Hitler’s ‘Jewish Soldier’

Hitler’s armed forces included many thousands of men of Jewish origin. How did this come about, and what were their military experiences like? Josie Dunn and Roger Morgan have studied the letters sent home to Germany by Medical Orderly Kurt Herrmann, who was one of these men, an unusual and reluctant young soldier who was a part of the army that invaded Russia.

Black Sea and the Caspian. By August 1942 the Caucasus had been reached, and, as the flag of the Reich was hoisted over Mount Ebrust, Europe’s highest mountain, Kurt Herrmann’s unit was resting (and repairing its worn-out vehicles) in the nearby spa of Piatigorsk.


Berlin and then, two months later, came a final tragedy, which was not without a cruel irony. After surviving over a year of savage warfare on the Eastern Front, he was at last granted his first and long-awaited period of leave at home in Berlin, and it was here on the night of August 23rd/24th that Kurt Herrmann, together with his mother, perished in an Allied air-raid.


Germany and who wrote to his parents that he thought he deserved the Iron Cross for his courage in rescuing the wounded on the field of battle. Kurt Herrmann had a Jewish grandparent, which made him one-quarter Jewish – in the terminology of the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 he was a ‘second degree Mischling’ or ‘mongrel’ (half-Jews were classified as ‘first degree Mischlinge’) – and therefore, by definition, an enemy of the German Reich, a member of a race which the regime was committed to destroying.

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