ABSTRACT

The first conceptual “switch” for Germany’s Jews was “turned on” by Hitler and his victorious NSDAP shortly after they took power in January 1933. Central to the Nazi conception of German Jews at this time was that Jews were inherently foreign and that a strict boundary must be drawn between the alien, corrupting “Jew” and the German “Aryan” majority. Conceptually and practically stripping German Jews of their “Germanness” was a means to achieve the völkisch ideal of a strong, homogeneous, and united Germany free of pernicious Jewish influence. Looking back on the earlier period of his NSDAP leadership, Hitler made this plain in his closing speech at the Nuremberg Parteitag on 12 September 1938, arguing that the removal of German Jews from all facets of German society must continue, “[b]ecause National Socialism desires to establish a true community of the people […] Because we are National Socialists we can never suffer an alien race which has nothing to do with us to claim the leadership of our working people.” 1 A year earlier, Hitler had similarly argued in a speech before the Reichstag on 30 January 1937 that “we refuse to permit an alien race any influence upon our political, spiritual, or cultural life or to allow an alien any privileged position in the economic sphere.” 2