Sterilization and Family Survival: Intermarried Jews in the Netherlands during the Holocaust

Activity: Talk or presentationAcademic


Part of organised panel on 'mixed families'

“Mixed marriages” embodied the legally binding relationships and the intimate personal ties between two individuals who during the Nazi era were considered “of different blood,” thereby complicating the proclaimed racial homogeneity. The proposed panel will focus on such families as units of survival during the Holocaust through the lens of ambiguity of Nazi policies. It examines how intimate relations between “mixed” couples and their children were affected by Nazi policies in Nazi Germany, the Netherlands, the Protectorate and Poland. In Nazi Germany, the “unresolved problem” of “mixed families” sparked disputes among bureaucrats and policymakers, revealing the contradictions at the core of National Socialist ideology. The panel calls attention to the fact that, as a consequence of these ambiguities, treatment of such couples and their children under Nazi rule changed over time and varied greatly between the Third Reich and the occupied territories.

The papers will demonstrate that members of “mixed families” developed intricate and sometimes contradictory survival strategies, depending on their assessment of Nazi policies in the local contexts. Michaela Raggam Blesch will analyze the impact of relationships becoming illegal after the “Anschluss” to Nazi Germany on the lives of descendants of “mixed marriages” in Austria. By focusing on contested paternity cases, Tatjana Lichtenstein will explore strategies of intermarried families to protect their children from persecution and deportation in the Protectorate. Laurien Vastenhout will discuss sterilization procedures for intermarried couples as a survival strategy in the Netherlands. Natalia Aleksiun will explore the intimacy and relationship of “mixed couples” in post-war Poland. The panel highlights the impact of uncertainty on these families in different locations, thereby bridging national histories and allowing for a much-needed comparative understanding of whether and how local conditions affected the behavior and choices of victims.
Period08 Nov 2023
Event titleLessons and Legacies 2023: Bridging Disciplines, History, and Culture
Event typeConference
LocationPrague, Czech RepublicShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational