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Unpublished Paper
“Arms in the Hands of Jews Are a Danger to Public Safety”: Nazism, Firearm Registration, and the Night of the Broken Glass
ExpressO (2008)
  • Stephen P Halbrook
Abstract
The title to this article is a quotation from an arrest report of a Jewish gun owner just weeks before the Nazis launched the pogrom known as the Night of the Broken Glass in 1938. His name was Alfred Flatow, and he was an Olympic champion who had registered firearms before the Nazis came to power. Once in control, the Hitler regime used the registration records to disarm their enemies so they could not resist. What actually occurred has been hotly debated in the American gun control controversy, and is even discussed in amicus briefs in the current Supreme Court case on the meaning of the Second Amendment right to keep arms, District of Columbia v. Heller. The article begins with an examination of three arrest reports which reveal much about the campaign to disarm the German Jews. It then examines original sources to trace how such arrests were part of a systematic plan to render Jews defenseless. When the Night of the Broken Glass was sparked, the Nazis conducted massive searches and seizures of Jewish homes and business to complete the disarming as well as to burn and loot property and to fill the concentration camps with victims. There is considerable debate today about the Second Amendment and whether the populace at large should have access to firearms or whether they should be restricted to the military and police. This article eschews any policy debate, and instead traces exactly how the Nazis utilized firearm laws and decrees to disarm the German Jews as a prelude to comprehensive repression. Based in large part on German archival resources, the article contributes to a neglected topic in human rights and Holocaust studies.
Disciplines
Publication Date
March 14, 2008
Citation Information
Stephen P Halbrook. "“Arms in the Hands of Jews Are a Danger to Public Safety”: Nazism, Firearm Registration, and the Night of the Broken Glass" ExpressO (2008)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/stephen_halbrook/2/