Tag Archives: Germany

Berlin, 1950 – Reflections

While the blog is called “Brush off the dust!” and I evoke the image of treasure hunting through the grandparents’ attic, I have never had the opportunity to crawl through any of my own grandparents’ attics.  In fact, I am pretty certain Mom’s parents did not have an attic in either of the houses I visited.  Dad’s family lives in Germany, so my opportunities to go attic-spelunking in Deutschland have been relatively few.  (For the record, I envy those of you whose matriarchs and patriarchs own attics.)

Conveniently enough, for me, my grandmother sent some small portion of her “attic”-worthy belongings my way when she made the decision to downsize earlier this summer.  (What treasures!)  Among these are included English-language relics of post-war Germany.

Grandpa was already an Army officer when the U.S. entered World War II, having signed up in Wyoming back in the 1920s.  While he did not actually see any fighting action as a logistics officer, he was in France behind the front lines, negotiating for lodging and food for the reconquest of France and Germany.  After the war, in 1949, he was stationed there, in Würzburg.  So, in my possession are several German publications, three of which I want to share, here.

One of the things I received among my Grandma’s treasures were Grandpa’s 1943, U.S. War Department-issued, introductory German language guide (TM 30-306).  Being reasonably competent in German, myself, I find this little booklet rather absurd and amusing.  (Pity the poor American sergeant who relied upon this guide to make his way!)  One particularly interesting aspect I noted is the pronunciation of the German -ich, the most important of which is the nominative, first person singular, Ich, which is described as “ish.”  I don’t know if it was done like this because the actual pronunciation is difficult to describe in text to English-speakers, if it was accidental because the writers of the guide were from Berlin, or learned from German-speakers speaking in the Berlin dialect, or if it was intentional that Americans should speak as Germans from the German capital.  Regardless, the guide must have produced thousands of ludicrous moments between awkward-speaking American soldiers and the beleaguered Germans.

U.S. War Department document TM 30-306

ublished for military personnel only,” June 22, 1943 by the U.S. War Department.”]

German-speaking areas shaded in black, according to the War Department

Throughout the guide are cartoons featuring "German" dialogue, though all is written as it should be pronounced, not spelled. Note the wiener dog; he appears in each cartoon at varying lengths.

Berlin was divided into four zones, just as the rest of Germany was, following the Allied defeat of the Nazis: the American, French, British and Soviet sectors.  Relations with WWII-ally Soviet Russia began to deteriorate quickly as the Second World War ended and the Cold War began.  This was dramatically played out in Berlin as the Soviets tried to starve the West out of West Berlin, leading to the dramatic Berlin Airlift.  (For a great synopsis of Berlin in 1948-9, click here to see this segment of CNN’s Cold War series, Episode 4.)

In 1950, right after the blockade had been broken with the Airlift, my Grandma’s Women’s Club got permission to travel through the Soviet sector and visit Berlin.  As a result of the blockade being broken, the Soviets allowed periodic visits across their zone capping the numbers per month.  I have an English language brochure about Berlin that was printed by Graphische Gesellschaft Grunewald, “issued by the ‘Official Travel Office’ [sic] of the City of Berlin.”  This answers questions such as, “How do I get to Berlin?” (“The time has passed when it was complicated and inconvenient to make arrangements for a visit to Berlin.  Today there are excellent air and road services to Berlin.  There is no difference between arranging a trip to Berlin and travelling in the Western zones.  However if travelling by car or railway a Russian visa must be obtained from a Soviet Consulate prior to departure in order that you can cross the Soviet zone.”)  “By what means shall I travel?”  (“Air travel is by far the fastest and least complicated method of reaching Berlin.  In this case a Russian visa need not be obtained.”)  “What currency is used in Berlin?”  (“The currency used in the three Western Sectors of Berlin is the same as in Western Germany, namely the German West Mark (DMW).  In the Soviet Sector of Berlin the currency used is the German East Mark.  It should be borne in mind that it is not permitted to have West Marks in one’s possession when visiting the Soviet Sector or Zone.”)  And, so on.  The “Official Travel Office,” or Verkerhrsamt, was located on Fasanenstrasse at Berlin-Charlottenburg in the Western zone.  The brochures placid answers and matter-of-routine tone fail to mask the sinister reality of East Berlin and Soviet-controlled East Germany: anything “not permitted,” especially something so simple as having foreign currency, should not feel so ominous!

"Welcome to Berlin" Hints for guests travelling to Berlin from foreign countries

"Is there any Night Life? The Night Life of Berlin is in full service and colourful electric signs show the way to a great variety of comfortable bars and night clubs."

"Berlin has an excellent telephone and telegraph service. Long distance telephone calls and telegrams may be sent and accepted to and from all parts of the world.

For this trip, busing Army wives through East Germany to Berlin, the Special Services issued a tour booklet: Special Services Tour of Berlin, 1950.  (It was compiled by Viviane W. Adams of the Berlin Military Post.)  The booklet covers historic German landmarks, some former Nazi landmarks (such as the SS and Gestapo Headquarters) and other tourist sites–many of them still in ruins from the bombing.

Light reading for a bus trip through Soviet-occupied East Germany.

Map of Berlin glued and folded into the back of the book

Soviet sector of the city

American zone

British sector

French zone

The sights in Berlin

Potsdamer Platz after the war

Future location of the Berlin Wall

The seat of the German Parliament during days of the monarchy and the Weimar Republic, built in 1884-94.

If I have the opportunity, I will need to ply Grandma for more information and stories (maybe photographs!) about the trip.  I know she recently relayed to Mom that a friend of hers wanted to see the airport where the Airlift had taken place on this trip and they were able to go right up to it and take pictures.  I hope Grandma took pictures, too!  Back to the “attic” I’ll go!

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Reflections on the American Historical Association Annual Meeting, 2

I loves sports!  I am a huge football and ice hockey fan!!  So, I was thrilled to attend the following workshop in preparation for my Sports in America special topics history class at The Community College of Baltimore County.

The Hynes Convention Center where the AHA 2011 conference was held (and where an exceptionally irritating fire alarm interrupted the session I am describing in this post)!

Cold War Sport in Global Context

Winning the Cold War in East Asia: Sport and Regionalism, Sandra Collins, California Sate University at Chico

Home and Away: East Germany and the 1972 Olympics in the Age of Ostpolitik, Christopher Young, University of Cambridge

The Soviet-Canadian Rivalry and a Japanese Battleground: Canadian Hockey Professionals Meet the Soviets, 1970-77, John A. Soares, Jr., University of Notre Dame

This was a fantastic workshop based on the premise that sports during the Cold War were not merely symbolic but deliberate tools in diplomacy, control and, as Soares described it, clearly identifiable victories and losses.  Collins evaluated the IOC’s political maneuvering in Asia and the clear absence of its supposed political neutrality.  Young looked at the GDR and its involvement in the 1972 Olympic Games (although I confess one of the most interesting features was the poll of GDR youth in evaluating national vs German success in the Games).  Soares presented (through fire alarms, believe it or not . . . poor Bobby Hall . . . being disrespected in Boston!) on the intentional use of ice hockey by the Candians in the Cold War diplomacy and international competition.

Collins (author of the book, The Missing Olympics) discussed the IOC’s lack of neutrality in Asia during the 1960s, banning certain countries from participation.  This prompted the founding of the Games of the Newly Emerging Forces (GNEFO) out of Indonesia.  These games were aimed at those countries in Asia and Central/South America who were blacklisted by the IOC precisely for political reasons.  Whereas the Olympic Games were heading to Japan in 1964, GNEFO was being held in defiance in 1962–the IOC banned any country that participated in the ’62 GNEFO from the ’64 Japanese games.  South Korea withdrew from GNEFO and Japan, in seeming defiance, sent a B-squad.  (It was suggested that this might have been a determined effort to distance Japan from its internationally enforced relationship with Taiwan.)  Clearly, this active involvement in international politics on the part of the IOC.  (Inspired by this talk I found this 1963 Sports Illustrated article covering GNEFO.)

Young is a scholar after my own heart (although much more accomplished and knowledgeable) who is actually a medievalist, doing sports history for the joy of it!  For the purposes of my brief post, I choose to focus on two points from his larger presentation–one from his paper and one from the comments and questions afterwards.  One of the most interesting aspects from this discussion was his summary of the opinion polls that the GDR took from their youth–the category of youth who were not on board with the government were categorized as those “not yet disposed” to support the government!  In these polls, a hypothetical handball tournament was suggested among the USSR, East Germany, West Germany and Denmark and the youth were asked which teams they would support.  Whereas East Germany won by a landslide and the USSR came in second, the West came in at a very close third.  Polls also revealed a great deal of animosity for the individual GDR athletes, despite the universal support for the GDR teams.  Citizens of the GDR reveled in the success of West Germany during the Olympics, as well.  Young concluded that the support for athletic representation was not necessarily support for the regime.  In response to a the commentator and a query from the audience, Young also discussed gender during the Olympics and the preparation for those Olympics.  The GDR recognized the rise of female participation in the Olympics and deliberately sought to dominate in this arena.  Of course, this policy led to the tainted metals won by the steroid-juiced athletes in 1972.

During the Cold War, the competition to demonstrate the superiority of these opposed ways of life and governance spawned many “cultural exchanges” that were intended to out-do and create dissension among the various populations.  Soares demonstrates the deliberate use of ice hockey by the Canadians to fight these cultural wars.  Ice hockey, in particular, is uniquely appropriate for this discussion, Soares explained, because all the relevant powers played it, it was a team sport and the diplomats considered it one of their weapons.  There was deliberate discussion about utilizing ice hockey instead of ballets and symphonies to win the war for the people’s sympathies.  The Canadians boycotted the Olympics for many years, offended by the farcical claim of communist and socialist countries that they were sending teams of amateurs in compliance with the rules.  Ice hockey was also an important link between Canada and Japan in their attempts to build diplomatic ties independently of the U.S.

Of course, this is a brief summary of larger discussions and contexts, but it shows not just the legitimacy of considering sports in the Cold War, but the actual necessity of it!

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Korea–a really brief look at how we got here

Korea has always been stuck between a rock and a hard place, also known as China and Japan.  If it was not under the thumb of its neighbors in modern times, it was under the influence of imperialist European nations.  We might as well begin at the conclusion of World War II, when Korea had been forcibly liberated from Japan–a period of brutal treatment that has not been forgotten (as is evident from the Japanese textbook scandal a few years back which riled China, North Korea and South Korea with its glossed over account of Japan’s war crimes committed against the occupied people of these two countries).  Not unlike World War II Germany, Korea was divided by the Soviets and the Americans in the Allied attempt to defeat the Japanese.  The Soviets established the Korean Workers’ Party and installed their man, Red Army-trained Kim Il-Sung, founding the People’s Republic of Korea in 1948, accompanied by Soviet withdrawal.  When the South declared its independence the Korean War began with North Korea’s invasion.  Thus, it was one of the few hot spots during the Cold War.

Kim Il-Sung, the "Eternal Leader", with his son, Kim Jong-il, the "Dear Leader".

When folks refer to the Korean War as the forgotten war they are in part referring to the preference to look at the Second World War and Vietnam, while neglecting this brief but brutal conflict.  Over two million people died between 1950-1953.  Only twenty thousand fewer Americans died in that span than died in seventeen years of the Vietnam War.  In the end, with the involvement of U.S.-led coalition forces, the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union, two Koreas were forged in brutal warfare, separating families and isolating the people of North Korea.

A Map of the Korean Peninsula (1993, CIA)

Roughly along the 38th Parallel is a no-man’s land, legendary for its absurdly large collection of land mines, which is guarded around the clock by North Koreans on the north wall and South Koreans and Americans on the south wall.  American forces have remained in South Korea since the Armistice that ended the Korean conflict.  (They have mostly been welcomed, but more recently their presence is controversial to a younger generation, especially given a level of inappropriate behavior by some soldiers.)  Whereas South Korea has achieved some economic stability, the North has been in a dire situation for decades with extremely poor health, short life expectancy and widespread hunger and starvation.  Conditions for aid have often been dependent on a more humane government, but it has sacrificed its people for weapons and a desire to establish a nuclear armament.

The physical darkness of North Korea and metaphor for the internal conditions.

Throughout the last decade and a half, the West and North Korea’s neighbors have been concerned about its attempt to negotiate for nuclear energy to solve some its internal problems.  The potential to turn energy into arsenal has always been a concern, though many agree that clean and abundant energy would be an asset to a nation that is significantly behind in medicine, food production, manufacturing, everything but military arsenals.  The so-called Six Party talks, named after the six countries at the table: North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, have been orchestrated on numerous occasions to discuss the nuclear situation.  In the last decade North Korea even agreed to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA of the United Nations to conduct investigations and inspections intended to insure that all nuclear-interests were peaceful, but ultimately failed to make good on such promises.  Traditionally, China has insisted on protecting the North, and as with a small sibling, scolding and cajoling them into cooperation, but many question China’s influence, particularly in light of its recent economic changes.  Current events, including two attacks, may sorely test China’s right to keep little brother from straying into international conflict.

Kim Jong-il's family

In 1994, Kim Il-Sung died after amassing a substantial military regime, bolstered by Soviet and Chinese aircraft, artillery and guns, and was replaced by Kim Jong-il.  It is believed that the next succession is under way from Kim Jong-il to his youngest son Kim Jong-un, but given its closed society it is difficult to say for sure what it is intended.  If Kim Jong-il is about to end his career as North Korea’s supreme leader, it is worth remembering the brief thaw in North-South relations which many Koreans, separated since the conflict in the early 50s, were reunited.  It came during a brief period of hope that has since evaporated.  In contrast to this touching scene, we may also recall the presentation of his father as Eternal Leader ten years after his death and the fact that the country resembles nothing so much as a giant concentration camp.

The Kims. Kim Il-Sung holds the sickle of the USSR to emphasize his background.

In the last few months, North Korea has become increasingly provocative.  The most recent missile attack on Seoul has certainly ignited the South and led many to question whether war can be avoided–an unpleasant thought under the “best” circumstances but more disturbing now, given the confirmation of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities on par with Iran.  It becomes more difficult to predict what the next course of action will be and whether a non-violent solution is possible.

North Korea ups the ante...

This has been every bit as brief as advertised and as such is likely to be vulnerable to the inaccuracies or misguiding points that are often the product of brevity.  For this reason I wanted to provide some fast but more thorough resources recommended for further investigation.

For a quick analysis on economics, history and current political situation, such as it is known, the first place to start is the CIA World Factbook for North Korea: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/kn.html and for South Korea: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ks.html.  I would also suggest the US State Department to see what it is providing and saying about current events.

For a summary on Korean history in an easy to access package, try the BBC’s website: http://search.bbc.co.uk/search?go=toolbar&uri=/history/worldwars/coldwar/korea_hickey_01.shtml&q=korea.  From that page you can link to country profiles on both North and South as well as recent headlines and news.  While you are there you may want to make use of the timeline: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/country_profiles/1132268.stm and the summary of the Korean War http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/worldwars/coldwar/korea_hickey_01.shtml–it is succinct, but more in depth than what I provided.  There are better and more academic sources out there, not least because they are written by political scientists, economists and historians, but they are not so brief.

The Economist also provides a brief commentary on the current situation and what should be done: http://www.economist.com/node/17577117?fsrc=scn/tw/te/mc/solvekorea

For a report on North Korea’s nuclear capabilities visit Foreign Policyhttp://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/11/23/hecker_north_korea_now_has_same_nuclear_defense_as_iran

Foreign Affairs also provides analysis on North Korea’s political situation in general with two articles from August 2010: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/66581/sung-yoon-lee/the-pyongyang-playbook and October 2010: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/66870/by-jennifer-lind/the-once-and-future-kim.  Note: both of these articles predate the most recent round of hostilities and the most escalating to date.

Finally, I recommend The Week, with its broad summary coverage of what the media is reporting and how it is commenting: http://theweek.com/article/briefing_blog/141/conflict-in-the-koreas–Bonus!: the site includes cartoon commentary!

Raising the next generation of Kims.

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Soccer and World History?

 

Ancient Athenian playing a soccer-like game. (National Museum of Archaeology, Athens, Greece)

 

In preparation for my sports history class next semester at the Community College of Baltimore County, I have been preparing a unit on soccer–the game the world plays . . . even if the U.S. does not.  It is also the sport over which the most ink has been spent.  Because of its penetration into the societies that really play it, it is something that has garnered the attention of political scientists, economists and sociologists, but not so much by historians.

 

The Ball is Round, A Global History of Soccer by David Goldblatt

 

It is with that in mind that I have started to develop the reading list, both my preparatory list and my students’, and have started reading David Goldblatt’s 974-page tome, The Ball is Round, A global history of Soccer.  Goldblatt’s argument is simply that soccer must be part of modern historical writing, “Whether the historians like it or not, football [soccer] cannot be taken out of the history of the modern world and the history of the modern world is unevenly, erratically but indisputably etched into the history of football,” (xvii, Goldblatt).  I have argued that sports and other hobbies and interests open windows onto exquisite views of our human past, but I cannot think of a single modern history that has included soccer.  In my mind, sports potentially provides a spark of interest for people who may not know why they should care about history.  Goldblatt argues that it should be considered not as a gimmick to get attention, but as a genuine contributor to history.  I have thought its value is the connection to the culture.  Goldblatt agrees, but thinks it is still more than that, contributing to the culture’s history.

 

A recent tribute to Kurt Landauer, club president of FC Bayern Munchen until the Nazi regime forced the club to expel its Jewish members--the only club not to do so voluntarily before such laws.

 

I wonder if Goldblatt is to be taken seriously.  Certainly, his latter point about history etching itself on the sport has to be accurate, but on considering whether it is the case that soccer can be included versus must be included . . . I am not yet sure.  I will say this: the Cold War should not be covered without a look at the international competitions as a way to demonstrate the apparent success of two conflicting ways of life–regardless of how accurate that presentation actually was.

 

The Miracle on Ice: The US is victorious over the USSR at the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Games in New York--incredible win considering the state of the nation and the Cold War

 

Come to think of it,  is it is not easy to think of the Nazi regime’s insistence on the physical prowess of the mythical Aryan race without thinking about the Olympics preceding World War II.  For that matter, I can seldom think of baseball without thinking of Cuban refugees and a certain Venezuelan dictator’s failed attempt to make the Big Leagues (poor Hugo Chavez).  Perhaps Goldblatt really has it right and I have undersold my own attempt to bridge sports and history.  Maybe we as historians do ourselves and our scholarship a real injustice by ignoring sports in the final analysis of [modern] world history.

 

A stamp for the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany--an affair that violated virtually all of the idealistic purposes of the Olympic Games, but also frustrated Hitler with the success of American Jesse Owens.

 

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Gateway drug to the Nazi Holocaust–the Nuremburg Laws

 

First page of the Nuremburg Laws signed by Adolf Hitler

 

As promised on Monday, this post is a follow up to my visit to the National Archives where the Nuremburg Laws of 1935 Nazi Germany are now on display.  (To see the remarkable story behind this exhibition check out the previous post.)  There are three laws that make up the Nuremburg Laws, but the one that is most important to the subsequent history is the final law seeking to establish the purity of German blood.  What follows, are two points of view regarding the context under which these laws come about.  One view, that of author and scholar Robert Gellately, focuses on a political origin, while the other view, that of scholar Henry Friedlander, focuses on the authority of the cultural elite.  These points of view are not mutually exclusive, simply different in both their emphasis and the end goal of their publications (Gellately writing about “the era of social catastrophes,” and Friedlander writing about “euthanasia to the final solution”).

The political environment.

 

"Lenin, Stalin, and Hitler, The age of social catastrophe" by Robert Gellately

 

Following the conclusion of the First World War, on November 9, 1918, the Kaiser abdicated and Chancellor Prince Max of Baden resigned, leaving the returning soldiers, young Adolf Hitler among them, feeling betrayed.  In this vacuum an active socialist political movement stepped up: by noon Philipp Sheidemann of the Majority Socialists Party declared the formation of a “German Repubic,” followed within hours by Karl Liebknecht, of the more radical Independent Social Democratic Party, proclaiming a “Free Socialist Republic of Germany.”  These events would feed into the military’s myth that the “homefront let down the battlefront” during World War I and will become an “article of faith,” to Hitler, still recovering from a gas attack at the end of the war, and millions of other Germans.  The nickname, “November criminals,” will come to represent everything they hate: Marxists, Jews, Bolsheviks.  (83)

Bavaria’s monarchy in Munich was replaced by a radical Council Republic, despite its traditional and religious demeanor.  Hitler and many others tied the Jews with Communism and Bolsheviks because of prominent Russian and German Socialist and Communist leaders who were Jewish, though not necessarily religious.  They “become synonymous with Bolshevism and entangled with anti-Semitism.”  (84)  Although some of the leading left politicians would preferred Germany to follow the way of Russia–as Lenin deeply desired–the people of Germany were not overwhelmingly sympathetic:

Germany was a land of property owners, where millions had investments in stocks, bonds, and savings.  The country also had a pension and welfare system that helped integrate state and society.  Most workers were opposed to Communism, and even radical left-wingers were not anxious to emulate the Bolsheviks.  (84)

The concern, nonetheless, remained relevant as the majority of Russians had also not desired the Revolution Lenin orchestrated.  Lenin wanted to penetrate the west through Germany and Austria and sent emissaries who worked with the newly founded German Communist Party from 1918-1919, discussed the use of terror and attempted a coup. (85-87)  The presence of the Socialists caused a great deal of instability and violence; the new Bavarian government would ultimately have to lay siege to Munich to wrest it from a Leninite.  But, by this time, the socialists parties in Germany, Austria and Hungry were waning.  (89)  Yet, the damage was done and the stage had been set for Hitler.  Most Germans firmly associated the Jews with the Bolsheviks and, thus, with destabilization and international threat.  Anti-Semitic organizations achieved membership in the hundreds of thousands during this post-war period.  (91)

German economists will later blame the failing economy on international Jewry, labeling it a cancer besetting the economy, “Breaking the ‘slavery of interest’ became code for ending the economic power of the Jews.”  (91-2)  Hitler finally finds his calling in life, politics, and helps to further the interests of the German Workers’ Party, an organization well to the right of the soviets, interested in moderate government regulation on capitalism.  He makes his mark quickly, shrewdly competing with the socialists for workers in the ranks of the party by changing the name to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and, in 1920, establishing the swastika on the white circle on the red background as the flag.  The red was meant to symbolize the “social idea” (and steal the attractive color from the soviets), the white nationalism and the swastika the “mission and struggle of Aryan man.”  (95-6)

After setbacks and then a sweeping rise to power, Hitler was elected Chancellor, with jobs and the economy being important campaign issues.  He initially says little pubically about the Jews, although the party boycotts and physically intimidates them, (315), but he does start his camp-system, some 160 such sites established by 1933, for torture and imprisonment (302).  Criminals, such as sex offenders, and communists are targeted–with German socialist support!  In the press, the camps are described as anti-Communist institutions to ease them into the culture, playing off the genuine fears of Communist disintegration of laws and order.  (303)

While the boycott of Jewish businesses fails to catch on, anti-Semitic policies were argued for in support of transferring Jewish professional success to Germans.  (317)  From the time of the boycott, “individual actions” were taken steadily against Jews–euphemism for violence and damage of property–without instigation from Berlin, acted entirely on local initiatives, though never without controversy.  But, despite this uneasiness with unsanctioned, but nevertheless unpunished, violence, the tenor was against the Jews and by 1935 Hitler believed he had the popular support he needed to start passing legal restrictions based on race.  And so, the Nuremburg Laws were passed forbidding the mixing of Jewish blood with German or German-related blood: banning marriages, sex and even the employ of a German woman under the age of 45 in a Jewish household.   Gellately reports on, “[a] Gestapo report for Berlin [that] said Jews were now shut out of the ‘community of the people.’”  (319)

The authority of the cultural elite.

 

"The Origins of Nazi Genocide, From euthanasia to the final solution" by Henry Friedlander

 

Origins of Nazi genocide are in the misappropriated biological theory of Darwin as applied to society:

Nazi genocide did not take place in a vacuum.  Genocide was only the most radical method of excluding groups of human beings from the German national community.  The policy of exclusion followed and drew upon more than fifty years of scientific opposition to the equality of man.  (1)

The would-be science of eugenics was advanced by German and other western scholars that “merged [eugenics] with the racist doctrine of ultra-nationalists to form a political ideology based on race.”  Scientists created constructs and scales on human intelligence, turning “popular prejudices” into scientific and academic theory, such as sexism based on brain size.  Nazi academics and doctors looked back and drew from a long tradition of academic authorities, as they so chose.  (1)

With his rise to the chancellorship, Hitler and his cadre of scientists began with sterilization, in 1933 and serving “as the model for all eugenic legislation” throughout Nazi control.  It forced sterilization on individuals with any of a variety of mental and physical disabilities.  The later Marriage Health Law, passed in the same year as the Nuremberg Laws,

mandated screening the entire population to prevent marriages of persons considered carriers of hereditary degeneracy, particularly those covered by the sterilization law.  (23)

As race hygiene had always linked disability to criminal activity, criminal traits believed to be hereditary were also targeted in 1933, often with the sympathy of law-abiding citizens.  (23)  A book compiling all the Nazi laws written against Jews fills a four-hundred-page tome.  While the first is written in 1933, the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service,

the centerpiece of the anti-Jewish legislation was enacted in September 1935 as the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, together known as the Nuremberg racial laws.  (24)

This same law will be extended to include “other racially alien blood,” especially “Negroes and Gypsies.”  And, Jews will be eliminated from eligibility, though they are not originally, from German citizenship because German blood is a prerequisite.  (25)  Not only that, Jewish patients would be banned from hospital care under the same pretense.  (268)

Conclusion.

The Nuremberg Laws will be on display at the National Archives for most of October, positioned opposite the Magna Carta and after the arc of the Hall of the Charters of Freedom.  I recommend the trip if it is possible.  The documents are profound not because of the words on the pages, nor even the signatures that passed them into law, but because they represented the next step, the one that set the legal course for the Holocaust.

For more information about the documents and how they came to be at the National Archives, or to see what they said exactly, refer to the previous post which has many useful links.

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