David Irving, Hitler and Holocaust Denial: Electronic Edition, by Richard J. Evans

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(ix) Suppression of relevant information: the diary of Otto Bräutigam

1. Otto Bräutigam was a diplomat and subordinate to Alfred Rosenberg in the latter's newly created Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories [Reichsministerium für die besetzten Ostgebiete or Ostministerium], responsible for the civilian administration of the occupied east (initially the two Reich Commissariats Ostland and the Ukraine).194 Bräutigam became the Ostministerium's representative to the Army High Command, and later to Army Group A [Heeressgruppe A]. In 1956 when Bräutigam was head of the eastern section of the West-German Foreign Office, the East-German authorities published his war diaries.195 A critical edition of the same diary was published in 198 9.196
2. A single episode will illustrate the fact that Hitler's adjutants were not merely passive witnesses to Hitler's thoughts. Rosenberg had heard that on 28 August 1941 the Soviet Head of State,   Kalinin, had ordered that the 400,000 Volga Germans be deported to Siberia. Bräutigam noted in his diary that 'it was clear that a large number would not survive the banishment, or even the transportation.'197 Rosenberg urged Hitler to approve the immediate deportation of German Jews in retaliation. What applied to the Volksdeutsche certainly applied to the Jews. Rosenberg's proposal calculated the fatal consequences of transporting Jews to the east, independently of the direct preparations for extermination. Bräutigam brought Rosenberg's proposal to Hitler's Wolfsschanze in East Prussia. He recorded in his diary:
As a reprisal the Reichsleiter [Rosenberg] had considered the deportation of all central European Jews to those eastern territories which are in our control. I received telegraphed orders to induce the Führer to approve this project [...] Finally I found Colonel Schmundt, and to my great surprise he immediately asked for the memorandum, saying that it was something very important and urgent which the Führer was very interested in.198
3. The next day Bräutigam was informed that the matter would be personally discussed between Hitler and Ribbentrop.199 A meeting duly took place on 17 September.
4. Leaving aside speculation about the exact role of Rosenberg's suggestion in the formulation and timing of a final order to exterminate the Jews of Europe, the entry is important for a   number of reasons.200 It shows that Hitler's adjutants (in this case Schmundt) were well-informed about current measures against the Jews. Indeed Schmundt was well enough informed about Hitler's thoughts that he could decide, on his own initiative, that Rosenberg's idea was 'something very important and urgent which the Führer was very interested in.' It again shows Hitler's position as the ultimate recipient of information as well as adjudicator.
5. It also demonstrates the inherent problem with Nazi memoir literature and reminiscences. Needless to say Bräutigam made no mention of Rosenberg's proposal or his own part in it in his official memoirs. Neither did he mention his knowledge of the notorious pogrom in Kowno in his official memoirs.201 Yet in his diary for 11 July 1941 he wrote: 'With our tacit permission numerous Jewish pogroms were undertaken by the Lithuanian police.'202
6. Bräutigam's diary is well known to Irving. It is listed as 'DI-97' amongst his own microfilm records [Irving Collection] lodged at the Institute for Contemporary History.203 He also used it as an example to illustrate the historian Charles Sydnor's 'sad ignorance of the wider archival sources available' on Hitler in reply to a critical review of Hitler's War.204 Once again Irving   saw no reason even at least to qualify his statement that none of Hitler's staff heard the 'Final Solution' mentioned at the Führerhauptquartier.

Notes

194. The structure of the Ostministerium is described in Alexander Dallin, German Rule in Russia 1941-1045. A Study in Occupation Politics (London, 1981), 2nd. ed., pp. 84-95.
195. Ausschuß für deutsche Eeinheit (ed.) Ausder den Tagebuch ein eines Judenmörders (East Berlin, 1956).
196. 'Das Kriegstagebuch des Diplomaten Otto Bräutigam' introduced and commented by H.D. Heilmann, in Götz Aly et al. (eds.), Biedermann und Schreibtischtäter. Materialien zur deutschen Täter-Biographie (Berlin, 1989), 2nd. ed., pp. 123-187
197. 'Dabei war es klar, daß der größte Teil die Verbannung oder gar schon den Transport nicht überleben würde' (entry for 14 September 1941, in Götz Aly et al., p. 144).
198. Peter Witte, 'Two Decisions Concerning the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question": Deportion to Lodz and Mass Murder in Chelmno', in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, vol.9, no.3, (1995), pp. 318-345, p. 326. The German entry reads: 'Als Gegenmaßnahme war vom Reichsleiter die Verschickung aller Juden Zentraleuropas in die östlichen, unter unserer Verwaltung stehenden Gebiete in Aussicht genommen, und ich hatte telegraphisch den Auftrag erhaltten, die Zustimmung des Führers zu diesem Projekt herbeizuführen [...] Schließlich entdeckte ich Oberst Schmundt, und zu meiner großen Überraschung bat er sich die Aufzeichnungen sofort aus mit den Worten, daß sie eine sehr wichtige und dringlichen Angelegenheit sei, für die sich der Führer sehr interessiere.' (Götz Aly et al., pp. 144-5).
199. Entry 15 September 1941, in Götz Aly et al., p. 145.
200. Some historians have assumed that a general decision had already been taken, for instance Helmut Krausnick and Hans-Heinrich Wilhelm, Die Truppe des Weltanschaungskrieges: Die Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD 1938-1942 (Stuttgart, 1981), p. 552. Witte agreed with Ino Arndt and Heinz Boberach ('Deutsches Reich' in Dimension des Völkermords, pp. 43-4), that a 'direct temporal and material connection' exists between Rosenberg's suggestion and a decision by Hitler (Witte, p. 342, fn. 48). Peter Witte, 'Two decisions concerning the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question": Deportation to Lodz and mass murder in Chelmno',Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol. 9, No. 3 (1995), here p. 342.'
201. Otto Bräutigam, So hat es sich zugetragen: Ein Leben als Soldat und Diplomat (Würzburg, 1968).
202. 'Unter unserer stillschweigenden Duldung wurden zahlreiche Judenpogrome von litauischen Hilfspolizei durchgeführt.', (entry for 11 July 1941, in Götz Aly et al., p. 134). The pogroms in this area belong to some of the best documented.
203. David Irving, Göring. A Biography (New York, 1989), p. 550.
204. Document 1921.
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