(Reuters) — As many as 150,000 men of Jewish descent served in the German military under Adolf Hitler, some with the Nazi leader’s explicit consent, according to a U.S. historian who has interviewed hundreds of former soldiers.
Bryan Mark Rigg, a history professor at the American Military University in Virginia, told Reuters on Thursday that the issue of soldiers of partial Jewish descent was long a somewhat taboo subject, overlooked by most academics as it threw up thorny questions.
“Not everybody who wore a uniform was a Nazi and not every person of Jewish descent was persecuted,” he said. “Where do they belong? They served in the military but lost mom at Auschwitz.”
According to the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, Jews or those of partial Jewish descent were unfit for military service, but Rigg tracked down and interviewed more than 400 former soldiers of partial Jewish descent — labeled “Mischlinge” (“half-caste”) by the Nazis.
He estimates there were about 60,000 soldiers with one Jewish parent and 90,000 with a Jewish grandparent in the Wehrmacht, the regular army as distinct from the Nazi SS.
“They thought ‘if I serve well they’re not going to hurt me and not going to hurt my family’,” he said.
However, on returning home from the campaign in Poland at the start of the war to find persecution of their families worsening, many soldiers classified as half-Jewish started to complain, prompting Hitler to order their dismissal in 1940.
But many of these so-called half-Jewish soldiers continued to serve, sometimes due to delays in the discharge order reaching the front, because they concealed their background or because they applied and won clemency for good service.
Many senior officers with Jewish ancestry won special permission to serve from Hitler himself.
“History is not so black and white. History about Mischlinge shows how bankrupt the Nazi racial laws were,” said Rigg.
While Germany has long been aware of men serving as soldiers who Nazi race laws should have classified as Jewish, most notably former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and Luftwaffe Field Marshal Erhard Milch, Rigg’s large estimate has surprised many.
Die Welt daily called Rigg’s book “Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers” “one of the most important Holocaust studies of recent years”. The author was in Berlin to launch the German language version.
“The Mischlinge suffered the same fate in academic life as they did in real life. There was nobody to speak for them,” Rigg said. “People thought it could be misinterpreted, it would be like saying: ‘look they did it to themselves’.”
Rigg, who has served in the U.S. Marines and as a volunteer in the Israeli army, was moved to research the subject after he discovered his own Jewish ancestry while probing his family tree and after a chance meeting with a Jewish Wehrmacht veteran.
Many of his subjects were telling their story for the first time and in some cases, their families knew nothing of their Jewish heritage. “They would talk their hearts out, telling me all about this schizophrenic story they went through,” he said.
He is convinced that most of the soldiers of Jewish descent were not aware of the Nazis’ systematic murder of Jews, noting that most half-Jews reported to deportation stations in 1944.
“Most say they do not feel guilty about serving in the military, they feel guilty about what they didn’t do to save their relatives,” he said.
A Note on this from the Hollow-Hoax website owner:
I am glad to present stuff on this topic which involves a “Jewish Perspective”, and the Author of this book classifies himself as “Jewish” or “Part Jewish”. Yet some of this (for this reason) must be taken with a “Grain of Salt” for that reason.
I am speaking of the “Speculation” of the Author. His speculation (believing as he does) on the Holocaust or the extermination of Jewish People.
This is not his category of expertise. He has researched the people involved, and their racial identity. He has also outlined the rules of National Socialist Germany in a correct way (in my opinion) from the documentation he has. That I have no issue with.
What I do have an issue with is his speculation, and when asked why these people of 1/2 or 1/4 Jewish heritage served the German Reich, he states clearly that they were not knowledgeable of (what he calls) the Holocaust. That (through my research) is a true statement. They had no idea.
What they had no idea of, however, was the lies and the stories that were built and maintained after the War, and the fact is, that these people never knew about this “Mass Genocide” of Jewish People in Concentration Camps, simply because it did NOT happen!
He also provides no evidence (as he has none) that it did. We know (today) or we should know if we are researched at all, that the majority of the Autopsies done at the Camps (over 90% in fact) point to TYPHUS or other diseases as the cause of death for virtually all of the people who died in the Camps.
Speculation is just that. He has not researched it. He has no evidence to show. He is speculating, even with the FACT (which he admits) that nobody he interviewed knew anything of what he is speculating about. Therefore, that is that. All we can count on is his research into the Heritage of the German Military. Possibly even Hitler himself.
Although people constantly like to POINT THE FINGER at Hitler specifically for everything that ever happened under National Socialism, I need to disagree.
Through my research, I have found that Hitler was mostly a “Speaker” for the National Socialist Party. He did not spend very much time designing laws or “Party Agenda’s” and simply promoted them. Even in War, he was disrespected by many Generals (being thought as nothing but a Corporal, and ignorant of Military Affairs), and he was not “hands on” in every aspect of the National Socialist System or the Military Regime.
He may have made final decisions when things could not be handled below his rank as a Politician, but he had to conform to the wants and desires of the majority, especially in his Party, and in his Military as well.
Although in 2017 and beyond (as I am writing this) we, as a society, can find “Racial Laws” and Prejudice to be abhorrent and not something to base laws or Political Systems on, this was not the case, even Worldwide, in the 1930’s.
I must remind people, that in North America (for instance) Women had just gotten the vote, and only after WWI. In the USA they still could not hold high ranking positions and were not allowed to even sit on a Jury.
African Americans still drank out of different drinking fountains, sat at the back of the bus. Yet even in Canada, during WWII there were signs on the Scarborough Bluffs stating:
NO JEWS ALLOWED
While you may turn in disgust as he describes how 1/2 Jews might need to stand on a bus in Germany, leaving the seats in favor of “Arian Germans”, and you would be right to feel that way, you also must understand that condemning just the Germans for such actions is simply being the Pot, and calling the Kettle black.
We are not talking just Jewish People here (with any research) as if you do that, you are ignoring Zionists, and Zionism, and the Bolshevik Revolution, and the Balfour Declaration, and the Worldwide Jewish Boycott of German Products, which was very much involved with the status of (what he labels) of Jews in Germany in the 1930’s
He fails to be able to get the Jewish People that he interviews to admit to knowledge of the Gas Chambers or the Genocide because it is a fantasy. Propaganda with no factual basis. Yet he never asks them if they knew of the newspaper headlines declaring:
As well, he never broaches the topic of “Did they feel threatened because of this promotion of Zionists, while they were living in 1930’s Germany?”. Did they know? How did they feel this would affect them? Why would they not be making every effort to leave Germany if this was really happening, and prejudicial laws were being put into place because of this threat on the German Population?
These subjects of FACTS which of course were very menacing for Jewish People living in Germany would obviously be of concern. Instead, he questions them about speculation? Fantasy? Propaganda?
The Balfour Declaration was not Propaganda. It is a document. The Versailles Treaty was not Speculation, but a fact. Zionists being moved to Palestine under the Transfer Agreement, were facts as well. This is never discussed, in favor of Propaganda and Fantasy?
So, while the Author can call Hitler “depraved” and a “little off his rocker”, I would have to retort, that I do not need to LOVE HITLER in order to see this as a warped view, and certainly one taken because of what he believes is his “Partial Jewish Heritage”.
I try often to put the “Shoe on the other foot” in such matters and ask, “what if it was me?”. Well, that is hard to answer, being Scottish, and never dealing with this kind of prejudice in Canada myself, but I would have to say that if the Scottish made a deal with a Foreign Entity (like the USA for instance) where they would bring in some other Country to win a War against Canada (after the Canadians had basically won a War against the USA) and in return they wanted Alaska or something (just being hypothetical) and the USA won, I would be walking on “pins and needles” with my fellow Canadians once that War was over.
Yet if Scotland declared a “Worldwide Boycott of Canadian Goods” after Canada threw the Scottish out of key positions in Government (even if the Scottish were not controlling the Banks and running the Porn Industry in Canada), I would be probably be changing my last name, and planning on moving.
Yet if they started to pass laws in Canada, that made Scottish “second-class citizens” and clearly wanting all the Scottish to move from Canada, I would be on the first boat or train offered! I may hear rumors of “Gas Chambers for Scottish”, but would pass them off as hearsay, as I diligently attempted to extradite myself, and that of my family, out of Canada.
That is something ELSE that we do not hear being discussed with this Author. It certainly would be a topic of discussion, had I lived through it. Yet not a peep. Why not?
Could it possibly be that unless I was a threat to the State, that I would not expect any retaliation against me or my family personally? That MOST Canadians did not see me in the same light as the “Scottish People Who Were Traitors”? Is that a possibility?
I would think that since this never is discussed in the Authors conversations or with the majority of the German Jews who lived in Germany, I would have to say, that maybe, just maybe, the vast majority of German Jews did not feel overly threatened, unless they had something they were guilty of.