Explain Why the Boycott of Jewish Businesses Took Place in April 1933

10 October 2016

Explain why the boycott of Jewish businesses took place in April 1933. [12 marks] In April 1933, only 1 week after the Enabling Act was passed, a boycott against Jewish businesses took place, which targeted mainly Jewish shops and businesses but also Jewish professionals such as doctors and lawyers. There are many reasons as to why this event took place. The most important reason, in my opinion was to introduce explicit anti-Semitic propaganda. When it was decided that the boycott would take place, Gobbels organised an intensive propaganda campaign to maximise the impact of the boycott.

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The boycott made a big public impact and featured prominently in the news. Gobbels made it clear that the boycott was an act of anti-Semitic violence as he had the Star of David painted largely on the windows of all Jewish businesses and had signs put up saying ‘Don’t buy from Jews’ or ‘Jews are our misfortune’. While some Germans weren’t too bothered about the boycott, others disapproved. This leads to the next reason the boycott took place. Now that Hitler had the power to do as he pleased, he needed to see how German citizens would react to his extreme anti-Semitic views.

The SA stood outside of Jewish shops in order to intimidate people into not going in to the shop. As mentioned earlier, some Germans weren’t too bothered about the boycott. Most of these Germans where owners of small businesses that were afraid that large Jewish chain businesses would eventually put them out of business. This boycott meant that their businesses would be saved. Others, on the other hand, thought the boycott was terrible that it was the work of extremists and that Hitler was sure to put a stop to it soon. Some went purposely went into Jewish shops and Jewish shops only to show their disapproval of Nazi policies.

But, whether they were for or against the boycott, it was agreed everywhere that the boycott showed the unleashing of Nazi violence by an aggressive new dictatorship. The main purpose of the boycott of Jewish businesses was to get German people to start to act and think anti-Semitic. Although the reaction to the boycott was varied, it could be said that they boycott did exactly what it was meant to do; turn normal German citizens against the German Jews. For example, one month after the boycott of Jewish businesses, the Burning of the Books took place. Gobbels announced, “the Age of Jewish materialism is ended! He then started a fire and, along with gangs of SA men, started to throw in book that were written by Jews. A crowd of some 40,000 people gathered at the scene. This suggests that the boycott ‘eased’ German citizens into the anti-Semitic atrocities that were yet to come. In conclusion, the boycott of Jewish businesses could be both – a success and a failure. It was a failure because the Nazi party only portrayed themselves as a violent dictatorship. But, it was a success because it got German citizens thinking and acting anti-Semitic like the Nazis and prepared them for what was to come.

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