Neither Black Nor White: Intermarried Jews and Mischlinge during the Third Reich


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Walter Goldberg

Walter Goldberg’s story is not one of an intermarried couple, but one of a Mischling’s experience during the Third Reich.

Walter was the son of an intermarriage, giving him the title of Mischling. His father had been raised Jewish but converted to Lutheranism as soon as he became an adult.  Because Mr. Goldberg embraced Christianity so fully, Walter had no reason to suspect his Jewish heritage.  He had been baptized at the Grunewald Lutheran Church as a child, and all of family holidays were Christian. In fact, Walter was blissfully unaware of his Jewish heritage until the age of 14, when a newly elected school principal took it upon himself to make the school Judenfrei and singled out Walter.

After Walter learned of this harsh reality, his first reaction was to attempt to blend in once more.  Already an avid member of the German Boy Scouts, Walter joined the Hitler Youth at the age of 14. Mischlinge were initially allowed to join such groups but were soon ousted from them.  This, indeed, was Walter’s experience. He was soon asked to leave.  At school, Walter was harassed and was forced to drop out in April 1935. He apprenticed at a clothing firm. Walter was also asked to leave the Lutheran Church, which was quite surprising to him since he had devoted much time to attending services and Sunday school (Stoltzfus 85). He was even asked to leave his beloved Boy Scouts!

                                                         Walter (on the right) and his brother, Gunther, at the age of 14

By 1936, Walter had been effectively singled out from German society. However, the regime’s stance concerning Mischlinge was never completely   clear throughout the Third Reich.  The Nazi’s attitude toward half-Jews wavered, and perhaps because of this, in 1938, Walter was invited back into Aryan society. He was placed in the Reich Labor Service at age 19, and was soon swaggering around in uniform, complete with a swastika armband (Stoltzfus 87). Walter rejoiced in this newly-found acceptance, and joined the Wermacht army on December 1, 1938.

Walter with his mother, 1938. Notice the swastika armband on his Reich Labor Service uniform.

On one Sunday, Walter was informed that his picture had been published in the local newspaper with a caption reading: “The Ideal German Soldier.” Ironically, Walter, with his Jewish heritage, was anything but the Third Reich’s ideal German soldier (Stoltzfus 113).

Walter felt very protected as a member of the German army, but was baffled by the fact that while he was fighting for the German cause, his father, as a Jew, was being subjected to all manner of persecution and harassment. When informed that his sickly father had been told to report for harsh physical labor, Walter went to his superiors to attempt to help his father. A kindly officer gave Walter two weeks’ leave and told him to go to Berlin to straighten out the mess. Dressed in official army uniform, Walter used his influence to save his father from forced labor and to obtain food stamps for his parents.

However, Walter was soon ousted from the military with Hitler’s order on April 8, 1940, which stated that all Mischlinge were to be expelled from the military. Walter remembers that his division gave him a fond sending-off (Stoltzfus 120).

Throughout the rest of the war years, in a continued attempt to blend in, Walter worked for the Reich as part of the German Labor Front, and later as a lecturer on clothing business for the Reich Labor Studies Board.

Walter used his influence to save his father’s life multiple times, including participating in the Rosenstrasse Protest and also saving his father from a scheduled deportation in April 1943.

Walter’s father was the only member of the family to survive the war.

It is a sad truth that many Mischlinge, like Walter, were forced to support the war effort simply to survive.

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