Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers
The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military
Bryan Mark Rigg
New in Paperback: September 2004
528 pages, 95 photographs, 6 x 9
Modern War Studies
Paper ISBN 0-7006-1358-7, $16.95
Also available in cloth:
As featured on NBC-TV’s Dateline
(first aired Sunday, June 9, 2002)
WINNER OF THE 2003 COLBY AWARD
William E. Colby Military Writers Symposium
On the murderous road to “racial purity” Hitler encountered unexpected detours, largely due to his own crazed views and inconsistent policies regarding Jewish identity. After centuries of Jewish assimilation and intermarriage in German society, he discovered that eliminating Jews from the rest of the population was more difficult than he’d anticipated. As Bryan Mark Rigg shows in this provocative new study, nowhere was that heinous process more fraught with contradiction and confusion than in the German military.
Contrary to conventional views, Rigg reveals that a startlingly large number of German military men were classified by the Nazis as Jews or “partial-Jews” (Mischlinge), in the wake of racial laws first enacted in the mid-1930s. Rigg demonstrates that the actual number was much higher than previously thought–perhaps as many as 150,000 men, including decorated veterans and high-ranking officers, even generals and admirals.
As Rigg fully documents for the first time, a great many of these men did not even consider themselves Jewish and had embraced the military as a way of life and as devoted patriots eager to serve a revived German nation. In turn, they had been embraced by the Wehrmacht, which prior to Hitler had given little thought to the “race” of these men but which was now forced to look deeply into the ancestry of its soldiers.
The process of investigation and removal, however, was marred by a highly inconsistent application of Nazi law. Numerous “exemptions” were made in order to allow a soldier to stay within the ranks or to spare a soldier’s parent, spouse, or other relative from incarceration or far worse. (Hitler’s own signature can be found on many of these “exemption” orders.) But as the war dragged on, Nazi politics came to trump military logic, even in the face of the Wehrmacht’s growing manpower needs, closing legal loopholes and making it virtually impossible for these soldiers to escape the fate of millions of other victims of the Third Reich.
Based on a deep and wide-ranging research in archival and secondary sources, as well as extensive interviews with more than four hundred Mischlinge and their relatives, Rigg’s study breaks truly new ground in a crowded field and shows from yet another angle the extremely flawed, dishonest, demeaning, and tragic essence of Hitler’s rule.
Side and front photographs of “Half (BS) (BS)-Jew” Anton Mayer, similar to those that often accompanied a Mischling’s application for exemption.
“Through videotaped interviews, painstaking attention to personnel files, and banal documents not normally consulted by historians, and spurred by a keen sense of personal mission, Rigg has turned up an unexplored and confounding chapter in the history of the Holocaust. The extent of his findings has surprised scholars.”–Warren Hoge, New York Times
“The revelation that Germans of Jewish blood, knowing the Nazi regime for what it was, served Hitler as uniformed members of his armed forces must come as a profound shock. It will surprise even professional historians of the Nazi years.” –John Keegan, author of The Face of Battle and The Second World War
“Startling and unexpected, Rigg’s study conclusively demonstrates the degree of flexibility in German policy toward the Mischlinge, the extent of Hitler’s involvement, and, most importantly, that not all who served in the armed forces were anti-Semitic, even as their service aided the killing process.”–Michael Berenbaum, author of The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust
“Rigg’s extensive knowledge and the preliminary conclusions drawn from his research impressed me greatly. I firmly believe that his in-depth treatment of the subject of German soldiers of Jewish descent in the Wehrmacht will lead to new perspectives on this portion of 20th century German military history.”–Helmut Schmidt, Former Chancellor of Germany
“An impressively researched work with important implications for hotly debated questions. Rigg tells some exquisitely poignant stories of individual human experiences that complicate our picture of state and society in the Third Reich.”–Nathan A. Stoltzfus, Florida State University, author of Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany
“An impressive work filled with interesting stories. . . . By helping us better understand Nazi racial policy at the margins–i.e., its impact on certain members of the German military–Rigg’s study clarifies the central problems of Nazi Jewish policies overall.”–Norman Naimark, Stanford University, author of Fires of Hatred: Ethnic Cleansing in Twentieth-Century Europe
“An illuminating and provocative study that merits a wide readership and is sure to be much discussed.”–Dennis E. Showalter, Colorado College, author of Tannenberg: Clash of Empires
“An outstanding job of research and analysis. Rigg’s book will add a great deal to our understanding of the German military, of the place of Jews and people of Jewish descent in the Nazi state, and of the Holocaust. It forces us to deal with the full, complex range of possible actions and reactions by individuals caught up in the Nazi system.”–Geoffrey P. Megargee, author of Inside Hitler’s High Command
“With the skill of a master detective, Bryan Rigg reveals the surprising and largely unknown story of Germans of Jewish origins in the Nazi military. His work contributes to our understanding of the complexity of faith and identity in the Third Reich.”–Paula E. Hyman, Yale University, author of Gender and Assimilation in Modern Jewish History and The Jews of Modern France
“A major piece of scholarship which traces the peculiar twists and turns of Nazi racial policy toward men in the Wehrmacht, often in the highest ranks, who had partly Jewish backgrounds. Rigg has uncovered personal stories and private archives which literally nobody knew existed. His book will be an important contribution to German history.”–Jonathan Steinberg, University of Pennsylvania, author of All or Nothing: The Axis and the Holocaust 1941-1943
“An original, groundbreaking, and significant contribution to the history of the Wehrmacht and Nazi Germany.”–James S. Corum, School of Advanced Air Power Studies, author of The Roots of Blitzkrieg and The Luftwaffe
“Rigg’s work has discovered new academic territory.”–Manfred Messerschmidt, Freiburg University, author of Die Wehrmacht im NS-Staat (The Wehrmacht in the Nazi State)
“Rigg’s bracing and unintimidated study lays bare the contradiction, confusion and expedience that governed Mischlinge policy and the maiming cost to those whose lives were burdened by anxiety, guilt and collusion. In the end we must be grateful for his book, a penetrating light cast on some of the murkier corners of the human psyche.”–Michael Skakun, Aufbau
“Rigg has opened brand new territory for historians and students of war, offering new insight into the Nazi mentality on race.”–World War II Magazine
“Rigg has done a very significant piece of historical research and writing.”–Milt Rosenberg, WGN Radio, Chicago
“Rigg has written a truly important history. It is original, it has outstanding scholarship, and there is plenty of it!”–James F. Tent, author of In the Shadow of the Holocaust: Nazi Persecution of Jewish-Christian Germans
“A brilliant and extremely disturbing work of masterful historical research. A must read for everyone. It raises more moral dilemmas than one can answer.”–Steve Pieczenik, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State and co-creator of the best selling novels and TV series OP-Center and Net Force
The thousands of pages of documents and oral testimonies (8mm and VHS video) the author collected for this study have been purchased by the National Military Archive of Germany. The Bryan Mark Rigg Collection is housed in the Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv in Freiburg, Germany.
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Military service book of “Half (BS)-Jew” Hermann Aub
Soldiers taking the oath of allegiance to Hitler
“Half (BS)-Jew” Horst Geitner was awarded both the Iron Cross Second Class and the Silver Wound Badge.
This photo of “Half (BS)-Jew” Werner Goldberg, who was blond and blue-eyed, was used by a Nazi propaganda newspaper for its title page. Its caption: “The Ideal German Soldier.”
“Half (BS)-Jew” Commander Paul Ascher, Admiral Lütjens’s first staff officer on the battleship Bismarck; Ascher received Hitler’s Deutschblütigkeitserklärung. (Military awards: EKI, EKII, and War Service Cross Second Class.)
“Quarter-Jew” Admiral Bernhard Rogge wearing the Ritterkreuz; he received Hitler’s Deutschblütigkeitserklärung. (Military awards: oak leaves to Ritterkreuz, Ritterkreuz, samurai sword from the emperor of Japan, EKI, and EKII.)
“Half (BS)-Jew” Johannes Zukertort (last rank general) received Hitler’s Deutschblütigkeitserklärung.
“Half (BS)-Jew” Colonel Walter H. Hollaender, decorated with the Ritterkreuz and German-Cross in Gold; he received Hitler’s Deutschblütigkeitserklärung. (Military awards: Ritterkreuz, German-Cross in Gold, EKI, EKII, and Close Combat Badge.)
“Half (BS)-Jew” and later Luftwaffe General Helmut Wilberg; Hitler declared him Aryan in 1935. (Military awards: Hohenzollern’s Knight’s Cross with Swords, EKI, EKII.)
“Half (BS)-Jew” and field-marshal Erhard Milch (left) with General Wolfram von Richthofen. Hitler declared Milch Aryan. He was awarded the Ritterkreuz for his performance during the campaign in Norway in 1940.
General Gotthard Heinrici, who was married to a “Half (BS)-Jew,” meeting Hitler in 1937.
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More about Bryan Mark Rigg and his research experiences:
Raised as a Protestant in the Texas Bible Belt, Bryan Mark Rigg was surprised to learn of his own Jewish ancestry while researching his family tree in Germany. This revelation, as well as a chance encounter with a Jewish veteran of the Wehrmacht at a Berlin screening of Europa Europa, roused him to embark on a decade of research while a student first at Yale University and later at Cambridge University. Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military is the result of his efforts.
How did he conduct his research?
Crisscrossing Germany by bicycle, and carrying his own supplies–including backpack, video-camera, tripod, laptop, books, and documents–Bryan located and interviewed more than four hundred Mischlinge partial (BS) Jews as labeled under Hitler’s racial laws) and their relatives and friends. His quest also took him to Sweden, Canada, Israel, and Turkey. In addition, he scrupulously labored to provide documentary evidence to support the findings from each oral history.
His interviewees have included former chancellor of Germany Helmut Schmidt, Adenauer’s Secretary of State Hans von Herwarth, Bundesgeschäftsführer of the Social Democratic Party of Germany Egon Bahr, Field Marshal Erich von Manstein’s adjutant Alexander Stahlberg, and Colonel Claus Schenk Graf van Stauffenberg’s adjutant Horst von Oppenfeld.
How did his subjects react to his interest in them?
Although earning trust was often challenging and some men refused to speak with Bryan, he also encountered many who were grateful for the opportunity at last to discuss this part of their lives in war. In some cases the men’s families knew little or nothing of their hidden religious heritage. In a 1996 London Telegraph article concerning his research efforts, Bryan described these men who are at the heart of his work: “They don’t know where they stand. There is no place for them to tell their story. No one thought it was an issue, and neither side wants to claim them.”
What is the Bryan Mark Rigg Collection?
An unprecedented and invaluable result of Bryan’s efforts to record the stories of these men has been his success in gathering over 30,000 pages of records, more than 500 hours of videotaped interviews, and 3,000 photographs that document the military experiences of the mischlinge and Jews that he met. In 1997, the Federal German Military Archives purchased what is now called the Bryan Mark Rigg Collection, and these materials are now housed in the Bundesarchiv in Freiburg.
What are some of his other experiences and interests?
In addition to his extensive research travel, Bryan has also engaged in humanitarian work in Romania, Bulgaria, the Bahamas, South Africa, and France. His efforts included developing a church network, caring for and educating children and adults, building a church and a baptistery, and even working as a mime. He has served in a Volunteer Unit in the Israeli Army, and as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He presently lives in Texas with his wife and daughter and is Professor of History at American Military University.
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BRYAN MARK RIGG received his B.A. with honors in history from Yale University in 1996. Yale awarded him the Henry Fellowship for graduate study at Cambridge University, where he received his M.A. in 1997 and Ph.D. in 2002. Currently Professor of History at American Military University, he has served as a volunteer in the Israeli Army and as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. His research for this book has been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and London Daily Telegraph. For more information on Bryan Rigg, view his web site at http://www.bryanrigg.com/.
NO such thing as being “part Jewish” this assertion is idiotic http://encyclopediaegypt.com/israel/f1500.htm
Anti Semite farce. No such thing as a Semite ever existed. This concoction was fabricated by the false ‘Jews’ of Europe. http://encyclopediaegypt.com/israel/i0100.htm
Bryan Mark Rigg
New in Paperback: September 2004
528 pages, 95 photographs, 6 x 9
Modern War Studies
Paper ISBN 0-7006-1358-7
Also available in cloth:
Where to find Rigg’s book – Click on the book cover
In the 1500 years previous to 1940, “Jews” and every one else had millions of shared ancestors.
There are mountains of marriage and birth records that trace the ancestors of “Jews” to other Non “Jewish” Europeans.
A great organization to consider would be those who collect and document the family trees of these European “Jews”.. “rabbis” to expose the fact they are nothing other than Europeans who’s ancestors joined a cult claiming to be the descendants of the Israelites.
It would take people who know the ropes in tracing family trees.
Wouldn’t it be fun to quote the words of the “Jews” who cry how we were persecuted by the Germans and show they are nothing other than descendants of those Germans.
Create your own “Jewish” family tree research organization and share the joke with the world.