Anti-Semitism and the persecution of Jews represented a central tenet of Nazi ideology. In their 25?point Party Program, published in 1920, Nazi party members publicly declared their intention to segregate Jews from “Aryan” society and to abrogate Jews’ political, legal, and civil rights. President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler to chancellor early in 1933 and soon after the freedoms and privileges of “non-Aryan” races in Germany were outlawed. Rights that had been established by the somewhat democratically elected Weimar Government were suspended by the Nazis, who took on greater and greater authority and denied ordinary Germans the rights and privileges to which they had become accustomed.
Using the Civil Service Law of April 1933, German authorities began eliminating Jews from governmental agencies, and state positions in the economy, law and cultural life. The Nazi government abolished trade unions. The Parliament was all but dissolved when the Enabling Law of 1933 gave the Nazi Party most of the powers of Parliament.
Amid the transitions and horror of this era, Jacob Wiener (Gerd Zwienicki) tried to obtain an education. In November 1938 he was attending the Jewish Teachers’ Seminary in Wurzburg, a town in Northern Bavaria. During the Kristallnacht evening Nazis broke into the seminary and arrested 50 students, Jacob among them, paraded them along the streets of Wurzburg and held them in cells for 7 days.
Returning the 400 kilometers to home, he found the family business boarded up and the house empty. His non-Jewish neighbor recounted that as the Nazis approached their house Jacob’s father climbed up to the roof of the house and fled, but his mother resisted the Nazis and was shot dead.
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