8/1/1914 - World War I Begins
Following the crisis touched off by the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria in Sarajevo, Germany declared war on Russia and additional countries joined the war within several days. The Central Powers (Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire) fought against the Allied powers (Great Britain, France, and Russia). In November 1914, Turkey sided with the Central Powers; in 1915, Italy joined the Allies.
4/24/1915 - The Armenian Genocide
In the first year of World War I, in the course of war between Turkey and Russia in the Armenian provinces of Turkey, the Turks questioned the Armenians' loyalties and drove them out of their homes. At least 1 million Armenians, about half of the Armenian population in Turkey, were murdered in the expulsion by the Turks.
11/2/1917 - Balfour Declaration
The British Foreign Secretary, Lord Arthur James Balfour, proclaimed Britain's support of the creation of a national home for the Jews in Palestine. This declaration, given after British forces had already taken control of the southern part of Palestine and were about to occupy its north, transformed the Zionist vision into a political program that seemed attainable.
11/7/1917 - Communist Revolution in Russia
In response to Russia's defeat on the front, Czar Nicholas II was dethroned in a revolution in March 1917 and a new government of mixed liberal-conservative complexion came into being. As political deadlock and defeats on the front continued, the socialists gained in popularity and their radical wing, the Bolshevik party, under Lenin, called for immediate peace and apportionment of land to the peasants. In November 1917, the Bolsheviks seized power. The new government concluded an armistice with Germany in December 1917 and a separate peace treaty with Germany in March 1918, but slid into a protracted civil war with its opponents.
1/8/1918 - Wilson Presents "Fourteen Points" As Basis for World Peace
American President Woodrow Wilson unveiled his 14-point peace plan in a speech before both houses of Congress. The central provisions of the scheme were a German retreat from all territories occupied during the world war and from France in 1871; self-determination of various peoples in the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires, and the establishment of a Polish state. The last clause in the plan prescribed the formation of a general organization of nations that would assure peaceably the independence and sovereignty of states large and small.
11/9/1918 - Democratic Weimar Republic Established
Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany abdicated the imperial throne and fled to Holland. Governance in Germany went over to the socialist leader, Friedrich Ebert, who established a provisional government. A liberal-socialist coalition won the elections for the National Assembly on January 19, 1919, and the constitution of the new democratic republic was proclaimed in Weimar on September 19.
6/28/1919 - Germany Signs Versailles Treaty
Representatives of the new German Republic signed a peace treaty in Versailles. The accord forced Germany to admit its guilt for instigating the war; to cede extensive territories in the west (to France), the east (to Poland), and the north (to Denmark); to accept substantial restrictions on the size of its armed forces; and to undertake to pay large reparations to France. Large groups in Germany considered these commitments a national humiliation that had to be reversed. A subsequent treaty signed at Trianon of 1920 left Hungary one-third of its prewar territory and two-fifths of its population, thus fueling Hungarian discontent throughout the inter-war period.
2/24/1920 - Nazi Party Established
The evolution of organized National Socialism began with the formation of the German Workers' Party in Munich on January 5, 1919, out of a small right-wing group headed by Anton Drexler that was noted for fanatic antisemitism. On February 24, 1920, it was reconstituted as the National-Socialist Democratic Workers' Party -the NSDAP-or the Nazi Party for short. Nazi ideology was predicated from the outset on antisemitism, populism, racism, and pan-Germanism. The master-race idea, a virulent anti-Bolshevism and the vision of German conquest of Lebensraum ("living space") in the East were dominant from the very beginning. Adolf Hitler joined the party on September 12, 1919, and, after a brief career as the party propagandist, became its leader in 1921. The 1920 party platform, elaborated by Hitler and Drexler, included clauses concerning the army, the nation, society, the economy, and antisemitism. By 1923, the party was active in various places, foremost in Bavaria. A short time later, it earned a reputation as an aggressive ultra-national movement by stirring up political ferment by means of sensational tactics, such as confrontational provocations by the party's SA storm-trooper organization and various actions based on the fascist model (street parades, mass rallies, etc.). At that time, Nazi influence was especially strong among German-racialist and nationalist organizations in Bavaria. As an immediate result of this, Hitler headed a failed attempt to bring the Weimar government down by means of an armed putsch in Munich, on November 9, 1923. The party was outlawed for a short time; Hitler spent nine months in prison. Shortly after his release, the Nazi Party was re-established and spread from Bavaria to western and northern Germany. Under the influence of brothers Gregor and Otto Strasser and Joseph Goebbels, the NSDAP took on the character of a pronounced anti-bourgeois, national revolutionary, and social revolutionary party. In elections to the Reichstag in 1924, the Nazis won only 3 percent of the vote. Their dramatic ascent began in the 1930s, the party's parliamentary strength rising from 18.3 percent in 1930, to 37.3 percent in 1932, and 43.9 percent in elections held on March 5, 1933 (by then the Nazi's were already in power). Party membership climbed from 6,000 in 1922 to 8.5 million in 1945. Much of the party's popularity before the accession was based on mass mobilization (rallies, demonstrations) and other modern forms of political expression. In the Nazi regime of the 1930s, the annual party conferences and accompanying pageantry in Nuremberg became central public features in German political life. The Nazi Party was typified by a centralized, authoritarian structure based on the Fuehrerprinzip (the "leadership principle"). The party leader, Adolf Hitler, headed it; below him was the deputy Fuehrer. Organizationally, the party was run by eighteen party officials at the rank of regional leader (Reichsleiter); territorially, the party was managed by thirty-two Gauleiters. The party's institutions included the SA, the SS, and the Hitler Youth (Hitlerjugend).
10/24/1922 - Mussolini, Fascists March on Rome
On October 24, 1922, Benito Mussolini, leader of the Fascist party in Italy, announced at a conference in Naples his intent to seize power by marching on Rome. Six days later, some 40,000 armed Fascists entered Rome without resistance and the king appointed Mussolini to the Italian premiership. Initially the head of a coalition government, Mussolini gradually transformed himself into the dictator of a one-party state.
1/11/1923 - Occupation of the Ruhr Leads to Hyper-Inflation in the Weimar Republic
The economic crisis, prompted by war damage and the burden of compensation, sent the German economy into a severe inflationary spiral. In an effort to force the Germans to pay reparations, France invaded the Ruhr region of Germany on 11 January 1923. As a result, the mark plunged to one ten-thousandth of its original value; by the autumn of that year, inflation peaked as the mark plummeted to one-trillionth of its original value.
11/8/1923 - Hitler's Putsch Fails
Hitler attempted to seize power in Bavaria (southern Germany) by capturing its capital, Munich. He and Ludendorff, Roehm, and Goering planned to seize Munich and set out from there to Berlin. The Nazi putsch failed; Hitler was arrested. Sentenced to five years in prison, he was released after obtaining a pardon in December 1924 after serving only nine months.
10/5/1925 - Locarno Conference Convenes to Prevent War between Germany and Western Neighbors
In an agreement signed pursuant to a conference held in Locarno, Germany recognized the western border stipulated in the Versailles Treaty and undertook not to send armed forces into the Rhineland region after the occupying powers evacuated it. The agreement belonged to a set of political actions by the German Prime Minister, Gustav Stresemann, who, in the mid-1920s, stabilized Germany's status in Europe and improved relations with the West and with the Soviet Union.
10/25/1929 - Black Friday: New York Stock Exchange Crashes
The collapse of the New York Stock Exchange prompted a severe economic crisis in the United States and, in its wake, around the world. In response to the crisis, the American electorate installed Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the White House in the 1932 presidential elections. Roosevelt's far-reaching program, the New Deal, intensified federal-government involvement in economic life and helped pull the country out of its malaise.
11/6/1932 - Nazis Take 33.1 Percent of Vote in Reichstag Elections
In the Reichstag elections in 1924, the Nazis received only 3 percent of the votes and were considered a phantom party. The political and economic crises that swept Germany in the late 1920s animated a dramatic Nazi ascent in the 1930s, the party's parliamentary strength increasing apace. In the so-called "disaster elections" in 1930, the Nazis took 18.3 percent of the vote. As parliamentary crises continued to afflict Germany, new elections were called in July 1932; this time, the Nazis earned 37.3 percent of the vote and became the largest party in the Reichstag. President Paul von Hindenburg, who had misgivings about Hitler, refused to appoint him to the chancellorship; Hitler, in turn, refused to join any coalition. The Conservative minority government did not hold on, and the electorate went to the polls again in November. In these elections, the strength of the Nazi Party slipped to 33.1 percent; many believed that the party had passed its peak and would begin to decline. The Conservative leader, Franz von Papen, held the chancellorship a little longer but was forced to resign amidst increasingly frequent coalition crises. In early December, the Defense Minister, Kurt von Schleicher, was named chancellor. His government, too, was not long-lived, and it fell on January 28, 1933. Hindenburg had little choice but to appoint Hitler to the premiership.
1/30/1933 - Hitler becomes Chancellor
Several days after the November 1932 elections, the Reichstag rejected the program of the incumbent Chancellor, Franz von Papen, for a "government of national concentration." In response, von Papen resigned. Hitler asked President Paul von Hindenburg to appoint him chancellor, but the president refused, feeling that Hitler would use the office to amass dictatorial power. In early December, he appointed the Minister of Defense, Kurt von Schleicher, to the premiership, but he, too, resigned less than two months later. Now Hindenburg chose Hitler by recommendation of the Conservatives, who thought they could manipulate him for their purposes. The new era started out modestly; only three of the 11 ministers in Hitler's government were Nazis.(Hitler, Wilhelm Frick, minister of the interior and Goering, minister for Prussia). Swiftly, however, Hitler took over all mechanisms of governance and functions of state, making Nazi Germany a totalitarian dictatorship.
2/3/1933 - Hitler presents Lebensraum program
Hitler revealed his political goals in a speech to the leading army and navy commanders. He spoke of the need for an authoritarian state purged of Marxism and pacifism, the occupation of living space in the East for the German people, rearmament, and resistance to the Versailles Treaty. He stressed the importance of the military and promised not to involve it in domestic political disputes. Hitler's purpose in making these remarks was to earn the generals' support for his regime.
2/27/1933 - Reichstag arson leads to state of emergency
Shortly before election day, the Reichstag building went up in flames-most probably at the initiative of the Nazis themselves. Hearing about the arson, Hitler reportedly first said, "Now I've got them in my hands." The Nazis exploited the torching of the Reichstag to describe the act as a manifestation of an attempted Communist putsch and, on the basis of this allegation, to legitimize an all-out war against the Communists. That very night, Goering declared a supreme state of emergency throughout his police forces. The Nazis rounded up 4,000 political activists, mostly Communists, but including several non-Communist intellectuals. The headquarters and newspaper editorial boards of the Social-Democratic party were taken over. The heads of the Communist party in the Reichstag turned themselves over to the police voluntarily to prove that the charges were groundless. The next morning, Hitler presented President von Hindenburg with an emergency order, ready for his signature, that voided important basic civil rights, expanded substantially the list of crimes that carried the death penalty, and vastly boosted the central government's powers to pressure the individual states. The police were now empowered to imprison suspects and extend remand indefinitely at their discretion. They could keep relatives utterly uninformed about the reason for the arrest and the fate of the imprisoned person. They could prevent lawyers or other people from visiting detainees and reviewing their files. No court was entitled to intervene. The emergency order, "for the protection of the people and the State," was augmented that very day by an order "against treason and treachery." The two orders became the basis of jurisprudence and the foundation stones of the Nazi dictatorship. Thus, the emergency order of February 28, 1933, read:
"Paragraphs 114, 115, 117, 118, 123, 124, and 153 in the German Reich Constitution are provisionally null and void. Accordingly, the restrictions on personal freedom and the right to express opinions freely, including freedoms of the press, association, and assembly; monitoring of letters, cables, and telephone calls, searches of homes, and expropriation of property, and restrictions thereon, are hereby revoked within the limits previously stipulated in the law."
The order, to be in effect until 1945, replaced constitutional rule with a perpetual state of emergency.
3/5/1933 - Reichstag elections: Nazis gain 44 percent of vote
The main reason for the elections on March 5, 1933, was Hitler's aim to strengthen his grip and attain total Nazi Party control of Germany. Hitler brought about the new elections after he was appointed Chancellor on January 31. Despite their aggressive propaganda and the climate of terrorism that they fomented as election day approached, the Nazis came away with only 44 percent of the vote. Although this represented an 11-percentage-point increase relative to the previous elections in November 1932, Hitler still had to form a coalition government.
3/22/1933 - Dachau camp established
The new Nazi regime established the first concentration camp about 15 kilometers northwest of Munich, at a site where a munitions factory had stood until it was abandoned in the wake of the economic crisis. Heinrich Himmler dedicated the camp, meant to contain 5,000 prisoners, at a press conference on March 20. The first group of prisoners-mostly Communists, Social-Democrats, and homosexuals-was taken there on March 22. Bavarian police guarded the prisoners until April 11, when the SS took over. Theodor Eicke, appointed commandant of the camp in June 1933, elaborated its organizational structure and its detailed rules. When Eicke was placed in charge of all concentration camps, he applied the rules and the regimen that he had developed at Dachau elsewhere, too. Because the institution Eicke developed was meant, by its very existence, to sow fear among the population, it became an efficient tool in silencing opponents of the regime. The first Jewish detainees were among the best-known political opponents of the Nazi regime, since Dachau was a "political camp" throughout its 12-year tenure. However, Jews were treated more harshly than other prisoners. Gradually, members of the Sinti and Roma peoples (Gypsies) were imprisoned there, along with the regime's political opponents, and more than 10,000 Jews from all over Germany were interned there after the Kristallnacht pogrom. From autumn 1937 until the autumn of 1941, those who could prove that they were about to leave Germany were released. When the systematic genocide of Jews began, the Jewish prisoners were deported from Dachau and other camps in the Reich to the extermination camps in the East.
3/24/1933 - Enabling Act
The Nazis hoped in the March 5, 1933, elections to obtain an absolute majority that would allow them to rule without hindrances. However, because they came away with only 44 percent of the votes, they sought another way to establish a dictatorship: They sponsored the Enabling Act, a bill that would give Hitler's government dictatorial powers for four years. To make sure the law passed, the Nazis imprisoned Communists and took actions to soften up public opinion, especially among conservative parties. Several days before the elections, the Nazis held a meticulously staged ceremony in Potsdam. Hitler was depicted that day as a conservative national leader and not as the head of a radical party. He promised that the law would, in no way, be detrimental to the Reichstag, the presidency, and the municipal government. The moment it passed, however, the democratic constitution was abrogated and Nazi Party rule faced no further obstacles. On March 23, 1933, Hitler pushed the Enabling Act through the Reichstag and thus equipped his government with dictatorial powers, first for four years and afterwards indefinitely. The regime invoked the new law to rescind the democratic freedoms of the Weimar Republic and to dissolve political parties and organizations. Thus, in a pseudo-legal process, Hitler consolidated his dictatorship-which, contrary to his promises, was in no way provisional. The disempowerment of the Reichstag is an example of the way the Nazis usurped and emasculated Germany's governing institutions, but refrained from destroying them in order to portray the dictatorship as a soundly functioning state. When the Enabling Act passed, the Nazi newspaper Voelkische Beobachter proclaimed it a "historic day." The parliamentary regime succumbed to the new Germany. For four years, Hitler could do anything he pleased-by negation, to destroy the corrosive forces of Marxism; and by affirmation, to establish a new German-racial society. The great enterprise was underway. "The day of the Third Reich has come!"
4/1/1933 - Boycott of Jewish businesses
By decision of the party leaders, a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses was proclaimed. A party committee organized it down to its finest minutiae. It was to begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 1, 1933, throughout Germany, from major cities to small villages. A uniform format was stipulated: Vigils of uniformed Nazis, some armed with rifles, would station themselves in front of every Jewish-owned shop, business, or professional office and keep customers or inquirers from entering. Concurrently, cars circulated in the street broadcasting slogans condemning buying from Jews. Businesses of Jews originally from Eastern Europe suffered particularly. In contrast to the original plans, the official boycott was halted after only one day. The boycott, the first countrywide action against German Jewry after the Nazi takeover, legitimized anti-Jewish activity and gave it an official sanction that it had lacked until then. The boycott expressed the inception of a policy, which would gather momentum, of ousting Jews from economic and business affairs and undermining the economic basis of German Jewish existence. Despite the declared end of the boycott, unofficial, local-initiated boycott activities continued throughout Germany on a smaller scale.
4/7/1933 - Civil Service "Reform"
The early days of the Nazi regime were characterized by actions designed to alienate the Jews from key positions in the community and the German administration.
The “Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” was one of the means to this end.
Excerpts from the Law:
“To restore a national professional civil service and to simplify administration, civil servants may be dismissed from office in accordance with the following regulations, even where there would be no grounds for such action under the prevailing Law.
Civil servants who have entered the service since November 9, 1918, without possessing the required or customary educational background or other qualifications are to be dismissed from the service. […] They will have no claim to temporary pensions, full pensions or survivors’ benefits, nor to retain designation of rank or titles, or to wear uniforms or emblems....
1) Civil servants who are not of Aryan descent are to be retired…. if they are honorary officials, they are to be dismissed from their official status.
2) Section 1 does not apply to civil servants in office from August 1, 1914, who fought at the Front for the German Reich or its Allies in the World War, or whose fathers or sons fell in the World War. Other exceptions may be permitted by the Reich Minister of the Interior in coordination with the Minister concerned or with the highest authorities with respect to civil servants working abroad.”
Reich Chancellor: Adolf Hitler
Reich Minister of Interior: Wilhelm Frick
Reich Minister of Finance: Graf Schwerin von Krosigk
4/21/1933 - Jewish ritual slaughter banned
Jewish ritual slaughter was fallaciously portrayed by Nazi propaganda as a cruelty that inflicted much suffering on animals. On April 21, Jewish ritual slaughter was banned in Germany. Some slaughterers continued to work secretly, in order to provide observant Jews with kosher meat. However, as Jews were gradually ousted from the livestock trade, this became increasingly difficult.
4/25/1933 - School quota system
The Law against the Overcrowding of German Schools and Institutions of Higher Learning set a Jewish quota of 1.5 percent of high-school and university enrollment, and stipulated a limit of 5-percent Jewish enrollment in any single school. Because a compulsory education law was in effect, Jewish enrollment in primary schools was not limited for the time being. However, growing numbers of Jews voluntarily moved to purely Jewish settings by 1938, when they were totally barred from general institutions. In autumn 1941, the Jewish schools were closed by administrative order.
5/2/1933 - Dissolution of German Trade Unions
To encourage the working class to support the new regime, the Nazis sought to take over the trade unions. Union officials and leaders became targets of harassment and imprisonment, and union leaders were ousted from their positions, but the Nazi trade organization failed to establish a power base among the working class. On May 1, the regime held opulent May Day festivities, including parades and a festive speech by Hitler. The next day, the headquarters of all the free trade unions were seized and their leaders thrown into prison. In the course of May and June, the unions were dissolved and a German Labor Front was established under Robert Ley.
5/10/1933 - Nazis burn thousands of anti-Nazi, Jewish-authored, and "degenerate" books
The rationale behind public book-burning, the suppression of free speech and ideas, swiftly evolved into a general tactic that was cast into an administrative framework. Joseph Goebbels' Ministry of Propaganda undertook the supervision of all aspects of cultural and intellectual life. In December of that year, more than 1,000 titles and the complete works of several authors were banned. By the end of the next year, more than 4,000 publications were so treated. Goebbels set up a dense network of 41 propaganda officers across the Reich. After the Nazis completed their takeover of radio broadcasts in the spring of 1933, the Nazis turned against the press. Orders and restrictions were placed on publishing houses, limiting freedom of the press to a small domain that the press could find between the lines. Intermittent acts of book-burning continued across Germany throughout the year.
7/14/1933 - Germany proclaimed a one-party state
Once the Enabling Act was passed, the government no longer needed legislators' votes to pass laws. In fact, other parties had already been banned. The property of the SPD (buildings, newspapers, and the exchequer) was confiscated on May 10. Many of this party's deputies to the Reichstag were placed in custody. On June 23, the Conservative Party was ordered officially to dissolve. On June 27, the DNVP decided to deactivate itself, most of its members already having resigned or joined the Nazi Party. On July 14, 1933, a one-party state was ordained in a statement that forbade the formation of any other party.
7/14/1933 - Denaturalization law
The law canceled all naturalizations between November 9, 1918, and January 30, 1933. Most of those affected were Eastern European Jews who had immigrated to Germany in the wake of the First World War.
7/14/1933 - Forced sterilization
In July 1933, the "Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring," which had been initiated by Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick, was put into effect. This law required the forced sterilization of German citizens with congenital disabilities such as "feeblemindedness," schizophrenia, manic depression, epilepsy, and more. The sterilizations were performed by doctors throughout the Reich.
Anyone who has a hereditary illness can be rendered sterile by a surgical operation, if according to the experience of medical science, there is a strong probability that his/her progeny will suffer from serious hereditary defects of a physical or mental nature.
Anyone is hereditarily ill within the meaning of the law who suffers from one of the following illnesses:
Serious physical deformities
In addition, anyone who suffers from chronic alcoholism can be sterilized.
Proceedings before the Hereditary Health Courts are not public.
If the court finally decides upon sterilization, the operation must be performed even if it is against the wishes of the person to be sterilized, unless that person was solely responsible for the application.
The medical officer is responsible for requesting the necessary measures to be taken by the police authorities. Insofar as other measures prove insufficient, the use of force is permissible."
It is estimated that between 200,000 to 350,000 individuals were sterilized between 1933 and 1945.
7/20/1933 - Nazi government signs Concordat with the Vatican
On July 20, 1933, the Vatican Chancellery in Rome held a ceremony in which the Holy See concluded a Concordat with Nazi Germany. Representing the Germans was Franz von Papen, the deputy chancellor; the Vatican was represented by Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli-the initiator and architect of the Concordat, the secretary of state, and subsequently Pope Pius XII (1939-1958). The occasion gave Hitler an important diplomatic victory, while preserving a modicum of space for Catholic independence of action in Germany.
8/20/1933 - American Jewish Congress declares boycott against Nazi Germany
As soon as the persecution of German Jews began, various public figures in American Jewry, headed by Stephen Wise, a Zionist and the head of the American Jewish Congress, bruited proposals for tough action against Germany. Large segments of American Jewry were reluctant to defend German Jewry publicly because of antisemitism in America and the prevailing isolationist climate. Nevertheless, on March 19, 1933, the Association of American Jewish War Veterans declared a boycott of German manufacturers in response to preparations for the April 1 boycott in Germany, and in August the American Jewish Congress issued a boycott statement of its own. American Jewry, divided and fragmented, did not lend full and organized support to the boycott activity.
8/25/1933 - Ha'avara Agreement
Nazi Germany and the Jewish Agency concluded the "Ha'avara" (transfer) negotiations, allowing Jews immigrating to Palestine to deposit part of their assets in Germany and receive Palestine pounds upon arrival in Palestine. After three months of talks, the Zionist Federation of Germany, the Anglo-Palestine Bank, and the German economic authorities signed the agreement, which permitted the transfer of Jews' capital from Germany to Palestine by immigrants or investors in the form of goods. The German authorities thereby partially removed a barrier that had greatly impeded the efforts of German Jews to emigrate to Palestine and, at the same time, increased the production and export of German goods. For the Zionists, the agreement facilitated immigration to Palestine by allowing Jewish emigres to salvage some of the value of their property as they left, and to meet one of the criteria for obtaining a certificate of immigration from the British authorities. For a time, the Ha'avara Agreement helped the Nazis in undermining the anti-Nazi boycott.
9/13/1933 - Race theory in German schools
Racism was an essential component of the Nazi worldview, and from the moment they rose to power, the Nazis sought to make it an integral and binding part of all areas of life. To help assimilate the racial worldview, study of heredity and "racial science" was made a compulsory and tested subject for all pupils.
9/17/1933 - Reich representation of German Jews established
The Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden, the Reich Representation of German Jews, was the central organization of German Jewry under the Nazi regime. When the Nazis came to power, German Jewry did not really have a comprehensive organization of representational nature. Only in September 1933 was this inclusive, federative representative agency established, composed and empowered to cope with German Jewry's grave existential problems under the new totalitarian regime. The organization was headed by Rabbi Leo Baeck, but the motive, spirit, and force were provided by its director, Otto Hirsch. Alongside them was an administration that represented the main political and religious organizations. The Reichsvertretung aspired to embrace all aspects of German Jewish internal affairs and to represent the community as such vis-a-vis the German authorities and Jewish organizations outside Germany. Its main fields of activity, arranged by the Zentralausschuss der Deutschen Juden fuer Hilfe und Aufbau (Central Committee of German Jews for Relief and Reconstruction) were:
Education, including the promotion and expansion of Jewish schools, and extensive adult education activity.
Vocational training and retraining for the growing number of Jews who had lost their means of livelihood, and primarily to prepare them for emigration.
Welfare services for the rising population of the needy and for nursing homes, hospitals, and related institutions. Jewish welfare increasingly had to compensate for the rescinding of support by local government welfare authorities.
Economic assistance, including the establishment of labor exchanges and loan funds.
Emigration, handled by the Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden (German Jews' Aid Society) and, with respect to emigration to Palestine, by the Palestine Office.
Extensive cultural activity was promoted by the Kulturbund Deutscher Juden (Cultural Society of German Jews), which remained autonomous until late 1941. The Reichsvertretung's intensive operations, which enabled German Jews to cope with the grim effects of state discrimination and persecution, relied heavily on Jewish welfare associations around the world but, foremost, on the volunteering spirit and mutual assistance of German Jews themselves.
In its contacts with the authorities, the Reichsvertretung sought to safeguard the physical and moral existence of German Jewry, and considered itself competent to respond to major anti-Jewish events such as the Nuremberg Laws and the spate of terrorism in the summer of 1938. Although it was not recognized under law, the authorities recognized the Reichsvertretung de facto as the sole representative of the Jews in Germany vis-a-vis the Reich government. After the legal status of the kehillah (Jewish community organization) was nullified, the Reichsvertretung reconstituted itself as a national kehillah of sorts by forming "a national association of Jews in Germany", The Reichsvereinigung. In July 1939, the regime officially recognized this organization, which was placed under Gestapo supervision, thus empowering it to be active in emigration, education, and welfare. From then until 1943, the Reichsvereinigung, was the only organization in Germany that dealt with Jewish survival. The last of its leaders, including Rabbi Leo Baeck, were deported to Theresienstadt in the first half of that year, and it was officially abolished in July.
Some scholars regard the organization's work as an expression of the will to preserve and foster the authentic character and basic values of German Jewry even under the totalitarian and racist regime. As such, they consider its activities "spiritual resistance." For others, however, precisely these aims were illusions and, indeed, a tragic error, which may perhaps have prevented sufficient emphasis from being placed on emigration efforts that could have saved lives..
9/22/1933 - Reich Chamber of Culture Law
The law hinged professional activity in literature, the arts, press, theater, and music on membership in a corresponding "chamber." Such membership was denied to Jews.
10/14/1933 - Germany quits League of Nations and disarmament talks
The Nazi regime's first measure in foreign policy was to pull out of the League of Nations on October 14, 1933. This step, meant to release Germany from international controls over its rearmament, marked a departure from the Weimar policy. As a result, Germany could no longer claim that it was pursuing the conciliatory policy that it had adopted in the 1920s. The idea of German disarmament gradually receded.