My understanding is that, for example, businesses that were aryanized were sold at low but not completely nominal prices but I am not sure. I assume that in invaded countries, property was simply taken with some counterexamples as in Hungary where businesses were paid for with both money and allowing owners to leave Hungary safely at least in the case of large business owners. A broader question is how were agreements abided by once made? If businesses were sold in exchange for safe conduct, were the former owners actually allowed to leave? Why were legal formalities observed at all?

  • 2
    I think this question would benefit from preliminary research. I'm not sure what you're asking. Can you provide some examples?
    – MCW
    Jun 12, 2017 at 10:55

1 Answer 1


The title asks about legal protections under two different governments; the question in the body asks why legal formalities were observed. I'm not sure which question you want answered. The body of the question seem to contain a thought experiment about some hypothetical businesses being nationalized.

Fundamentally legal niceties were observed because the Nazi's perceived themselves as a legitimate state. No protection were offered to Jews because the Nazi's felt that Jews were criminals. Most governments limit the rights they accord to criminals. In most states, it is illicit for criminals to keep the profits of their crimes; by criminalizing genetics, it became entirely legal to seize the wealth of Jews, because they could only have obtained that wealth through criminal activities that weakened the state and harmed German citizens.

Part of the horror comes from criminalizing genetics. Think about that for a while and then go hug your kid.

  • Saying that Jews were considered criminals is simplistic, I think. If completely so, why were businesses legally transferred -- maybe I am wrong about this -- rather than simply nationalized and then sold? I am interested in the details of such transfers, how much say Jewish owners got in selling the businesses.
    – Jeff
    Jun 12, 2017 at 12:00
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    @Jeff - see volume 1 of Hilberg's The Destruction of the European Jews. He provides examples of the amounts paid for Jewish-owned businesses throughout the 1930s. The Nazis did consider Jewishness a form of criminality ("Judentum ist verbrechertum"). As the 1930s wore on, they paid less and less for businesses. After 1939, the cost of Jewish-owned businesses depended on where they were. In some places they still cost money; in others, they were free.
    – Shimon bM
    Jun 12, 2017 at 12:15
  • I suggest that @ShimonbM submit that comment as an answer, and I delete mine.
    – MCW
    Jun 12, 2017 at 12:18
  • @ShimonbM: Thanks, I will check that out. I would guess that the nominal payments helped to show that Germany was still a nation of laws to foreign business owners.
    – Jeff
    Jun 12, 2017 at 13:33
  • @Jeff - Germany wasn't just a nation of laws in the eyes of foreign business owners: Germany was actually, in reality, a nation of laws. They had a judiciary that for some time was independent, and a police force that only fell under the jurisdiction of Himmler in 1936. Some Jewish plantiffs who brought cases against the party received satisfaction; German laws needed to be developed, not abrogated. And one of the ways they did that was by associating Judaism with criminality. See Michael Berkowitz, The Crime of My Very Existence.
    – Shimon bM
    Jun 12, 2017 at 23:25

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