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Law against Overcrowding

Law Against Overcrowding
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Bundesarchiv

The Nazi project to reshape society to fit Nazi ideas about race and national unity excluded many people from membership in the Nazis' so-called "national community" ("Volksgemeinschaft"). After passing antisemitic legislation to purge Jewish faculty from German universities in early April 1933, Nazi authorities continued the process of removing Jews from public life by targeting Jewish students.1 Passed on April 25, 1933, the "Law against Overcrowding in Schools and Institutions of Higher Education" set strict limitations on the number of Jewish students permitted to attend both public and private schools and universities.2

In the earlier drafts, the featured legislation was called the "Law against the Foreign Infiltration of German Universities." Nazi propaganda often tried to portray Jews—including German Jews—as a foreign threat. But Reich Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick had observed that the law might "draw too much international attention to the intended exceptional treatment of Jews." Although the final title of the law did not mention any racial, ethnic, or religious group, it was specifically aimed at Jewish students. 

Many universities used the law to justify greater enrollment restrictions against Jewish students. After the passage of the law, Jewish enrollment in German universities dropped drastically.3

To learn more about policies targeting Jews during the first several years of Nazi rule, see the Experiencing History collection, Exclusion of Jews in Nazi Germany.

A decree issued on the same day by Minister of Interior Wilhelm Frick mandated a maximum quota of 1.5 percent for newly admitted "non-Aryan" students and a maximum quota of 5 percent total enrollment for non-Aryan students. The law provided exceptions for the children of front-line soldiers from World War I, foreign Jews, and so-called half-Jews and quarter-Jews. For more on the wider process of legally excluding Jews from public life in Nazi Germany, see the related item Photo from a Public Pool in Fürth, Germany.

The impact of the law varied regionally. Although Jews represented roughly 1 percent of the German population at the time, they accounted for 3.8 percent of university students. Many universities—such as Greifswald, Kiel, Marburg, Münster, Tübingen, Jena, and Rostock—were already hostile to Jews before 1933 and had Jewish enrollment below 1 percent. In Heidelberg, Frankfurt, and Berlin the percentages ranged from 9–11 percent. Michael Gru╠łttner, Studenten im Dritten Reich (Paderborn: Ferdinand Scho╠łningh, 1995), 215. In the winter semester of 1932/33, 3,336 Jewish students studied at German universities. By the winter semester of 1933/34, this number sank to 812 and by 1934/35 to 538. In the summer semester of 1934, only 23 Jewish first-semester students enrolled nationwide, among them 13 foreign students.

German: "Coordination," enforced political alignment. For more detail, see the USHMM Holocaust Encyclopedia article Foundations of the Nazi State.

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Note: the first segment of this document addresses an amendment to an existing "Reich Governors Law." This amendment was unrelated to the "Law against Overcrowding," and sought to centralize the Nazi party's control over Germany's regional governments.

Law Amending the Reich Governor's Law.

April 25, 1933.


The Reich Government has enacted the following, which is promulgated herewith:

§ 5 (1) of the Second Law on the Gleichschaltung1 of the Länder with the Empire [Reichsstatthalter Law] of April 7, 1933 (Reichsgesetzblatt I, p. 173) contains the following wording:

(1) In Prussia, the Reich Chancellor exercises the rights named in § 1. He can transfer the exercise of the rights named in § 1 (1) under Nos. 3 to 5 to the Ministerpräsident [state governor], who is authorized to carry out a further transfer of these rights.

Berlin, April 25, 1933


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T h e   R e i c h  M i n i s t e r  o f  t h e  I n t e r i o r

F r i c k


Law against Overcrowding in German Schools and

Institutions of Higher Education. April 25, 1933

The Reich Government has enacted the following law, which is promulgated herewith:

§ 1

In all schools, with the exception of the compulsory schools, and in all institutions of higher education, the number of pupils and students should be restricted to the extent necessary to ensure solid education and to satisfy the demands of the occupations and professions.

§ 2

The state [Land] governments determine at the beginning of every school year how many new pupils each school, and how many new students each department of an institution of higher education, may admit.

§ 3

In the types of schools and the departments whose attendance is greatly disproportionate to the needs of the occupations and professions, the number of registered pupils and students must be reduced during the 1933 school year to an appropriate proportion, as far as is possible without excessive severity.

§ 4

In the case of new admissions, care must be taken to ensure that the number of pupils and students admitted to each school and each department who are Reich citizens of non-Aryan descent within the meaning of the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service of April 7, 1933 (Reichsgesetzblatt I, p. 175) does not exceed the proportion of non-Aryans in the population of the German Reich. The proportion is determined uniformly for the entire territory of the Reich.

Similarly, when reducing the number of pupils and students pursuant to § 3, an appropriate ratio must be created between the total number of pupils and students and the number of non-Aryans. In the process, a ratio that differs from the quota can be taken as a basis.

(1) and (2) do not apply to citizens of the German Reich who are of non-Aryan descent if their fathers are combat veterans of the world war who fought for the German Reich or its allies, or to offspring of marriages that took place before this law entered into force, provided that one parent or two grandparents are of Aryan descent. These persons are also not to be taken into account in the calculation of the quota and the proportion.

§ 5

Obligations that apply to Germany on the basis of international treaties are not affected by the provisions of this law.

§ 6

The implementing regulations will be issued by the Reich Minister of the Interior.

§ 7

The law enters into force with its promulgation.


Berlin, April 25, 1933.


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F r i c k


Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Accession Number Bundesarchiv R43II/936
Accession Number USHMM Collections 1999.111.24
Date Created
April 26, 1933
Berlin, Germany
Document Type Legislation
How to Cite Museum Materials

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