The History Place - World War II in Europe

The Nuremberg Race Laws

The Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935 deprived German Jews of their rights of citizenship, giving them the status of "subjects" in Hitler's Reich. The laws also made it forbidden for Jews to marry or have sexual relations with Aryans or to employ young Aryan women as household help. (An Aryan being a person with blond hair and blue eyes of Germanic heritage.)

The first two laws comprising the Nuremberg Race Laws were: "The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor" (regarding Jewish marriage) and "The Reich Citizenship Law" (designating Jews as subjects).

Those laws were soon followed by "The Law for the Protection of the Genetic Health of the German People," which required all persons wanting to marry to submit to a medical examination, after which a "Certificate of Fitness to Marry" would be issued if they were found to be disease free. The certificate was required in order to get a marriage license.

The Nuremberg Laws had the unexpected result of causing confusion and heated debate over who was a "full Jew." The Nazis then issued instructional charts such as the one shown below to help distinguish Jews from Mischlinge (Germans of mixed race) and Aryans. The white figures represent Aryans; the black figures represent Jews; and the shaded figures represent Mischlinge.

The Nazis settled on defining a "full Jew" as a person with three Jewish grandparents. Those with less were designated as Mischlinge of two degrees: First Degree - two Jewish grandparents; Second Degree - one Jewish grandparent.

After the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, a dozen supplemental Nazi decrees were issued that eventually outlawed the Jews completely, depriving them of their rights as human beings.

Instructional Chart

(Photo credit: Stadtarchiv Bielefeld, courtesy USHMM Photo Archives)

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