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With his oldest sister married, his father decided that he and his two brothers should receive vocational training and that their other sister should help their mother with housework. Increasingly, women found themselves representing or defending their men, whether husbands, fathers, or brothers. Many tales have been recorded of women who saved family members from the arbitrary demands of the state or from the secret police the Gestapo. In these cases, it was always assumed that the Nazis would not break gender norms: they might arrest or torture Jewish men, but would not harm women.

Thus women took on a more assertive public role than ever before. Liselotte Mueller traveled to Palestine to assess the situation there. Her husband, older and more educated than she, would in other circumstances have been the decision-maker, but he agreed. After traveling to the United States to convince reluctant and distant relatives to give her family an affidavit, one woman had to confront the US Embassy in Stuttgart, which insisted that there was no record of her.

She showed her receipts, but the secretary just shrugged. She would spend as many days and nights in the waiting room as necessary until they found her documents. After much discussion, the consul ordered a search of the files and the documents were discovered. Then, she appealed to a judge who seemed attracted to her. He requested that she come to his home in the evening, where he would give her a release form.

Knowing that she risked a sexual demand or worse, she entered his home. The judge treated her politely and signed the release. They often pestered me and asked for dates. These new roles may have increased familial stress in some cases, but both women and men generally appreciated the importance of the new behavior. I had to take over, which I never did before. He was thankful. For the sake of her children, one woman struggled to retain her self-control as her husband sank into a deep depression: He could no longer sleep.

He stopped eating, as he said no one had the right to eat when he did not work and became. He feared we would all starve. This occurred even in cities with large Jewish populations. In Berlin, 5, Jewish youths attended higher schools in May ; the following May, 2, were left; and two years later, only 1, remained. By , Jewish students at the Friedrich Wilhelm University of Berlin had to come to terms with a wide yellow stripe stamped in their matriculation books. The result was that by the summer of , only Jewish students men and women matriculated at German universities, compared with 3, 2, men and 1, women in the summer of When children came home from school, their mothers were the first ones to hear the latest stories and had to respond to them.

Because your little daughter is the best pupil in the class, she will be — 21 — Marion Kaplan affected by these measures. Sometimes a judicious teacher gave a selection of subjects. Six-, seven-, or eight-year-olds found it agonizing not to be part of the group. One little boy, referring to his circumcision, confided to his father that he wished he were a girl, because then the other children would not know immediately that he was a Jew. This is the same child whose teacher noted that he flinched every time the Nazi flag was raised.

When spring came, the class was — 22 — Changing Roles in Jewish Families to go to the public pool to actually swim. With sadness, her female teacher told her she could not join the class. For a minute, I believe, I wanted to die. Curiously, I was hurt more for my parents than for myself. In one small town, the elementary school teacher insisted that Jewish children give the Nazi salute. The parents advised the children not to do so, both because it was against Judaism to exalt a human being, and because the newspapers stated that Jews were not supposed to give the salute.

Why did they remain in public schools as long as they did, when, as early as , the Reich Representation of German Jews Reichsvertretung der deutschen Juden reported that many Jewish children were showing signs of psychological disturbance? Further, the public schools had acquired reputations for educational competence. Moreover, some Jews still lived in towns in which the population of Jews was too small to support a Jewish school. A gender-specific family dimension also appears to be involved: while mothers voiced grave trepidations, fathers exhorted the children to remain in school.

But there were still many parents who wanted to give children the advantage of a city — 23 — Marion Kaplan school. If the parents had only guessed what the children had to go through. What must have been going on in the soul of a small, innocent child? They sought to spare their fathers yet another strain because their business or professional lives were bitter enough. Children, reacting almost viscerally to present dangers at home, wanted to cut all ties with Germany, but parents feared an unknown future abroad. Many, like Ruth Eisner, had pressed for their whole families to emigrate.

By , 82 percent of children aged fifteen and under and 83 percent of youths aged sixteen to twenty-four had managed to escape Germany. In the early years, parents had tried to keep the family together, that is, to go or to stay as a unit, but as conditions worsened, some parents made the agonizing decision to send their children into safety alone, splitting the family in the hope of an uncertain reunion. Women usually saw the danger signals first and urged their husbands to flee Germany. The men in the room, including her husband, a rabbi, condemned him: The women.

I discussed this with my husband on the way home. Those men who could still earn a living felt that, as breadwinners, they could not simply leave and force their families to face poverty abroad. Women, on the other hand, claimed to be ready to become domestics if they could flee with their families. In general, women were less involved than men in the economy, even though some women had been in the job market their entire adult lives and others had entered it for the first time.

First, since Jewish men worked mostly with other Jews in traditional Jewish occupations retail trade in specific branches of consumer goods, in the cattle trade, or in independent practices as physicians and attorneys , they may have been more isolated from non-Jewish peers though not from non-Jewish customers—and those who continued to come gave some cause for hope.

As the boycotts of Jewish concerns grew more widespread and more insistent, those Jewish men whose businesses remained intact saw their clientele become predominantly Jewish, isolating them further. Moreover, discriminatory hiring meant that Jewish blue- and white-collar workers found opportunities only within the Jewish economic sector.

Second, Jewish men had a great deal to lose. They had to tear themselves away from their life-work, whether a business or professional practice, whether patients, clients or colleagues, status or possessions. He may have been a bit too attached to his status, as well as his possessions.

One woman, whose husband managed her inherited manufacturing business, wanted to flee immediately in He, on the other hand, refused to leave the business. Although the wife could not convince her husband to flee, she insisted that they both learn a trade that would be useful abroad. Women, whose identity was more family-oriented, struggled to preserve what was central to them by fleeing with it.

Summing up, Peter Wyden recalled the debates within his own and other Jewish families in Berlin: It was not a bit unusual in these go-or-no-go family dilemmas for the women to display more energy and enterprise than the men. Almost no women had a business, a law office, or a medical practice to lose.

They were less status-conscious, less money-oriented than the men. They seemed to be less rigid, less cautious, more confident of their ability to flourish on new turf. Whereas men focused on government pronouncements, news broadcasts, and business, women were more integrated into their community.


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Raised to be sensitive to interpersonal behavior and social situations, women possessed social antennae that were finely tuned and directed towards more unconventional—what — 27 — Marion Kaplan men might have considered more trivial—sources of information. For example, a US Jewish couple that resided in Hamburg during the s heard about the danger from their hired help.

They registered the increasing hostility of their immediate surroundings, unmitigated by a promising business prospect, a loyal employee, a patient, or a kind customer. Men, on the other hand, felt as though they were more at home with culture and politics. Generally more educated than their wives, they cherished what they regarded as German culture, the culture of the German Enlightenment.

The wives of these men typically could not convince their husbands that they, too, were in danger. Hitler used the Jews. Men mediated their experiences through newspapers and broadcasts. Hanna Bernheim replied: First of all it is so awfully hard for our old, sick father to be left by all his four children. Second there are so many dissatisfied people in all classes, professions and trades. But, decisions seem to — 29 — Marion Kaplan have been made by husbands—or, later, by circumstances.

Despite some important role reversals, families generally held fast to traditional gender roles in actual decision-making unless they were overwhelmed by events. Charlotte Stein-Pick had begged her father to flee in March Her husband brought her father to the train station only moments before the SS arrived to arrest the older man. His arrest forced their emigration and she supported the family in Australia. She portrayed her short grandmother looking up to her tall grandfather, whose head juts above the frame of the painting.

It was a last desperate — 30 — Changing Roles in Jewish Families act and Papa did not even choke with anger anymore. They should either return to Judaism. Germany was dead [for her]. The most crucial task confronting Jewish women was to rescue their men. Wives of prisoners were told that their husbands would be freed only if they could present emigration papers.

Although there are no statistics to indicate their success, these women displayed extraordinary nerve and tenacity in saving a large number of men and in facilitating a mass exodus of married couples in Women again summoned the courage to overcome gender stereotypes of passivity in order to find any means necessary to have husbands and fathers released from camps. I was treated like a leper, even by people who were positively inclined towards us. Accompanying her husband home after his ordeal, one wife explained that she had just sold their house and bought tickets to Shanghai for the family.

They were indebted to women even after their ordeal when many men were too beaten in body and spirit to be of much use in the scramble to emigrate. Some men came home desperately ill, others suffered deep depression.

Identity politics and the Marxist lie of white privilege

Traditionally, men had publicly guarded the honor of the family and community; now suddenly, women found themselves in the difficult position of defending Jewish honor. On their own, women had to organize the papers, decide on the destination if they had not discussed this previously with a spouse, sibling or parent , sell property, and arrange the departure.

The red tape involved in emigrating was a dreadful ordeal. Statistics from the pre-pogrom years may give the impression that a certain number of Jews smoothly managed to leave Germany and enter the country of their choice. They cover up the individual stories that describe complicated emigration attempts, failures, and new attempts. The problems encountered gave rise to gallows humor.

If one studied Spanish or Portuguese to go to Latin America, sudden barriers to entry arose and one had to prepare for another country. If one turned to Hebrew, obstacles to acquiring the necessary certificates were certain to develop and one had to change to yet another language. We have filed applications for entry permits to Switzerland, Denmark, and Sweden. It was all in vain, though in all these countries we had good connections. In the spring of , from an agent we obtained an entry permit for Mexico for 3, marks.

But we never received the visa, because the Mexican consulate asked us to present passports that would entitle us to return to Germany, and the German authorities did not issue such passports to Jews. Then, in August we did actually get the permit for England. But it came too late, only ten days before the outbreak of war, and in this short time we were not able to take care of all the formalities with the German authorities.

In the spring of we received the entry permit for Portugal. We immediately got everything ready and applied for our passports. Then came the invasion of Holland, Belgium and France by the German troops. A stream of refugees poured to Portugal, and the Portuguese government recalled by wire all of the issued permits. It was also good that in December we had not already paid for our Panamanian visas; for we noticed that the visas offered us did not at all entitle us to land in Panama. For parents, the decision to send off a child, often a very young one, was the most excruciating moment of their lives.

Many mothers, with husbands in concentration camps or safely abroad, made the decision on their own and then suffered intensely from the loss of daily intimacy. As just implied, families frequently had to split in order to save all or some of their members. This became clear as children escaped, often never to see their parents again. More generally, families made harsh and excruciating decisions to save the young and to leave the elderly behind. Statistics show that two-thirds of the deportees were forty-five years of age or older.

Many felt they could no longer start anew in a place of refuge; others believed that they might join their children, once they had settled; all realized that countries of emigration did not allow in unproductive individuals unless they had secure promises of financial support, which they did not; and most thought that they would live a restricted life, but that the Nazis would not hurt them.

By the time they realized the last to be untrue, the war had intervened and doors of emigration and immigration had slammed shut. The combination of age and gender, as already intimated, was the most lethal. Fewer women than men left Germany. Why was this so? There were still compelling reasons to stay, although life became increasingly difficult. First, women, especially young women, could still find jobs as teachers in Jewish schools or in Jewish social services.

Martha Wertheimer, for example, worked as a journalist prior to Thereafter, she plunged into Jewish welfare. Some husbands or sons had business connections abroad facilitating their immediate flight, and others emigrated alone in order to establish themselves and then send for their families.

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Also, families believed that sons needed to establish economic futures, whereas daughters would, presumably, marry. Despite trepidations, parents sent sons into the unknown more readily than daughters. Families—mostly wives and mothers—strained every resource to provide the documentation to free these men and send them on their way while some of the women remained behind.

Alice Nauen recalled how difficult these emigration decisions were for all Jews: Should we send the men out first? If you have two tickets, do you take one man out of the concentration camp and his wife who is at this moment safe? Or do you take your two men out of the concentration camp?

They took two men out. Those had to come out. The regime had, in fact, beaten, tortured, imprisoned, and shot Jewish men, but had spared women as a group from the worst brutality even during the November Pogrom. In the same families, the — 35 — Marion Kaplan sons went their way. Statistics for the first half of indicate, for example, that of those taking advantage of Zionist retraining programs, only 32 percent were female. In , In part, our husbands had died from shock, partly they had been processed from life to death in a concentration camp and partly some wives who, aware of the greater danger to their husbands, had prevailed upon them to leave at once and alone.

They were ready to take care of everything and to follow their husbands later on, but because of the war it became impossible for many to realize this intention and quite a few of my friends and acquaintances thus became martyrs of Hitler. Because men faced danger and often lost their jobs, women took on more assertive public and economic roles. Although parents tried to protect their children, children themselves disagreed with these strategies and urged parents to take different action, which was focused on leaving Germany. The elderly, normally cared for and protected, were unable to escape and were left behind.

Families that in ordinary times would not have considered disbanding, broke up in order to save individual members. Tragically, in the end, no strategy could save them all. Everyone was together. Tranquility and peace radiated from the rooms and the people. The family and the house were the pillars of life.

Hammer, , Elisabeth Drexler sought employment in a department store in Magdeburg. IF, 13 January 13— See also IF, 14 July BJFB 10, no. CVZ, 25 August Nevertheless, the employment and economic situation of all Jews was bleak. Conversely, only 8 percent of Jews were manual workers in , but 56 percent fell into that category by As unemployment increased, so too did poverty. Berlin saw concentrated poverty. In , the Jewish community there supported fifteen soup kitchens and provided used clothing for 42, By , in Germany — 38 — Changing Roles in Jewish Families as a whole, Jewish Winter Relief would subsidize 26 percent of a greatly diminished and aging population.

IF, 36, no. See also: BJFB, 10, no. IF, 25 June IF, 21 May See also Frankfurter Israelisches Gemeindeblatt, January IF, 14 July Helmut Krueger, memoirs, LBI: 5, 16, 24, JWS, — In early , one report on vocational training for youth suggested that 70 percent of girls leaving school refused any sort of training. Parents kept them at home to assist with household chores.

The report noted that in , the proportion of girls at training sites was only 25 percent. Wolfgang Benz Munich: Beck Verlag, , Liselotte Kahn, memoirs, LBI: Ann Lewis, memoirs, LBI: Lore Steinitz about her mother, Irma Baum. Ruth Abraham, memoirs, LBI: 2. Echoing these fears, the League of Jewish Women worried about the prohibition of its railroad station shelters for young women who might be accosted by men who would take advantage of their situation. November re. Edith Bick interview born , interviewed , Hilde Honnet-Sichel, ms.

Erna Segal, memoirs, LBI: 78— Some children were forced out of schools as often as three times even before the war. Verena Hellwig, ms. See also Monika Richarz, ed. Steve J. Heims, ed. Hanna Bernheim, ms. Eventually, they decided to send their son to a Jewish school in Berlin and their daughter to England. In addition, see Margot Littauer, ms. Toni Lessler, memoirs, LBI: Mally Dienemann, ms. Werner A. She left in January, Of course, there were also women who were too fearful to move, as Peter Gay describes his own mother, but in all of the memoirs and interviews I have read, they are in the miniscule minority.

Quack, Zuflucht Amerika, chs. IV and VI. See also Quack, Between Sorrow and Strength. Quoted by Barkai, From Boycott, 80— After his arrest and release from a concentration camp in November , they managed to escape to Shanghai, where their new skills helped them survive. This article points in a different direction from Claudia Koonz, who argued that women with strong business ties judged the situation much as men did.

Koonz, Mothers, Leo Gompertz, memoirs, LBI: 7. Even women who remained in Germany in order to work in the Jewish community rarely used this kind of argumentation. Elsie Axelrath, ms. She and her husband spent twelve years — in Hamburg. They were the only Jews in the US colony. Else Gerstel, memoirs, LBI: 7l. Elisabeth Drexler, Harvard, no ms. Erna Segal, memoirs, LBI: 45—46, Sylvia Rothchild, ed. Ruth Eisner also reported that her father, a World War I veteran, insisted on staying. See Eisner, Nicht wir allein, 8.

Erna Segal, memoirs, LBI: 45—47, Allport, J. Bruner, and E. Gilligan, In a Different Voice. Alice Nauen interview, 8, Research Foundation. Charlotte Hamburger, memoirs, LBI: 41, She decided to flee after her husband and children faced public abuse. Hilde Honnet-Sichel in Sie durften nicht mehr Deutsche sein, For example, on 26 July , the government demanded the Reichsfluchtsteuer. On 11 September , Jews were issued passports valid only within Germany, making their flight more difficult. On 11 October , Jews could take foreign securities with them only if they could prove that they had them before 1 January This was intended to prevent Jews from taking their money with them.

On 1 December , the Law against Economic Sabotage declared the death penalty for anyone caught sending money abroad or leaving it there, thereby hurting the German economy. In May and June of , Jews had to inform the government of everything they took with them and requests from Jews to bring valuables abroad were to be denied. Laws listed in: Joseph Walk, ed. Elizabeth Bamberger, memoirs, LBI: 5. John Foster, ed. After the Nuremberg Race Laws, she knelt in front of his bed, begging him to leave. The friend told them to flee to the United States where he, himself, was heading.

Only then did her husband agree to go. Marie Bloch interview born , interviewed , 6, 8. Research Foundation. Else Gerstel, memoirs, LBI: Felstiner, To Paint Her Life, Ilse Strauss, memoirs, LBI: chap. Her parents and young brother were deported and killed. A Protestant, she was 43 years old in She had married in and lived in a town of , in Baden. But the war broke out and she was expelled from England.

Almost every night he experienced Sachsenhausen Concentration camp anew in nightmares so alarming that I feared for his sanity. An extreme example of this happened during the deportations, when a nurse walked into a double suicide. Erna Albersheim, ms. Elisabeth Freund, in Monika Richarz, ed. Elisabeth Freund in Richarz, Jewish Life, —4l5.

Richarz writes that of the deportees of about, , the proportion of women was 20 percent higher than that of men. Also, 28, Austrian Jewish women, almost twice the number 15, of Jewish men, were deported from Vienna. JWS, 7—13; JWS, 78— Also, he has found letters to the editor of the CVZ—the newspaper of the Central Association of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith—proposing that these women should become domestics in order to let older and more experienced men who needed jobs take their places. Hanno Loewy, ed. Ruth Eisner recalled that her male cousin left in , three years before she did, because his parents did not want him to face more beatings from neighborhood bullies.

See her Nicht wir allein, 8. Alice Nauen interview, Her father was secretary of the Hilfsverein in Hamburg. Erna Albersheim reported on a small town in East Prussia where some women and girls were imprisoned for about two weeks. In Eberstadt, the local Nazi party leader murdered an year-old Jewish woman, shooting her three times, when she resisted his orders to march to the city hall.

In Breisach, a Jewish woman was badly beaten in her home on 10 November. In Arheilgen later part of Darmstadt , about a dozen SA men cornered a young woman and her father in their home. She died of her injuries the following day and her father killed himself a few days later. Klaus Moritz and Ernst Noam, eds. In Usingen, a town of about 2, people in , the November Pogrom involved the beating of at least two Jewish couples. Moritz and Noam, NS Verbrechen, — Deutschland-Berichte, , For three more instances of violence against women in small towns, see Heinz Lauber, Judenpogrom: Reichskristallnacht November in Grossdeutschland Gerlingen: Bleicher, , —, — In addition, some women were also taken hostage for husbands who had hidden.

In Frankfurt, for example, they were taken hostage, but a few were released after a day in jail in order to care for their children at home. In Dresden, women were taken hostage until their husbands turned themselves in. Finally, the elderly, female and male, were not spared physical brutality either. On the edges of Berlin, rioters set the tiny shack Laube of an elderly couple aflame. When the couple tried to escape in their nightshirts, the band tried to force them back into the house.

The man died of a heart attack and the woman needed to be institutionalized thereafter. This was not true for Eastern European Jews who had been deported before the pogrom. There, men, women, children, and the aged were swept up and deported. BJFB, April 5. Ruth Glaser, memoirs, LBI: 26, 7l.

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BJFB, December l. CVZ, 20 January 5. CVZ, 3 March 6. The article was written by Hannah Karminski, who also encouraged women to take household preparation seriously. This broke down to approximately 4, men and 3, women. The Hilfsverein supported 3, men and 2, women that is, The Palestine Office supported men and women. There were people not categorized as male or female. If one ignores these people, the other figures of and result in: 63 percent men and These programs included: Hechaluz, Habonim, and Makkabi Hazair.

Its purpose was to rescue children by sending them to Palestine. Gollancz Ltd. Women were a majority in the Jewish population of German-dominated Europe. In Poland , In Hungary , IF, no. Bruno Blau set up the following table to show the disparity between males and females in figures include Austria, exclusive of Vienna and the Sudetenland.

Lixl-Purcell, Women of Exile, About 22 percent of women were widowed in Of the total number of widows, l6, These figures include Austria exclusive of Vienna and the Sudetenland. In Berlin alone, the number of old age homes grew from five in to thirteen in with l, occupants. By , the number of such institutions had grown to For the assessment of Jewish history in Nazi Germany, this rigid frame of reference has an especially negative effect. One reason for the relative neglect is that evasion is difficult to separate from other forms of Jewish reactions.

By May , roughly a quarter million—half the Jewish population in Germany in —had managed to leave the country; by the end of the war, an estimated 10, Jews in Germany and Austria had taken the illegal route, but most of them did not survive. I cannot cover here the whole spectrum of evasive Jewish behavior stretching beyond emigration and hiding, from the private into the political sphere. The focus of this chapter will be on the question of how persons targeted by anti-Jewish measures applied legal means of undermining the cornerstone in the edifice of persecution—the definition of who a Jew was in the eyes of the regime.

These exemptions reflected both the randomness of categorizing human beings along seemingly scientific, but in reality social, categories and the inherent problems of racial profiling. During the Third Reich, the discussions about how to define Jewishness were bizarre in the arguments made, yet potent in their consequences for the persons affected. We know now that the persecution of the Jews never created enough unrest among German elites or the population at large to become politically dangerous for Nazi rulers; in fact, only the tacit compliance of, and active support by, important strata of German society can explain why the Holocaust happened.

It is here, in the murky area of racial definition and stigmatization within the Reich, that the prospective victims could become active, over time with increasing personal risk and decreasing chances of success, to attain reprieve from persecution, be it only a partial or temporary reprieve. Rejecting the Yellow Badge Concrete manifestations of how those targeted tried to evade being hit by anti-Jewish measures are anything but rare.

The basis for evasion was built into the earliest regulations. The prevailing perception, with its emphasis on collective victimhood, not only limits our understanding of Jewish fate and agency during the Nazi era; it also tends to exclude aspects of historical reality that contradict our current image of how Jews behaved. After , for those who did not or could not emigrate, there were various ways to make use of the fuzziness of the Nazi definition of who was a Jew.

In many cases, desperation led those affected to pursue more than one of the available options at the same time or consecutively. A significant number of those who found themselves labeled as Jews or Mischlinge claimed that they represented a case of mistaken identity as their family history was wrongly documented. It is important to note that claims like these threatened the Nuremberg classification system to the core, unless a workable procedure could be found to clarify the question of ancestry. Thus, in addition to the granting of exemptions by Hitler and other forms of protection based on favor, mechanisms and procedures had to be created that would ensure the proper designation of human beings according to racial principles.

It would investigate cases of doubt on the basis of genealogical, biometrical, and other documentation before it issued authoritative decisions in the form of so-called certificates of ancestry Abstammungsbescheide. One of the key pieces of evidence used to clarify ancestry was expert advice provided by designated anthropologists and racial scientists.

Applying what was then regarded as cutting-edge science, these experts would evaluate genealogy, blood composition, and phenotypical traits. In other words, they provided the methods and the material for drawing the line between the in-group and the out-group. Indeed, despite a gradual tightening of anti-Jewish measures, those targeted could still pursue their own interests in a number of ways.

What is more, on occasion new methods adopted to streamline racial segregation opened new avenues to escape the full impact of persecution. Yet, given the intentions of the authors of this piece of legislation, the actual effect of invoking it was anything but risk-free. Let us look at this law and its application more closely as it reflects an under-researched aspect of behavior by those threatened with falling victim to anti-Jewish measures after I will focus on Berlin, with its more than 80, Jews in the spring of , one-third of the Jewish population left in Germany.

First, either the person in question or someone else, often one of the parents, had to approach a state prosecutor with the request to open a paternity case. In view of the highly Nazified German judiciary and the dangers of taking legal action as a Jew, this was not an appealing idea. Second, to create a convincing case, evidence had to be presented to the effect that the father-of-record was in fact not the biological father, but that the child had been conceived in an adulterous affair—an argument that, even in cases where it was true, went against some of the most basic tenets of conventional morality, especially when the parents were still alive.

Third, German prosecutors did not consider evidence provided by Jews or Mischlinge as reliable. Despite all of these odds, between the spring of and , in Berlin alone, about persons—mostly Mischlinge—used the family law novella for the purpose of evading the full force of anti-Jewish persecution. As racial reclassification had consequences for the status not only of the person in question, but also for his or her children, the minimum of those in Berlin directly involved in cases under this law can be estimated at roughly one thousand.

The available data do not offer a coherent picture for Germany as a whole; yet it is not unrealistic to assume that the fate of several thousand persons in the Reich and in Austria was decided, directly or indirectly, by courts applying the — 54 — Evading Persecution family law novella. Yet, this law and its application are crucial for a better understanding of how Jews not only used loopholes in the fabric of German Judenpolitik, but also actively went against the thrust of Nazi measures to evade being persecuted. Not surprisingly, then, most cases involving Jews or Mischlinge were opened on the basis of testimonies presented by them; the prosecutor would then look at the evidence—witness statements and, most importantly, the expert opinions by racial scientists.

Roughly half of all Berlin cases involving Jews or Mischlinge were opened in the years and , at the height of the deportations to the death camps and ghettos in the East. In Berlin, the sample selected from a total of cases involving Jews comprises 64 cases on 61 persons, almost equally divided according to gender, but much younger than the average age of the remaining Jewish population in the Reich.

Only five Volljuden full Jews managed to be reclassified as Mischlinge. The remaining cases 38 brought no improvement in racial status; they were either rejected by the prosecutor 13 , were pending until the end of the war 11 , cannot be retraced on the basis of the remaining documents 7 , or were terminated as a result of the deportation of the applicants 5. Though the number of family members deported cannot be established, it seems to have been considerably higher than that of the applicants sent to the East. The few institutions qualified to perform the investigations were sitting on a rising number of requests, which created backlog and delay.

Moreover, in most cases, the expert opinions offered varying degrees of likelihood and probability as opposed to the certainty desired by jurists to reach a decision. For believers in racial theory and Nazi propaganda, it was difficult to accept the fact that Jews had no distinct, hereditarily ingrained phenotypical traits. Having to administer the family law novella, despite its inherent problems, the Berlin prosecutors eagerly defended their territory against rival institutions while paying little — 56 — Evading Persecution attention to the fate of the persons for whom a court decision could mean life or death.

In late summer , the SD, in its Meldungen aus dem Reich, criticized state agencies for slowing down the executive process by bothering themselves and expert racial scientists with ancestry cases. The Gestapo and SD kept up their criticism of the judiciary, while those looking to the courts for help had all the more reason to fear for their future.

The following is one such exceptional case: Julius K. The alleged biological father as well as both his parents had died in the early s; K. Prosecutors in Berlin were not impressed by interventions from the outside, and demanded an additional investigation, which, in view of the backlog of work facing the relevant institutes, was not forthcoming.

A case in point is that of the forty-five-year-old Dr. Hans L. According to the application for opening an ancestry case, Hans L. As the danger for her family was mounting, Alma L. The expert opinion, as usual, did not prove anything regarding Hans L. The file contains a note that Hans L. The statement also mentioned that the advice to testify before a notary had been provided to Hans L. For her son, Alma L. Indeed, shortly thereafter, Staatsanwalt Horn informed Hans L.

Despite L. Whether his mother Alma survived the war also remains unclear.


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  5. Like Hans L. Gertrud H. Though Staatsanwalt Horn acted promptly, the case got stuck in the queue of racial expert opinion. When Gertrud H. In January , she had been deported to Riga. We do not know how many of the cases were based on claims — 60 — Evading Persecution fabricated by the applicants or their relatives. Standard arguments according to which the Jewish husband, at the time of conception, had been absent, had health problems that prevented him from fathering a child, or had already broken with his wife, seem highly unreal, especially under the circumstances.

    Postwar testimony by those who survived can help here, as Beate Meyer has shown for Hamburg. The application filed one year later by the state custodian Jugendamt passed all legal hurdles without any problems, despite the fact that no racial expert opinion was produced to back up the claim by the Jewish husband, Willi B. Willi B. Given the inherent deficiencies of their approach, the experts stayed within the narrow confines of self-referential guesswork and racial astrology, only occasionally challenged by criticism from the outside or from members of their own profession.

    Applicants had not only to overcome high stakes in convincing race experts and prosecutors; they also faced additional risks involved in the bureaucratic process. As just one example of the tangled web of persecution, in December , Luise W. Yet Luise W. It is not clear from the file what happened to Luise W. Both perished. An exceptional case in the Berlin archive exemplifies this strange interaction within an already strange legal framework. In February , the certified genealogist Sippenforscher Karl Unger approached the Berlin prosecutor on behalf of his client, Ernst K.

    Yet, Ernst K. Matthias H. Trying to avoid a clash of related approaches, Dr. While K. It had been sloppy in its investigation and analysis to the extent that the conclusion that Hanna K. In its verdict passed in early November, the court ruled in favor of the applicant, presumably saving Hanna K.

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    Cases that seemed too weak, that is to say, claims by those whose Jewish ancestry seemed obvious or in which applicants could not produce sufficient evidence, were turned down by the prosecutor and never made it to court. Successful claimants knew they could beat the system only if they were lucky; yet luck was not enough. Like Luise W. Their motives are but dimly reflected in the surviving prosecutor files with their formalistic language; yet it is clear that claimants and their supporters hoped to cut through the close-knit web of persecution by wielding the double-edged Nazi family law against the intentions of its originators, administrators, and executors.

    Yet, denying the stigma — 64 — Evading Persecution of being labeled as a member of the out-group forms part of the spectrum of Jewish behavior during the Third Reich—a spectrum much broader than commonly acknowledged. In assessing the historical importance of this kind of evasion, one should not forget that it worked only as long as those administering German Judenpolitik did not perceive it as a threat to the system of persecution—a caveat that applies also to other forms of Jewish reactions within the limits of what was deemed legal at the time.

    Further studies are necessary to clarify how far these specific contingencies add up to form a consistent pattern beyond the individual case. Who pursued the legal route toward racial reclassification, what background— socially, economically, and in terms of orientation—did these people have? Were lower-class or otherwise underprivileged Jews less inhibited than their bourgeois brethren in revealing intimate details about themselves and their family history to state functionaries and racial experts? What other means were applied by them at the same time, earlier, or later? Did those who pursued the legal path first end up further down the road of potentially life-saving, but even more risky clandestine or illegal action, such as going into hiding?

    Combined with other wartime and postwar sources, they have the potential to broaden our so far remarkably limited understanding of the full range of Jewish responses to Nazi persecution. From looking at the persecutors, in this case the authors and administrators of the family law novella of , it is clear that despite a multitude of publications on German Judenpolitik during the Third Reich, its mechanisms to determine who belonged to the in-group and who had to be treated as a Jew require more in-depth study.

    Functionaries of the racial state could easily interpret the family law novella as a tool that had more potential for doing harm by infiltrating the Volksgemeinschaft with persons of Jewish ancestry than strengthening it. Similarly, the few historians who have dealt with the subject come to more positive conclusions than the ones presented here. Der Holocaust als Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. I thank the participants of the Miller Symposium at the University of Vermont, especially Beate Meyer, for their valuable comments.

    Juden in Deutschland vom Jahrhundert bis in die Gegenwart, ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, , 20—27, — Kaplan, Dignity, Peukert describes dissident behavior of German non-Jews in terms of a scale ranging from nonconformity via refusal and protest to resistance. Hilberg, Destruction, Kaplan, Dignity, 35, Schleunes, ed. The Nuremberg Race Laws, passed on 15 September , defined Jews as persons who were descended from three or four Jewish grandparents, or persons with two Jewish grandparents who either belonged to the Jewish religion or were married to a Jew at the time of the enactment of the Nuremberg laws.

    All things being equal, this seems a strangely unscientific thing to do, and the obvious question is why? Perhaps Morelli was sincere; perhaps he genuinely believed himself to have a personal, intimate relationship with a painter who died years before he was born. Or perhaps he was being ironic. Morelli advocated an 'experimental method' of connoisseurship, commonly understood as an inductive procedure modelled on scientific methods, the process involves the comparison of anatomical details, like hands and ears, identity of form indicating identity of authorship.

    The attribution of the Borghese Portrait is significant because Carol Gibson-Wood, in her excellent Studies in the Theory of Connoisseurship, concluded her analysis of Morelli with this painting, and interpreted it as a 'vivid illustration' that Morelli did not use 'Morellian method'. The aim of this paper is to try to understand Gibson-Wood's complaint, and to explain why Morelli calls Giorgione his friend. The connoisseur begins his attribution of the Portrait by stating that the author of the painting was unknown.

    He continues:. It represents a woman of about twenty-eight; her dark eyes, full of fire and passion, are overshadowed by a low and intelligent forehead; the arrangement of the dark brown hair on the temples recalls in a measure that of the Knight of Malta in the Uffizi;. Here Morelli seems to be using Morellian method, drawing the reader's attention to anatomical details characteristic of Giorgione, before making a specific comparison to one of his positive attributions.

    Next, the text reproduces the application of an inductive science, taking the reader through two hypotheses which are tested and falsified. At first Morelli claims it may be by Dosso Dossi, but tells his reader that he had not examined the painting critically, and changes his mind because of the dark background, stone parapet and 'simplicity of representation'. He then proposes Sebastiano del Piombo, but this attribution is rejected because the portrait is too 'profound', and the form of the hand too 'quattrocento'. Morelli continues by describing how the sitter 'stands at a window holding a white handkerchief, and gazing out with a dreamy yeaning expression, as if seeking one for whom she waits'.

    Next, the connoisseur narrates the actual moment of attribution, the text becoming an expression of his immediate experience:. One day, as I with a questioning and entranced mind, again stood before this mysterious picture, my own spirit encountered the spirit of the artist, which from these feminine lineaments looked out, and lo and behold, in that mutual touch it ignited suddenly like a spark, and I cried out in my joy: Only you, my friend, Giorgione can it be, and the picture answered: Yes, it's me.