Nuremberg Laws: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Nuremberg Laws (German: Nürnberger Gesetze) of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany which were introduced at the annual Nazi Party rally in Nuremberg. The laws classified people as German if all four of their grandparents were of "German or kindred blood", while people were classified as Jews if they descended from three or four Jewish grandparents. A person with one or two Jewish grandparents was a Mischling, a crossbreed, of "mixed blood".[1] The Nuremberg Laws deprived Jews of citizenship and prohibited marriage between Jews and other Germans. [2]


Background history

1935 chart from Nazi Germany used to explain the Nuremberg Laws

At the time of Hitler's assumption of power on 30 January 1933[3] less than one percent of the German population was Jewish. Nevertheless, antisemitism had been a major theme of Hitler's rhetoric for almost fifteen years and attacks on Jews started with the Nazi boycott of Jewish businesses on 1 April 1933.

During the spring and summer of 1935, disenchantment within the Nazi Party with how the Third Reich had developed in practice as opposed to what had been promised had led to many in the Party, especially the Alte Kämpfer (Old Fighters; i.e those who joined the Party before 1930, and who tended to be the most ardent anti-Semites in the Party), and the SA into lashing out against Germany's Jewish minority as a way of expressing their frustrations against a group that the authorities would not generally protect.[4] A Gestapo report from the spring of 1935 stated that the rank and file of the Nazi Party would "set in motion by us from below" a solution to the "Jewish problem", "that the government would then have to follow".[4] As a result, Nazi Party activists and SA members started a major wave of assaults, vandalism and boycotts against German Jews in the spring and summer of 1935.[5] A conference of ministers was held on August 20, 1935 to discuss the negative economic effects of Party actions against Jews. Adolf Hitler, the Party representative at the conference, argued that such effects would cease, once the government decided on a firm policy against the Jews.

Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, the Economics Minister, criticized arbitrary behavior by Party members as this inhibited his policy of rebuilding Germany's economy.[6] It made no economic sense since Jews were believed to have certain entrepreneurial skills that could be usefully employed to further his policies. Schacht made no moral condemnation of Jewish policy and advocated the passing of legislation to clarify the situation. Following complaints from Dr. Schacht plus reports that the German public did not approve of the wave of anti-Semitic violence, and that continuing police toleration of the violence was hurting the regime's popularity with the wider public, Hitler ordered a stop to "individual actions" against German Jews on August 8, 1935.[6] On August 20, 1935, the Interior Minister Dr. Wilhelm Frick threatened to impose harsh penalties on those Party members who ignored the order of August 8 and continued to assault Jews. [6]

From Hitler's perspective, it was imperative to bring in harsh new anti-Semitic laws as a consolation prize for those Party members who were disappointed with Hitler's halt order of August 8, especially because Hitler had only reluctantly given the halt order for pragmatic reasons, and his sympathies were with the Party radicals.[6]

The Nazi Party Rally held at Nuremberg in September 1935 had featured the first session of the Reichstag held at that city since 1543. Hitler had planned to have the Reichstag pass a law making the Nazi Swastika flag the flag of the German Reich, and a major speech in support of the impending Italian aggression against Ethiopia.[7] However, at the last minute, the German Foreign Minister Baron Konstantin von Neurath persuaded Hitler to cancel his speech as being too provocative to public opinion abroad, thus leaving Hitler with the sudden need to have something else to address the historic first meeting of the Reichstag in Nuremberg since 1543, other than the Reich Flag Law.[7] On September 13, 1935, Dr. Bernhard Lösener, the Interior Ministry official in charge of drafting anti-Semitic laws was hastily summoned to the Nuremberg Party Rally by plane together with another Interior Ministry official, Ministerialrat (Ministerial Counsellor) Franz Albrecht Medicus, to start drafting at once a law for Hitler to present to the Reichstag for September 15.[8] Lösener and Medicus arrived in Nuremberg on the morning of September 14 and because of the short time available for the drafting of the laws, both measures were hastily improvised – there was even a shortage of drafting paper so that menu cards had to be used.[9]

Introduction of the Laws

On the evening of September 15 1935, two measures were announced to the Reichstag at the annual Party Rally in Nuremberg, becoming known as the Nuremberg Laws.[7]

The first law, The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour,[10] prohibited marriages and extramarital intercourse between "Jews" (the name was now officially used in place of "non-Aryans") and "Germans" and also the employment of "German" females under forty-five in Jewish households. The second law, The Reich Citizenship Law [11], stripped persons not considered of German blood of their German citizenship and introduced a new distinction between "Reich citizens" and "nationals".

Hitler made a speech before the Reichstag in Nuremberg, introducing the laws and their alleged motivation, before the laws were formally read and proposed for adoption by Göring, the President of the Reichstag:

...Bitter complaints have come in from countless places citing the provocative behavior of Jews....a certain amount of [conspiratorial] planning was involved....[To prevent] vigorous defensive action by the [Aryan] people[12], we have no choice but to contain the problem through legislative may be possible, through a definitive secular solution, to create a basis on which the German people can have a tolerable relationship with the Jews.[13] ... This law is an attempt to find a legislative solution....if this attempts fails, it will be necessary to transfer [the Jewish problem] ... to the National Socialist Party for a final solution (German: endgueltige Loesung).[14]

The measures were unanimously adopted by the Reichstag. In twelve years of Nazi rule, the Reichstag only passed four laws: the Nuremberg laws were two of them.[15]

The Nuremberg Laws by their general nature formalized the unofficial and particular measures taken against Jews up to 1935. The Nazi leaders made a point of stressing the consistency of this legislation with the Party programme, which demanded that Jews should be deprived of their citizenship rights.

The Laws

The Laws for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour

(September 15, 1935) Entirely convinced that the purity of German blood is essential to the further existence of the German people, and inspired by the uncompromising determination to safeguard the future of the German nation, the Reichstag has unanimously resolved upon the following law, which is promulgated herewith:

Section 1
  1. Marriages between Jews and citizens (German: Staatsangehörige) of German or kindred blood are forbidden. Marriages concluded in defiance of this law are void, even if, for the purpose of evading this law, they were concluded abroad.
  2. Proceedings for annulment may be initiated only by the Public Prosecutor.
Section 2
Extramarital sexual intercourse between Jews and subjects of the state of Germany or related blood is forbidden.
  • (Supplementary decrees set Nazi definitions of racial Germans, Jews, and half-breeds or Mischlinge --- see the latter entry for details and citations and Mischling Test for how such decrees were applied. Jews could not vote or hold public office under the parallel "citizenship" law.)
Section 3
Jews will not be permitted to employ female citizens under the age of 45, of German or kindred blood, as domestic workers.
Section 4
  1. Jews are forbidden to display the Reich and national flag or the national colours.
  2. On the other hand they are permitted to display the Jewish colours. The exercise of this right is protected by the State.
Section 5
  1. A person who acts contrary to the prohibition of Section 1 will be punished with hard labour.
  2. A person who acts contrary to the prohibition of Section 2 will be punished with imprisonment or with hard labour.
  3. A person who acts contrary to the provisions of Sections 3 or 4 will be punished with imprisonment up to a year and with a fine, or with one of these penalties.
Section 6
The Reich Minister of the Interior in agreement with the Deputy Führer and the Reich Minister of Justice will issue the legal and administrative regulations required for the enforcement and supplementing of this law.
Section 7
The law will become effective on the day after its promulgation; Section 3, however, not until January 1, 1936.

Effect of the Laws

German Jewish passports could be used to leave but not to return.

Legal discrimination against Jews had come into being before the Nuremberg Laws and steadily grew as time went on; however, for discrimination to be effective, it was essential to have a clear definition of who was or was not a Jew. This was one important function of the Nuremberg laws and the numerous supplementary decrees that were proclaimed to further them.

People defined as Jews could then be barred from employment as lawyers, doctors or journalists. Jews were prohibited from using state hospitals and could not be educated by the state past the age of 14. Public parks, libraries and beaches were closed to Jews. War memorials were to have Jewish names expunged. Even the lottery could not award winnings to Jews.[16] Jews, at the insistence of Swiss immigration officials, were required to adopt a middle name: "Sara" for women and "Israel" for men when applying for a passport. These passports were required to have a large "J" stamped on them and could be used to leave Germany - but not to return.[17]

From September 1941 all Jewish people living within the Nazi empire, including Germany, were required to wear a yellow badge, which had been required in Poland (under German occupation) beginning in 1939.

Influence and inspiration

In the early thirties, the Nuremberg Laws and Racial Science were regarded by many as the height of scientific thought and the laws were emulated in other countries such as The Law for Protection of the Nation passed in Bulgaria during World War II, which also had a strong antisemitic character. Romania, Slovakia and Croatia also emulated the Nazi laws.

The principal inspiration for Nazi racial thinking was the British-German author, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, several of whose books were found in Hitler's private library.[18] Houston Chamberlain was inspired in turn by the eugenics theories of Sir Francis Galton[19], Galton was the cousin of Charles Darwin and his ideas owed a lot to Social Darwinism. Alfred Ploetz, who coined the term "Racial Hygiene" is also believed to have played an important role in bringing Galton's theories to Hitler's attention. Henry Ford's work The International Jew was another influence and , in 1922, the New York Times report that his office contained a large picture of Ford.[20]

Existing copies

An original typescript of the laws signed by Hitler himself was found by the 203rd Detachment of the US Army's Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC), commanded by Martin Dannenberg, in Eichstätt, Bavaria, Germany, on April 27, 1945. It was appropriated by General George S. Patton, in violation of JCS 1067. During a visit to Los Angeles, California, he secretly handed it over to the Huntington Library. The document was stored until June 26, 1999 when its existence was revealed. Although legal ownership of the document has not been established, it is on permanent loan to the Skirball Cultural Center, which placed it on public display three days later.

See also



  • Ehrenreich, Eric. The Nazi Ancestral Proof: Genealogy, Racial Science, and the Final Solution. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-253-34945-3
  • Fest, Joachim C. (2002). Hitler. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 0156027542. 
  • Fischer, Conan (2002). The Rise of the Nazis. Manchester University Press. ISBN 0719060672. 
  • Kershaw, Ian (1999). Hitler 1889–1936: Hubris. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-04671-0. 
  • Shirer, William L. (1960). The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Simon & Shuster. 
  • Toland, John (1976). Adolf Hitler. New York: Doubleday & Company. ISBN 0-385-03724-4. 


  1. ^ In many cases a person with exactly two Jewish grandparents was deemed a "Jew" under the Nuremberg laws. There were a number of legal tests used, to determine if such a person --with precisely two Jewish grandparents-- was to be classified as a "Jew" or a "Mischling" under the laws. See Mischling Test.
  2. ^ Hunt, L. (2009). The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures, Vol. C: Since 1740. Bedford/St. Martin's.
  3. ^ See Machtergreifung
  4. ^ a b Kershaw pp. 560-61.
  5. ^ Kershaw pp. 561-62.
  6. ^ a b c d Kershaw p. 563.
  7. ^ a b c Kershaw pp. 567-68.
  8. ^ Kershaw p.567.
  9. ^ Kershaw pp. 568-70 & 759-60.
  10. ^ Nuremberg Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, English translation at the University of the West of England
  11. ^ Reich Citizenship Law, English translation at the University of the West of England
  12. ^ It was a standard tactic of Hitler's to transfer the blame for his aggressive actions onto his adversary so that his action was simply a "defensive" one.
  13. ^ Even a cursory review of Mein Kampf and Hitler's speeches before 1935 would make it clear to anyone that this prospect of "hope of toleration" extended by Hitler is a blatant lie. See also Kershaw p. 565.
  14. ^ The ominous term "final solution" did not yet, in ordinary discourse in 1935, necessarily entail the complete eradication of European or World Jewry. Neither did it exclude that possibility.
  15. ^ Shirer p. 234n. Most laws in the Nazi state were simply decreed by Hitler under powers vested in him by the Enabling Act of 1933; there was no legal need for the "legislature" here, and having the Reichstag adopt these laws at the party rally was done for propaganda purposes. Kershaw p. 268-75.
  16. ^ "Examples of Antisemitic Legislation, 1933-1939". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum no. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  17. ^ "The Nuremberg Race Laws". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 2008-07-12. 
  18. ^ Hitler's Private Library: The Books That Shaped His Life, T.W. Ryback page 69 & 112 Knopf 2008
  19. ^ Brookes, M. 2004,Extreme Measures: The Dark Visions and Bright Ideas of Francis Galton, Bloomsbury Publ. Plc. London , p. 142.,
  20. ^ Hitler's Private Library: The Books That Shaped His Life, T.W. Ryback page 69 Knopf 2008

External links

Simple English

File:BlutSchutzgesetz Bildtafel.gif
This illustration explains the Blutschutzgesetz: In general, the light (or the cross) symbols stand for German-blooded, the dark symbols for Jew. In general: No restriction if both people are German-blooded; If one of them is Quarter-Jew (Mischling 2. Grades) also no problem; Half-Jews need a special permission to marry people of German blood (in General, there were no such permissions); People that are more than half-Jew are not permitted to marry (or have sex with) German-blooded people

The Nuremberg Laws is the name for three (historically: two laws) that were set into practice in Germany in 1935, and that were valid until 1945. They are named after the city of Nuremberg where the legislative assembly met.

They were:

  • Gesetz zum Schutze des deutschen Blutes und der deutschen Ehre (Often called Blutschutzgesetz, law concerning the protection of German blood and honour). This law made it illegal for Jews to marry non-Jews. It also made it illegal for these people to have sex with each other. The law provided for long prison terms for the people who did not obey it. Strangely enough, these were only for men, women could go away without prison term (if they told about it).
  • Reichsbürgergesetz This law basically said that only people of German or closely-related blood could become citizens - in other words: Jews (and some others) could not. All Jews employed by the government had to quit their job. They also lost their right to vote.
  • Reichsflaggengesetz Strictly speaking this is not one of the Nurenberg Laws. It was published with the others though. It made the swastika the official flag of Germany.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address