1938 Nazi Gun Ban against Jews



German language gun ban in 1938 towards Jews,
and the English translation (click on thumbnails).

This is reputed to be the original German declaration in 1938. Larger image available here.
This is the English translation of the German declaration in 1938. Larger image available here

Below is a section from Stephen P.Halbrook's work "Nazi Firearms Law and the disarming of the German Jews" - available as the full PDF file.


Explanation of the Ordinance against the Possession of Weapons The preliminary police decree issued by the Reichsführer SS and the Chief of the German Police in the Reich Ministry of the Interior, which immediately after the assassination in Paris had prohibited persons considered Jews under the Nürnberg laws to possess any weapons, has been followed within a very short period of time by an ordinance which settles the prohibition of weapons for Jews for good. In order to make those concerned understand the extent of this law, it is necessary to explain the few paragraphs of the ordinance of November 11, 1938 in more detail.

To begin with, we need to note that the preventive activity of the Security Police will not be limited by the rules prohibiting Jews from possessing weapons. The security measures ordered by the Reichsführer SS and the Chief of the German Police in the Reich Ministry for the Interior will remain in force. § 1 prohibits any and all Jews from acquiring, possessing or carrying firearms or ammunition, as well as weapons for hitting or stabbing. § 5 of the First Ordinance to the Reich Citizen Law of November 14, 1935 is mentioned in parentheses. That is only meant to point out that the issue of who is Jewish should be settled by using the standard of the Nürnberg law. Of course, not only German Jews of the Reich, but also all foreign Jews (Jews with foreign citizenship and Jews without citizenship) are subject to the ordinance.

The new ordinance makes reference to § 31 of the Weapons Law of March 18, 1938. From that it can be concluded that the definitions for firearms, ammunition, and weapons for stabbing or hitting of § 1 of the Weapons Law apply. According to that, firearms are weapons that allow a projectile to travel through a barrel propelled by gas or air pressure; weapons for hitting or stabbing are weapons that by their nature are meant to inflict injuries by hitting or stabbing.

It is remarkable that muzzle loaders, rifle models of antique design, blank cartridge firearms, gas, stun and dummy weapons [ Scheintodwaffen], gallery rifles, parlor rifles, small caliber rifles, small caliber sports rifles and spring guns fall under the term "firearm." Ammunition means not only finished ammunition for firearms, but also gunpowder of any kind. In order to prevent any circumvention of the Weapons Law, finished or pre-fabricated essential parts of firearms or ammunition are given the same status as finished firearms or finished ammunition (§ 1, paragraph 3 of the Weapons Law).

We have already mentioned what the term "weapons for hitting or stabbing" means. Even though the legal provisions are clear enough, we shall list such individual weapons one more time: daggers and stilettoes; swords, sabers, bayonets, fencing foils and students' rapiers; sword canes and defense canes (canes with metal spirals, wire cable or truncheon); clubs, steel rods and horsewhips; brass knuckles, iron rods and fighting rings; weapon rings, deer knives, and hunting knives. It will depend on each individual case whether lockable folding knives or fixed knives that cannot be folded have to be considered weapons. Knives with a handle will then have the nature of a weapon when their size and design show that they were meant to serve the purpose of a dagger.

The Jews must be warned that they should interpret the new ordinance and the already existing Weapons Law strictly. Otherwise they will have to expect severe penalties pursuant to § 4 and, if applicable, protective custody. When following the order spelled out in § 1 of the new ordinance to immediately turn over all of the weapons and ammunition to the local police authority, the Jews must make sure that no weapons whatsoever are left behind with them.

One thing in particular should be pointed out: Any Jew who, after this ordinance forbidding the possession of weapons by Jews has become effective, destroys, gives away or otherwise disposes of a weapon, that action violates § 1, sentence 2, and § 4 of the ordinance. He should have turned in the weapon immediately. As for the rest, he did not have the right to dispose of the weapon anymore because pursuant to § 2 weapons and ammunition in the possession of a Jew become the property of the Reich, without compensation. That means that with the entering into force of this ordinance all of the weapons in the possession of Jews have become the property of the German Reich.

§ 3 of the aforesaid ordinance provides exceptions for Jews with foreign citizenship. Of course, those Jews too must immediately fulfill their duty to turn in their weapons. Their weapons too have become the property of the Reich. Should their request to be exempt from the prohibition be granted, the property they lost will be returned to them.

The punishment provided by the ordinance against weapons possession by the Jews goes beyond that provided by the Weapons Law. As the assassination in Paris shows, the German ethnic community has a strong interest in disarming all Jews living within the boundaries of the Reich. By providing for severe prison and penitentiary terms, the State will discourage all Jews from violating its laws enacted to protect the German people. Where even such punishment has no effect, the authorities of the Security Police will ensure full compliance with the authority of the Reich.

It is particularly encouraging that today, when we are reaching the end of the year 1938, we were able to extend the prohibition of weapons possession by the Jews to the Ostmark and the Sudetenland regions. The protection that we are able to offer to our German brothers in the regained regions becomes particularly clear in § 6 of the ordinance of November 11, 1938.
Dr. Ehaus, Senior Executive Officer

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