Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, and during this time, he implemented a series of measures designed to eliminate Jews from German life with the help of the desperation of a German people who blamed the Jews for every evil of the Weimar era: capitalism, communism, internal conflict, and the Treaty of Versailles. The Jews were supposedly the root cause of Germany’s problems, both as greedy internal infiltrators who did not belong to the blood and soil of Germany, and as an international conspiracy limiting Germany’s influence on world politics.
Under the Nazi regime, Hitler made life uncomfortable for Jews in Germany and Austria and removed them from most positions of power and influence. Three distinct waves of anti – Jewish legislation can be discerned.
1) Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service
The first wave welled up in March 1933 and by April 7 had culminated in the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service. This law authorized the dismissal of almost all “non- – Aryan” civil servants. This law became the model for measures excluding Jews from other occupations.
2) The Nuremberg Laws
The second major wave of anti – Jewish legislation came on September 15, 1935, when the Reichstag passed two laws. Under the Reich Citizenship Law, the Jews were deprived of all voting rights and became second – class citizens and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, which forbade marriage and sexual contact between Jews and Germans. In the wake of that law, a complicated classification system was enacted defining various degrees of Jewish ness.
In November 1938, SA bands, supported by Gestapo and other party organizations, burned synagogues and Jewish stores all over Germany (Kristallnacht – night of broken glass). The police under Nazi control did not move. Hence, 150,000 Jews left Germany and Austria after the Kristallnacht. However, it was difficult for Jews to get visas to other countries, most of which adopted restrictive immigration policies.
3) The Economy
the government, banks, and business enterprises to eliminate Jews from economic life. Jewish firms were either liquidated or Germans purchased them for much less than their full value. The proceeds of any sales as well as Jewish savings were subjected to special property taxes. The Jewish employees of liquidated or Aryanized firms lost their jobs.
These anti-Semitic policies could have never been implemented if not for the desperation of the German people. Anti-Semitism intensified toward the end of the First World War. The traumatic defeat in 1918, the economic plight of the middle class during the First World War and the hyper-inflation of 1923, and the confusion of values perceived by many Germans during the Weimar years fostered an irrational and aggressive outlook that often blamed the Jews. Jews were held responsible for the increasing concentration of retail industries, that put small workshops and traders out of business, or the commercialization of agriculture, which was considered a “Jewish plot” to exploit the hard-working farmer.
The economic, social, and psychological crises created by the Great Depression had dire political consequences for Weimar democracy. Therefore, many people who were discontented with democracy found answers to their insecurity in the messages of the NSDAP. Nazi propaganda provided simple but apparently understandable reasons for the economic collapse. The Nazis blamed the Versailles settlement and reparations, the Weimar system itself. They believed that Jews allegedly stood behind Marxism, the Weimar system, much of big business and economic profiteering. The Nazi accusations were unsophisticated but effective. Lower middle-class unemployed and employed embraced a Nazi party that promised to eliminate this corrupt Weimar system, and unemployment.
In conclusion, Hitler with the help of German people who believed in his propaganda undertook a series of measures designed to destroy European Jewry. Hitler adopted the crude simplistic outlook on life: the Jews are the source of all evil in this world. Hitler found a purpose in life, cleansing the German race from the clutches of the Jews. Hatred of the Jews became his obsession, his creed, faith and religion.
Of the many factors that produced the Nazi holocaust, World War II and the atrocities committed by the medical professions in Germany, one of the most important was Darwin’s notion that evolutionary progress occurs mainly as a result of the elimination of the weak in the struggle for survival.
Darwinism-inspired eugenics and in historical context, “eugenics” may be defined as applied Darwinism. The founder of eugenics is Francis Galton the author of several highly influential books on heredity, including Hereditary Genius (1869), and National Inheritance (1889). Not long after Galton published the last-named book, a group of so-called “racial scientists” became quite active in Germany. (Also influential in the formation of the group was German Social Darwinist Ernst Haeckel, who declared that the various races may be defined as separate species.) One of these scientists was Adolf Jost, the author of The Right to Death (1895). The main thesis of this book is that the final solution to the population problem is state control over human reproduction. The state has a natural right and a sacred responsibility to kill individuals in order to keep the nation, the social organism, alive and healthy.
The very heart of Darwinism is the belief that evolution proceeds by the differential survival of the fittest or superior individuals. This requires differences among a species, which in time become great enough so that those
The Nazis believed that instead of permitting natural forces and chance to control evolution, they must direct the process to advance the human race. The first step to achieve this goal was to isolate the ‘inferior races’ in order to prevent them from further contaminating the ‘Aryan’ gene pool. Aryans believed that their evolutionary superiority gave them not only the right, but also the duty to subjugate all other peoples. The ultimate aim was to breed a new race of healthy and strong Aryan “supermen” and “superwomen” and to provide a vast living space for this new “master race,” derived from the actual Germans of 1933-45, in Central and Eastern Europe.
races. Eugenicist theories promoting sterilization and euthanasia were widely propagated in German society through education and other means. Among the most prominent means used was film. In his 1936 novel Mission and Conscience
(and subsequent film entitled, “I Accuse”), Helmut Unger told a story of a young woman suffering from multiple sclerosis who believes that her life is no longer worth living and asks her physician husband to relieve her of her misery. Later, the key role of such images in leading to the acceptance of medical killing became apparent. Therefore, the T-4 doctors who participated in the ‘euthanasia’ project, did not consider themselves to be killers, but ministers of medical treatment. The perpetrators believed in the notion of “life unworthy of living” before, during, and after their horrendous crimes.
In May 1939, an advisory group, the Committee for the Scientific Treatment of Severe and Genetically Determined Illness, was formed to determine if and how a euthanasia program for children and adults would operate. The adult project was housed in Berlin at number 4 Tiergartenstrasse, giving rise to its code name “T-4.” In the beginning, there appeared to be a broad level of support for this throughout the country. Patients then began to be euthanized by lethal injection at various hospitals and other health care
institutions. In September 1939, the chancellor provided legal immunity for the doctors engaged in mercy killings.
By 1941, word began to spread on involuntary killings. So, in August 1941,
the physician-assisted death program at Hadamar and the other T-4 hospitals were officially ordered to be discontinued. By this time, 80,000 to 100,000 people had been killed under the T-4 program. At Hadamar, however, the program never ceased. Only the method of death changed: from injections to starvation.
The original ‘euthanasia’ project, the killing of those who were seriously ill [T-4], was extended to killing virtually anyone whose death was desired. First, hospitalized Jews who had previously been denied a mercy death were given “special treatment,” and killed along with Germans in the euthanasia program. Later it was ordered that Jews and other undesirables be transported from the concentration camps to the same killing centers used by the T-4 program.
In conclusion, Hitler firmly convinced that Darwinian evolution was true, saw himself as the modern saviour of mankind. Society, he felt, would some day regard him as a great ‘scientific socialist’, the benefactor of all humankind.