UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Who am I now? The changing roles of husbands, wives, and children in mixed-marriage families in Nazi Germany Reynoso, Adriana


This thesis examines the human impact of Nazi policy on mixed marriages in Germany, especially the psychological and emotional effects that this policy had on spouses and children in these families. The Nazi regime wanted to remove all Jewish persons from the Reich in an effort to uphold the rhetoric of “racial purity” and maintain the supposed superiority of the so-called Aryan race. Intermarriage between Germans of Jewish and Christian faiths made this goal much more difficult than the regime had anticipated. Intermarried Germans were not so easily convinced of the correctness of Nazi rhetoric, so the regime enacted policies and regulations that attempted to convince mixed couples that divorce was their best option. These policies prevented any future intermarriages and criminalized “racial mixing” while simultaneously promoting the action of divorce. Most intermarried Germans refused to divorce their Jewish spouses, however, and faced dire consequences because of this refusal. To access their experiences, this thesis examines memoirs and diaries written by children and wives of mixed-marriage families as a means of exploring the emotional and psychological effects of getting divorced or remaining married. This thesis argues that these effects were made evident in a change of each family member’s sense of self with respect to their designated role within the family unit as a result of the Nazi policies on intermarriage. Women in this situation often emerged as the emotional mainstays of their families while men-whether Aryan or Jewish- were deeply damaged by their inability to continue their traditional role of protector and provider.

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