Hitler ordered protection for his Jewish army commander, newspaper reports(JTA) -- Adolf Hitler ordered that the Jewish commander of his army unit during World War I not be persecuted or deported, a German-Jewish publication reported.
Susanne Mauss, editor of the Jewish Voice from Germany, found an August 1940 note of the Gestapo ordering that Ernst Hess, a former judge, not be persecuted or deported following an order from the Reich Chancellery. The letter was written by Heinrich Himmler, head of the Nazis' feared secret police.
"Hess had the luck of being personally ‘pardoned’ by the mass killer Hitler, whose officials fulfilled his order with the same efficiency they executed their master’s mass murder decisions," Mauss wrote. "Hess’ exemption only lasted until 1942, when at the Wannsee Conference the murder of the European Jews was codified. Hess survived thanks to his ‘mixed marriage’ with his gentile wife. His sister was murdered by the Nazis, as were millions of others."
Mauss interviewed Hess' 86-year-old daughter, Ursula, who lives in Germany.
The letter was found in official archives containing files that the Gestapo kept on Jewish lawyers and judges. Mauss said its authenticity is corroborated by other documents, including one owned by Ursula Hess.
Hess had been a highly decorated soldier during World War I, but by 1936 had lost his job as a judge and been assaulted by Nazi soldiers. In June of that year Hess wrote to Hitler and asked that he and his daughter be exempt from the anti-Jewish laws, citing that he had been brought up Protestant and served his country.
"For us, it is a kind of spiritual death to now be branded as Jews and exposed to general contempt," he wrote.
The family moved to Italy but was forced to return in 1939. Hess later was deported to Milbertshofen, a Nazi labor camp for Jews near Munich.
In 1946, Hess became an executive with the Reichsbahn national railways. He died in Frankfurt in 1983 at the age of 93.
www.revisionisthistory.org/jewishnazi.htmlThousands of men of Jewish descent and hundreds of what the Nazis called 'full Jews' served in the German military with Adolf Hitler's knowledge and approval.
From Wiki, it sounds that he was, indeed, high level brass:
In 1933, Milch took up a position as State Secretary of the newly-formed Reichsluftfahrtministerium ("Reich Aviation Ministry" – RLM), answering directly to Hermann Göring. In this capacity, he was instrumental in establishing the Luftwaffe, originally responsible for armament production
At the outbreak of World War II Milch, now with the rank of general, commanded Luftflotte 5 during the Norwegian campaign. Following the defeat of France, Milch was promoted to field-marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) and given the title Air Inspector General. Milch was put in charge of the production of planes during this time.
However, it appears that in answer to your very specific question, Erhard Milch did NOT indeed fit the specific definition you used.
His father was Jewish, which means he had at most 2 documented Jewish grandparents - the Nazi laws classified him as a Mischling ("crossbreed") and not a full Jew (3+ Jewish grandparents).
The Wiki provides the following detail (sources apparently from Benno Müller-Hill, Murderous science: elimination by scientific selection of Jews (1998), p. 26):
In 1935, Milch's ethnicity came into question because his father, Anton Milch, was a Jew. This prompted an investigation by the Gestapo that Göring squelched by producing an affidavit signed by Milch's mother stating that Anton was not really the father of Erhard and his siblings, and naming their true father as Karl Brauer, her uncle. These events and his being issued a German Blood Certificate prompted Hermann Göring to say famously "Wer Jude ist, bestimme ich" ("I decide who is a Jew")An independent confirmation is quoted in a project from UCSB's class "for Prof. Marcuse's lecture course Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Holocaust; UC Santa Barbara, Fall 2005". The quote is apparently from "Rigg, Mark. Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers, University Press of Kansas, 2002"
Field Marshal and State Secretay of Aviation Erhard Alfred Richard Oskar Milch’s "Aryanization" was the most famous case of a Mischling falsifying a father. In 1933, Frau Clara Milch went to her son-in-law, Fritz Heinrich Hermann, police president of Hagen and later SS general, and gave him an affidavit stating that her deceased uncle, Carl Brauer, rather than her Jewish husband, Anton Milch, had fathered her six children.… In 1935, Hitler accepted the mother’s testimony… (Rigg, 29)He's still a good example of what most people whould consider "somewhat Jewish" person serving the Nazis at the top, but he does NOT fit the claim as you defined it in your question.
Were There Jews in the Nazi Army?
Posted on Martes, 30 de Abril de 2002 06:31:11 p.m. by swarthyguy
| May 3, 2002
| DANNY POSTEL
A historian says thousands of Hitler's soldiers had mixed heritage. Does it matter? Now, Bryan Mark Rigg the 31-year-old professor of history at the online American Military University, who recently received a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, has just published a book on Nazi Germany that some historians are calling pathbreaking. This month, the University Press of Kansas releases Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military, on which Mr. Rigg has been laboring since his sophomore year of college.
Controversy has shadowed his work for years. Articles about Mr. Rigg's research in the London Daily Telegraph, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times in late 1996 and 1997 -- when he was just starting graduate school -- brought it exceptionally high visibility for such an embryonic dissertation. It also brought him into contact with the people who would form the core of his study: the several hundred soldiers of partly Jewish origin in the Nazi military who told him their extraordinary stories.
Michael Berenbaum, former director of the Research Institute of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and editor of Witness to the Holocaust (HarperCollins, 1997), calls Hitler's Jewish Soldiers "startling and unexpected." An "invaluable contribution," he says in a blurb for the book, it "is bound to discomfort all those who work in the field," and has much to teach "even the most experienced of scholars."
Other historians see Mr. Rigg's work as sensationalistic and distorted, and its author as publicity-hungry. The broadcast of a feature about the book on NBC's Dateline in June is unlikely to assuage those critics. In any case, the highly anticipated publication is sure to throw many readers for a loop and spark a vigorous discussion among scholars.
Mr. Rigg says he "couldn't have done it" if he were a more traditional historian. He went to extraordinary lengths to collect the oral testimonies of more than 400 soldiers in the Nazi army, persuading them to give him their personal documents: army papers, personnel files, government letters, diaries -- documents, he and others believe, that no one had examined before.
What surfaces in those papers, and in Mr. Rigg's in-depth interviews, is a glimpse into how the several thousand men of partial Jewish origin who served in Hitler's army saw themselves -- how they felt about their Germanness, their Jewishness, the war, the Holocaust, and their own participation therein. Mr. Rigg estimates that there were upwards of 100,000 such "Mischlinge" -- German for mixed-blood or half-breed -- as they were known in Nazi parlance, and possibly as many as 150,000, a calculation that some of his critics regard as wildly overblown.
The key to his research was gaining the confidence of his subjects. That is what opened a door to the heretofore largely obscure chapter in 20th-century history that he has unearthed. It is a story that had not been told in systematic fashion, until now.
Embarking on his research as an undergraduate at Yale University, Mr. Rigg received more than his share of discouragement. Don't bother, his professors told him. There may be a smattering of such individuals, they said, but hardly a critical mass. How would you find them? And even if you could, what purpose would it serve?
Henry Turner, a professor of history at Yale who wrote Hitler's Thirty Days to Power (Addison-Wesley, 1996), was one of the naysayers. "I didn't think it could be done. I told him he was wasting his time. Where would one find the evidence?"
Such disparagement, Mr. Rigg says, is what drove him on. With every brushoff, he became more determined to prove his professors wrong, no matter what the cost. "I did the whole thing on a dare," he says in his robust Texan drawl.
What began as a desire to prove something to his professors became something larger, however. The more he learned about these soldiers -- and how little-known their part in the war was -- the more passionately he began to feel that the chronicling of their history depended on him.
"If I didn't tell these stories," he says, his voice rising with enthusiasm, "nobody would."
That passion for his subject -- and his subjects -- comes through in Hitler's Jewish Soldiers but radiates even more powerfully in conversation. Mr. Rigg's study is as much a personal quest as an academic matter. While in Germany in 1992, studying language at the Goethe Institute and doing research into his family origins, Mr. Rigg happened upon some records indicating that his mother's ancestry included Jews. For a boy from a Protestant "Bible church" in Fort Worth that came as a shock.
But Mr. Rigg welcomed the news, and eventually even got his churchgoing mother interested in the family's Judaic roots, of which the family had been entirely unaware. (Hanging in her suburban Dallas house is a placard that says "Shalom, y'all!") In order to learn about the Jewish tradition -- not something he was versed in at the Fort Worth Christian Academy -- Mr. Rigg later went to Israel and enrolled in a yeshiva, where he studied Judaism and intensive Hebrew.
His Jewish ancestry was not the only discovery Mr. Rigg made in Germany that summer. One evening, he went to see the movie Europa, Europa, the harrowing story of Shlomo Perel, a German Jew who escaped his homeland after the Nazis seized power, made his way east to the Soviet Union, was captured by the German army, and then, to save his life, assumed the identity of a non-Jewish German soldier.
Sitting next to Mr. Rigg in the theater that night was an aging man who helped translate the dialogue for him. Later, over drinks, the gentleman related his own story, which bore more than a passing resemblance to Perel's. One-quarter Jewish, the man had served in the Wehrmacht on the Russian front.
That evening was it for Mr. Rigg; the seed of curiosity had been planted. Picking a dissertation topic often comes at a late stage in one's doctoral program -- indeed, for many, excruciatingly late -- but Mr. Rigg had, in effect, decided on his topic the summer after his freshman year.
Race Against Time
When he got back to Yale he began to map out his senior essay. If he could locate more Jews or part-Jews who had served in the German army and chronicle their stories, he thought, he would have his paper. But he was up against the clock: Such men, if they existed, would be near the end of their lives.
Though he was able to identify only a handful of living Wehrmacht veterans of Jewish descent by the time he was a junior, he secured money from Yale to spend a year in Germany between his junior and senior years. Determined to track down at least 30 such men, he shouldered a video camera, a laptop and small printer, and a duffel bag, and bicycled from town to town all over Germany.
That was characteristic behavior, say several of Mr. Rigg's professors, who have been struck by his tenacity. Paula E. Hyman, a professor of history at Yale and author of Gender and Assimilation in Modern Jewish History (University of Washington Press, 1995), recalls a paper that he wrote for her in which he cited a number of State Department documents. When she asked him where, precisely, he had found his sources, he told her matter-of-factly that he had gone to Washington and consulted the original papers. "Most undergraduates don't do that," she says with a chuckle. "That was when I realized that he was very serious about his research."
Over the next two years, by reading the scarce literature in German on the Mischlinge and doing news-database searches, he was able to document 30 men and contact them. Almost without exception, they welcomed him into their homes, let him interview them, and showed him their papers and personal documents from the war.
Often he felt as if he were being ushered into the innermost chambers of their lives. Several veterans revealed things to him about their histories and experiences that they'd never told even their wives or children. Many had hidden their partial Jewish ancestry -- and their anguish over that tortured identity -- from their families. "Please don't let my wife know," several of his subjects pleaded -- with their wives in the next room.
"These were things some of them hadn't discussed for 50 years," says Mr. Rigg.
Perhaps most helpful of all, virtually all of them offered the names of others for him to interview, then helped him find them. The project was mushrooming. Thirty subjects eventually became 430.
Mr. Turner, the initially skeptical Yale professor, recalls Mr. Rigg's appearing at his office door in January 1994, 20 pounds lighter. "He had a huge rucksack that he dropped on the floor and started pulling these documents out of it -- documents people had been giving him. And I said, 'Okay, I give up. You can write that as your senior essay.'"
As bizarre as it might seem that people of Jewish origin could have taken up arms in Hitler's army and acted on behalf of a regime bent on slaughtering Jews, the story is more complicated and ambiguous than that -- which is where much of the controversy comes in.
German Jews, unlike many of their Eastern European counterparts, tended to be highly assimilated. Most of them were educated, professional, and urban. They saw themselves -- and, until the National Socialist takeover, were largely seen -- as German, as part of the national culture. Indeed, many of them had served in the German military in World War I. They were patriotic. Some were even antagonistic toward the Eastern European Jews who began to migrate to Germany after the war, seeing them as backward, parochial, and insular.
By the early 20th century, intermarriage was not unusual. Thus the appearance of numerous Mischlinge, as they came to be known by the Nazis. For many Mischlinge, serving in the Wehrmacht was a matter of survival -- a way of fitting in rather than sticking out, a potential shield against extermination. For others, however -- particularly those with more tenuous Jewish roots -- it was an expression of genuine nationalism. Not that they subscribed to Nazi ideology, but they felt a deep loyalty to the German nation and wanted to serve it, Mr. Rigg argues.
When the Nazis took power and undertook to create the racial state, there was a good deal of confusion over what exactly to do with these Mischlinge. According to the Nuremberg racial laws of 1935, anyone with one Jewish grandparent was, in the eyes of the Reich, a Jew -- in possession of bad "blood" and ultimately eligible for killing. At the same time, however, the Nazis made exceptions for many Mischlinge soldiers, seeing them as useful servants in the war effort.
Besides, many such Mischlinge had demonstrated ample loyalty to the German state. What to do with them?
With the enactment of the racial laws, those Mischlinge who had never considered their part-Jewish provenance of much significance were forced into a shocking awareness of their "Jewish" identity. What did it mean for an assimilated -- in many cases baptized -- German, with one or two Jewish grandparents, to be told that he was "Jewish," and therefore not "German"? Mischlinge identity was further complicated by Jewish religious law, known as Halakhah, according to which Jewish identity is matrilineal: If your mother is Jewish, so are you; if just your father is Jewish, you are not, unless you convert.
For the Nazis, Mischlinge were of questionable "Aryan" provenance. As Mr. Rigg puts it in his book, "Similar to Halakhah, Nazi doctrine said Jewishness is inherited" -- with the difference that Hitler didn't care which side the Jewish "blood" came through.
But how did the Mischlinge identify themselves? That is a question, Mr. Rigg believes, that has been largely ignored. The scant attention paid to the subject has been based on official Nazi discourse on the one hand, and Halakhic debate on the other. He saw a need to explore what these German citizens thought and felt themselves, to document their experiences in their own words. In so doing, he hoped to fill a void in the historical record.
The answers he found in his 1,000-plus hours of interviews were at once illuminating and perplexing: all over the map, yet a compelling collective testimony.
One man he interviewed had lived in a Nazi-imposed Jewish ghetto and witnessed several executions of Jews. He joined the anti-Nazi resistance, only to find himself later serving as a cook in the Nazi army. His sergeant saved his life, helping him conceal his Jewish ancestry.
Others Mr. Rigg interviewed knew nothing of the Final Solution -- the Nazi plan for liquidating the Jewish population -- until late in the war, when they began to learn of some of their own Jewish relatives' being butchered. The turmoil this caused many of them was unbearable.
'Not a Bombshell'
"I can't imagine what difference [this research] would make," says Peter Gay, a professor emeritus of history at Yale and author of My German Question: Growing Up in Nazi Berlin (Yale University Press, 1999), who was one of the professors who discouraged Mr. Rigg early on. "I could be quite unimaginative, but I just don't see it." Mr. Gay declines to elaborate.
David Cesarani, a professor of modern Jewish history at Southampton University, in England, and editor of The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation (Routledge, 1994), concurs. Mr. Rigg's research, he says in an e-mail message, is "of little significance to understanding either the Third Reich or the persecution and mass murder of the Jews."
What's more, he contends, it's "unoriginal." Even if Mr. Rigg has added "detail" to existing knowledge, he says, the thesis itself is nothing new. "The paradoxes of Nazi policy are well known."
"This is not a bombshell," says Raul Hilberg, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Vermont and author of The Politics of Memory: The Journey of a Holocaust Historian (Ivan R. Dee Publishers, 1996). "We have known that there were thousands of [Mischlinge] in the German army." He views Mr. Rigg's claim that there were upwards of 100,000 of them as "preposterous."
"This mathematics escapes me," he says. "Great caution is required here."
Mr. Rigg says he based his figure on birth records, mixed-marriage rates, and assimilation figures (both those who converted to Christianity and those who ceased identifying themselves as Jews), and consultations with statisticians and mathematicians. "It is a conservative estimate," he says.
While he is not the first scholar to have written about the Mischlinge -- there have been journal articles and monographs in German -- his supporters point out that never before has there been a book-length study of the subject in English. Neither has there been a systematic oral history of the Mischlinge, a canvass of their personal testimonies.
"I think it addresses a very important point -- that the racial ideology of the Nazis was unworkable even in their own hands," says Mr. Turner. The racial policies of the Third Reich were supposed to be objective and automatic, but Hitler was so obsessed with "Aryan blood" that he would turn away from running the war and the Holocaust to specify the policies and work them out -- sometimes, down to the individual level, approving some cases, rejecting others. Mr. Rigg's book, Mr. Turner says, gets to the heart of the matter.
"It's certainly original," says Christopher R. Browning, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of The Path to Genocide: Essays on Launching the Final Solution (Cambridge University Press, 1992). Obtaining as many interviews as Mr. Rigg did is highly unusual in studying Nazi history, he says. In examining "the lived experiences" of the Mischlinge, Mr. Browning says, the book will "illuminate a dark corner" of history and provide a "texture of one aspect of life under the Third Reich that we know very little about."
Jonathan Steinberg, a professor of modern European history at the University of Pennsylvania and author of All or Nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust 1941-1943 (Routledge, 1990), was Mr. Rigg's dissertation supervisor at Cambridge. The doctoral research is "like no other Ph.D. I've ever read," he says. And Mr. Rigg is like no other student he has ever had. He was "knocked over" when he first saw Mr. Rigg's room, "full of all these iron crosses and pictures and personal letters and diaries and bits of uniforms." The student had "collected this stuff" not as part of his Ph.D., Mr. Steinberg says, but in a "personal quest."
Indeed, Mr. Steinberg was so taken by the array of documents that he wanted to see it preserved. He contacted the German government and arranged for Mr. Rigg's expanding collection to be housed in an official archive, where it would be properly secured and could serve as a resource for further research. The Bryan Mark Rigg Collection is now at the Bundesarchiv-Militararchiv, in Freiburg.
"Is it of earth-shaking significance? No," says Ms. Hyman, the Yale history professor. But "most doctoral dissertations, most historical research -- if they tell an interesting story, can we expect much more?"
Stop the Presses
One recurring criticism of Mr. Rigg has to do with his having gone to the news media with his story while he was still a graduate student. The effect of disclosing his research to the press, says Southampton's Mr. Cesarani, was galvanic. "This is not the way most historians behave -- least of all Ph.D. candidates."
Mr. Hilberg echoes that concern, calling Mr. Rigg a "publicity hound."
It wasn't Mr. Rigg's idea to go to the press -- it was Mr. Steinberg's. "The problem was that he had no way of reaching his potential interviewees," the dissertation supervisor says. They were "strewn all over Germany," most of them unaware of Mr. Rigg's existence. "There was no registry of them, no way he could get to them -- unless he went public."
So, in 1996, Mr. Steinberg contacted a reporter at the Daily Telegraph, a former student of his, and arranged a meeting for Mr. Rigg. The ensuing newspaper article, which reached Germany, occasioned several hundred letters. People with similar stories to tell, but who had said nothing for decades, suddenly wanted to talk. (There was one additional motivation for going to the press, Mr. Rigg says: By laying claim to his research in public, he hoped to avoid being scooped by another scholar.)
"This is in no way an ordinary Ph.D." and should not be compared to one, Mr. Steinberg says. With no archive, no list of names, Mr. Rigg had no choice, his adviser says, but to "rest almost entirely on the good will" of his subjects, who gave him their personal records. "How was he to find them otherwise?"
As for the academic quality of Mr. Rigg's work, Mr. Steinberg says it has passed "the highest possible scrutiny."
What's in a Title?
It's not the mere fact of Mr. Rigg's having taken his findings to the press that irks some critics. Richard J. Evans, a professor of modern history at Cambridge and author of Lying about Hitler (Basic Books, 2001), says in an e-mail message that while he regards the new book as an important contribution, he thinks that its author and publisher are engaging in sensationalism by giving it a "wholly misleading title."
Even many of the book's enthusiasts are unhappy about its title. "They weren't 'Jewish soldiers,'" Mr. Steinberg says. "It's a gimmick."
As Mr. Rigg's study itself demonstrates, most of his subjects never thought of themselves as Jewish. What does it mean to label them that way?
"It is to become complicit in the Nazis' own racist doctrines," says Omer Bartov, a professor of history at Brown University and author of Hitler's Army: Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich (Oxford University Press, 1991).
Mr. Rigg himself wanted the word "Jewish" to appear in quotation marks in the title, he says, precisely to convey a sense of the label's problematic nature. But his publisher persuaded him to drop the quotemarks, he says. The "provocative, shocking" title was a self-conscious act on the part of the Kansas press, he says -- one that, in the end, he's comfortable with.
The Road Ahead
The controversy isn't likely to derail Mr. Rigg. He has already completed another volume, about the writing of his first one, tentatively titled In Search of Hitler's Jewish Soldiers. As for his professional future, he's uncertain -- and ambivalent.
With the stir he and his book are about to make, academic offers could be forthcoming. While his full-time teaching job with the for-profit American Military University, based in Manassas, Va., allows him the flexibility to work from home, spend time with his infant daughter, and promote his book, it's unclear whether it is the sort of career he wants in the long term.
But getting his Ph.D. was more of a means to do the research and write the book, Mr. Rigg says, than a ticket to an academic career. While he is in no way shy about the attention he is receiving, he wrote the book, he says, simply to tell the stories of the men he has discovered.
"It took a kid from Texas" to tell this story, against the advice of some of the most prominent scholars in the field, he says. Hitler's Jewish Soldiers could prove to be his academic oeuvre, he adds. "I might not have another scholarly book in me."
Hitler's Jewish Soldiers
The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military
Bryan Mark RiggNew in Paperback: September 2004
528 pages, 95 photographs, 6 x 9
Modern War Studies
Paper ISBN 978-0-7006-1358-8, $16.95
Also available in cloth:
ISBN 978-0-7006-1178-2, $29.95
As featured on NBC-TV's Dateline
(first aired Sunday, June 9, 2002)
WINNER OF THE 2003 COLBY AWARD
Also of interest by author Bryan Mark Rigg: Rescued from the Reich: How One of Hitler's Soldiers Saved the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
William E. Colby Military Writers Symposium
Click here to learn more about the author's speaking tour.
On the murderous road to "racial purity" Hitler encountered unexpected detours, largely due to his own crazed views and inconsistent policies regarding Jewish identity. After centuries of Jewish assimilation and intermarriage in German society, he discovered that eliminating Jews from the rest of the population was more difficult than he'd anticipated. As Bryan Mark Rigg shows in this provocative new study, nowhere was that heinous process more fraught with contradiction and confusion than in the German military.
Contrary to conventional views, Rigg reveals that a startlingly large number of German military men were classified by the Nazis as Jews or "partial-Jews" (Mischlinge), in the wake of racial laws first enacted in the mid-1930s. Rigg demonstrates that the actual number was much higher than previously thought--perhaps as many as 150,000 men, including decorated veterans and high-ranking officers, even generals and admirals.
As Rigg fully documents for the first time, a great many of these men did not even consider themselves Jewish and had embraced the military as a way of life and as devoted patriots eager to serve a revived German nation. In turn, they had been embraced by the Wehrmacht, which prior to Hitler had given little thought to the "race" of these men but which was now forced to look deeply into the ancestry of its soldiers.
The process of investigation and removal, however, was marred by a highly inconsistent application of Nazi law. Numerous "exemptions" were made in order to allow a soldier to stay within the ranks or to spare a soldier's parent, spouse, or other relative from incarceration or far worse. (Hitler's own signature can be found on many of these "exemption" orders.) But as the war dragged on, Nazi politics came to trump military logic, even in the face of the Wehrmacht's growing manpower needs, closing legal loopholes and making it virtually impossible for these soldiers to escape the fate of millions of other victims of the Third Reich.
Based on a deep and wide-ranging research in archival and secondary sources, as well as extensive interviews with more than four hundred Mischlinge and their relatives, Rigg's study breaks truly new ground in a crowded field and shows from yet another angle the extremely flawed, dishonest, demeaning, and tragic essence of Hitler's rule.
Side and front photographs of "half-Jew" Anton Mayer, similar to those that often accompanied a Mischling's application for exemption.
"Through videotaped interviews, painstaking attention to personnel files, and banal documents not normally consulted by historians, and spurred by a keen sense of personal mission, Rigg has turned up an unexplored and confounding chapter in the history of the Holocaust. The extent of his findings has surprised scholars."--Warren Hoge, New York TimesBRYAN MARK RIGG received his B.A. with honors in history from Yale University in 1996. Yale awarded him the Henry Fellowship for graduate study at Cambridge University, where he received his M.A. in 1997 and Ph.D. in 2002. Currently Professor of History at American Military University, he has served as a volunteer in the Israeli Army and as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. His research for this book has been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and London Daily Telegraph. For more information on Bryan Rigg, view his web site at www.bryanrigg.com.
"The revelation that Germans of Jewish blood, knowing the Nazi regime for what it was, served Hitler as uniformed members of his armed forces must come as a profound shock. It will surprise even professional historians of the Nazi years." --John Keegan, author of The Face of Battle and The Second World War
"Startling and unexpected, Rigg's study conclusively demonstrates the degree of flexibility in German policy toward the Mischlinge, the extent of Hitler's involvement, and, most importantly, that not all who served in the armed forces were anti-Semitic, even as their service aided the killing process."--Michael Berenbaum, author of The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust
"Rigg's extensive knowledge and the preliminary conclusions drawn from his research impressed me greatly. I firmly believe that his in-depth treatment of the subject of German soldiers of Jewish descent in the Wehrmacht will lead to new perspectives on this portion of 20th century German military history."--Helmut Schmidt, Former Chancellor of Germany
"An impressively researched work with important implications for hotly debated questions. Rigg tells some exquisitely poignant stories of individual human experiences that complicate our picture of state and society in the Third Reich."--Nathan A. Stoltzfus, Florida State University, author of Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany
"An impressive work filled with interesting stories. . . . By helping us better understand Nazi racial policy at the margins--i.e., its impact on certain members of the German military--Rigg's study clarifies the central problems of Nazi Jewish policies overall."--Norman Naimark, Stanford University, author of Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe
"An illuminating and provocative study that merits a wide readership and is sure to be much discussed."--Dennis E. Showalter, Colorado College, author of Tannenberg: Clash of Empires
"An outstanding job of research and analysis. Rigg's book will add a great deal to our understanding of the German military, of the place of Jews and people of Jewish descent in the Nazi state, and of the Holocaust. It forces us to deal with the full, complex range of possible actions and reactions by individuals caught up in the Nazi system."--Geoffrey P. Megargee, author of Inside Hitler's High Command
"With the skill of a master detective, Bryan Rigg reveals the surprising and largely unknown story of Germans of Jewish origins in the Nazi military. His work contributes to our understanding of the complexity of faith and identity in the Third Reich."--Paula E. Hyman, Yale University, author of Gender and Assimilation in Modern Jewish History and The Jews of Modern France
"A major piece of scholarship which traces the peculiar twists and turns of Nazi racial policy toward men in the Wehrmacht, often in the highest ranks, who had partly Jewish backgrounds. Rigg has uncovered personal stories and private archives which literally nobody knew existed. His book will be an important contribution to German history."--Jonathan Steinberg, University of Pennsylvania, author of All or Nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust 1941-1943
"An original, groundbreaking, and significant contribution to the history of the Wehrmacht and Nazi Germany."--James S. Corum, School of Advanced Air Power Studies, author of The Roots of Blitzkrieg and The Luftwaffe
"Rigg's work has discovered new academic territory."--Manfred Messerschmidt, Freiburg University, author of Die Wehrmacht im NS-Staat (The Wehrmacht in the Nazi State)
"Rigg's bracing and unintimidated study lays bare the contradiction, confusion and expedience that governed Mischlinge policy and the maiming cost to those whose lives were burdened by anxiety, guilt and collusion. In the end we must be grateful for his book, a penetrating light cast on some of the murkier corners of the human psyche."--Michael Skakun, Aufbau
"Rigg has opened brand new territory for historians and students of war, offering new insight into the Nazi mentality on race."--World War II Magazine
"Rigg has done a very significant piece of historical research and writing."--Milt Rosenberg, WGN Radio, Chicago
"Rigg has written a truly important history. It is original, it has outstanding scholarship, and there is plenty of it!"--James F. Tent, author of In the Shadow of the Holocaust: Nazi Persecution of Jewish-Christian Germans
"A brilliant and extremely disturbing work of masterful historical research. A must read for everyone. It raises more moral dilemmas than one can answer."--Steve Pieczenik, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and co-creator of the best selling novels and TV series OP-Center and Net Force
Click here to learn more about the author and his research experiences.
The thousands of pages of documents and oral testimonies (8mm and VHS video) the author collected for this study have been purchased by the National Military Archive of Germany. The Bryan Mark Rigg Collection is housed in the Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv in Freiburg, Germany.
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Hitler's Jewish Soldiers
Nothing seems more unlikely and surprising than this headline. Yet, it is a matter of fact that Jews served in the Nazi army in World War II. Bryan Mark Rigg, Ph.D. has written a book called Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers, which deals with the 1,200 German officers of “Jewish descent” who commanded German armies during that war. Included were two Field Marshals, the highest rank available at that time, fifteen generals, and the officers commanding 150,000 German soldiers.
The most prominent of these officers was General Erhard Milch. An aviator during peacetime, he was given a commission in the German air force and made deputy to Herman Gőring, the chief of the Luftwaffe (air force). Although Milch had one Jewish parent and would not be viewed as Jewish by us, the Nazi laws persecuted so-called half Jews, murdering many of them. Yet, Milch was so important to the Nazi bosses that Hitler decreed that Milch was not a Jew and told his cohorts that “I decide who is a Jew.”
At least 20 Jewish soldiers in the Nazi army were awarded the Knight's Cross, Germany’s highest decoration.
Rigg even found an observant Jew who served as a captain and practiced his religion throughout the war.
My cousin was one of those Jewish soldiers. Here is his story. When he was eighteen years old, in 1938, he was suddenly called by a Christian friend who told him the Secret Police, the Gestapo, were then and there coming to arrest him at home and send him to a death camp. Desperate for help, my cousin asked his friend what he might do, since running into the street was certain death as well. The friend told him to come along and join his company, as he was then on leave from the army.
My cousin could hardly accept that suggestion, as the army demanded that each recruit prove his pure “aryan” blood by showing papers certified by a “race researcher” who had looked through all of the recruit’s ancestral certificates to insure that he had no “non-aryan” ancestry. My cousin was, of course, Jewish on both sides of his family and had no such papers. However, his friend assured him that his company commander didn’t “give a damn” about the race laws then in effect.
And so it was. The German captain enrolled my cousin and said nothing at all about any evidence of “racial purity”. So, my cousin participated in the invasion of Poland in September of 1939. Then, one day, an officer confronted him and said that he knew that my cousin was a Jew. Hearing this, his captain discharged him from the army lest someone kill him.
It was required at that time that all discharged German soldiers had to work in the German defense industry. Therefore, my cousin was assigned a job in a factory in the Ruhr area where most of Germany’s steel production takes place. There he was again confronted by a boss who told him he knew that my cousin was a Jew but would say nothing. So it was. My cousin survived the war, married an Israeli woman and came to this country, where he died a natural death ten years ago.
Rigg tells the story of how a Jewish soldier in the Nazi army saved the life of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Joseph Schneersohn. The Jewish soldier was Ernst Bloch. Bloch had a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother. A decorated World War One hero, Bloch barely escaped detection in rescuing the Rebbe. It is a fascinating story involving also American senators, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and a host of bureaucrats who made the rescue as difficult as possible.
Bryan Mark Rigg is professor of history at Southern Methodist University. He is not Jewish but served as a volunteer in the Israeli army. He is an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.