A Brief Summary of the History of the Holocaust in Germany  
From the establishment of his first political party (German Labor Party) in 1923, Adolf Hitler publically expressed his implacable hatred for the Jewish people and his desire to remove the Jews from German life. Thus it was hardly surprising that within weeks after he became Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933, the German government, headed by the Nazis, began to pass laws to limit Jewish participation in all spheres of endeavor, a development which was accompanied by sporadic outbursts of anti-Jewish violence, arbitrary arrests of Jews, and the expulsion of Jews from their jobs.

The first public anti-Jewish act was a boycott of all Jewish businesses, which took place on April 1, 1933. Six days later, the first anti-Jewish decree was passed which barred Jews from serving in the civil service (with the exception of those who served as frontline soldiers in World War II). It was followed shortly thereafter by decrees which severely restricted Jews from practicing medicine and law, limited the number of Jewish students in educational institutions, and totally excluded Jews from journalism and German cultural life. Besides these legal measures numerous Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps, where many were singled out for particularly harsh treatment which often resulted in death.

In the wake of the return of the Saar district to Germany in January 1935, a new wave of localized terror began which was accompanied by a high-level campaign of incitement against Jews in the press and in mass rallies orchestrated by Joseph Goebbels and Der Stirmer editor Julius Streicher. This was followed by the infamous Nuremberg Laws of September 1935 which deprived Jews of their German citizenship (Reich Citizenship Law), forbade marriage and/or sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews and defined the Jews on a racial basis (Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor). The passage of these laws was followed by a period of relative quiet during which the Aryanization of Jewish businesses proceeded apace.

With the annexation of Austria (March 1938) and the Sudetenland (September 1938), more than two hundred thousand additional Jews came under the Nazi yoke. On October 28, 1938, fifteen to seventeen thousand Polish Jews living in Germany were expelled to Poland. When the Poles refused to admit them, they remained trapped between the two countries. On November 7, Herschel Grynspan, whose parents were among the expellees, shot Ernst Vom Rath, the third secretary of the German Embassy in Paris, and his murder served as the pretext for the infamous “Night of the Broken Glass” (Kristallnacht) pogrom, which took place throughout the entire Third Reich on the night of November 9-10, 1938. More than a hundred Jews were murdered and more than a thousand synagogues were set on fire by the Nazis who also deported approximately thirty thousand Jewish men to the concentration camps at Dachau, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. The Jewish community was forced to pay a collective fine of one-billon marks to cover the damage. In the same month, laws were passed to eliminate the Jews from the German economy, expel all Jewish pupils from German public schools and restrict the Jews’ movement in public places.

Following the outbreak of World War II in September 1939, additional anti-Jewish directives were instituted which made the lives of those Jews still in Germany (117,000 Jews had emigrated in 1938 and 1939 and at this point the Nazis were still encouraging Jews to leave) even harder. Jews were forbidden to leave their homes after dark, were completely barred from certain areas, were given reduced food rations, had to restrict their food purchases and were forced to turn over their jewelry, radios, cameras and electrical appliances.

Jews were isolated from the general population by being forced to live in Judenhausen (Jewish buildings), in which only Jews were allowed to reside. Those Jews who were considered fit for work were taken for forced labor and the arbitrary arrests of Jews who were sent to concentration camps continued. In September 1941, all Jews over the age of six were required to wear the yellow star and were forbidden to use public transportation.

Following the outbreak of World War II, the Nazis launched a mass euthanasia program to liquidate the handicapped, and the mentally and chronically ill which claimed the lives of at least several hundred Jews.

In February 1940, the first deportation of Jews from Germany began in Stettin and Schneidemuhl and their environs. They were followed that summer by the expulsion of all the 7,500 Jews of Baden, the Palatinate and the Saar district to France, where most were sent to the Gurs concentration camp (and later to the death camps in Poland). In October 1941, the mass systematic deportations of Jews from the Reich began. The majority of the initial transports were sent to the ghettos of Warsaw and Lodz in Poland, Riga in Latvia, Kovno in Lithuania and Minsk in Belarus, all of which were already under Nazi occupation and where the systematic implementation of the Final Solution had already begun. In some cases the German Jews were immediately murdered upon arrival at their destination, others shared the fate of the Jews in the ghettos to which they were sent.

In 1942 and 1943, the Jews deported from Germany were sent directly to death camps in Poland, primarily to Auschwitz. Approximately 42,000 German Jews, mostly the elderly and those with privileged status, were sent to the Thereseinstadt ghetto, where most died or were subsequently deported to the death camps. In July 1943, with the deportation process completed, the Nazis announced the liquidation of German Jewry and all remaining Jewish organizations were closed down. At this point only about 15,000 Jews, the large majority of whom were married to non-Jews, remained alive in Germany.

Of the approximately 566,000 Germans identified as Jews by the Nuremberg laws, the Nazis and their collaborators murdered some 140,000. This figure includes several thousand Jews who committed suicide or were killed in the euthanasia program launched in September 1939. The vast majority of those who survived immigrated to countries which were not occupied by the Third Reich. A total of approximately 20,000 Jews survived in Germany, three-quarters of whom were living openly as Mischlinge (those of mixed origin) and about 5,000 of whom were Jews who escaped deportation by hiding. An additional 5,000 Jews survived in the Thereseinstadt ghetto /concentration camp.