Dr. Bryan Mark Rigg
United States of America
Historian, writer, Founder and President of RIGG Wealth Management
DAAD Scholarship 1996
It all began in a Berlin cinema in 1992. That was when the American history student, Bryan Mark Rigg, 20 years old at the time, saw the film Hitlerjunge Salomon (Europa, Europa). The film is about a Jewish boy who survives the Nazi period because he manages to serve in the German army. As Rigg left the cinema, an old man addressed him: "That is also my history." Deeply impressed by the film, it became a long night for Mark Rigg. The stranger told him his story as a Jewish soldier in the Hitler era.
The preoccupation with Jewish history in the Nazi era is also about researching my own family history.
This encounter didn't let go of Rigg again. Because this is where he rediscovered part of his own family history. During his stay in Germany, he researched Saxon archives to find out about his Jewish ancestors. His great grandmother had emigrated to America at the end of the 19th century, but her sister and their family – more than 20 relatives – were killed by the Nazis, two of the relatives, also Jews, served in the German army and fell in France.
Rigg had found his research topic. The historian wanted to know how Jews found their way into the Germany army, how they fared there and what they later thought about it. For his dissertation he interviewed more than 400 surviving German soldiers of Jewish origin, travelled to Germany and many other countries to do this, from Israel to Canada. He obtained the first addresses from the old man at the cinema. Those interviewed included German politicians like Helmut Schmidt and Egon Bahr.
Thousands of taped statements plus documents, letters and diaries collected by Rigg over the years – which he has meanwhile passed on to the Federal Military Archive in Freiburg – formed the basis for his more than 400-page book Hitler's Jewish Soldiers (University Press of Kansas 2002; German title "Hitlers Jüdische Soldaten" published by Verlag Ferdinand Schöningh 2003). It not only caused a stir among historians, but also in the media worldwide and won him the US Colby Award in 2003.
Rigg also dealt with the Holocaust in his second book Rescued from the Reich: How One of Hitler's Soldiers Saved the Lubavitcher Rebbe. In it, he describes the flight of Rabbi Yosef Schneesohn, the leader of the Lubavitch Movement, to the United States. American government officials cooperated with high-ranking Nazis at the time. Rigg's third book appeared in 2009. Once again he returned to the subject of Hitler's Jewish soldiers. He selected 20 of them and wrote their biographies.
As a protestant Christian, Rigg has also, besides his research work, been committed to church-led humanitarian education projects in Eastern European countries and in South Africa. He served as a volunteer in the Israeli army and now lives in the United States. He taught Holocaust, military history and religion at the American Military University in Manassas, Virginia, and the Southern Methodist University, Dallas. He left these positions in 2006 to work as a relationship manager at Credit Suisse. In 2008 he founded his own company, RIGG Wealth Management, LLC. Since then he has led the investment consultancy as its president.