Anti-Semitism was at the core of the National Socialist worldview. It shaped propa-ganda as well as policy of the NS-regime and was based on religiously, economically, and racially motivated prejudices handed down throughout the centuries. Since the early Middle Ages, hostility toward Jews resp. anti-Semitism have been useful ideological tools to blame »the Jews« for political, social, and economic problems. With the National Socialists’ ascent to power in Germany in 1933, anti-Semitism obtained a new, historically unique quality: century-old prejudices were bundled together, equipped with »racial-theoretical« explana-tions, and used as an essential ideological instrument of the state. The Nuremberg Laws formed the »legal« foundation for the exclusion, disenfranchisement, and finally murder of the Jews. Paradoxically, the National Socialists used the grandparents’ religious affiliation as a measure for »race.« Persons were consid-ered Jewish, if they descended from three Jewish grandparents, irrespectively whether they were baptized or without any religious affiliation.
For the first time, anti-Semitism was implemented as part of a state ideology all the way to its last murderous consequence: social ostracism and disen-franchisement of the Jews was followed by extensive looting, expulsion, branding, and finally systematic, industrially performed annihilation of millions.