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What historical or cultural reasons did the Nazi's have to hate the Jews? Did they ever accurately and precisely identify non-practicing Jews?

I asked Jewish culture differences singled out by Nazism? on Judaism SE and they said that for a secular reason to Nazi prejudice I would have to ask here.

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The Jews were targeted not because of their religion but on basis of racial characteristics.
According to the science of the day, eugenics, this could be easily detected based on parentage and physical characteristics.
Thus marriage and birth certificates were a major source of information, and where that wasn't conclusive (say immigrants), actual measurements of things like the slope of the forehead and the dimensions and shape of the nose were used (and in many cases pure speculation, just like in the past just accusing someone of being a witch made them a witch, nowadays the same process is responsible for putting many a person behind bars for being a pedophile who never touched a child).

The main reason for the persecution was economic, combined with historical prejudice (that was and still is deeply rooted throughout Europe). The German economy was in tatters, but the Jews were as a group doing a lot better than the population at large. When the government needed a scape goat, they were a logical group to target.
Mind this wasn't at all limited to Germany, the same went on in many countries, foremost of all the USSR.
Historically of course the Jews were strangers, with weird customs, rather insular, with a different religion, in countries that were very much homogenous in their cultural and religious makeup (and to a large degree in many countries largely racially homogenous as well). That set them apart, people were suspicious of them, and the Nazi propaganda built on that to blame them for the economic woes of the late 1920s and 1930s (the fact that many banks were owned by them, and Jewish owned businesses doing overall better than German owned businesses made that easier).
To a large degree the same goes on to this day, see how "evil bankers" are blamed on the economic crisis that started in 2007 even though they had very little to do with it (most were hit as hard as or harder than anyone else). They're just easy and obvious targets.

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kool thanks +1 i didn't know about the measurement thing –  caseyr547 Feb 12 at 10:34
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It can be worthwhile to add to your last paragraph that similar occurrences of blaming Jews, as one of the most easily identified insular group inside European cities, go back as far as the Black Death in the middle ages, and before. Numerous enough and identifiable enough to be a convenient scapegoat. –  Avner Shahar-Kashtan Feb 12 at 11:16
    
I think a couple of things should also be added: long-standing anti-Semitism in Germany (i.e. Martin Luther's "On the Jews and Their Lies") and the hysteria towards "enemies within" by the proponents of the "stab-in-the-back myth" following Germany's capitulation in WW1. And obviously, a charismatic demagogue's animus towards Jews added enormously to the prevailing sentiment. It's possible to argue that without Hitler a Nazi-like party would still have been very hostile to Jews, but his fetish against them was in the extreme even for an already radical group. –  EndlessLoop Feb 17 at 5:48
    
@EndlessLoop I'm not so sure about your last argument. Hitler was a great opportunist. I can't rule out that his anti-Jewish attitude was at in part, possibly large part, a show for the microphones of the propaganda department. That's not to say he wasn't an anti-semite with the worst of the lot, but likely no more so than the average Partei member. –  jwenting Feb 17 at 7:39
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Yes there were such booklets, but they were not used for any official purposes. In Germany Jews were identified as people who or whose ancestors professed Judaism after 1871. There were tools for "racial test", but they were used to test if a Slav was suitable for Germanization, not for identifying Jews. –  Anixx Feb 17 at 8:19
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