The "Aryanization" of Jewish property

The term Arisierung, or "Aryanization", was coined by the National Socialists to describe the process whereby Jewish people were ousted from their jobs and from working life in general. "Aryanization" encompassed both illegal as well as state-sanctioned measures such as dismissal, debarment from practising a profession, restrictions in engaging in commercial activities and the transfer of rights and property to non-Jewish Germans, sometimes under duress.

Form for registering the assets of Jewish citizens, 1938 (Berlin, Landesarchiv)

Up to 1937 seemingly unsystematic, isolated anti-Semitic actions took place which already posed a serious threat to the livelihood of the majority of Jews still living in Germany. However, in 1938 there was a radical worsening of the situation. First, all Jewish assets were registered. Then party entities, together with the authorities, used this information to initiate a wide-scale pseudo-legal transfer of Jewish enterprises to non-Jewish owners.

After the Pogrom Night in November 1938 this process was speeded up by means of additional force and a large number of new legal regulations. By New Year 1939 most Jewish enterprises in Germany and Austria had already either been "arianized" or closed down. Whereas in the earlier years Jewish proprietors were at least able to realize part of the value of their property when they "sold" it, as things stood in 1938 "Aryanization" was increasingly taking on the nature of state-organized expropriation.

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