Overview of the Holocaust


Boycott SignholdersIn 1935, the Nuremberg Laws stripped Jews of their civil rights as German citizens and separated them from Germans legally, socially, and politically. Being Jewish was determined by ancestry; thus, the Nazis used race, not religious beliefs or practices, to define the Jewish people. This law forbade marriages or sexual relations between Jews and Germans. Hitler warned that if this law did not resolve the problem, he would turn to the Nazi party for a final solution.

The use of posters, documents, caricatures, literature, newspaper headlines, and other material that ridiculed and defamed Jews, inflamed readers to blame, boycott and attack them. The burning of books written by Jews and any so-called “un-German” literature was also used.


Kristallnacht aftermathKristallnacht was the name given to the first major attack on the Jewish population of Germany and Austria on the nights of November 9 and 10, 1938. Following the assassination of a German diplomat in Paris by a young Jew trying desperately to help his parents obtain visas, to return to their homeland, Nazis roamed through Jewish neighborhoods inciting the citizenry to break windows of businesses and homes, looting and burning over 800 synagogues. As a result, 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps, beaten, and some even killed. An estimated 20,000 children were left homeless and fatherless by the destruction of Kristallnacht and imprisonment of Jewish men.

Propaganda distorted incidents as spontaneous outbursts, denying the party’s involvement. Kristallnacht turned out to be a crucial turning point in Nazi policy regarding the Jews. It was a signal to Jews in Germany and Austria to leave as soon as possible. Several hundred thousand people were able to find refuge in other countries, but many more stayed to face an uncertain fate.

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