Nuremberg Laws

In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws established the legal basis for racial discrimination, with almost no opposition from the German people.

The image to the left shows the method for determining whether you were Jewish blood or German blood based on what your grandparents were.

Not only marriage, but sex between those labeled as Jewish and those labeled as Germans was forbidden. Also Jews were no longer permitted to display German colors (national flag) but were encouraged to display Jewish colors.

I came across these laws recently in researching the Nuremberg Trials, which by the way I recommend highly if ever you wonder about the limits of human nature. Here’s a link to the complete transcripts. It’s the darkest play you will ever read.

I bring up the Nuremberg Laws because of the question that has worried me for a long time: “Can the Holocaust happen again?”. Particularly, can I envision a reasonable downward path into a society that can breed the same mix of hatred, nationalism, and mass-conformity as was present in Nazi Germany. The Nuremberg Laws to me represent a critical step that I can envision many modern countries taking if the populous is deceived through a large propaganda campaign, most likely amidst a major war and/or an economic crisis. Or, for example, suppose that an organization like Al Qaeda detonates a nuclear weapon in a major American city, and declares that it did so in the name of Islam. Can a major horrific event erase the progress of the civil rights movement in the 20th century by forcing all Muslim citizens of the United States into concentration camps? It’s sick to think about, and surely seems impossible, but is it?

Human rights are violated world-wide on a mass scale, every day, still. We need to learn, ask questions, and help. A book I’m currently reading (Mountains Beyond Mountains) covers just one example of human suffering and an American that gives all his time to make the tiniest incremental improvements in their quality of life.

0 thoughts on “Nuremberg Laws

  1. Jamie

    I think that a full and free press will prevent anything of the nature you posit regarding a new Holocaust in America. One needs only visit the Holocaust Museum in D.C. or any of the Internment Camp reminders to see that it could not happen in our lifetime. To say that it could never happen again would be folly, but our political sphere is finely balanced. We often tip to the extreme, but are as likely to tip back quickly.

    What worries me more is that the Nazi state came to being in a relatively short time and did massive damage. While we always seem to swing back quickly in this country, how long would we exist in a potentially overwrought situation before we alter our error? I don’t believe that anything of this magnitude could happen in the U.S.A. as it appears in our time, but I do believe that given a series of tweaks and anti-free press alterations we could drift in that direction.

    I worry about Wikileaks because it provides a legitimate gov’t response to a press problem. In this situation we are generally under control, even in the face of opposing forces of “free press” and “state secrets.” But should another analogous situation arise with less sensitive information after new controls are in place, would we react the same way? I would like to avoid Orwellian/Phillip K. Dickian dystopian scenarios as plausible outcomes, but I am simply not smart enough to accurately predict an outcome.

    In closing, I believe the U.S. Constitution provides adequate protections and remedies for the situation we fear, but I don’t feel that in the next 100 years we will be provided the same protections. Evolving information technology will necessitate a gov’t crackdown of some sort in order to maintain control over certain sectors while allowing general freedoms of press. This scares me.

    Reply
    1. Lex Post author

      Every time information technology evolves provides the government with an opportunity to pass laws controlling it. As you say succinctly, this is the process by which a temporarily extremist government can do damage.

      Reply
  2. Lori

    I would like to have more faith in humanity, especially considering the career I’m pursuing, but this country has a pretty grim history regarding persecution. And while we did not murder any Japanese Americans during World War II, we did round them up and put them in internment camps. That wasn’t very long ago. I think right now we live in a culture of fear and paranoia, and those are the kinds of feeling that usually lead to wide-spread hate and extreme actions. So wouldn’t rule out another Holocaust. However, I will still continue my little sisyphean battle to preserve humankind.

    Reply
      1. Lori

        Thanks, buddy. And I’ll set up a dart board with your face on the bulls eye to remind me what I’m up against. It will certainly keep me motivated.

        Reply

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