In the 1920s Berlin had a thriving fashion industry. Most of the fashion businesses were owned and operated by German Jews. In their thrust to decimate the Jewish population, in 1933 the Nazis implemented a campaign to force these firms to sell. Signs in store windows read “Germans defend yourselves against Jewish atrocity propaganda, buy only at German shops”, meaning wear dignified clothing not made by the Jews.
By the end of the 1930s, the Nazis had taken over Jewish businesses. All assets of 2,700 Jewish fashion houses, retailers, and manufacturers were confiscated. These textile and fashion firms were valued at more than $1 billion in today’s money. Owners, tailors, and seamstresses were sent to forced labour and concentration camps and used to make clothes for the military and Nazi high society.
After their invasion of France in 1940, some Nazis wanted to move Paris fashionistas to Berlin to compensate, but this was opposed by Hitler’s ‘Ambassador’ to Paris, Otto Abetz.