What Did We know About Hitler’s Plans for the Jews in 1933?

I quote from the 1934 World Almanac (covering the year 1933), the year Hitler assumed power in Germany, six years before the start of World War II, and well before the Wannsee Conference where the “Final Solution” was approved:

“The Nazis by Feb.24 had inducted their Storm Troopers and some of the Steel Helmets into the police as auxiliaries. Highly organized military planning and rigid discipline marked their activities.  Acts of violence in increasing number and severity by the uniformed Nazi Storm Troopers (“brown shirts”) against Jews and Marxists were reported abroad with world-wide repercussions. The Anti-Semitic campaign broadened.  Nazi “Committees of Action” were formed to organize a boycott of Jewish business men, stores and shops, and to force Jewish judges, lawyers, doctors and other professional men out of the practice of their professions.  A one day boycott on April 1 was a warning.  It penetrated to even the smallest villages.  All Jewish concerns, with the exception of banks and newspapers, were then placed under guard by Storm Troopers.  Signs “No German buys from Jews” were pasted on stores.  :Jew” was painted on windows and nameplates of Jewish doctors and attorneys and pickets kept Jewish judges and lawyers from the court.  Jewish professors and students from the universities, and even Jewish readers from the libraries.  Concentration camps using old barracks, castles and the like had been set up even before the March 5 elections, and the number of the interned had by August reached a total variously estimated at between 80,000 and 90,000. Under the terrorism called the “cold pogrom” opposition collapsed.  Over 40,000 Jews fled the country, mostly in poverty, being unable to take money or property with them.”

The discussion went on for another dozen paragraphs dealing with various laws that had been promulgated by the Reich. But I post this paragraph to show how quickly Hitler’s program was implemented and how well it was known.  There was nothing subtle about it.  There was nothing incremental about it.

We know what happened  between 1933 and 1945, and that Germany was basically given free reign to increase the anti-Jewish violence and legislation.  It is hard to believe that this could not have somehow be muted.  It is hard to believe that eventually similar laws blanketed most of Europe.  It is hard to believe that today, 80 years later, with knowledge of everything that went on in the 30s and 40s, that anti-Semitism is still alive and well.

Perhaps the best answer has been developed by David Nirenberg in his 2013 book “Anti-Judaism: the Western Tradition”.  Nirenberg shows how anti-Judaism has been so embedded in western civilization and thought that it simply cannot be dislodged.  Period.

He may be right.


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