Anti-Semitism (discrimination against Jews) was a familiar part of European political life in the 1800s. Political anti-semitism was preceded by centuries of religious persecution of Europe's Jews. There is evidence as early as 1919 that Hitler had a strong hatred of Jews. As Chancellor, Hitler translated these strong feelings into a series of policies and statutes which rapidly took away the rights of German Jews from 1933-1939.
At first, the Nazis boycotted Jewish businesses for one day in April 1933. Then they excluded Jews from certain jobs. The Nuremberg Laws created very detailed Nazi definitions of who was Jewish. Many people who never considered themselves Jewish suddenly became targets of Nazi persecution.
The world accessible to German Jews narrowed. Jews were no longer allowed to enter cinemas, theaters, swimming pools, and resorts. The publishing of Jewish newspapers was suspended. Jews were required to carry identification cards and to wear Star of David badges. On one night, Nazis burned synagogues and vandalized Jewish businesses. The arrests and murders that followed intensified the fear Jews felt. Next, Jewish children were barred from schools. Curfews restricted Jews' time of travel and Jews were banned from public places. Germany began to expel Jews from within its borders.
Germany's invasion of Poland in late 1939 helped the Nazi regime's policy toward Jews. Hitler turned to a plan of total death of the European Jewish population. He swept Jewish populations into ghettos in eastern Europe. Military mobile squads killed millions. The next step was to send Jews to squalid concentration and death camps. About six million died for one reason: they were Jewish.
Who were they?
Why were they were persecuted?
In what ways did they suffer?
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