mob, in which books which express views or ideas not tolerated by a group are ritually burned.
  4. It was conceived as a genocidal war - Nazi planners and the German army envisaged the death by starvation of 30 million Russians. Although 37,000 Jews left Germany in 1933, many who remained believed that they could hold on and hold out.

Nor were there any facilities to kill them - the existing death camps were too small for such a task. Certainly, by the time of the Wannsee Conference, on 20 January 1942, Heydrich and Eichmann were planning the systematic deportation of Jews from across Europe to killing centres in Poland. But despite the setback in Russia, Nazi power was at its height and Hitler felt unconstrained. For this they needed the cooperation of the German civil service, as well as numerous foreign Allies and collaborationists.

Whether he sanctioned the mass murder of the Jews in a moment of euphoria, in expectation of victory, or out of pique because the war had become a global conflict - he now had the power and the freedom to turn his murderous hatred of the Jews into actual genocide.