The Nazis began their pursuit of the Jews and looking for a solution to their problem with the Jews, what they called “The Jewish Question”, from the moment they came to power in 1933.
They looked for ways to separate the Jews from German society, and the economy and politics, civil society, and culture and in everything. They boycotted the Jews, passed laws against the Jews, disenfranchised the Jews, kicked the Jews out of citizenship, and tried to force the Jews to emigrate from the Third Reich, as a way of relieving Germany of this threat that the Nazis imagined.
The climax of all that, of the Nazi treatment of the Jews, came in November 1938, with the violent, nationally organized “Kristallnacht Pogrom”, in which thousands of Jewish stores were destroyed, homes were destroyed, more than 1,500 synagogues were burned to the ground, more than 100 Jews were murdered, 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and taken to concentration camps and to prisons. And this pressure on the Jews to leave, to be separated from society, continued and pushed the Jews – indeed, many were leaving as time went on, looking for places to go.
In the course of the pre-war years, 1933 to September 1939, approximately half of the German Jews actually left Germany, some 250,000. Unfortunately for many of them, they ended up going to neighboring countries and being caught. Those who managed to get further away, of course, ended up saving their lives, although they didn’t exactly know that that was the issue when they left.
Materials are published in accordance with Yad VaShem Remembrance Centre.