The alleged “extermination plan” for the jews, aside from not being corroborated by any document, is refuted decisively by National Socialist policy in the matter of jewish emigration, a policy which we can trace here only in its essential lines.
In a letter to his friend Gemlich of 16 September 1919, considered to be “the first written document of Hitler’s political career” he states on the subject of the jewish question:
“Rational anti-Semitism must, however, lead to the struggle against the privileges of the jew that he alone possesses, in contrast to the other foreigners who dwell among us (legislation relative to foreigners), and to their legal and systematic suppression. But its ultimate goal must be, immutably and above all else, the removal of the jews.”
On 13 August 1920 in Munich Hitler gave a speech, “Why Are We Anti-Semites?,” in which he repeated that a scientific knowledge of anti-Semitism must translate into action ending in “the removal of the jews from among our people.”
The solution of the jewish question became the principal inspiration of the National Socialist political program and of the racial doctrine. Indeed, as Poliakov notes:
“… that there had to be exterminations is not apparent, furthermore, from any of the National Socialist dogmas, or their principal writings. Mein Kampf, where the word “jew” appears on almost every page, is mute on the fate that will befall them in the National Socialist state.
The official party programs declares that “a jew cannot be a compatriot” nor, consequently, a citizen, while the commentaries on the program call more explicitly for “the expulsion of the jews and undesirable foreigners.”
The removal of the jews from the Reich was the focal point of Hitler’s policy toward the jews from his accession to power. On 28 August 1933 the Reich Economics Ministry and the jewish Agency for Palestine agreed to what was called the Haavara Abkommen, which was an accord (Abkommen) to facilitate the transfer (Haavara) of “German” jews to Palestine.
A note of the Foreign Affairs Ministry dated 19 March 1938 presaged the breaking of the accord because, as may be read in point 3, it was not in the interest of Germany to organize the emigration of rich jews with their capital, which [German] interest rested rather “on a mass emigration of jews.”
The Nuremberg laws of 15 September 1935 reaffirmed, by legislation, Articles 4 and 5 of the party program formulated in Munich 24 February 1920. The goal of the law on Reich citizenship, and of that for the defense of German blood and honor, was to separate and isolate the jewish foreign body from the German organism in view of the approaching expulsion, as underscored by Reitlinger:
“In 1938, shortly before the Munich “agreement,” when the Fifth Supplementary Decree had just finished ousting the jews from the last of the free professions, Wilhelm Stuckart, who not only drafted, but was in large part the promoter of the Nuremberg laws, wrote that from here on the objective of the racial laws was attained. A great number of decisions carried out thanks to the Nuremberg laws “lose importance as one nears the final solution of the jewish problem.” The phrase, as is evident, was not yet a mask for the concept of the extermination of the race; on the contrary, it alluded clearly to the fact that the laws did not intend to perpetrate the jewish problem, but rather to eliminate the reasons for it. The jews had to leave the Reich, once and for all.”
In fact at the end of 1936 a service for jewish questions was constituted as part of the SS Security Service. “The essential goal of the new agency was the study of all questions preparatory to a mass emigration of the jews.”
In 1938 there was instituted in Vienna the Central Office for jewish Emigration (Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung), the direction of which was entrusted to Adolf Eichmann by Heydrich.
On 12 November 1938, some days after what was called “Crystal Night” (the night of broken glass) Göring convened the Council of Ministers to face the difficult situation thereby created.
The attitude of the National Socialist chiefs appears unequivocally as one goes through the stenographic record of the meeting. Heydrich declared that the ejection of the jews from German economic life did not resolve “the fundamental problem of the end objective: the removal of the jews from Germany.” At Vienna, by order of the Reichskommissar, a central office for jewish emigration had been set up, by whose intervention at least 50,000 jews had left Austria, while in the same period only 19,000 had left the Old Reich. That is why he proposed to establish, in the Reich as well, a central service similar to that of Vienna, and to establish an emigration operation to be completed in 8 to 10 years. Finance Minister von Krosigk approved Heydrich’s proposal: he agreed to make every effort toward the evacuation abroad of the jews. Interior Minister Frick repeated that the objective had to be to make the largest possible number of jews emigrate.
In order to overcome the economic difficulties entailed by jewish emigration, in December 1938 Hitler approved the Schacht plan.
“The proposition discussed by Schacht with Lord Bearsted, Lord Winterton, and Mr. Rublee in London in December was, in large outline, the following: The German government would freeze the assets of the Jews to use them as a fund to guarantee an international loan amortizable in 20-25 years. Supposing that the jewish assets were valued at 1.5 billion marks, there would have been a sufficient amount of foreign exchange to finance the emigration of jews from the greater Reich over 3-5 years in the normal course of events.
After Schacht’s return to Germany, he met with Hitler in Berchtesgaden on 2 January 1939 concerning the reception his proposals had recieved in London. Hitler seemed to be impressed, as three days later he named Schacht special delegate for the augmentation of jewish emigration.”
In January 1939 Schacht and [George] Rublee, director of an “intergovernmental” committee for the emigration of “German” jews, agreed in London to a basic plan forseeing the emigration of about 400,000 jews in the space of 3 years.
Reitlinger attributes the failure of the Schacht plan to the reaction aroused in Hitler by Schacht’s refusal to increase the circulation of paper money, following which, on 20 January 1939, Schacht was dismissed from the presidency of the Reichsbank. However, in an interview given Rolf Vogel in January 1970, Schacht declared that the plan was checkmated by the opposition of Chaim Weizmann.
Meanwhile, National Socialist policy in the matter of jewish emigration forged ahead.
On 24 January 1939 Göring promulgated a decree authorizing the establishment of a Reich Central [Office] for Jewish Emigration.
Göring summarized at the outset National Socialist policy toward the jews in lapidary fashion:
“The emigration of the jews from Germany is to be furthered by all means [Die Auswanderung der juden aus Deutschland ist mit allen Mitteln zu fördern].”
It is precisely to that end that he established the Reich Central Office for jewish Emigration mentioned above,which had as its assignment “the adoption of all measures to prepare for an intensified emigration of the jews,” and lastly to facilitate the bureaucratic procedures for the emigration of each individual.
The direction of the Reich Central Office for jewish Emigration Göring entrusted to Heydrich, Chief of the Security Police.
In the course of the first meeting of the Committee of the Central Office for Jewish Emigration (11 February 1939), Heydrich discussed, above all, the Schacht-Rublee plan:
“This plan evidently is destined to become the basis of a massive and organized Jewish emigration, but its implementation seems not yet to be ensured; it would be an error to count solely on it. We must therefore continue to encourage emigration by all the means at our disposal, leaving the plan aside.”
A Foreign Affairs Ministry report 25 January 1939 titled The jewish Question as a Factor of Foreign Policy in 1938 unequivocally confirmed the animating principle of National Socialist jewish policy:
“The end objective of German policy in regard to the jews is the emigration of all jews living in the territory of the Reich [Das letzte Ziel der deutschen judenpolitik ist die Auswanderung aller im Reichsgebiet lebenden juden).“
This report upheld “a radical solution of the jewish question by emigration” such as has been pursued here for years [eine radikale Lösung der judenfrage durch die Auswanderung-wie sie hier schon seit Jahren verfolgt wird],” according to the commentary of SS-Obersturmführer Ehrlinger of the Reich Central Security Department.
After the creation of the Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia, Eichmann received an order from Heydrich to establish “a central office for jewish emigration” in Prague. In the pertinent document, signed by Reich Protector von Neurath on 15 July 1939, one reads this:
“In compliance with Reich regulations, to the end of obviating hindrances and delays it is necessary to group together the treatment of all questions relating to jewish emigration. In view of the accelerated increase and regulation of the emigration of jews from Bohemia-Moravia, the “Central Office for jewish Emigration” of Prague is therefore created.”
Despite growing difficulties, National Socialist policy in the matter of jewish emigration was pursued even during the war.
The major difficulty was undoubtedly the poorly dissimulated anti-Semitism of the democratic countries, which on the one hand made an outcry against the persecution of the jews by the National Socialists, and on the other, refused to accept the persecuted jews, as appeared clearly in the course of the Evian conference that unfolded from 6 to 15 June 1938.
This conference was organized at the initiative of President Roosevelt to the end of facilitating the emigration of the victims of National Socialist persecution and, first of all, the jews. But the good intentions of the American president appeared suspect from the beginning. Michel Mazor writes:
“At his Warm Springs press conference President Roosevelt limited the possibilities of Evian by saying that no revision or increase of immigration quotas into the United States was envisioned because of it. In his invitation to that conference, addressed to thirty three countries, Roosevelt emphasized that it was not expected of any country that it would consent to receive more immigrants than the norm stipulated by its legislation then in force.
On such a basis, the Evian conference, from its inception, was doomed to failure. In fact, its result was “that the free world abandoned the jews of Germany and of Austria to their pitiless fate.”
For her part, Rita Thalmann recalls:
“Drawing a lesson from the conference, the Danziger Vorposten notes that “one loves to pity the Jews as long as such pity heightens an evil intentioned agitation against Germany, but that no state was disposed to fight the culture damage to central Europe by taking some thousands of jews.. The conference,” concluded the newspaper, “therefore is a vindication of German policy toward the jews.”
At all events, the German leaders had the evidence that the thirty-two states which took part in the Evian conference (the USSR and Czechoslovakia were not represented; Italy had declined the invitation; Hungary, Romania, and Poland had sent observers with the sole intent of asking that they be relieved of their own jews) had no intention of taking charge of the persecutees, or indeed of concerning themselves seriously about their fate.”
Paradoxically, immediately after the Evian conference, beginning at the end of 1938, one notes a diminution in emigration from the Reich, “because other countries opposed themselves more and more to new immigrations of jews.”
In March 1943 Goebbels could again remark sarcastically:
“What will be the solution of the jewish question, will a jewish state be created one day anywhere whatsoever? We’ll know that later. But it is curious to note that the countries whose public opinion is aroused in favor of the jews still refuse to receive them. They say these are the pioneers of civilization, geniuses of philosophy and artistic creation, but when one wants them to accept these geniuses, they close their frontiers: “No no, we don’t want them!” This is, it seems to me, a unique example in world history of one declining to welcome genius!”
The rapid defeat of Poland suggested a provisional solution to the National Socialist leaders. On 23 September 1939 Heydrich sent an express-letter [Schnellbrief] to all chiefs of the Einsatzgruppen of the Security Police. In that letter, which had as subject “The jewish Question in the Occupied Territory,” he set forth the measures that were agreed on in Berlin at a meeting that same day, which were summarized in two points: the final goal [Endziel] and the stages of its achievement. In view of this final goal, the jews were to be concentrated in towns after the campaign.
It is a question of a “final end.” What was it? Not at all extermination, yet; we are only in 1939. A passage in the document gives us a key in the territory flying to the east of Cracow” the jews are not to be touched; and if in other regions they are gathered together near the railroad stations, it is evidently so they may be evacuated more easily. To what destination? Very certainly to that “region to the east of Cracow.”
It is thus, always according to Poliakov, that there was designed:
“The project to resolve the jewish question by gathering all jews under “Nazi” domination into the region of Lublin, at the frontier of the USSR The plan for the creation of a “jewish reservation” was given a certain publicity in the columns of the German press of the period. A territory was chosen, delimited, it seems (the information is incomplete and contradictory) by the Vistula, the San, and the USSR border, within which the jews were to devote themselves to works of colonization under surveillance of the SS. But, because of unfavorable circumstances the project was never completely realized.”
During this period the German government continued its traditional emigration policy. In effect, as Poliakov remarks:
“… parallel to these deportations to the east, the “Center [Central Office — Ed.] for jewish Emigration” made efforts to expel the “German” jews to other destinations. Legal emigration had become almost impossible: a thin stream of emigrants meanwhile continued to trickle out, from Austria in particular, via Italy toward overseas countries. Some clandestine convoys, formed with the cooperation of Eichman, attempted to go down the Danube by boat, with Palestine as their destination but the British government refused to allow these travelers without visas to enter the jewish national homeland. We shall later on meet again with this bitter paradox of the Gestapo pushing jews to safety, while His Majesty’s democratic government bans access to the future victims of the crematorv ovens.”
The defeat of France furnished the occasion for carrying out the policy of jewish emigration on a large scale:
“When, after the collapse of France, enormous prospects opened before the eyes of the ‘Nazis,’ a plan long cherished by certain persons among them returned to the agenda with new topicality. They believed, in short, to have in hand the key to “the definitive solution of the jewish question.” We have seen that in the course of the astonishing meeting of 12 November 1938, Göring had mentioned the “question of Madagascar.” Himmler himself had dreamed of that since 1934, a witness assures us. Park all the jews on a big island, that, moreover, belongs to France — that must have satisfied their love of symbolism. Whatever the case, after the armistice of June 1940 the idea was propounded by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, taken up enthusiastically by the RSHA and approved by Himmler as well as by the Führer himself, it seems.”
During the meeting of 12 November 1938, Göring had in fact informed those present that the Führer, according to what he had told Göring personally three days before, was preparing a foreign policy gesture toward those powers which had raised the jewish question, in order to arrive at a solution to the Madagascar question. “He will say to the other states: Why are you always talking about the jews? Take them!”
Himmler was equally favorable to a massive jewish emigration, as is seen by the note “Some thoughts on the treatment of foreign population groups in the East” of May 1940, in which he wrote:
“I expect to see the idea ‘jew’ effaced definitively, thanks to the emigration of all jews to Africa, or to a colony.”
In the same note he rejected:
“… the Bolshevik method of physically exterminating a people, with the innermost conviction that that is unGerman and impossible.”
On 24 June 1940 Heydrich informed Foreign Affairs Minister Ribbentrop that more than 200,000 jews had emigrated from the territory of the Reich, but that …
“… the overall problem [Gesamtproblem]constituted by the 3,250,000 jews who found themselves under German rule could no longer be resolved by emigration [durch Auswanderung – words underlined in the original]; which is why the necessity of a “final territorial solution [eine territoriale Endlösung] becomes apparent.”
Following that letter, the Foreign Affairs Ministry worked out the “Madagascar project.”
On 3 July 1940 Franz Rademacher, responsible for jewish affairs at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, drew up a report titled: “The jewish Question in the Peace Treaty” which opens with the following declaration:
“The imminent victory gives Germany the possibility and, in my opinion, also the duty, to resolve the jewish question in Europe. The desirable solution is: all the jews out of Europe.
After having set forth the responsibilities of the Foreign Affairs Ministry relative to that solution, Rademacher goes on ‘Section D II proposes as a solution to the jewish question in the peace treaty France should make Madagascar available for the solution of the jewish question and transfer and indemnify the 25,000 French who live there. The island will come under German mandate.'”
It is precisely in this, just as Joseph Billig discerned, that “the territorial solution of the jewish question, as Heydrich designated it to Ribbentrop,” consisted.
Rademacher’s report was approved by Ribbentrop and transmitted to the Reich Central Security Department, which “elaborated a detailed plan for the evacuation of the jews to Madagascar and for their settlement there; this plan was approved by the Reichsführer-SS.”
On 12 July 1940, upon returning from Berlin, where he had been received by Hitler, Hans Frank, governor of Poland, made a speech in which he declared:
“From the viewpoint of general policy, I would like to add that it was decided to deport all the jewish communities of Germany, of the General Government [Poland], and of the Protectorate [Bohemia-Moravia] to an African or an American colony as soon as possible after having made peace: Madagascar, which France would have to abandon to that end, has been suggested.”
On 29 July Frank repeated that Hitler had decided that the jews would be completely evacuated as soon as overseas transport permitted.
Otto Abetz, former German ambassador to Paris, declared, in return, that the destination of the jews would be the United States:
“I have spoken just once, 3 August 1940, with the Führer about the jewish question. He told me that he wanted to resolve the jewish question for Europe in general, that is, by means of a clause in the peace treaty making it a condition that the vanquished countries transfer their jewish nationals out of Europe. He wanted in the same way to influence the states with which he was allied. On that occasion he mentioned the United States of America as a country that had not long been overpopulated as was Europe, and therefore was able still to take in some millions of jews.”
In October 1940 Alfred Rosenberg wrote an article titled: “jews to Madagascar.” As far back as 1927, he recalled, at the anti-jewish congress in Budapest:
“… the question of a future evacuation of jews from Europe was taken up, and on that occasion appeared for the first time the proposal to promote precisely Madagascar as the future domicile of the jews.”
He reiterated that proposal, hoping that “the jewish high finance” of the United States and of England would collaborate in the installation of a jewish reservations on Madagascar, a matter that he considered to be a “world problem.”
According to a communication, dated 3 November 1940, from Bormann to Rosenberg, Hitler at that time opposed the publication of the article in question, while not ruling out its possible publication in the following months.
This was because the Germans at the time were in contact with the Vichy government on the subject of the Madagascar project:
“It was therefore natural that Hitler put off public notice of the project until later. In his speech of 30 January 1941 (anniversary of the assumption of power) he limited himself to proclaiming that “judaism will cease to play its role in Europe.” That also was in harmony with the Madagascar plan.”
It seems, nevertheless, that Hitler did not thereafter authorize Rosenberg to publicize the Madagascar project. In fact, at the conference on “The jewish Question as a World Problem” held by Rosenberg 28 March 1941, he declared, in the name of all Europeans:
“For Europe the jewish question will not be resolved until the last Jew has left the continent for a jewish reservation.”
On the subject of that reservation, Rosenberg limited himself to declaring:
“In regard to the practical realization and the place of transfer, or evacuation, many things naturally have been said over the years. It is not necessary at present to deal with that question. Its solution will be left to a future accord.”
Goebbels, in turn, according to the testimony of Morit von Schirmeister, a former Propaganda Ministry official, spoke publicly and repeatedly of the Madagascar project.
“Dr. Fritz: Where were the jews to be evacuated to according to the declarations of Dr. Goebbels?
Von Schirmeister: Up until the first year, including the Russian campaign, Dr. Goebbels mentioned several times the Madagascar plan at conferences at which he presided. Afterwards, he changed his mind and said it was necessary to set up a new jewish state in the east, to which the jews then would be sent.”
Interrogated at Nuremberg about a document of 24 September 1943, Ribbentrop responded:
“The Führer then proposed the evacuation of the ‘European’ jews to North Africa — but Madagascar also came up. He ordered me to make contact with the various governments to induce emigration of jews, and their exclusion from important organizations as far as possible. That order was then directed by me to the Foreign Affairs Ministry and. as far as I can remember, contacts were made repeatedly with several governments on the subject of emigration of jews to North Africa, which was anticipated.”
In the note, “Madagascar Project”, 30 August 1940, Rademacher declared that the establishment of the General Government of Poland and the annexation of the new eastern districts had put a very great number of jews under German rule. That and other difficulties, such as the hardening immigration legislation on the part of overseas countries, made it difficult to complete the “solution of the jewish question in the territory of the Reich, and including the Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia, by means of emigration,” on schedule, or for a date not too far distant, whence, precisely, the Madagascar project.
Eichmann went to work with a will
“He surrounded himself with maritime experts, to work out a transport plan; this was to be carried out by a pool of the big German navigation companies. Embarkation would be at the principal North Sea and Mediterranean ports. At the same time, he strove to have all jewish fortunes confiscated for the benefit of the “Central Fund.” He sent emissaries to the occupied or controlled countries in order to gather statistics on the number, age, occupational distribution, etc., of the jews. These detailed statistics, we shall see, will serve another end .
…Everything was in readiness so that the machinery could go into action when peace was concluded.”
Indeed, in the note quoted from above, Rademacher, reckoning that the transfer of four million jews to Madagascar would take about four years, wrote:
“After the conclusion of peace, the German merchant marine will no doubt be thoroughly occupied in another fashion. It is therefore necessary to include in the peace treaty that France and England put at our disposal the tonnage required for the solution of the jewish problem.”
The paragraph “Financing” in the “Madagascar Project” note opens with the following phrase:
“The realization of the proposed “final solution” requires considerable means.”
The infamous “final solution of the jewish question,” then, reduces simply to the transfer of the “European” jews to Madagascar, as acknowledged in the judgment of the Eichmann trial:
“Until it was abandoned, the “Madagascar Plan” was sometimes referred to by the German leaders as “the final solution of the jewish question,”
As we know, that expression would later become, according to the official historians, synonymous with the “extermination” of the jews:
“‘Final Solution of the jewish question’ was one of the conventional phrases to designate the Hitlerian plan to exterminate the ‘European’ jews. German functionaries employed it, beginning in the summer of 1941, in order to avoid having to admit to each other the existence of this plan; however, even before then, on diverse occasions, the expression had been used to designate, essentially, the emigration of the jews.”
In reality, this assertion is arbitrary, and entirely without foundation, not only because no evidence supports it, but because existing documents refute it categorically.
Here we must limit ourselves to some brief considerations. The investigators at Nuremberg knew perfectly well that an “extermination plan” which, according to the prosecution, brought about the death of “more than four and a half million” or of “six million” jews could not have been carried out without leaving the least trace in the “Nazi” archives and, from the juridical standpoint, they could not have recourse to the subterfuges of the official historians, according to whom all the compromising documents were destroyed.
Thus they worked out an audacious method of exegesis, allowing one to say whatever he wants, regardless of any document. The foundation of that exegetic method rests on an arbitrary speculation according to which the supreme National Socialist authorities adopted, even for their most private documents, a kind of code language, to which the Nuremberg investigators pretended, naturally, to have discovered the key. Whence the systematic distortion – to serve the extermination thesis — of completely harmless documents.
The most widely known example of this systematic travesty concerns precisely the interpretation of the term Endlösung(final solution), which has been made a synonym for “extermination of the jews.” As we shall soon see, the “final solutions by the transfer of “European” jews to Madagascar was succeeded — but only as an alternative — by “the final territorial solution” of deporting the “European” jews to the eastern territories occupied by the Germans.
On 20 May 1941 Heydrich stopped jewish emigration from France and from Belgium, and the immigration of jews into the occupied territories, in order to reserve all emigration possibilities for the jews of the Reich, and “in consideration of the no doubt early final solution of the jewish question.”
Uwe Dietrich Adam comments:
“This document was later often, due to its formulation, poorly interpreted. Göring ordered all authorities to facilitate the emigration of the jews from the Reich and the areas under its protectorate, insofar as possible, even during the war. On the other hand, the emigration of jews from France and from Belgium was to be forbidden due to “the final solution which, without a doubt, draws near.” The deceptive term “final solution” was interpreted by generations of historians as designating a physical destruction, whereas at that time it signified only the emigration of the jews to Madagascar.”
In the event, by a letter of 31 July 1941 Göring entrusted to Heydrich the task of making all necessary preparations regarding the “final solution,” that is, to organize the total and definitive emigration or evacuation of the jews who found themselves under German rule. The letter declared, in effect:
“Supplementing the task already assigned to you by decree of 24 January 1939, to find the most advantageous solution of the jewish question, by means of emigration or evacuation, possible in the circumstances, I charge you herewith to proceed with all preparations necessary on the organizational concrete, and material levels in order to arrive at a total solution [Gesamtlösung] of the jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe. Insofar as the competent authorities of other branches may find themselves concerned here, they will have to participate. I charge you also to submit to me quickly a complete plan [Gesamtentwurf] showing the organizational, the concrete, and material preliminary measures to achieve the final solution of the jewish question to which we all aspire.”
According to the method of interpretation mentioned above, that letter would constitute one of the fundamental documents of the history of the “extermination”: the expression “final solution” appears indeed, to designate, as Reitlinger maintains, “the Hitlerian plan for the extermination of the jews of Europe.”
In reality, and the text shows it clearly, the desired “final solution of the jewish question” is a solution by means of “emigration or evacuation.”
Heydrich himself, writing 6 November 1941 that for years he had been charged with preparing the “final solution” in Europe, made clear that this responsibility was derived from the decree 24 January 1939 and identified the “final solution” precisely as “the final solution by way of emigration or of evacuation.”
That the official historians’ interpretations are tendentious is evidenced by the fact that G. Reitlinger and W. Shirer, citing the letter in question, suppress precisely that part of the document that speaks of emigration and evacuation.
Göring’ s letter of 31 July 1941 refers exclusively to jewish emigration and evacuation, and that is confirmed by a very important document, the 21 August 1942 memorandum of Martin Luther.
In this document Martin Luther, chief of the department “Germany” in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, recapitulates the essential points of National Socialist policy in regard to the jews. Luther goes on:
“The principle of German policy on the jewish question after the assumption of power was to promote Jewish emigration by every means. To accomplish this General Field Marshal Göring, in his capacity as chief of the Four Year Plan, established in 1939 a Reich Central Office for jewish Emigration, the direction of which was entrusted to Gruppenführer Heydrich in his role as chief of the security police.”
After having referred to the Madagascar plan, which had at that time been by-passed by events, Luther went on to note that Göring’s letter of 31 July 1941 followed up Heydrich’s letter, which we have already cited, in which Heydrich informed Rademacher that:
“The overall problem constituted by the 3,250,000 jews who found themselves under German rule could no longer be resolved by emigration; which is why the necessity of a “final territorial solution” becomes apparent.”
Luther went on to write
“Knowing that, Reich Marshal Göring on 31 July 1941 charged Gruppenführer Heydrich with making, in collaboration with all German central agencies interested, all necessary preparations for a total solution of the jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe”
“In compliance with that order, Gruppenführer Heydrich called a meeting 20 January 1942 of all interested German agencies, a meeting at which the under secretaries of the other ministries, and I myself from the Foreign Ministry, were present.
At that meeting Gruppenführer Heydrich explained that the responsibility assigned him by Reich Marshal Göring had been given him by order of the Führer, and that the Führer from then on authorized the evacuation of the jews to the east as a solution other than emigration.
In compliance with that order by the Führer, the evacuation of the ‘German’ jews was undertaken.”
The destination consisted of the eastern territories, via the General Government
“Evacuation via the General Government is a provisional measure. The jews ultimately will be transferred to the eastern occupied territories when the necessary conditions are created.”
In a note of 14 November 1942 headed “Financing the measures related to the solution of the jewish problem,” Ministerial Counselor Maedel confirmed
“It is some time ago that the Reichsmarschall charged the Reichsführer-SS and chief of the German police with preparing measures appropriate to assuring the final solution of the jewish problem in Europe. The Reichsführer-SS has charged the Chief of the Security Police and the SD with the execution of that task. The latter has, first of an, expedited, by special measures, the legal emigration of the jews to overseas countries. When the war made overseas emigration impossible he made preparations for the progressive clearance of the Reich territory of its jews by their evacuation to the east.”
The difficulties of the war and the prospects opened by the Russian campaign had brought about the provisional abandonment of the policy of total emigration.
In consequence, emigration of jews from Germany was suspended 23 October 1941 for the duration of the war, but, it seems, the order was not executed because it was sent out again 3 January 1942 and promulgated finally by Himmler 4 February 1942. On that date the “military commander” in France published the following ordinance:
“The Reichsführer-SS and Chief of the German Police at RMdJ has ordered the general cessation of all jewish emigration from Germany and from the occupied countries.”
Himmler reserved to himself authorization of particular emigrations when the interests of Germany required. Yet up until 31 March 1943, jews of Italian, Finnish, Swiss, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, and Swedish citizenship were permitted to return to their countries.
Heydrich’s conference mentioned by Luther was held 20 January 1942 in Berlin at Gross Wannsee 56/58. The “minutes” relating to that conference open with a summary of National Socialist policy regarding the jews:
“The Chief of Security Police and of the Security Service, SS Gruppenführer Heydrich, opened the meeting by announcing his appointment to responsibility for the preparation of the final solution of the European jewish question [Endlösung der europäischen judenfrage], and indicated that the object of the meeting was to clear up questions of principle. To respond to the wish of the Reichsmarschall to see a plan for organizational measures, and on concrete and material questions posed by the final solution of the jewish question in Europe, all central agencies directly interested must agree first of all to coordinate their efforts.
It is the Reichsführer-SS and Chief of the German Police (and of the security police and of the security service) who will be responsible for the totality of the measure necessary for the solution of the jewish question regardless of geographical boundaries.
The Chief of the Security Police and of the Security Service thereupon gave a brief insight into the fight against this adversary up to the present time. Its essential phases are:
a) Forcing the jews out of the vital spheres of the German people
b) Driving the jews out of the living space of the German people.
To arrive at these goals, the only possibility of provisional solution has been to accelerate and to undertake in systematic fashion the emigration of the jews out of the territory of the Reich
In January 1939, at the order of the Reichmarschall there was created a Reich Central Office for jewish Emigration, at the head of which was placed the Chief of the Security Police and of the Security Service. This service had as its mission, in particular:
a) to take all measures for the preparation of an intensified emigration of the jews;
b) to orient the course of emigration;
c) to hasten emigration in particular cases.
The object was to cleanse the German living space of its jews by legal means.”
In consequence of that policy, up to 31 October 1941, and this despite manifold difficulties, about 537,000 jews emigrated from the old Reich, from Austria, and from the Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia.
The minutes continue:
“Meanwhile, the Reichsführer-SS and Chief of the German Police [Himmler], in view of the dangers of emigration in wartime, and in view of the possibilities offered in the east, has forbidden the emigration of jews.
From that time on, with the prior authorization of the Führer, emigration gave way to another possible solution, evacuation of the jews to the east
Although one will not fail to recognize these actions as merely alternative possibilities [Ausweichsmöglichkeiten], the practical experience already gathered in this field is of — signal importance for the final solution of the jewish question.”
By order of the Führer the final solution, i.e., the total emigration of the “European” jews, thus was replaced by evacuation to the occupied territories of the east, but only as a palliative, until taking up the question again after the end of the war. In the event, by a memorandum dated Berlin August 1940, Luther had communicated to Rademacher the following:
“On the occasion of a conference with Ambassador Abetz in Paris, he informed me that when he reported to the Führer on France about two weeks ago, the Führer told him that he intended to evacuate all the jews from Europe after the war.”
This is not the only document in which Hitler manifests this intention regarding the “European” jews. Indeed, according to a Reich Chancellery note of March-April l942, Hitler intended to take up the jewish question after the war, and on 24 July 1942 he himself affirmed that after the end of the war he “would strike town after town if the jews did not move out and did not emigrate to Madagascar or to another jewish national state.”
Some months earlier, on March 7, 1942, Goebbels had written in his diary:
“The jewish question will have to be written up in a plan on a pan-European scale. There remain more than eleven million jews in Europe. In the first place it is necessary to concentrate them all in the east. After the war we will be able eventually to assign them an island, perhaps Madagascar. In any case, there will be no peace in Europe as long as the jews on the Continent are not totally excluded.”
The intention of the “Nazis” to resolve the jewish question after the end of the war appears also in the so-called “Brown File,” which goes back to the summer of 1941.
The paragraph “Directive for the solution of the jewish question” of this document, which B. Nellessen says “sanctioned severe measures, but not extermination,” opens with the following phrase:
“All measures concerning the jewish question in the occupied territories of the east must be taken with the thought that after the war the jewish question in Europe will find a general solution.”
A note by Luther of 17 October 1941 likewise mentions, in reference to jews interned in France, “the measures to be taken after the war toward fundamental solution of the jewish question.”
In compliance with Hitler’s directives the Madagascar project was then provisionally abandoned. An informative letter of 10 February 1942 by Rademacher gives the reason for this:
“In August 1940, I sent you, for your files, the plan for the final solution of the jewish question [zur Endlösung der judenfrage] formulated by my office, according to which in the peace treaty the island of Madagascar was to be required of France but the practical execution of that task was to be entrusted to the Reich Central Security Agency. In conformance with that plan, GruppenFührer Heydrich has been charged by the Führer with solving the jewish question in Europe.
Meanwhile, the war against the Soviet Union has put more territory for the final solution [für die Endlösung] at our disposal. Consequently, the Führer has decided to expel the jews not to Madagascar, but to the east. Therefore it is no longer necessary to look to Madagascar for the final solution. [Madagaskar braucht mithin nicht mehr für die Endlösung vorgesehen zu werden].”
Some weeks before then, on 27 January 1942, the Führer had declared:
“The jews must leave Europe. The best thing is that they go to Russia.”
A “notice” of 9 October 1942 captioned, “preparatory measures for the solution of the jewish problem in Europe. Rumors about the condition of the jews in the east” summarizes the stages and explains clearly the meaning of “final solution”:
“For almost 2,000 years a struggle, until now in vain has been carried on against jewry. It is only since 1933 that the ways and means have been found to separate jewry completely from the German masses.
The task, with a view to a solution, accomplished up until the present, may be summarized, grosso modo, as follows:
I. Exclusion of the jews from the private spheres of the German people Laws will guarantee to future generations protection against a new influx of the enemy.
II. The attempt to drive the enemy completely out of the Reich territory. By reason of the very limited living space at the disposal of the German people, it is expected that this problem can be resolved principally by an accelerated jewish emigration.
After the declaration of war, in 1939, the possibilities for emigration diminished more and more. On the other hand, as distinct from the living space of the German people, its economic space grew rapidly, although, by reason of the great number of jews living in those territories, a total evacuation of the jews by emigration is no longer possible.
Since the next generation itself will no longer feel the problem so intimately and will no longer understand it as clearly as in the light of past experience, and since this question, once put, demands a definitive answer, the problem must be solved by the present generation.
The removal or the total withdrawal of the millions of jews living in the European economic space [Lebensraum] constitutes an urgent need for the vital security of the German people.
Beginning with the territory of the Reich, continuing with the other European territories comprehended in the definitive plan, the jews will be deported progressively to large camps already established, or in course of being established, where they will have to work and from whence they will be deported farther to the east.”
The accomplishment of these tasks calls for a “merciless strictness,” which is to say that the deportation of the jews to the east must be total and inflexible.
Final solution of the jewish question, then, never meant “Hitlerian plan for the extermination of the ‘European’ jews.”
At the Nuremberg trial Hans Lammers, former chief of the Führer’s chancellery, interrogated by Dr. Thoma, affirmed he knew many things on the subject of the “final solution.”
In 1942 he learned that the Führer had entrusted to Heydrich – through the intermediation of Göring — the task of solving the jewish question. In order to know more, he contacted Himmler and asked him “What exactly was meant by the final solution of the jewish question?” Himmler answered that he had received from the Führer the assignment to bring about the final solution of the jewish question and that “this task consisted essentially of the fact that the jews had to be evacuated from Germany.” Subsequently this explanation was confirmed to him by the Führer personally.
In 1943 rumors, according to which the jews were killed, circulated. Lammers tried to get at the source of these rumors, but without results, as they were founded always on other rumors, so he came to the conclusion that they were the product of enemy radio propaganda.
Nevertheless, to clarify the matter, Lammers again turned to Himmler, who denied that jews might be killed legally: they were simply evacuated to the east, and that was the task that Hitler had entrusted to him. In the course of these evacuations aged or sick persons could have died, of course, and there could have been accidents, air attacks, and revolts that Himmler had been constrained to repress bloodily, to set an example, but that was all.
Lammers then went once more to the Führer. who gave him the same reply as Himmler:
“He told me: ‘I shall decide later where the jews will go; at the moment they are being put there.'”
Dr. Thoma then asked Lammers:
“Himmler never told you that the final solution for the jews consisted in their extermination?
Lammers: There was never a question of that. He spoke only of executions..
Dr. Thoma When did you learn that five million jews had been exterminated?
Lammers: I learned it here, some time ago.”
So it is only at Nuremberg that the chief of the Reich Chancellery received knowledge of the alleged “extermination” of the jews!
The statistical report “The Final Solution of the ‘European’ Jewish Question” [Die Endlösung der ‘europäischen’ judenfrage] by Richard Korherr summarizes numerically the results of National Socialist policy in the matter of jewish emigration until 31 December 1941. 557,357~ Jews had emigrated from the Old Reich, from the Sudetenland, from the Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia, and from Austria. At least an equal number had emigrated from the eastern territories and from the Central Government, as the figure reproduced by Korherr, 762,593 jews, combines emigrations and the excess of natural mortality.
In conclusion, Adolf Hitler, from 1933 to 1942, had authorized the emigration of at least a million jews who found themselves under his control.
As to the others, why exterminate them? Poliakov himself remarks on this subject:
“From a more down-to-earth viewpoint, to what good? It is so much more economical to put them to work at the hardest tasks, parking them on a reservation, for example.”
This is precisely what Hitler did.
As the war went on, the concentration camps and the ghettos became indeed important centers for the German war economy, and this is why “the exploitation of jewish manpower was another source of substantial revenue for the Third Reich and its men.”
The concentration camp at Auschwitz, for example, the territory of which comprised a “sphere of interest” of about 40 square kilometers, was the center of gravity of a vast industrial zone. It furnished manpower to numerous German industries, among which were Farbenindustrie, Berghütte, Vereinigte Oberschlesische Hüttenwerke AG, Hermann Göringwerke, Siemens-Schuckertwerke, Energie Versorgung Oberschlesien AG, Oberschlesische Hydrierwerke, Oberschlesische Gerätebau G.m.b.h., Deutsche Gas u. Russgesellschaft, Deutsche Reichsbahn, Heeresbauverwaltung, Schlesische Feinweberei, Union-Werke, Golleschauer Portland-Zement AG.
In the course of the years 1942-1944 the central Auschwitz camp counted 39 outside camps, of which 31 were for detainees used as manpower, 19 among them employing mainly jewish detainees.
At Monowitz 16 Farbenindustrie factories employed 25,000 Auschwitz detainees, about 100,000 civilian workers, and about 1,000 English POWs.
Even the ghettos were transformed into economic centers of great importance. With the revolt of the Warsaw ghetto “the German war industry in the east lost one of its important supply centers.”
The second ghetto in economic importance after that of Warsaw was the Lodz ghetto: “Its manufactures of all kinds, and in particular, its textile industries, constituted support of great value to the German economy.”
On 19 January 1942 there was created the SS Economic Management Head Office [SS-Wirtschafts-und Verwaltungshauptamt SS-WVHA], the aim of which was precisely “to utilize on a large scale the detainee manpower.” On 3 March Himmler ordered the inspectorate of the concentration camps to be transferred from the SS Main Directorate [SS-Führungshauptamt] to the SS-WVHA in order to centralize in Agency Group D [Amtsgruppe D] the direction of the war effort in relation to manpower. An important modification was thus made in the function of internment in concentration camps, as is underscored by SS-Obergruppenführer Pohl, Chief of the SS-WVHA, in a letter of 30 April 1942 to the Reichsführer SS:
“The war evidently has made necessary a change in the structure of the concentration camps, and to radically modify their functions in regard to the employment of detainees. The increase in the number of detainees solely for reasons of security, of re-education, or of prevention, is no longer of primary concern. The main emphasis is placed on the economic aspect. The mobilization of all work capacity for war purposes (increase of armament) first of alL and later for construction in peacetime, must be given higher priority with each day.”
These dispositions were equally valid for the jews. As early as 25 January 1942 Himmler had sent the following order to SS-Brigade-führer Glücks, Inspector-General of Concentration Camps:
“Inasmuch as soon we shall not be able to reckon with Russian prisoners of war, I shall send a great number of jews and jewesses expelled from Germany into the camps. Prepare to receive, in the course of the next four weeks, 100,000 jews and up to 50,000 jewesses in the concentration camps. Important economic tasks will be entrusted to the concentration camps in the coming weeks. SS Gruppenführer Pohl will inform you about this in detail.”
At the beginning of 1943, about 185,000 jews were employed in war industry on territory under the control of the Reich.
On 7 September 1943 all the jewish work camps in the General Government — 10 in the district of Lublin alone — were released by the SS-WVHA and became auxiliary camps of Lublin.
On 5 April 1944 in the territories under Reich jurisdiction there were 20 concentration camps and 105 work camps.
In May 1944 Hitler ordered the employment of 200,000 jews as manpower in the Jager construction program of ministerial director Dorsch. The order concerning guard personnel was issued by Himmler on May 11:
“The Führer has ordered that 10,000 Waffen-SS, including officers and non-commissioned officers, be assigned to the surveillance of 200,000 jews that the Reichsführer-SS is sending into the concentration camps of the Reich in order to employ them on the great construction projects of’the Organization Todt and on other important military works.”
The former Hungarian Interior Minister, Gabor Wajna, reported a declaration by Himmler according to which: “Since the jews have been employed on the Jager program, production has increased 40%.”
According to an SS-WVHA letter dated “Oranienburg, 15 August 1944” it appeared that the internment of 612,000 persons – among whom were 50,000 jews of the Hungary program — in concentration camps was imminent.
The importance of the work potential represented by the jews appears even more plainly when the pressing need of the German war industry for manpower is considered.
On 21 March 1942 Hitler named Fritz Sauckel general plenipotentiary for the employment of manpower with the assignment of providing for that need. According to a report sent by Sauckel to Hitler and Göring 27 July 1942, 5,124,000 foreign workers were employed in the Reich. Despite that, the need for manpower was so great that in January 1943 Sauckel ordered the total mobilization of all Germans for the war economy. On 5 February 1943 at the Gauleiter Congress held in Posen, Sauckel declared:
“The extraordinary harshness of the war has constrained me, in the name of the Führer, to mobilize several million foreigners for employment in the German war economy, in order to assure maximum output.”
But at the beginning of 1944 Hitler called for 4,000,000 additional workers. At the same time living conditions in the concentration camps were made easier in order to get higher production from the detainee labor force.
On 20 January 1943 SS-Brigadeführer Glücks, Chief of Agency Group D of the SS-WVHA, transmitted to the concentration camp commanders Himmler’s order of 20 December 1942 to reduce the deathrate in the camps by every means, and holding them “personally responsible for exhausting every possibility to preserve the physical strength of the detainees.”
Following that order — as is noted by SS-Obergruppenführer Pohl on 30 September 1943 in a statistical report to the Reichsführer-SS – thanks to the amelioration of hygienic conditions, nourishment, and clothing, the mortality in the concentration camps was in constant decline, having fallen from 10% in December 1943 to 2.09% in August 1943.
An SS-WVHA.order of 18 November 1943 to the Auschwitz command recommended giving a bonus to the detainees — even to the jews – who distinguished themselves by their work.
The “extermination;” of the jews therefore was an economic absurdity, as Poliakov himself recognized, the more so as, according to Colloti:
“… it was, among other reasons, the economic necessity of making use of their labor that prevented the massive extermination of Soviet war prisoners wanted by Hitler.”
But if the economic need of the Germans was so pressing in regard to the Russians, why was it not equally so in regard to the jews?
The official historians reply by maintaining that the “extermination” of the jews, corresponding to the fundamental objective of the Führer, took precedence over no matter what economic exigency, even at the risk of assuming a clearly counter- economic character. Hannah Arendt formulated this thesis in admirable fashion:
“The incredible character of these horrors is closely tied to their uselessness on the economic plan. The ‘Nazis’ stubbornly pushed the useless to the injurious when, in the midst of war, despite their shortage of construction materials and of rolling stock, they erected enormous and costly enterprises of extermination, and organized the transport of millions of people. From the viewpoint of a strictly utilitarian world the contradiction manifest between that manner of behavior and the military imperatives lends the whole undertaking a crazy and chimerical air.”
It is only too easy to object that if the “extermination” of the jews was so important to Hitler to the point of allowing the imperative needs of the German war economy to take second place, and even harm it, he certainly would not have permitted – up through the first two years of the war — the emigration of at least a million jews!
In reality, the “Europa Plan,” on which talks began in official form in the spring of 1944, shows to what extent the National Socialists were utilitarian in that which concerned the jews. Himmler proposed to exchange one million jews (children, women, old people) for “10,000 trucks, a thousand tons of coffee, and a bit of soap.”
Joel Brand, who conducted the negotiations for the jewish side, went to Istanbul and from there to Cairo:
“In truth, it was the Allies who raised obstacles. Joel Brand was interned by the British authorities without having had the possibility of accomplishing his mission; and the State Department forbade Dr. Schwarz, the director of the American jewish Joint [Committee] to deal with enemy subjects.”
Joel Brand succeeded in transmitting the German proposal to Lord Moyne, then British Minister of State for the Middle East, who answered him.
“And what am I supposed to do with a million jews? Where shall I put them?”
The fragility of the abovementioned thesis is linked closely to the fragility of the reasons that are supposed to explain “the extermination of the jews.” Almost all the official historians are certain that it is necessary to investigate those reasons in the presumed National Socialist concept according to which the jews “as an inferior race” were to be exterminated “for the sole fact of being jewish.” That thesis is rejected categorically by the reality of the policy in the matter of jewish emigration-which became even forced emigration — pursued by the government of the Reich up through the first two years of the war.
Poliakov himself acknowledges, without quibbles, the lack of foundation for that thesis. After having asked himself the throbbing question of why the decision for “extermination” was made, he goes on:
“‘Hatred of the jews,’ ‘Hitler’s madness,’ are the more general terms, which, at the same time, say nothing; and Hitler — at least as long as the fate of the Reich had not been sealed — was a calculating and informed politician. For the rest, we have seen the extermination of the jews has no part in ‘Nazi’ aims. Why, then, was that decision, of which we have seen all the irrationality it comprised, taken, and why just at that given time?
Let us try then to look further ahead, always remaining fully aware of what such deductions, in the absence of all testimony, all minutes of proceedings, all irrefutable documents, can offer in the way of speculation and fragility.”
In other words, not only when, and by whom, but even why the decision to exterminate the jews would have been taken, is unknown.
On the subject of the reasons for that presumed decision, in fact, the official historiography is able to supply nothing but “deductions” that are “speculative and “fragile” and beyond that are in manifest contradiction with the REALITY of National Socialist policy in the matter of jewish emigration, as Christopher Browning recognizes:
“The assumption that ‘Nazi’ jewish policy was the premeditated and logical consequence of Hitler’s anti-Semitism cannot be easily reconciled with his actual behavior in the years before 1941. For example, Hitler’s view of the jews as the “November criminals” who caused Germany’s defeat in World War I was as fervently held as any of his anti-Jewish allegations. Indeed, the oft-cited passage from Mein Kampf lamenting that twelve or fifteen thousand jews had not been gassed during the war makes far more sense in the context of the stab-in-the-back legend than as a prophecy or intimation of the Final Solution. The “logical” consequence of the thesis of the jew as wartime traitor should have been a “preventive” massacre of ‘German’ jewry before the western offensive or at least before the attack on Russia
In actual practice ‘Nazi’ jewish policy sought a judenrein Germany by facilitating and often coercing jewish emigration. In order to reserve the limited emigration opportunities for ‘German’ jews, the ‘Nazis opposed jewish emigration from elsewhere on the continent. This policy continued until the fall of 1941, when the ‘Nazis’ prohibited jewish emigration from Germany and for the first time justified the blocking of jewish emigration from other countries in terms of preventing their escape from the German grasp. The efforts of the ‘Nazi’ jewish experts to facilitate jewish emigration both before and during the war, as well as their plans for massive expulsions (what the ‘Nazis’ euphemistically called “resettlement” or Umsiedlung) were not merely tolerated but encouraged by Hitler. It is difficult to reconcile the assumption of a long-held intention to murder the jews of Europe with this behavior. If Hitler knew he was going to murder the jews, then he was supporting a policy that ‘favored’ ‘German’ jews over other ‘European’ jews and “rescued” from death many of those he held most responsible for Germany’s earlier defeat.
It has been argued that Hitler was merely awaiting the opportune moment to realize his murderous intentions. Not only does that not explain the pursuit of a contradictory policy of emigration in the meantime. it also does not explain the long delay. If Hitler was merely awaiting the outbreak of conflict to pursue his ‘war against the jews,’ why were the millions of ‘Polish’ jews in his hands since the fall of 1939 granted a thirty-month ‘stay of execution’?”
That this is true almost to the letter is shown by the following judgment of Robert Cecil, deputy director of the school specializing in contemporary European studies of the University of Reading in England, and since 1968 professor of history at that university:
The massacre of the Slavs, like that of the jews, was a ritual homicide, that not only contributed nothing to the military victory, but, as we shall soon see, considerably impeded the Wehrmacht in its task.
[Like that of the jews, the “massacre of the Slavs” is without foundation, of course. — Ed]