Lithuania is the southernmost of the Baltic states. During the Holocaust, the Germans murdered about 90 percent of Lithuanian Jews, one of the highest victim rates in Europe.
On February 27, 1933, the German parliament (Reichstag) building burned down. The Nazi leadership and its coalition partners used the fire to claim that Communists were planning a violent uprising. They claimed that emergency legislation was needed to prevent this. The resulting act, commonly known as the Reichstag Fire Decree, abolished a number of constitutional protections and paved the way for Nazi dictatorship.
Before the Nazis seized power in 1933, Europe had a richly diverse set of Jewish cultures. Many of these cultures were dynamic and highly developed. They drew from hundreds and, in some areas, a thousand or more years of Jewish life on the continent.
Persecution of Jews and other groups was not solely the result of measures originating with Hitler and other Nazi zealots. Nazi leaders required the active help or cooperation of professionals working in diverse fields who in many instances were not convinced Nazis. Civil servants, from government officials to judges, helped draft, implement, and enforce laws aimed at depriving Jews of their rights, livelihoods, and assets.
Before the Nazi takeover of power in 1933, Europe had a vibrant, established, and diverse Jewish culture. By 1945, most European Jews—two out of every three—had been killed.
After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany on January 30, 1933, the Nazi leadership decided to stage an economic boycott against the Jews of Germany. Local Nazi party chiefs organized the national boycott operation. Although it lasted only one day and was ignored by many individual Germans who continued to shop in Jewish-owned stores, it marked the beginning of a nationwide campaign by the Nazi Party against the entire German Jewish population.
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