German Jews who served the Third Reich #germany #general


For those who are interested in tracing their German ancestry, there is a fascinating, and sobering book, Hitler's Jewish Soldiers, written by Dr. Bryan Mark Rigg, University Press of Kansas, 2002. It documents the history of half-Jews, and quarter-Jews, called Mischlings (mongrels),  who served in WWII - and there were thousands. Existing records in the German archives document this. While those of full Jewish heritage were rejected from the service, unfortunately, due to the fact, and history of assimilation, many of these "acceptable" Jews proudly served the government, and even regarded their ancient faith as undesirable. Attempts to alter records of their family's genealogy, so that they would appear as "true Aryans" could also lead to severe repercussions. This is a book well worth reading.

Neilan Stern       neilan1@...
researching:  Stern, Pistrong, Brand - Radomysl Wielki, Poland;   Black, Schwarz  - Nesvizh,  Belarus; Aronov/wsky, Cohn - vilijampole, Kaunas, Lithuania


I second that. The book is fascinating. Among those of Jewish descent that served in the German Armed Forces were a Luftwaffe Field Marshal (Milch), an Admiral and several generals.  Milch's story is especially interesting, as his father was Jewish, but once the Gestapo started investigating his ancestry, Göring intervened and obtained an affidavit from Milch's mother, stating that his biological father was her own uncle and not her husband. This allowed Milch to be issued the "German Blood" certificate, exempting him from German racial laws.  It is said that in response to a comment by an official regarding the validity of Milch's mother's statement, Göring said "I decide who is a Jew!".  After the war Milch was convicted at the Nuremberg trials of of war crimes and spent several years in jail.

Don Efrat
Cherry Hill, NJ

Karen Franklin

I dealt with this topic briefly in my talk at the IAJGS Conference, "Donating your Family Papers? How, When, Where and Why". One of several discoveries in my father's papers was a letter he wrote in the summer of 1945 when, as an American GI, he visited his surviving family in Frankfurt at the end of the war. His cousin Sylvia, who was married to a non-Jew, had gone into hiding. Her sons served in the army, but were transferred to a non-combat division after their Jewish ancestry was discovered. Their aunt and grandmother (my great-grandmother's sister) were murdered.  While I don't know all the details of their story (wish I did), I suspect that their situation may have been more complex than assimilation as a motivation for service.

Karen S. Franklin
Yonkers, New York

Roger Kingsley

What about those individuals of partial Jewish heritage who were involuntarily conscripted to serve in the German military during World War 2? This was the case with my father’s first cousin. My father’s aunt, Elfrieda (ne Koenigsberger), who was Jewish, married a non-Jew who was a prominent lawyer and the family remained in Aachen, Germany during the war. The Lemke’s had two sons and the older one, Klaus, was forced into the military toward the end of the war. He was an ardent opponent of the Nazi regime. Klaus was sent to the Eastern Front to fight against approaching Soviet troops and was never heard from again.

Roger P. Kingsley
Silver Spring, MD

Nancy Reicher

I just checked out a book from my Library wwhich is an updated volume called the lives of Hitler's Jewish soldiers  copywrite 2009 by the same author, Rigg, and  same University of Kansas Press. rather than the 2002 version.\ which my library did not have.

Nancy L. Reicher
Kansas City MO


My grandfather, who escaped to Ecuador during the Holocaust wore a German Uniform.
My Grandmother (his wife, who escaped with him to Ecuador, her brother, fought in WW1 for Germany and died in France. I have found the cemetery in France where he is buried. I don't know it off hand but I have it somewhere on my computer. I wish I could travel there and take a photo of his grave. He would be my great Uncle. They did not return the bodies to Germany in those days but buried soldiers where they died.
Paulette Levine
Houston, TX

David Brostoff

On Aug 7, 2021, at 10:12 AM, Plevine300 via <> wrote:

I have found the cemetery in France where he is buried. I don't know it off hand but I have it somewhere on my computer. I wish I could travel there and take a photo of his grave.
If you create a virtual memorial on FindAGrave, you can request a photo from a local volunteer.

David Brostoff


I believe this was the case for my great-uncle as well. He was from Berlin: his mother was Jewish but father was likely Catholic. I know that he survived as there are documents in his name from West Germany in the mid-1980's, however I've never been able to track him down beyond those brief and dead-end records. He was conscripted in 1944, when the regime was at its most desperate.

I have read the book, but wish it was a bit easier to research this stuff online. Maybe it will be for my children, at least...?

Larry Freund

Israeli filmmaker Larry Price produced a film, “Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers,” a few years ago, described as “the original and in-depth 59-minute documentary about the 150,000 men of Jewish origin who served in the Warmacht, the German Army, during WWII.” More at


Larry Freund

New York, NY

David Dubin

It blew my mind.

David Dubin
Chicago, IL 
ESSERMAN/ISERMAN/ISAACMAN and GRUSIN/GRUZINSKY from (Riga, and just learned other cities around Riga [Latvia Hinsenburg or Hitzenberg {now Incukalns near Sigulda}]. Before Riga, they might have come from Lithuania)/Lithuania Kovno, Zagare, Kurshany {now called Kursenai}, Engelhardsof, Liflauder, Enzelgof a rural area near Riga which is likely the town now called Endzelini, Kovno, Kaunas, Zhager, Kurshany, Kurseani, Incukalns, Cecis, Kibart {Kybartai};
ZLATKIN and YSAEFF/JOSEPH from Kiev, Ukraine (Brezin/Berezen {I learned is Yiddish for a town in Poland, not Ukraine, thus I don't know what is true.)