I've read in various Holocaust memoirs that the difference between being a "half-Jew" and "full Jew" could mean life or death. Obviously, Nazi treatment of a "half-Jew" was better than a "full Jew", but to what extent? What are some examples of people surviving because of better treatment by Nazis because they were "half-Jews"?


Half Jews, with exactly two Jewish grandparents, could qualify as First Degree Mischlings (mixed bloods), rather than Jews. In order to do so, they had to AVOID doing the following:

1) Being a member of the Jewish religious community.
2) Being married to a full Jew.
3) Being born to either married or unmarried parents, one of whom was Jewish and one not, after certain dates.

This would spare them the death camps, but leave them ineligible for "public" occupations such as teaching, being a government official, or working in the media. After 1942, they could not marry "Aryans," and marrying Jews would make them Jewish, and eligible for death camps.

  • As I understand from Klemperer, who was a convert but full Jew married however to an "Aryan" there were other disabilities: He and his wife had to live in special housing, very limited space and iirc other problems. An interesting case was the non-Jewish wives demonstrating, successfully, to have their Jewish husbands returned from imprisonment: being married to an Aryan was a very big advantage.
    – Jeff
    May 8 '17 at 17:47
  • @Jeff: Yes, "Aryan" men were being killed right and left and these few German women who had husbands at home, fought hard to keep them.
    – Tom Au
    May 8 '17 at 18:40

My understanding is that it could make a big difference. I think circumstances that weighed in the favor of someone considered to be Jewish weighed more so if the person was half-Jewish. So being a half-Jew plus being a WW1 veteran might mean better treatment than full-Jew and WW1 vet. There were people of known Jewish ancestry in the SS (in rare, perhaps singular cases) but had that person been a full Jew, vs having a single Jewish grandparent, perhaps that person would not have been given special dispensation as he was.

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