As 6 million Jews were being murdered in the Holocaust, Ernst Hess may have survived due to a special reprieve from Adolf Hitler himself.
A letter obtained by the Jewish Voice from a German newspaper shows that Hess, the decorated World War I soldier who served as Hitler’s commanding officer, received a reprieve from Hitler that protected him and his family while the Nazis persecuted other Jews around them in Germany. The reprieve was only temporary, and he was eventually sent to a concentration camp.
Hess was actually raised Protestant and had married a woman of that faith. “For us, it is kind of spiritual death to now be branded as Jews and exposed to general contempt,” he wrote in the letter as he pled for leniency from Hitler.
However, Hess’s appeal was initially denied since he was still considered a Jew under Nazi law. While imprisoned after the temporary reprieve, the Nazis began referring to Hess as “a Jew like no other.” Hess survived the Holocaust, but his sister was killed in Auschwitz.