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What were the Nuremberg Laws passed in Nazi Germany in the 1930s?

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larrygates eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Nuremberg Laws classified anyone with one or more Jewish grandparents as Jewish, and deprived all Jews of citizenship. Scores of Jews left the country, sacrificing everything in order to leave Germany. They were the fortunate ones. After the assassination of a German diplomat in Paris by a young Jewish boy who was trying to strike out at persecution, a well organized night of violence and vandalism erupted, known as Krystallnacht, ("Crystal Night," or "the night of broken glass.") Windows were smashed, shops looted, homes and synagogues destroyed. German Jews were arrested and made to pay for the damage. Although many Germans were opposed to Nazi outrages against Jews, most either went along or looked the other way.

Under the Nuremberg laws, persons determined to be Jewish were not allowed to teach or practice any profession. Sexual relations between Jews and non Jews was unlawful. Jews were prohibited from displaying the national flag, but were required to wear a Judenstern, or Jewish star, indicating their status. This was a major step in the National Socialist plan to eliminate Jewish influence from Germany.

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Passed very soon after the Nazis took power, these laws were part of the initial steps of the Holocaust against Jews.  They legally defined a Jew as a person who had at least one Jewish grandparent, even if that person was not a practicing member of the Jewish faith.  This was an attempt by the Nazis to "purify" their national blood, and conform to their own anti-semitism.

In addition, these laws put restrictions on the Jews marrying or having sexual relations with non-Jews in Germany.  It also limited which jobs Jews could not hold, such as medicine and education, and banned Jewish children from attendance in german public schools.

By defining Jews in terms of the law, the Nazis were able to gradually segregate them from society altogether, confine them in ghettos and implement the Final Solution murder of 6 million Jews.


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moustacio | Student

The Nuermberg Laws were enacted by the Nazi authorities in 1935 as  a means to disenfranchise German Jews. Driven by anti-Semitic sentiments within the party, the laws sought to effectively eliminate the so-called race threat that the Nazis had identified within the Jewish population. It redefined ethnicity (Jews were no longer viewed as a religious group but were instead recognised by one’s parentage - anyone who had three or more Jewish grandparents was identified as a Jew) and made it impossible for the Jews to do anything in Germany. As a minority group that had been financially successful and disproportionately well-represented, the Jews now found themselves degraded to second-class citizens in their own country. They were excluded from German citizenship and increasingly forced to cede their ownership rights of businesses to German subordinates or colleagues. In an humiliating gesture, the Jews were also forced to bear identifying marks that demarcated their Jewish status in public. Similarly, anti-Semitic attacks against the Jewish population were not only tolerated but encouraged by the party. The laws, by banning mixed marriages and procreation between the “race enemy” and the pure Aryan, too sought to prevent the Jews from contaminating the German ethnic race. In doing so, the Nuremberg Laws essentially served as a means to keep the financial and political power of the Jews in check, and to, in the long run, eliminate them from all forms of German life.