Reich Association of Jews in Germany

The Reich Association of Jews in Germany (German: Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland) also called the new one for clear differentiation, was a Jewish umbrella organisation formed in Nazi Germany in February 1939. The Association branched out from the Reich Representation of German Jews (Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden) established in September 1933. The new Association was an administrative body concerned predominantly with the coordination and support of the emigration and forcible deportation of Jewish people,[1] subject to the Reich government's ever-changing legislation enforced by the RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt). The legal status of the new organisation was changed on 4 July 1939 on the basis of the Nuremberg Laws,[1] and defined by the 10th Regulation to the Citizenship Law issued by the Reich's ministry of the Interior.[2] The Association assumed the so-called old Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland, which was the name under which the Reichsvertretung der Deutschen Juden (Reich's deputation of German Jews) had been operating since February 1939.[3]

The new Reichsvereinigung assumed the staff, installations and buildings of the old Reichsvereinigung. The RSHA subjected the new Reichsvereinigung to its influence and control, and confirmed Rabbi Leo Baeck as president, who had been elected as president of the old Reichsvereinigung. By the end of 1939 the RSHA appointed Adolf Eichmann as its Special Referee for the Affairs of the Jews (German: Sonderreferent für Judenangelegenheiten), officiating in a bureau in Kurfürstenstraße #115–116, Berlin. Eichmann had come to dubious fame for expelling 50,000 Jewish Austrians and Gentile Austrians of Jewish descent.[4] within the first three months after the Anschluß.[5] Thus he was commissioned to expel Jewish Germans and Gentile Germans of Jewish descent from within the old Reich borders. The local supervision of the Reichsvereinigung was commissioned to the local Gestapo branches.

Compulsory membership

While its corporate members, such as Jewish congregations and Jewish associations in all areas of interest and endeavour were gradually dissolved, and their tasks partially incorporated into the new Reichsvereinigung, it comprised also natural persons.[6] All persons identified as Jews according to the arbitrary Nazi practice (cf. the Nuremberg Laws and the Racial policy of Nazi Germany) were compulsorily enlisted as members. Mainstream Nazi anti-Semitism considered that Jewry formed a group of people bound by close, so-called blood ties, forming a unit which one could neither join nor secede from. Jewish influence was declared to have had a detrimental impact on Germany. To be spared the discrimination and persecutions visited upon Jews, affiliation with the so-called Aryan race had to be proved. It was paradoxical that racial features never determined one's affiliation, although the Nazis often discussed physiognomy: the only decisive factor was the religious affiliation of one's grandparents. While grandparents at an earlier date were able to choose their religion, their grandchildren in the Nazi era were compulsorily categorised as Jews, if three or four grandparents were registered as members of a Jewish congregation, regardless of the Halachah. According to Halachah, one was Jewish by being born of a Jewish mother, or by conversion.

The Nazi categorisation of Jews, and thus compulsory membership, comprised

  1. mostly Jews and apostates of Jewish descent, but also many
  2. Gentiles of Jewish descent, such as Catholics, irreligionists, and Protestants, who happened to have three or four grandparents belonging – according to the records – to a Jewish congregation.
  3. all persons of Jewish faith were included, as indicated by their membership of a Jewish congregation as of 1935 (passing of the Nuremberg Laws), even if they had fewer than three Jewish grandparents.
  4. persons with one or two Jewish grandparents, who were married with an enrolled member of a Jewish congregation (the latter two were called Geltungsjuden; literally, Jews by legal validity).

Not included were persons, who observed no or other than the Jewish religion, who had only up to maximally two grandparents who were enlisted in a Jewish congregation (so-called Mischlinge). Also those persons, with three or four Jewish grandparents were excluded, who were married with a person classified as a so-called Aryan in a so-called racially mixed marriage (the couple did not necessarily have to be an interfaith marriage, because only the grandparents' religious affiliation counted, not the possibly common faith personally confessed by both partners). Later this exception was restricted to persons living in a so-called privileged mixed couple, characterised by the fact that either the Gentile partner was the husband, having no children, or children who were brought up as Gentiles, or that in a couple, where the Gentile was the wife, they had children, who were brought up as Gentiles. A male spouse, classified as a Jew, in a childless couple, suffered all discriminations.

All persons included as compulsory members had to pay contributions for the maintenance of the bureaucracy and its tasks. They also all underlay the full discriminations and persecutions imposed by the Nazis and were publicly labelled by the Yellow badge from 1 September 1941.

Reichsvereinigung controlled as a organ of the RSHA

Different from the old Reichsvereinigung, which had been an umbrella of all different kinds of Jewish associations and congregations, representing their interests and organising self-help for Jews and Jewish organisations, the new Reichsvereinigung was meant to be a device to better control and discriminate against German and Austrian Jews and Gentiles of Jewish descent.

The new Reichsvereinigung had no internal autonomy. Members of its executive board were not elected, but appointed according to the wishes of the Gestapo. The Reichsvereinigung made the Jüdisches Nachrichtenblatt its press organ, since all the other 64 papers of Jewish alignment had been forbidden after the November Pogroms in 1938.

The government agencies occupied with the discrimination and persecution of German Jews (and Gentile Germans of Jewish descent), learnt their lesson from the public unease following the open terror during the November Pogroms.[7] In order not to evoke unease among the general German population, the Reich government preferred to hide its activities.The Reichsvereinigung was charged with announcing the ever-growing number of anti-Semitic ordinances to its persecuted members, and supervising their obedience.

The decision to murder the Jews was made official policy at the Wannsee conference (January 1942) which discussed its implementation. Government agencies involved were concerned about the acceptability of their actions. A huge logistical effort was made to transport the deportees over long distances to the East, instead of killing them by mobile squads – as practised in the occupied East – wherever they would find them.

Repeated deportations of German Jews to the East started on 18 October 1941.[8]

After the Gestapo announced the date and the number of deportees, the Reichsvereinigung sometimes had to choose who was to be deported. Gestapo officials then collected the deportees from one of its premises, before loading them onto a train for transport.[9] This could take up to a week of waiting. It is claimed by some Germans today that the Holocaust was carried out far away from the eyes and ears of the general German population and that therefore they had no idea of what was going on.

After most of its members had been deported, the Reichssicherheitshauptamt forcibly dissolved the new Reichsvereinigung in June 1943 and its remaining employees were deported to Theresienstadt.

The only Jewish organisations still in existence at that time were the few hospitals such as the Jewish Hospital of Berlin and the Israelite Hospital of Hamburg, mostly care for Jewish Germans and Gentile Germans of Jewish descent, who were not deported because of their marriage with someone without Jewish grandparents in a so-called mixed marriage.

Card index of the Reichsvereinigung

Only a small proportion of the card index of the Reichsvereinigung has survived. Between 1947 and 1950, 32,000 index cards were given to the International Tracing Service (ITS). Apart from a “Deceased card file”, an “Emigration card file” and a so-called “Foreigner card file”, there was also the “Berlin pupil card file” with more than 10,000 cards that testify to the life of the Jewish children during the period of Nazi persecution. In 2017, the ITS has published the card index in its online archive.[10]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Gudrun Maierhof (1 March 2009). "Central Organizations of Jews in Germany (1933-1943)". Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  2. ^ Yad Vashem (2015). "Tenth Regulation to the Reich Citizenship Law, July 4, 1939". Reich Association of the Jews (July 1939). Jewish Virtual Library.org. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  3. ^ Leonard Baker (1978). Days of Sorrow and Pain, Leo Baeck and the Berlin Jews. Macmillan Publishing Co. pp. ff, 244, 271. Google Books, snippet view.
  4. ^ Besides Jewish Austrians, Austrians of all faithes buth Judaism were categorised by Nazi terms as Jews (a definition applying all over Nazi-ruled areas) if they happened to have three or four grandparents being or having been members of Jewish congregations.
  5. ^ Hartmut Ludwig, "Das ›Büro Pfarrer Grüber‹ 1938–1940", In: ›Büro Pfarrer Grüber‹ Evangelische Hilfsstelle für ehemals Rasseverfolgte. Geschichte und Wirken heute, Walter Sylten, Joachim-Dieter Schwäbl and Michael Kreutzer on behalf of the Evangelische Hilfsstelle für ehemals Rasseverfolgte (ed.; Evangelical Relief Centre for the formerly Racially Persecuted), Berlin: Evangelische Hilfsstelle für ehemals Rasseverfolgte, 1988, pp. 1–23, here p. 14. No ISBN.
  6. ^ All Jewish congregations were gradually incorporated into the Reichsvereinigung. On 11 September 1941 the Gestapo ordered the closure of the Kulturbund Deutscher Juden, except for its publishing department, which was to be taken over by the Reichsvereinigung. Cf. Bernd Braun, "Bücher im Schlussverkauf: Die Verlagsabteilung des Jüdischen Kulturbunds", In: Geschlossene Vorstellung: Der Jüdische Kulturbund in Deutschland 1933–1941, Akademie der Künste (ed.), Berlin: Edition Hentrich, 1992, pp. 155–168, here p. 166. ISBN 3-89468-024-5.
  7. ^ Secret Service surveys of public opinion about the November Pogroms revealed widespread disgust: destroying other people's property, setting synagogues on fire and beating people in the streets was excessive.
  8. ^ The deportations of Jews and Gentiles of Jewish descent from Austria and the Stettin Region (13 February 1940; both to Poland) as well as Baden and the Palatinate (22–23 October 1940; both to France) had remained spontaneous episodes, though not less tragic for the deportees.
  9. ^ Raul Hilberg, Die Vernichtung der europäischen Juden: Die Gesamtgeschichte des Holocaust: 3 vols. [ The Destruction of the European Jews (11961, extended re-ed. 1985); German (11982)], Christian Seeger, Harry Maor, Walle Bengs and Wilfried Szepan (trls.), Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch, 91990, (Fischer Taschenbuch; No. 10612), vol. 2, pp. 452seqq. ISBN 3-596-10612-5.
  10. ^ "Card index on Jewish victims now online". www.its-arolsen.org. 24 January 2017. Retrieved 29 March 2017.
Jadovno concentration camp

The Jadovno concentration camp was a concentration and extermination camp in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) during World War II. Commanded by Juco Rukavina, it was the first of twenty-six concentration camps in the NDH during the war. Established in a secluded area about 20 kilometres (12 mi) from the town of Gospić, it held thousands of Serbs and Jews over a period of 122 days from May to August 1941. Inmates were usually killed by being pushed into deep ravines located near the camp. Estimates of the number of deaths at Jadovno range from 10,000 to 68,000, mostly Serbs. The camp was closed on 21 August 1941, and the area where it was located was later handed over to the Kingdom of Italy and became part of Italian Zones II and III. Jadvono was replaced by the greater sized Jasenovac concentration camp and its extermination facilities.

The camp site remained unexplored after the war due to the depth of the gorges where bodies were disposed and the fact that some of them had been filled with concrete by Yugoslavia's Communist authorities. Additional sites containing the skeletal remains of camp victims were uncovered in the 1980s. Commemoration ceremonies honouring the victims of the camp have been organized by the Serb National Council (SNV), the Jewish community in Croatia, and local anti-fascists since 2009, and 24 June has since been designated as a "Day of Remembrance of the Jadovno Camp" in Croatia. A monument commemorating those killed in the camp was constructed in 1975 and stood for fifteen years before being removed in 1990. A replica of the original monument was constructed and dedicated in 2010, but disappeared within twenty-four hours of its inauguration.

Jewish resistance in German-occupied Europe

Jewish resistance under the Nazi rule took various forms of organized underground activities conducted against German occupation regimes in Europe by Jews during World War II. According to historian Yehuda Bauer, Jewish resistance was defined as actions that were taken against all laws and actions acted by Germans.The term is particularly connected with the Holocaust and includes a multitude of different social responses by those oppressed, as well as both passive and armed resistance conducted by Jews themselves.

Due to military strength of Nazi Germany and its allies, as well as the administrative system of ghettoization and the hostility of various sections of the civilian population, few Jews were able to effectively resist the Final Solution militarily. Nevertheless, there are many cases of attempts at resistance in one form or another including over a hundred armed Jewish uprisings. Historiographically, the study of Jewish resistance to German rule is considered an important aspect of the study of the Holocaust.

Oskar Schindler

Oskar Schindler (28 April 1908 – 9 October 1974) was a German industrialist and a member of the Nazi Party who is credited with saving the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories in occupied Poland and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. He is the subject of the 1982 novel Schindler's Ark and its 1993 film adaptation, Schindler's List, which reflected his life as an opportunist initially motivated by profit, who came to show extraordinary initiative, tenacity, courage, and dedication to save the lives of his Jewish employees.

Schindler grew up in Svitavy, Moravia, and worked in several trades until he joined the Abwehr, the military intelligence service of Nazi Germany, in 1936. He joined the Nazi Party in 1939. Prior to the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1938, he collected information on railways and troop movements for the German government. He was arrested for espionage by the Czechoslovak government but was released under the terms of the Munich Agreement in 1938. Schindler continued to collect information for the Nazis, working in Poland in 1939 before the invasion of Poland at the start of World War II. In 1939, Schindler acquired an enamelware factory in Kraków, Poland, which employed at the factory's peak in 1944 about 1,750 workers, of whom 1,000 were Jews. His Abwehr connections helped Schindler protect his Jewish workers from deportation and death in the Nazi concentration camps. As time went on, Schindler had to give Nazi officials ever larger bribes and gifts of luxury items obtainable only on the black market to keep his workers safe.

By July 1944, Germany was losing the war; the SS began closing down the easternmost concentration camps and deporting the remaining prisoners westward. Many were murdered in Auschwitz and the Gross-Rosen concentration camp. Schindler convinced SS-Hauptsturmführer Amon Göth, commandant of the nearby Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp, to allow him to move his factory to Brněnec in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, thus sparing his workers from almost certain death in the gas chambers. Using names provided by Jewish Ghetto Police officer Marcel Goldberg, Göth's secretary Mietek Pemper compiled and typed the list of 1,200 Jews who travelled to Brünnlitz in October 1944. Schindler continued to bribe SS officials to prevent the execution of his workers until the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945, by which time he had spent his entire fortune on bribes and black market purchases of supplies for his workers.

Schindler moved to West Germany after the war, where he was supported by assistance payments from Jewish relief organisations. After receiving a partial reimbursement for his wartime expenses, he moved with his wife Emilie to Argentina, where they took up farming. When he went bankrupt in 1958, Schindler left his wife and returned to Germany, where he failed at several business ventures and relied on financial support from Schindlerjuden ("Schindler Jews")—the people whose lives he had saved during the war. He and his wife Emilie were named Righteous Among the Nations by the Israeli government in 1993. He died on 9 October 1974 in Hildesheim, Germany, and was buried in Jerusalem on Mount Zion, the only member of the Nazi Party to be honoured in this way.

Recha Freier

Recha Freier (Hebrew: רחה פריאר) born Recha Schweitzer, (October 29, 1892 in Norden, East Frisia – April 2, 1984 in Jerusalem) founded the Youth Aliyah organization in 1933. The organization saved the lives of 7,000 Jewish children by helping them to leave Nazi Germany for Mandatory Palestine before and during the Holocaust.Recha Freier was also a poet, musician, teacher and social activist.

Reich Main Security Office

The Reich Main Security Office (German: Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA) was an organization subordinate to Heinrich Himmler in his dual capacities as Chef der Deutschen Polizei (Chief of German Police) and Reichsführer-SS, the head of the Nazi Party's Schutzstaffel (SS). The organization's stated duty was to fight all "enemies of the Reich" inside and outside the borders of Nazi Germany.

The Holocaust in Albania

The Holocaust in Albania consisted of crimes committed against Jews in the Albanian Kingdom by German, Italian and Albanian collaborationist forces while the country was under Italian and German occupation during the World War II. Throughout the war, nearly 2,000 Jews sought refuge in Albania-proper. Most of these Jewish refugees were treated well by the local Albanian population, despite the fact that the country was occupied first by Fascist Italy, and then by Nazi Germany. Albanians, following a traditional custom of hospitality known as besa, often sheltered Jewish refugees in mountain villages, and transported them to Adriatic ports from where they fled to Italy. Other Jews joined resistance movements throughout the country.

For the 500 Jews who lived in Albanian-dominated Kosovo, the experience was starkly different and about 40 percent did not survive the war. With the surrender of Italy in September 1943, Germany occupied Greater Albania. In 1944, an Albanian Waffen-SS division was formed, which arrested and handed over to the Germans a further 281 Jews from Kosovo who were subsequently deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where many were killed. In late 1944, the Germans were driven out of Albania-proper and the country became a communist state under the leadership of Enver Hoxha. Around the same time, Axis forces in the Albanian-annexed regions of Kosovo and western Macedonia were defeated by the Yugoslav Partisans, who subsequently reincorporated these areas into Yugoslavia.

Approximately 600 Jews were killed in Greater Albania during the Holocaust. In Albania-proper, five Jews from the same family were killed by the Germans, the only native Jews to be killed there over the course of the war. Albania-proper emerged from the war with a population of Jews eleven times greater than at the beginning, numbering around 1,800. Most of these subsequently emigrated to Israel. Several hundred remained in Albania until the fall of Communism in the early 1990s before doing the same. As of 2018, 75 Albanians have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations.

The Holocaust in Estonia

The Holocaust in Estonia refers to the Nazi crimes during the occupation of Estonia by Nazi Germany. Prior to the war, there were approximately 4,300 Estonian Jews. After the Soviet 1940 occupation about 10% of the Jewish population was deported to Siberia, along with other Estonians. About 75% of Estonian Jews, aware of the fate that awaited them from Nazi Germany, escaped to the Soviet Union; virtually all of those who remained (between 950 and 1,000 people) were killed by Einsatzgruppe A and local collaborators before the end of 1941. Roma people of Estonia were also murdered and enslaved by the Nazi occupiers and their collaborators. The Nazis and their allies also killed around 6,000 ethnic Estonians and 1,000 ethnic Russians who were accused of being communist sympathizers or the relatives of communist sympathizers. In addition around 25,000 Soviet prisoners-of-war and Jews from other parts of Europe were killed in Estonia during the German occupation.

The Holocaust in France

The Holocaust in France refers to the persecution, deportation, and annihilation of Jews and Roma between 1940 and 1944 in occupied France, metropolitan Vichy, and in Vichy-North Africa, during World War II. The persecution began in 1940, and culminated in deportations of Jews from France to concentration camps in Germany and Nazi-occupied Poland from 1942 which lasted until July 1944. Of the 340,000 Jews living in metropolitan/continental France in 1940, more than 75,000 were deported to death camps, where about 72,500 were killed. French Vichy government and the French police participated in the roundup of Jews. Although most deported Jews died, the survival rate of the Jewish population in France was up to 75% which is one of the highest survival rates in Europe.

The Holocaust in Latvia

The Holocaust in Latvia refers to the war crimes committed by Nazi Germany and collaborators victimizing Jews during the occupation of Latvia.

The Holocaust in Lithuania

The Holocaust in German occupied Lithuania resulted in the near total destruction of Lithuanian (Litvaks) and Polish Jews, living in Generalbezirk Litauen of Reichskommissariat Ostland within the Nazi-controlled Lithuanian SSR. Out of approximately 208,000–210,000 Jews, an estimated 190,000–195,000 were murdered before the end of World War II (wider estimates are sometimes published), most between June and December 1941. More than 95% of Lithuania's Jewish population was massacred over the three-year German occupation — a more complete destruction than befell any other country affected by the Holocaust. Historians attribute this to the massive collaboration in the genocide by the non-Jewish local paramilitaries, though the reasons for this collaboration are still debated. The Holocaust resulted in the largest-ever loss of life in so short a period of time in the history of Lithuania.The events that took place in the western regions of the USSR occupied by Nazi Germany in the first weeks after the German invasion, including Lithuania, marked the sharp intensification of the Holocaust.An important component to the Holocaust in Lithuania was that the occupying Nazi German administration fanned antisemitism by blaming the Soviet regime's recent annexation of Lithuania, a year earlier, on the Jewish community. Another significant factor was the large extent to which the Nazis' design drew upon the physical organization, preparation and execution of their orders by local Lithuanian auxiliaries of the Nazi occupation regime.

The Holocaust in Luxembourg

The Holocaust in Luxembourg refers to the persecution and near-annihilation of the 3,500-strong Jewish population of Luxembourg begun shortly after the start of the German occupation during World War II, when the country was officially incorporated into Nazi Germany. The persecution lasted until October 1941, when the Germans declared the territory to be free of Jews who had been deported to extermination camps and ghettos in Eastern Europe.

The Holocaust in Russia

The Holocaust in Russia refers to the Nazi crimes during the occupation of Russia (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) by Nazi Germany.

The Holocaust in Ukraine

The Holocaust in Ukraine took place in Reichskommissariat Ukraine during the occupation of the Soviet Ukraine by Nazi Germany in World War II. Between 1941 and 1944 more than a million Jews living in Ukrainian SSR were murdered as part of Generalplan Ost and the Final Solution extermination policies.

According to Yale historian Timothy D. Snyder, "the Holocaust is integrally and organically connected to the Vernichtungskrieg, to the war in 1941, and is organically and integrally connected to the attempt to conquer Ukraine."

The Holocaust in the Independent State of Croatia

The Holocaust in the Independent State of Croatia refers primarily to the genocide of Jews, but sometimes also include that of Serbs (the "Genocide of the Serbs") and Romani (Porajmos), during World War II within the Independent State of Croatia, a fascist puppet state ruled by the Ustashe regime, that included most of the territory of modern-day Croatia, the whole of modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina and the eastern part of Syrmia (Serbia). 90% of Croatian Jews were exterminated in Ustashe-run concentration camps like Jasenovac and others, while a considerable number of Jews were rounded up and turned over by the Ustashe for extermination in Nazi Germany.

The Holocaust in the USSR

The Holocaust in the Soviet Union (USSR) refers to the German persecution of Jews, Roma and homosexuals as part of The Holocaust in World War II.

It may refer to:

The Holocaust in Russia

The Holocaust in Belarus

The Holocaust in UkraineIt may also refer to The Holocaust in the Baltic states, annexed by the Soviet Union before the war:

The Holocaust in Latvia

The Holocaust in Lithuania

The Holocaust in Estonia

Uta Merzbach

Uta Caecilia Merzbach (February 9, 1933 – June 27, 2017) was a German-American historian of mathematics who became the first curator of mathematical instruments at the Smithsonian Institution.

Yizkor books

Yizkor books are memorial books commemorating a Jewish community destroyed during the Holocaust. The books are published by former residents or landsmanshaft societies as remembrances of homes, people and ways of life lost during World War II. Yizkor books usually focus on a town but may include sections on neighboring smaller communities. Most of these books are written in Yiddish or Hebrew, some also include sections in English or other languages, depending on where they were published. Since the 1990s, many of these books, or sections of them have been translated into English.

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