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Lives of Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: Untold Tales of Men of Jewish Descent Who Fought for the Third Reich (Modern War Studies

Jan Paczkis|Friday, October 30, 2009

In this sequel to his HITLER'S JEWISH SOLDIERS, Rigg focuses on individuals' experiences. WARNING: The descriptions of the carnage at the Russian front are graphic, and may be upsetting to the sensitive reader

Lives of Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: Untold Tales of Men of Jewish Descent Who Fought for the Third Reich (Modern War Studies)    
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Rigg reminds the reader that racial Nazi ideology and Nazi officials decided who was Jewish; self-identifications and self-repudiations of Judaism did not. Tens of thousands of Christians of Jewish origin, most of whom didn't feel Jewish, were murdered by the Nazis as Jews. (p. 17). According to the Nuremberg laws, a Jew was anyone who had three or four Jewish grandparents. A half-Jew (1st Degree Mischling) had two Jewish grandparents and a quarter-Jew (2nd Degree Mischling) had one Jewish grandparent. (p. 12). According to the Halakah (rabbinical law), more than half of the 2nd-Degree Mischling were Jews. (p. 13).

Some of the interviewees acknowledge once admiring Hitler, as for the extensive employment opportunities created by his Autobahn program. (p. 79). The interviewees served in the armed forces as German patriots. (e. g., p. 57). Rigg considers the Yiddish term Goy to be derogatory. (p. 14).

While it is true that the majority of the German Jews and Mischlinge interviewed by Rigg escaped persecution by concealing their background or being fortunate to serve under officers that disregarded it, there were also quite a few of them known and spared by top Nazi officials and re-labeled Aryans. Hitler did this with the stroke of a pen. (p. 13). In his Chapter 3, which is on those who received the Deutschblutigkeitserklarung (declaration of German blood), Rigg wrote: "No fewer than twenty-one generals, several admirals, and one field marshal of Jewish descent served with Hitler's consent. And thousands in the lower ranks of the Wehrmacht remained there because Hitler personally exempted them from the laws." (p. 171). Rigg reiterates the fact that Erhard Milch had been either a half-Jew or full Jew. (pp. 177-178). In his Chapter 4, Rigg discusses those who got the Genehmigung (racial amnesty, and permission to remain in the German armed forces.)

The implications of the foregoing are clear. Typically, the Jewish victims of the Germans are, tokenism aside, exclusively featured in educational Holocaust materials. The chief argument adduced in support for this monopoly is the one about Jews being uniquely targeted for TOTAL extermination. This is once again shown to be manifestly incorrect.

The religious views of the interviewees figure prominently in this book. The interviewees recall their ancestors' conversions to Christianity for opportunistic reasons, and describe their Christianity as mainly a cultural one--like that of most gentile Germans. Currently, many of the interviewees fault German Christian leaders for supporting Hitler, and view both Christianity and Judaism as purveyors of divisiveness and intolerance. One of them saw the Jews' problems as the outcome of Jewish particularism and sense of being better than others. (p. 86). Most of the interviewees lost belief in God as a result of the Holocaust and of the battlefield horrors they had experienced. One, however, believed that God had audibly led him away from a location of certain death (pp. 73-75), while another interviewee felt that God was with him and that his sense of being abandoned by God was no different from that of Christ while on the Cross. (p. 241). Rescued Rebbe Joseph Isaac Schneersohn (1880-1850) is faulted by Rigg for contending that the Holocaust was God's punishment for the Jews' sins. (pp. 266-268). [However, one should remember that collective divine punishment for the Jews' sins is a common Old-Testament theme (e. g., the Babylonian Captivity).]

Several of Rigg's interviewees took part in the 1939 German conquest of Poland. Ironic to the common portrayal of Polish soldiers as foolhardy, one of the interviewees alluded to German foolhardiness: "[Dieter] Fischer recalled that his Frankfurt division lost 25 percent of its officers, many to snipers noticing rank insignia on their uniforms. He pointed out that `stupid courage' got many killed. One day several officers drove up and asked for a status report. Fischer explained they had spotted a Polish tank down the road and should not go further. `Are you a coward?' one of the officers asked. They drove on and a few minutes later, the tank blew up the car. Every officer inside died." (pp. 232-233).
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