In 1935, the Nazis enacted racial laws aimed at establishing a “pure” German society which effectively returned Jews to the legal position they had occupied before emancipation in 1871.  These laws are known as the Nuremberg Laws. 

The Reich Citizenship Law or 'Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor' of September 15, 1935 defined German citizens as people “of German or related blood.” The new legislation classified Jews merely as “residents”: their German citizenship was later revoked.

The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor made it illegal for Jews to marry non-Jews. Racism was thus the official law of the land. Because Nazi ideology in effect depicted human life as a struggle for survival between the so-called Aryan and non-Aryan races, the Blood Protection Law (as it was known) aimed to guard Germany against what the Nazis called “racial pollution.”


Above: A Nazi pamphlet explaining the 'German Blood Law'

On October 18, 1935, the Nazi government issued the law for the Protection of the Hereditary Health of the German People (called the Marital Health Law). Couples wishing to marry were required to visit a doctor to determine whether the marriage would result in “racial damage.” The Marital Health Law also outlawed marriage between epileptics, the mentally ill, or any couples regarded as suffering from “genetic infirmities.”

On November 1, 1935, an amendment to the Reich Citizenship Law disqualified Jews from German citizenship. The Nuremberg Laws transformed Nazi beliefs about race and eugenics into a policy that would guide all further treatment of Jews.