How the Nazis Treated Children of Mixed Marriages, Part I: Emil Seligmann

Wolfgang’s second find on the newly released Arolsen Archives website was about our cousin Emil Jacob Seligmann, Jr., the son of Emil Jacob Seligmann, Sr., and Anna Maria Angelika Illian. His father Emil, Sr., was the son of Caroline Seligmann and Siegfried Seligmann and the grandson of Moritz Seligmann and Eva Schoenfeld. And since Emil Sr.’s father Siegfried was the son of Moritz’s sister Martha, Emil Sr., was also her grandson. Thus, Emil, Sr., was the great-grandson of Jacob Seligmann and Martha Mayer through two of their children.

Extended Pedigree Chart for Emil Seligmann

Anyway, I digress. Emil, Sr., was born on December 23, 1863, in Mainz, Germany.

Emil Jacob Seligmann Sr birth record, Stadtarchiv Mainz; Mainz, Deutschland; Zivilstandsregister, 1798-1875; Signatur: 50 / 66
Ancestry.com. Mainz, Germany, Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1798-1875

He married Anna Maria Angelika Illian on February 10, 1907, in Erbach, Germany. Their marriage record indicates that Anna Maria was Catholic, so theirs was an interfaith marriage.

Emil Jacob Seligmann Sr Marriage record, Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv; Wiesbaden, Deutschland; Bestand: 919; Laufende Nummer: 1109, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Marriages, 1849-1930

Emil, Sr., and Anna Maria had two children—Emil Jacob, Jr. and Christina. From these names, we can see that Emil, Sr., was not keeping to Jewish naming traditions, having a son who shared his name and a daughter named Christina and known as Christel.

One other observation: Emil Jacob, Jr., was born on May 27, 1901, almost six years before the date on his parents’ marriage record. 1 I wonder whether there were legal or other obstacles that prevented Emil, Sr., and Anna Maria from marrying earlier.

According to Emil, Sr.’s death certificate, he died from arteriosclerosis on August 9, 1942, at home in Wiesbaden. He was 78 years old. His wife Anna Maria had predeceased him on January 31, 1942, in Wiesbaden; she was 71. She died from heart disease.2

Emil Jacob Seligmann, Sr death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 925; Laufende Nummer: 2934, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958

The Arolsen Archives had this registration card for Emil, Sr., dated sometime after June 30, 1941. I know this is pure speculation, but I do have to wonder whether the stress of the Nazi era contributed to their deaths.

Card “Reichsvereinigung der Juden”, Emil I. SELIGMANN, 1.2.4.1 / 12673844, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

The fate of their son Emil, Jr., sheds some light on that, especially from the papers that Wolfgang located at the Arolsen Archives. There is an entire folder for Emil, Jr., of forms connected to his time at Buchenwald, and those forms reveal a great deal not only about Emil but also about the Nazi mindset. I will only post a few of the forms in the folder—those that reveal the most important information about Emil.

First is his Haeftlings-Personal-Karte or his personal prisoner’s card, which includes information about his birth, his parents, his physical characteristics, as well as other matters. Note that it asks for his religion, and he responded “R.K.,” or Roman Catholic. That is, Emil was imprisoned at Buchenwald even though his mother was Catholic and he identified as Catholic.

Prisoner Registration Card Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088569, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Note also at the top that it says “Mischl. 1 Gr.”, or Mischling First Degree. “Mischling” means hybrid in German, and it was the way Nazis labeled those who were from a mixed background and not 100% Jewish in their ancestry. A Mischling First Degree meant someone who had two Jewish grandparents, as Emil, Jr. did. The First Supplementary Decree of November 14, 1935 to the Nuremberg Laws on Citizenship and Race first promulgated on September 15, 1935, established standards for defining who was a Jew for Nazi purposes and included this provision:

ARTICLE 5

(1)  A Jew is an individual who is descended from at least three grandparents who were, racially, full Jews…

(2)  A Jew is also an individual who is descended from two full-Jewish grandparents if:

(a)  he was a member of the Jewish religious community when this law was issued, or joined the community later;

(b)  when the law was issued, he was married to a person who was a Jew, or was subsequently married to a Jew;

(c)  he is the issue from a marriage with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, which was contracted after the coming into effect of the Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor of September 15, 1935;

(d)  he is the issue of an extramarital relationship with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, and was born out of wedlock after July 31, 1936.

There are many other sources shedding light on the definition of Mischling and the treatment thereof by the Nazis including those linked to here and here and here.

Emil did not fall into any of those disqualifying categories so was classified as a Mischling, First Degree. But what did that mean for Emil?

Well, as you can see from his card, he did not escape persecution. He was sent to Buchenwald by the Gestapo through Frankfurt, in 1944. The card says “eingewiesen am” August 21, 1944, and “eingewiesen am” translates as “instructed on,” but I assume in this context it means something more threatening than instruction. The “grund” or reason given for this action was that Emil was a “Polit. Mischl. 1 Gr,” meaning that he was arrested for political activity, not just for being a Mischling, First Degree.

Another card in the file shows that he was “eingeliefert” or admitted to Buchewald on August 21, 1944. 3   On that card it shows what Emil brought with him: a cap, one pair of cloth pants, a shirt, a skirt (?), and two pairs of shoes—laced shoes and clogs.

Personal effects card Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088572, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

What the following form in the folder revealed makes the fact of Emil’s arrest and imprisonment even surprising. This is the prisoner registration form used at Buchenwald and the other Nazi concentration camps. It repeats most of the personal information Emil provided on the prisoner’s card above, but note the line that says “Kriegsdienstzeit.” That translates as military service time, and Emil reported that he had served in the infantry from 1940-1941. That is, Emil had been a soldier in the German army for two years of World War II. And now he was imprisoned at Buchenwald.

Prisoner Registration Form Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088574, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Tragically, Emil did not survive his time at Buchenwald. Less than six months after his initial imprisonment he died from a heart attack on February 14, 1945. He was 43 years old.

ITS reference card, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088580, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

According to this card, which Wolfgang translated for me, Emil had been admitted to the infirmary the day before for diarrhea. Emil must have been quite ill, likely from mistreatment and poor nutrition, to have died so young.

Extract from the Book of deceased of the prisoners’ infirmary ward of Concentration Camp Buchenwald, 1.1.5.1 / 5348508, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives

Just a few months later, Germany was defeated by the Allies, and the concentration camps were liberated. Emil could have lived a full life instead of having it cut short by the Nazis.

My next post will tell the story of Emil’s sister, Christine.

 

 

 


  1.   Emil’s birth date appears on several records, although I do not have an actual birth record. For example, it appears on his records from his time at Buchenwald, see at National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Langenstein-Zwieberge Concentration Camp Inmate Cards, April 1944 – April 1945; Publication Number: M2121; Roll Number: 1, Ancestry.com. Germany, Langenstein-Zwieberge Concentration Camp Inmate Cards, 1944-1945. It also appears on the forms from Arolsen seen below. According to Wolfgang, Christel was born on July 30, 1903, so also before her parents’ marriage. Christel was the first owner of the “magic suitcase” that helped Wolfgang, his mother, and me learn so much about our shared family. More on Christel and her life to come in my next post. 
  2. Anna Maria Illian Seligmann death record, Personenstandsregister Sterberegister; Bestand: 925; Laufende Nummer: 2931, Ancestry.com. Hesse, Germany, Deaths, 1851-1958 
  3. A different card in the file says he was “eingeliefert” or admitted to Buchenwald on December 29, 1944. Had he been released and then re-arrested a few months later? Personal effects card Concentration Camp Buchenwald, Emil SELIGMANN, 1.1.5.3 / 7088571, ITS Digital Archive, Arolsen Archives 

31 thoughts on “How the Nazis Treated Children of Mixed Marriages, Part I: Emil Seligmann

  1. Amy, I think the “eingewiesen am” more likely means he was committed to Buchenwald – similar to being committed to an institution. I wonder if his military records would shed more light on why he was committed to Buchenwald. I suspect it may be for the same reason many Luxembourgers who were forced to serve in the German army also ended up in concentration camps – for refusing to serve.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sophie Scholl was convicted of high treason after having been found distributing anti-war leaflets at the University of Munich (LMU) with her brother, Hans. As a result, she was executed by guillotine. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, and key founding member of the Confessing Church. Bonhoeffer was known for his staunch resistance to the Nazi dictatorship, including vocal opposition to Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. After being accused of being associated with the July 20 plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, he was quickly tried, along with other accused plotters, including former members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office), and then hanged on 9 April 1945 as the Nazi regime was collapsing.
    These excerpts from Wikipedia show how the Nazis treated people who dared to speak out against the Nazi regime. Apparently, Emil Seligmann landed in the dreaded concentration camp Buchenwald as a political prisoner. Of course, his Jewish ancestry may have played an additional role in his arrest.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Another horrible tragedy. So sad, and I found the idea he was a soldier first horrifying.
    So. Do I understand right that he was supposedly born six years before his parents were married? or did I screw that up? Is it possible that he was the son of another man or have you ruled that out?

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, you have it right. His sister was also born before the date on the marriage record. At first I thought maybe the indexer had misread the date, but I looked at it myself, and it definitely is correct.

      Since Emil Jacob Seligmann, Sr, and Emil Jacob Seligmann Jr had the same names, I have to believe that this was his father. I suppose it IS possible that Emil was married before and that this was a second wife, but I have not seen any references to another wife on any of the records. Perhaps they had married outside of Germany and this was the “official” German marriage?

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  4. Pingback: How the Nazis Treated Children of Mixed Marriages, Part II: Christine Seligmann | Brotmanblog: A Family Journey

  5. Dear Amy,

    Thank you for all you have written about our family.

    I am amazed how you can write about the atrocities of the Nazis toward members of our family. Just reading a tiny bit about one of three sisters who were distant cousins of mine sent me into a tailspin. Thank you for your courage, and for sharing all these stories. May we truly learn from all of this to s-t-o-p some of the similar things that are happening in our country right now!

    With love, Megen

    >

    Liked by 1 person

    • Every time I learn about another relative who suffered because of the Nazis, it literally takes my breath away. I have to stop and breathe before I can take the next step. Writing about them helps me feel that I am doing what I can to preserve the memory of their lives and to remind others of what hate can do. And yes, it is truly dismaying to see history repeat itself over and over even in 2019. Thanks, cousin. xoxo

      PS I deleted your phone number from your comment to protect your privacy, but kept it for my own records. Hope you are well.

      Like

  6. Amy – every time I read of the lengths the Nazis went to in their quest for “Purity”, I feel sick to my stomach. I hate that so many people, both then and now, feel the need to categorise/classify people to somehow justify their horrific ends.
    I hate that this kind of thing has not stopped, families being separated, people being denied their rights including the right to live. Thank you for writing about it, the more people learn about this and come to rise up against history repeating itself, the better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hope you’re right, Alex, though I fear that while people of good hearts and good values will always respond as you do, there will also always be people who will not be capable of the empathy and moral courage to recognize the evil and inhumanity that surrounds us still to this day.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is a sorry state to be in – especially now we know so much more about what is going on in other countries. I’d like to think that perhaps we need a few generations to die out to take those kinds of views and hate from the world, but I think there will always be bad people doing bad things.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sadly I agree. There will always be fear, and fear breeds prejudice, and prejudice breeds hate. And then parents teach hate to their children. And it continues.

        Liked by 1 person

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