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Goldberg's image as published in the Berliner Tagesblatt in 1939.
3 October 1919|
Berlin, Weimar Republic
|Died||28 September 2004
Werner Goldberg (October 3, 1919 – September 28, 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 for the Wehrmacht.
Goldberg’s father grew up in Königsberg as a member of the Jewish community but he had himself baptized in the local Lutheran church as he wished to become assimilated and marry a Christian. 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.
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 December 1, 1938 Goldberg joined the German Army. He took part in the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, serving alongside childhood friend Karl Wolf, whose father was now a high-ranking SS officer.
Shortly after the beginning of the War, Goldberg’s photograph appeared in the Sunday edition of the Berliner Tagesblatt newspaper with the caption ”The Ideal German Soldier”; 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 April 8, 1940 which stated that all 1st degree Mischlinge were to be expelled from the military. He returned to his former workplace which had now changed its name to the Feodor Schmeider Company, having been obliged to remove the Jewish name Schneller. Goldberg played an increasingly more responsible role within the company, obtaining contracts for uniforms from the army and the navy. He also attended the Reich Board of Labour Studies School (Reichsausschuss für Arbeitsstudie) where he was one of 4 out of 80 students who passed the test to become a REFA teacher. He then became a Labour Studies Board lecturer on the clothing business, 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 the Bavaria Hospital. The Gestapo however raided the hospital and sent him to a Jewish hospital which had been requisitioned by the Gestapo for use as 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, but Werner told him not to show up and he was again saved. He became the only member of Goldberg’s family (aside from Werner himself) to survive the war.
In popular culture
Goldberg's story formed part of the 2006 documentary Hitler's Jewish Soldiers, a 58-minute film produced by Larry Price in association with the Israel Broadcasting Authority. Price was inspired by the 2002 book Hitler's Jewish Soldiers by Bryan Mark Rigg.
In 2015 the photograph was used for the monument to "Protectors of Motherland" in Tobolsk, Russia as surrogate for an image of a Red Army soldier, reportedly by mistake. The image on the monument was promptly fixed.
- Werner 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.
- GOLDBERG, Werner (1919-2004) at ancestry.com
- "HITLER'S JEWISH SOLDIERS". Doc & Co. Archived from the original on August 21, 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-10.
- "Hitler's Jewish Soldiers (57 minute video)". Internet Archive. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- Moskowitz, Ira (Apr 21, 2006). "Caught in the middle, part-Jewish Germans served in Nazi army". Haaretz. Retrieved 24 June 2013.
- 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.
- Nazi Collaborators: "The Jews Who Fought for Hitler" (2010) on IMDb
- "В Тобольске по ошибке установили памятник нацистскому солдату". NTV. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
- Stoltzfus, Nathan; Walter Lacqueur (2001). Resistance of the Heart: Intermarriage and the Rosenstrasse Protest in Nazi Germany. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-2909-3.
- Rigg, Mark (2004). 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 0-7006-1358-7.