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Although Adolf Hitler wanted to kill all of Europe’s Jews, he apparently had a soft spot for one in particular. A Jewish judge was reportedly spared for a while because of a letter that claimed Hitler wanted him protected, reports the Associated Press, citing an article in the Berlin quarterly Jewish Voice From Germany.
Ernst Hess, a judge, had served in the same WWI unit as Hitler and had even briefly been his commanding officer. In the Jewish Voice From Germany historian Susanne Mauss writes that she found a letter from Heinrich Himmler that grants Hess protection “as per the Fuhrer’s wishes.” That protection apparently lasted until 1942, after which Hess lost his special protection and had to work in a forced labor camp.
Mauss talks to Hess’ 86-year-old daughter who says her father and others in his unit would often express shock at Hitler’s rising political fame in the 1920s and 1930s, noting that he had no friends in the unit and had been “an absolute cipher.”
A historian tells the AP that while it’s possible the letter is genuine, he cautioned that it didn’t mean the order actually came from Hitler. In particular, Fritz Wiedemann, Hitler’s aide, has long been known to have been sympathetic towards Jewish veterans.