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How a Small Band of Protesters Unmasked the Nazi Regime’s Fear of Unrest

Solveig Eggerz
Summer 2005



To protest against the Third Reich amounted to a death sentence. Dissent wouldn’t change Nazi policy. As if to confirm these prevailing views, the German population hardly opposed the Nazi regime.  

The Rosenstrasse protest stands out as an exception to the population’s passivity towards the Nazi regime. When several hundred German housewives demanded the Gestapo release their Jewish husbands in February-March 1943, they didn’t topple the Third Reich. But this relatively quiet demonstration saved the lives of thousands of Jews. It also exposed the Achilles’ heel of the Nazi regime — its fear of negative public opinion.  

The protest was effective for two reasons: its timing and the regime’s understandable fear that women could depress public morale, especially regarding war.  

A month earlier the Germans had been defeated at Stalingrad, losing 209,000 German soldiers. When propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels introduced the “Total War” decree on January 13, 1943, requiring German women to enter the work force, women developed a host of minor ailments — sore throats, backaches, headaches — to stay home from work.  

The Final Round-Up  

On February 27, 1943, the Gestapo launched the “final round-up,” arresting 10,000 Jews, over 7,000 of them in Berlin, at their forced labor sites. Most of these were Jews who had not yet been deported because they worked in war-related industries.  

During the deportations of 1941-1943, Hitler had avoided breaking up families to deport intermarried Jews. But during the final round-up, zealous officers had also arrested 1,700 intermarried Jews, mostly men. The Gestapo separated out the intermarried Jews and the Mischlinge, or half Jews, and brought them to Rosenstrasse 2-4, the Jewish community center. The remaining Jews were sent to the detention center in the Grosse Hamburger Strasse.  

German relatives — mostly German wives — arrived one-by-one in the Rosenstrasse and quickly formed a dissenting crowd. By the end of the week about 1,000 protestors stood day and night in the Rosenstrasse.  

“We want our husbands back,” one of the women shouted. The others joined in. Gestapo officers aimed machine guns at them. “Murderers,” the women shouted. But the Gestapo did not shoot.  

Instead, on March 6, 1943, the Nazis not only released the intermarried prisoners, but also ordered that 35 intermarried Jewish men, already deported to Auschwitz, be brought back. Sworn to secrecy about the Final Solution, these men were sent to a labor camp at Grossbeeren in the outskirts of Berlin.  

Goebbels, whose role it was to shape public opinion and control unrest, explained that the arrests had been a mistake and postponed further plans for deporting intermarried Jews, a life-saving delay for many Jews.  

Nathan Stoltzfus, in his study, Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany, calls the protest “the regime’s struggle against intermarried Germans.”1  

That struggle represented the conflict between the Nazis’ racial goals and their purported support for family. Stoltzfus describes the regime’s concern for public opinion:  

Unrest about the fate of the Jews could severely hinder the domestic social unity necessary for fighting the war. A parallel development was the increasing need for secrecy around the Final Solution, the revelation of which could have damaged the public morale that the regime strove to nurture, especially during the war. A public discussion about the fate of the deported Jews threatened to disclose the Final Solution and thus endanger that entire effort.2  

The dissent illustrated the impracticality of breaking up families in order to victimize one family member, especially in cases where intermarried Jews were linked to important German families.  

Jewish Assimilation Through Intermarriage  

Jewish assimilation to German society was represented by Jewish participation in the German economy and the high rate of Jewish intermarriage. In her book, Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany, Marion Kaplan describes the situation:  

Of mixed marriages, the large majority were between Jewish men and non-Jewish women, since Jewish men — for reasons of careerism, greater opportunities to meet non-Jews, and more secular attitudes — married ‘out’ more often than Jewish women.3  

The emigration of Jews between 1933 and 1939 and the protection that intermarriage afforded affected intermarriage statistics. Kaplan writes, “Some claim that by 1939 about 25 percent of all existing marriages involving Jews were mixed. By the end of the war, the vast majority of registered ‘full’ Jews left in Germany lived in intermarriages.”4  

Stoltzfus provides the following statistics:  

• 1904 – 9.3 percent of married Jewish men and 7.7 percent of married Jewish women intermarried with non-Jews.  

• 1910-1913 – these averages increased to 13.5 percent and 10.92 percent.  

• 1914-1918 – they increased to 29.86 percent and 21 percent.  

• 1933 – 44 percent of German Jews were married to non-Jews.5  

On September 19, 1941 the Nazis decreed that all Jews must wear a yellow Star of David on their clothing. Given the degree of assimilation of Jews in German cities such as Berlin, neighbors, acquaintances, and co-workers were shocked to discover who among them was Jewish.  

Hitler’s Definition of Power  

Hitler placed far more emphasis on public opinion than the population of the Third Reich realized. He described popularity and tradition as the cornerstones of a regime’s power, with force reserved for keeping peripheral elements in line:  

The arbitrary use of police force, the Gestapo, and the concentration camps were always the backdrop of the Third Reich, yet the regime sought (and received) noncoerced mass support as the best means for achieving its ambitious goals.6  

Recalling the collective actions of workers in the 1918 Communist revolution and the protests of women against World War I, Hitler feared any form of civil disobedience. He felt that this home front unrest constituted the “stab in the German army’s back.”  

Aware of the power of dissent, he had urged National Socialists to employ civil disobedience as a means for changing a government’s policy:  

In an hour when a national body is visibly collapsing and to all appearances is abandoned to the most serious oppression — thanks to the activity of a few scoundrels — obedience and fulfillment of duty towards these people mean ... pure lunacy, whereas by refusal of obedience and of ‘fulfillment of duty’ it would be made possible to save a people from its doom.7  

Racist Agenda  

Germans were not attracted to Hitler for his racist agenda, suggests economist Thomas Sowell, an authority on issues of race and ethnicity. In elections during the years 1871-1928, political parties with anti-Jewish principles attained a high of only 7 percent of the vote and a low of below 1 percent.8 Hitler’s awareness of the relative unpopularity of racist positions caused the regime to test public opinion for responses to actions against the Jews. Sowell describes this approach:  

During the years leading up to the Second World War, Hitler moved against the Jews in orchestrated stages, allowing him to gauge the extent to which German public opinion supported his actions. A Nazi-sponsored boycott of Jewish stores in 1933 failed so badly that it was called off after four days, rather than have it be an ongoing fiasco. Even after five years of anti-Jewish propaganda in Germany, when the Nazis in November 1938 unleashed Kristallnacht — the night of broken glass — featuring violence against Jews, their homes and businesses — the negative reactions of Germans, including some Nazi party members, led Hitler to proceed against the Jews thereafter with as much secrecy as possible.9  

Because the Nazi regime was built on popular accommodation and acclaim, a mass demonstration like the Rosenstrasse protest, occurring as it did during a downturn in the war, presented a public relations nightmare for the Nazi regime.  

Goebbels Failed to Isolate Intermarried Jews  

A master at manipulating public opinion, Goebbels wrote in 1940 that “the public attitude can throw a government into misadventures, which in the end leads to the destruction of the state.”10  

He stigmatized Jews as criminals, labeled them Bolsheviks, blamed them for the defeat at Stalingrad, and thus transformed Jews to villains, facilitating their deportation as outcasts. Goebbels hired protestors to stage anti-intermarriage demonstrations against wedding ceremonies of non-Jewish and Jewish partners, creating an image of a public that hated Jews. Stoltzfus describes the importance of isolation in the regime’s war on the Jews:  

The rescue of Jews married to Germans suggests that the regime’s ideology might never have developed into genocide had the German population not attained for the regime a social isolation of the Jews, the prerequisite for deportations and mass murder.11  

During the spring and summer of 1935, Goebbels organized “spontaneous” public outbursts to make anti-Semitism seem the norm. These disturbances helped overcome opposition from conservative government ministries and lawmakers to racial laws. By the time the racial theories of the Nuremberg Laws were presented in fall 1935, the public believed a profound anti-Semitism existed in German society.  

Anti-Semitic Rules  

Victor Klemperer survived the Third Reich in Dresden protected by his marriage to a German. Yet he and his wife, Eva, were made miserable by anti-Semitic rules. When the regime finally decided to deport the 70 intermarried Jews in Dresden in February 1945, Klemperer was ironically saved by the allied firebombing of Dresden that took place days before the scheduled deportation date.  

In his journal, I Will Bear Witness: 1933-1941, A Diary of the Nazi Years, Klemperer describes Goebbels’ contrived expressions of public sentiment.  

The Jew-baiting has become so extreme, far worse than during the first boycott, there are the beginnings of the pogrom here and there, and we expect to be beaten to death at any moment. Not by neighbors, but by purgers who are deployed now here, now there as the “soul of the people.”12  

But anti-Semitic propaganda and methods of isolation did not increase compliance among intermarried Germans. In fact, in the case of Charlotte and Julius Israel, an intermarried couple featured in Stoltzfus’ book, the regime’s oppression had the opposite effect.  

Resistance Grew  

Not only did Charlotte stand by her Jewish husband, but her resistance grew in the face of adversity. She also assisted her Jewish in-laws in their struggle against the Nazi state. Stoltzfus explains this development:  

Charlotte had begun her adult life by falling in love with Julius, not as a Nazi resister. The small sacrifices she made for him at first became enormous later, and her capacity to resist social and political pressures grew in step with the mounting pressures.13  

While the Jewish partner clearly benefited from the protection against deportation that intermarriage afforded, the non-Jewish partner gained nothing from remaining loyal to the spouse. Yet even unhappily married couples tended to stay together. Eric A. Johnson, in his book Nazi Terror: The Gestapo, Jews, and Ordinary Germans, describes the conditions under which intermarried couples lived:  

For both male and female partners of Jews, remaining married eventually came to mean living in poverty and insecurity and being subjected to forced labor, social ostracism, and constant police and governmental pressure. During the war, even their [the German spouses’] physical safety was threatened as they sat beside their spouses in inadequate and unsafe parts of bomb shelters reserved for Jews, as their rations dwindled to starvation levels and as their fear increased that they too might someday be included on the deportation lists.14  

Non-Jews often suffered harsher taunts from neighbors and officials than did their Jewish spouses. Klemperer writes in 1934 of “the unspeakable pressure and repulsiveness of the swastika regime.”15  

Two-thirds of intermarried spouses were women. The Nazis created a gender role reversal so that German women met the public, ran the family business, and braved the bureaucracy.  

In Search of Food  

Eva Klemperer, who suffered from depression, spent entire days traveling across Dresden in search of food, using the couple’s meager ration cards. Her weight dropped from her normal weight of 154 pounds to 123 pounds. The day after the Nazis decreed that Jews must wear the Star of David, Victor Klemperer writes in his journal: “Yesterday, as Eva was sewing on the Jew’s star, I had a raving fit of despair. Eva’s nerves finished too. She is pale, her cheeks are hollow.”16 Yet Klemperer also describes acts of kindness, how shopkeepers and neighbors slipped him chocolate bars and other foods.  

He and his wife had lived in a large house. Gardening, driving into the country in their automobile, and caring for her cats had been Eva’s favorite activities until the Nazis forced the Klemperers to move into a cramped “Jewish House” (Judenhaus), banned Jews from owning cars, and killed pets in Jewish families.  

“Our telephone was removed on Dec. 1. An almost symbolic act. Completely impoverished and completely isolated,” Klemperer writes Dec. 8, 1936.17  

Star of David  

Kaplan describes the significance of the Star of David: “With the yellow star blazing from their coats, Jews could be identified, vilified, and attacked with impunity. Those who had earlier dared to circumvent shopping rules, limitations on public transport, or restrictions on entertainment could no longer do so unless they removed their star.”18  

But this symbol of isolation did not separate intermarried couples. In fact, the Star of David, combined with Nazi pressure to divorce, had the opposite effect. “The regime was no match for the force behind social traditions and religious sanctions upholding marriage and family,” Stoltzfus notes.19  

If euthanasia of mentally deficient family members tested how families would respond to racial policies, so did the May 1942 order to kill pets in Jewish households. While the killing of pets cannot be equated with the killing of humans, the analogy lies in the intrusion into family life.  

Intermarried Germans lined up in protest at the Jewish hospital at Iranischestrasse 4, where their pets were to be euthanized. In retrospect, this action appears to be a test of public opinion by the Nazis. How then would the population respond to the killing of intermarried Jews?  

When Nazi ideology intruded into what Hitler had trivialized as the “small world” of the family, it encountered a hard rock of resistance, even among the unhappily married. Stoltzfus notes that “ironically, it was ... [the Nazis’] most ambitious designs that cut most deeply against popular customs, habits, and traditions. ... The fundamental Nazi ideology and in turn the prized Nazi policies cut against the grain of social traditions the Germans could not part with.”20  

Earlier Protests That Influenced Policy  

The regime’s response to small-scale protests offers evidence of its concern with public opinion:  

• The “spirit of Cloppenburg” – November 1936, the regional Nazi leader ordered the removal of crucifixes from public schools. This led to angry opposition in the largely Catholic town of Cloppenburg. Church bells were rung in protest; children went to school with crucifixes around their necks; protest commissions demanded an end to the decree.  

• The “mothers’ revolt” – April 1941 the Bavarian minister of education, Adolf Wagner, ordered the removal of crucifixes and Christian pictures from schools in his district and the elimination of the school prayer in favor of Nazi slogans and songs. Nearly 2,000 women signed a petition in protest and threatened to remove their children from school.  

• Bishop’s warning – July and August 1941 Clemens von Galen, the Catholic bishop of Munster, preached three sermons against euthanasia, reasoning that “no one was safe from arbitrary police treatment; according to the logic of a program that sacrified those who were of no obvious productive use to the state, the state could soon be administering Euthanasia to wounded soldiers as well as cripples, the old, or the weak.” 21  

The regime rescinded the crucifix ban and delayed, and later decentralized, the euthanasia program. By speaking out, Bishop Galen assured his own survival. Martin Borman, Hitler’s personal secretary, called for Bishop Galen’s hanging. But Goebbels argued that, “If something against the bishop was done, one could forget about receiving support of the people of Munster for the rest of the war.”22  

Ironically, a Nazi party district leader of Augsburg-Land accused the church of using the same methods of dissent in opposing the crucifix decree as the regime used to create support for public opinion.  

The Population Aligns Itself with the  
Nazi Policy of Isolating the Jews  

Jealousy and competitiveness were part of the pattern of relations between Jews and non-Jews. German Jews constituted less than 1 percent of the national population, but they comprised 10 percent of the doctors and 20 percent of the lawyers. Holocaust historian Raoul Hilberg notes, “From the first days of the Nazi regime, members of the medical and legal professions were preoccupied with the ouster of their Jewish colleagues.”23  

November 1933 — Jewish doctors, dentists, and dental assistants could no longer receive payment by state health insurance. Disheartening for intermarried couples was the eagerness of the medical and legal professions to adopt the Nazi racial bias. Private associations eliminated Jewish members and their spouses.  

Unemployed teachers welcomed the elimination of competition for jobs. Kaplan notes, “Dismissing Jewish teachers conveniently allowed the government to find teaching assignments for 60 percent of the 1,320 ‘Aryan’ job applicants in 1933. Here were opportunities for the unemployed and upward mobility during the Great Depression.”24  

After the regime ordered the boycott of Jewish businesses on April 1, 1933, trade associations inquired of the national trade association how such boycotts could be continued. But Goebbels discouraged further boycotts on the grounds that they might be harmful to the economy.  

When Jews were expelled from the civil service under the Aryan Clause of the Law for the Restoration of the Civil Service in 1933, many German professional, social, and religious groups also expelled Jews and sometimes also their intermarried German spouses.  

Popular accommodation to the regime’s policies allowed the Nazis to appear to be aligned with public opinion. The day after Germans responded passively to the violent Kristallnacht pogroms that occurred across Germany in November 1938, Goebbels told the foreign press, “The German government is in this matter in absolute and total agreement with the German people.”25  

Nazi Regime Made Divorce Tempting  

The Nazi regime decided not to force intermarried couples to divorce. In a traditional society such as Germany this was certain to cause unrest. Instead the Nazis took measures to make life for intermarried couples as unpleasant as possible. The Gestapo called intermarried Germans in for repeated “consultations,” advising divorce. The Nazis enacted laws designed to make divorce seem logical:  

• April 1933 – the “Aryan Clause” of the Law for the Restoration of the Civil Service banned Jews from the civil service. In 1934, the Interior Ministry issued a decree prohibiting employees married to Jews from promotions, forcing a choice between spouse and career.  

• To encourage marriage and childbirth, the regime gave marriage loans, forgiving repayment by ¼ at the birth of each child. Intermarried couples received no marriage loans and no financial incentive to produce Mischlinge, part-Jewish children.  

• November 1933 – Railroad administrators ruled that no intermarried Germans could work for the railroad.  

• July 1935 – Candidates for positions as judges and public attorneys had to prove their spouses were “Aryan.”  

• October 1935 – the Nuremberg Laws, entitled the Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor criminalized sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews as Rassenschande or “racial disgrace.”  

• November 1938 – After the Kristallnacht pogrom, Jewish businesses were aryanized, i.e., taken over by non-Jews, usually sold for a very low price.  

• April 1939 – the Law on Rental Relations forced Jews in non-privileged marriages to move into a “Jewish house,” i.e., a house owned by Jews, who could only make rental contracts with other Jews.  

• April 1940 – Hitler expelled all persons from German-Jewish intermarriages from military service.  

• July 1940 – Shopping for Jews was limited to one hour per day, between 4 and 5 p.m.  

• September 1941 – Jews were required to wear the yellow Star of David on their clothes so that it was visible at all times.  

Intermarried Germans were also excluded from concerts, theaters, movies, museums, as well as from clubs, associations, and social events sponsored by colleagues. Thus they were not only deprived of public entertainment, but they had to give up professional contacts.  

Still only 7 percent of intermarried Germans divorced their spouses. Divorced or widowed Jewish spouses were deported and never heard from again. This knowledge appears to have hardened the resolve of intermarried Germans.  

Why Did Intermarried Non-Jews Hold Onto Their Spouses?  
Often Germans married Jews despite family objections. In fact, some of the Germans who married Jews may have been unconventional people who would have chosen to swim against the tide in any society. Women like Eva Klemperer and Charlotte Israel developed a resilience they didn’t know they possessed.  

Out of fear of the regime, many German families cut off their intermarried relatives. Thus intermarried spouses often lost their birth families and relied sometimes exclusively on their Jewish in-laws for family.  

Kaplan describes “a combination of loyalty, habit, and unsettling circumstances [that] may have made people less willing than usual to radically break with their spouses. Moreover, as circumstances worsened, individuals in unhappy relationships may have made their private peace in order to help the family escape or survive.”26  

Among the unhappily married couples were the parents of Ruth Kluger. She describes her parents’ tense relationship:  

When I explain to people ... that the two quarreled during their last year together ... people act astonished and say under conditions such as those you had to endure. In the Hitler years the persecuted should have come closer together. ... That is sentimental nonsense and rests on fatal notions of purification through suffering.27  

In 1941 a group of Harvard psychologists analyzed coping strategies as expressed in the memoirs of 90 emigres. They discovered an increased emphasis on family life that was “both comforting and isolating.”28  

Pointing out that mixed marriages have always had a higher divorce rate than marriages where both partners are of the same religion, Kaplan suggests, “It is possible that divorces occurred in spurts, for example directly after the Nuremberg Laws and the November Pogrom, or when couples in ‘nonprivileged’ mixed marriages had to move into a Judenhaus. It is also important to analyze why the divorces took place, in an attempt to save the Jewish partner, for example, or under Gestapo lies and threats.”29  

Women Had More Power Than They Knew  

Indicative of the regime’s gender bias, the Nuremberg Laws grouped intermarried Jews as “privileged” or “non-privileged.” If the husband was Jewish and the wife a non-Jewish German, it was a “nonprivileged” marriage, and the entire household was labeled Jewish and suffered the consequent deprivations. If the husband was a non-Jewish German and his wife was Jewish, then the marriage was “privileged.” In the latter case, the Jewish wife was not required to wear the yellow star.  

Labeling women as “very weak individuals, without wills of their own,” Hitler explained his view of women to the National Socialist Women’s Organization at the Nuremberg party rally, September 8, 1934:  

If we say the world of the man is the state, the world of the man is his commitment, his struggle on behalf of the community, we could then perhaps say that the world of the woman is a smaller world. For her world is her husband, her family, her children and her home. But where would the big world be if no one wanted to look after the small world? How could the big world continue to exist if there was no one to make the task of caring for the small world the center of their lives? No, the big world rests upon this small world! The big world cannot survive if the small world is not secure.30  
But the Nazis underestimated the fierceness with which intermarried women would defend these “small worlds.” In fact, as a consequence of the Rosenstrasse protest, intermarried Jews were virtually immune from deportation for the next two years.  

Contravening Regime’s Hopes  

Women often behaved in direct contravention to the regime’s hopes. One intermarried German woman not only did not divorce her husband but converted to Judaism in January 1933 as a form of protest. Others, who were in relationships with Jewish men, quickly married in 1934 in anticipatipon of the 1935 ban on Jewish-German intermarriage.  

One of the regime’s most coveted traditions was the notion that women’s role was limited to the domestic arena. But women’s influence extended far beyond that narrow sphere. Goebbels understood this when he wrote that women were “largely responsible” for “our public sentiments.” Stoltzfus describes the powerful position of women at the crucial time when Hitler’s fortunes began to fade:  

The regime’s hopes for regaining control of the war relied more on women than men. Thus in early 1943 German women might have constituted a particularly influential group in any collective effort to oppose the Nazi regime not only because they made up an increasingly large part of the home front and possible labor pool but also because the regime’s decision to conscript women caused internal conflict. Total war measures contradicted the noncivic role Nazism had assigned women and ran contrary to the traditional female household roles it had asserted for ten years.31  

If David Had Known His Own Strength in the Third Reich,  
He Might Have Defeated Goliath  

About 98 percent of those Jews who survived the Nazi regime without emigrating were intermarried. And “by the end of the deportations the majority of Jews left in Germany (including those with false papers or in hiding) were those in ‘privileged’ mixed marriages,” Kaplan notes.32  

The few examples of German dissent, such as those against euthansia and the Rosenstrasse, were motivated not by principle but by family ties. However, in retrospect the vulnerability of the regime seems evident. Given the regime’s concern for public opinion, the Germans could have done more to shape policies —by expressing more opposition to the regime.  

When the Nazi regime encountered no significant opposition, it increased its brutality, especially toward the Jews. Had the people realized their own strength, Johnson suggests that they might have played a larger role in shaping the Third Reich:  

Had the decency and courage that thousands of Gentile partners in mixed marriages displayed during the Holocaust been more widespread among the general population, many more Jewish lives might have been saved. Although many Germans disagreed with Nazi policy against the Jews, and some provided Jews with aid and compassion, it is telling that the only open demonstration against the deportations of German Jews during the Holocaust was carried out by Aryan wives of Jewish husbands.33  

Brave Individuals  

Johnson’s conclusion does not take into account a form of resistance too subtle to be classified as a protest — the bravery of individuals who hid Jews. Although Goebbels declared Berlin judenfrei, or free of Jews, as early as 1943, this was far from the truth. Intermarried Jews lived under severe restrictions but were relatively immune from deportation. But thousands of other Jews — the estimates range from 2,000 to 10,000 — went underground.  

“We ... failed to lay our hands on 4,000,”34 Goebbels admitted. Of those who went underground only about 2,000 survived.  

The figure seems low. But given the maniacal spirit that informed the Nazis’ hunt for Jews, it is a miracle that any Jews survived. Because of the Nazis’ fanatic pursuit, saving one Jew required the help of at least 7-10 Germans willing to risk their lives to hide a Jew.  

Among the Jews protected by ordinary Germans is music conductor, Konrad Latte. After he went underground, he stayed in the homes of individuals like 20-year old Ursula Meissner, an actress with the Prussian State Theater. Without hesitation, she took in the Latte family. In an interview with Peter Schneider, Meissner, at age 77, responded, “What else could I do?”35 Interviewed in Berlin at age 80 by Peter Schneider of The New York Times, Latte pointed to a network of 50 “protectors” who sheltered him and helped him in other ways.  

“Quiet Heroes”  

Schneider takes issue with Daniel Jonah Goidhagen’s thesis36 that the vast majority of Germans participated in hunting Jews. Conceding that large numbers of Germans may have assisted the Nazis in persecuting the Jews, Schneider notes, “hundreds of thousands of Jew-haters don’t add up to 80 million.” Calling those who protected Jews such as Latte, “quiet heroes,” Schneider writes that, “Even in the worst years of state terror, there was a choice, a small choice, and some citizens made that choice.”37  

Sowell, too, disagrees that Germans have always been strongly anti-Semitic. Instead, he describes an apathy, noting that the “average German had no compelling reason to be thinking about Jews one way or another. ...”38  

He acknowledges the role of those who quietly assisted Jews: “Nevertheless, the egregious behavior of the Nazis toward the Jews prompted some Germans to come to their aid, even during wartime, when that meant risking death for themselves and their families. Estimates of the number of Jews hidden in Berlin alone during the Second World War run into the thousands.”39  

Different Outcome  

Knowing the Achilles’ heel of the Nazi regime — the concern with public opinion — it is tempting to fantasize about a different outcome. Had the Germans opposed Hitler’s Enabling Act that abolished all but one political party; had they objected to Nazi book burning; had they protested against the 1938 Kristallnacht pogrom against the Jews, then perhaps the Third Reich would not have lasted 12 years. Perhaps the Nazis would not have come close to completing the goals of the Final Solution.  

If the population had raised its voice more often in open resistance — in addition to its quiet acts of assistance to Jews — perhaps David would indeed have toppled Goliath.  



1 Nathan Stoltzfus, Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany (Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick, 2001), xxv.  
2 Ibid. 245.  
3 Marion Kaplan, Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany, 76.  
4 Ibid. 76.  
5 Stoltzfus, xxvi.  
6 Ibid. 4  
7 Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf trans. And ed. John Chamberlain and Sidney B. Fay (New York, 1939), 780, 781.  
8 Thomas Sowell, Black Rednecks and White Liberals: and other cultural and ethnic issues (Encounter Books: San Fransisco, 2005) 196.  
9 Ibid. 197.  
10 Stoltzfus, 7-8.P  
11 Ibid. 13.  
12 Victor Klemperer, I Will Bear Witness: 1933-]941, A Diary of the Nazi Years, (The Modem Library: New York, 1999) Augustll, 1935, 130.  
13 Stoltzfus, 82-83.  
14 Eric A. Johnson, Nazi Terror: The Gestapo, Jews, and Ordinary Germans (Basic Books: New York, 1999) 422.  
15 Klemperer, 104.  
16 Ibid. 434.  
l7 Ibid. 202.  
18 Kaplan, 157.  
19 Stoltzfus, 103.  
20 Ibid. 15.  
21 Ibid. 148.  
22 Heinrich Portmann, ed., Bischof Graf von Galen spricht! (Freiburg im Breisgau: 1946), 194-96.  
23 Raoul Hilberg, Perpetrators, Victims, Bystanders; The Jewish Catastrophe, 1933-1945 (New York, 1992), 66, as cited in Stoltzfus, 45.  
24 Kaplan, 25-26.  
25 Stoltzfus, 101.  
26 Kaplan,88.  
27 Ibid. 87-88.  
28 As cited in Kaplan, 51, n 244.  
29 Kaplan, 93.  
30 Quoted in Timothy Mason, “Women in Germany, 1925-1940: Family, Welfare, and Work,” History Workshop Journal (January 1976), as cited in Stoltzfus, 104.  
31 Ibid, 200.  
32 Ibid, 191.  
33 Johnson, 423.  
34 Leonard Gross, The Last Jews in Berlin, (Simon and Schuster: New York, 1982) 114.  
35 Peter Schneider, The New York Times Magazine, “Saving Korirad Latte,” February 13, 2000, 55.  
36 Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 1996).  
37 Schneider, 54.  
38 Sowell, 198.  
39 Ibid. 198.

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