This reading is available in two formats: standard and modified. The modified version has been edited to support use in the unit Teaching Holocaust and Human Behavior.

The boycott of Jewish-owned businesses set the stage for another step in carrying out Adolf Hitler’s “racial” policies. People were whispering about the new plans for some time before they were made public on April 7, 1933. On April 4, soon after the rumors reached President Paul von Hindenburg, he wrote a letter to Hitler:

Dear Mr. Chancellor!

Recently, a whole series of cases has been reported to me in which judges, lawyers, and officials of the Judiciary who are disabled war veterans and whose record in office is flawless, have been forcibly sent on leave, and are later to be dismissed for the sole reason that they are of Jewish descent.

It is quite intolerable for me personally . . . that Jewish officials who were disabled in the war should suffer such treatment, [especially] as, with the express approval of the government, I addressed a Proclamation to the German people on the day of the national uprising, March 21, in which I bowed in reverence before the dead of the war and remembered in gratitude the bereaved families of the war dead, the disabled, and my old comrades at the front.

I am certain, Mr. Chancellor, that you share this human feeling, and request you, most cordially and urgently, to look into this matter yourself, and to see to it that there is some uniform arrangement for all branches of the public service in Germany.

As far as my own feelings are concerned, officials, judges, teachers and lawyers who are war invalids, fought at the front, are sons of war dead, or themselves lost sons in the war should remain in their positions unless an individual case gives reason for different treatment. If they were worthy of fighting for Germany and bleeding for Germany, then they must also be considered worthy of continuing to serve the Fatherland. . . .

On April 5, Hitler replied to Hindenburg.

Dear Mr. President!

In a most generous and humane manner you, Mr. Field Marshal, plead the cause of those members of the Jewish people who were once compelled, by the requirements of universal military service, to serve in the war. . . .

But, with the greatest respect, may I point out that members and supporters of my movement, who are Germans, for years were driven from all Government positions, without consideration for their wives and children or their war service. . . . Those responsible for this cruelty were the same Jewish parties which today complain when their supporters are denied the right to official positions, with a thousand times more justification, because they are of little use in these positions but can do limitless harm . . .

Nevertheless, . . . the law in question . . . will provide consideration for those Jews who either served in the war themselves, were disabled in the war, have other merits, or never gave occasion for complaint in the course of a long period of service. 

In general, the primary aim of this cleansing process is only to restore a certain sound and natural balance, and, secondly, to remove from official positions of national significance those elements to which one cannot entrust Germany’s survival. . . .

I beg you, Mr. President, to believe that I will try to do justice to your noble feelings as far as is possible. I understand your inner motivations and myself, by the way, frequently suffer under the harshness of a fate which forces us to make decisions which, from a human point of view, one would a thousand times rather avoid.

Work on the law in question will proceed as quickly as possible, and I am convinced that this matter, too, will then find the best possible solution.1

On April 7, the new law, known as the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, went into effect. The only Jews to keep their positions were veterans, their fathers, and their sons. Similar laws dismissed all Jewish prosecuting attorneys and Jewish doctors who worked in the national health system.

Citations

  • 1 : Yitzhak Arad, Yisrael Gutman, and Abraham Margaliot, eds., Documents on the Holocaust: Selected Sources on the Destruction of the Jews of Germany and Austria, Poland, and the Soviet Union (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1987), 37–39.

On April 7, 1933, a new law, known as the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, went into effect. Civil service refers to the professionals who work in various agencies of a government, including public education, law enforcement, and more. The law required that all Jews and political opponents of the Nazis who were employed by the government in Germany be fired. The only Jews allowed to keep their positions were veterans, their fathers, and their sons. Similar laws dismissed all Jewish prosecuting attorneys and Jewish doctors who worked in the national health system.

On April 4, when he heard rumors of the new law, President Paul von Hindenburg wrote a letter to Hitler:

 

Dear Mr. Chancellor!

Recently, a whole series of cases has been reported to me in which judges, lawyers, and officials of the Judiciary who are disabled war veterans and whose record in office is flawless, have been forcibly sent on leave, and are later to be dismissed for the sole reason that they are of Jewish descent.

It is quite intolerable for me personally . . . that Jewish officials who were disabled in the war should suffer such treatment, [especially] as, with the express approval of the government, I addressed a Proclamation to the German people on the day of the national uprising, March 21, in which I bowed in reverence before the dead of the war and remembered in gratitude the bereaved families of the war dead, the disabled, and my old comrades at the front.

I am certain, Mr. Chancellor, that you share this human feeling, and request you, most cordially and urgently, to look into this matter yourself, and to see to it that there is some uniform arrangement for all branches of the public service in Germany.

As far as my own feelings are concerned, officials, judges, teachers and lawyers who are war invalids, fought at the front, are sons of war dead, or themselves lost sons in the war should remain in their positions unless an individual case gives reason for different treatment. If they were worthy of fighting for Germany and bleeding for Germany, then they must also be considered worthy of continuing to serve the Fatherland . . . .

On April 5, Hitler replied to Hindenburg.

Dear Mr. President!

In a most generous and humane manner you, Mr. Field Marshal, plead the cause of those members of the Jewish people who were once compelled, by the requirements of universal military service, to serve in the war....

But, with the greatest respect, may I point out that members and supporters of my movement, who are Germans, for years were driven from all Government positions, without consideration for their wives and children or their war service....Those responsible for this cruelty were the same Jewish parties which today complain when their supporters are denied the right to official positions, with a thousand times more justification, because they are of little use in these positions but can do limitless harm...

Nevertheless, . . . the law in question...will provide consideration for those Jews who either served in the war themselves, were disabled in the war, have other merits, or never gave occasion for complaint in the course of a long period of service.

In general, the primary aim of this cleansing process is only to restore a certain sound and natural balance, and, secondly, to remove from official positions of national significance those elements to which one cannot entrust Germany’s survival....

I beg you, Mr. President, to believe that I will try to do justice to your noble feelings as far as is possible. I understand your inner motivations and myself, by the way, frequently suffer under the harshness of a fate which forces us to make decisions which, from a human point of view, one would a thousand times rather avoid.

Work on the law in question will proceed as quickly as possible, and I am convinced that this matter, too, will then find the best possible solution. 1

Citations

  • 1 : Yitzhak Arad, Yisrael Gutman, and Abraham Margaliot, eds., Documents on the Holocaust: Selected Sources on the Destruction of the Jews of Germany and Austria, Poland, and the Soviet Union (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1987), 37–39.

“Restitución” del Servicio Civil Alemán

El 7 de abril de 1933 entró en vigor una nueva ley, conocida como la Ley para la Restitución del Servicio Civil Profesional. El servicio civil se refiere a los profesionales que trabajan en distintas entidades de un gobierno, incluidas las entidades de educación pública, los organismos de seguridad, entre otras. La ley exigía que todos los judíos y opositores políticos de los nazis que estuvieran empleados por el gobierno en Alemania fueran despedidos. A los únicos judíos que se les permitía mantener sus cargos era a los veteranos, a sus padres y a sus hijos. Con leyes semejantes despidieron a todos los fiscales judíos y médicos judíos que trabajaban en el sistema nacional de salud.

El 4 de abril, cuando se escucharon rumores de la nueva ley, el presidente Paul von Hindenburg le escribió una carta a Hitler:  

Distinguido Sr. Canciller:

Recientemente, han denunciado ante mí una sucesión de casos en los cuales jueces, abogados y funcionarios de la rama judicial, quienes son veteranos de guerra discapacitados y cuyo expediente es intachable, han sido obligados a solicitar la excedencia para luego ser destituidos por la sola razón de tener ascendencia judía.

Para mí, es intolerable… que los funcionarios judíos que quedaron en condición de discapacidad después de la guerra deban sufrir un trato como ese, [especialmente] cuando, con la autorización expresa del gobierno, dirigí una proclamación ante el pueblo alemán el día de la revuelta, el 21 de marzo, en la cual hice una reverencia por los muertos en la guerra y recordé con gratitud a las familias afligidas de los muertos y discapacitados por la guerra y a mis antiguos camaradas en el frente.

Estoy seguro, Sr. Canciller, de que usted comparte este sentimiento humano y, le solicito, de la manera más cordial e inmediata, que investigue usted mismo este asunto, y se asegure de que haya algunas disposiciones uniformes en todas las ramas del servicio público en Alemania.

En mi opinión, los funcionarios, jueces, maestros y abogados que son discapacitados por la guerra y lucharon en el frente, son hijos de muertos en la guerra, o han perdido hijos en la guerra, deben permanecer en sus cargos salvo casos particulares que merezcan un trato diferente. Si fueron dignos de luchar por Alemania y derramar su sangre por Alemania, entonces, también deberían ser considerados dignos de seguirle sirviendo a la patria…

El 5 de abril, Hitler le respondió a Hindenburg:

Distinguido Sr. Presidente:

De la manera más generosa y humana, usted, Mariscal de Campo, defiende la causa de aquellos miembros del pueblo judío que en algún momento fueron obligados, por los requisitos del servicio militar universal, a prestar servicio en la guerra…

Pero, con el mayor respeto, me permito señalar que miembros y simpatizantes de mi movimiento, que son alemanes, durante años fueron desterrados de todos los cargos gubernamentales, sin consideración por sus esposas, sus hijos o su servicio en la guerra… Aquellos responsables de esta crueldad fueron los mismos partidos judíos que hoy se quejan cuando sus simpatizantes les han negado el derecho a cargos oficiales, con mil veces más justificación, porque son poco útiles en estos cargos pero pueden causar daños ilimitados…

No obstante,… la ley en cuestión… tendrá consideración con aquellos judíos que sirvieron en la guerra personalmente, quienes quedaron discapacitados por la guerra, quienes tienen otros méritos, o de quienes nunca se tuvo queja en el curso de un periodo largo de servicio.

En general, el primer objetivo de este proceso de limpieza es solo restituir un cierto equilibrio sensato y natural, y el segundo objetivo es relevar de cargos oficiales de importancia nacional a aquellos elementos a quienes no podemos encomendarles la supervivencia de Alemania…

Le ruego, Sr. Presidente, que confíe en que trataré de hacerle justicia a sus nobles sentimientos hasta donde esté a mi alcance. Comprendo sus motivaciones íntimas y yo mismo, por cierto, con frecuencia sufro por la dureza de un destino que nos obliga a tomar decisiones que, desde un punto de vista humano, uno mil veces preferiría evitar.

El trabajo en la ley en cuestión procederá lo más rápido posible y, estoy convencido de que este asunto, también, tendrá la mejor solución posible.1

Citations

  • 1 : Yitzhak Arad, Yisrael Gutman y Abraham Margaliot, eds., El Holocausto en documentos: selección de documentos sobre la destrucción de los judíos de Alemania y Austria, Polonia, y la Unión Soviética (Jerusalén: Yad Vashem, 1987), 37–39.

Connection Questions

  1. What was Hindenburg’s specific objection to the proposed civil service law? What does Hindenburg’s letter indicate about who he believed should be protected as part of Germany’s universe of obligation?
  2. Many Germans hoped that Hindenburg would be able to stop Hitler from carrying out his most extreme and discriminatory policies. What does the exchange between the two leaders reveal about whether or not these hopes were realistic?
  3. What effect does granting specific exceptions to a discriminatory policy like the new civil service law have on public support for the law? Do you think exceptions strengthen or weaken opposition?

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