Themes/Jews in Berlin from 1933 to 1945

Jews in Berlin from 1933 to 1945

Immediately after the Nazis came to power on January 30, 1933, the Jews began to be ostracized and deprived of their civil rights. At this time around 160,000 Jews lived in Berlin, approximately four per cent of the city’s population.

On April 1, 1933 the Nazis carried out the first major anti-Jewish operation, a boycott of shops and businesses owned by Jews. The Nuremberg Laws of September 1935 defined Jews as a race and degraded them to second-class citizens. Marriages between Jews and non-Jews were banned.
In the course of the nationwide pogrom organized by the Nazi state on November 9, 1938, 12,000 Jewish men from Berlin were deported to concentration camps; some were murdered. Synagogues were set on fire; Jewish shops and businesses were devastated and plundered.

Around 80,000 Jews from Berlin were able to leave Germany between 1933 and the beginning of the war in 1939. From October 1941 until the end of the war in 1945, around 55,000 Jews from Berlin were deported; most of them were murdered. Many Berlin Jews saw no way out except to commit suicide.

After the Liberation in May 1945 there were around 8,000 Jews living in Berlin. Most of them escaped deportation because they were married to non-Jews. Around 1,900 Jews survived the camps. Up to 7,000 Jews had gone into hiding, but only 1,700 of them were able to survive. The others were betrayed or arrested, gave themselves up to the police, or died of illness or perished in air raids.


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Burning Reichstag building in Berlin, February 1933