The Boycott of Jewish Businesses
In 1933, about 600,000 Jews lived in Germany,
less than one percent of the total population.
Most Jews in Germany were proud to be Germans,
citizens of a country that had produced many great
poets, writers, musicians, and artists. More than
100,000 German Jews had served in the German army
during World War I, and many were decorated for
Jews held important positions in government and
taught in Germany's great universities. Of the
thirty-eight Nobel Prizes won by German writers
and scientists between 1905 and 1936, fourteen
went to Jews. Marriage between Jews and non-Jews
was becoming more common. Although German Jews
continued to encounter some discrimination in
their social lives and professional careers, most
were confident of their future as Germans. They
spoke the German language and regarded Germany as
When the Nazis came to power, the lives of German Jews
changed drastically. On April 1, 1933, the Nazis carried out the first
nationwide, planned action against them: a boycott of Jewish businesses.
Nazi spokesmen claimed the boycott was an act of revenge against both
German Jews and foreigners, including U.S. and English journalists, who
had criticized the Nazi regime. On the day of the boycott, Storm Troopers
stood menacingly in front of Jewish-owned shops. The six-pointed "Star of David" was painted in yellow and black
across thousands of doors and windows. Signs were posted saying "Don't
Buy from Jews" and "The Jews Are Our Misfortune."
The nationwide boycott was not very successful and lasted just a day, but it marked the beginning of a nationwide
campaign by the Nazi party against the entire German Jewish population.
A week later, the government passed a law restricting employment in the
civil service to "Aryans." Jewish government workers, including
teachers in public schools and universities were fired.
For more information, see "Boycott of Jewish Businesses" in the Holocaust Encyclopedia.