Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of defeated, truncated, and starving Germany on January 30, 1933, by President Paul von Hindenburg. Jews throughout the world professed to be horrified by news of this event. It was also evident that a campaign against the still unpopular Germans on the Jewish question might possibly be exploited to advance the position of World Jewry. Twenty years later, this turned out to be the case to an extent that few Jews could have foreseen at the time. Dr. Max Nussbaum, the former chief rabbi of the Jewish community in Berlin, declared on April 11, 1953: ‘The position the Jewish people occupy today in the world is-despite the enormous losses ten times stronger than what it was twenty years ago.’
The leaders of the modern German Reich from its foundation in 1871 until Hitler’s appointment in 1933 had usually been friendly toward the Jews. Hitler, however, was outspokenly hostile toward every manifestation of Jewish influence in Germany. The ‘unchangeable’ program of his National Socialist Party, which was first proclaimed at Munich on February 24, 1920, advocated the revocation of concessions granted to the German Jews in the various German states during the period from 1812 to 1848. These concessions bad made German Jews in every respect fully equal to Germans. Hitler was determined to set the clock back on Germany’s treatment of the Jews. His position toward the Jews closely resembled that of Martin Luther, Von den Juden und ihrer Luegen (About the Jews and their Lies, Wittenberg, 1543), and Heinrich von Treitschke, Ein Wort ueber unser Judenthum (A Word About our Jewry, Berlin, 1880). Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in a government coalition with the conservative German National People’s Party brought him a gigantic step closer to a position where his will might become law in all questions affecting the German Jews.
Hitler’s overt struggle against the Jews had begun the moment be joined the diminutive anti-Jewish National Socialist Party in 1919. He had been a leading contender in the German political arena since his Party acquired 107 Reichstag seats in the September, 1930, German national election. In 1933, this struggle entered a decisive phase. There were approximately 500,000 Jews in Germany when Hitler became Chancellor in January, 1933.