Definition of Jews by Nazis

Question:

Im doing a project for my english class on the Holocaust. The specific topic I am researching is How did the Nazis determine who was Jewish or who had Jewish ancestry? If you could send me any information regarding this topic, it would be greatly appreciated.

Gordon McFee answers:

Among the measures the Nazis adopted in the process of isolating the Jews were various means of identifying them. Apart from the obvious (members of a synagogue, members of a known Jewish family, and so on), the Nazis ordained that a person had to be able to prove his "Aryan" ancestry back to 1750. The decrees on this were adopted as a result of the Nuremburg Laws of 1935, and in summary, the breakdown was this:

- Jews were anyone who was descended from three or four Jewish grandparents;

- Jews were also anyone with two Jewish grandparents and who belonged to the Jewish religion, or were married to a Jew as of the date of the adoption of the Laws;

- Mischling First Degree were those with two Jewish grandparents, but who did not belong to the Jewish religion and were not married to a Jew

- Mischling Second Degree were people descended from one Jewish grandparent.

The word "Mischling" roughly translates into English as "half-breed" or "mongrel". Those who suffered the most under the Final Solution were the Jews and the Mischling First Degree.

This all probably seems strange since the Nazi hatred of the Jews was racially motivated, but the difficulty they had in identifying who was Jews and who wasn't, underscores the absurdity of the overall exercise in any case.

Later on, the Jews were identified by means of isolation in ghettos, the obligation to wear the yellow star, and other such means.

A more complete treatment of this is in Raul Hilberg's Destruction of the European Jews.

Hope this helps.

Best regards,

Gord McFee

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