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



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    Throughout the Second World War, Nazi party officials never had a definitive, absolute policy concerning intermarried Jews and Mischlinge.  In fact, Hitler himself rode out the entire war without ever definitively answering this question. If the leader of the Third Reich was unsure of how to treat such individuals, how could the Nazi regime pretend to have a solution? The truth is that they never had such a solution. The Third Reich’s stance on the so-called “grey” individuals continually shifted and changed, and the entire period was marked by conflicting orders, impulsive decisions, and indecisiveness.

    This section of the website will attempt to make a certain amount of sense out of the Nazi’s ever-shifting policies concerning intermarried Jews and Mischlinge and the reasons behind them. For reference, here is a short description of the main officers in the Nazi Regime.

HitlerAdolf Hitler: The Fuhrer; the leader of the Third Reich  (12)

Joseph Goebbels: The Minister of PropagandaGoebbels (13)

Heinrich Himmler: Commander of the police forces, Minister of the Interior, in charge of the concentration camps (14)Himmler

    It is important to realize that Hitler’s main strategy for maintaining the strength of the Third Reich was to win the undying support of the German people.  In his own words, “The movement will have to direct its fight entirely to winning the broad masses” (Stoltzfus 4). Hitler’s top-ranked officials, especially Goebbels (Minister of Propaganda) agreed with and internalized this ultimate goal. Consequently, especially in the early days of the regime, the Third Reich was wary of actively persecuting intermarried Jews because Hitler worried that separating families would cause too great of a loss of public morale.

    However, the question could not escape being addressed, and by 1941, Party officials were pushing to deport both Mischlinge and intermarried Jews. In January of that year, upper level officials discussing the impending Final Solution decided to treat all Mischlinge as Jews, and also to deport full Jews from intermarriages (Stoltzfus 151). However, in August, a concerned Hitler rejected this decision and later ordered the Gestapo to “defer temporarily” all Mischlinge and intermarried Jews from Final Solution actions and deportations. Hitler began to think that perhaps this issue would be better dealt with after the war (Stoltzfus 171).

    Hitler and Goebbels were torn between wanting to keep the support of the public and achieving the purification of the German Aryan race. The effects of this conflict are seen in Hitler’s wavering attitude.  Often Hitler would receive notice that the Gestapo had deported various intermarried Jews under the guise of petty misdemeanors, but he would not take any action to discipline these men or to counteract the actions (Stoltzfus 186). On the other hand, Hitler personally handed out many equalizations to intermarried Jews on a case-by-case basis, effectively protecting them from any persecution (Stoltzfus 119).

    Heinrich Himmler had a much less cautious attitude towards the whole issue and continually pushed to include all half Jews and intermarried Jews in the Final Solution to rid Germany of Jews once and for all (Stoltzfus 170).

    At the Wannsee Conference (15) on January 20, 1942, Himmler’s deputy, ReinhardtWannsee Heydrich, proposed that all intermarried Jews were to be treated just like Jews, with a few exceptions: “It will have to be decided from case to case whether the Jewish part [of intermarriages] will be evacuated, or whether because of regard to the effect of such measure on the German relatives of this intermarriage, the Jew will be sent to an old people’s ghetto [Theresienstadt]” (Stoltzfus 172). It was also decided that Mischlinge would be allowed to stay within Germany provided that they “volunteered” to be sterilized. Later, Goebbels, who was not present at the conference, ordered that some of these decisions be reconsidered.

    At another conference on October 27, 1942, it was agreed that all intermarried Jews were to be forcibly removed from their partners and deported; however, because of other Party members’ objections, the Third Reich never passed a law requiring intermarried couples to divorce.

    The regime began to move swiftly toward its goal of ridding Germany of Jews. Shortly after the October 1942 conference, Himmler, in the spirit of the Final Solution, ordered that all concentrations camps were to be made “free of Jews” and “Mischlinge of first degree should be counted as Jewish prisoners” (Stoltzfus 194). Also, in an attempt to begin deporting intermarried Jews, the regime organized and executed the 1943 Final Roundup in Berlin (See Rosenstrasse). The ever-wary Goebbels was careful to order that only intermarried Jews without children were to be deported (Stoltzfus 195).

    Various other schemes and plans to deal with intermarried Jews and Mischlinge were proposed until the end of the Nazi regime, including the Riech Security Main Office’s plot to send all Mischlinge to Poland (Stoltzfus 205). However, as demonstrated, these discussions were predominately confusing and conflicting and never resulted in a clear Party policy.

    Because of this wavering attitude, intermarried Jews and Mischlinge in Nazi Germany experienced many forms of persecution but never knew exactly what to expect. This fact makes the exploration of individual experiences under the Third Reich very intriguing.