Researchers have equipped us with a solid inventory of anti-Jewish legislation in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. However, few analyses across national boundaries exist. This demonstrates, once again, how much the history of the persecution of European Jews consists of separate national histories – which serve, first of all, to create national identities. Accordingly, there is a debate for virtually every country about the degree to which anti-Jewish laws and regulations depended on German rule or political influence, Nazi ideas, or had indigenous origins. Indeed, these discussions dominate the field.
Just a handful of works – a few articles and short book sections – attempt a comprehensive analysis of anti-Jewish legislation outside Germany. Their authors likewise either take German regulations as a yardstick – as, for example, did Raul Hilberg, who emphasized, however, that the intensity and form of persecution by non-German governments differed according to their various and shifting interests – or they assess the extent of German influence as being either small (like Asher Cohen), or large (like Randolph Braham). Donald Bloxham puts the persecution of Jews outside Germany within what he calls an ethno-political context of other violence. All of these authors note that the economic aspects of such legislation were important, but treat them relatively briefly. The entire debate focuses on countries that were either occupied by Germany, depended on it politically, or were otherwise ruled by right-wing authoritarian or fascist regimes: Vichy France and Norway; Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary and Romania; Bulgaria and Italy.
In my view, a comparative analysis should take into account countries that are often left aside in this context, as well as aspects (especially xenophobia) that have not received much attention. This leads to a number of new conclusions. My objective here is, in part, a generalizing and, in part, a variation-finding comparison of government actions, which I shall approach in three different ways: by country, according to historical phases, and, finally, according to various themes that are set out in the content of legislation.
This chapter is restricted to legal regulations of non-German states, broadly understood. German-occupied territories without their own governments are not considered here. I will deal with mere executive measures and orders in later chapters; alongside boycotts, pogroms and other action taken by non-state protagonists. However, I do not aim at purely legal considerations here, and complete coverage of every relevant law is impossible.