The origins of German Anti-Semitism

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shadowshadow The origins of German Anti-Semitism

The Origins of German Anti-Semitism

Anti-Semitism in Germany originated from a number of sources. The first source was traditional Christian anti-Semitism. Until Vatican II the Catholic Church claimed that the Jews killed Christ and were eternally guilty of killing him. Second and related, the Jews were the one group in Europe that refused to accept Christ thus they were traditionally persecuted for their refusal.

Until the French Revolution Jews were limited to living in ghettos and could not work in most professions. After the revolution and the resulting enlightment, Jews were able to move out of the Ghettos and enter almost every profession. In German this resulted in a rapid economic integration of Jews in the economy. They soon represented an out of proportional percentage of the lawyer’s, doctors and other professionals. Before long Germans who were not doing as well began to resent the Jews and blame them for their own economic failures.

Some Germans also developed an ideology that believed that Jews were racially different then German Aryans. They believed that the Jews were racially inferior. A German theorist put forth the idea that German history was the story of the struggle between the Aryan and Jewish races. Other German thinkers put forth the theories that the German Aryan race was the most superior race on Earth and any intermarriage between Jews and Aryans was bad for the Aryan people.

As Hitler began his rise to power he embraced all of these forms of traditional German anti-Semitism. He further subscribed to the view that the Jews were responsible for Germany’s defeat n World War I. He was an enthusiastic supporter of theories that Jewish bankers were scheming to control the world while at the same time believing that the Jews were responsible for the rise of communism. In short the Jews were responsible for all the ills in the world.

All of these beliefs soon became an integral part of the beliefs of the Nazis party.

On February 27th 1925 at a meeting in a Munich beer cellar attended by 3,000 Hitler refounded the Nazis party. The next year he founded the Hitler youth and published the second volume of Mein Kampf. In 1927 both Bavaria and Saxony lifted the ban on Hitler’s public speaking that had been a condition of his earlier parole. That year he spoke to 56 public rallies. In 1928 the Nazis party ran in the national elections for the first time. It was one of 31 parties that participated in the elections. Twelve of its members were elected the German Reichstag (parliament). Twelve out of 491 seats was not exactly a big vote of support, but Hitler made the most of his party’s new position in the Reichstag.

By 1930 the Great Depression was having a major effect on Germany, where almost 3 million were unemployed. German nationalist were violently protesting an agreement in which the last Allied occupation troops withdrew from the Rhineland in return for Germany agreeing to pay much reduced reparation for its actions in World War I. Nazis party members known as brownshirts started the year by killing eight Jews in Berlin. On September 24th new elections were held for the Reichstag. The Nazis ran a well-organized vigorous campaign. The Nazis surprised everyone winning 107 seats, becoming the second largest party in the Reichstag.
Hitler refused to enter into any coalition government. He demanded that he be appointed Chancellor. German Chancellor Bruning refused to even consider it. Throughout the year the Nazis movement held demonstration, rallies all calling for an end of reparations and an end the Jewish influence in Germany. Burining could barely hold together his coalition, and the parties of the right led by Hitler demanded new elections. Meanwhile in local election the party continually to achieve larger and larger victories. The Nazis Brownshirts continued their terror in the streets. Franz von Papen became the new chancellor of Germany. He dissolved the Reichstag and called new elections. On July 31, 1932 elections were held and the Nazis won 230 seats in the Reichstag, becoming the largest party winning 37.5 percent of the vote. Von Papen refused to make way for Hitler to become Chancellor, the only position he would accept. Von Papen called new election and in those elections held in November. In those elections the Nazis vote went down, and they received only 197 seats. When Von Paper resigned German president Hidenburg offered Hitler the position of chancellor. Hitler refused unless he was given extraordinary powers. After a number of months of political turmoil in which Hitler brownshirts controlled the streets, Hindenburg had not choice but offer Hitler the chancellorship again. On January 30th Hitler became the new chancellor of Germany.