Was Hitler Jewish?

One might point out at this point, however, that, whether or not Hitler counts as Jewish, it would still be interesting if (just speaking hypothetically) it were to be demonstrated that, say, his father was Jewish. Judaism may have the right to say who and who is not a Jew, but it doesn’t have the right to say who has Jewish ancestors.

It would be interesting in an ain’t-that-ironical way, or perhaps shed some sort of psychological light on his later hatreds if he knew about it … as you say, hypothetically. That would perhaps indicate a real whopper of an oedipal complex! :smiley:

From the state of who he was, what he did, no it doesn’t really matter. It’s merely a question of interest for amusement.

Pay closer attention. I am the OP of this thread, and I make no such things. You are referring to the other thread I cited as inspiration.

Not at all. It’s merely the irony factor. “Wow, Hitler led a pogram to eradicate Jews when, technically, he should have been included. Hee hee.” Nothing judgmental about Jews at all.

I don’t want him.

Interesting that you just used Jew and Jewish in two different manners in the same sentence, and yet you are precluding me from making the same distinction. Surely you see the error there?

“Currently being a Jew” may be a tribal issue that is a yes or no block, in the same way that a person is yes/no a Christian, yes/no an atheist, yes/no a whatever. But you cannot dismiss a persons heritage and lineage with a simple yes/no.

It’s like a friend of mine. Her grandmother was a Japanese lady who came to America with her American husband around WWII. My friend has 1/4 Japanese heritage. Culturally, she is an American, with little Japanese influence. Physically, she retains some Japanese appearance - long black hair, some Japanese facial features. She also has freckles. It would be wrong to call her Japanese, as if she were from Japan or had Japanese culture. She’s far more likely to eat Taco Bell than sushi. But her heritage is Japanese, and that cannot be dismissed simply because she’s never been Japan.

Similarly, a person who has a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother, still is “Jewish” in heritage, despite not currently being a member of the tribe.

What about “Jews for Jesus”? Yeah, Judaism rejects them as Jewish, even though they themselves claim Jewish status.

There is no “error”. You are either Jewish or not. Them’s the rulez.

The issue is not whether “Hitler was Jewish”, it is whether “Hitler had some Jewish ancestry”. There’s a big difference between those two.

They have some Jewish ancestry.

As noted, we aren’t really disagreeing all that much. Sure, it is potentially possible (hypothetically) that Hitler had some percentage of Jewish ancestry. But he certainly was not “Jewish” - he was a (presumably, lapsed) Catholic (allegedly at one point in his boyhood he considered becomming a priest), which would preclude him being “Jewish” (unless he converted - I suppose that’s pretty unlikely … :smiley: . )

That’s an easy one - they are what we call “Christians”. It’s like having a group called “Atheists for Godliness”. :smiley:

I fully agree there is a distinction between “Hitler was a Jew” and “Hitler had some Jewish ancestry”. I just feel that “Jewish” can be used for either of those statements, whereas you feel that “Jewish” can only mean the first.

I guess the question is whether “Jewish” applies to any sort of biological heritage (i.e. “racial group”), or if it is purely a social construct like a political party.

In which case, Jews for Jesus would be like “Republicans for Obama”. :wink:

I don’t think being Jewish has much to do with biology - as posted above, there are Jews who have white skin (the majority) and there are Jews who have black skin, and through the ME Jews of every shade between.

Within Europe itself, there are groups of Jews who have been genetically isolated for a long time, hence a host of genetic diseases to which Jews of those backgrounds are more prone.

Judaism is one of those very odd things in the modern West - a “tribal” identity, rather than a racial one. The obvious difference is that one can choose (or be chosen) to become a member of a tribe by conversion (though it is not really encouraged), and you can choose to leave it - unlike a racial grouping, which, although it is every bit as much a social construct as a tribal grouping, tends to be much less a matter of individual choice - it is imposed by the society in which the individual finds oneself. Hence, if I’m Obama and I live in the US, I’m “Black” whether I want to be or not.

Why is this important? Because what the Nazis did was create a “racial” category of Judaism, with their own criteria, and impose it on everyone under their rule - meaning many who were not Jewish, but who had Jewish ancestors, ended up in the camps. But such a categorization is alien to Judaism itself.

Jews can be and are a race, they are both a race and a religion, the vast majority of the world are Jews by race and not religious.

Judaism is a religion, nobody disputes that someone can change their religion and be considered a Jew ‘religiously’.

However, one can be born Jewish and will remain Jewish for life, regardless of their religion.

Israel itself the ‘Jewish homeland state’ even states that ‘Who is a Jew?’ is someone with just one Jewish grandparent.

If your mother is Jewish, you are considered Jewish as well, regardless of what the offspring believes or thinks, it is still even if you insist on it “not” being a race, an ethno-religious group and more than just a religion, quit confusing Judaism with the Jewish people.

There is also Jewish ethnic groups… i.e Sephardi, Ashkenazi and so forth…genetic evidence shows all these have common origins… did you care to read the article I sent you?

“In the 1980s, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Jews are a race, at least for purposes of certain anti-discrimination laws. Their reasoning: at the time these laws were passed, people routinely spoke of the “Jewish race” or the “Italian race” as well as the “Negro race,” so that is what the legislators intended to protect.”

“DNA links prove Jews are a ‘race,’ says genetics expert conjuring fear of Nazism and anti-Semitism, Jews recoil from the thought that Judaism might be a race, but medical geneticist Harry Ostrer insists the ‘biological basis of Jewishness’ cannot be ignored.”

Read his book “Legacy: A Genetic History of the Jewish People" - if you deny genetic biological evidence… you * are* deluded.

There has been a long on going debate whether ‘race’ is biological and a social construct or just a social construct…there is evidence and its clear its biological yet lefties try and claim its not biological… more fool them.

But to the original OP question, Hitler did not have any Jewish ancestors it is just a rumour… the end?

Ah, no. If you convert to Christianity you are no longer a “Jew”. You are out of the tribe.

You are confusing concepts. Israel has a “law of return” which was created as a deliberate reaction to the Nazi persecution of WW2. The idea was that anyone who would be likely to be persecuted because of Jewish ancestry can obtain automatic entry - because such folks were rejected (to their deaths) in WW2.

I am not. As I’ve said, there is no problem being an atheist Jew.

You are confusing a tribal identity with a racial one. Judaism is not a “race”.

I’ve read it and it is full of nonsense. How on earth can anyone plausably argue that Jews are a distinct “race” when this alleged “race” contains both Eastern Europeans with lily-white skin, and black Africans?

And this proves Jews are a “race”? No, it demonstrates that Jews were protected under handy anti-discrimination legislation.

“Italians” aren’t a “race”, either.

As I said, the author’s book is full of nonsense, as anyone who can tell the visible difference between a Black African and a White European can attest. This argument is literally attempting to prove that black is white! :smiley:

To maintain it, you either have to claim that the Falashas are “racially the same” as Eastern European Jews - an obvious silliness, if they are the same “race” then “race” has little meaning - or claim they aren’t “real Jews”, a “no true Scotsman” position.

This is one source of confusion. One is allowed to reject the religious elements of Judaism and self-identify religiously by some other category and yet remain a “Jew” by one choice (atheism), and yet in a seemingly identical set of circumstances, one chooses to reject the religious elements of Judaism and self-identify by a different religious category (christian), and one is immediately no longer a “Jew”. This is unexplained, and the distinction in cases does not appear to have any way to tell apart, yet the circumstances are treated differently. This is a giant WTF moment.

Is there any rational explanation for this distinction, any actual merit to this determination? I understand there is no requirement that Jews be consistent or rational, but it sure would help outsiders understand better if there were an explicable distinction being made.

I do have a guess, but it is pure speculation, and I would prefer to hear something “official”.

This is, perhaps, one of the biggest sources of confusion. It is not a concept that most of us have any experience with. More below.

Well, here is my attempt to make sense of the “race” angle. Judaism is a heritage passed on along family lines. It is passed within families, who also largely practice and encourage closed marriages, i.e. marrying within the community. Further, Judaism has family lineal ties back to thousands of years before christianity. This family lineage connection provides a strong case for “there is a genetic lineage element to being a Jew”. I seem to recall genetic studies do bear this out.

However, Judaism also does allow for conversion, even though it does not seek it out nearly to the degree as some other religions. This has been different in the distant past. Also, while closed marriages are encouraged, there is some outbreeding that occurs. Add in the second class status of Jews in much of European history and their having to migrate/spread to avoid persecution, and these elements combine to create a diversification of the outward appearance of different groups within the whole.

So while there are distinct population groups in different locations that have distinct racial makeups, there is still a common heritage underlying the individual groups, that provides some common racial heritage.

Now just how much common heritage there really is, I do not know. I am merely connecting the dots of thought.

Now back to the point above about a “tribal” identity. I am trying to provide a framework of thought to help understand this better. The analogy I come up with is something like being an American. United States citizenship is largely passed along family lines, but it is not closed to just those biological lines. There is the ability to join the citizenship through immigration and naturalization. There is also the possibility of giving up citizenship through emigration, and taking on a different citizenship.

With this process, the identity as an American is largely passed along family lines, but is not biological. It can be opted out of or in to, with certain restrictions and methods. Furthermore, one can actually have multiple identities via dual citizenships. Though the US doesn’t really encourage it, it can happen. Supposing one had dual citizenship, such as, for instance, dual US/Israeli* citizenship. One is not half American, half Israeli - one is simultaneously American and Israeli.

In other situations where both countries do not recognize dual citizenship, for one to take on the new non-US citizenship, one must give up US citizenship. Thus the incongruity between being a dual American/Israeli, but not a dual American/Canadian.

Is this analogy helpful? Does it capture the essence reasonably well? Can you offer any corrections?

*Example not picked for any connection to Judaism, just an example of dual citizenship that can occur. IIRC an American can obtain Israeli citizenship without giving up US citizenship.

Atheism is not the same as chosing another religious identity.

Though to be fair, the idea that ‘if you convert to another religion you are out of the tribe’ is not shared by all Jews. The most orthodox are of the opinion that you can’t convert “out” of Judaism. All Jews however believe that you can convert “into” Judaism.

Sure. The distinction is that atheism isn’t incompatible with Judaism. Judaism isn’t a religion that actively requires belief, or inquires into belief. It is more focused on acts. Formally converting to a religion such as Christianity is an act incompatible with loyalty to Judaism.

Unfortunately, there is nothing absolutely “official” in Judaism, as Judaism lacks any sort of central authority. What exists is the holy books and the accumulated commentaries and debates of learned rabbis over centuries (the Talmud). This sort of debate - over how to define Judaism - is the sort of thing that would warm a rabbi’s heart: Judaism is made up of debates over things like that. :wink:

There are two aspects of Judaism difficult to understand in our culture, which is so permiated with Christianity:

(1) That Judaism is a religion based on law and ritual, not faith. Individual Jews may have faith or they may not, but Judaism isn’t based on it. For example, the great issues that other religions such as Christianity find of vital import - such as, is there an afterlife? - are of little significance in Judaism: some Jews think there is, some don’t, and there is (amazing to Christians) no real definitive answer.

(2) That Judaism is at the same time a religion and a tribe. That’s what we are talking about now.

Not necessarily. For example, if you read the page on the falashas, genetic studies indicate that they are geneticly related to other Ethiopians and Yemenites.

There are indeed some “closed” communities - namely, Eastern European Ashkenazim. This relates more to the fact that they were segregated from the Christian community by longstanding hatred from the Christian community than anything else - for example, this “exlusivity” is not seen among Mizrai or Shephardim Jewish communities, who are much more “mixed” with their neighbours - and as stated, Falashas.

In short, it is a product of relations with the outside community, and really is specific to eastern europe.

It may be that there is some common ancestor, but that is far outweighed by the dilution with neighbours. Genetically, if you did not know who was claiming to be Jewish, you could not pick them out using a DNA analysis.

This doesn’t much matter, because Judaism is a socially constructed identity.

I used a similar analogy above …

Way I’d put it is this.

In the OT, god allegedly tells Abraham that he will “make of him a great nation”. That’s how Jews look upon themselves, more or less - the “great nation” or “people” of the covenant of god with Abraham.

What is the cost of being a member of that “great nation”? It is keeping the terms covenant. Hence, the significance of ritual and law in Judaism.

Who is a member of that “great nation”? It is those who are born into it and do not break the covenant. Not believing in god doesn’t break the covenant: a person can keep the terms for whatever reasons, not just because there existed a literal god. They can keep the terms, for example, because they are the ancestral terms of their “people”. Hence, a tribal identity - one formed by custom and law (as opposed to genetics).

However, according to most Jews, the terms of the deal are you are not supposed to believe in other gods.

A hate monger leading a secret life in opposition to their public persona? Why I never!



No, you will still remain an ethnic Jew just not religiously Jewish.


How can one be a Jew and an Atheist? You are contradicting yourself.

Jews are a race, Judaism is a religion - you don’t need to practice Judaism to be a Jew.

The Eastern Europeans would have been mixed Jews.

The black Africans are converts.

In denial?

They are a White European ethnic group, ‘ethnicity’ and ‘race’ can be termed as the same, historically they were seen as the same.

The Blacks are not the genetic related Jews.

If you say so…

The leader of American Jewry in the 1930s, Rabbi Stephen F. Wise, said it succinctly in this dramatic statement, “Hitler was right in one thing. He calls the Jewish people a race and we are a race.”

Right up to the present day, there are many statements illustrating how Jewish leaders matter-of-factly view themselves not just as a religion, but as an identifiable race, genetically distinguishable from other peoples.

Nahum Goldman, one of the leading Jews of the 20th Century and former president of the World Zionist Organization, said it very bluntly:

…The Jews are divided into two categories, those who admit they belong to a race distinguished by a history thousands of years old, and those who don’t. The latter are open to the charge of dishonesty.

The former Israeli Prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to Jewish group in southern California said:

“If Israel had not come into existence after World War II then I am certain the Jewish race wouldn’t have survived…I stand before you and say you must strengthen your commitment to Israel.”

An editorial entitled “Some Other Race” in the New York weekly Forward (A very prestigious Jewish publication) urges Jews to list themselves on the U.S. Government census form as a race. It goes on to suggest:

“… On question eight [of the form, which asks about race], you might consider doing what more than one member of our redaktzia [editorial staff] has done: checking the box ‘some other race’ and writing in the word ‘Jew’.”

Charles Bronfman, a main sponsor of the $210 million “Birthright Israel,” an organization specifically committed to preventing intermarriage between Jews and Gentiles, expressed the need to preserve the Jewish genetic character as expressed in the Jewish DNA.

Bronfman is brother of Edgar Bronfman, Sr., president of the World Jewish Congress. He said, “…you’re losing a lot — losing the kind of feeling you have when you know [that] throughout the world there are people who somehow or other have the same kind of DNA that you have.”

Imagine for a moment if President George Bush would speak to a group of White college students and tell them how great it is for them know that others in the world share their White DNA, and that they should not lose it by intermarrying with other races. Bush could live to 100 years old and still never live down a remark like that!

During his campaign for President in 2000, Bush spoke before dozens of Jewish organizations and Synagogues that oppose intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews. The media only had praise for those appearances. In contrast, Bush faced universal criticism by the Jewish media by simply speaking at a conservative Christian university (Bob Jones University) that quietly opposes racial intermarriage. After the media unleashed a storm of criticism, Bush had to quickly apologize and then passionately condemn Bob Jones University for its position. Of course, within a few days, Bush was again speaking before many Jewish groups that stridently oppose intermarriage, yet no one in the media dared object to these appearances, or to even point out this blatant double standard.

Malthus, we’ve done this dance before. Aren’t you tired?


Yeah, I’m starting to sense a certain … motivation … at work.* :smiley:

NUFCToon, I am quite uninterested in debating the comparative rights and wrongs of Judaism and white supremacy. Obviously I do not consider the two to be in any way comparable. Many if not most minority cultures or religions prefer that people marry from within the group, but that does not make them all the same as white supremacists.

*Edit: I don’t mean you, Irishman - just the other fellow. I’m enjoying your comments!

I think this is highly unlikely. As Ian Kershaw points out in his biography of Adolf Hitler, Jews were not allowed to settle in the part of Austria where the Hiedler/Huettler/Hitler family lived until much later (the mid-19th century, as I recall).

Malthus, thank you for your replies. You are helping me understand some of those puzzling things that have never made sense to me.

This seems preposterous on the face of it. However, reading the further descriptions, I guess I can see how losing faith in God is not an exclusionary factor.

Yeah, I realize that, that’s why I put it in scare quotes. What I meant was an insider’s view, or an explanation from someone informed rather than just me guessing.

This is particularly odd, that one can be a member of the religion without any belief in God or the afterlife. What is important is following the rules.

This part is easier to follow. There’s a group with a cultural heritage, a pattern of rituals and practices that shows inclusion and group cohesion. This grouping is the “tribe”. The practices and rituals are formalized through a structure of the religion. However, one can choose to follow the rituals and practices not because of a belief in the religious framework, but because of a commitment to tradition and heritage.

This is the kind of position that makes terms like “religion” and “atheist” and “Jew” all goofy.

Which is not incompatible with what I said. Elements of crossbreeding and conversion create a population of Jews that is somewhat separated from other populations, and thus takes on more of the characteristics of their local group.

But I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on the genetic studies on Jewish lineage.

Okay then.

Yeah, but I was searching for one that is easy for people to grasp and fits with their common experience. Talking through it helps me frame my own understanding.

This is along the lines I was speculating, but spelled out much better and more cohesively.

One other comment: the word “tribe” itself carries the suggestion of a racial lineage. Ergo, your use of that word does not negate the issues surrounding a racial lineage for Judaism.

No, one other comment: the word “ethnicity” does not mean what many of us think it means.


Underlining added. Many of us think of “ethnicity” as a term associated with a racial background, a term referring to biological heritage, not cultural heritage.

Jews themselves admit they are a race, why are you disputing it?

Let’s just say Jews are not a race, they are still an ethno-religious group so you can be ethnically Jewish or part Jewish and not religious.

It’s just a persistent unconfirmed rumour, I don’t get why the tabloids want to keep trying to make claims he was part Jewish when it is evidently false and has no basis in facts.


A subsequent analysis of Frank’s statement by Simon Wiesenthal disclosed that there was no evidence of any Jewish family named Frankenberger ever living in Graz. What is more, Jews had been driven out of Graz in the 15th century and had not been allowed to return until 1856, nearly twenty years after Hitler’s grandfather had been born.

Hitler’s grandmother’s maiden name was Schickelgruber. There is considerable evidence that this family produced abnormal progeny. Examples are: one of Hitler’s relatives through his mother’s side committed suicide in 1920, another, Aloisha had been placed in an insane asylum, another was “feeble-minded,” and yet another was retarded.

According to the article from which I am quoting this material:

“Hitler’s real fear, then, was not that someone would discover that he has a Jewish grandfather, but that it would someday come to light that he carried a hereditary disposition toward mental illness and retardation.”
You might ask your English teacher to go to a good library and see the following article:

“Hitler’s Family Secret: A file recovered from the Nazi Archives tells of a Gestapo investigation into the Fuehrer’s murky family history.”
By: Ben S. Swearingen
Civilization: The Magazine of the Library of Congress Volume 2, Number 2, Arcg/April 1995, pp. 54-55

So no he wasn’t in any way Jewish or had any Jewish ancestors.

The Hitler’s DNA is also a hoax to claim he was half Jewish and half Black… it isn’t exclusive to both people and is common in Europe, 9% Austria…

Uh, cite? And what do you mean by ‘admit’? Were Jews previously in denial or something?

[“I am not an American of JEWISH faith. I am a JEW. I have been a JEW for a thousand years. Hitler was right in one thing. He calls the Jewish people a race, and we are a race.”–– Rabbi Stephen Wise, N.Y. Herald-Tribune, June 13, 1938.

“We Jews regard our race as superior to all humanity, and look forward, not to its ultimate union with other races, but to its triumph over them.”— Goldwin Smith, Jewish Professor of Modern History at Oxford University, October, 1981.](Jewish quotes)

But of course anything that doesn’t go someone’s way on here or be cited will automatically be considered not a credible source, Jews are obviously more than a religion, they are even considered by Wikipedia to be ethno-religious… you don’t have to be religious to be Jewish and you can be a Jew from birth.

Even Sigmund Freud - “Freud’s family and ancestry were Jewish. Freud always considered himself a Jew even though he rejected Judaism and had a critical view of religion.”

Um, so you pull two quotes from Jews…out of 13 million. Well, 13 million is only the number of living Jews, so that’s not even accounting for most of Jews in history.

And most Jews that I know are uncomfortable with the term ‘race’ when describing their heritage. Jews aren’t a race. You can become Jewish, but I can’t go and decide to become a black person. I really thought that would’ve been covered in Humanities 101.