15 September 1935: Introduction of the Nuremberg Laws

On 15 September 1935, two distinct laws were announced at a Nazi party rally in Nuremberg, collectively known as the Nuremberg Laws.

Yellow park bench marked ‘only for Jews’ © Wiener Library

The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour prohibited marriage between Jews and non-Jews, sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews and the employment of German women under the age of 45 in Jewish households.  Jews were also forbidden to display the national flag or Reich colours. There were punishments for any failure to adhere to these laws.

The Reich Citizenship Law specifically defined a Jew as someone with three or four Jewish grandparents and did not take into account the religious beliefs or practices of individuals.

This law specifically stated that only those of German or ‘kindred’ blood were citizens and that only citizens were able to enjoy full political rights.

The Nuremberg Laws were not the first anti-Jewish legislation to be introduced – Jews had already been subject to laws which barred them from working for the government or serving in the army.

Further laws were introduced including those which banned Jewish businesses receiving government contracts and stopped Jewish children attending public schools.

These discriminatory laws marked the start of a wave of antisemitic legislation and were a precursor to the Holocaust and the murder of six million Jews.

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The Holocaust

The Holocaust (The Shoah in Hebrew) was the attempt by the Nazis and their collaborators to murder all the Jews in Europe. From the time they assumed power in Germany in 1933, the Nazis used propaganda, persecution, and legislation to deny human and civil rights to German Jews. They used centuries of antisemitism as their foundation.

Nazi persecution of the Jews

Nazi persecution of the Jews

Once the Nazis came to power they introduced legislation intended to deny Jews freedom and restrict their rights. Boycotts of Jewish doctors, lawyers and shops began in 1933 and by 1935 Jews were not allowed to join the civil service or the army.

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The diary written by Anne Frank is famous around the world as an eye witness account which gives an insight into the persecution faced by Jewish people under the Nazi regime.