Reign of Terror: German Public Opinion of the Jews 1933-1939
Historian Marc Bloch describes history as something that is “progressive which constantly transforms and perfects itself.” There are many different opinions that persist in pre-war Nazi Germany. There is the opinion of the Jewish people living in Germany, the opinion of the Nazis living in Germany under the command of Adolf Hitler, and there is the opinion of the German people who were not Nazis which this paper is focused on. Events such as Kristallnacht positively affected the opinion of the Jewish people to the German public during pre-war Nazi Germany.
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” Hitler did not stop there though. He makes his opinion very clear when he says, “If the Jews were alone in this world, they would stifle in filth and offal.” He goes on to say, “The Jew’s life as a parasite in the body of other nations and states explains a characteristic… to call him the ‘great master in lying’.” This information taken from Hitler’s biography Mein Kampf shows the opinion that many Nazis themselves felt about people they considered lesser people and is the beginning of a look into the anti-Semitic opinions of many German people.
Adolf Hitler took office on March 5th 1933 and he very quickly got to work attempting to harm the German Jews way of life. What followed his election was a wave of violence against political opposition and assassinations of those suspected of Marxist tendencies. A month later on April 1st, the Nazi Party staged a nationwide anti-Jewish boycott which marked a change in direction for the country. Such events had been done before and were led by members of the Nazi Party, but this time it was a state act and the impact of this boycott went well beyond the material damage involved. The very first law passed by the new regime, The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service established race as a condition of employment and led to the removal of thousands of officials. In terms of the public opinion during the time it shows that many disapproved of the barbarity of these attacks and many feared it would have disastrous economic consequences at a time when the country could ill afford them.
A main driving force in attempting to get the German people to back whatever laws and restrictions were put against the Jewish people came in the form of propaganda. This propaganda was backed by a lot of money and was essential to the Nazi goal of having a unified country that would be ready to fight in another war. This propaganda however, did not always work. On July 8th 1933, the local branch of the People’s Association for Germanness in Foreign Lands held a large public meeting in the largest assembly hall in Neustadt which approximately seats about 1,000 people. The purpose of this meeting was to provide information on the appalling situation faced by the Germans in the Soviet Empire. There was a speaker from the party who gave what is considered by the reporter as a great speech. He attempted to use elements of mass terror to get his message across saying “Whoever does not actively support the government and work for it will suffer the consequences. The Revolution has still not been brought to a conclusion.” The mass suggestion and mass terror given in this speech spurred many people to respond to it by applauding the man giving the speech. The man who gave this report noted that were people seated at his table that he called “distinguished” that were not applauding the speech that was given. The reporter surmises that the speaker’s statements were simply too strong for many supporters and friends...