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date: 28 June 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This article surveys the concept and reality of ‘Greater Germany’. After World War I, the idea of bringing all European Germans together in a single political entity was shared by many people, including Hitler. This ‘folkish’ project entailed the expulsion of the Jews, but detailed directives from above for anti-Jewish policy were lacking when the Nazis first came to power in 1933, so central, regional, and local administrations enjoyed enormous freedom of action. Many mayors and city officials, both National Socialists and non-Party members among them, introduced measures excluding Jews from public facilities. Often extending beyond the few new national anti-Jewish laws, such actions, coordinated by the German Council of Municipalities, were tolerated by the Nazi government. This controlled decentralization of anti-Jewish policy dominated until 1938, when the annexation of Austria prompted a centralization of persecution and the increasing likelihood of war fostered radical new ideas, such as ghettoization and forced labour. Municipalities carried out the former, and the ministerial bureaucracy the latter, as well as the deportations of 1941–1943 that allowed Hitler and his government to realize, if only briefly, their Pan-German dream.

Keywords: Germans, Jews, public facilities, Hitler, Nazis, persecution, ghettoization, forced labour

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