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Holocaust Chronology of 1933

January 1933

A pastoral letter of Austrian Bishop Gfollner of Linz states that it is the duty of all Catholics to adopt a “moral form of antisemitism.”

January 4

Hitler and former Prime Minister Franz von Papen meet secretly to discuss Hitler’s future in the German government.

January 28

German Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher resigns.

January 30

German President Paul von Hindenburg appoints Adolf Hitler as Reichskanzler (German Chancellor). Franz von Papen is named vice-chancellor. The Nazis refer to this as Machtergreifung (“Seizure of power”).

Judische Jugenhilfe established in Berlin.

February 1933

The weekly publication Der St?rmer, devoted primarily to antisemitic propaganda and promoting hatred against the Jews, published since 1923 as the organ of the Nazi Party, becomes the official organ of the party in power. The motto of the paper is “The Jews are our misfortune.”

February 2

Political demonstrations are banned within Germany.

February 3

Hitler presents Lebensraum program.

February 12

“Bloody Sunday” riots in Berlin lead to the death of one Communist and injuries to hundreds of other citizens, including Jews.

February 19 & 26

Father Charles Coughlin, a Jew-hating priest--Canadian but working in the Detroit, Michigan, diocese--sermonizes on the radio that “Shylocks” (Jews) are causing the Depression. He receives 80,000 letters of support a week, about 70 percent from Protestants. His editorials often parallel those of the Nazi press. He is friendly with several U.S. senators and representatives.

February 20

Hitler wins over a group of leading German industrialists at a meeting designed for that purpose.

February 27

The Reichstag building (German parliament) is set ablaze. The Nazis are quick to blame the fire on Communists.

February 28

Hitler convinced President von Hindenburg to invoke an emergency clause in the Weimar Constitution. The German parliament then passed the Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the Nation and State (Reichstag Fire Decree). The decree suspended the civil rights of Nazi opponents in the German constitution. These rights included freedom of speech, assembly, press, and formed the basis for the prohibition of Nazi opponets to have judicial procceedings.

All 100 Communist Party members of the Reichstag are arrested. One Berlin man is given 50 lashes for being a Communist and 50 more for being a Jew.

March 4

United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt makes his inaugural address. He will remain as president throughout the Holocaust.

March 5

The Nazis win 288 of 647 seats in the Reichstag election. During the last free election in Germany, ostensibly called to obtain a vote of confidence, the Nazi Party wins nearly 44 percent of the popular vote, more than twice as many votes as the next closest political party, the Social Democrats, with 18 percent. In a coalition with another right?wing party, Hitler takes full control of Germany.

Individual German states are stripped of power.

March 9-10

A wave of riots begins against German Jews by the SA, so-called Storm Troopers of the Nazi Party, and Stahlhelm, a nationalist organization comprised of World War I veterans.

March 19

The Jewish War Veterans of America announces it will boycott German goods and services.

March 21

Special Nazi courts are set up to deal with political dissidents.

The Day of Potsdam--the first opening of a Nazi-controlled Reichstag.

March 22

The SS, Hitler’s “elite guard,” establishes a concentration camp, outside the town of Dachau, in south Germany, for political opponents of the regime. It was the only concentration camp to remain in operation from 1933 until 1945. By 1934, the SS had taken over the administration of the entire Nazi concentration camp system. By 1945, the Nazis will build more than 1000 camps.

March 23

The Law for Removing the Distress of People and Reich, or Ermächtigungsgesetz, (commonly known as the “Enabling Act”) is passed by the Reichstag, giving Hitler’s government dictatorial powers. Hitler promises that Germany’s artistic growth will be fueled by “blood and race.”

March 27

A gigantic anti-Nazi protest rally, organized by the American Jewish Congress, is held in New York City. 55,000 people attend and threaten to boycott German goods if the Germans carry out their planned permanent boycott of Jewish-owned stores and businesses.

April 1

A boycott of all Jewish shops in Germany instigated by the S.A. This action was also directed against Jewish physicians, lawyers and merchants. Jewish students were forbidden to attend schools and universities. Due to international outrage and the apathy of many non-Jewish Germans, Hitler orders the boycott limited to a single day.

April 4

The article “Tragt ihn mit Stolz, den Gelben Fleck!” (“Wear it with Pride, The Yellow Badge!”) written by Robert Weltsch, is published in the German-Jewish newspaper Jüdische Rundschau. The article is the first in a series “To say ‘Yes’ to our Jewishness” and become slogans of the German Jewish resistance.

April 7

Hitler approves decrees banning Jews and other non-Aryans from the practice of law and from jobs in the civil service (Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service). Jewish government workers in Germany are ordered to retire. Exception made for front­line veterans of World War I.

April 11

The German government begins employment and economic sanctions against Jews that are widely perceived as being racially based. Decree issued defining a non-Aryan as “anyone descended from non-Aryan, especially Jewish, parents or grandparents. One parent or grandparent classifies the descendant as non-Aryan...especially if one parent or grandparent was of the Jewish faith.” The Lutheran Church opposes the sanctions.

April 14

The Nationalpolitische Erziehungsanstalten (National Political Educational Institutes) are established as training schools for Nazi Party cadets.

April 25

The Law for Preventing Overcrowding in German Schools and Schools of Higher Education takes effect; the law restricts enrollment of Jews. Similar extra-legal discrimination against Jews already exists in the United States.

April 26

Hermann Göring establishes the Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei; Secret State Police).

Hitler meets with Bishop Wilhelm Berning of Osnabrück and Monsignor Steinmann, prelates representing the Roman Catholic Church in Germany. Hitler claims that he is only doing to the Jews what the Catholic Church has already done to them for 1600 years. He reminds the prelates that the Church has regarded the Jews as dangerous and pushed them into ghettos. Hitler suggests that his anti-Jewish actions are “doing Christianity a great service.” Bishop Berning and Monsignor Steinmann later describe the talks as “cordial and to the point.”

Va'ad Le'umi, the National Committee of the Jews of Palestine, decide to establish a project for the absorption of immigrants from Germany.

April 27

The German government prohibits the practice of ritual Jewish slaughter of animals for meat.

May 1933

The Judischer Kulturbund is established in Berlin.

May 2

Dissolution of German trade unions

May 6

The Institute of Sexual Studies in Berlin is destroyed by pro-Nazi students, likely because of its academic interest in homosexuality.

May 10

Books deemed of “un-German spirit,” most of them Jewish, are burned on Unter den Linden, opposite the University of Berlin, and throughout Germany. More than 20,000 volumes are destroyed, including works by John Dos Passos, Thomas Mann, Karl Marx, Ernest Hemingway, Upton Sinclair, Émile Zola, H. G. Wells, André Gide, Sigmund Freud, Maxim Gorky, Helen Keller, Friedrich Forster, Marcel Proust, Jack London, and Erich Maria Remarque.

mid-May 1933

The Jews of Paris hold mass demonstrations to protest the anti-Jewish campaign in Germany.

May 17

A petition is submitted to the League of Nations by representatives of the Comite des Delegations Juives protesting Germany’s anti-Jewish legislation, called the Bernheim Petition, named for imprisoned Silesian Jew Franz Bernheim.

In Norway, Vidkun Quisling establishes the Norwegian Fascist Party as well as the Hirdmen (King’s Men), a collaborationist organization that’s modeled on the Nazi Sturmabteilung (SA).

June 1

Germany introduces the Law for Reduction of Unemployment, which provides for marriage loans and other incentives to genetically “fit” Germans.

June 11

The Jewish organizations of Silesia hold a conference to discuss the safeguarding of rights of German Jews.

June 16

Unknown assailants murder Chaim Arlosoroff, a Labor Zionist leader.

June 26

The Akademie für Deutsches Recht (Academy for German Law) is founded to rewrite the entire body of German law to NSDAP specifications.

June 27

London Jews hold a massive anti-Nazi rally.

June 28

In a speech to German newspaper publishers, Hitler describes the government’s new journalistic regulations.

July 1

The German government states that “Reich Chancellor Hitler still belongs to the Catholic Church and has no intention of leaving it.”

July 14

The Nazi Party is made Germany’s only legal political party; political opposition is punishable by law.

The Law Regarding Revocation of Naturalization and the Annulment of German Citizenship strips German citizenship from Eastern European Jews and Gypsies living in Germany.

Germany enacts the Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases, which provides for sterilization of “unfit” parents and potential parents, as well as “euthanasia” of the “defective” and of “useless eaters.” The government terms these people lebensunwertes Leben (“life unworthy of life”). The law is endorsed by the American Eugenics Society.

July 20

Nazi government signs Reich concordat with the Vatican. Pope Pius XI considers the treaty as protecting Catholic rights in Germany. However, by this action the Vatican helps legitimize the Third Reich in the eyes of the German Catholic hierarchy and laymen as well as of the international community. As a result, the concordat helps pave the way for the Nazi totalitarianization of German society and later German attacks on the European state system.

July 31

Approximately 30,000 people are by now interned in Nazi concentration camps.

August 20

American Jewish Congress declares boycott against Nazi Germany.

August 25

The Haavara (Transfer) agreement between the German Ministry of the Economy and the Zionist Organization facilitates a large-scale emigration of Jews from Germany to Palestine.

September 1933

Heinrich Himmler is appointed overseer of all police units in the Reich, except Prussia.

September 8

The Second World Jewish Congress is held in Geneva and resolves to organize an anti-German boycott throughout the world.

September 13

Race theory in German schools.

September 17

The Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden, the central representative body of German Jews emphasizing education, is established; it is led by Otto Hirsch and Rabbi Leo Baeck. It is the only organization officially allowed to represent German Jews.

September 22

The Reich Chamber of Culture is established.

Reich’s Culture Ministry Law: Exclusion of Jewish writers and artists. German Jews are banned from the fields of journalism, art, literature, music, broadcasting, and theater.

September 29

Hitler approves the decree forbidding German Jews from the occupation of farming.

October 1933

Liaison office for aid to German Jews by Jewish organizations in the U.S. and France established.

October 4

Editor Law: Exclusion of Jewish editors. The Editor Law calls for racially pure journalism and forces the dismissal across Germany of Jewish reporters and publishing executives. A codicil strips newspaper editors of power over content.

October 14

Germany leaves disarmament talks at League of Nations.

October 21

Germany withdraws from the League of Nations.

October 24

Nazis pass a law against “Habitual and Dangerous Criminals” that justifies placing the homeless, beggars, unemployed and alcoholics in concentration camps.

October 27

Arabs riot in Palestine to protest immigration of Jews.

November 1933

The Deutsche Christen organization stages a rally in Berlin to honor “Christ the Hero.”

The first issue of editor A. Ristow’s antisemitic Blick in die Zeit (A Look at the Times) is published in Germany.

November 12

Nazi candidates win 93 percent of the vote in the Reichstag election. However, only the Nazi Party was permitted to nominate candidates.

November 24

The German Law Against Dangerous and Habitual Criminals allows for compulsory castration of “hereditary” criminals.

November 27

Kraft durch Freude (KdF; Strength through Joy) is established to tie leisure activities of the German Volk (people) to the aims of the Nazi Party.

Transfer company established in Tel Aviv to facilitate the immigration of German Jews and the transfer of their property.

December 1

A legal decree issued by Hitler declares Germany and the Nazi Party one.

Late 1933

The German News Bureau (DNB) is established to feed propagandistic “news” to Germany’s newspapers.

Hermann Göring orders closure of all SA “wild camps” (locally mandated concentration camps).

1933: Other important events

Arrests for German citizens for sedition are up sharply from 1932.

Concentration camps are established this year in Oranienburg, Esterwegen, Sachsenburg, and Dachau.

Jewish Social Democratic politician Ernst Heilmann is arrested.

The antisemitic Glaubensbewegung deutscher Christen (Movement of German Christian Believers) becomes the semiofficial religious organization of Germany.

An antisemitic, anti-Communist organization, Gesamtverband deutscher anti-kommunistischer Vereinigungen (General Association of German Anti-Communist Societies), is founded.

The Volksempfänger (People’s Radio Receiver) debuts in Germany.

Schlageter, a pro-Nazi play by Hanns Johst, premieres. It is a tribute to Nazi “martyr” Albert Leo Schlageter, who was executed by the French in 1923 after defying French authority in the Ruhr.

German-Jewish physicist Albert Einstein criticizes the new Nazi regime: “I shall live in a land where political freedom, tolerance, and equality of all citizens reign.” Einstein subsequently takes his genius to the United States.

The Silver Shirts, a Nazi-like political group, is founded in America.

The first issue of the antisemitic National Worker is published in London by Colonel Graham Seton-Hutchinson.

An antisemitic feature film entitled Pettersson and Bendel is produced in Sweden.


Sources: Various books and chronologies related to World War II and the Holocaust Memorial Center
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