The Nuremberg Laws Enacted, 1935
On This Day in Jewish History: September 15, 1935
On September 15, 1935, the Nuremberg Laws were enacted. The Nuremberg Laws were a set of antisemitic and racist laws enacted by Nazi Germany.
The Laws stemmed from two distinct laws: the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour and the Reich Citizenship Law.
THE LAW FOR THE PROTECTION OF GERMAN BLOOD AND GERMAN HONOUR
The Law banned marriage between Jews and non-Jewish Germans. It also defined sexual relations between Jews and non-Jewish Germans as “race defilement” (Rassenschande) and criminalised extramarital intercourse between the two.
Additionally, the law forbade Jews to employ female German maids under the age of 45, under the assumption that Jewish men would force such maids to committing ‘race defilement’.
THE REICH CITIZENSHIP LAW
The Law declared that only those of “German or kindred blood” were eligible for Reich citizenship. In effect, those not eligible were classed as state subjects without any citizenship rights. Significantly, the legal definition of a Jew in Germany shifted, meaning that many more were subjected to the oppressive laws. For instance, it defined individuals who had converted to Christianity from Judaism as Jews, in addition to people born to parents or grandparents who had converted to Christianity. These laws were later expanded on November 26, 1935, to apply to Black people, and Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) in Nazi Germany. The Laws themselves embodied and institutionalized racial theories of the Nazis – such as emphasizing the ‘Aryan race’. The Laws also served the legal framework for the systematic persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.
Those who were neither German nor Jew – those having only 1-2 Jewish grandparents –were referred to as Mischlinge. A person with ¼ Jewish descent was classified as ‘second degree’ mixed race (Mischling zweiten Grades). A person with ⅜ Jewish descent was classified as ‘first degree’ mixed race (Mischling ersten Grades). Though they effectively possessed equal rights to “racial” Germans, those rights were to be curtailed via subsequent legislation.
The significance of these Laws was profound as they represented a major shift in antisemitic thinking. Notably the shift from ‘traditional antisemitism’ wherein Jews were persecuted on the basis of religion to persecution on the basis of race, blood, and lineage.
The Nuremberg Laws also laid the foundations for future antisemitic legislation, enacting a vile systematic oppression against the Jews. The Laws also inspired a chain of anti-Jewish legislature across Europe. Notably, countries “allied to or dependent on” Germany enacted their own variations of the Laws. By 1941, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Vichy France and Croatia had all enacted antisemitic legislation reflective of the Nuremberg Laws.