Yale Graduate to Speak on Jewish Soldiers in Hitler's Army

Bryan Rigg will discuss his recently published book, “Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military,” at the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, 80 Wall Street, on April 23 at 7:30 p.m.

The event is sponsored by the Slifka Center’s Mark and Bernice Sobotaka Yom HaShoah Endowment.

Rigg will talk about the startlingly large number of German military men – a number much higher than previously thought, and perhaps as many as 150,000 – who were classified by the Nazis as Jews or “partial-Jews” (Mischlinge) in the mid-1930s. Rigg documents for the first time that a great many of these men did not consider themselves Jewish and had embraced the military life as patriots eager to serve a revived German nation. Based on wide-ranging research in archival and secondary sources as well as extensive interviews with German war veterans, Rigg’s study breaks new ground.

Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum says Rigg’s work “conclusively demonstrates the degree of flexibility in German policy toward the Mischlinge, the extent of Hitler’s involvement, and, most importantly, that not all who served in the armed forces were anti-Semitic, even as their service aided the killing process.”

Rigg’s work was carried out for two years under Yale’s English Department and Judaic Studies Program. In 1994 he received the William (‘29) and Miriam Horowitz Judaica Project Fund of Joseph Slifka Center to support his project.

After completing his undergraduate studies at Yale in 1996 with honors in history, Rigg earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Cambridge University (England). Currently a professor of history at American Military University, he has served as a volunteer in the Israeli Army and as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

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Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325