Nazi Treatment of Minorities

The Nazis wanted to create a pure German race based on Aryan principles of blonde, blue eyed, and athletic characteristics. The Herenvolk, meaning ‘master race’, were to become the ruling elite.

The Nazis despised other races. Other races such as the Slavs in Eastern Europe were considered lesser races. The Untermenschen, meaning sub-humans, included Africans. The lowest races of all however were the Lebensunwertes, meaning ‘not worthy of life ‘ these were the Jews and the Gypsies. Another group targeted by the Nazis were the homosexuals.


Hatred of Jewish people is called ‘anti-Semitism’. Hatred of the Jews had been around for centuries, in countries across Europe – not just in Germany. There were several reasons for this hatred:

 Their religion, customs and looks made them stand out

 Some Christians still blamed them for the execution of Christ

 People look for scapegoats to blame for their own troubles, especially when times are hard. The Germans had a very difficult time in the early 1920s and again in the early 1930s. Jews were blamed for Germany’s defeat in World War One and also for the Treaty of Versailles.

 Many Jews were successful and wealthy business men, and the Nazis criticised them for being selfish.

Once Hitler was appointed Chancellor in January 1933 the systematic persecution of Jews began.

Later other minorities were persecuted, including Gypsies, homosexuals, prostitutes, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman Catholics, alcoholics, pacifists, beggars, hooligans and persistent criminals.

Persecution of minorities, particularly the Jews, increased over time.

Persecution of the Jews Date


April 1933

Nazis ordered the boycott of Jewish businesses

May 1933

Jews banned from holding government jobs

September 1933

Jews banned from inheriting land

May 1935

Jews banned from the army

June 1935

Jews banned from restaurants

September 1935

Nuremberg Laws were passed which placed severe restrictions on Jewish people:

 The new Reich law on citizenship ruled that only those of German blood could be considered German citizens

 Jews lost the right to vote, or hold passports

 Jews were forced to wear a coloured patch so they could be easily identified

 Jews had to sit in separate areas of buses and trains

 Jews were forbidden to marry German citizens

March 1938

Jews had to register all their possessions – this made it easier for the government to confiscate them

July 1938

Jews had to carry identity cards

July 1938

Jewish doctors, dentists and lawyers were banned from working for white Aryan Germans

November 1938

Night of the Broken Glass

Following the assassination of a German in Paris by a Polish Jew, the German government said that no action would be taken against Germans who decided to take revenge on Jews for this death. Some SA members interpreted this as a signal to attack Jewish people and businesses. On 9 and 10 November hundreds of Jewish homes, synagogues and businesses were destroyed, and 100 Jews were killed. There was so much broken glass on the street that these events have become known as Kristallnacht – the night of the broken glass.

November 1938

After Kristallnacht the government blamed the Jews for the disturbance and used it as an excuse to crack down on them even harder:

 They were banned from running shops and businesses

 They were banned from German schools and universities

 By 12 November 20,000 had been sent to concentration camps