Legislating the Holocaust: The Bernard Loesener Memoirs and Supporting Documents

Legislating the Holocaust: The Bernard Loesener Memoirs and Supporting Documents

Legislating the Holocaust: The Bernard Loesener Memoirs and Supporting Documents

Legislating the Holocaust: The Bernard Loesener Memoirs and Supporting Documents

Synopsis

From 1933 to 1943, Bernard Loesener served as the official Jewish Expert in the German Third Reich's Ministry of the Interior, the government body responsible for the Nazi's legislative assault on German Jewry.

Excerpt

Bernhard Loesener is a difficult person to characterize. For ten years, from 1933 to 1943, he was the "Jewish expert" in the Nazi Interior Ministry and played an important role in creating anti-Jewish legislation. He is best known for his role in drafting the infamous Nuremberg Laws of September 1935. These laws robbed Germany's Jews of their citizenship rights and became the backbone of the Nazi legislative assault upon their position in German society. Loesener must, therefore, be counted among the perpetrators in the Nazis' search for a solution to what they called the "Jewish question." That search eventually led to the establishment of gas chambers and death camps in Eastern Europe. Not that Loesener was involved in establishing either gas chambers or death camps. On the contrary, he claims to have fought hard to limit the number of people victimized by the laws he helped to write. and when he finally did learn about the gas chambers and death camps, he says he turned his back on his career as "Jewish expert." Indeed, he may even have become a member of the resistance against Hitler and his regime. He tells us in his memoir that he joined resistance circles as early as 1936 and that in 1944 he gave refuge to someone closely involved in the plot to assassinate the Führer.

As a perpetrator of Nazi horrors, Loesener ranks somewhere on the third level, far below top Nazi leaders such as Hitler, Goering, or Himmler and well beneath such second-level officials as Ribbentrop, Speer, or his own boss in the Reich Interior Ministry, Wilhelm Frick. Loesener was never involved in plans to kill anyone, never sent anyone to a death camp, and never profited from the seizure of anyone's property.

What he did was draft laws that enabled the Nazi government to speed the process by which it undid a century and more of Jewish assimilation into German society and culture. These laws robbed Jews of their rights of citizenship; their rights to marry, to practice in the professions, to engage in business and commerce, to move about freely; and, ulti-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.