In the Shadow of the Holocaust
Nazi Persecution of Jewish-Christian Germans
Modern War Studies
Sales Date: March 20, 2003
306 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: March 2003
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.
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.
"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
"Tent brings out many tales of sordid, protracted persecution that have so far had little notice and deserve the care he has given them. . . . There are plenty of lessons of interest here for modern security forces. . . . Tent has breadth of view and sympathy enough to draw broad conclusions from a narrow base, and he writes wonderfully clearly."—Intelligence and National Security
"Worth reading . . . to put a human face on the suffering of the thousands of Germans of partial Jewish descent who were caught in the racial politics of the Third Reich."—H-Net Reviews
"Tent has written an exceedingly important book. It is to his credit, and to the benefit of those engaged in Holocaust studies, that he prevailed upon so many survivors—in this case, partial Jews—to relate their stories. The result adds much to the complicated mosaic of Nazi Germany."—German Studies Review
"Using multiple sources that were not previously available to historians, notably interviews with twenty surviving Mischlinge, Tent has shed considerable light on what it meant to be partly Jewish in a society that was dedicated to eradicating everything even remotely connected to Jews or Judaism. This is an important book: by studying the peripheries of Nazi racial policy we illuminate the essence of Nazi evil."—Jewish Book World
"Tent succeeds in conveying in often dramatic and engaging style the pain of the Mischlinge reality under the Nazis. Very accessible to laymen, this book is of benefit to scholars as well."—History: Reviews of New Books
“An important book of great interest to all students of twentieth-century Germany.”—Walter Laqueur, editor of The Holocaust Encyclopedia
“A fine and extremely well written book that will be of great interest to all who are concerned with the Nazi experience and its immediate aftermath.”—Gerhard Weinberg, author of A World at Arms
“Tent has done a prodigious amount of research and it shows in virtually every page.”—Michael Berenbaum, author of The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust
“A penetrating examination of the persecution of the so-called Mischlinge.”—Beate Meyer, author of “Jüdische Mischlinge”
1. Innocents in the Classrooms
2. Mischlinge Need Not Apply
3. Drawing the Line
4. The Penultimate Step: Forced Labor
5. A Time of Silence