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Fiscal Destruction: Confiscatory Taxation of Jewish Property and Income in Nazi Germany


  • Ritschl, Albrecht


Nazism got to power with the stated goal of destroying the economic livelihood of Germany's Jewish population. For the most part, dispossession of Germany's Jews was a highly bureaucratic process. This paper identifies the main fiscal instruments used in this process and assesses the quantitative impact. The principal finding is that the fiscal booty from the dispossession of Germany's Jews was small: the Jewish share of Germany's real wealth matched the Jewish population share quite well. I also find that together with prohibitive bureaucratic obstacles, punitive taxes on emigrants provided a substantial disincentive to emigrate and often rendered emigration outright impossible. This incentive was only mitigated when confiscatory capital levies were imposed also on the resident Jewish population in 1938. Nevertheless the spoils from Jewish dispossession were nowhere nearly large enough to warrant an economic interpretation of the Holocaust as in (Aly, 2007). Germany's Jews were on the whole better trained than the average German but not necessarily much richer.

Suggested Citation

  • Ritschl, Albrecht, 2019. "Fiscal Destruction: Confiscatory Taxation of Jewish Property and Income in Nazi Germany," CEPR Discussion Papers 13594, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13594

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Huber, Kilian & Lindenthal, Volker & Waldinger, Fabian, 2018. "Discrimination, Managers, and Firm Performance: Evidence from "Aryanizations" in Nazi Germany," CEPR Discussion Papers 13089, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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    More about this item


    antisemitism; Capital levy; extortionary taxation; Nazi Germany; persecution;

    JEL classification:

    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N34 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy - - - Europe: 1913-
    • N44 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Europe: 1913-

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