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Veiled survivors: Jews, Roma and Muslims in the years of the Holocaust

Motadel, David (2015) Veiled survivors: Jews, Roma and Muslims in the years of the Holocaust. In: Rueger, Jan and Wachsmann, Nikolaus, (eds.) Rewriting German history: new perspectives on modern Germany. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK, pp. 288-305. ISBN 9781137347787

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Identification Number: 10.1057/9781137347794_16


In the months following Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union, SS squads — the so-called Einsatzgruppen — executed hundreds of Muslim prisoners of war who had fought in the Red Army, assuming that their circumcision proved that they were Jewish. In Berlin, these executions soon became the subject of controversy. During a meeting of officers of the Wehrmacht, SS and Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories in summer 1941, Erwin von Lahousen, an official of the Wehrmacht intelligence agency representing his boss, Wilhelm Canaris, engaged in a row with the head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Müller, about these killings. Lahousen brought up the selection of hundreds of Muslim Tatars, who had been sent to ‘special treatment’ because they were taken for Jews. Müller acknowledged that the SS had made mistakes in this respect, remarking that it was the first time that he had heard that Muslims were circumcised like Jews. A few weeks later, Müller’s superior, Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Security Main Office, sent out instructions urging the Einsatzgruppen to be more careful: The ‘circumcision’ and ‘Jewish appearance’ could not be taken as sufficient ‘proof of Jewish descent’, he made clear. Muslims and Jews were not to be confused. In the following year, the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories issued a similar directive on the identification of ‘Jews’ in the Eastern territories, warning that only in the western Russian territories could circumcision be seen as a proof of Jewishness. ‘In those regions, though, in which Mohammedans exist we will not be able to base the Jewishness of the person on circumcision alone’. There, other indicators, such as names, origins and ethnic appearance, had to be considered as well.

Item Type: Book Section
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Author
Divisions: International History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
Date Deposited: 23 May 2017 15:28
Last Modified: 02 Jan 2024 17:03

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