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View all events 1939–1941

January 30, 1939

Reichstag Speech

Amid rising international tensions Führer and Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler tells the German public and the world that the outbreak of war would mean the end of European Jewry—the "annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe."

Inspired by Hitler's theories of racial struggle and the supposed "intent" of the Jews to survive and expand at the expense of Germans, the Nazis ordered anti-Jewish boycotts, staged book burnings, and enacted anti-Jewish legislation. But it was the nationwide pogroms (Kristallnacht) in 1938 and the outbreak of war in 1939 that marked the transition in Nazi racial antisemitism toward genocide.

To justify the murder of the Jews both to the perpetrators and to bystanders in Germany and Europe, the Nazis used not only racist arguments but also arguments derived from older negative stereotypes, including Jews as communist subversives, as war profiteers and hoarders, and as a danger to internal security because of their inherent disloyalty and opposition to Germany.

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