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Hitler's Jewish Soldiers

Jan Paczkis|Thursday, July 16, 2009

Review of Hitler's Jewish Soldiers, by Bryan Mark Rigg. University Press of Kansas, 2002
Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis     
Refutes the "All Jews Were Victims"

Not every one who had Jewish ancestry was a victim of the death camps” (Rigg, p. 268). According to both the Halaka and Israel’s “Law of Return”, a Jew is defined as a person having a Jewish mother while remaining unconverted to another religion, or one who converted to Judaism. Based on this definition, a large fraction of the Mischlinge (German-Jewish “mongrels”) consisted of true Jews. In fact, based on a sample which he has analyzed, Rigg (p. 18, 283) estimates that 60% of half-Jews and 30% of quarter-Jews in Nazi Germany were Halakically Jewish.  

The number of Mischlinge spared from persecution by Hitler undoubtedly numbers in the thousands (p. 3). Perhaps 16,000 Mischlinge officers were in the Wehrmacht in 1940, and more than 150,000 Mischlinge fought for the Nazis in WWII.  Although Hitler had the final say, many of the top Nazi officials were actively involved in the relabeling and protection of German Jews, including Ribbentrop, Sauckel, Bormann, Canaris, Donitz, Heydrich, Himmler, von Schirach, Kaltenbrunner, and Goring (p. 182). The latter reputedly remarked: “I’ll decide who is a Jew.” (p. 21).

Moreover, the exemptions from persecution were NOT limited to those of partial Jewish ancestry. Luftwaffe Field Marshall Erhart Milch, was either a half or full Jew (pp. 29-30).  According to Rigg (p. 203), some 200 full-blooded Jews (the Schutzjuden, or protected Jews) were spared persecution in Berlin alone. One way or another, at least 6,000 full-blooded Jews served in the Wehrmacht (p. 65).

Although there were many reasons for service to the Nazis, the most obvious one is the fact that German Jews had become well integrated into German society, and had long been prominent in the German military. Rigg devotes some pages to the centuries-old German-Jewish symbiosis, pointing out that many German Jews had become “more German than the Germans”. Significantly, Rigg discusses a number of Mischlinge directly involved in the German conquest of Poland in 1939.

Rigg briefly discusses the involvement of German Jews in the Holocaust itself. Mention is made of part and full Jews such as Killy, Eppinger, Goldschlag, Abrahamsohn, and Scherwitz (p. 258).  Much less attention is paid to the Jewish origins of many top Nazi leaders. There is some elaboration of Hitler’s obsessive fear of his Jewishness, as well as the probable Jewishness of Reinhard Heydrich (p. 176), one of the chief architects of the Holocaust itself. Most relevant documents that trace the ancestry of top Nazi officials have been destroyed.

Rigg inadvertently undermines any equation of Christian antisemitism with Nazi antisemitism. Those Germans whose Jewish ancestors had converted to Christianity as far back as great-grandparents were considered tainted by Jewish blood (p. 21). Relatively recent Jewish converts to Christianity were, in Hitler’s mind, fully Jewish (pp. 17-18). Those practicing Judaism but not racially Jewish (e. g., the Karaims and Tats) were spared (p. 283). All the while, German Muslims were accepted as full Germans (p. 18). German Mischlinge as a whole were at least temporarily spared from extermination, but non-German Mischlinge were definitely not (p. 169). The Nazis did employ the Crucifixion of Christ when convenient, but portrayed Jesus as a Jewish-rejected anti-capitalist (p. 185), not as a spurned Messiah and Savior. Rigg doesn’t mention that the Nazis were not alone in this regard. Left-wing propaganda has always tried to make Christ out into an anti-capitalist.    

No one monopolizes intolerance. Prior to WWII, German Jews and Mischlinge had tended to scorn the Ostjuden (the eastern European Jews), and even advocate German discrimination against them (pp. 12-13). Rigg candidly discusses the negative experiences of many Mischlinge with their fellow Jews. Some Mischlinge found parallels between Nazi racial classification and what they considered the exclusive policies of mainstream Judaism. One half-Jewish Mischlinge is quoted as describing as “disgusting” the Jewish prayer in which Jews thank God that He did not create them as gentiles (p. 48).

A major shortcoming of Rigg’s analysis is his failure to contextualize German racism and all its absurd inconsistencies. He omits mention of the blonde, blue-eyed Polish children who were kidnapped and raised as Germans (as part of the Lebensborn program), while all other Poles were untermenschen (subhumans). In contrast, no ethnic Germans got this label, regardless of physical characteristics. Were German Mischlinge mostly slated for eventual extermination? Well, so were most of the Slavs. Rigg ignores the fact that the same tripartite division used against Jews was also used against Slavs, namely those 1). Condemned to immediate death, 2) Kept alive only as long as deemed useful to the Reich, and 3) Provisionally accepted, to varying degrees, as “true” Germans. The first group consisted of the 5-6 million murdered Jews (including several hundred thousand non-German Mischlinge; p. 169) and 2-3 million murdered Poles, including half of the Polish intelligentsia. To the second group belonged most of the German Mischlinge, both Jewish and Polish forced laborers, and the bulk of the German-conquered Polish population (as a colony, and reservoir of slave labor). The third group included Jewish-German officials, the aforementioned Schutzjuden, some of the German Mischlinge, the aforementioned kidnapped Polish children, and those Poles of at least partial German ancestry judged susceptible to Germanization. 

Typically, the Jewish victims of the Germans are, tokenism aside, exclusively featured in educational Holocaust materials. The chief argument adduced for this monopoly is the one about Jews being uniquely targeted for TOTAL extermination. This is shown to be manifestly incorrect. In fact, Rigg could also have mentioned other known Jews within easy grasp of the Nazis who were nevertheless not killed. These include Bulgaria’s Jews, most of the Jews used for German forced labor, Allied-Jewish POWs of the Germans (who were mistreated but usually not murdered), and the Swedish and Swiss Jews whose host nations were not forced to turn them over to Nazi Germany, for execution, as a condition of their continued neutrality. It is high time that Holocaust education be changed to devote equal time to Jewish and non-Jewish victims of the Germans.
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