Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers—Interview with Historian Bryan Mark Rigg
Rigg: When I met with Simon Wiesenthal in 1996 in Vienna, he told me not to document this study saying we Jews have enough problems as it is. I then asked him why should we ignore something if it is just history since it teaches us about the human condition and behavior. He did not give a good answer.
…by Jonas E. Alexis and Bryan Mark Rigg
Bryan Mark Rigg has a B.A with Honors from Yale University and a Masters and Ph.D. in history from Cambridge University. He has taught as a lecturer at the American Military University. He also has taught at Phillips Exeter Academy. He has been featured in the New York Times and on programs including NBC Datelineand Fox News. Rigg is the author of Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002), which won the William E. Colby Award for Military History, was featured on NBC-TV’s Dateline, and has been translated into eleven languages. He is a former officer in the United States Marine Corps.
Rigg is also the author of Lives of Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers: Untold Tales of Men of Jewish Descent Who Fought for the Third Reich (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2009) and The Rabbi Saved by Hitler’s Soldiers: Rebbe Joseph Isaac Schneersohn and His Astonishing Rescue (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004). Rigg is also a partner at http://www.RiggWealthManagement.com and currently working on a Financial Book.
JEA: When I first read your book back in 2011, I was quite shocked and angry at the same time. I was angry because I started reading about World War II right after I graduated from high school. I spent one summer reading Allan Bullock, William L. Shirer, Robert Waite, Ian Kershaw, John Toland, Hannah Arendt, Israel Gutman, among others, and none of those people even remotely suggested that there were people of Jewish descent in Nazi Germany. Your book was indeed a revelation. Then I thought to myself, “Why hasn’t anyone written about this before?”
Shortly after I read your book, I contacted an author who wrote a Holocaust book which was published by the University of California. During the course of our correspondence, I bluntly asked him, “Why didn’t you point out the fact that there were people of Jewish descent in Nazi Germany in your book?” He said he knew these facts but that was not the subject of his book! The book was 360 pages long, but he couldn’t even remotely point out that fact out.
Thank you so much for being so courageous and truthful. How has the book been received?
BMR: Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers has been published in numerous languages and with great reviews. I continue to get fan mail every month, sometimes every week, even though the book was originally published in 2002. I have heard from many people, most notably, Michael Berenbaum, that it is the definitive work on the subject matter. Also, Rob Citino claims it is an amazing piece of primary research. So, I have been blessed that it has been received well throughout the world. In fact, my most recent translation in Swedish got the distinguish Swedish Award for non-fiction this year.
JEA: I’ve read that the book has been endorsed by Michael Berenbaum, Robert Citino, Stephen Fritz, James Corum, Paula Hyman (your former professor), Nathan Stoltzfus, Norman Naimark, Jonathan Steinberg, Geoffrey Megargee, Dennis Showalter and James Tent. What about other historians? What do they say and do you take their criticism seriously? The late Raul Hilberg said that you were quite unbalanced in your approach. Richard J. Evans of Cambridge also said that the title of your book was misleading. What’s your response?
BMR: The list of historians who have supported my work “Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers” are some of the leading scholars in their fields and their endorsements speak for themselves. I discuss the reasons for the title of my book right at the beginning of the book. I am sorry Richard Evans thinks the title is misleading, which it is not, but in the end, we are all entitled to our opinions.
I am thankful that in his recent book on the Third Reich, he does cite my work. He also conducted my orals at Cambridge and gave me invaluable feedback on my work and supports my conclusions. In his recent work on the Third Reich, he has me mentioned in his notes and I am honored to be there—he would not have cited my work if he did not value the research.
JEA: What about Rauh Hilberg?
BMR: Raul Hilberg’s criticism came out when my work was highlighted in a December 1996 article in the London Telegraph when I was still a graduate student at Cambridge University. The writing was not mine and he is not giving commentary on my work. In a 2004 conference in California, I had the chance to spend a whole evening with Professor Hilberg walking around Claremont/McKenna College discussing the Third Reich and the Holocaust. We were both there giving lectures on our fields of expertise.
We also talked about his service in World War II. During this time, he admitted he had not read my book, but in discussing my findings, he agreed with my conclusions and findings. He said he was going to read my book thereafter and later, confirmed he did. He did not find anything troubling with my research.
So, in short, if there is criticism out there about my book, it largely stems from the articles published about my work in 1996 and 1997 before I ever had my Masters or Ph.D. Journalists had shown a lot of interest in my work and we (my professor at Cambridge Jonathan Steinberg and I) went to the press in order to find more interview subjects and find more primary sources. It was not to get fame, but rather, a tactic to reach people in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s who could support me and my research.
The tactic worked since the articles generated hundreds of letters and contacts for my research. In retrospect, I wish I had more control on the subject matter printed about me during that time, but journalism has a life of its own.
JEA: When you were writing the book, weren’t you conscious of the fact that the project could overturn virtually everything we know about Nazi Germany?
BMR: When I met with Simon Wiesenthal in 1996 in Vienna, he told me not to document this study saying we Jews have enough problems as it is. I then asked him why should we ignore something if it is just history since it teaches us about the human condition and behavior. He did not give a good answer. I later followed up with a letter asking him how it should be presented since I was going forward with my study and he did not answer me. I was disappointed in his lack of support, but I understood where he was coming from. In short, we as humans should never avoid a subject matter because it is unpleasant.
JEA: Did you ever think that this issue is too sensitive and may cause too much controversy?
BMR: I knew the subject matter I was exploring was controversial, but this subject matter about Jews and men of Jewish descent who fought the Wehrmacht under Hitler helps us understand some of the most troubling questions about the Holocaust; namely, who knew about the Holocaust?, Why did people follow Hitler? Why is there racism? What is ethnicity? Are there races? And Can the Holocaust happen again? I explore these questions in depth and “Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers” is one of the leading works on the experience of partial-Jews (Mischlinge) during the Third Reich.
JEA: Were there people who wanted to discourage you from pursuing this research? For example, when Norman Finkelstein was writing Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, Alan Dershowitz wrote to the University of California threatening to sue the publisher if they happen to publish the book. Thankfully, the publisher realized that Dershowitz’s accusations were groundless and they ended up publishing the work anyway.
BMR: I had some German academics who were not supportive, but by and large, most scholars I met, once they understood what I was doing, were very supportive. At first, there were indeed several people who did not think I was going to find anything. One of the most distinguished German History professors, Henry Turner, was not supportive at first. Even though he was my Senior Essay advisor at Yale, he did not think I was going to find anything in 1996.
When I returned to Yale to give a talk about my work “Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers” and had a private meeting with several supporters there like Dean Richard Brodhead, Dean Hugh Flick, Professor Paula Hyman and Jeffrey Sammons, Henry Turner decided to attend as well. I was nervous that he was there since he had not been supportive, but as people were going around the table telling “Bryan Rigg Stories” from my Yale days and talking about my research, Professor Turner got up from the table, held up a copy of my book he had brought with me and said,
“I am glad Bryan Mark Rigg never listened to me. Had he done so, this first rate piece of scholarship would have never happened.”
I think that was one of my proudest moments as an academic. Henry Turner was one of the toughest professors I ever had (I think most Yale students who had him would agree with me). But he was an excellent scholar and his praise meant a lot. Since the book has come out, I do not know of any first rate scholar who thinks it should not have been written.
JEA: What I appreciate most about your work is that you go by archival documents and eye-witness accounts. You took the time to interview hundreds of people who were in Nazi Germany and they even gave you access to important documents. This is certainly the work of a first-rate historian and scholar, and no praise can be too high for such a book. What is the book you are working on now?
BMR: For the past two years, I have been writing the biography of Woody Williams, a Medal of Honor recipient from the battle of Iwo Jima. More Medals of Honor were given during this battle than any other battle in American history.
Woody in a four hour engagement took out seven pillboxes and killed 50 Japanese helping the Marines break through a tough line of defense on the island. The success he had helped secure the first airfield on the island which was one of the strategic purposes of the battle. His biography helps one understand the nature of combat with the Japanese during the Pacific War.
Besides being a great story, it helps us understand what the US did to protect the world against fascist Japan and its genocide against Asians. Also, it helps one understand why we dropped the atomic bombs.
JEA: I look forward to reading that work. It’s been a pleasure to read your other books as well. I will be honored to interview you again. Until then, keep up the good work.
JEA: Let’s get into some of the themes of Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers. You begin by saying that “numerous areas relating to the Holocaust and the Nazi era in general remain largely unexplained or poorly understood.” What did you mean by that? You can also discuss some of the areas that remain unexplained.
BMR: Well, in my work, many historians failed to notice or did not think it important to explore the subject matter of Jews and men of Jewish descent who served in the Wehrmacht. However, by studying these men, one starts to understand more clearly the complications of race and politics in the Third Reich.
It also helps answer some of the toughest questions to explore about the Holocaust; namely, what could the common citizen of Germany know about the genocide and if he or she knew, what could they do about it? In short, I found that most of the men I researched did not know the full extent of the Holocaust and what was happening not only to the Jews, but also to their relatives who were Jews.
This, quite frankly, shocked me. However, this fact illustrates a common theme we have with humanity in general and that is, most people don’t get involved with genocide or care about it. The United States has done more than most nations, but the world, in general does not care. Look at the killing fields of Cambodia under Pol Pot, or the genocide in Bosnia done by Christian Serbs against Muslims or the genocide in Rwanda with the Catholic Hutus slaughtering the Catholic Tutsi or the genocide the radical Islamic fascists in ISIS is doing to the Yezidis.
People know about these genocides, but most do nothing. In fact, the two nations of Germany and Japan who did so much harm during World War II know about these genocides, and even though they slaughtered millions during World War II and are now peace loving democratic nations who promise never to do again what they did before, they continue to let the world do horrible crimes throughout just like they once did.
So “Never Again” means nothing to them—if it did, they would send their troops in the world to help those suffering with genocide. So, as one can see, studying the history of the Holocaust and the Third Reich leaves a lot to be desired because we still understand so little about human nature that allows the horrible crimes to be perpetrated against people because of their religion, race, nationality or political beliefs.
If we truly had learned from the Holocaust, we would do a better job of policing the world and preventing genocide and cruelty like we see under ISIS or North Korea just to name two Nazi like organizations.
JEA: I would agree with some of what you say here and respectfully disagree with a number of issues you have raised. I am glad we are having this very important and timely conversation because there are some issues that the inquiring mind cannot raise among the Holocaust establishment. It is quite sad because people in the establishment brag about being free thinkers and rationalists, but they would not allow observers to ask important questions.
Many scholars have even been persecuted for raising serious issues. The conflict between Lucy Dawidowicz and noted British historian Norman Davies is a classic example. When Davies challenged the accepted views of both the Holocaust in Nazi-occupied Poland and the Stalinist regime in Soviet Union, he was ultimately denied tenure at Stanford University.
Davies is not an obscure historian. His scholarly works include God’s Playground: A History of Poland (in two volumes); Europe: A History; No Simple Victory: World War II in Europe, 1939-1945; and Heart of Europe: The Past in Poland’s Present.
Yet in 2005, Davies dropped a historical bomb that left a devastating effect on the Holocaust establishment, writing a sharp critique of both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, which was published by the Sunday Times. For Dawidowicz, Davies was buttressing his point “with anti-Semitic tidbits.”
Going back to the central issue, I’d like to say that most men did not know about “the Holocaust” because both the Soviet Union and the United States were exaggerating about what was really taking place. For example, the Soviet propagandist Ilya Ehrenburg promoted the six-million figure long before World War II ended, as early as 1944! He wrote,
“In regions they seized, the Germans killed all the Jews, from the old folks to infants in arms. Ask any German prisoner why his fellow countrymen annihilated six million innocent people, and he will reply quite simply, ‘Why, they were Jews.’”
By March 1945, Ehrenburg again propounded, “The world now knows that Germany has killed six million Jews.” We could cite numerous other cases which show that both the Soviet Union and the United States were determined to forge or fabricate things about Germany. The United States even provoked Japan to attack Pearl Harbor so that they could enter the war.
This is well documented. (My dear friend and colleague Mark Dankof are planning to discuss this in great details at the end of this year.) And after the war was over, both the Soviets and US soldiers raped virtually every single German woman they could find. No exaggeration here.
Have you read Sarah Gordon’s Hitler, Germans, and the Jewish Question? It was published by Princeton University Press in 1984. Some of the arguments she put forth aren’t being discussed by the Holocaust establishment at all. If you haven’t read that book, then we won’t discuss the issue here.
BMR: I have not read it. What stood out to you?
JEA: Gordon marshalled numerous convincing arguments that simply do not line up with what the Holocaust establishment has been propounding, and it is too much to discuss this here. Gordon writes that “Cultural explanations that include anti-Semitism as a central reason for Hitler’s electoral success are inadequate as explanatory tools because of their nebulous formulation and because counterexamples from the works of famous scholars and writers indicate that cultural influences were diverse.” Albert S. Lindemann of the University of California has come to similar conclusions in Esau’s Tears: Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews.
Gordon also went into some details about what the concentration camps looked like. They were certainly not country clubs, but they had movie theaters, libraries, a money-lending system, and numerous other things that the Holocaust establishment never care to mention or address. I once raised similar issues to a popular writer whose book was published by the University of California Press, and he was basically silent because discussing these things in his book would weaken his views on Nazi Germany.
In any event, let’s move on. There is an argument out there which basically says that Hitler wanted to liquidate the entire Jewish population in Germany. Christopher Browning writes in an entry in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust that
“The Nazis’ comprehensive program to solve their ‘Jewish question’ by murdering every Jew in Europe. Initiated by Adolf Hitler in the summer of 1941 in the euphoria of his greatest successes and his seemingly imminent victory over the Soviet Union, the ‘Final Solution’ was the culmination of a long evolution of Nazi Jewish policy—from Hitler’s earliest articulation of a solution to the ‘Jewish question’ in 1919, through the Nazi attempts to coerce Jewish emigration in the 1930s, to the schemes for mass expulsion after the outbreak of war, and, finally, the leap to mass murder with the Einsatzgruppen assault on the Russian Jewry in 1941.”
I have never found this argument persuasive for several reasons. Thanks to your book, we can say with certainty now that there were people of Jewish descent in Nazi Germany and Hitler allowed them to serve there. I don’t think he was going to liquidate these people by honoring them and allowing them to serve.
Furthermore, why would Hitler himself spare his own Jewish doctor, Eduard Bloch, during the Nazi era? Why would he call Bloch “a noble Jew”? Are people telling us that Hitler really wanted to exterminate that man as well? One historian writes that
“Under the protection of the Gestapo, as Linz’s only Jew: Dr. and Mrs. Bloch were allowed to remain in their home undisturbed until all the formalities regarding their emigration were settled. Without interference from the authorities they could sell their large, beautiful home for a fair price, and they were allowed to keep their money—extraordinary privileges at that time.”
You write that Hitler “left several Mischlinge officers at their posts without subjecting them to any persecution.” You write eloquently that Himmler himself:
“helped a Jew, Professor Fritz Pringsheim, leave a concentration camp and escape Germany. Several officials had old comrades of Jewish ancestry. They had seen the common humanity of German-Jewish soldiers who fought bravely and died in World War I.
“Moreover, many had grown up with Jews and Mischlinge and had come to view them as friends and colleagues—some were even relatives or lovers—and they valued these relationships more than they did their anti-Semitism. Hitler seemed to respect the opinions of these men when they endorsed a particular Mischlinge for an exemption.
“For example, throughout the early 1930s, several people brought the Litzmann family’s grandchildren of the famous General Karl Litzmann, Staatsrat and Nazi Party member. Litzmann had two grandsons who were quarter-Jews according to Nazi law. Hitler allowed their mother to stay in the Party and her children to remain officers although her husband was a Mischlinge.
“One of the grandsons, Walter Lehwe-Litzmann, attained the rank of colonel in the Luftwaffe, served as the Luftflotte 5 (Air Fleet 5) operations adjutant to General Hans-Jurgen Stumpff in Norway, and successfully flew 160 missions with the Ju-88 twin-engine medium bomber. For his accomplishments, he received the German-Cross in Gold and the Ritterkreuz.”
I find it hilarious that the Holocaust establishment has not really dealt with this issue in a logical and satisfying manner. What’s your take here?
BMR: Hitler’s descriptions of Jews, if one reads Mein Kampf carefully, is one that is Orthodox and an Ostjuden (Jew from the East) and one that is a Communist and a follower of the Jew Karl Marx. The hatred of the Orthodox or Eastern Jew in Germany and Austria was widespread not only by the Gentile-Christian population, but also by the assimilated-Reform Jewish population during Hitler’s lifetime. The ultra-religious were seen as primitive and uneducated and parasites on society since they studied all day and did not want to assimilate.
Moreover, they did not want to serve in the military and at this time, not serving the country was viewed as disgusting and traitorous. When I was in the Israeli army in 1998, even my drill sergeant expressed to me his belief that since the Orthodox don’t want to serve Israel and are “cowards,” he wished Hitler had killed them all. Although this is an extreme and offensive belief he held, it represents what many Germans and Austrians felt about the Orthodox Jews in their midst and this was part of the reason why Hitler hated the Jews.
The other group of Jews he hated were the Communists. People forget that Germany was torn apart by Civil War right after World War I between the Nationalists (Freikorps) and the Communists (Spartakusbund). Since Karl Marx, a Jew, started the Communists and since Hitler hated the Communists, he also hated the Jews for starting the communism and devastating Germany in 1919. So he viewed Socialism and Communism as Jewish institutions and that they should be done away with; hence, why he hated the Soviet Union so much.
So it is true to say that Hitler wanted to kill all the Jews who were Orthodox and Communists. However, when he opened that Pandora’s Box saying Jews were bad, even though he may have only felt these particular two kinds of Jews were the real problem, he lumped in all Jews no matter what and this became a difficult problem for him inside Germany due to all the assimilation.
My book Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers shows how difficult it was to define how Jewish one had to be in order to be bad. If you were 50% or less, you were in no man’s land in Germany and Hitler really did not want to exterminate you; however, had the war continued or had he won the war, there is a good chance he would have killed the Mischlinge (half-Jews and quarter-Jews) after he killed off their parents and grandparents.
Hitler’s genocide was indeed not absolute from the beginning as Karl Schleunes book The Twisted Road to Auschwitz so eloquently describes. Hitler’s genocide evolved into the murderous form it took in the form of Auschwitz after he took over Poland and large sections of Russia where he had Communists and the majority of Orthodox Jewry under his control and these people Hitler had hated from his early years.
So, as one can see, Hitler’s genocide is complicated and was not as clear cut as one might think—in the end though, Hitler’s mad obsession with killing Jews would have continued to find more victims to feed the ovens his crazed regime had. After the Jews, he would have found another group to kill.
There was no end in sight for possible victims that Hitler wanted to exterminate. People often fail to remember that Hitler killed homosexuals, Russian POW’s, Gypsies and Socialists just to name a few in addition to the Jews. In total, when you add the other millions he killed to the 6 million Jews, some historians put the number at 11.7 million people Hitler murdered during his short 12 year rule.
JEA: We will have to disagree on some of the points you’ve just raised here again. Let me just say in passing that no one has been able to prove with serious archival documents that the six-million figure is accurate. As I suggested earlier, this figure was around even before World War I started.
Second, the scholarly sources we have right now show that Nazi Germany was a reaction to subversive movements in Germany, particularly Berlin. Jewish historian Edward J. Bristow has convincingly showed that
“Between 1880 and 1939, the Jews played a conspicuous role in ‘white slavery,’ as the commercial prostitution of that era was dramatically called. Not only was this Jewish participation conspicuous, it was historically unprecedented, geographically widespread, and fraught with collective political dangers.”
Bristow says that Hitler witnessed Jewish traffickers and prostitutes while in Vienna. Hitler declared:
“In no other city of Western Europe could the relationship between Jewry and prostitution…be studied better than in Vienna…An icy shudder ran down my spine when seeing for the first time the Jew as an evil, shameless and calculating manager of this shocking vice, the outcome of the scum of the big city.”
In a similar vein, Albert S. Lindemann argues that
“Eastern European Jews were also infamous in the nineteenth century for involvement in activities associated with the saloon, as pimps, or in the language of the time, in ‘white slavery,’ but also in other illegal activities. A substantial Jewish subculture of criminality thrived in cities like Odessa and Bucharest.
“Anti-Semitic conclusions were frequently drawn from the prominent participation of Jews in the liquor trade, saloons, usury, prostitution, smuggling, and racketeering…and were part of the reason that western Jews often tended to consider Jews from eastern Europe to be social deviants, parasites, and criminals.”
Jewish participations in subversive activities and messianic politics in the eighteen and nineteenth centuries are well documented. Even in the twentieth century, it has been well established that the Neoconservative movement is essentially a subversive enterprise. Jewish legal scholar Stephen M. Feldman admits:
“For more than twenty-five years, starting in 1980, neoconservatives stood at the intellectual forefront of a conservative coalition that reigned over the national government. Neocons earned this prominent position by leading an assault on the hegemonic pluralist democratic regime that had taken hold of the nation in the 1930s.”
This Neoconservative ideology gave us perpetual wars in the Middle East, and this has already created a huge reaction in America and much of the West. What I’m saying here is that the evidence suggests that the rise of anti-Semitism or anti-Jewish reactions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and even today have a lot to do with Jewish behavior.
Even before Hitler came to power, Georg Ehrenfried, later George Grosz, who had personally known Lenin and Trotsky, was a well-known Communist pornographer in Germany. In 1940, he released the explicitly pornographic piece Erotic Drawing. In his autobiography, Grosz writes that in 1919 in Germany, “A wave of vice, pornography and prostitution enveloped the whole country.”
In 1923, the same year in which Hitler attempted an unsuccessful putsch in Munich, publisher Wieland Herzfelde, who founded Malik Press, was charged with producing and promoting pornography. During the same year, Grosz’s book Ecce Homo was also “confiscated as pornography.”
The historical sources also make clear that during the 1920s and 30s Berlin was “the whore of Babylon,” and even people like Paul Johnson make references to this. Jewish scholar Mel Gordon of the University of California, Berkeley, tells us that during the Weimar Republic, Berlin was a place for “voluptuous panic.”
In the political, cultural and intellectual landscape, Jewish historians and scholars started to denigrate the German culture and tradition long before the rise of Nazi Germany as well. For example, when Heinrich Graetz, “the father of ethno-nationalist historiography,” unapologetically wrote a letter to Moses Hess saying that Christianity is a “religion of death” and that “I am looking forward with pleasure to flogging the Germans and their leaders—Schleirmacher, Fichte, and the whole wretched Romanic school,” the German historian Heinrich von Treitschke of the University of Berlin, though not a Christian, was appalled. Treitschke responded:
“What zealous rage against the ‘age-old enemy,’ Christianity, what deadly hatred for purest and grandest representatives of the German nation, from Luther to Goethe and Fichte! And what everblown, hollow and on ensive pride!…Nor is this rigid hatred for the German ‘gentiles’ by any means confined to the mind of a single zealot.”
After a long struggle with Graetz, Treitschke concluded, “A full merger of Jewry with the peoples of the West will never be achieved.” Historian Shlomo Sand of Tel Aviv University writes that Treitschke
“discerned in Graetz an aspiration to have Jewry acknowledged as a nation within the German nation, an aspiration that every ‘authentic’ German had to reject out of hand. He went on to charge Graetz with nationalist Jewish conceit, and wondered at length if the latter saw himself as a German in any way.
“No, he concluded, Graetz was an alien in his accidental homeland, an Oriental ‘who neither understands no wants to understand our nation; he and we have nothing in common, except that he possesses our citizenship and uses our mother tongue—though only in order to curse and swear at us.’”
Treitschke, writes Sand, began to view “Jewishness and Germany as two contradictory, hence irreconcilable, identities. Treitschke’s nationalism was suffused with an ethnicist-essentialist outlook, in which the Jew remained a Jew even if his culture and language were purely German. In this he was, in fact, not very different in principle from Graetz, who in the final chapters of his book presented similar, even identical, positions.”
During that same era, many German intellectuals were eager to understand the “Jewish Question,” and some quickly gravitated towards biological determinism, a school of thought which basically says that the Jew essentially has bad DNA in his system, and this bad DNA causes him to embrace subversive movements.
The foremost exponent of this school of thought was Wilhelm Marr, who actually coined the term anti-Semitism in the 1870s. This idea is still with us and some people still embrace it, despite its philosophical incoherency and moral repugnance. I have addressed this issue elsewhere. But we can see that the issues aren’t as clear-cut as the Holocaust establishment would like us to believe.
Sure, there was indeed an anti-Jewish reaction throughout Germany in the 1920s and 30s, and that reaction cannot be easily attributed to the simplistic idea that the Germans hated the Jews because of who they are and not because of what they do. This is where I radically disagree with the Holocaust establishment.
Let us move on. Paula E. Hyman, one of your professors at Yale who happened to write the forward of your book, wrote in a 1980 New York Times article,
“With regard to Israel, the Holocaust may be used to forestall political criticism and suppress debate; it reinforces the sense of Jews as an eternally beleaguered people who can rely for their defense only upon themselves. The invocation of the suffering endured by the Jews under the Nazis often takes the place of rational argument, and is expected to convince doubters of the legitimacy of current Israeli government policy.”
Agree or disagree?
BMR: I wish I could talk to Paula Hyman about this article she wrote. She was an amazing historian and mentor and cancer unfortunately got the best of her a few years ago. There are many people in Israel who justify their political actions by standing behind the Holocaust yelling never again will the Jews be led to the slaughter as sheep or never again will the Jews be subjected to a genocide without a fight.
Ironically, without the Holocaust, one could argue, Israel would have never have happened. The displaced people after World War II and the horrible behavior of most of Europe convinced Jews of all nationalities that they needed a country for themselves that would honor the title Jew as a legal definition of being a legitimate person and citizen.
Nowadays, Israel is the only democratically ruled country in the Middle East. Human rights, religious freedom, and free sexual expression are all honored in this country. You have black, white, Sephardic, Ashkenazi, atheistic, religious, gay and straight Jews who, by and large, get along and have a thriving society.
The Holocaust is present in the minds of most Israelis because most of the Arab lands around them want to exterminate them. Iran continues to promise to exterminate Israel and it doesn’t even share a border with it. So one cannot blame the Israelis for having the Holocaust quite often at the forefront of their minds when they decided military and social policy.
JEA: I would strongly disagree with the proposition that Israel is a democratically ruled country. We simply cannot exclude territories such as Gaza in this political equation. Israeli historian Ilan Pappe has argued over and over that Gaza is essentially an open-air prison. Jewish scholar Sara Roy has argued almost the same thing. Benny Morris, one of the most prolific Israeli historians who defends the Zionist position, unapologetically declared:
“A Jewish state would not have come into being without the uprooting of 700,000 Palestinians. Therefore it was necessary to uproot them. There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on.”
Morris expanded on this very issue in his study The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited, which was published by Cambridge University Press. Morris documents there were numerous cases of rape during in 1948.Pappe has documented the same thing.
Pappe even goes so far as to say that there were numerous documents which Morris did not discuss in his studies precisely because those documents would have obviously ruined the prevailing vision that Israel “waged a ‘moral’ war in 1948 against a ‘primitive’ and hostile Arab world…”
Second, the statement that Iran vows to wipe Israel off the map is simply not true. That statement was quite popular in America during the Ahmadinejad government, but it was based on a skewed view of things. Ahmadinejad made it very clear that the Zionist regime controlling Israel will soon pass—just like the Soviet Union, just like Nazi Germany, and just like the Mao regime. He never said that he wanted to exterminate Israel. In fact, the event during which the statement was made was called “The World Without Zionism.”
This is widely known among academics who have taken the time to translate and examine what Ahmadinejad actually said. Even Ethan Bronner of the New York Times conceded the point that there were some errors and contentions in the translation.
One of Iran’s foreign ministers at the time, Manouchehr Mottaki, responded to all the hoopla this way: “How is it possible to remove a country from the map? He is talking about the regime. We do not recognize this regime legally.” Here is what Ahmadinejad actually said:
“You should know that the criminal and terrorist Zionist regime which has 60 years of plundering, aggression and crimes in its file has reached the end of its work and will soon disappear off the geographical scene.”
We also have to keep in mind that Iran has one of the largest Jewish populations in the world. They didn’t feel threaten by Ahmadinejad at all. They are still safe in the country. Last March, Siamak Mareh Sedq, the Jewish member of Iran’s parliament, declared that Benjamin Netanyahu is an “insane vampire” because he kept lying about Iran. Sedg said then:
“Netanyahu is an insane vampire drowned in crimes from head to toe, and the recent remarks made by the racist Israeli prime minister is not surprising to me.” The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports that “Mareh Sedq also asserted that in contradiction to Netanyahu’s statements against Iran, anti-Semitism and racism have never been witnessed in the Iranian culture.”
Mareh Sedq continued to say:
“To sell bigoted lies against a nation which has saved Jews 3 times, Netanyahu resorting to fake history & falsifying Torah. Force of habit. The Book of Esther tells of how Xerxes I saved Jews from a plot hatched by Haman the Agagite, which is marked on this very day.”
Iran has the largest Jewish population outside Israel, and it is not really convincing to say that Iran is deeply involved in anti-Semitism, as Netanyahu has relentlessly declared. To be quite frank, the term anti-Semitism has been grossly misused. Sure, there are tensions, but the Iranian government, as former head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency Meir Dagan put it, is “rational.”
Iran has been trying to reach out to the West since the beginning of time, and the United States always wants to apply double standards, particularly when it comes to nuclear weapons in the Middle East. These are indeed thorny issues, and the international community does not want to address them consistently and morally. The United States in particular always tries to make an exception for Israel. Israeli scholars such as Avner Cohen know this. 28-year veteran of the CIA and academic Paul R. Pillar has written extensively on this. If you want my honest opinion, Iran is not an enemy of America or even the West. Let me cite you one last statement by an Israeli military historian by the name of Martin van Creveld:
“We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force…. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.”
That is quite dangerous, if you ask me.
I must say that I really appreciate the interaction because we are living in a world where asking deeper questions even in an academic format can get you into trouble. I was discussing some of these issues with a Jewish academic and a prolific writer about four years ago. He said his career was almost destroyed because he raised similar issues. He also said that “Eli Faber told me that he was professionally destroyed by writing his book about Jewish participation in the slave system.”
This is not surprising, since Jewish historians such as Arno J. Mayer have received similar treatment. After writing Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?, Mayer’s work was labeled “perverse,” and he was even accused of “engaging in a subtle form of Holocaust denial.”
What we need in this age is not thought police and intimidation but serious scholarship, and your book is rigorous because it largely is based on archival documents. I really appreciate scholars who do that kind of work. I am hoping that we will continue this dialogue without putting your career in jeopardy.
 Bryan Mark Rigg, Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2002), 1.
 Standford News Service, September 5, 1995 (http://www.stanford.edu/dept/news/pr/91/910905Arc1210.html).
 Norman Davies, “Russia: The Missing Link in Britain’s VE Day Mythology,” Sunday Times, May 1, 2005.
 Robert Lindsey “SCHOLAR SAYS HIS VIEWS ON JEWS COST HIM A POST AT STANFORD,“ NY Times, March 13, 1987.
 Joachim Hoffman, Stalin’s War of Extermination 1941-1945: Planning, Realization and Documentation (Chicago: Theses and Dissertations Press, 2001), 189.
 Ibid., 190.
 See for example Robert Stinnett, Day Of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor (New York: The Free Press, 2001); John Koster, Operation Snow: How a Soviet Mole in FDR’s White House Triggered Pearl Harbor (Washington: Regnery History, 2012); M. Stanton Evans, Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012); R. Bruce Craig, Treasonable Doubt: The Harry Dexter White Spy Case (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004); Thomas Fleming, The New Dealers’ War: FDR and the War Within World War II(New York: Basic Books, 2001).
 See R. M. Douglas, Orderly and Humane: The Expulsion of the Germans after the Second World War (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012); Giles MacDonogh, After the Reich: The Brutal History of the Allied Occupation (New York: Basic Books, 2007); Thomas Goodrich, Hellstorm: The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944-1947 (Sheridan, CO: Aberdeen Books, 2010). For similar studies, see Alfred-Maurice de Zayas, A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of the East European Germans (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006); John Sack, An Eye for an Eye: The Untold Story of Jewish Revenge Against Germans in 1945 (New York: Basic Books, 1993).
 Sarah Gordon, Hitler, Germans, and the Jewish Question (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 27
 Albert S. Lindemann, Esau’s Tears: Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998).
 Christopher R. Browning, “‘Final Solution,’” Israel Gutman, ed., The Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Vol. II (New York: Macmillan, 1990), 488-489.
 Brigitte Hamann, Hitler’s Vienna: A Dictator’s Apprenticeship (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 36.
 Ibid., 36-37.
 Rigg, Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers, 100.
 Ibid., 182.
 I have addressed this issue elsewhere. See for example Jonas E. Alexis and Thomas Dalton, “The six-million figure: another holocaust lie and the lying liars who enable it,” Veterans Today, August 10, 2016.
 Edward J. Bristow, Prostitution and Prejudice: The Jewish Fight Against White Slavery, 1870-1939 (New York: Schocken Books, 1983), 1.
 Ibid., 84.
 Lindemann, Esau’s Tears, 66.
 See Erich Haberer, Jews and Revolution in Nineteenth-Century Russia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995); Marc David Baer, The Dönme: Jewish Converts, Muslim Revolutionaries, and Secular Turks (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010); Cengiz Sisman, The Burden of Silence: Sabbatai Sevi and the Evolution of the Ottoman-Turkish Dönmes (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015); Pawel Maciejko, The Mixed Multitude: Jacob Frank and the Frankist Movement, 1755-1816 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011); Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004); E. Michael Jones, The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 2008).
 Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke, America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Murray Friedman, The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).
 Stephen M. Feldman, Neoconservative Politics and the Supreme Court: Law, Power, and Democracy (New York and London: New York University Press, 2013), 1.
 George Grosz, George Grosz: An Autobiography (Berkley: University of California Press, 1998), 119.
 Frank Whitford, The Berlin of George Grosz: Drawings, Watercolors and Prints (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 199.
 Ivo Kranzfelder, George Grosz, 92.
 Even scholars who do not like the term indirectly end up agreeing with it. See for example Jill Suzanne Smith, Berlin Coquette: Prostitution and the New German Woman, 1890-1933 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013); David Clay Large, Berlin (New York: Basic Books, 2001); Alexandra Richie, Faust’s Metropolis: A History of Berlin (New York: Basic Books, 1998); Anton Gill, Dance Between Flames: Berlin Between the Wars (London: John Murray, 1993).
 See Paul Johnson, Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties (New York: Harper Collins, 1983).
 Mel Gordon, Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin (Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2008).
 Shlomo Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People (New York: Verso, 2010), 256.
 Albert S. Lindemann, Esau’s Tears: Modern Anti-Semitism and the Rise of the Jews (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 141.
 Quoted in Sand, The Invention of the Jewish People, 82.
 Ibid., 83.
 See E. Michael Jones, Barren Metal: A History of Capitalism as the Conflict Between Labor and Usury (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 2014), 1161-1168.
 Paula Hyman, “New Debate on the Holocaust,” NY Times, September 14, 1980.
 Ilan Pappe, The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories (Oxford: One World, 2017); see also The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011).
 Sara Roy, Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza: Engaging the Islamist Social Sector (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011).
 Ari Shavit, “Survival of the Fittest? an Interview with Benny Morris,” Haaretz, January 9, 2004.
 Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 210-249.
 Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (Oxford: One World, 2006).
 See for example “Canadian Prof’s Presence at Iran Forum ‘Abhorrent’: University,” CBS News, December 13, 2006.
 Ethan Bronner, “Just How Far Did They Go, Those Words Against Israel?,” NY Times, June 11, 2006.
 “Iran’s Jewish parliamentarian calls Netanyahu an ‘insane vampire’ over Persia comparison,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 14, 2017.
 See Norman Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008).
 Ben Birnbaum, “Ex-Mossad chief: Iran is ‘rational,’” Washington Times, March 12, 2012.
 See for example Trita Parsi, Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran, and the United States (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008); A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011); Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017); Gareth Porter, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare (Charlottesville: Just World Books, 2014).
 See for example Avner Cohen, Israel and the Bomb (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998); The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010). Michael Karpin, The Bomb in the Basement: How Israel Went Nuclear and What That Means for the World (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007).
 Paul R. Pillar, “Israel’s Nuclear Weapons: Widely Suspected Unmentionables,” National Interest, September 3, 2014. For similar studies, see also Paul R. Pillar, Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy: Iraq, 9/11, and Misguided Reform(New York: Columbia University Press, 2011); Patrick B. Pexton, “What About Israel’s Nuclear Weapons?,” Washington Post, August 31, 2012.
 “The War Game,” Guardian, September 21, 2003.
 See D. D. Guttenplan, The Holocaust on Trial (New York: W. W. Norton, 2002), 73-77; Yehuda Bauer, “A Past that Will not Go Away,” Michael Berenbaum and Abraham Peck, ed., The Holocaust and History: The Known, the Unknown, the Disputed, and the Reexamined (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002), 15.
 Richard J. Evans, The Third Reich in Power, 1933-1939 (New York: Penguin, 2005).