Online Module: The Holocaust and Fundamental Rights

Doc. 2: Directives by Berlin's Police Chief

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Some weeks after meeting Goebbels Berlin’s Police Chief Count Helldorff urges all policemen under his command to seize every opportunity to harass Jews in order to expel them from Germany. He inspires the officers by giving more than 70 concrete examples.

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  • Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der europäischen Juden durch das nationalsozialistische Deutschland 1933-1945 [The Persecution and Murder of the European Jews by National Socialist Germany], Vol. 2: Deutsches Reich 1938 – August 1939, Munich 2009, pp. 234-241.

Wolf-Heinrich Graf von HelldorffCircular (confidential!) from the police chief in Berlin, signed Graf von Helldorf [!], of 20 July 1938

With reference to the attached exhaustive guidelines on the treatment of Jews and Jewish matters, which lay down suitable means, unified and drastic measures should now be taken against the Jews of Berlin on the part of the police.The aim is to drive the Jews to emigrate, not merely to bully them without due attention to this desired outcome. There are so many options open within the law that illegal means are unnecessary and not to be undertaken. My expectation of all departments and officials is that everyone on duty does his utmost to ensure that the desired goal of freeing Berlin as far as possible from the Jews, and in particular the Jewish proletariat, is achieved. Officials whose departments come into direct contact with Jews or have to deal with Jewish proceedings on an almost daily basis (district offices, police stations and units) in particular will answer personally to me for this goal being achieved in full.[…]


Guidelines for the treatment of Jews and Jewish matters

1.) All measures to be taken against Jews by the police are to be taken within the framework of legal requirements but under the broadest interpretation of them. […]

5.) As already decreed in the orders of 22 June 1938 and 8 July 1938 to ensure that all Jewish proceedings are consistently marked as such, the first department to handle the case is to stamp a “J” on the top centre of the first page of the file in red ink. This order is to be applied to all writs, registrations, reports, proceedings, claims etc with any connection to a Jew. [...]

10.) Where Jews are concerned, administration fees are always to be charged at the maximum rate allowed under the Law on Administrative Charges, unless a valid exception applies, and applications for deferment or payment in instalments are to be rejected.

11.) In all areas of police activity, checks on Jews must generally be carried out more stringently and more frequently than on Aryan members of the nation. Outcomes of these checks must lead to instant penalties and sanctions of the strictest kind.

12.) Any penalties and sanctions arising must be carried out unrelentingly, unhesitatingly and with the greatest force. [...]

14.) Jews should generally be punished rather than let off with a fine.

15.) In police and criminal cases, Jews should always be given five times the normal sentence. If a Jew is to be issued with a fine, the highest rate of RM 50 or 1 week’s detention is to be imposed. [...]

19.) Jews should not be given information on the telephone. Should a Jew need information, he must come to the office.

20.) Jews should always be summoned in person to explain areas of doubt. If frequent summonses can be justified, they are not undesirable. Should a Jew be summoned for a certain time and not arrive punctually, the maintenance of a properly functioning office requires that the process be dismissed and the Jew issued with another summons. Jews should chiefly be summoned on Saturdays and Jewish holidays.

22.) Should uniformed officers, external or criminal police officers need to make enquiries at the house or flat of a Jew, even on a matter of less significance, they are always to proceed such that as many neighbours as possible are aware “that the Police were searching for the Jew”.

23.) Processing enquiries from Jews has no particular urgency, with the exception of emigration proceedings and such proceedings that might directly promote emigration (applications for certificates of good conduct etc.). Decisions against Jews that could be contested in administrative dispute proceedings in particular are to be drawn out as long as possible. Any interests of Aryan members of the nation concerned in the proceeding are to be given consideration, however.

39.) Motor vehicles belonging to Jews are to be checked most carefully for certain faults, particularly when it comes to licensing, but also at any opportunity that arises, and where necessary to be seized until further notice. Seized motor vehicles held by Jews should in principle not be released for a week at the earliest.

46.) Jews are generally not to be permitted to hold sales.

47.) When granting permission for valuables in Jewish ownership to be sold at auction by professional auctioneers, a more demanding standard is to be applied. The sale of Jewish merchandise at auction is to be restricted as far as possible.

The document is provided in the download section.


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