Approximately 12,000 German Jewish soldiers died during World War I. A higher proportion of Jews served in the army than of any other ethnic or religious group. Ironically, it was a Jewish lieutenant who presented a young Adolf Hitler with the First Class medal for his services during the war.
The Gestapo were the secret police of Nazi Germany, led by Heinrich Himmler. Their main function was to investigate cases of treason or attacks against the Nazi Party. They had the power to imprison political prisoners or enemies of the Party for any reason, and were not subject to laws of the court or country. The Night and Fog Decree (Nacht und Nebel) was a terrifying tool used against anyone who resisted Nazi Party policies. Suspected Party opponents or “helpers” of the enemy would be kidnapped and would simply disappear.
In 1933, Jewish people were banned from holding public sector posts. It wasn’t long before private companies sacked all Jewish workers, for fear of not conforming to Nazi Laws. By 1938 government contracts for goods or services were no longer given to Jewish businesses.
The picture shows the destruction of a Jewish synagogue during Kristallnacht.