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Identity Card of Ruth Kittel

Identity card for Ruth Kittel.
US Holocaust Memorial Museum

The Nazi regime enacted many anti-Jewish policies after coming to power in 1933. Nazi plans to build a new German "national community" ("Volksgemeinschaft") included efforts to exclude Jews from all areas of German society. But Nazi leaders first had to agree on how to determine who could be considered “Aryan” or Jewish.

In September of 1935, the Nazi regime isssued the Nuremberg Race Laws,1 which established a legal basis for categorizing Jews and stripped them of their rights as full citizens of Germany. The Nazis claimed that racial classifications of Jews and other groups were based on scientific theories of heredity and eugenics,2 but the Nuremberg Laws actually relied on religious membership records and baptismal information to distinguish Jews from those with so-called “German blood.”3 The laws dictated that a person with three or more Jewish grandparents was considered Jewish, and a grandparent was considered fully Jewish if they belonged to a Jewish religious community. Those with one or two Jewish grandparents were classified by the term “Mischlinge,” a degrading term for “mixed-race.”4

The featured identification card belonged to Ruth Kittel, who was born in 1927 in Berlin to a Catholic father and a Jewish mother.5 With the passage of the Nuremberg Laws, eight-year-old Kittel was labeled a “Mischling.” However, because Kittel also attended a Jewish religious school, she was subject to another clause of the Nuremberg Laws that labeled her a “full Jew”6—and therefore a target for greater persecution. Kittel was soon banned from the German public school system and her access to food and other goods was restricted.7

Nazi authorities sought new ways to publicly identify Jews during the late 1930s. Under the “Law on Alteration of Family and Personal Names” of 1938, Jewish women and girls like Kittel were forced to take the name “Sara” as their legal middle names. Jewish men were forced to adopt the middle name “Israel.” Nazis authorities also stamped the letter “J” on all Jews’ passports and issued the Jewish population new identity cards with the letter “J” to be carried on their persons at all times. Signs of these discriminatory measures can be seen on Kittel’s identity card.8

Kittel’s identity card was issued by the Berlin police in February 1939 when she was eleven years old (authorities kept a copy of all identity cards for their internal records).9 The card gave Kittel an identification number and registered her fingerprints. The card also recorded some of her physical attributes and “distinguishing features.” Jews were supposed to present these cards automatically whenever dealing with authorities.10 The Nazi regime later ordered that Jews be made identifiable on sight, requiring in September 1941 that Jewish people wear a yellow Star of David badge on the outside of their clothing in public. During World War II, Kittel was forced to wear a star as she worked as a forced laborer in a factory under Gestapo supervision.11

In February 1943, when Kittel was sixteen, the Nazi regime began its final phase of mass deportations of Germany’s Jewish population to concentration camps, ghettos, and killing centers. Kittel was arrested during these roundups and was imprisoned at the Rosenstraße assembly camp in Berlin. Outside of the Rosenstraße prison, non-Jewish relatives of the prisoners held a demonstration against the detention and deportation of their Jewish loved ones.12 Kittel was released from Rosenstraße on March 6th.

Kittel ultimately managed to escape deportation and worked as a forced laborer at different factories throughout the war. After the fall of Nazi Germany and the end of World War II, Kittel served as a secretary for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and immigrated to the United States in 1946.

For more on the impact of the Nuremberg Laws, see the related Experiencing History items, Shoah Outtake with Inge Deutschkron and Photo from a Public Pool in Fürth, Germany.

For more on eugenics in the Nazi era, see the related Experiencing History collection, Targets of Eugenics. To learn more about the flaws of Nazi "racial science," see Devin O. Pendas, Mark Roseman, and Richard F. Wetzell, eds., Beyond the Racial State: Rethinking Nazi Germany (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017).

The Nazi regime asked those of so-called "Aryan" descent to document their "Aryan" ancestry. The Nazi state instructed "Aryans" to use records of their ancestors' religious affiliations—such as marriage and baptismal certificates from churches—to prove their "racial purity." For more on this topic, see Doris Bergen, Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1996); and Robert P. Ericksen and Susannah Heschel, eds., Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1999).

The Nazis created further distinctions between those whom they classified as "Mischlinge of the first degree" (people with two Jewish grandparents) and  "Mischlinge of the second degree" (those with one Jewish grandparent.) Individuals could appeal to change their "racial status" as Mischlinge based on clerical errors, significant service to the Nazi cause, or even military distinctions. Such petitions were considered on an individual basis. 

Even in the first years of Nazi rule, measures targeting the so-called "mixed" children of Jewish and non-Jewish parents forced German families to reckon with the new "racial status" assigned to them under Nazism. See the case of Luise Solmitz, a Catholic, her husband Fredy, who had Jewish ancestry, and their daughter, Gisela, in Jürgen Matthäus and Mark Roseman, eds., Jewish Responses to Persecution, Volume I, 1933–1938 (Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2010), 34–36.

In 1955, Kittel recounted how the Nazis treated her as a "full Jew" in an affidavit written in German.

The Nazis also removed "non-Aryan" professors and faculty from educational institutions. See the Experiencing History item Dismissal Letter for Professor Eugen Mittwoch to learn more.

For more about the anti-Jewish policies enacted during the first years of Nazi rule, see the Experiencing History collection, Exclusion of Jews in Nazi Germany.

To learn about the roles played by German police in Nazi Germany, see the related Experiencing History collection, German Police and the Nazi Regime.

For more on how the Nazi regime kept population records, see Götz Aly and Karl Heinz Roth, The Nazi Census: Identification and Control in the Third Reich (Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2004).

To learn about Jewish forced labor in the Third Reich, see Wolf Gruner, Jewish Forced Labor Under the Nazis: Economic Needs and Racial Aims, 1938–1944 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006). See also the collection in Experiencing History, Experiences of Forced Labor in Wartime Europe.

For more on the Rosenstaße Demonstration, see Wolf Gruner and Ursula Marcum, "The Factory Action and the Events at the Rosenstrasse in Berlin: Facts and Fictions about 27 February 1943: Sixty Years Later," Central European History 36, no. 2 (2003): 179-208; and Nathan Stoltzfus and Birgit Maier-Katkin, eds., Protest in Hitler's “National Community”: Popular Unrest and the Nazi Response (New York, NY: Berghahn Books, 2015).

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Page 1

[Left side]

This ID remains valid for the time being.

[Handwritten date and signature]  February 24, [19]45 [Signature unreadable]

[Seal] Chief of Police in Berlin -  Neukoelln Police Inspectorate

[Right side]

German Reich

J [=Jude, Jew]



Page 2

[Left side]

Place of issue: Berlin-Neukölln

Identification number: A 611790

Valid until: February 14, 1944

Last name: Kittel

Given names: Ruth Sara

Date of birth: July 21, 1927

Place of birth: Berlin

Occupation: Schoolgirl

Permanent distinguishing features: Scar, lower left side of forehead

Non-permanent distinguishing features: Wears glasses



[Right side]

[Two seals] Chief of Police, 214th Police District

Right index finger

Left index finger

[Signature of cardholder] Ruth Sara Kittel

Berlin-Neukölln, February 14, 1939

The Chief of Police in Berlin

214th Police District

(Issuing Authority)

[Signature] Not legible

Signature of issuing official

[Stamp for administrative fee] Prussia / State Police / Prussia / Administrative Fee / 3 RM


Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Accession Number 2006.473.1
Date Created
February 1939
Berlin, Germany
Document Type Official document
How to Cite Museum Materials

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