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Victims of the Nuremberg Laws

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  • Octave Bryk (1894 - 1961)
    Octave Bryk enlisted in the US Army in 1915; served in the Philippines; honorably discharged w/ rank of Sergeant upon return to US in 1918; interned as "Alien Enemy" (Austrian) at Fort Douglas, Utah.
  • Dorothy Preisler (1929 - 2015)
  • Žofie Wopršálek (1896 - 1943)
    last residence before deportation: Prague, XIII "Source: Terezinska Pametni Kniha/Theresienstaedter Gedenkbuch, Terezinska Iniciativa, vol. I-II Melantrich, Praha 1995, vol. III Academia Verlag,...
  • Adolf Lažansky, Dr. (1900 - 1943)
    Baptised as a Roman Catholic 23 May 1900 in Strakonice. Godfather Karl Schalek. Murdered as a jew. (Nuremberg law definition !) Stomatologist in Pilzen. Graduated 1927 Source: Auschwitz Death Regi...

This project is for people who were impacted by the Nuremberg laws "new" definition of a Jew: those who had in fact been baptized at birth and brought up as "Christians", but had two, three or four Jewish grandparents. Many of these people suffered in additional ways as they no longer belonged to the "Christian" community, and did not belong to the Jewish community either, if they were married to a non-jew they had to divorce, if they were doctors/dentists they could no longer have non-jewish patients, and they too were exterminated as jews. They tried by all means to disprove their jewish origin, even claiming that they were not the sons and daughters of their mother's husband and getting their mother's to testify in court (see below).

ref The Nuremberg Laws, as they became known, didn't define a "Jew" as someone with particular religious beliefs. Instead, anyone who had three or four Jewish grandparents was defined as a Jew, regardless of whether that individual identified himself or herself as a Jew or belonged to the Jewish religious community. Many Germans who had not practiced Judaism for years found themselves caught in the grip of Nazi terror. Even people with Jewish grandparents who had converted to Christianity were defined as Jews.

ref: A second way of reclassification was by way of declaratory action in court. Usually the discriminated person took the action, questioning their descent from the Jewish-classified man until then regarded as their biological (grand)father. Paternity suits aiming for reclassification (German: Abstammungsverfahren) appeared mostly with deceased, divorced or illegitimate (grand)fathers. They usually sought to change the discriminated litigant's status from Jewish-classified to Mischling of first degree, or from Mischling of first degree to second degree. The numbers of such suits soared whenever the Nazi government imposed new discriminations and persecutions (such as the Nuremberg Laws 1935, November Pogrom 1938, and systematic deportations of Jewish Germans and Gentile Germans of Jewish descent to concentration camps, 1941). The process was humbling for the (grand)mothers who had to declare in court they had committed adultery. The petitions were successful in the majority of cases. Success resulted from several reasons. First, some lawyers specialized in such procedures, prepared them professionally, and refused hopeless cases. There was no danger in the procedures because failure did not downgrade the classification of the litigant. Second, usually all the family members - including the sometimes still living disputed (grand)father - co-operated. Usually very likely alternative fathers were named, who either appeared themselves in court confirming their most likely fatherhood or who were already dead, but known as good friends, neighbors or subtenants of the (grand)mother. Fourth, the obligatory and humbling body examinations of doubted father and child especially searched for allegedly racial features of outward appearance as conceived among anti-Semites to be typically Jewish. Especially when the doubted (grand)father was already dead, emigrated or deported (as after 1941), the examination concentrated on these supposedly abnormal outward features considered Jewish to be found in the physiognomy of the descendant (child). Since the anti-Semitic clichés on Jewish outward appearance were so stereotyped, the usual litigant did not show features clearly indicating his Jewish descent in the eyes of the expert witnesses, so they often delivered in their medical evidences ambiguous results. Fifth the judges tended to believe the (grand)mothers, alternative fathers, doubted fathers and other witnesses, who paid such a high price by publicly humbling themselves, and not recorded for earlier perjuring, and declared the prior paternity annulled, ensuing the status improvement for the litigant.

The extent of assimilation of Jews and Gentiles of Jewish descent into their Gentile (and Christian) surroundings was a factor much more complicated than the Nazis anticipated; widespread corruption and lack of any ethical moorings among many Nazi leaders frequently gave way to bribery, extortion, and other subterfuges over documentation of who was or was not a Jew.

ref "The Decree sets up the legal test defined here.

Part One

The first part of the test is implemented by setting up three categories as follows:

  • A person with either three or four Jewish grandparents is considered to be a Jew.
  • A person with exactly two Jewish grandparents is considered to be either a Jew or a Mischling of the first degree (discussed below, second part of test)
  • A person with only one Jewish grandparent is considered to be a Mischling of the second degree

Part Two

The remaining problem was the treatment of a person with two Jewish, and two non-Jewish, grandparents. This leads to the second part of the test, which has four subdivisions.

A person with exactly two Jewish grandparents was deemed a Jew if either:

  • he is a member of the Jewish religious community on 14 November 1935 or later becomes a member; or
  • he is married to a Jew on 14 November 1935 or later marries a Jew; or
  • his parents were married on or after 30 September 1935, and one of his parents is Jewish; or
  • he is born out of wedlock after 31 July 1936, and one of his parents is Jewish."