Double Jeopardy: The Fate of Intermarriage and Justice in the Films Redemption Road and Max and Hélène

Phyllis Lassner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews during the Third Reich occupied a dangerously ambiguous position. Although the 1935 Nuremberg Laws declared intermarriage illegal, the Jewish wife or husband was at first exempted from anti-Semitic persecution. After Kristallnacht on 9 November 1938, their situation deteriorated dramatically. However, Nazi family law was applied inconsistently, leaving both spouses in states of uncertainty with regard to their marriages and children. This essay examines the representation of intermarriage in two films: the 2015 Italian film Max and Helene, and Redemption Road, a 2016 two-part German miniseries. With hybrid cinematic styles, narrative trajectories, and characterizations, these films dramatize the traumatic consequences of Nazi racial ideology and practices for two intermarried couples and their children. Spanning the years 1938 through the late 1940s, intermarriage in these films raises challenging questions about survival, reconciliation, and loss and the definition and achievement of legal, ethical, and emotional justice in the aftermath.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6
JournalHumanities (Switzerland)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • anti-Semitism
  • Holocaust film
  • Holocaust sexual violence
  • intermarriage and Nazism
  • Mischlinge
  • Nuremberg laws
  • post-Holocaust reconciliation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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