Irving v. Lipstadt

Defense Documents

Hitler's Role in the Persuection of the Jews by the Nazi Regime: Electronic Version, by Heinz Peter Longerich

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15. HITLER AND THE MASS SHOOTINGS OF JEWS DURING THE WAR AGAINST RUSSIA

 
15.1In the course of the preparations for the racist war of extermination against the Soviet Union, Hitler played a central role when it came to converting Nazi ideological thought into concrete instructions. On 3 March, Hitler gave instructions to the Chief of the Army Leadership Staff (Wehrmacht-Führungsstab), Jodl, for the new version of a proposal presented to him by the High Command of the Wehrmacht (OKW) on the: "guidelines for special areas relating to instruction No. 21", which was to constitute the basis for the occupation administration in the to-be-conquered Soviet territories.
This coming campaign is more than just a struggle of arms; it will also lead to the confrontation of two world views. In order to end this war it will not suffice by far merely to defeat the enemy army. [...] The Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia, the hitherto oppressor of the people, must be eliminated.137
15.2Already one week earlier, the Head of the Armaments Office of the OKW, Thomas, had learned while reporting to Göring, that Hitler had stated that it was "most important to execute the Bolshevist leaders".138 Explicit was also the tenor of Hitler's statement of 17 March to the top officers of the army:139
The intelligentsia installed by Stalin must be destroyed. The leadership machine of the Russian empire must be defeated. In the Greater Russian area the use of the most brutal force is necessary.
 
15.3On 30 March, Hitler made a speech with a similar tone to a meeting of Generals, recorded by the Chief of the General Staff of the Army, General Halder, in an abbreviated fashion:140
Struggle of two world views against one another. Devastating judgement about Bolshevism - it is the same as asocial criminality. Communism unbelievable danger for the future. We must disavow the standpoint of soldierly camaraderie. The Communist is not a comrade, neither before nor after. We are talking about a war of extermination. If we don't look at it this way than we might well beat the enemy - but in 30 years we will once again be faced with the Communist enemy. We are not waging war in order to conserve the enemy... war against Russia: extermination of the Bolshevik Commissars and the Communist intelligentsia.
15.4According to Hitler's guidelines of 3 March and Jodl`s precise instructions from the same day, a "directive concerning the special areas of Barbarossa" was issued on 13 March by Jodl.141 In this directive it says:
In the operation area of the Army, the Reichsführer SS is granted special responsibilities by order of the Führer for the preparation of the political administration; these special responsibilities arise from the ultimate decisive struggle between two opposing political systems. In the context of these responsibilities, the Reichsführer SS will act independently and at his own risk.
15.5What the military men understood by these "special responsibilities" becomes clear from Jodl`s directive of 3 March, in which he spoke of the "necessity of rendering all Bolshevik chieftains and commissars harmless without delay".142
 
15.6The massacres of the four Einsatzgruppen, the task forces consisting of SS and police personnel subordinate to the Reichssicherheitshauptamt, commenced with the beginning of the war in the East. They are extensively documented, above all in the situational reports (Ereignismeldungen) for the UdSSR, put out by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt; these reports openly describe the murder of hundreds of thousands of people, more of 90% of them Jews. These reports were relatively widely circulated: for example 45 copies of situational report No. 40 of 1 August 1941 were distributed; they were sent not only to numerous offices of the SS and police but also to the Leadership staff of the Wehrmacht. In a radio telegram to the Einsatzgruppen on 1 August, Gestapo Chief Müller, who was responsible for the compilation of situational reports, ordered that "especially interesting illustrative material" should be sent to Berlin because "the Führer should be presented with continuous reports on the work of the Einsatzgruppen in the East from here".143 The distribution list of the situational report No 128 of 3 November 1941, of which there were 55 copies, included the Party Chancellery144 (Hitler's office responsible for communication between him and the Nazi Party). It is therefore not possible to argue that the mass murders by the Einsatzgruppen were kept secret from other agencies by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt; in fact, these reports were available to many - including also to Hitler. The grounds for the mass executions which were given by the Einsatzgruppen precisely correspond to the justifications offered by Hitler for the extermination of the "Jewish-Bolshevik complex" before the beginning of the war.
15.7After these murders had begun on a large scale, Hitler once again demonstratively endorsed the brutal course which was being pursued; on 16 July in a conference with leading functionaries placed in the Eastern territories dealing with the ground rules of the future policy of occupation he said: "The giant area must naturally be pacified as quickly as possible; this will happen at best in that anyone who just looks funny should be shot."125
 
15.8With the beginning of the massive murder of the Soviet civilian population in the summer of 1941, a stage was reached in which these statements and similar ones by Hitler could no longer be understood as general threats of violence. The "eliminatory" language of the dictator must rather be seen in the context of the beginning mass murder of people by special commandos specially set up by "particular order of the Führer". When Hitler now spoke of the "annihilation" (Vernichtung) of people his underlings must have understood it as it was meant: as direct or indirect orders for a radicalisation of the already begun mass murders.

Notes

135. Präg/Jacobmeyer (eds.), Diensttagebuch.
136. "ihm vom Führer in München über die Behandlung der Ostjuden gegebenen Richtlinien". ADAP, Serie D, vol. 13, No. 207.
137. 'Richtlinien auf Sondergebieten zur Weisung Nr. 21', 'Dieser kommende Feldzug ist mehr als nur ein Kampf der Waffen; er führt auch zur Auseinandersetzung zweier Weltanschauungen. Um diesen Krieg zu beenden, genügt es bei der Weite des Raumes nicht, die feindliche Wehrmacht zu schlagen. [...] Die jüdisch-bolschewistische Intelligenz, der bisherige 'Unterdrücker' des Volkes, muß beseitigt werden." Schramm (ed.), Kriegstagebuch OKW, vol. I, p. 341.
138. 'zunächst schnell die bolschewistischen Führer zu erledigen', BAM, RW 19/185.
139. 'Die von Stalin eingesetzte Intelligenz muß vernichtet werden. Die Führermaschinerie des russischen Reiches muß zerschlagen werden. Im großrussischen Bereich ist Anwendung brutalster Gewalt notwendig.' Halder, Kriegstagebuch II, pp. 317ff (p. 320).
140. 'Kampf zweier Weltanschauungen gegeneinander. Vernichtendes Urteil über Bolschewismus, ist gleich asoziales Verbrechertum. Kommunismus ungeheure Gefahr für die Zukunft. Wir müssen von dem Standpunkt des soldatischen Kameradentum abrücken. Der Kommunist ist vorher kein Kamerad and nachher kein Kamerad. Es handelt sich um einen Vernichtungskampf. Wenn wir es nicht so auffassen, dann werden wir zwar den Feind schlagen, aber in 30 Jahren wird uns wieder der kommunistische Feind gegenüberstehen Wir führen nicht Krieg, um den Feind zu konservieren. [...] Kampf gegen Rußland: Vernichtung der bolschewistischen Kommissare und der kommunistischen Intelligenz.' Ibid., pp. 335ff (p. 336f).
141. 'Im Operationsgebiet des Heeres erhält der Reichsführer SS zur Vorbereitung der politischen Verwaltung Sonderaufgaben im Auftrage des Führers, die sich aus dem endgültig auszutragenden Kampf zweier entgegengesetzter politischer Systeme ergeben. Im Rahmen dieser Aufgaben handelt der Reichsführer SS selbständig und in eigener Verantwortung." Halder, Kriegstagebuch I, p. 341.
142. 'Notwendigkeit alle Bolschewistenhäuptlinge und Kommissare sofort unschädlich zu machen". BAM, RW 4/v. 522, (=IMT XXVI, pp. 53ff, 447-PS).
143. 'besonders interessantes Anschauungsmaterial'. 'Dem Führer soll von hier aus lfd. Berichte über die Arbeit der Einsatzgruppen im Osten vorgelegt weren.' ZSt, Dok. UdSSR No. 401.
144. Printed in Headland, Messages, pp. 22f.
145. 'Der Riesenraum müsse natürlich so rasch wie möglich befriedet werden; dies geschehe am besten dadurch, daß man jeden, der nur schief schaut, totschieße.' IMT XXXVIII, pp. 86ff (221-L).
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