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Nazi Germany and the Jews. Why did Hitler and the Nazis target Jews?. Actually, the Nazis did not only target Jews. Other victims included: 3 million Polish (non-Jewish) 2 million Russian 1.5 million Yugoslavians 500 000 Roma (Gypsies) 250 000 Disabled

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why did hitler and the nazis target jews
Why did Hitler and the Nazis target Jews?

Actually, the Nazis did not only target Jews.

Other victims included:

  • 3 million Polish (non-Jewish)
  • 2 million Russian
  • 1.5 million Yugoslavians
  • 500 000 Roma (Gypsies)
  • 250 000 Disabled
  • Thousands of priests, union members, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, and many others the Nazis viewed as a threat or as subhuman

However, Jews are most often recognized in the Holocaust because the Nazis directed most of their attacks against Jews in an effort to kill all Jews in an act of genocide

definition of anti semitism
Definition of Anti-Semitism

Hostile prejudice and hatred of Jews

the history of anti semitism
The History of Anti-Semitism
  • Europeans had a long history of Anti-semitism over two thousand years.
  • The early Catholic (Christian) Church blamed Jews as responsible for Jesus Christ’s crucifixion and for Jews not recognizing Christ as the messiah (saviour)
  • As Europe became more Christian, Jews were regarded as outsiders because they wanted to keep their own religion and beliefs



jewish stereotypes
Jewish Stereotypes

During the centuries, myths about Jews spread to separate them as outsiders.

These myths included:

  • Jews used the blood of Christian babies in rituals
  • Jews who did not convert to Christianity served the anti-Christ (devil)
  • Jews who did convert to Christianity were not sincere and only converted for material gain (wealth)
  • Jews were responsible for natural catastrophes like the Black Plague
persecution of jews
Persecution of Jews

The stereotypes about Jews sometimes led to laws against Jews

  • Jews were often not allowed to belong to professions, like craftsmen, to own land, or to join the army.
  • They were often limited to working as money lenders and tax collectors which were unpopular jobs and seen as “Unchristian”.

This only created more stereotypes

  • Jews did not produce work with their hands
  • Jews were greedy and worked with money to cheat Christians
  • Jews were cowards and disloyal and avoided military service

Pogroms riots against Jews that occurred at different times and places over the centuries. This resulted in thousands of deaths over time.


In the 1800s, some restrictions on Jews were removed and they were allowed to work in professions they were not previously allowed to work.

  • During bad economic times, some Europeans blamed Jews for “taking their jobs”.
nazi germany and the jews1
Nazi Germany and the Jews
  • The Eugenics movement created more anti-semitism because people began to believe that Jews were not members of a religion, but part of an inferior race that was “polluting” Europe.
  • Hitler and the Nazis seized upon this anti-semitism to use the Jews as scapegoats for Germany’s social, political and economic problems.

Blaming Jews for Germany’s problems did not make any sense

  • There were 9.5 million Jews in Europe. This was 1.7% of the population of Europe
  • There were 500 000 Jews in Germany. This was 0.75% of the population of Germany.
key ideas about anti semitism
Key Ideas about Anti-Semitism
  • Anti-Semitism has existed in different parts of Europe for centuries. It did not begin in Nazi Germany.
  • Jews were often categorized as outsiders for not being Christian Europeans
  • Laws were sometimes passed limiting Jewish freedoms
  • Jews were sometimes victims of violent riots called pogroms
key ideas about anti semitism1
Key Ideas about Anti-Semitism
  • The Nazis classified Jews as a race not a religion based on eugenics and that the Jewish “race” was polluting the purity of Germans
  • Hitler and the Nazis used anti-semitism to make Jews the scapegoats for Germany’s problems
  • This was untrue because Jews made up less than 1% of German population

A 1921 French Edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. A book written in the 1800s that warns of the “Jewish Danger”


A propaganda poster from “The Eternal Jew” a Nazi exhibit that ran for months in 1937. The exhibition showcased propaganda against Jews


“Jews are unwelcome visitors”

Sign in a German village:

“Jews who enter do so at their own risk”


An anti-semitic propaganda poster explaining the danger of mixed marriages and the polluting of race


A German woman and German Jewish man are forced to stand in the streets and wear signs after confessing to having a relationship