Nazis singing to encourage a boycott of the allegedly Jewish-founded Woolworths, 1933

Four Nazi troops sing in front of the Berlin branch of the Woolworth Co. store during the movement to boycott Jewish presence in Germany, March 1, 1933.

Within days of taking power, the Nazis called for Germany to boycott all Jewish businesses. This surprised many people as they had not expected the Nazis to act on their anti-Jewish ideas.

This is the start of years of anti-Jewish propaganda. Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels arranged for a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses.

He would later explain in an April 1st speech at the Berlin Lustgarten that the boycott was in retaliation for anti-German “atrocity propaganda” spread by the “international Jewry” in foreign newspapers.

SA storm troopers were ordered to stand in front of Jewish shops, department stores, and offices to intimidate customers.

Large stars of David were painted on storefronts and propaganda signs were displayed, such as one pronouncing: “Germans, defend yourselves against Jewish atrocity propaganda—buy only at German shops!”.

The boycott was largely ignored by the populace and ended after one day, though Goebbels did declare it a “great moral victory for Germany” in his diary.

The real significance of the boycott is that it marked the beginning of a series of anti-Semitic laws that gradually alienated Jews from German society.

On April 7, Jews were banned from civil service jobs, and by the end of the year, new laws had targeted Jewish lawyers, doctors, dentists, professors, artists, journalists, and other professionals.

The shop in the photo was owned by Woolworth, the company later fired all Jewish employees and got the “Adefa Zeichen”, a seal for companies who were “pure Aryan”.

(Photo credit: Bundesarchiv).