At the Wannsee Conference on 20 January
1942, the SS decreed that war-wounded and war-decorated Jews would not
be deported to the East along with the rest of the Jewish population; rather,
they were to be “relocated” to the privileged camp at Theresienstadt. To be
sure, Theresienstadt was a theoretical construction, a way station on the
road to Auschwitz. Yet the decision reveals that indecisiveness, expediency,
and contradictory decision-making characterized Nazi policy against Jewish
war veterans, which stood in sharp
1933, Nationalsozialistische Kreiszeitung Allenstein, USHMMA, RG-11.001M.31,
reel 101 (SAM 721–1–2316a, 520–21).
11. Ibid. Levy was deported to Theresienstadt on 17 March 1943, and to Aus-
chwitz on 29 September 1944. He did not survive the Holocaust. See, further, “Levy,
Max,” Gedenkbuch: Opfer der Verfolgung der Juden unter der nationalsozialistischen Gewal-
therrschaft in Deutschland 1933–1945, Bundesarchiv, accessed 2 July 2019, http://www.
12. Edwin Landau, HHL bMS 91 (126).
13. Tosh, “Hegemonic Masculinity.” Also see
minority of the German people.
Things looked very different, however, for the survivors of Auschwitz,
Riga, and Theresienstadt. If the Jewish cohorts who fought in 1914–18
“emerged from the war more acculturated than any previous generation of
German Jews,” as Greg Caplan argues, there can be little doubt that 1945 was
a watershed, one that signaled a distinct break with the past.14 Those who
had experienced the deportations and the unspeakable horrors of the Nazi
camps demanded more than mere reintegration; they expected acknowledg-
Bayerisches Haupstaatsarchiv, Abt. IV, Kriegsarchiv, Munich (BHStA/IV)
Bayerisches Haupstaatsarchiv, Munich (BayHStA/II)
MInn 73725 (Polizei Berichte)
MA 97668 (Der Krieg und die Juden)
Bundesarchiv, Berlin (BArch)
DO 1/32590 Theresienstadt
NS 19 Persönlicher Stab Reichsführer SS
NS 23 Sturmabteilung der NSDAP (SA)
NS 26 Hauptarchiv der NSDAP
R43 II Neue Reichskanzlei
R72 Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten e.V.
R90 Reichskommissar für den Ostland
the ballroom, and behind each
one of them waited ten or eleven people to comment on Johnson’s presentations,
124 Speaking the Unspeakable in Pos twar Germany
considerations, revelations. And they said: My mother. Theresienstadt. My entire
family. Treblinka. My children. Birkenau. My life. Auschwitz. My sister. Bergen-
Belsen. Ninety-seven years old. Mauthausen. At the age of two, four, and fi ve.
Maidenek” ( AN , 169).
Compared to the hermetic language of Jesus’s parables, the language of the Jew-
ish respondents, as it is presented here, conveys a
in Minsk (and later Theresienstadt)
was the only Jewish former soldier to leave behind a detailed account of his
experiences.102 In the absence of substantial victims’ testimony, the surviving
files of the Lodz Ghetto administration (Ghettoverwaltung Litzmannstadt)
yield some insights into the responsibilities and day-to-day inner workings
of the Jewish Police.103 Together with the Lodz Ghetto Chronicle and postwar
trial records, these sources shed light on how membership in the police gave
Jewish veterans a means to exert some agency in the confines of