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I recently was in a discussion where one of the people, as an argument, claimed that Jews have been known to participate in what's activities clearly detrimental to Jews as a whole (the argument itself had nothing to do with Jews, it was merely an analogy). To support his argument, he made two claims that really didn't sound very convincing to me though he indicated he was certain both were factual as opposed to myth.

The first claim he made was that there was at least one Jew who was among the Nazi army high level brass.

So, the question is, Is there a historical record of a Jew (who was officially considered Jewish by the contemporary Nazi Germany laws), who nevertheless served as high level officer in German army?

Please note that I'm interested in someone who's documented (as opposed to rumored) to be Jewish. Also, to avoid "who's Jewish" defition arguments, I am using the most applicable (though abhorrent) definition - the Nazi law on who is a Jew.

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    Didn't the government of Germany at that time pass a law which gave them the right to choose who was 'a true Jew'? In other words, if the government wanted to, you could be said to be non Jewish if you were Jewish, or the government could say you are a Jew when you aren't Jewish (as the government did say about Charlie Chaplain, who opposed/criticised the Nazi party, was a Jew). – user5020 Oct 8 '11 at 20:20
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    To be clear, is the claim about the Nazi Army (Waffen-SS) or the general German military (Wehrmacht) during WWII era? – oosterwal Oct 10 '11 at 13:05
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    @oosterwal The Waffen-SS was not the Nazi Army! That was Heer. Edit: I think I Know what you mean now; but still I wouldn't classify it as Nazi Army. Maybe that's semantics though. – Pryftan Mar 4 '18 at 16:16
35

I would need to research further to confirm, but I have the feeling that the person who made that argument may have meant Erhard Milch.

From Wiki, it sounds that he was, indeed, high level brass:

In 1933, Milch took up a position as State Secretary of the newly-formed Reichsluftfahrtministerium ("Reich Aviation Ministry" – RLM), answering directly to Hermann Göring. In this capacity, he was instrumental in establishing the Luftwaffe, originally responsible for armament production

At the outbreak of World War II Milch, now with the rank of general, commanded Luftflotte 5 during the Norwegian campaign. Following the defeat of France, Milch was promoted to field-marshal (Generalfeldmarschall) and given the title Air Inspector General. Milch was put in charge of the production of planes during this time.


However, it appears that in answer to your very specific question, Erhard Milch did NOT indeed fit the specific definition you used.

His father was Jewish, which means he had at most 2 documented Jewish grandparents - the Nazi laws classified him as a Mischling ("crossbreed") and not a full Jew (3+ Jewish grandparents).

The Wiki provides the following detail (sources apparently from Benno Müller-Hill, Murderous science: elimination by scientific selection of Jews (1998), p. 26):

In 1935, Milch's ethnicity came into question because his father, Anton Milch, was a Jew. This prompted an investigation by the Gestapo that Göring squelched by producing an affidavit signed by Milch's mother stating that Anton was not really the father of Erhard and his siblings, and naming their true father as Karl Brauer, her uncle. These events and his being issued a German Blood Certificate prompted Hermann Göring to say famously "Wer Jude ist, bestimme ich" ("I decide who is a Jew")

An independent confirmation is quoted in a project from UCSB's class "for Prof. Marcuse's lecture course Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Holocaust; UC Santa Barbara, Fall 2005". The quote is apparently from "Rigg, Mark. Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers, University Press of Kansas, 2002"

Field Marshal and State Secretay of Aviation Erhard Alfred Richard Oskar Milch’s "Aryanization" was the most famous case of a Mischling falsifying a father. In 1933, Frau Clara Milch went to her son-in-law, Fritz Heinrich Hermann, police president of Hagen and later SS general, and gave him an affidavit stating that her deceased uncle, Carl Brauer, rather than her Jewish husband, Anton Milch, had fathered her six children.… In 1935, Hitler accepted the mother’s testimony… (Rigg, 29)

He's still a good example of what most people whould consider "somewhat Jewish" person serving the Nazis at the top, but he does NOT fit the claim as you defined it in your question.


P.S. As a caveat, Erhard Milch was not in the army (as your arguer claimed) - he was in the air force (Luftwaffe). So either the person was mistaken slightly, or they meant a different person and my asnwer is wrong.

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    @DVK - wasn't Luftwaffe part of the Army in Germany? (same as Army Air Force in the USA at some point) – Lola May 19 '11 at 2:16
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    @Aye: No, the Luftwaffe was an independent arm of service, more like the Royal Air Force than the USAAF. It cooperated with Army operations better than either the RAF or USAAF until much later in the war. – David Thornley May 19 '11 at 3:48
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    @David, @DVK: I think when normal people talk about "the army" the mean any or all arms of service. – Martin Scharrer May 19 '11 at 16:58
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    @David: I don't think most people won't make a difference between "Was a Jew a high level officer in German army" and "Was a Jew a high level officer in German military". No offense, but if you would answer the first question with "No, he was a high level officer in the air force (Luftwaffe)", I think most people would laugh about you for nitpicking. – Martin Scharrer May 19 '11 at 17:34
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    @Martin Scharrer: Ah, I see. I was going by the question title rather than the bolded text saying "army". You're right. (Also, people tend to think of high military officers as "top Nazis", even when they weren't members of or even sympathizers with the National Socialist party.) – David Thornley May 19 '11 at 17:53
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Emil Maurice

Maurice was a long-time friend of Hitler and was a member of the Nazi party before that party gained control of the German government. After being named the first supreme commander of the SA and after signing on as SS member number 2 (Hitler was member number 1) he was accused by Himmler of having Jewish ancestry. A law within the SS stated that all officers had to be able to prove racial purity back to 1750 and Maurice's great-grandfather, Charles Maurice Schwartzenberger (1805–1896), was Jewish.

Himmler recommended that Maurice and all his brothers be expelled from the SS, but Hitler compelled Himmler to make an exception and allow them to stay as "Honorary Aryans."

When the SS was reorganized and began to expand in 1932, Maurice became a senior SS officer and would eventually be promoted to the rank SS-Oberführer. While Maurice never became a top commander of the SS his status as SS Member #2 effectively credited him as the actual founder of the organization. Heinrich Himmler, who ultimately would become the most recognized leader of the SS, held SS Member #168.

14

Erhard Milch was a German Field Marshall.

According to Wikipedia, his father was Jewish, and there were perhaps even some claims that his mother was Jewish too.

If you accept that being Jewish is some sort of inherited property (as opposed to a belief in Judaism, acceptance into/of a religious organisation, self-description or of cultural practices), then it could be argued that he was a Jew who served as a high-level officer in the German Army.

However, in 1935, Milch's mother claimed that Milch's putative father was not his real father, and named another man. This allowed him to be issued with a German Blood Certificate. So, by the contemporary Nazi Germany laws, he was declared not Jewish.

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    Drats, beaten by @DVK, with a fuller answer. – Oddthinking May 19 '11 at 1:33
  • I couldn't find any documented evidence other than "claims" for the mother's side, and the guy seems to have accumulated plenty of enemies in his career. – user5341 May 19 '11 at 1:38
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    @DVK, I agree. I tried to keep it fairly soft with "perhaps even some claims". Your link to "Who is a Jew?" according to Nazi laws and the 3+ grandparents rule was new to me. I had been taught that it was a single grandparent. It provides a clearer motivation for claims about his mother. – Oddthinking May 19 '11 at 1:43
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    Sorry, DVK's answer was fuller so I accepted that. But +1 for yours as well! – Lola May 19 '11 at 2:16
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    @Aye, I completely understand! DVK had a better answer and I upvoted it myself. – Oddthinking May 19 '11 at 6:49

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