Image: Dog on a bench labeled 'Nur Fur Arier!' ('Only for Aryans!'). 1938, Vienna Austria. Image courtesy of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
This set of articles from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum includes treatment of the following topics: Hitler Comes to Power; The Nazi Terror Begins; SS Police State; Nazi Propaganda and Censorship; Nazi Racism; World War II in Europe; The Murder of the Handicapped; and German Rule in Occupied Europe.
A comprehensive list of the laws enacted with photos from 1933-1944, courtesy of the text, Bertl & Adele, by Ruth Kaufmann and Uwe Kohlmammer (Self-Published 2019).
In the first six years of Adolf Hitler's dictatorship, Jews felt the effects of more than 400 decrees and regulations on all aspects of their lives. The regulations gradually but systematically took away their rights and property, transforming them from citizens into outcasts. Many of the laws were national ones issued by the German administration, affecting all Jews. State, regional, and municipal officials also issued many decrees in their own communities. As Nazi leaders prepared for war in Europe, antisemitic legislation in Germany and Austria paved the way for more radical persecution of Jews.... Read More. (USHMM article, with discussion questions, covering the first wave of Nazi antisemitic legislation, the Nuremberg Laws, and then segregation and isolation of Jews in 1937-1938.)
As Adolf Hitler consolidated his power at home in anticipation of war, he moved not only against Jews, Sinti, and Roma but also against those Aryans whom he considered “unworthy of life”—people with epilepsy, alcoholism, birth defects, hearing loss, mental illnesses, and personality disorders, as well as those who had vision loss or developmental delays or who even suffered from certain orthopedic problems... Read More. (This article from Facing History and Ourselves includes discussion questions.)
The Nazi regime persecuted different groups on ideological grounds. Jews were the primary targets for systematic persecution and mass murder by the Nazis and their collaborators. Nazi policies also led to the brutalization and persecution of millions of others including the Roma and Sinti, people with disabilities, gay men, and Jehovah's Witnesses Nazi policies towards all the victim groups were brutal, but not identical. Read More. (USHMM article followed by critical thinking questions.)
In August 1936, Germany hosted the summer Olympic Games. The international event gave the Nazis a chance to show the world the “new Germany,” and they took full advantage of the moment. To prevent criticism from foreigners, the signs that read “No Jews Allowed” were taken down and Germans were warned to be respectful of visitors regardless of their “race.” Read More. ( by Facing History and Ourselves with discussion questions.)
On November 9–10, 1938, Nazi leaders unleashed a series of pogroms against the Jewish population in Germany and recently incorporated territories. This event came to be called Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) because of the shattered glass that littered the streets after the vandalism and destruction of Jewish-owned businesses, synagogues, and homes. Read More. (USHMM article)
This is the first of three commonly asked questionsthis activity. The simple answer is: he did not kill millions of people. Hitler had a tremendous amount of responsibility, but he and his colleagues had a tremendous amount of help. This short activity encourages students to consider the levels of responsibility of various individuals and groups during this period and also to consider a "wider web" of knowledge and involvement of many people in and out of Germany.
The Nazi Party rose to power with an antisemitic racial ideology. However, the anti-Jewish campaign was not conducted according to a blueprint, rather it evolved.