Aryanization (German: Arisierung) was the Nazi term for the seizure of property from Jews and its transfer to non-Jews, and the forced expulsion of Jews from economic life in Nazi Germany, Axis-aligned states, and their occupied territories. It entailed the transfer of Jewish property into "Aryan" or non-Jewish, hands.

"Herzmansky is Purely Aryan Again!" - The Herzmansky department store in Vienna was confiscated after the Anschluss

"Aryanization" is , according to Kreutzmüller and Zaltin in Dispossession:Plundering German Jewry, 1933-1953, "a Nazi slogan that was used to camouflage theft and its political consequences."[1]

The process started in 1933 in Nazi Germany with transfers of Jewish property and ended with the Holocaust.[2][3] Two phases have generally been identified: a first phase in which the theft from Jewish victims was concealed under a veneer of legality, and a second phase, in which property was more openly confiscated. In both cases, Aryanization corresponded to Nazi policy and was defined, supported, and enforced by Germany's legal and financial bureaucracy.[4][5][6][7][8]

Michael Bazyler writes that "[t]he Holocaust was both the greatest murder and the greatest theft in history". Between $230 and $320 billion (in 2005 US dollars) was stolen from Jews across Europe,[9] with hundreds of thousands businesses Aryanized.[10]

Nazi GermanyEdit

Before Hitler came to power, Jews owned 100,000 businesses in Germany. By 1938, boycotts, intimidation, forced sales, and restrictions on professions had largely forced Jews out of economic life. According to Yad Vashem, "Of the 50,000 Jewish-owned stores that existed in 1933, only 9,000 remained in 1938."[11]

Exclusion and dispossession of Jews starting in 1933Edit

Starting in 1933, through the Aryan paragraph and later the Nuremberg Laws, Jews were largely excluded from public life in Germany. Jews were removed from jobs in the public sector, such as the civil service and teaching, and further restrictions were introduced through the Nazi period. Jewish university faculty were removed from departments in German universities in cities including Hamburg, Berlin, Frankfurt am Main, Breslau, Heidelberg, Bonn, Cologne, Würzburg, and Jena.[12]

Later on, an increasing number were incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps, and finally deported to the east where they were murdered directly in death camps or shot by the Einsatzgruppen.

By 1 January 1938, German Jews were prohibited from operating businesses and trades and offering goods and services. On 26 April 1938, Jews were ordered to report all wealth over 5,000 Reichsmarks, and their access to bank accounts was restricted. On 14 June 1938, the Interior Ministry ordered the registration of all Jewish businesses. The state set the sales value of Jewish firms at a fraction of their market worth, and used various pressure tactics to ensure sales only to desired persons. Among the largest "Aryanization profiteers" were IG Farben, the Flick family, and large banks. The proceeds from "Aryanized" firms had to be deposited in savings accounts, and were made available to their Jewish depositors only in limited amounts, so that in the final analysis, Aryanization amounted to almost compensation-free confiscation.

In the autumn of 1938, only 40,000 of the formerly 100,000 Jewish businesses were still in the hands of their original owners. Aryanization was completed on 12 November 1938 with the enactment of a regulation, the Verordnung zur Ausschaltung der Juden aus dem deutschen Wirtschaftsleben (Regulation for the elimination of Jews from German economic life), through which the remaining businesses were transferred to non-Jewish owners and the proceeds taken by the state. Jewellery, stocks, real property, and other valuables had to be sold. Either by direct force, government interventions such as sudden tax claims, or the weight of the circumstances, Jewish property changed hands mostly below fair market value. Jewish employees were fired, and self-employed people were prohibited from working in their respective professions.

After KristallnachtEdit

After the "Kristallnacht" pogroms, the pressure of Aryanization was drastically increased. On 12 November 1938, Jews were forbidden to function as business managers, forcing Jewish owners to install "Aryan" surrogates. These people, who were often promoted by the party, first took over the office, and soon thereafter usually the whole business. "Compliant Aryans" (Gefälligkeitsarier) were threatened with punishment according to the Regulation against Complicity with the Camouflage of Jewish Firms (22 April 1938). Because the Jews were burdened with heavy payments as "atonement" for the damage done by the SA and antisemitic mobs during Kristallnacht, the selling off of Jewish property was only a question of time. On 3 December 1938, the value of Jewish landed property was frozen at the lowest level, and valuables and jewels were permitted to be sold only through state offices. The impoverishment of the Jewish population caused by Aryanization often stood in the way of its goal — promoting emigration through persecution — because those affected lacked the means to emigrate. They became victims of the Final Solution.

Many important businesses were sold and re-sold in the course of the process, some of which (such as the Hertie department store) played an important role during the post-war Wirtschaftswunder years in West Germany. After the war, the Federal Republic of Germany paid some restitution for the material losses.[13][14][15]

Eviction, erasure and cultural appropriationEdit

The term Aryanization is sometimes used to refer to eviction of Jewish scientists and people engaged in the cultural sector and in a context of cultural appropriation, for example the Nazi project to provide works such as Handel's Judas Maccabaeus with a new text removed from the intended Old Testament setting.[16] The titles of artworks depicting Jewish people, such as Klimt's famous Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer were changed ("The Lady in Gold") to erase their Jewish connection.[17]

Complicity in AryanizationEdit

The heads of the public 'Landessippenämter' (state offices of mores) and in particular the Protestant pastors and the Evangelical Lutheran Church played an important role in the preparation of Aryanization. They were responsible for Aryan evidence, family and rural farm research, migration movements as well as biographical and local cultural research. In these functions, they were significantly involved as desk clerks and responsible for the ideological propaganda of the Nazi regime in general and the implementation of Nazi racial policy in particular.[18]

Poster of Aryanization of Jewish businesses, after the Nazi ordinance of October 1940
A cartoon presentation of the "Measures for the defense of the Italian race"


After Austria merged into the Third Reich in the Anschluss on March 12, 1938, Austrian Jews were plundered and thousands of properties seized through Aryanization.[19] Major landmarks owned by Jews, like the Wiener Riesenrad, which had belonged to Eduard Steiner, were Aryanized and their owners murdered.[20][21] Large and small businesses, from the biggest banks to the smallest family run businesses, were seized from Jews under the guise of Aryanisation.[22] The Vugesta Nazi looting organisation played a key role in disposing of assets of plundered Jews.[23]


In Vichy France, Aryanization was governed by a July 22, 1941 law of the French state, which was following the October 18, 1940 Nazi ordinance for the occupied zone. Historian Henry Rousso gives the number 10,000 for the Aryanized businesses.[24] In 1942 the Jewish Telegraphc Agency (JTA) reported that the Nazis claimed that 35,000 French businesses had already been Aryanized.[25] Since the 1990s, there has been considerable research on the subject, and several monographs have been published.[26]

Large and small businesses, including art galleries, were transferred to non-Jews.[27] Examples of companies Aryanized in France include Galeries Lafayette.[28]


In July 1938, the Manifesto of Race, which declared the Italians to be descendants of the Aryan race.[clarification needed] In October 1938, it was followed by the Racial Laws in the Kingdom of Italy, which stripped the Jews of Italian citizenship and governmental and professional positions.[29] The aim of these measures was to achieve the "Aryanization" of Italian society by excluding Jews from various areas of economy, education and social life and having to emigrate.[30]


In Romania, the Aryanization process was encouraged by tax incentives, as well as outright confiscation. Hardliners complained that some Jews were able to evade the regulations by transferring their businesses to Romanian owners (only on paper). Although Aryanization was to an extent inspired by similar policies in Germany, the Romanian authorities made the key decisions with regards to the implementation of Aryanization.[31]: 49 


Aryanization also occurred in the Slovak State. About 12,300 Jewish businesses existed in 1940. By 1942, 10,000 had been liquidated, and the remainder "Aryanized" by transfer to non-Jewish owners.[32]

In popular cultureEdit

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Kreutzmüller, Christoph; Zatlin, Jonathan (2020). Dispossession: Plundering German Jewry, 1933-1953. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. doi:10.3998/mpub.9315192. ISBN 978-0-472-13203-4. S2CID 240613308.
  2. ^ Bopf, Britta (2004). "Arisierung" in Köln: Die wirtschaftliche Existenzvernichtung der Juden 1933-1945. Cologne: Emons Verlag Köln. ISBN 389705311X. Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
  3. ^ Shoah Resource Center. "Aryanization" (PDF). Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  4. ^ "Confiscation of Jewish Property in Europe, 1933–1945 New Sources and Perspectives Symposium Proceedings" (PDF). UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM CENTER FOR ADVANCED HOLOCAUST STUDIES. 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 December 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2017. Particularly impressive and equally disturbing is the robbers’ effort to ensure that property confiscation was carried out by "legal" means through a vast array of institutions and organizations set up for this purpose. The immensely bureaucratic nature of the confiscation process emerges from the vast archival trail that has survived. Arguments that no one knew about the Jews’ fate become untenable once it is clear how many people were involved in processing their property. "Legal" measures often masked theft, but blatant robbery and extortion through intimidation and physical assault were also commonplace.
  5. ^ Döblin, Alfred (28 November 2010). "Plünderung jüdischen Eigentums Billigende Inkaufnahme "Wie Deutsche ihre jüdischen Mitbürger verwerteten": Die Enteignung der Juden ist gut dokumentiert. Wolfgang Dreßen hat die Akten gesichtet". Die Tageszeitung: Taz. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  6. ^ Kieser, Albrecht (February 15, 2006). "Späte Enthüllungen An der Aufklärung über Arisierungen ist man in Deutschland noch immer nicht sonderlich interessiert". Telopolis. Heise Online. Archived from the original on December 2, 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Das Finanzamt Moabit-West "verwertete" das Hab und Gut jüdischer Opfer des Nationalsozialismus". Berline Woche. Berline Woche. 18 January 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  8. ^ ""Arisierung" in Köln". Portal Rheinische Geschichte. Landschaftsverband Rheinland. Archived from the original on 20 March 2018. Retrieved 2 December 2017.
  9. ^ Bazyler, Michael J. (2005). Holocaust Justice: The Battle for Restitution in America's Courts. NYU Press. p. xi. ISBN 978-0-8147-2938-0.
  10. ^ Gotz., Aly (2016). Hitler's beneficiaries. Verso Books. ISBN 978-1-78478-634-2. OCLC 946605582.
  11. ^ Shoah Resource Center. "Aryanization" (PDF). Yad Vashem. Yad Vashem. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  12. ^ Zeidman, Lawrence A. (2020). Brain Science Under the Swastika: Ethical Violations, Resistance, and Victimization of Neuroscientists in Nazi Europe. Oxford University Press. pp. 139–207. ISBN 978-0-19-872863-4.
  13. ^ "The Long Shadow of Aryanization". Berlin Layers. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  14. ^ "History of "Aryanization" catches up with Hertie-School". Humanity in Action. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  15. ^ "Im Namen von Hermann Tietz: "Arisierungs"-Geschichte holt Hertie-School ein". (in German). 2020-11-13. Retrieved 2022-02-07.
  16. ^ "Nazis 'aryanize' Handel's "judas Maccabaeus" January 17, 1941".
  17. ^ O'Connor, Anne Marie (2015). The lady in gold: the extraordinary tale of Gustav Klimt's masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer. ISBN 978-0-307-26564-7. OCLC 925280061.
  18. ^ The biography of Carl Wilhelm Hahn (journalist) (1898-1982) from Schleswig-Holstein offers insights into a typical case study.
  19. ^ "Vienna's tourist trail of plunder". the Guardian. 2002-05-21. Archived from the original on 2019-02-24. Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  20. ^ " Information Vienna Giant Ferris Wheel history Vienna Prater". Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  21. ^ Erlanger, Steven (2002-03-07). "Vienna Skewered as a Nazi-Era Pillager of Its Jews". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  22. ^ TIMES, Wireless to THE NEW YORK (1938-07-22). "PROPERTY SEIZURES DELAYED IN VIENNA; Bureau Is Overwhelmed by Task of 'Aryanizing'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  23. ^ "The Vugesta - The Gestapo Office for the Disposal of the Property of Jewish Emigrants - Art Database". 2020-01-13. Archived from the original on 2020-01-13. Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  24. ^ Henry Rousso, Vichy, l'événement, la mémoire, l'histoire, Paris, Gallimard, coll. Folio/Histoire, no. 102, 2001, ISBN 978-2-07-041749-0, p. 148
  25. ^ "35.000 Jewish Enterprises in France Already "aryanized" Nazis Announce". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 1942-08-11. Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  26. ^ Monographs on Aryanization and restitution in France
    • Laurent Douzou (trad. Jean-Marie Chanon), Voler les juifs : Lyon, 1940-1945, Paris, Hachette Littératures, coll. « Vie quotidienne, Histoire », 2003, 340 p. (ISBN 978-2-01-235613-9, OCLC 185992706).
    • Alexandre Doulut, La spoliation des biens juifs en Lot-et-Garonne, 1941-1944, Narrosse, Albret, coll. « Terres de mémoire » (no 1), 2005, 166 p. (ISBN 978-2-913055-10-0, OCLC 238638037)
    • Jean-Marc Dreyfus (trad. Antoine Prost), Pillages sur ordonnances : aryanisation et restitution des banques en France, 1940-1953, Paris, Fayard, coll. « Pour une histoire du XXe siècle », 2003, 475 p. (ISBN 978-2-213-61327-7, OCLC 52329178).
    • Constantin Goschler (dir.) (trad. Odile Demange), Spoliations et restitutions des biens juifs en Europe : XXe siècle [« Raub und Restitution »], Paris, Autrement, coll. « Mémoires » (no 135), 2007, 413 p. (ISBN 978-2-7467-0918-8, OCLC 190797282, notice BnF no FRBNF41124555).
    • Martin Jungius (trad. de l'allemand par Nicole Casanova et Olivier Mannoni), Un vol organisé : l'État français et la spoliation des biens juifs, 1940-1944 [« Verwaltete Raub »], Paris, Tallandier, 2012, 525 p. (ISBN 978-2-84734-689-3, OCLC 801836031, notice BnF no FRBNF42605918)3
    • Florent Le Bot, La fabrique réactionnaire : antisémitisme, spoliations et corporatisme dans le cuir (1930-1950, Paris, France, Sciences Po, Les presses, coll. « Sciences Po histoire », 2007, 399 p. (ISBN 978-2-7246-1046-8, OCLC 660444246, notice BnF no FRBNF41160738)
    • Philippe Verheyde, Les mauvais comptes de Vichy : l'aryanisation des entreprises juives, Paris, Perrin, coll. « Terre d'histoire », 1999, 564 p. (ISBN 978-2-262-01524-4, OCLC 185468859)
  27. ^ "The art market under the Occupation, 1940-1944". Expo Marché Art. Retrieved 2021-11-17.
  28. ^ Verheyde, Philippe (2007). "Propriété bafouée et réorganisation : les spoliations antisémites en France 1940-1944". Entreprises et histoire. 49 (4): 41. doi:10.3917/eh.049.0041. ISSN 1161-2770.
  29. ^ Hollander, Ethan J (1997). Italian Fascism and the Jews (PDF). University of California. ISBN 0-8039-4648-1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-05-15.
  30. ^ Michele Sarfatti: Characteristics and Ojectives of the Anti-Jewish Laws in Fascist Italy, S. 76.
  31. ^ Panu, Mihai–Adrian (May 2015). "The Ideological Dimension of Aryanization Politics in Interwar Romania". Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences. 183: 47–52. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.04.844.
  32. ^ "Liquidation of Jewish enterprises". National Memory Institute. Retrieved 11 December 2018.


External linksEdit