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Shoah Outtake with Inge Deutschkron

Shoah Outtake with Inge Deutschkron
Created by Claude Lanzmann during the filming of "Shoah," used by permission of USHMM and Yad Vashem

The 1935 Nuremberg Laws marked a major escalation of anti-Jewish policies in Germany. Earlier Nazi laws targeting Jews restricted their ability to participate in the German economy and to work in certain professions.1 The Nuremberg Laws went much further, legally excluding Jews from the Nazis' so-called "national community" ("Volksgemeinschaft") because Nazi ideology classified them as a separate “race.”

Announced at the annual Nazi Party rally in September 1935, two distinct laws targeted Jews as a “non-German” race. The first was the “Reich Citizenship Law,” which declared that Jews—defined by the act as persons not of “German blood”—could not be full citizens of Germany. The second act was the so-called “Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor,” which banned all marriages and intimate relationships between Jews and so-called “Aryan” Germans. The Nazis and their supporters believed that these relationships—and the so-called “mixed race” children that they might create—were a threat to the supposed “racial purity” of the Nazi “national community.”2

The passage of the Nuremberg Laws had a dramatic impact on the relationships, families, and daily lives of Jews in Germany. In the featured clip, a German Jewish woman from Berlin named Inge Deutschkron recalls different reactions to the laws among her family and friends. Deutschkron, who was thirteen years old in 1935, describes how relationships between Jewish and non-Jewish Germans quickly changed.3 In shops, cafes, homes, and workplaces, contact between Jews and non-Jews was increasingly policed as these laws were put into effect “with full force.”4 She also observes how the laws created complex situations for Jewish people who hoped to emigrate from Germany.5 Many German Jews mistakenly believed that these and other anti-Jewish laws were temporary and therefore did not see the urgency to leave. She remarks: “who would have believed that Hitler would last so long?”

Deutschkron’s interview was recorded in 1979 in Berlin by director Claude Lanzmann for what would become a nearly ten-hour-long documentary film, Shoah. Released in 1985, Lanzmann's film was groundbreaking for its use of survivor testimonies and contemporary footage from sites of mass murder. Lanzmann focused on recording survivors' perspectives, but there is a notable lack of women's voices in the film’s final cut. Despite her rich and detailed descriptions of Jewish life under Nazism, no part of Deutschkron’s three-hour-long interview appeared in the final cut of Shoah. Like many other outtakes from the film,6 Deutschkron’s interview emphasizes women’s experiences of persecution during the Holocaust.7

The interview opens with Deutschkron seated in the Cafe Kranzler in Berlin while Lanzmann remains out of view.8 Shots of the Mercedes Benz offices appear in the background. Deutschkron’s voiceover reminds the viewer that this location is central to her testimony about the early years of Nazi rule. She explains: “It’s not easy to speak in this coffeehouse. I have not been here for many, many years, because this reminds me very much of the years when there was a signboard downstairs saying Jews unwanted. Now this signboard appeared not all at once, in all coffeehouses. It appeared gradually, one after the other.”9

Deutschkron survived the Holocaust in Berlin by using false papers and hiding in various locations around the city.10 She later immigrated to Israel where she lived until 2001 when she returned to Berlin. Deutschkron died there in 2022 at the age of 99.

In April 1933, the Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service excluded Jews from many organizations and professions. Another 1933 law limited the number of Jewish students permitted to attend schools and universities. Beyond these measures, the Nazis' anti-Jewish boycott campaigns and propaganda spurred acts of violence and intimidation against Jews across Germany beginning in early 1933. For more on anti-Jewish policies enacted during the first several years of Nazi rule, see the Experiencing History collection, Exclusion of Jews in Nazi Germany.

On the targeting of so-called "mixed race" Germans (classified by Nazi authorities by the degrading German term, "Mischlinge"), see the USHMM Holocaust Encyclopedia.  See also the Experiencing History item, ID Card for Ruth Kittel.

An annotated transcript of Lanzmann's interview with Deutschkron is included in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum's Claude Lanzmann Shoah Collection, which features more than 200 hours of Shoah outtakes.

For more information on everyday life for Jews in Nazi Germany, see Marion Kaplan, Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).

For more on Jewish emigration from Germany in the 1930s, see the related Experiencing History items, Letter from Amalie Walsch to Wilhem Malsch and "The St. Louis Is Close to Cuba", as well as the collection Jewish Refugees and the Holocaust.

On the significance of outtakes from Lanzmann's Shoah, see Jennifer Cazenave and Claude Lanzmann, An Archive of the Catastrophe: The Unused Footage of Claude Lanzmann's Shoah (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2019). 

Many interviews with female survivors were filmed for Shoah. See the related Experiencing History items, Shoah Outtake with Ruth Elias and Shoah Outtake with Gertrude Schneider. See also the recent documentary film comprised of Shoah outtakes with female survivors, Shoah: Four Sisters, directed by Claude Lanzmann (2018).

One year before this interview, Deutschkron's memoir was published in Germany. Deutschkron returned to Berlin for the interview from Tel Aviv, where she had lived since 1972. An English-language translation of Deutschkron's memoir was released years later. See Inge Deutschkron, Outcast: A Jewish Girl in Wartime Berlin, translated by Jean Steinberg (Plunkett Lake Press, 2015).

This voiceover does not appear in the featured clip of Deutschkron’s interview. To view the beginning of the outtake, see Part I on the USHMM collections page.

For more information about Jews living in hiding in Berlin, see Richard Lutjens, Submerged on the Surface: The Not-So-Hidden Jews of Nazi Berlin (New York: Berghahn Books, 2019).

German: laws.

German: "Race defilement" or "race-mixing."

German: "Race-defiler."

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Claude Lanzmann: Did the the racial laws of September 1935, the so called the Nuremberg Gesetze,1 did they mark a real change?

Inge Deutschkron: I would say yes. It was like a, sort of a cleavage. You see, it interfered in the lives of the people. Meaning, for example, that the Jewish doctor was no longer allowed to have an assistant who was not Jewish... Of course, today it sounds funny, but many Jews had maids at the time. They had to give them notice. A non-Jewish maid was not allowed to serve in a Jewish household. And such things which...and shops, for example, the non-Jewish shopkeeper, the non-Jewish shop assistant, was not allowed to be employed by a shopkeeper, by a Jewish one. So there was, of course, a deep...

Lanzmann: These laws were immediately implemented?

Deutschkron: Immediately implemented...

Lanzmann: With full force?

Deutschkron: With full force. And of course, there was a good deal of fear, a scare among the Jews because there were also Jewish men who had friendships, affairs with non-Jewish girls. Until '35, there was no trouble about this.

Lanzmann: And this was forbidden.

Deutschkron: This was, of course, forbidden. It was considered a defilement of the Aryan blood and um...

Lanzmann: Rassenschande.2

Deutschkron: What you call Rassenschande, yes. And there are all the very funny explanations... or you what do you call it? There's a lot a legal expression for it. How, Auslegung, how to imply this law. For example, I remember there was a, we laughed our head off. I mean, this was a perhaps my education in my house. My parents and I used to laugh about these things. What else could one do, really, if one wanted to keep up one's spirit? For example, there was talk about sexual intercourse in the airplane between a Jew and a non-Jew. Now imagine! Things like that. But then, of course, there was this business. I mean, there was also this feeling, perhaps it was a very normal thing, that people wanted to relieve themselves of the pressure that was upon them. Because as laws like this, there were many jokes about it. For example, I remember the one where an old non-Jewish maid who had served for years in a Jewish household writes in a very simple language to her girlfriend who is also non-Jewish and says, I don't understand this anymore. You see, I come at 8:00 and here Mr. Cohen has already left at 7:00. Now I leave the house at 3:00 and then he comes home, this Mr. Cohen, at 4:00. Now, how can he defile me? Now as this type of joke, you know, I mean, made us all roar with laughter at the time. And as I say, it was perhaps a sort of relieving oneself of the of the pressure. And perhaps this was the only way to live or to get over this. But of course, it caused also difficulties to some men who, as I said, had affairs with non-Jewish women. And if there was a nasty, a nasty German, he could, he could denounce the Jew for having this affair. And then the Jew was put on trial as a Rassenschänder.3 And of course, this could either be a concentration camp or it could be at a, I mean a prisoner, or both, you know, you know it yourself.

Lanzmann: At this time or even before, in '33. Did the Jews think of emigrating?

Deutschkron: In 33, there was perhaps a wave of emigration of those people who would not have anymore a career in Germany. As I told you, they were not allowed to remain as teachers if they hadn't served in the World War, for example. So it means that the young teacher, the young doctor or the even the one who wanted to study and couldn't do any more study, those were the ones who emigrated them then. But of course, many German Jews said, Why emigrate? This is ridiculous. Look, I mean, this will pass. You see, nobody really took it seriously then, but the figure was perhaps highest in '33 because of what I said, those people who had no future. I think there were about 37,000 or something like this who emigrated in '33 whilst in the years after, '34, '35 the figures dropped.

Lanzmann: Yes.

Deutschkron: And if the majority of German Jews did not feel the urge, they took these... uh... discriminations. They arranged themselves somehow, and I would say many of them also had German friends still. So they thought they could sort of get over all this. And who would have believed that Hitler would last so long?

Lanzmann: But there must have been a real difference between a big city, capital town, though, like Berlin or the small province towns.

Deutschkron: That's very correct. I know. I mean, I haven't experienced it myself, but I know that's the situation in small towns was dreadful. I mean, there's the Jews really suffered from the very first day terrible discriminations. I mean, everybody knew that where Dr. Cohen was living, whilst here in this big city, you know, I mean, there were so many Doctor Cohens, as somebody else said, it didn't really so attract the eyes so much, you see. And even the small towns, the SA suddenly order that the Jew Doctor Cohen had to be punished. And of course, the people were afraid also not to do this. You understand. There was this this fear complex also for the Germans, you see.

Archival Information for This Item

Source (Credit)
Created by Claude Lanzmann during the filming of "Shoah," used by permission of USHMM and Yad Vashem
Accession Number 1996.166
RG Number 60.5044
Date of Interview
Duration 00:06:06
Time Selection Part I, 22:24–28:30
Inge Deutschkron
Claude Lanzmann
Berlin, Germany
Interview Type Interview
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