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WernerGoldberg

This photo of Mischling Werner Goldberg, who was blond and blue-eyed, was used by the Berliner Tageblatt for its title page. Its caption read "The Ideal German Soldier."

Mischling ("crossbreed" in German) was the German term used during the Third Reich to denote persons deemed to have partial Jewish ancestry.[1] The word has essentially the same origin as mestee in English, mestizo in Spanish and métis in French. In German, the word has the general meaning of hybrid, mongrel, or half-breed.[2] It is no longer used to designate persons of partial Jewish ancestry.

Nuremberg laws

As defined by the Nazi Nuremberg laws in 1935, a Jew (German: Volljude in Nazi terminology) was a person - regardless of religious affiliation or self-identification - who had at least three Jewish grandparents, who had been enrolled with a Jewish congregation. A person with up to two Jewish grandparents was also legally "Jewish" (so-called Geltungsjude, about in English: Jew by legal validity) if they met any of these conditions:

  • Were enrolled as member of a Jewish congregation when the Nuremberg Laws were issued, or joined later[3]
  • Were married to a Jew
  • Were the issue from a marriage with a Jew, which was concluded after the ban on mixed marriages
  • Were the issue of an extramarital relationship with a Jew, born out of wedlock after July 31, 1936.[4]

People who did not belong to these categorical conditions but had two Jewish grandparents were classified Mischling of the first degree. Someone with only one Jewish grandparent was Mischling of the second degree.[5] See Mischling Test.

Jewish identity

Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F048808-0002, Bonn, Neubau Kanzleramt, Schmidt im Arbeitszimmer

Helmut Schmidt

Soon after passage of the Enabling Act of 1933, the Nazi government promulgated several anti-Jewish statutes, including the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service on 7 April 1933. Using this law, the regime aimed to dismiss all "non-Aryans" from all government positions in society, including public educators and those practicing medicine in state hospitals.

As a result, the term "non-Aryan"[6] had to be defined in a way compatible with Nazi ideology. Four days after the passing of this act, under the so-called "First Racial Definition" supplementary decree of 11 April that was issued to clarify portions of the 7 April law, a "non-Aryan" (i.e. a Jew) was defined as one who had at least one Jewish parent or grandparent.[7]

According to Nazi anti-Semitism, Jewry was considered as being a group of people bound by close, so-called genetic (blood) ties who formed an ethnic unit from which one could not join or secede. The influence of Jews had been declared to have detrimental impact on Germany, particularly in terms of Germany's defeat in World War One, overrepresentation among membership in communist and/or Bolshevik parties and an alleged worldwide anti-German financial conspiracy. To be spared from that, one had to prove one's affiliation with the so-called Aryan race as defined by the Nazis.

The Nazis defined Jewishness in part genetically, but did not use formal genetic tests or physiognomic features to determine one's status (although the Nazis talked a lot about physiognomy as a racial characteristic). In practice records on the religious affiliation(s) of one's grandparents was often the deciding factor (mostly christening records and membership registers of Jewish congregations).[8]

However, while the grandparents had been able to choose their religion, their grandchildren in the Nazi era were compulsorily classified as Jews and thus non-Aryans if at least three grandparents had been enrolled as members of a Jewish congregation (regardless if the persecuted themselves were Jews according to the Halachah [roughly meaning: Jewish by birth from a Jewess or by conversion], apostates, irreligionists or Christians). Thus Jews who had converted to Christianity could be regarded as especially deceitful and subversive, while Gentiles who had converted to Judaism were perceived as traitors to the "Aryan race" and were among the first to be persecuted and killed.

Standards of the SS

The SS used a more stringent standard: In order to join, a candidate had to prove (presumably, through baptismal records) that all direct ancestors born since 1750 were not Jewish, or they could apply for a German Blood Certificate.

Mischlings often Protestant

In the 19th century many German Jews converted to Christianity, most of them becoming Protestants rather than Roman Catholics.[9] Two thirds of the German population were Protestant. Protestants comprised a plurality in the nation as a whole until 1938, when the Anschluß annexation of Austria to Germany added 6 million Roman Catholics. The addition of 3.25 Catholic Sudeten Germans increased the percentage of German Roman Catholics to 41% (approximately 32.5 million vs. 45.5 million Protestants or 57%)in a 1939 population estimated at 79 million. One percent of the population was Jewish.

About 80% of the Gentile Germans persecuted as Jews according to the Nuremberg Laws were affiliated with one of the 28 Protestants church bodies.[10] In 1933 approximately 77% of German Gentiles with Jewish ancestry were Protestant, the percentage dropped to 66% in the 1939 census, after the annexations of 1938.[11] Converts to Christianity and their descendants often married Christians with no recent Jewish ancestry.

As a result - by the time the Nazis came to power - many Protestants and Roman Catholics in Germany had some traceable Jewish ancestry (usually traced back by the Nazi authorities for two generations), so that a majority of 1st- or 2nd-degree Mischlinge was Protestant, many Catholics. A considerable number of German Gentiles with Jewish ancestry were irreligionists.

Lutherans with Jewish ancestry were largely in northwestern and Northern Germany, Evangelical Protestants of Jewish descent in Middle Germany (Berlin and its southwestern environs) and the country's east. Catholics with Jewish ancestry lived mostly in Western and Southern Germany.

Reclassification procedure

Ludwig Wittgenstein siblings

Hermine and Fanny Wittgenstein (sisters of Ludwig Wittgenstein) were re-classified as "Aryan" after paying an undisclosed fortune to the Nazi party

Requests for reclassification (e.g., Jew as Mischling 1st degree, 1st degree as 2nd degree) or Aryanization (see German Blood Certificate) were personally reviewed by Adolf Hitler himself. Apparently, he considered the issue important enough to him that he found time to review a few thousand such files. A reclassification approved by the Nazi party chancery and Hitler was considered an act of mercy (Gnadenakt). Further de facto reclassifications, however, missing any official document, were privilegations of certain artists and other experts by way of special protection by high Nazis.[12]

A second way of reclassification was by way of declaratory action in court. Usually the discriminated person took the action, doubting her or his genetical descent from the Jewish-classified man until then regarded the biological (grand)father.[13] Paternity suits aiming for reclassification (German: Abstammungsverfahren) appeared mostly with deceased, divorced or illegitimate (grand)fathers. They usually aimed at improving the discriminated and persecuted litigant's status from Jewish-classified to Mischling of first degree, or Mischling of first degree to second degree. The numbers of such suits soared when the Nazi government imposed new discriminations and persecutions (Nuremberg Laws 1935, November Pogrom 1938, and systematic deportations of Jewish Germans and Gentile Germans of Jewish descent to concentration camps, 1941).[14]

The procedures, most humbling for the (grand)mothers, who had to declare in court they had committed adultery, more often ended with the wished success, than the other way around. Success resulted from several reasons. First, some lawyers specialised in such procedures and prepared them professionally, also refusing hopeless cases. There was no danger in the procedures, because in case of failure, this did not downgrade the classification of the litigant. Second, usually all the family members - including the sometimes still living doubted (grand)father - co-operated. Usually very likely alternative fathers were named, who either appeared themselves in court confirming their most likely fatherhood or who were already dead, but known as good friends, neighbours or subtenants of the (grand)mother. Fourth, the included obligatory, and most humbling body examinations of doubted father and child especially searched for allegedly racial features of outward appearance as conceived among anti-Semites to be typically Jewish, besides the blood typing test etc. already usual in earlier regular paternity suits. Especially when the doubted (grand)father was already dead, emigrated or deported (as after 1941), the examination concentrated on these fictitious abnormous outward features considered Jewish, to be found in the physiognomy of the descendant (child). Since the anti-Semitic clichés on Jewish outward appearance were so stereotyped, the usual litigant did not show features clearly indicating his Jewish descent in the eyes of the expert witnesses, so they often delivered in their medical evidences ambiguous results.[15] Fifth the judges then tended to believe the (grand)mothers, alternative fathers, doubted fathers and other witnesses, who paid such a high price publicly humbling themselves, and not recorded for earlier perjuring, and declared the prior paternity annulled, ensuing the status improvement for the litigant.[16]

The extent of assimilation of Jews and Gentiles of Jewish descent into their Gentile (and Christian) surroundings was a factor much more complicated than the Nazis anticipated; widespread corruption and lack of any ethical moorings among many Nazi leaders frequently gave way to bribery, extortion, and other subterfuges over documentation of who was or was not a Jew.

Comparison with Jewish law

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-1997-0923-500, Albert Speer und Erhard Milch

Erhard Milch (at right)

All streams in Judaism agree that there are two routes to Jewishness: ancestry and conversion.

Regarding ancestry, Orthodox and Conservative Judaism consider the offspring of a Jewish mother to be Jewish (matrilineal descent): the ancestry of the father is irrelevant. In the postwar era, Reform Judaism adopted the innovation of patrilineal, or bilineal descent: a person with a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother may also be considered Jewish if (s)he identifies as such.

Karaite Judaism, including only the Tanakh in its canon, traces Jewishness exclusively through the father's line, (patrilineal descent).[17].

Regarding conversion, the various streams of Judaism apply different levels of stringency with respect to the prospective convert's level of observance and commitment, but all agree that the ancestry of the convert is irrelevant. People of all parentage and backgrounds have joined and continue to join the Jewish religion.

The modern State of Israel allows anyone who does not practise a religion other than Judaism to settle in Israel as a beneficiary of the Law of Return, provided that the person has one Jewish grandparent, a Jewish spouse, or that the person is a valid convert to Judaism.

Finally, a person of Jewish ancestry who converted to another religion is still considered Jewish in Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, whereas Reform Judaism and the State of Israel consider such people not to be Jewish.

Numbers of people considered Mischlinge

According to the 1939 Reich census, there were about 72,000 Mischlings of the 1st degree, some 39,000 of the 2nd degree, and tens of thousands more of higher degrees.[18]

According to historian and Israeli Army and U.S. Marine veteran Bryan Mark Rigg, up to 160 thousand one-quarter, one-half, and even full Jewish men served in the German armed forces during World War II, including several generals and at least one field marshal.[19]

Organisations of Mischlinge

On 20 July 1933 - initiated by the actor Gustav Friedrich - Christian Germans of Jewish descent founded a self-help organisation, first named Reich's Federation of Christian German Citizens of non-Aryan or not purely Aryan descent (German: Reichsbund christlich-deutscher Staatsbürger nichtarischer oder nicht rein arischer Abstammung e.V.). The federation first counted only 4,500 members.[20] In October 1934 the name was shortened into Reich's association of non-Aryan Christians (German: Reichsverband der nichtarischen Christen).[21] In 1935 the members of the federation elected the known literary historian Heinrich Spiero their new president and under his auspices the federation's journal was improved and the number of members rose to 80,000 by 1936.[22] In September 1936 the federation renamed into the more confident Paul's Covenant Union of non-Aryan Christians (German: Paulus-Bund Vereinigung nichtarischer Christen e.V.) after the famous Jewish convert to Christianity (Sha'ul) Paul of Tarsus.

In January 1937 the Nazi government forbade that organisation, allowing a new successor organisation named Association 1937 of preliminary Reich's citizens of not purely German-blooded descent (German: Vereinigung 1937 vorläufiger Reichsbürger nicht rein deutschblütiger Abstammung). This name cited the insecure legal status of Mischlinge, who had been assigned the revocable status of preliminary Reich's citizens by the Nuremberg Laws, while Jewish-classified Germans had become second-class state citizens (Staatsbürger) by these laws. The Association 1937 was prohibited to accept state citizens as members - like Spiero - with three or four grandparents, who had been enrolled with a Jewish congregation. Thus that new association had lost its most prominent leaders and faded, having become an organisation solely for Mischlinge. The Association 1937 was compulsorily dissolved in 1939.

Pastor Heinrich Grüber and some enthusiasts started a new effort in 1936 to found an organisation to help Protestants of Jewish descent (Mischlinge and their (grand)parents, of whom at least one was classified as non-Aryan), completely neglected by the then official Protestant church bodies in Germany (see The Forsaken Children of the Church – Protestants of Jewish Descent).

After the war some Mischlinge founded the still-existing Notgemeinschaft der durch die Nürnberger Gesetze Betroffenen (English: Emergency association of the aggrieved by the Nuremberg Laws).

Prominent Mischlinge

Some examples of Mischlinge:

Fate during the Nazi era

Discrimination in education, vocation and marriage

Persons discriminated as Mischlinge were generally restricted whom to marry or to chose as partner. Mischlinge of first degree generally needed a permission to marry. Usually only other Mischlinge were allowed to become their spouses or Jewish-classified persons, however, this would make the Mischling recategorised as Geltungsjude. After 1942 marriage permissions were generally not granted any more - arguing due to the war - until further notice. Mischlinge of second degree could marry a spouse classified as Aryan without permission required. Any marriage with other Mischlinge of which degree ever was unwelcome, arguing not to increase or maintain the percentage of Jewish ancestry the eventual children would have.

Mischlinge, those of first degree more than those of second degree, had restricted access to higher school and university education and were generally forbidden to attend higher schools and universities in 1942. As to vocation most jobs connected with one's work in the public, such as journalism, teaching, performing arts, government positions, politics etc. were blocked for Mischlinge, however, with exceptions for some prominent persons and those, who gained the needed German blood certificates.

Recruitment into the Organisation Todt

Beginning autumn of 1944, between 10,000 to 20,000 half-Jews (Mischlinge) and persons related to Jews by a so-called mixed marriage were recruited into special units or the Organisation Todt[27].

Mischlinge in German-occupied Europe

While the classifications of Mischling also applied in occupied Western Europe, well documented for the Netherlands, this was not the case in eastern Europe. Persons, who would have been classified as Mischlinge in the West, were simply classified as Jews in German-annexed Poland (Danzig-West Prussia, Warthegau, etc.), German-occupied Poland (General Government), German-occupied parts of the Soviet Union and the German-occupied Soviet-annexed Baltic states and eastern Poland.

See also

External links

Reference Works

Notes

  1. The term did not originate in Nazi Germany. It arose in botany and zoology as meaning "hybrid" or "mongrel" before being applied to human beings in the mid-nineteenth century. From inception, it carried connotations of inferiority and degeneracy. In the Third Reich, it developed into an official legal term with a fixed and defined meaning set out by regulation. Holocaust Encyclopedia p. 420-25. See also article on Eugen Fischer.
  2. Messinger, Heinz. Langenscheidts Handwörterbuch Englisch, 2 parts, Teil II: Deutsch-English. Berlin (West) et al.: Langenscheidt, 1959
  3. A later secession from the Jewish community did not affect the classification as Geltungsjude. Secession from religious Jewish congregations remained possible until July 1939, when the Gestapo transformed them all into its subdivisions, forced to enlist every person discriminated as Geltungsjude or Jew according to the Nuremberg Laws.
  4. http://www.mtsu.edu/~baustin/nurmlaw2.html
  5. R. Hilberg, Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders, pp. 150ff.
  6. The rather awkward term was a circumlocution for "Jew" (German: Jude) and was used in legal parlance until the Nuremberg Laws of September 1935. See Mischling Test.
  7. See Mischling Test article for more detail.
  8. Outward features of one's physiognomy could play a role in paternity suits aiming for reclassification.
  9. The choice was often based on the dominant form of Christendom in the area of Germany where the converts lived. According to the census in 1933 there were in Germany, with an overall population of 62 millions, 41 million parishioners enlisted with one of the 28 different Lutheran, Reformed and United Protestant church bodies, making up 66% as against 21,1 million Catholics (32,5%). The biggest of them, the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union comprised 18 million enlisted parishioners. Noteworthy families of Jewish descent, who converted to Lutheran Protestantism included those of Karl Marx and Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. The borders of Germany changed several times between the Napoleonic era and the rise of the Third Reich. Areas at times under French or Polish political or cultural dominance were overwhelmingly Catholic in religion within the Gentile community.
  10. ›Büro Pfarrer Grüber‹ Evangelische Hilfsstelle für ehemals Rasseverfolgte. Geschichte und Wirken heute, edited by the Evangelische Hilfsstelle für ehemals Rasseverfolgte (English: Evangelical Centre to Help the formerly Racially Persecuted), Berlin: no publ., 1988, p. 8. No ISBN.
  11. Ursula Büttner, "Von der Kirche verlassen: Die deutschen Protestanten und die Verfolgung der Juden und Christen jüdischer Herkunft im »Dritten Reich«", In: Die verlassenen Kinder der Kirche: Der Umgang mit Christen jüdischer Herkunft im »Dritten Reich«, Ursula Büttner and Martin Greschat (eds.), Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998, pp. 15-69, here footnote 20 on pp. 20seq. ISBN 3-525-01620-4.
  12. Cf. for reclassifications by way of acts of mercy and other forms: Beate Meyer, 'Jüdische Mischlinge' – Rassenpolitik und Verfolgungserfahrung 1933–1945 (11999), Hamburg: Dölling und Galitz, 22002, (Studien zur jüdischen Geschichte; vol. 6), simultaneously Hamburg, Univ., Diss., 1998, ISBN 3-933374-22-7, especially chapter 'IV. Andere "Ehrenarier"' (Other "honorary Aryans"), pp. 152–160.
  13. One action is recorded, where the plaintiff doubted the parentage of his Jewish-classified mother, claiming he had been confounded in the maternity clinic.
  14. The "Institute for Genetics and Racial Hygienics" in Frankfurt upon Main delivered 448 medical evidences for paternity suits aiming for reclassification in Frankfurt and its environs. In December 1938 the "Institute of Racial Biology" of the University of Hamburg complained that since the November Pogrom judges demanded every week 20 more medical evidences for paternity suits aiming for reclassification in Hamburg. Cf. Beate Meyer, 'Jüdische Mischlinge' – Rassenpolitik und Verfolgungserfahrung 1933–1945 (11999), Hamburg: Dölling und Galitz, 22002, (Studien zur jüdischen Geschichte; vol. 6), simultaneously Hamburg, Univ., Diss., 1998, pp. 112seq. ISBN 3-933374-22-7
  15. Anyway, many of the involved public health officers did not believe in the pseudo-scientific categories of Aryan and Jewish race, but considered it a farce, and even told this their patients, at examining them. So one can suggest they delivered ambiguous medical evidences on purpose.
  16. Cf. for reclassifications by paternity suits the very instructive book: Beate Meyer, 'Jüdische Mischlinge' – Rassenpolitik und Verfolgungserfahrung 1933–1945 (11999), Hamburg: Dölling und Galitz, 22002, (Studien zur jüdischen Geschichte; vol. 6), simultaneously Hamburg, Univ., Diss., 1998, ISBN 3-933374-22-7, especially chapter 'III. Abstammungsverfahren vor Zivilgerichten' (suits on descent in ordinary courts), pp. 109–151.
  17. Karaites in Germany and in German-occupied Europe were mostly spared from the Shoah, however, sometimes included in German-initiated pogroms in eastern Europe.
  18. D. Bankier, in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Volume 3, Number 1 (1988), pp. 1-20.
  19. Bryan Mark Rigg, Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story Of Nazi Racial Laws And Men Of Jewish Descent In The German Military (Modern War Studies) (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004), ISBN 0700613587 (see also "External links"). On p. 300 Rigg discusses Jewish conversion to Roman Catholicism and to Lutheranism but does not offer a deduction on which of those two largest religious orientations among Germans was more likely to attract the Jewish converts.
  20. Cf. Hartmut Ludwig, "Das ›Büro Pfarrer Grüber‹ 1938-1940", In: ›Büro Pfarrer Grüber‹ Evangelische Hilfsstelle für ehemals Rasseverfolgte. Geschichte und Wirken heute, Walter Sylten, Joachim-Dieter Schwäbl and Michael Kreutzer on behalf of the Evangelische Hilfsstelle für ehemals Rasseverfolgte (ed.; Evangelical Relief Centre for the formerly Racially Persecuted), Berlin: Evangelische Hilfsstelle für ehemals Rasseverfolgte, 1988, pp. 1–23, here p. 4. No ISBN.
  21. Hans Faust, "Vorläufer des Bundes der Verfolgten des Naziregimes Berlin e. V.", in: Die Mahnung (periodical of the Bund der Verfolgten des Naziregimes Berlin e. V., ie Berlin Federation of the Persecuted of the Nazi Regime), 1 September 1983.
  22. Felicitas Bothe-von Richthofen, Widerstand in Wilmersdorf, Memorial to the German Resistance (ed.), Berlin: Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand, 1993, (Schriftenreihe über den Widerstand in Berlin von 1933 bis 1945; vol. 7), pp. 140seq. ISBN 3-926082-03-8.
  23. Cf. Hans-Dietrich Genscher, "Leben und Wirken Dr. Rainer Hildebrandts", in: Rabin-Gedenkkonzert mit Keren Hadar, Maya Zehden (ed.) on behalf of the Deutsch-Israelische Gesellschaft / Arbeitsgemeinschaft Berlin und Potsdam, Berlin: no publ., 2009, p. 32. No ISBN
  24. However, Schmidt successfully managed to hide his Jewish grandfather, pretending not knowing who was the actual father of his illegitimately born father (Lehrer, Steven (2000). Wannsee house and the Holocaust. McFarland. p. 74. ISBN 9780786407927. ; "Told French President of Jewish Origins - Helmut Schmidt's Revelation Reported". Los Angeles Times. 1988-02-25. http://articles.latimes.com/1988-02-25/news/mn-45342_1_jewish-origins. Retrieved 2009-09-25. ). So - though being suspect of having Jewish ancestry, he in fact did not suffer discriminations, because the official practice was then, to decide in dubio pro reo, for the illegitimate birth of his father had taken place before 1918. For illegitimate birthes with an - pretendingly of factually - unknown father after 1918 the official practice was just the opposite.
  25. Rigg, 2004, p. 217. Johannes Zukertort was the Wehrmacht's senior artillery officer at the Battle of Sevastopol.
  26. Rigg, 2004, pp. 206, 216-217.
  27. Wolf Gruner (2006). Jewish Forced Labor Under the Nazis. Economic Needs and Racial Aims, 1938–1944. Institute of Contemporary History, Munich and Berlin. New York: Cambridge University Press. Published in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. ISBN 9780521838757
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