Shalom Life | October 21, 2014

That One Time Hitler Saved a Jew

1940 letter reveals that Adolf Hitler spared his Jewish WWI commanding officer

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: July 6th, 2012 in News » World

That One Time Hitler Saved a Jew

Responsible for the systematic murder of an estimated six million European Jews during the Holocaust, it appears Adolf Hitler saved one at the very least.

According to the Jewish Voice from Germany, a letter from August 27, 1940 to the Dusseldorf Gestapo, Heinrich Himmler, head of the Nazis' feared paramilitary SS and one of the architects of the Final Solution, Hitler personally intervened to protect a Jewish man who had been his commanding officer during World War One.

The letter was unearthed in a Gestapo file on Hess by Susanne Mauss, editor of the newspaper.

In the letter, Himmler writes that Ernst Hess, a former judge, should be spared persecution or deportation and instead be granted “the relief and the protection as per the Fuehrer’s wishes.” Himmler also instructed authorities that Hess was not “to be in-opportuned in any way whatsoever.”

Hess briefly served as Hitler’s commanding officer in Flanders during the First World War. Although he was christened a protestant, Hess had a Jewish mother, which under Nazi race laws made him “a full-blooded Jew.”

This set of laws in Germany forced him to resign from his post as a judge in 1936, the same year he was beaten up by Nazis outside his home and fled to Italy for a number of years.

“For us, it is a kind of spiritual death to now be branded as Jews and exposed to general contempt,” Hess wrote in a petition to Hitler that was originally turned down.

Hitler reportedly allowed Hess’s pension to be transferred to Italy in 1937, albeit at a reduced amount and later released him from the obligation to bear the name “Israel” that identified him as a Jew, as had been mandatory law since January 1939.

In March of that same year, Hess was able to obtain a new passport without a red “J” stamp thanks to private contacts which his mother’s family maintained to the German Consul General in Italy.

Hess also seemed to maintain good relations with Hitler through his comrades-in-arms, such as Fritz Wiedemann, a former member of Hess’ unit who served as Hitler's personal adjutant from 1934 to 1939.

But in June, the Hess family was forced to return to Germany as a result of the South Tyrol Option Agreement between Germany and Italy that gave the German-speaking population of the northern Italian region the choice to remain in South Tyrol or to relocate to the German Reich by December 31st, 1939.

The Hess family gained confidence through its link to Hitler.

Berta, Ernst’s sister told people she “enjoyed the special protection of the Nazi party” but it would later turn out that Adolf Eichmann had personally signed her deportation order to Auschwitz, where she was murdered. Their mother, Elizabeth, was also deported but managed to survive and escape to Switzerland.

In June 1941, Hess was summoned to appear at the “Aryanization Office” in Munich, where he submitted his letter of protection to the SS official on duty. The document was taken from him and Hess was told that the protection order had been revoked the previous month, making him “a Jew like any other.” The Hess family never saw the original copy of the letter again.

Hess spent the rest of the war doing slave labour, managing to escape death partly thanks to the fact that his wife was a gentile. He remained in Germany after the war, becoming head of the Federal Railway Authority based in Frankfurt before his death in 1983.

Report Claims Nazi War Criminals Received Millions in U.S. Social Security Benefits Report Claims Nazi War Criminals Received Millions in U.S. Social Security Benefits TrendingRussian Social Media Site Hosts 'Miss Hitler' Beauty Pageant Russian Social Media Site Hosts 'Miss Hitler' Beauty Pageant TrendingWhat You Missed in the News: October 13 - 20 What You Missed in the News: October 13 - 20 Trending
 

Sleater-Kinney is Back Together After 10 Years

October 20, 2014 | By Ashley Baylen
Sleater-Kinney is Back Together After 10 Years

The band is releasing their first album since 2005 and going on tour.

Read More

The Nosh Pit: Vegan Soups and Stews

October 20, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
The Nosh Pit: Vegan Soups and Stews

What's better than comforting and healthy soups and stews on these damp and rainy days?

Read More

Jerry Seinfeld Honors Jay Leno, Wonders Where His Mark Twain Prize Is

October 20, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
Jerry Seinfeld Honors Jay Leno, Wonders Where His Mark Twain Prize Is

Seinfeld was one of many comedians that celebrated the former 'Tonight Show' host

Read More

'The Real Housewives of New York' Welcomes Back Bethenny Frankel

October 20, 2014 | By Sara Torvik
'The Real Housewives of New York' Welcomes Back Bethenny Frankel

The Skinnygirl founder will be returning for the seventh season of the popular reality series.

Read More

Known for Chemistry, Israeli Nobel Laureate Also Champions Tech Entrepreneurship

October 20, 2014 | By Alina Dain Sharon, JNS.org
Known for Chemistry, Israeli Nobel Laureate Also Champions Tech Entrepreneurship

Dan Shechtman, winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and a candidate in last June's Israeli presidential election, has long championed technological entrepreneurship and its potential to improve lives around the world

Read More

Israeli Study Says Diet Soda Can Lead to Diabetes and Obesity

October 20, 2014 | By NoCamels Team
Israeli Study Says Diet Soda Can Lead to Diabetes and Obesity

Is this the reason why diet soda drinkers are often overweight?

Read More

Report Claims Nazi War Criminals Received Millions in U.S. Social Security Benefits

October 20, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Report Claims Nazi War Criminals Received Millions in U.S. Social Security Benefits

Investigation by Associated Press finds that dozens of Nazis collected payments as part of a deal to force them to leave the U.S. voluntarily

Read More

Mango Under Fire For Selling 'SS Blouse'

October 20, 2014 | By Daniel Koren
Mango Under Fire For Selling 'SS Blouse'

The Jewish-founded fashion company has faced increased criticism this week after unveiling a new shirt that boasts a lightning-bolt motif

Read More

More Headlines