Racial & Citizenship Laws in the Third Reich


Be advised, I in no way condone or approve of the underlying laws and/or government actions mentioned in this article. I offer this information for informational and understanding purposes only.

First, let me provide you with a bit of context.
Behringersdorf Juden Raus
Currently, I am engaged in a very significant holocaust research and website development effort. While conducting my research and developing the related websites, I have come to believe that many people today have an extremely limited understanding of the legal background and governmental frameworks constructed by the Third Reich to legalize and justify the abomination that was the Holocaust (or Shoah).

This human tragedy did not happen by accident; it happened by design. It was not random; it was specifically targeted. It did happen; and, it was unbelievably cruel and evil.

Yes, the Holocaust was designed. And, the designers wanted the “removal of Jews, Gypsies, Intellectuals, Homosexuals, etc.” to be “legal”; as a result, laws and structures were build to justify the Reich’s actions.

If you are unfamiliar with the Third Reich “Racial and Citizenship” Laws which were implemented and formed the “legal” basis for the Holocaust/ Shoah, what follows is a brief synopsis of the evolution of the Reich’s legal framework. The most important, capstone laws, were known as Die Nürnberger Gesetze (Nuremberg Laws). These laws were a direct outgrowth of Nazi political theories evolved from racial theories of the time known as Eugenics- which themselves were suggested in some of Plato’s writings which discussed applying the principles of selective breeding to humans around 400 BCE. Leveraging on the early thoughts of Plato (and others) plus Hitler’s hatred of Jews and the desire for a purely German Empire (Reich), the Nürnberger Gesetze established a framework for the classification of “undesirables” and the expulsion of Jews and Gypsies and confiscation of their property.  The following quote takenfrom Wikipedia provides an extremely brief overview:

The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour prohibited marriages and extramarital intercourse between Jews and Germans, and forbade the employment of German females under 45 in Jewish households. The Reich Citizenship Law declared that only those of German or related blood were eligible to be Reich citizens; the remainder were classed as state subjects, without citizenship rights.

At about this same time, additional “legal” definitions and guides were developed, set into effect. Racial Guides were developed to help citizens understand citizenship and ethnic “acceptability”. These were called Das “Blutschutzgesetz” (The “blood protection law”) and Das Reichsbürgergesetz (The Reich citizenship law). More on these subjects is available on the Nationalsozialistische Rassenlehre- Die Nürnberger Gesetze website (use Chrome for its auto translate functions if your German is weak.)

The final link in the chain was closed at the Wannsee Conference where Reinhard Heydrich SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Polizei (Senior Group Leader and General of Police); chief of the Reich Main Security Office (including the Gestapo, Kripo, and SD) spoke. Again quoting from an article on Wikipedia:

Heydrich went on to say that in the course of the “practical execution of the final solution”, Europe would be “combed through from west to east” but that Germany, Austria, and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia would have priority “due to the housing problem and additional social and political necessities”. This was a reference to increasing pressure from the Gauleiters (regional Nazi Party leaders) in Germany for the Jews to be removed from their areas to allow accommodation for Germans made homeless by Allied bombing, as well as to make space for laborers being imported from occupied countries. The “evacuated” Jews, he said, would first be sent to “transit ghettos” in the General Government, from which they would be transported eastward. Heydrich said that to avoid legal and political difficulties, it was important to define who was a Jew for the purposes of “evacuation”. He outlined categories of people who would not be killed. Jews over 65 years old, and Jewish World War I veterans who had been severely wounded or who had won the Iron Cross, might be sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp instead of being killed. “With this expedient solution,” he said, “in one fell swoop many interventions will be prevented.”

For the best information available on the web, please visit the House of the Wannsee Conference- Memorial and Educational Site.

There is no excuse for what was done. None of it was moral; nothing was ‘legal’.  I provide this quick study only in the hope of making historical context a bit more clear and in offering links to a deeper historical perspective.

I will conclude by offering a few thoughts/ quotes:

George Santayana said once:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) famously said on the matter:

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.