Interview with Rita Kuhn

A child's view of pre-war persecution in Germany

Barbara Milman: "Rita Kuhn was born of a Jewish father and a mother two who had converted to Judaism after marriage. Rita and her brother were raised as Jews. In 1933, the first legal definition of a Jew (non-Aryan) was enacted: any person with one Jewish parent or one Jewish grandparent was so classified. This definition was refined in 1935, after passage of the Nuremberg Laws, to distinguish between "full Jews" (persons who had at least three grandparents who were "full Jews by race") and Mischlings (offspring of mixed marriages, who had one full Jewish parent and one Aryan parent). However, a Mischling was treated as a full Jew if, like Rita, the person was a member of the Jewish religious community when the law was enacted in 1935 or if certain other criteria applied....

"Since Jews were defined by race, a non-Jew like Rita's mother, who had married a Jew and converted to Judaism, was still considered Aryan and as such not subject to deportation with her family. The demonstration by Christian German wives of Jewish men on Rosenstrasse in March 1943 was one of the few incidents of public resistance to anti-Jewish actions by German citizens. In the face of this resistance, the Nazis backed down and released hundreds of Jewish husbands and children. Rita and her family were among those released, and they were not arrested again for the duration of the war."