In the Shadow of the Holocaust

Nazi Persecution of Jewish-Christian Germans

James F. Tent

The Halbjuden of Hitler’s Germany were half Christian and half Jewish but, like the rest of the Mischlinge (or "partial-Jews"), were far too Jewish in the eyes of the Nazis. Thus, while they were allowed for a time to coexist with the rest of German society, they were granted only the most marginal or menial jobs, restricted from marrying Aryans or even leading normal social lives, and sent eventually to forced-labor and concentration camps. More than 70,000 Germans were subjected to these restrictions and indignities, created and fostered by Hitler's morally bankrupt race laws, yet to this day few personal accounts of their experiences exist.

James Tent movingly recounts how these men and women from all over Germany and from all walks of life struggled to survive in an increasingly hostile society, even as their Jewish relatives were disappearing into the East. It draws on extensive interviews with twenty survivors, many of whom were teenagers when Hitler came to power, to show how "half Jews" coped with conditions on a day-to-day basis, and how the legacy of the hatred they suffered has forever lingered in their minds.

“A wonderfully instructive work that shows readers how the tragedy of Nazi brutality lives on in survivors.

—Holocaust and Genocide Studies

“Tent’s skillful use of archival evidence blends well with the eyewitness accounts to tell a chilling but convincing story.

—Journal of Modern History
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Tent provides gripping stories of life beneath the boot-heel of Nazi rule: a woman deemed unsuited for a career in nursing because the shape of her earlobes and breasts indicated she was not "racially suited," a man arrested for "race defilement" because he lived with an Aryan woman, and many others. Writing with a deep and abiding respect for his subjects, Tent shows how Nazi discrimination and persecution affected the lives of the Mischlinge beginning in 1933, and he tells how such treatment intensified through the later years of the war.

These testimonies offer rare insight into how Nazi persecution functioned at a very personal level. Tent's witnesses share experiences in school and problems in the workplace, where the best survival strategy was to find an unobtrusive niche in a nondescript job. They tell of obstacles to personal and romantic relationships. And they soberly remind us that by 1944 they too were rounded up for forced labor, certain to be the next victims of Nazi genocide.

In the Shadow of the Holocaust demonstrates the lengths to which the Nazis were willing to go in order to eradicate Judaism—a fanaticism that increased over time and even in the face of impending military defeat. These people mostly survived the Holocaust, yet they paid for their re-assimilation into German society by remaining silent in the face of haunting memories. This book breaks that silence and is a testament to human endurance under the most trying circumstances.

About the Author

James F. Tent is University Scholar and chair of the Department of History at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Among his other books are E-Boat Alert: Defending the Normandy Invasion Fleet and Mission on the Rhine: Reeducation and Denazification in American-Occupied Germany.

Additional Titles in the Modern War Studies Series