Does Hitler Qualify as a Righteous Gentile?

So Jewdar is back, after a three week hiatus (two weeks on a road trip to Graceland with Mrs. Jewdar and the Little Jewdars, one week to decompress and watch and absosmurfly hate Portlandia).  Now that we’re back, however, it’s time to start working through some of our backlog.  Documents were uncovered recently suggesting that in 1940, Hitler intervened on behalf of his former company commander (Nerd Alert:  While Jews could not be officers in the Prussian Army, they could be officers in the Bavarian Army)  (Super-Nerd Alert:  Imperial Germany maintained separate armies for its various components, which were all under the jurisdiction of the Imperial Army), Ernest Hess, to prevent his deportation.  While this is touted as unique event, there were at least two other circumstances in which personal connections to Hitler resulted in Jews being saved.  In 1938, another Jewish officer from the List Regiment, Hugo Guttman, was released from police authority after authorities realized his personal connection to the Fuhrer (he had recommended Hitler for his Iron Crosses).  That same year, after the Anschluss with Austria, Eduard Bloch, who had been the Hitler family doctor, and for whom the future had pledged his eternal gratitude,  seems to have received special protection.


As pointed out to Jewdar by Heeb hotshot Jonathan Poritsky, this raise an interesting question.  According to Yad Vashem, the criteria for being selected as a Righteous Gentile (nothing insulting about that), are as follows:

  1. Active involvement of the rescuer in saving one or several Jews from the threat of death or deportation to death camps
  2. Risk to the rescuer’s life, liberty or position
  3. The initial motivation being the intention to help persecuted Jews: i.e. not for payment or any other reward such as religious conversion of the saved person, adoption of a child, etc.
  4. The existence of testimony of those who were helped or at least unequivocal documentation establishing the nature of the rescue and its circumstances.

Now, let’s review, shall we?  While Hitler didn’t seem to be personally involved in the case of Gutmann, he seems to have played a role in helping both Bloch and Hess.  Certainly, Hitler did not stand to receive any personal benefit from this aid.  And there does seem to be some solid documentation as to the “rescue and its circumstances.”  The tricky part, of course, is of course, #2.  Certainly, it was no risk to his life or liberty, but might these acts of Jew helpery jeopardized his position, if not as Fuhrer, then at least as the Reich’s unequivocal Jew-hater #1?


And this brings us to our big selling point.  While Jewdar understands that to many people, the very idea of making Hitler a Righteous Gentile is grotesque, but there’s something appealing to us about the notion of remember Hitler, not for making Germany Judenrein, but for saving German Jews.  A lot of Jews may hate the idea, but something tells us Hitler would have hated it more.

What do you think?

About The Author


The Tel Aviv-born, Milwaukee-bred Jewdar has a bachelors' from the University of Wisconsin, a Masters from NYU, and an Honorable Discharge from the US Army, where he spent two years as an infantryman in the 101st Airborne Division. He's the co-author of "The Big Book of Jewish Conspiracies", the Humor Editor of Heeb Magazine, and a watcher of TV. Smarter than most funny people, funnier than most smart people, he lives on the Lower East Side with his wife and two sons.

5 Responses

  1. Poster ATAT

    If you agree to buy me a soda at the store, it doesn’t mean ‘no matter what’.

    “The store was on fire when I got there.”

    “But you agreed to go in and get me a soda!”

    “I didn’t agree no matter what.”

    Since Hitler caused more Jewish deaths than he saved (by a geometric factor of 2 or three million), this would be a logical and obvious – even if unspoken – exception to the criteria for righteous gentile.

    Johnny may have been the most helpful to the teacher, but if Johnny murdered the teacher on the last day of school, that, also, would be a logical and obvious exception to the normal criteria for giving out the ‘most helpful’ award.

  2. Poster ATAT

    Officer to car driver:

    “Why are you stopped here for six hours?”


    “The sign says, in writing, ‘Stop’. I’m waiting for it to say, in writing, ‘Go’.

    Not every rule has to be written.

  3. Andrew Spark

    Interesting, because it again raises the question – a question raised by several other circumstances – as to whether Hitler actually truly hated Jews, or, like myriad other politicians before and since, including here in the United States, was simply saying and doing what he thought he should say and do in order to attain and stay in power.

    Obviously, I do not know the answer to this question, but consider this next time you know a politician is saying or doing something because of his or her own self-interest and not because he or she believes it right, and give no quarter to such scum.

    • Poster ATAT

      On the possibility that Hitler didn’t really hate Jews, but merely used the anti-semitism as a political tool.

      I read a book, “Hitler’s War” which even suggested that Hitler didn’t know about the Holocaust and found it compelling, as well as the idea that Hitler wasn’t anti-Jewish on a personal level.

      I like the idea, but over time, there are little things in my studies and readings, that have convinced me that while both theories are valid, it is more likely that he really hated Jews.

      Little things, like,
      1. Given the nature of Germany, it is extremely unlikely that an entire holocaust network of giant proportions at many huge locations across Europe did not have the blessing of Hitler directly. Remember, except for after Pearl Harbor, Hitler vowed never to declare war. Why tip off your enemies? Also remember, the high command was constantly in competition, Himler vs Goerring, etc etc, nobody was a ‘team’, it was all individuals and Hitler. So, keeping an entire system going for five years, it doesn’t fit unless Hitler was behind it.

      In reading “The Young Hitler I knew” it seems pretty clear that the personal hatred of the Jews started before politics. My best guess is that it had something to do with Syphilis, Hitler hated the Jews on a personal level. In the Hidden Hitler, the suggestion is that Hitler was a German style homosexual for some time before coming to power and maybe he did suffer from something, perhaps mental.

      That he might have made exceptions saving a few useful Jews proves he was a complex person, just as I think I should exercise but do not.

      I started and kept the ideas that Hitler didn’t really hate the Jews at all, and I seized on the idea that the Holocaust was done without informing Hitler, but after years of reading reliable incidents where Hitler directly expressed hatred, seemingly for no political reason and not just in speeches, if I’m fair and open minded, I feel I had to drop these desirable positions in favor of the position with the most evidence, that he really hated the Jews deeply and that he directly ordered, verbally, the holocaust.

      He should get credit for the highway system. Why? Because he wanted to make it faster for the world, better for civilians? No, look to the Spanish Civil War: The Germans would bomb cities. Why? Because the civilians would clog the streets and the military could not get to the front.

      Therefore, build the Autobahn and don’t let that happen to Germany in the upcoming conquest of Europe. Sure enough, tanks shuttled from one end of Germany to the other front, throughout the war.

      I think he really was enamored with that play, and he lived it out. He was either going to rule the world or die in flames.

      I wish he had been accepted into art school. But then, who knows? Maybe someone worse might have come along.

      Hard to say about Hitler, but if G-d is in control of everything, Gom ze l’tova and all the Jews who died in the Holocaust died sanctifying G-d’s name.

  4. jewdar

    Hitler certainly hated “the Jews” to an obsessive degree. Those who argue that he was simply scapegoating or using them politically don’t understand; Hitler or the nature of German antisemitism. The notion that he might help some Jew or another is not surprising, nor contradictory. I intentionally put quotations around ‘”the Jews'” because in his type of obsessive racism, individual Jews were irrelevant. He wasn’t interested in the Jews as individuals, but as a collective threat to the Aryan race. For those who imagine that he was simply using antisemitism politically, I’d refer you to “Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers.” During the Battle of Stalingrad, Hitler was poring over photos of partly Jewish soldiers to decide if they could be qualified as Aryan. These are the actions of an obsessive, not someone whose simply using antisemitism as a political ploy. At the same time, the presence of so many partially Jewish Germans, or converts (like Hess) suggests the complexity of the situation, especially during the war. We shouldn’t make the mistake of presuming that racism is always simple. The same guy who hates a group can always make exceptions for people within the group.

    It should also be noted that prior to 1941, the Nazis weren’t pursuing a policy of extermination, but of emigration. tossing a bone to this or that Jew in 1938 or 1940 doesn’t tell us what would have happened in 1942, or if the Germans had won the war.

    Hitler’s War, I’d note, is by David Irving, which doesn’t invalidate it, but at the Lipstadt trial, certain issues of methodology were raised.

    Finally, generally didn’t cruise along the Autobahn–bad for the highway, and bad for Germany’s limited fuel supply. Tanks tend to be transported by truck and train.


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