What actions do Nazis take regarding housing shortage when they come to power?

Die Zerschlagung der Mieter*innenbewegung der Weimarer Republik

In many regions of Europe, there were strong tenant movements before 1933. In Berlin alone, before the Nazis came to power, there were approximately 100,000 tenants involved in rent strikes, demonstrations, and eviction blockades. They were also active at the level of political parties and associations. Women played a crucial role in the movement, often forming the majority in councils, delegations, and committees. The tenant movement was able to successfully prevent some evictions and achieve rent reductions and repairs.

Immediately after the transfer of power to the Nazis, the terror of the SA and SS escalated. Countless opponents of the National Socialists were abducted to brutal concentration camps, subjected to abuse, and many of them were murdered. After the Reichstag fire on February 27, 1933, and with the Reichstag Fire Decree issued one day later, the terror was intensified once again. Through this decree „to defend against communist acts of violence endangering the state,“ the government obtained dictatorial powers. From then on, a state of emergency prevailed permanently. Basic rights such as personal freedom, freedom of speech, association, assembly, press freedom, and the secrecy of correspondence were suspended, and house searches and arrests were possible at any time.

Landlords now also referred to the Reichstag Fire Decree in order to finally rid themselves of the tactics used by tenants, such as assemblies, rent strikes, and eviction blockades. The publication „Das Grundeigentum,“ which represents organized landlords, urged landlords to call the police if they noticed tenants gathering, as the goals of organized tenants were deemed „communist and a threat to the state.“

Damit traf man die Aktiven an der Basis der Mieter*innenbewegung, in den Häusern und Wohngebieten, von denen uns heute nur ein kleiner Teil namentlich bekannt ist. Spätestens ab März 1933 dürften Versammlungen, Aushänge, Flugblätter und Rundschreiben der Mieter*innenbewegung kaum noch möglich gewesen sein.

More is known about the fate of the KPD officials working for the tenants‘ movement. Franz Wisnewski and Georg Kautz, who organized the Central Berlin Tenants‘ Council and led its meetings with several thousand participants, were arrested on February 28, 1933 and taken to the Sonnenburg concentration camp, where they were initially held in „protective custody“ until the end of September 33.

After all that, it can be assumed that the tenant movement, which had been filled with tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of activists during the Weimar period, had placed hopes in many more proletarian tenants who could prevent a large number of evictions, often successfully oppose rent increases, and had become a successful testing ground for feminist proletarian collectivism, was completely shattered and suppressed within a few weeks in the spring of 1933.

Reduction of tenant protection and increasing homelessness.

Landlords apparently assumed from the beginning that the Nazis would take a market radical direction. In February 1933, they took the position that „there is no longer a need for the preservation of tenant protection in any form.“ Instead, the „principle of contract freedom“ and „free price formation“ in rental law had to be restored (State Archive Berlin B Rep.142-04 No.202).

Und die Nazis lieferten. Am 1. April 1933 The rental law has been significantly worsened, especially for poorer tenants.: Mit dem Wegfall des Wohnungsmangelgesetzes wurde die öffentliche Wohnraumbewirtschaftung ersatzlos eingestellt. Practiced during the Weimar Republic, postponing forced evictions was a common occurrence until the housing office had secured alternative living arrangements.letzte Rettung vor der Obdachlosigkeit nun nicht mehr.

Wie nicht anders zu erwarten, stieg die Obdachlosigkeit in den folgenden Monaten sprunghaft an. Im Landesarchiv Berlin ist hierzu umfangreicher Schriftwechsel vorhanden (Signaturen B Rep. 142-01 u. 142-04) . Beispielhaft sei hier die Situation in der Stadt Harburg-Wilhelmsburg wiedergegeben. Noch im Jahr 1932 hatte das Wohnungsamt alle Zwangsgeräumten unterbringen können, entweder in Mietwohnungen oder in städtischen Notwohnungen und Obdachlosenheimen. Aber schon At the end of April 1933, the local government described the changed situation as follows: „With the 1st of April of this year, a completely new legal situation has entered the housing market, significantly burdening the care for the homeless.“ The removal of government housing management has resulted in „a significantly increased number of evicted families compared to previous years.“ The new legal situation has had a „catastrophic impact.“ „It is a disruptive state of affairs when homeless families wander the streets and the authorities cannot find suitable accommodation for them, especially if homelessness were to become widespread.“aben keine Arbeit und leben in Armut.ätten keine realistische Perspektive auf eine neue Wohnung, da die Hauseigentümer, wie es in dem Schreiben heißt, „I cannot reword“

Ganz ÄÄhnliche Berichte kamen aus zahlreichen anderen Städten und Gemeinden im Deutschen Reich.


Im Verlauf des Sommers 1933 begann das Propagandaministerium unter Josef Goebbels mit einer breit angelegten Pressekampagne gegen Bettler*innen und Obdachlose. „I cannot reword“das „Bettelunwesen“ vorgehen. „Schluss mit der Bettlerplage!“ Deutschland sei zu arm, „um berufsmäßige Bettler, Arbeitsscheue, Trinker und Betrüger zu unterstützen. Wir brauchen unser Geld für die Anständigen und Gesunden!„Authorities, welfare organizations, and homeless assistance facilities were informed in advance about the planned wave of arrests. In some cases, the raids were explicitly welcomed and cooperation was provided during the apprehensions.

Between September 18th and September 23rd, 1933, the police, SA, SS, and Stahlhelm arrested tens of thousands of homeless people, beggars, and sex workers on the streets and squares, as well as in night shelters, homeless shelters, and pubs. These individuals were taken to workhouses, prisons, specially established concentration camps such as Elmshorn or Meseritz, or existing early concentration camps like Dachau. The majority of those arrested were men. It appears that the majority of impoverished women were not equally visible in public. Whether they survived within families, social circles, or as hidden sex workers remains unclear.

Many of those arrested were released after a few days or weeks, while others were held indefinitely. During this early period, the Nazi state did not have the capacity to accommodate and exploit such a large number of prisoners, especially since the prisons were already overcrowded with political prisoners. This changed over time, as similar raids against homeless people and beggars took place repeatedly, and the prisoners were transported to the large concentration and labor camps under the category of „asocials“. Many of them did not survive.

For those who were released again, it was primarily important to no longer be visible in public and to only stay where raids rarely took place. Some shelters were overcrowded, while others were avoided. Private men’s dormitories became the new business model. Some homeless people tried to register a non-standing trade, while others attempted to join voluntary labor service or the SA.

Am 21.Oktober 1933 Die Vossische Zeitung berichtete über das Betteln auf den Straßen.sei so gut wie verschwunden.

Es wurde für die Menschen in Not noch schwieriger, ihre Existenz zu gewährleisten.

In the following years, similar raids took place regionally on multiple occasions.


Anfang 1934 trat das „Gesetz zur Verhütung erbkranken Nachwuchses“ in Kraft. Ziel war, gemäß nationalsozialistischer Ideologie, die „völkische Aufartung“ der „hochwertigen arischen Rasse“. „Minderwertige“ Familien, „Ballastexistenzen“, „Gemeinschaftsfremde“, „Erbunwürdige“ sollten durch Zwangssterilisation an der Fortpflanzung gehindert und so aus der sogenannten „Volksgemeinschaft“ ausgemerzt werden. Betroffen waren Körperbehinderte, psychisch Kranke sowie Menschen mit sogenanntem „angeborenen Schwachsinn“. Hierunter fiel auch der sogenannte „moralische Schwachsinn“, auch „Asozialität“ oder „mangelnde Lebensbewährung“ genannt. So konnte etwa Arbeitslosigkeit oder Wohnungslosigkeit, bei Frauen auch „fehlende Fügsamkeit“ oder „Liederlichkeit“, zum Sterilisationsbeschluss führen, All of these alleged traits were considered hereditary.. ESimilarly, if an individual purportedly or actually engaged in sex work.Die vielen Menschen, die besonders ab dem April 1933 ihre Wohnung verloren und auch keine neue bezahlen konnten, waren also jederzeit in akuter Gefahr, Opfer einer Zwangssterilisation zu werden. Insbesondere die Arbeitshäuser, Konzentrationslager und Gefängnisse, in denen die Inhaftierten der „Bettlerrazzien“ festgehalten wurden, wurden systematisch nach sogenannten „Erbkranken“ durchsucht, In many cases, they were forcibly sterilized.“ (Ayaß 46)

Kürzungen beim Wohnungsbau

In the following period, it became increasingly difficult to find a new apartment, as opposed to the commonly portrayed image today, housing construction was significantly reduced during the Nazi era. Particularly, the construction of settlements decreased. While a total of 173,000 apartments were built between 1924 and 1932, with 102,000 of them publicly subsidized, only a total of 96,000 apartments were built between 1933 and 1940, with only approximately 57,000 to 61,000 of them publicly subsidized (numbers according to Rudolf Baade). As a result, according to official Nazi records, the housing shortage in Berlin alone reached up to 400,000 apartments by early 1938. Additionally, the „people’s apartments“ were only allocated to carefully selected „German families.“ Jews, so-called „asocial“ individuals, and unmarried individuals were excluded. Similarly, poor people who were not yet labeled as „asocial“ were also excluded because the rents in the „people’s apartments“ were too high for lower-income groups.

The „Volksgemeinschaft“ was a construct that socially excluded those below.