In the first six years of the Hitler regime, anti-Semitism was the central focus of Nazi ideology. Between 1933 and 1939, the Jews were subject to more than four hundred regulations that restricted all aspects of public and private life, including the following.
- 1933: The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service restricted the practices of Jewish lawyers, tax consultants, and doctors, as well as students pursuing education in these fields. Jewish civilians were barred from the army
- 1934: Actors were forbidden from performing in films and theater, Jewish workers and managers were dismissed from their jobs, and all Jewish-owned businesses were transferred to Aryan German ownership.
- 1935: The Nuremberg Race Laws defined Jewish individuals not by their religious beliefs, but by their ancestral lineage.
- 1936: Reich Veterinarians expelled Jews from veterinarian practice, and the Reich Ministry of Education banned Jewish teachers from schools.
- 1937-1938: Jewish Civil service workers were barred entirely from their professions.
- 1938: Jews were barred from all public schools and universities, cinemas, theaters, and sports facilities; the Decree on the Confiscation of Jewish Property transferred assets from Jews to Aryan Germans; and Jewish midwives were barred from the profession.
- 1939: Jews were forced to carry identity cards indicating their heritage.
Marta Appel writes of the fallout she experienced with her non-Jewish friends in the early stages of Hitler's regime. Appel recalls monthly lunch meetings with her friends from high school, which she stopped attending in 1933:
It was not necessary for me to read their eyes or listen to the changes in their voices... The empty table in the little alcove that had always been reserved for us spoke the clearest language... Why should they risk losing a position only to prove to me that we still had friends in Germany?
As the Nazis enacted increasingly restrictive anti-Semitic legislation and encouraged discrimination of the Jews on a public scale, Appel reflects on the fear felt by her people and how her native land took on an entirely different and dangerous atmosphere:
We were no longer safe, wherever we went... Everything had changed—the whole country looked different in my eyes.
Of all the changes imposed by this legislation, Appel was most affected by how Jewish children were treated:
I, personally, did not mind all those disappointments, but when my children had to face them... my heart was filled with anguish... Every day they had to face another degrading and offensive incident.
She experienced particular "anguish" over how Jewish children were indoctrinated into believing their inferiority as a race within Germany:
Almost every lesson [in school] began to be a torture for Jewish children.
Prior to Jewish children being barred from all schools, they were segregated from Aryan children in the classroom. Both Jewish and Aryan children were made to read anti-Semitic academic texts and literature, such as The Poisonous Mushroom, a children's story conveying the idea that Jews were the most poisonous race in existence, threatening racial purity in the country.
By 1938, Jewish adults increasingly sought to flee Hitler's regime. This proved difficult, due to Nazi legislation, and Appel details how Jewish parents were faced with the difficult choice of whether or not to send their children abroad through the Kindertransport. This organized rescue effort sent nearly 10,000 children, predominantly Jewish, to foster homes, hostels, schools, and farms in Britain.