Werner Goldberg

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Werner Goldberg
Goldberg's image as published in the Berliner Tagesblatt
Born(1919-10-03)3 October 1919
Berlin, Germany
Died28 September 2004(2004-09-28) (aged 84)
Berlin, Germany
Allegiance Nazi Germany
Service/branch German Army
Years of service1938–1940
Battles/warsWorld War II

Werner Goldberg (3 October 1919 – 28 September 2004) was a German who was of half Jewish ancestry, or Mischling in Nazi terminology, who served briefly as a soldier during World War II. His image appeared in the Berliner Tageblatt as "The Ideal German Soldier", and was later used in recruitment posters and propaganda for the Wehrmacht.


Goldberg's father grew up in Königsberg as a member of the Jewish community but had himself baptized in the local Lutheran church as he wished to become assimilated and marry a Christian. Goldberg had no idea his father was Jewish; he and his brother Martin (born 1920) had been baptized in the Grünewald Lutheran Church at their father's request. After Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, the senior Goldberg lost his position under the Nazi law of April 1933, Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, which expelled Jews from the German Civil Service under the Aryan Paragraph.

The 1935 Nuremberg Laws classed persons with at least three Jewish grandparents as Jewish; those with two Jewish grandparents would be considered Jewish only if they practised the faith or had a Jewish spouse.

Goldberg left school in 1935 and became an apprentice at Schneller und Schmeider, a clothing company jointly owned by a Jew and a non-Jew, where many of his colleagues were Jews or Mischlinge. Goldberg's maternal uncle joined the Nazi Party and refused to be seen with the Goldberg family, even avoiding Goldberg's mother.

At the beginning of 1938, Goldberg served a six-month term in the Reich Labour Service whose uniform, as Goldberg later recalled, "had a swastika on an armband". On 1 December 1938, Goldberg joined the German Army. He took part in the invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, serving alongside childhood friend Karl Wolf, whose father was now a high-ranking SS officer.

Goldberg's photograph appeared in the Sunday edition of the Berliner Tagesblatt newspaper with the caption "The ideal German soldier" ("Der ideale deutsche Soldat"); the photograph had been sold to the newspaper by the official army photographer. It was later used on recruitment posters.

In 1940, following the Armistice with France, Goldberg was expelled from the army under Hitler's order of 8 April 1940, which stated that all first-degree Mischlinge were to be discharged from the military. He returned to his former workplace, which had now changed its name to Feodor Schmeider, having been obliged to remove the Jewish name Schneller. Goldberg played an increasingly responsible role within the company, obtaining contracts for uniforms from the army and the navy. He also attended the Reich Committee for Labour Studies school (Reichsausschuss für Arbeitsstudien, RAFA), where he was one of the four out of 80 students who passed the test to become a RAFA teacher. He then became a Labour Studies Board lecturer on the clothing industry, and delivered lectures to organizations and company directors, even publishing an article in the weekly trade publication Textilwoche.

In December 1942, Goldberg's father was admitted to hospital. The Gestapo, however, raided the hospital and sent him to a Jewish one which had been requisitioned by the Gestapo for use as a prison, from which Jews were taken and sent to Auschwitz. On Christmas Eve, gambling that the guards would be drunk or absent, Goldberg took his father from the hospital. The elder Goldberg was soon back in the hands of the Gestapo, and in April 1943 was summoned for deportation; Werner told him not to show up, and he was again saved. The father and son were the only members of their immediate family to survive the war.

Werner Goldberg later joined the Christian Democratic Union of Germany and served twenty years between 1959 and 1979 as a politician of the Abgeordnetenhaus of Berlin in West Berlin. He died in Berlin on 28 September 2004, aged 84; he was survived by his wife Gertrud Goldberg, and three children.

In popular culture[edit]

Goldberg's story formed part of the 2006 documentary Hitler's Jewish Soldiers – Nazi-Jews in Hitler's Army, a 58-minute film produced by Larry Price in association with the Israel Broadcasting Authority.[1][2] Price's film was inspired by the 2002 book Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military by Bryan Mark Rigg.[2][3]

Goldberg featured in the episode "The Jews Who Fought for Hitler" of the Yesterday TV series Nazi Collaborators, first screened in the UK in December 2010.

In 2015, the photograph was used for the monument to "Protectors of Motherland" in Tobolsk, Russia, as a surrogate for an image of a Red Army soldier, reportedly by mistake. The image on the monument was promptly fixed.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hitler's Jewish Soldiers [synopsis]". DocCo.NexenServices.com. Doc & Co. (Doc & Film International). 2006. Archived from the original on 21 August 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2008.
  2. ^ a b Moskowitz, Ira (21 April 2006). "Caught in the Middle, Part-Jewish Germans Served in Nazi Army". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 13 December 2017. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  3. ^ Rigg, Bryan Mark (2002). Hitler's Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military. University Press of Kansas. ISBN 978-0-7006-1178-2. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
  4. ^ "В Тобольске по ошибке установили памятник нацистскому солдату" (in Russian). NTV (НТВ). Archived from the original on 8 April 2023. Retrieved 1 July 2015.