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

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17. RADICALISATION OF THE PERSECUTION OF THE JEWS BY HITLER AT THE TURN OF THE YEAR 1941-1942

17.1Hitler's decision of September to deport the Jews from Central Europe did not yet include the resolution directly and systematically to murder them at the given destinations in occupied Poland and the Soviet territory (especially Lodz, Riga and Minsk). Clearly Hitler initially held on to the idea of deporting these people further to the East once the expected military victory over the Soviet Union had been achieved. When in November, 1941, a total number of 6000 Jews, coming on six transports from the Reich to Kovno and Riga, were shot on the orders of the local Security Police, Himmler ordered Heydrich to stop the executions. (In fact this order arrived too late.)155 This intervention, however, concerned only the Jews from the Reich. The policy of extermination continued in the Soviet areas undiminished.
17.2With the declaration of war on the USA on 11 December, the idea of taking Western and Central European Jews hostage became obsolete. Now the final solution - i.e. the systematic mass murder - of all European Jews was launched; Hitler's pivotal role in this last step of the escalation process can be demonstrated once again.
17.3One day after the declaration of war on the USA, on 12 December, Hitler addressed the Gau and Reich leaders of the Party. In this speech he returned once again to his prophecy of 30 January 1939 and now announced the approaching extermination of the Jews living under German domination, as we can read in the Goebbels` diaries:156  
As concerns the Jewish question, the Führer is determined to make a clean sweep. He had prophesied to the Jews that if they once again brought about a world war they would experience their own extermination. This was not just an empty phrase. The World War is there, the extermination of Jewry must be the necessary consequence. This question must be seen without sentimentality. We are not here in order to have sympathy with the Jews, rather we sympathise with our own German people. If the German people have now once again sacrificed as many as 160,000 dead in the Eastern campaign, then the authors of this bloody conflict must pay with their lives.
17.4Rosenberg, the Reich Minster for the occupied Eastern territories, reported in his diary that 14 on December he showed Hitler the manuscript for an address he was planning to give in Berlin. Rosenberg, who in a press conference of 18 November had openly spoken of a "biological eradication of the entirety of Jewry"157, was now, "after the decision"158, i.e. after the declaration of war on the United States, uncertain as to whether his initially planned
comments on the New York Jews did not perhaps have to ... be somewhat altered. [...] I took the position not to speak about the extirpation (Ausrottung) of the Jews. The Führer agreed with this attitude and said they saddled us with the war and they brought the destruction; it would be no wonder if they were the first to feel the consequences.159
Rosenberg's uncertainty was related to the propagandistic representation of "extirpation" - not the fact itself; here there was agreement between himself and Hitler.
 
17.5On 18 December, Himmler noted these key words in his appointment calendar (recently re-discovered in Moscow) regarding a conversation with Hitler: "Jewish question/to be extirpated (auszurotten) as partisans".160 This memo does not, in my opinion, provide the decisive order to Himmler to start the systematic mass murder of the Jews of Europe, as has been recently argued161, but rather can more reasonably be read as a confirmation of Hitler's intention to continue and to intensify the mass murders of Soviet Jews, which had up until then already claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands, under the same rationale as before. This memo is thus significant proof of the direct and fundamental participation of Hitler in the decision-making process concerning the mass murder of the Jews.
17.6The deportations which once again began on a large scale in the Spring of 1942, after the Wannsee Conference of 20 January, were preceded in January and February 1942 by a series of public declarations by Hitler, in which he unmistakably returned to his "prophecy" of January 1939, that in the case of a new world war the Jews of Europe would be exterminated. The recent entry of the USA in the war - thus the extension of the war to a world war - and the fact that in his statements Hitler continually mentioned the date of 1 September, 1939 - particularly underlined his threat.
17.7Accordingly, in the Führer's New Year address, Hitler said: "The Jew, however, will not extirpate the European people, but he will be the victim of his own attack".162 In his address on the occasion of 30 January, Hitler exclaimed: "We are clear that the war can only end if either the Aryan peoples are extirpated or if Jewry disappears from Europe."163 In a statement read on 24 February 1942, in the Munich Hofbäuhaus, on the 22 anniversary of the founding of the Nazi Party, Hitler once again allowed it to be announced (he was not present) that:  
My prophesy will find its fulfilment in that through this war it will be not be Aryan mankind that will be exterminated, but the Jew will be extirpated.164
At the same time, Hitler expressed himself in a smaller circle, among members of his entourage and private guests, in the same way:
The Jew must get out of Europe! The best would be if they went to Russia! I have no sympathy with the Jews. They will always remain an element which stir up the peoples against one another.165
17.8Four weeks later, he expressed himself before a similar circle:
The Jew will be identified! The same battle which Pasteur and Koch had to fight must be led by us today. Innumerable sicknesses have their origin in one bacillus: the Jew! Japan would also have got it had it been remained open any longer to the Jew. We will get well when we eliminate the Jews.166

Notes

155. Telephone note of Himmlers concerning a discussion with Heydrich, 30 November 1941, BAB, NS 19/1438.
156. 'Bezüglich der Judenfrage ist der Führer entschlossen, reinen Tisch zu machen. Er hat den Juden prophezeit, daá, wenn sie noch einmal einen Weltkrieg herbeiführen würden, sie dabei ihre Vernichtung erleben würden. Das ist keine Phrase gewesen. Der Weltkrieg ist da, die Vernichtung des Judentums muß die notwendige Folge sein. Diese Frage ist ohne jede Sentimentalität zu betrachten. Wir sind nicht dazu da, Mitleid mit den Juden, sondern nur Mitleid mit unserem deutschen Volk zu haben. Wenn das deutsche Volk jetzt wieder im Ostfeldzug an die 160.000 Tote geopfert hat, so werden die Urheber dieses blutigen Konflikts dafür mit ihrem Leben bezahlen müssen.' Fröhlich (ed.), Tagebücher.
157. 'biologischen Ausmerzung des gesamten Judentums in Europa'. Concept, quoted in: Wilhelm, Rassenpolitik, Passau 1991, pp. 131ff (archival reference: PAA Pol XIII, 25, VAA-reports); see also the notes of a reporter ("strictly confidential informational report") from this press conference: 'The number of Jews in this entire area is estimated at 6 Million, brought across the Urals in the course of the year or otherwise became somehow victim to extermination' ('streng vertraulicher Invormationsbericht'. 'Die Zahl der Juden in diesem ganzen Raum wird auf 6 Milionen geschätzt, die im Laufe des Jahres über den Ural gebracht weren sollen oder sonst irgendwie der Ausmerzung verfallen werden.') Hagemann, Presselenkung, 146.
158. 'nach der Entscheidung'. Wilehlm, Rassenpolitik, pp. 131ff.
159. 'Anmerkungen über die New Yorker Juden vielleicht ... etwas geändert werden müßten. [...] Ich stünde auf dem Standpunkt, von der Ausrottung des Judentums nicht zu sprechen. Der Führer bejahte diese Haltung und sagte, sie hätten uns den Krieg aufgebürdet und sie hätten die Zerstörung gebracht; es sei kein Wunder, wenn die Folgen sie zuerst träfen.' Ibid.
160. 'Judenfrage/als Partisanen auszurotten'. Witte et. al. (ed.), Dienstkalender, 18.12.41.
161. Gerlach, Wannsee-Konferenz, pp 23f.
162. 'Der Juden aber wird nicht die europäischer Völker ausrotten, sondern er wird das Opfer seines eigenen Anschlags sein.' Domarus II, 1821.
163. 'Wir sind uns dabei im klaren darüber, daß der Krieg nur damit enden kann, daß entweder die arischen Völker ausgerottet werden, oder daß das Judentum aus Europa verschwindet'. Ibid. II, pp. 1828f.
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