Pre-WWII Germany: Laws Introduced for the Protection of the People

Pre-WWII Germany: Laws Introduced for the Protection of the People

Pre-WWII Germany: Laws Introduced for the Protection of the People

By Rhoda Wilson

Between September 1935 and the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 more than 120 laws, decrees and regulations, imposing over 400 legal restrictions, were enacted by the Third Reich on the justification of protecting the health of the German people.  

During the first six years of Hitler’s dictatorship, from 1933 until the outbreak of war in 1939, Jews felt the effects of more than 400 decrees and regulations that restricted all aspects of their public and private lives. Many of these were national laws but state, regional, and municipal officials, acting on their own initiatives, also issued many exclusionary decrees in their own communities. Thus, hundreds of individuals in all levels of government throughout the country were involved in the persecution of Jews. No corner of Germany was left untouched.

Below is a copy of a twitter thread shared by Architects for Social Housing highlighting some of the laws that came into being in Germany prior to the outbreak of the Second World War.

On 28 February, 1933, the Decree for the Protection of People and State suspended most of the human rights of German citizens, including of public assembly and association, privacy of post, freedom of expression and press, and habeas corpus.

On 23 March, 1933, the Law to Remedy the Distress of People and State, gave the German Cabinet powers to pass laws by decree, without parliamentary approval, and to override fundamental aspects of the Constitution. Given a 4-year lifespan, the Act was extended in 1937 and 1941.

On 7 April, 1933, the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service dismissed political opponents of the Third Reich (communists, social democrats), Jews and designated ‘non-Aryans’ from their positions, including teachers, professors, judges and other civil servants.

On 11 April, 1933, the First Ordinance on the Implementation of the Civil Service law extended the terms of this ban on political opponents and non-Aryans to doctors, lawyers, notaries, tax consultants and musicians, all of whom were dismissed from their positions.

On 3 July, 1934, the Law on the Unification of Health Care took what had been under the jurisprudence of individual German states into centralised federal legislation and administration, under which doctors administered treatment according to the principles of National Socialism.

On 19 August, 1934, in a national referendum, 90% of the German electorate approved the merger of the offices of Chancellor and President, making Adolf Hitler both head of government and head of state. This merged office was designated as the ‘Führer’, whose word now became law.

On 15 September, 1935, the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour banned Jews and other non-Aryans from marital and sexual relations with ‘citizens of German or related blood’.

On 15 September 1935, the Reich Citizenship Law deprived German Jews of their citizenship and civil rights, and instead made them ‘subjects of the state’, which it defined as ‘a person who enjoys the protection of the state and in consequence has specific obligations towards it.’

On 18 October, 1935, the Law for the Protection of the Hereditary Health of the German People required all prospective marriage partners to obtain from the public health authorities a certificate of fitness to marry. These were refused to anyone with a contagious disease.

On 14 November, 1935, the first supplemental decree to the Nuremberg Laws defined ‘Jews’ not as members of a religious or cultural community but as a race defined by hereditary. This is retained today by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and the State of Israel.

On 11 July, 1938, the Ministry of the Interior banned Jews from attending health spas in order to remove the risk of infection with a people defined by National Socialist medicine as vectors of disease both physical and moral.

On 23 July, 1938, Jews were ordered to apply for Identification Cards to be shown to police or officials on demand. These were marked with a red letter ‘J’. On 17 August, Jews without Government-approved forenames were ordered to add the name ‘Israel’ or ‘Sara’ to their own.

On 3 October, 1938, the Decree on the Confiscation of Jewish Property regulated the transfer of assets from Jews to non-Jews, forcing the former into penury and homelessness.

On 12 September, 1938, Jews were banned from attending cinemas, concerts and the opera. Like the ban on health spars and sexual relations, this was a biosecurity ‘measure’ that reduced the former citizenship of German Jews to the bare life of ‘subjects of the state’.

On 12 November, 1938, the Decree on the Exclusion of Jews from German Economic Life banned Jews from owning businesses, selling goods or services or having a trade, forcing them into bankruptcy, unemployment and immiseration.

On 15 November, 1938, the Ministry of Education banned Jewish children from attending public schools. This biosecurity ‘measure’ was justified as a means to protect Aryan children from the risk of infection not only by the bodies but also by the beliefs of Jewish children.

On 28 November, 1938, the Ministry of the Interior restricted freedom of movement and travel for Jews, who were only permitted to leave the Third Reich with 8% of the monetary value in Reichsmarks of their savings and possessions.

On 1 September, 1941, Police Regulations prohibited Jews who had reached the age of 6 from ‘showing themselves in public without a Jewish star.’ It was additionally forbidden for Jews ‘to leave the area of their community without having a written permit from the local police’.

On 24 April, 1942, Jews throughout the Third Reich were prohibited from using public transport.

Between the Nuremberg Laws in September 1935 and the outbreak of World War Two in September 1939, more than 120 laws, decrees and regulations, imposing over 400 legal restrictions, were enacted by the Third Reich on the justification of protecting the health of the German People.

These constituted an epidemiological discourse no less legitimate under law for being entirely manufactured by National Socialist doctors and scientists: of protection from disease and remedy when infected, and of identifying the infected and isolating the diseased.

The ‘Holocaust’ to which the Third Reich is reduced by those who want to erase its history was preceded by 8 years of laws that so completely deprived Jews of their rights that, by the time it was implemented in 1941, no act committed against them could be considered a crime.

Those who denounce comparisons between the attack on human rights in today’s Europe and Nazi Germany are not only hiding behind the fact the biosecurity state is not yet as bad as the Third Reich; but are also closing their eyes to how totalitarian states are constructed in law.

Source:  Twitter thread by Architects for Social Housing, 15 December 2021

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