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I had thought the claim that any Jew, let alone a hundred and fifty thousand of them, had actually fought in WW2 for Hitler would have been preposterous. Yet it happened; I was wrong. Many Jews actually rose to the highest ranks in the Nazi army, navy, air force, government and even the SS. For example, Milch, more than anyone, created the Luftwaffe, General Helmut Wilberg was one of the outstanding members of the Luftwaffe from its very conception and the notorious Canaris all were Jews according to the Nazi laws: they had either a Jewish parent or grandparent. Despite the fact that neither they nor any of their immediate relatives had followed Judaism for several generations, these men were often still declared Jewish by Nazi Law. Riggs tells us of the hopes, the fears, the shame, the shock and the pride of several dozen such men from the estimated total of 150, 000 Jews and those labeled as Jews who fought for Hitler through a series of first hand interviews with these men or, in some cases, through their families. He tells us how they reacted and acted to their duty to their families, to themselves and to their country in their fight to try to protect themselves and their relatives from the Nazi madness.
So what is the catch I hear you ask? Yes there is a catch actually, a fascinating, heartbreaking, tragic one. Here, briefly, is the story. The Jews of Germany were very different from the Jews of Eastern Europe. Germany was a modern country and Poland, for example, was still practically a country locked in feudalism. The 500, 000 Jews of Germany in 1930 been assimilating in Germany since at least the 1800’s. Many of them had fought against Napoleon in 1812, thousands of them had fought even earlier in the Franco/Prussian war, and 100, 000 Jews had fought for Germany in WW1. Even more Jews, some 300,000, had fought for the Austrian/Hungarian Empire. Most of them were very proud Germans or Austrians.
Consequently many of these Jews had family histories as proud German, or Prussian or Austrian soldiers for their new homelands going back several hundred years. Many of them, the majority actually, were shocked to be considered as Jews. The same was not true of Poland, for example, in which most of the two to three million Jews of Poland, for the most part, did not even speak Polish as a first language, if at all, but were instead considered to be Yiddish speaking unwelcome Aliens by most Poles, and frankly by most of the world. The majority of these Polish Jews were locked into a world of their own by their orthodox, strict religious codes. They still are. According to Rigg, their very appearance of long beards, black fur hats, and long side locks were an embarrassment to the Germans Jews.
On the other hand in the 1920’s, ten years before Hitler, 60% of the Jews of Germany were marrying outside of Judaism, a rate of assimilation equal to that of the USA today, almost a hundred years later. However, here is the catch. Although many of these Jewish soldiers were religious Jews, the majority of them were ½ Jews or 1/4 Jews, to use the crude Nazi terms, and they had become Christians, or atheists or non-believers who had long forgotten their Jewish heritage. Nevertheless, most of the above were suddenly labeled as Jews by the Nazis and many of them were shocked to be labeled Jews. Rigg points out that this assimilation is why some strict Jews, Rebbe Joseph Isaac Schneersohn, for example, believed that God had sent Hitler to punish the Jews: these Jews had sinned against God.
(Which doesn’t say much for the so- called Judaic/ Christian values)
There were approximately 500, 000 Jews and several million ex- Jews, if that’s the right word, in Germany when Hitler took power. All of them loved Germany at that time. Rigg’s books tell the tale of what these ‘Jews’ tried to do as they waited for Germany to come to its senses and get rid of Hitler, as most of them believed that it would
Riggs then goes on the tell the tale of horror of these thousands of Germans, real Jews, “Jews” or Christians who had married Jews, who often returned from the battle fields only to find that their parents, wives, children, girlfriends, or grandparents had been taken away. He describes the shock and disbelieve that the Nazis, from Hitler and Goring to the guards at the camps, had in finding out about this terrible situation that they had created or had been a part of. Nobody it seems at that time had any idea just how many such Jews were in Germany or especially how many were in the armed forces. He tells the indignity some of these Jewish soldiers felt as they were themselves taken away, sometimes with their medals still on, or the indignity of going to the camps on their own while dressed in their SS or SA uniforms while trying to rescue their parents. He also tells us how these Nazis, from Hitler himself, to Goring to the ordinary German, to the German soldiers and camp guards reacted to this horrible tragedy. It will surprise you.
Although Riggs makes the typical believer, unsubstantiated claims of the worst exaggerations of the holocaust such as the gassing of millions (A prerequisite, no doubt, of getting a book published in the Western world),and although he concludes both his books with hope and innocence, he nevertheless tells an interesting and largely unknown history of the holocaust . Most importantly I believe he directly and indirectly tells us some of the most basic truths about the holocaust, perhaps without even being aware of it, that only the wisest of us would have known and have been arguing on this site for years.
I welcome all and any comments.
So the fact that many Jews (by Jewish Halachic criteria and/or Nazi racial criteria) fought for the Third Reich is no surprise.
Of course, the real issue with Rigg's books is that it suggests that Nazi racial policy was to some extent insincere, or, at any rate not as draconian as usually argued. And that's the sore spot. After all, many full Jews, half Jews and quarter Jews were discriminated against if not divested of their property and shipped off to some camp somewhere.
By the way, it has to be said for the record that while the evidence suggests that Erhard Milch was half-Jewish (his legal father was Jewish), Milch always denied it and insisted that he was the product of an incestuous liaison.
This was revealed by David Irving after Milch's death. Irving was sworn to secrecy during Milch's lifetime, one of the stipulations Milch made in giving Irving access to his papers and diaries. Understandably, it was an awkward matter for Milch during the WWII era, with many assuming he was at least partly Jewish. The truth was revealed to only a few of the highest-ranking people, including Hitler, and his secret was kept.
First, Milch was not an only child. Are we supposed to believe that Milch's great uncle fathered all of these kids? All of this with the compliance of Milch's legal father? BTW, Milch's father was a pharmacist in the Imperial Navy.
Second, Robert Wistrich, in investigating Milch's heritage, notes that his mother's maiden name was Rosenau, also a Jewish name, although she was Christian, which means her family were probably conversos, at some point (that would include the uncle, I presume).
Third, the issue of Milch's heritage never came up UNTIL he needed a blood certificate in 1935, endorsing him as an Aryan (he could not occupy the position he was in as a half-Jew)
When Milch was a boy, his mother finally relented and married a well-off Jewish man who had adored and courted her for years, and who promised to take care of her and little Erhard. It's possible the marriage was never consummated.
I'd like a source for the above, please.
In 1935, Milch's ethnicity came into question when rumours began to circulate that his father, Anton Milch, was a Jew. This prompted an investigation by the Gestapo that Göring quelled by producing an affidavit signed by Milch's mother stating that Anton was not really the father of Erhard and his siblings, and naming their true father as Karl Brauer, her uncle. These events and his being issued a German Blood Certificate prompted Hermann Göring to give his famous "I decide who is a Jew!" quote.
"That only makes the matter worse." said the King, "You must have meant some mischief, or else you'd have signed like an honest man."
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