The German government decreed the Nuremberg Race Laws (Reich Citizenship Law and Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor) on September 15, 1935.
At their annual rally held in Nuremberg in September 1935, Nazi party leaders announced the new laws that institutionalized many of the racial theories underpinning Nazi ideology. These so-called Nuremberg Race Laws were the cornerstone of the legalized persecution of Jews in Germany, excluding them from Reich citizenship and prohibiting them from marrying or having sexual relations with persons of “German or German-related blood.” Ancillary ordinances to these laws deprived German Jews of most political entitlements, including the right to vote or hold public office.
The Nuremberg Race Laws represented a major shift from traditional antisemitism, which defined Jews by religious belief, to a conception of Jews as members of a race, defined by blood and by lineage. For this reason, the Nuremberg Race Laws did not identify a “Jew” as someone with particular religious convictions but, instead, as someone with three or four Jewish grandparents. Many Germans who had not practiced Judaism or who had not done so for years found themselves caught in the grip of Nazi terror. Even people with Jewish grandparents who had converted to Christianity could be defined as Jews.