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91 Chapter 4 Jewish Frontkämpfer and the Nazi Volksgemeinschaft Reich President Hindenburg’s death on 2 Au- gust 1934 shifted the regime’s internal balance of power, effectively ending conservative influence in Hitler’s government and removing the last ob- stacles to totalitarian rule.1 These developments also brought about an im- mediate intensification of antisemitic persecution that targeted those Jews who had thus far eluded the regime’s exclusionary policies, as the forces that had backed exemptions for Jewish frontline veterans either were swept

Jewish World War I Veterans under Hitler
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vii Acknowledgments ix List of Abbreviations xiii Introduction 1 1. Reappraising Jewish War Experiences, 1914–18 12 2. The Politics of Comradeship: Weimar Germany, 1918–33 35 3. “These Scoundrels Are Not the German People”: The Nazi Seizure of Power, 1933–35 61 4. Jewish Frontkämpfer and the Nazi Volksgemeinschaft 91 5. Under the “Absolute” Power of National Socialism, 1938–41 117 6. Defiant Germanness 170 Epilogue 206 Notes 215 Bibliography 255 Index 287 Contents

’ invocation of German nationalism, conversion to Christi- anity, and military service as further evidence that Jews had become adept at “mimicking” the mannerisms, language, and culture of their host nation in an attempt to conceal themselves amid an unsuspecting German public.4 The categories “conservative” and “Nazi” do not adequately describe the ideological differences on the Jewish Question, yet German reactions to the persecution of Jewish Frontkämpfer oftentimes assumed the character of a dichotomy. If the mainstream conservative Right conceded that some

masculine elite, having demonstrated their manhood through participation in war. The term Frontkämpfer (frontline veteran) com- municated aggressiveness, resolve, and active participation in battle, differen- tiating the “real” soldiers who had faced the enemy in combat from the al- leged cowards and shirkers in the rear.7 This specific conception of manhood 4 introduction embodied the masculine image of the rational actor, the stoic warrior, who retained control of his mental faculties even in times of fear-inducing, life-or- death situations.8 The power of

overseeing the Aktion (op- eration). “I opened my coat and pointed to the Iron Cross and War Service Cross which were affixed to my lapel. I told him: ‘I was a war volunteer and Frontkämpfer and have the Iron Cross.’ Him: ‘Well, then you are in luck. Let’s see if you can save yourself by climbing over that wall.’ ”8 Before a jeering crowd of intoxicated stormtroopers, Neumann tried to jump the three-meter-high brick wall pointed out by the SS officer. After three failed 120 chApter 5 attempts, Neumann decided to make his escape. He abruptly turned and sprinted

contrast to the deliberate, step-by-step process of annihilation of the Jewish population at large. When the Jew- ish Frontkämpfer arrived at Theresienstadt, their connection to their former status did not abruptly end. Whether as prisoners in Nazi camps and ghettos or confined to “Jew Houses” in the Reich, they remained invested in such masculine virtues as their physical capacity to endure hardship, protect their families, and preserve their sense of dignity. They continued to seek vali- dation as brave soldiers and “real” men, endeavoring to project images of

215 introduction 1. StAW, Gestapoakt Julius Katzmann, No. 3270. All translations from German language sources are my own, unless otherwise noted. 2. Ibid. Emphasis in the original. 3. Ibid. 4. Ibid. 5. See, for example, Dwork and Pelt, Holocaust, 86; and Kaplan, Between Dignity and Despair, 45–46. 6. Mosse, Image of Man, 44. 7. Although initially a term favored by both the nationalist Right and the Com- munists, Frontkämpfer quickly entered public parlance after World War I. See Zie- mann, Contested Commemorations, 22–23; and Winkle, Dank des

sacrifices. Of course, the high status accorded to the Frontkämpfer of World War I was largely symbolic, manifesting itself in the form of social prestige that acknowledged the suffering of four bloody years of fighting for the nation. But it was legitimized and reinforced to the general populace through public rituals, such as the consecration of war memorials, national holidays, and a variety of wartime commemorations. The power of this discourse was rooted in its abstraction. It was free of political and racial connotations and enabled Jews to invest

Fort IX, 171 Frank, Ernst, 43 Frank, Fritz, 22 Frank, Karl Hermann, 200 Frank, Otto, 184 Frankenberg, Friedrich, 139 Freikorps, 38 – 39, 70, 138, 154fig, 203 Freudenheim, Martin, 115 Frick, Wilhelm, 142 Friedländer, Johann, 202 Fritsch, Werner von, 54, 231n110 Fromm, Friedrich, 142, 146 Frontgemeinschaft. See comradeship and solidarity Frontkämpfer, use of term, 3 – 4, 215n7 Frontkämpferklausel (frontline vets’ clause), 70 – 71, 73 Fürst, Julius, 20, 32, 34, 43 Gans, Willi, 68 – 69 Gerechter, Siegbert, 93 German people acceptance of Nazi policies by, 67, 104 – 5