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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 (Hardcover)) Hardcover – March 3, 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Several thousand Jews and over 100,000 others of Jewish descent served in the Wehrmacht from 1939 to 1945. Rigg dips into material he mined for Hitler's Jewish Soldiers to present a selection of personal histories. Many enlisted to protect their families, often in vain; Rigg tells heartrending stories of soldiers risking their lives in battle as relatives disappeared into extermination camps. When police grew suspicious of his forged papers, Karl-Heinz Löwy enlisted in the elite Waffen-SS, apparently its only Jewish member, and fought heroically. Helmut Krüger and Karl-Heinz Schleffler were serving faithfully when Hitler ordered all half-Jews discharged in 1940. Although they and the others discharged spent much of the war in dreadful labor camps, far more of them survived than thousands who appealed successfully to remain in service. Readers expecting expressions of shame will be surprised—most felt proud of their wartime experiences. Few admitted knowing of the Holocaust, but all knew Jews were being mistreated and felt helpless to change matters. As Rigg compellingly shows, these were men dealing with crushingly stressful circumstances as best they could. 64 photos. (Mar. 3)
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Review

"Fascinating and powerful." -- W.E.B. Griffin

"Rigg has done exhaustive research that will force scholars once again to confront the nuances and complexity of life in Nazi Germany. His oral histories not only provide a poignant glimpse at the human stories behind the impersonal facade of Nazi racial laws, but also show just how these individuals--far from passive victims--responded in an effort to shape and influence their own fate. Rigg's evidence reveals the variety of strategies they employed to navigate the ambiguities of the Nazi racial state." -- Stephen G. Fritz
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Product Details

  • Series: Modern War Studies (Hardcover)
  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas; 1 edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700616381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700616381
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #994,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
As most of us know, every now and then we actually encountered a teacher somewhere along the line who really did leave us with something to think about after the course was over and such was the case of history Professor Moshe Gershovich for me. Educated at Tel Aviv and Harvard universities, in teaching Holocaust studies at the University of Nebraska, Professor Gershovich said that his goal was to teach about the Holocaust dispassionately, objectively, and analytically. While I did not fully understand that pedagogy at the time, particularly with respect to the carnage of the Holocaust, I eventually got Professor Gershovich's point. Dispassion and analysis are critical and it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find anything more valuable than Bryan Mark Rigg's The Lives of Hitler's Jewish Soldiers documenting his seminal research of men of Jewish ancestry, or Mischlinge, fighting for Hitler's Third Reich in furthering that goal.

The book, which essentially is a sequel to Rigg's first book, Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story Of Nazi Racial Laws And Men Of Jewish Descent In The German Military (Modern War Studies), presents case studies of individuals who had served in Germany's armed forces and analyzes generally, the common experiences, perceptions, and attitudes of the Mischlinge, while delineating many experiences that where exclusive to particular individuals upon which the study focused. The commonalities, however, were fascinating, especially when considered within the context of Hitler's reign of power from 1933, with the Nazis' ascension, to 1945, when Hitler put a bullet in his brain.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bryan Mark Rigg's writing style takes a subject that very few people knew existed and writes a fascinating book that is literally hard to put down. I read his other book, Hitler's Jewish Soldiers, which explained many of these same stories but in less detail. This book is better. The individual stories are fascinating. There are more photos though poorly copied and difficult to see the detail. The text more than makes up for the poor photo quality. The individual stories read well and after a while you seen the trend of the mischling soldier: Duty, honor, loyalty to ones country and family and more importantly courage. These soldiers were incredibly brave men who thought that by serving they could restore their individual rights within the Third Reich and protect their families. Sadly they were mistaken by thinking since they acted with honor so would Adolf Hitler.

The only part of the book that I didn't like was the last chapter of Mischling soldiers that helped other jews. It just seemed to be an introduction of Rigg's last book, Rescued From The Reich. It's not poorly written per se just a chapter that actually had only two examples of the Mischling soldiers helping two individuals. The first story just seem to be there to justify the second story, which Rigg's wrote in his thrid volume so you want to get the book. I think I will pass on his last book since I now know the story from this volume.

Overall it was well written and obviously well researched and certainly worth getting if you're interested in the holocaust or WWII.
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