This article is from the X-Men Comic Books FAQ, by Kate the Short (firstname.lastname@example.org) with numerous contributions by others.
It appears that Magneto is Jewish, although his wife Magda likely is a
gypsy. However, Marvel being Marvel, it's good to set forth the
evidence. This is a summary of Rivka Jacob's excellent research on the
In UXM #150, after Magneto thinks he has killed Kitty, he says: "I
remember my own childhood ... the gas chambers at Auschwitz, the guards
joking as they herded my family to their death. As our lives were
nothing to them, so human lives became nothing to me." Storm is about to
blast him for "killing" Kitty, and she says, "If you have a deity,
butcher, pray to it!" Magneto answers, "As a boy, I believed. As a boy,
I turned my back on god forever." Magneto can't be a political prisoner
or atheist--he can only be Gypsy or Jewish if his entire family is at
In UXM #161, we see for the first and last time Magnus' tattoo from
Auschwitz. His number is #214782. Xavier says, "That tattoo, Magnus,
were you ...?" Magnus answers, "Auschwitz. I grew up there." Magnus'
number is high for someone who was there from the beginning of the camp,
but it is a standard number, without the A of the 1944 arrivals, or the
Z of the Gypsies, or the other special classification symbols. Of
course, the penciller probably didn't know these details...
In Vision and the Scarlet Witch, Vol. 1, #4, Magneto tells Vision about
his youth. Pictured is the Auschwitz camp, with guards tormenting
emaciated prisoners, one of whom displays a prominent and exaggerated
Star of David on his clothing. In the next panel, however, Magneto sort-
of goes into a fantasy. He says, "But unlike the other victims, I
possessed the power to fight back." He imagines he's hurling Nazi tanks
away with magnetic energy. Only Jewish prisoners wore the Star of David.
In UXM #199, Magneto (with Lee Forrester and Kitty Pryde) arrives at the
National Holocaust Memorial in Washington, DC. (It's not really Lee, but
Mystique, trying to capture Magneto). "Lee" says: "Man's inhumanity to
man... how easily the race kills." Magneto answers: "Then, Lee, it was
the Jews. My nightmare has ever been that tomorrow it will be Mutants."
Why would he say that, if he weren't Jewish? Next, Magneto tells Kitty
EXACTLY how to address the gathering in order to get information about
dead or missing family members. Isn't it obvious that he's done this
before? Why would he address a Jewish Holocaust gathering looking for
information about his family if his family weren't Jewish?
In UXM #211, Magneto reacts to the Morlock Massacre out of pure emotion,
saying, "NO! The horrors of my childhood, born again...only this time,
Mutants are the victims, instead of Jews." If he weren't Jewish, he
wouldn't have said Jews, or he would have at least added the name of
another people targeted by the Nazis.
In New Mutants #49, Magneto dreams of the massacre of his family. Here
we see for the first time, his family--father, mother, sister--as
they were gunned down in front of open graves. The family members are
dressed in middle class urban clothes. No peasant dress, no Gypsy
clothing. It's Magnus and his family who are out of place. They are
well-dressed, an urban family in a rural setting. This matches accounts
of what happened to Czech and German Jewish families who were moved east
and sometimes removed to woods and rural settings where they were shot.
In the X-Men Classics #12 back-up story, we see the actual scenes of
Magneto's and Magda's escape from Auschwitz. The war is almost over, and
it is the winter of 1944-1945. The Gypsy camp was murdered in the gas
chambers in August 1944. This scene, by Claremont and Bolton, takes
place on Jan. 20, 1945, two days after the camp was evacuated and the
death marches began. Some 70 of the Sonderkommando, Jewish prisoners who
were forced by the Nazis to lead the victims to the gas chamber, haul
the bodies to the ovens, and burn or bury the dead, were kept to help
destroy the evidence of the death factory, before they were to be
killed. Some 200 women from the woman's camp, Jews, were chosen to fill
in the huge pits where bodies were burned. The SS soldiers sent back on
Jan. 20th were sent to kill the women. Magneto was saving Magda because
at that point, he wasn't the target, yet.
In New Mutants #61, Magneto thinks to himself, "An ill wind is coming...
they are registering mutants... like they once registered my people in
Poland...! Who knows what horrors await us." Only the Jews were forced
to wear armbands with the Star of David on them, and registered before
being forced into ghettos in Poland (beginning at the end of 1939).
Young Magnus, who was already at Auschwitz by 1942, would only have
experienced the Jewish people in Poland (including German Jews who had
already been deported there in the first months of the War) being
In X-Factor Annual #4, Doom challenges Magneto to a duel of wills, with
a helmet that pulls out unpleasant memories and torments the wearer.
Magneto takes his turn--Doom describes what he sees, "...after the
ignoble defeat of the Nazis in Germany, you and the woman Magda you
rescued, fled the prison camp Auschwitz, in Poland." Doom confirms that
Magnus and Magda "fled" or escaped Auschwitz before liberation and after
the Gypsy camp was murdered.
In Uncanny #274, Magneto recalls his life in Auschwitz: "Zaladane has no
such compunction. And I hear the echo of Der Fuhrer's voice in the radio
of memory, smell the awful stench of the sick and dying as the cattle
cars brought the comdemned to Auschwitz. I wear red, the color of blood,
in tribute to their lost lives. And the harder I try to cast it aside,
to find a gentler path... the more irresistibly I'm drawn back. I should
have died myself with those I loved. Instead, I carted the bodies by the
hundreds, by the thousands... from the death house to the crematorium...
and the ashes to the burial ground. Asking now what I could not then...
why was I spared?!" This is what the Sonderkommando did. This is
fundamental to the history of the Holocaust, to the history of Nazi
Germany--making the *Jews* the ones who had to do all the dirty work in
the death camps.
In X-Factor #92, an Acolyte says, "You've seen this place Havok! You've
seen the sentinels! You tell me... where's the sense in letting the
flatscans do to the mutants what Hitler did to the Jews?..." The
Acolytes have done research on Magneto; they worship him. This one says
"the Jews" as a parallel metaphor. Why say that, if Magneto isn't
Now comes the infamous X-Men Unlimited #2. In that issue, Gabrielle
Haller stated definitively that Magneto was a Gypsy of Sinte descent.
However, nearly everything that Gabrielle Haller says about Magneto's
history, including the claim he is a "Sinte Gypsy," is false. For
example, Danzig was not annexed. It was a Free City, under League of
Nations protection, that voted itself a Nazi government and welcomed the
Nazi troops in like liberators. Gauleiter Forster, the extremely anti-
Semitic Nazi leader of Danzig ordered all the remaining Jews of Danzig
to be kicked out of the city in 1939, not the Gypsies. Auschwitz wasn't
opened as a Polish political prisoner camp until the summer of 1940, not
1939. The Gypsies were sent to German municipal camps, in Germany and
the Greater Reich, as early as 1933. But they were not sent to Auschwitz
from Germany until 1943. The only people who were in a work camp in
Auschwitz before it opened were 300 Jews from the town of Auschwitz who
were forced to transform a collection of horse stables and army barracks
into the Polish prisoner camp. (Fabian Nicieza wrote Magneto as a Gypsy
at the request of editors Kelly Corvese and Bob Harras, so don't blame
In X-Men #40, which takes place in Israel, Legion pulls out Magneto's
memories. One can see a picture of young Magnus with older male
prisoners, standing behind and below a high, barred window. This is an
accurate portrayal of the quarters of the Sonderkommando at Auschwitz I.
At Auschwitz I, only the Sonderkommando (other than prisoners awaiting
execution) were kept in isolated basement cells, the windows of which
were high, barred, and as seen from the outside, half-below ground
level. And why is Magneto in Israel anyway? Why would a Gypsy go to
Israel when at least 30,000 Gypsies lived in Germany in the late 1960s
and early 1970s? And many more Romany formed a thriving community in
Paris. Why go to Israel to "find himself" or find his "soul"? Any Jew
can emigrate to Israel, under the Law of Return. All Magneto had to do
was show them the tattoo on his arm, and he was home. Furthermore,
Magnus at this time had forged papers, that identified him as "Erik
Magnus Lehnsherr." He could have immigrated to any country in the world,
including the United States! If he were a Gypsy, and didn't want to
self-identify as such, why not go to America? The Romany today deeply
resent the focus on Israel, and the support Israel enjoys among nations
of the Western world, while the Gypsies continue to be persecuted and
In Astonishing X-Men #3, Magneto says, "Long before Xavier died...
before this point of divergence... I stood by helplessly as millions of
my people were led to slaughter in the name of 'genetic purity.'" The
AOA is a divergent timeline, starting from the same events as in our
own timeline. 250,000 to 500,000 Gypsies were murdered (possibly as many
as 750,000). Millions of Russians, Ukrainians, and Poles during the
course of the invasions, and in political violence, and in acts of pure
murder, were exterminated. But only the European Jews were "led to the
slaughter" in the millions because of one man's racial beliefs.
In X-Men #72, we learn that the name *Erik Lehnsherr* (revealed by
Gabrielle Haller in X-Men Unlimited #2 to be Magneto's real name) is
fake, and so Haller's assertion that Magneto is a *Sinte* Gypsy was
based on false and forged identity papers. Basically, Magneto needed the
fake Sinte identity to have a better chance of success on his search for
Magda (who *was* a Gypsy) after she had run away from him. Magneto,
speaking with Georg Odekirk, the man who forged the papers, says, "Do
you remember what you promised me the night I came to you, torn and
filthy, nearly a quarter century ago? I was searching for my beloved
MAGDA, determined not to lose her as I had lost so many others in the
fire that engulfed all of Europe during my childhood. The authorities
were in pursuit of me for the "crime" of avenging my daughter's murder.
I was willing to deny who I was... everything that my family died for...
so that I could find one woman... so that I would not be caged AGAIN.
The Erik Lehnsherr fabrication was a convenient means of ensuring that.
You swore that the forged papers were FLAWLESS, that your skills were
unsurpassed... but now, you have proven to be a liability. Your work has
been called into queston by my enemies, and they will trace Erik
Lehnsherr the Sinte BACK to you." Odekirk protests, "That is impossible!
That forgery was impeccable! My work is..." Magneto answers: "It was not
ENOUGH! You gave birth to Erik Lehnsherr, Odekirk. And tonight, you have
killed him. My secrets shall die with him. All that remains now... is
MAGNUS." Only the Jews and Gypsies were targeted as entire peoples, and
killed for no reason other than they were Jews and Gypsies. Magnus was
either one, or the other. Since in X-Men #72 it is revealed that he is
NOT a Gypsy, we must conclude he was born a Jew.
More recent issues have supported the retcon of the Magneto-as-Gypsy
retcon that appeared in X-Men Unlimited #2. In X-Men #111, Trish Tilby
calls Magneto the "rumored son of Israel." Furthermore, in X-Men #112,
Scott Summers describes Magneto as a Jew: "It's ironic, really. Magneto
lost his family in a Nazi death camp, persecuted just because they were
Jewish for the crime of being 'different.' Fifty-odd years later ... and
this time he's the monster. It's his army prepared to cleanse the Earth
of a race they've decided isn't worthy to continue. he's become what
he's always hated." It would be unlikely that the writers and editors of
the comics would include references to Magneto as Jewish unless they
were envisioning him as such. Outside canon, Magneto is described as
Jewish in the 1996-97 "Mutant Empire" trilogy of novels by Christopher
If you want more details, including scans of relevant passages and
images, visit the "Magneto FAQs and Background Info" section of Alara's
Magneto Page at http://www.alara.net/xbooks/mag/faq.html.
As for the Joseph/Magneto cloning issue, Terrafamilia helps us out: To
be a stickler for detail-- Joseph was emphatically stated to *not* be a
clone. A copy, yes, but not a clone. Astra, a previously unknown
character retconned to having been an original member of the Brotherhood
of Evil Mutants, replicated Magneto using various and sundry bits of
highly advanced alien tech she had snatched over the years during her
travels through the galaxy (she's a high power intradimensional portal
style teleporter). Basically, she sent Magneto through a molecular
transporter type system and made a copy, which she altered to be younger
and more pliable. Unfortunately Magneto escaped during his and Joseph's
first encounter, so Joseph had time to develop a mind of his own while
he was supposed to be tracking down his quarry. Joseph's dead now,
having sacrificed himself for some reason or another.
As for Magneto's existence... Magneto was stabbed by Wolverine in X-MEN
#113. In NEW X-MEN #115, he appeared in a wheelchair, sitting in a
building in Hammer Bay as it was crushed by a Sentinel. He was presumed
dead as of that issue, until being revealed as Xorn in New X-Men #146.