1938: Key Dates
German troops invade Austria and incorporate Austria into the German Reich in what is known as the Anschluss. A wave of street violence against Jewish persons and property follows in Vienna and other cities throughout the so-called Greater German Reich during the spring, summer, and autumn of 1938, culminating in the Kristallnacht riots and violence of November 9-10.
Gestapo (German Secret State Police) and Kripo (Criminal Police) officials round up approximately 1,500 persons suspected to be "unwilling to work" and incarcerate them in concentration camps.
The German government requires all Jews to register assets over 5,000 Reichsmarks, which then become available to Hermann Göring, the "Commissioner for the Four Year Plan," for use "in the interests of the German economy."
SS authorities open the Flossenbürg concentration camp in northern Bavaria, Germany.
Hungary adopts comprehensive anti-Jewish laws and measures, excluding Jews from many professions.
German Criminal Police officials arrest around 9,000 so-called asocials and convicted criminals in the so-called Operation Work Shy, Reich (Aktion "Arbeitsscheue Reich"), and send them to concentration camps. Among those arrested are approximately 1,000 Jews. This is the first mass arrest of Jews in Nazi Germany.
Delegates from 32 countries and representatives from refugee aid organizations attend the Evian Conference in Evian, France. They discuss options for settling Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany as immigrants elsewhere in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Australia. The United States and most other countries, however, are unwilling to ease their immigration restrictions.
SS authorities open the Mauthausen concentration camp near Linz, Austria.
The Reich Minister of the Interior decrees that all Jewish men residing in Germany and bearing names not recognizable as "Jewish" must adopt the middle name "Israel." Jewish women are required to take the middle name "Sarah."
Adolf Eichmann, working in the Nazi Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst; SD) and a self-styled "expert" on Jews, opens the Central Office for Jewish Emigration (Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung) in Vienna.
Germany, Italy, Great Britain, and France sign the Munich agreement, by which Czechoslovakia must surrender its border regions and defenses (the so-called Sudeten region) to Nazi Germany. German troops occupy these regions between October 1 and 10, 1938.
Germany expel approximately 18,000 stateless Jews of Polish origin who were previously residing within the borders of the Reich. Among them are the parents of Herschel Grynszpan, who will take revenge in Paris by shooting and fatally wounding German Embassy diplomat, Ernst vom Rath, on November 7.
In a nationwide pogrom called Kristallnacht ("Night of Crystal," more commonly known as the "Night of Broken Glass"), members of the Nazi Party and other Nazi formations burn synagogues, loot Jewish homes and businesses, and kill at least 91 Jews. The Gestapo, supported by local uniformed police, arrests approximately 30,000 Jewish men and imprisons them in the Dachau, Sachsenhausen, and Buchenwald concentration camps.
The German government issues the Decree on the Elimination of the Jews from Economic Life (Verordnung zur Ausschaltung der Juden aus dem deutschen Wirtschaftsleben), barring Jews from operating retail stores, sales agencies, and from carrying on a trade. The law also forbids Jews from selling goods or services at an establishment of any kind.
German authorities ban the attendance of Jewish children in German public schools. Jewish children can attend only segregated Jewish schools that are financed and managed by the Jewish communities.
The German government issues the Decree on the Utilization of Jewish Property (Verordnung über den Einsatz des jüdischen Vermögens), making “aryanization” of all Jewish businesses compulsory. German authorities force Jews to sell immovable property, businesses, and stocks to non-Jews, usually at prices far below market value.
Heinrich Himmler issues the Decree for "Combating the Gypsy Plague." The decree centralizes Nazi Germany's official response to so-called "Gypsy Question"; defines Gypsies as an inferior race; tasks the German Criminal Police with establishing a nationwide database, identifying all Gypsies residing on the territory of the so-called Greater German Reich; and proclaims Dr. Robert Ritter's Research Institute for Racial Hygiene and Population Biology as the "expert" authority to determine membership in the "Gypsy race."
December 1938-August 1939
The United Kingdom admits between 9,000 and 10,000 primarily Jewish child refugees from the Greater German Reich.
Critical Thinking Questions
- Learn about warning signs for mass atrocity and genocide. What events during 1938 might be examples?
- How did the events of Kristallnacht compare to previous anti-Jewish actions and violence in Germany under the Nazis?·
- How can “national emergencies” lead to human rights violations and even atrocities?