The persecution of Jews had intensified throughout the 1930s and in January 1939 the Nazis set up the Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration. It seems that at this time the mass extermination of Jews was not the aim, but to remove them from the country by forcing them to emigrate elsewhere.
World War Two broke out in September 1939 and everything changed.
- The Nazis didn’t have to worry about world opinion and as such could go ahead and treat the Jews however they wished
- Because Germany was successful at taking over new territory (such as Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia that had Jewish populations) they ended up with more Jews under their control rather than less. These areas had originally been intended as places to remove the Jews to, but now they were under Nazi control that wasn’t what they wanted to use them for. It left them with the question of where to put the Jews.
- The situation meant that they came up with ever more extreme solutions to their perceived problem of “The Jewish question”