ARTICLE BY Sarah Helm
PUBLISHED ON A-FE
Another important “privileged” group were Jews in mixed marriages. Nazi hardliners argued that Jews married to non-Jews had “infected” the “Aryan” line & should be exterminated first, but Goebbels was still concerned about protests. These Jews were prosperous, & many had friends or relatives who were now senior Nazi figures. As Goebbels put it, the position of intermarried Jews was “sensitive” & their deportation was deferred.
Russian soldiers fighting their way through the rubble of Berlin in the last days of the war turned the corner of Iranische Strasse, in the district of Wedding, & came across an elegant building almost intact. Fanning out to search the structure, the Russians ransacked the place, room by room. Medical equipment & rows of beds showed that it had once been a hospital. Searching deep into the bowels of the building, the Russian liberators burst open cellar doors, & in the darkness made out hundreds of cowering figures – more than 800 people in all.
The soldiers swept through in an orgy of rape. Only when the Red Army commanders arrived was the question asked: “But who are you?”
“We are Jews.”
“You are Jews?” exclaimed the astonished Russians, whose path to Berlin had taken them through the smoldering remains of Nazi death camps. “Why aren’t you dead yet?”
The discovery that 800 Jews had survived Hitler’s Final Solution in the middle of Berlin staggered the city’s liberators. That they had survived in the full knowledge of the Nazi high command beggared all belief. The Russians had stumbled upon the last Jewish sanctuary in Germany – & upon an extraordinary story of survival. & yet over the years it has been a story that few have been able or willing to tell. Because how could this have happened? Who were these survivors? & what was Hitler’s sinister purpose in permitting them to live?
Among those 800 men & women were personal dramas of every kind. They were the bravest of the brave, the lucky & the cunning. They were collaborators & spies. There were also many “privileged” Jews – spouses of non-Jewish Germans. But most mysteriously, they were Jews whose lives had been protected by the highest-ranking Nazis. Little is known about them because their files were burnt by the Gestapo just days before the Russians arrived. [Read More]