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Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military Hardcover – May 6, 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
Although Aryan by birth I followed the fate of and befriended
several 'Mischlinge' (half- and quarter-jews) during and after
the War, and even knew some who served in the Wehrmacht. I found
Brian Mark Rigg's book excellent in scope and fair in its
contents. The research he conducted is extraordinary. The author
shed light on an angle that hitherto has been neglected by
historians of Nazi-Germany. He also describes splendidly the
irrational stupidity of the racial laws with their tragic
consequences. I wonder whether these 'Mischlinge' fought
valiently in the German Army as a refuge from the Gestapo or
under the peer pressure of the 'comradeship' of one's fighting
unit.They wanted to prove to the system that they were real' Germans.
I vividly remember also Aryan friends who were strong
Anti-Nazis but who courageously fought in the Wehrmacht,
particularly on the eastern front. Some of them were even
scheming plots to kill Hitler. Was it again the bonding among
soldiers or did they consider Naziism the smaller evil to
Bolshevism? I think these questions can only be only answered
The first chapter discusses the question: who is a Jew? Several points of view are presented. The Halacha says that person born to a Jewish mother is also a Jew; and also one that converts to Judaism (makes "giyur"). However, many Jews believe that Jewishness means "ethnic allegiance". Reform Jews believe that "paternal descent" is also enough to be a Jew. The author mentions that this problem (who is a Jew) in modern Israel is "second only to Israel's preoccupation with problems of peace and security."
The second chapter explains who were mischlinge and how they felt in Nazi Germany. In most cases, mischlinge felt themselves as Germans. Part of them felt like second-class Germans, and many of them made their best to be considered as Aryans (i.e. pure Germans).
The third chapter is about the assimilation in Germany and Austria, and also about Jews serving in German Military prior to WWII. The assimilation rate in Germany and Austria was very high: for example, between 1901 and 1929 ther were over
36,000 mixed marriages in Germany alone. And from all the facts we see that many Jews served in the German army during WWI and afterwards. They felt united to fight for Germany.
The next three chapters give the historical background. When Hitler came to power, he started the racial policy.Read more ›
The 1935 Nuremburg Laws began the eclipse of Jewish existence in Germany. Casting a wide net, the Reich ascribed Jewish identity to some who were astonished at their inclusion. In defining as Mischlinge (mixed breeds)those Germans with one or two Jewish grandparents, many who had been raised Christian and considered themselves Aryans suddenly found themselves on society's scrapheap.
This affected the Wehrmacht in that serving officers and NCOs who were "full"`Jews and Mischlinge -- many who had served with distinction in World War I -- were ordered purged from the ranks. The 'lucky" one applied for and received -- from Hitler personally -- exemptions enabling them to continue serving, or in some cases declarations that they were "of German blood" and entitled to the rights of Aryans. A notable example is the retention of Luftwaffe General -- later Field Marshall -- Erhard Milch, the organizational wizard who helped prepare the air armaments industry for the coming war.Read more ›
Author Bryan Mark Riggs was in his late twenties when he wrote this a couple of years ago. He is a (Reform?) Jew. At that point he had already earned a PhD at Cambridge, served as a volunteer in the Israeli Army and US Marines, and was teaching at SMU. This book grew out of his (undergraduate!) thesis at Yale. He found and interviewed a huge number of "Mischlinge" -- half or quarter-Jews who served in the Nazi military during WWII, sometimes with as high a rank as general.
Rigg improbably estimates there may have been as many as 150,000 such soldiers under Hitler.
Many of these men served to escape death. Some were just strong German nationalists.
The interesting part is that both Jewish halakah and Nazi law regarded many of these men as Jews, while most themselves did not! By Nazi law anyone who was 25% Jewish was a Jew whether or not he was baptized, a Nazi Party member, practiced another religion, etc. But those who had already shown loyalty to the German military often were given special exemptions if they continued to serve. Remarkably, most of those part-Jews were proud Germans, with roots in the nation hundreds of years back, who did not practice Judaism. Some were even somewhat anti-Semitic, looking down on the culturally, economically and educationally less advanced (and religiously more Orthodox) East European Jewish immigrants (Ostjuden) as inferior.
Sadly most fought bravely for the very government that was murdering their relatives, and would surely murder most of them when the war was over and they were no longer needed. (Some lost their exemptions even during the war).
The madness and the vicious absurdity of the Nazis is portrayed very skillfully by Rigg.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers
By Bryan Mark Rigg.
This is an extremely well-done book.
We can clearly see how this book might be political dynamite in our... Read more
Just started reading the book. I saw author on Military History channel and found subject very interesting and a lot of his research went into writing this book. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Marco S. Vivanti
You will be shocked. If nothing else does it for you, the information in this book will help you to understand that the idea that Hitler hated all Jews is rubbish..Published 11 months ago by Bonnie Jones Reynolds
Both books provided fascinating details about these soldiers, and additional insights into the setting of pre WWII and WWII.Published 12 months ago by John A. Ritchie