COVER ART: To Be Shot as Dangerous Enemies of the Third Reich (1943), by Arthur Szyk, The Arthur Szyk Society, Burlingame, CA - Szyk's efforts to expose the hideous nature of the Nazi "Final Solution," in which even innocent Jewish children who represented no military threat to German rule were condemned to die, is well reflected here. The drawing first appeared in the New York daily newspaper PM in 1943 and later on prints and fundraising stamps for Peter H. Bergson's Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe.
"Ordnung muss sein" is a German proverbial expression which translates as "there must be order." The idea of "order", the racially pure, Aryan order is generally recognized as an inspiration for the Antisemitic Legislation in the Nazi Third Reich, the State that was supposed to last a 1000 years according to promises by Adolf Hitler.
Antisemitism and the persecution of Jews were central tenets of Nazi ideology. In their 25-point party program published in 1920, Nazi party members publicly declared their intention to segregate Jews from “Aryan” society and to abrogate their political, legal, and civil rights.
Nazi leaders began to make good on their pledge to persecute German Jews soon after their assumption of power. During the first six years of Hitler's dictatorship, from 1933 until the outbreak of war in 1939, Jews felt the effects of more than 400 decrees and regulations that restricted all aspects of their public and private lives. Many of these were national laws that had been issued by the German administration and affected all Jews. But state, regional, and municipal officials, acting on their own initiatives, also promulgated a barrage of exclusionary decrees in their own communities. Thus, hundreds of individuals in all levels of government throughout the country were involved in the persecution of Jews as they conceived, discussed, drafted, adopted, enforced, and supported anti-Jewish legislation. No corner of Germany was left untouched.
Prelude to the Holocaust: Segregation in Schools
Segregation in schools began in April 1933 when the "Law Against Overcrowding in German schools" was enacted and a restriction was set allowing only 1.5 percent of Jewish children to be enrolled in public schools, this being a problem because 5 percent of the children in Germany were of Jewish descent. It continued to get worse as German schools began to Aryanize. Jewish children were required to "learn" from different sources than their classmates. Also being subjected to worse grades then their Aryan peers whether or not their work was better. The Jewish children were not allowed to participate in most school activities, causing many to feel left out and segregate by children they once were friends with. As time progressed most teachers became more enthusiastic about following the rules of Nazism and went from being quieter in their beliefs to using anti-Semitic terms in class. Poor treatment of Jewish children was more common in rural schools but even in large cities they faced animosity from their teachers and classmates.
This led to Jewish students feeling distant from their classmates and had different effects on different families. Some Jewish children began to form small strikes in their schools leaving without permission during hate speak during class, others tried to conform with no success, and some parents just took their children out of school. Many mothers were horrified to find out that their children were being emotionally and physically attacked by their classmates and teachers for being Jewish. Mothers were more likely to take their children out of school than fathers, seeing and hearing from their children the majority of what actually happened at school.
Eventually Jewish schools were built and the Jewish community jumped at the idea of their children being taught without fear of persecution, shown that only fourteen percent of Jewish children went to private school in 1932 to fifty-two percent in 1936. While most were happy that their children could learn, many parents feared that this is what the Nazi party wanted all along, segregation of the Jewish community from the Aryan community.
Children were especially vulnerable to Nazi murder or death in the era of the Holocaust. It is estimated that 1.5 million children were murdered during the Holocaust, either directly or as a direct consequence of Nazi actions.
The Nazis advocated killing children of "unwanted" or "dangerous" groups in accordance with their ideological views, either as part of the "racial struggle" or as a measure of preventive security. The Nazis particularly targeted Jewish children, but also targeted ethnically Polish children, Romani (Gypsy) children, and children with mental or physical defects (disabled children). The Germans and their collaborators killed children both for these ideological reasons and in retaliation for real or alleged partisan attacks. Early killings were encouraged by the Nazis in action T4, where children with disabilities were gassed using carbon monoxide, starved to death, phenol injections to the heart, or by hanging.