Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Hunt for Adolf Eichmann

The Aryan Conspiracy

The whirlwinds of death came slowly at first. Its beginnings were planted years before in the supple minds of an angry public. While the anti-Semites in Germany were many, the plan for the extermination of European Jewry was not formulated overnight. Those in charge of the Nazi juggernaut had to be convinced that the isolation of Jews was a good thing and a desirable goal of the state. As early as 1931, a Nazi pamphlet that was widely circulated in Germany suggested that all Jews be sent in exile to the island nation of Madagascar. "This," the author wrote, "would afford the possibility of control and minimize the danger of infection of Aryans with all those physical and spiritual diseases the Jews are known to transmit."

Though Hitler had written about the "Jewish problem" extensively and his hatred was well known, he was reluctant to announce in public his true ambitions: the total extermination of Jews throughout the world. Germany had been bombarded by the myth of Aryan superiority for decades. Many believed that Hitler could achieve a Thousand Year Reich, free from the stain of alleged racial impurities. By 1933, the Nazi party in Germany took their first official step against the Jewish population. From that year forward, no Jews could work in Civil Service positions. Those that were already in such employment were removed from their posts.

Hitler speaks at a Nazi party rally
Hitler speaks at a Nazi party rally

Newspapers were filled with stories about Jews who were not really part of the motherland and how they took an oath to religion rather than Germany. Rumors of every sort that defiled the Jewish people were published and accepted as fact. In the rural areas of Germany, work camps were quietly set up to deal with the most rebellious of the Jews. They were sent there for "rehabilitation" and "indoctrination." Hundreds of people disappeared from their homes, their workplaces, from the city streets, never to be seen or heard from again. No one could complain because there wasn't anyone to complain to. If a family member showed up at a state-run agency inquiring about their loved ones, he or she would simply vanish. This calculated method of disenfranchisement continued for years, causing thousands to flee Germany by any means possible.

Store after Kristallnacht rampage
Store after Kristallnacht rampage

In November 1938, an organized outbreak of violence against the Jewish people in Germany began. Using an assassination of a Nazi official in Paris by a Jewish teenager as an excuse, brown-shirted storm troopers gathered in village squares denouncing the Jews in hate-filled speeches. This was the start of the Night of Broken Glass, Kristallnacht, in which Nazi thugs attacked Jews across the country. More than 8,000 Jewish-owned businesses were ransacked and burned. Synagogues were burned to the ground in an orgy of hatred. Libraries and bookstores were looted and their books thrown into huge bonfires. Even cemeteries were destroyed. Ironically, the average German citizen was not outraged at the violence against the Jews, but were disgusted at the lack of order and control displayed by the brown shirts. Kristallnacht was not limited to the destruction of property. Some 20,000 Jewish men were dispatched to concentration camps such as Buchenwald and Dachau. Most were never seen again. Under the direction of Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, and with the full cooperation and knowledge of Adolf Hitler himself, the state sanctioned process of killing the Jews had officially begun.

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