Neither Black Nor White: Intermarried Jews and Mischlinge during the Third Reich
What Makes a Pure German?
The Party's Viewpoint
The Rosenstrasse Protest
The Third Reich often evokes images of a totalitarian police state, run with an iron arm and allowing no place for dissent, much less resistance. To some extent, this portrait of Nazi Germany is accurate. The Nazi party controlled many aspects of society, including communication (newspapers and radios), military service, and even day-to-day life. The formidable Gestapo police force caused many people to continuously live in fear of being arrested.
resistance efforts were present
during Nazi Germany. Although some efforts such as the White Rose, organized by
university students in
One of the most memorable resistance efforts that truly changed the original plans of Nazi officials occurred between February 27th and March 6th, 1943. This resistance effort is known today as Rosenstrasse.
the early months of 1943, Nazi officials in
February 27, 1943, the Final Roundup of Jews in
the end of the first day, the Nazis had collected 5,000 Jews. These confused
and distraught individuals were taken to Rosenstrasse 2-4 as a temporary
holding place before the next step of being deported to concentration
camps. Ironically, the Rosenstrasse area
was traditionally a center of Jewish community. Some Jews were unconcerned when
they arrived there because they were in familiar surroundings (Stoltzfus 214).
However, the Jews’ confinement at Rosenstrasse was a cause for concern, as it is undeniable that the Nazi’s
ultimate intention was to deport all of the Jews in
By the end of the second day of the Final Roundup, a small crowd of about 200 women and other protestors had gathered outside of the one-entrance building of Rosenstrasse, armed only with the cry, “We want our husbands back” (Stoltzfus 215). This crowd, comprised mostly of Aryan women married to Jews, grew from day to day as more concerned wives and family members made the trek to Rosenstrasse in an attempt to free their loved ones.
As the women outside protested, the conditions within the building worsened. Small portions of chopped cabbage made up the prisoners’ main diet, and unsanitary crowded living conditions were rampant (Stoltzfus 223). However, the prisoners drew hope from the sound of the women’s unrelenting cries of protest outside the building.
massive public protests were not allowed under the Third Reich, Goebbels felt
that it was necessary to terminate this protest as soon as possible to
eliminate the chance of anti-Nazi sentiments spreading to other areas of
On March 6, 1943, the protestors’ perseverance and determination was rewarded. Goebbels ordered the release of the 1,700 intermarried Jews and Mischlinge detained within Rosenstrasse 2-4 as a last-ditch effort to hide the fact that such a massive protest had occurred. The official explanation was that the Gestapo had abused its power by arresting German-Jewish families (Stoltzfus 248). For the thousands of families involved, however, it didn’t matter what the explanation was. They simply considered themselves lucky to have a chance to be reunited.
For more information on the Rosenstrasse protest, see Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany by Nathan Stoltzfus .