Thursday, November 08, 2007

November 8

On the evening of November 8, 1923, several hundred young German national socialists led by Adolf Hitler attempted to seize control of the German state. Descending on a Munich beer hall, the young Nazis attempted to seize the Bavarian commissar and other government officials while they were attending a political meeting; over the next 24 hours, the plot unraveled spectacularly, and 20 people -- 16 plotters and four Bavarian police officers -- lost their lives. Hitler and the leaders of the putsch were tried, convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. During his confinement, Hitler passed his time working on a book.

eternalOn 8 November 1937, an art and documentary exhibit Der Ewige Jude ("The Eternal Jew") opened at Munich's German Museum, as the Nazi party escalated its political scapegoating of European Jews. Over 412,000 visitors viewed the exhibit, which lasted three months in Munich before traveling to Vienna and Berlin for extended runs throughout 1938 and into early 1939. Representing the most extensive collection of anti-semitic propaganda in pre-war Germany, Der Ewige Jude was loaded with vile caricatures of Jews, who were depicted as Asiatic, sadistic Bolshevists with hooked noses, sloping brows and thick lips. Pseudo-scientific charts, attesting to the perils of race-mixing and the physical inferiority of Jews, also lined the halls of the German Museum. The exhibit followed on the heels of a similar display of over 600 examples of "degenerate," cosmopolitan art inspired -- or so it was alleged -- by the decline of "heroic" classical forms and the Aryan virtues they possessed. Several weeks after the opening of Der Ewige Jude, the Reich Propaganda Directorate assumed control over the degenerate art exhibit along with the Great Bolshevik Exhibition, thus clarifying the three perceived dangers to the German volk.

Before Der Ewige Jude closed its run in Berlin on 31 January 1939, German Jewish children were expelled from public schools; the Kristallnacht occurred, as anti-Jewish pogroms erupted in Germany and Austria in early November 1938; the compulsory "Aryanization" of the German market was completed, as Jewish merchants were obliged by law to sell their businesses for minimal compensation; and tens of thousands of Austrian and German Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps, including Mauthausen and Dachau.

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