Arisierung: Nazi Policies of Genocide and Aryanization

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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What is Arisierung? How did Nazi polices change life in Haarlem? What did Corrie and the other ten Booms do to fight against Arisierung?

Arisierung is the Nazi goal of Aryanization. They used genocide and other policies to accomplish this goal.

Read about Arisierung and how Nazi policies affected the Netherlands during WW2.

Nazi Policies for Prisoners

One day early in the summer of 1944, Corrie was abruptly ordered by the guards at Scheveningen to pack out and form a line with the other women to evacuate the prison immediately. As she saw the prison being emptied, it became clear what was happening—the Allied armies had landed in Europe and were beginning the process of liberating the occupied countries!

In response, the Germans were moving their political prisoners out of the path of the rapidly advancing Allied forces and deeper into the interior of Europe. Corrie stuffed her few possessions—her sweater, pajamas, toothbrush, and Bible—into a pillowcase and awaited further orders as she was taken to a freight yard on the outskirts of The Hague. She was happy to be getting out of Scheveningen, but she was deeply fearful that something even worse might be in store for her. She was particularly terrified of being transported out of The Netherlands into Germany.

Arisierung and Genocide

One evening that September, the women heard the loudspeaker from the men’s camp calling the names of the male prisoners to report for roll call, though they could not make out the specific names from the women’s camp. Suddenly, the sound of rifle fire erupted. The men had been called to die in a mass execution as part of Arisierung. As the Allied armies drew near, the guards were performing summary executions on the male prisoners. Seven hundred men were murdered by the Nazis that night, including, they later learned, Mrs. Floor’s husband.

The next day, one thousand women, including Corrie and Betsie, were ordered to gather their personal effects. The sisters took toothbrushes, needle and thread, Nollie’s blue sweater, and their precious Bible. By this time, Betsie was astonishingly weak, barely able to carry her meager possessions or stand under her own power. Corrie helped Betsie make the march to a rail depot, where they herded onto a freight train. The car was packed with 80 women, stuffed into the train like cattle. The guards jabbed and pistol-whipped the women to force them onto the increasingly crowded freight car. The women must have feared they were going to be victims of the next phase of Arisierung.

Conditions were awful inside the train and many women fainted from exhaustion and overcrowding. In the cramped conditions, with no provision made for bathrooms or sanitation, the air soon became foul, particularly as the temperature rose. The women had to stay in crouching conditions just to accommodate the mass of human cargo that had been stuffed into the car. Their only view of the outside world was from a hole in the wall of the railcar that one of the women had managed to gouge open. The train began its long journey out of Vught and on to Ravensbruck, the notorious women’s extermination camp.

By December 1944, winter had fully set in at Ravensbruck. The early morning roll calls became even more brutal, dehumanizing affairs. During one roll call, a guard beat unconscious a mentally challenged girl who had soiled herself while being forced to stand at attention. Corrie was grateful when the beating finally stopped and the girl lay motionless and bleeding on the ground. The sheer contempt for human life was simply unimaginable.

Corrie ten Boom Narrowly Avoids Execution

Finally, at the end of December, the doctors cleared Corrie for release. She was given back the possessions she’d been arrested with and, on New Years Day 1945, was placed on a train bound for Berlin. Only years later did Corrie learn that her release had been the result of a clerical error—the rest of the women at the hospital in Ravensbruck were murdered in the gas chambers a mere week after Corrie left the camp. This was part of the Nazi policies for using genocide for Arisierung.

Arisierung: Nazi Policies of Genocide and Aryanization

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Here's what you'll find in our full The Hiding Place summary:

  • Why devout Christian Corrie ten Boom decided to stand up to the Nazi occupation
  • How ten Boom and the Jewish neighbors she was hiding were caught
  • How ten Boom survived the concentration camp and left with even stronger faith

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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