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Defense Documents

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

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(C) Irving's suppression, misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the sources: the Goebbels diary entry of 30 May 1942

1. Another document cited by Irving in support of his claim that Hitler was deceived by Goebbels and others about the true nature of the deportations to the East, is Goebbels's diary entry of 30 May 1942. Goebbels here noted:
Thus I plead once again for a more radical Jewish policy, whereby I am just pushing at an open door with the Führer...The Germans only ever take part in subversive movements when the Jews seduce them into it. Therefore one must liquidate the Jewish danger, cost what it will...Therefore the Führer also does not wish at all for the Jews to be evacuated to Siberia. There, under the harshest living conditions, they would undoubtedly form an element of vitality once more. He would rather settle them in central Africa. There they live in a climate that would surely not render them strong and capable of resistance. In any case it is the Führer's aim to make West Europe completely Jew-free. Here they will not be allowed to have any home any more.57
2. Once more, Goebbels characterises Hitler as being in favour of a more radical policy against the Jews - a fact which Irving suppresses in his account of this Goebbels diary entry.58 As Goebbels knew by this time that 'resettlement' meant that the Jews were being exterminated in the East (as proven by his diary entry of 27 March 1942), it is inconceivable that he would have characterised   Hitler as a radical, if Hitler had in reality only aimed to push the Jews out of Europe. This characterisation of Hitler as a radical makes sense only if Hitler, as has previously been noted, also knew that 'pushing the Jews out of Europe' meant killing them when they got to the East.
3. So how can we explain Hitler's reference to the evacuation of Jews to Siberia and Africa? As has been noted above, the 'final solution' went through various stages. In summer 1940, leading Nazi officials were seriously considering deporting Jews to the island of Madagascar. By spring 1941, Nazi officials such as Heydrich apparently advanced a plan for the 'final solution' which involved the transport the Jews 'to the East' into the territory of the Soviet Union, once it had been defeated by Germany. There, they would slowly die of hunger, or be worked to death. One area apparently envisaged at the time as a possible destination for the Jews was Siberia.59
4. In the following 12 months, this plan for a Jewish reservation was increasingly superseded by the escalating mass murder of first the Eastern European Jews, and then the Central and Western European Jews. But, as the historian Peter Longerich has argued,
one must proceed on the assumption that even those who were involved in mass murder up to the period May-June 1942 believed that the "real" "final solution" would only take place after the end of the war and that the murders taking place before then were only "provisional" measures, "anticipatory" measures to the "final solution".60
5. This distinction between the ongoing extermination of the Jews in the East, and a long-term 'final solution' (which was expected to take place after the war), is also evident in Goebbels's record of Hitler's views on 30 May 1942. On the one hand, Goebbels characterised Hitler's attitude as very radical, at a time when Jews were already being 'transported off to the East' as   Hitler had stated many times, and killed there. On the other hand, Hitler was still talking about some vague long-term plan (note his reference to the Jews in western Europe) which might take place sometime in the future, in this case mentioning Central Africa as a destination.
6. These considerations, which never took on any more concrete forms, however are not evidence that Hitler did not know of the extermination programme in the East. Rather, they are testament to his belief that the 'real' 'final solution' was not yet fully under way. To cite Peter Longerich again: 'Only in the spring and early summer of 1942 did the realisation slowly come through that the "Final Solution" would take place during the war: it finally became clear which means would be chosen to achieve the "Final Solution".'61

Notes

57. 'Ich plädiere also noch einmal für eine radikalere Judenpolitik, womit ich beim Führer nur offene Türen einrenne...Die Deutschen beteiligen sich an subversiven Bewegungen immer nur, wenn die Juden sie dazu verführen. Deshalb muß man die jüdische Gefahr liquidiern, koste es was es wolle...Deshalb wünscht der Führer auch gar nicht, daß die Juden nach Sibirien evakuiert werden. Dort unter härtesten Lebensbedingungen wüden sie zweifellos wieder ein lebenskräftiges Element darstellen. Er möchte sie lieber nach Zentralafrika ansiedeln. Dort leben sie in einem Klima, das sie gewiß nicht stark und widerstandsfähig macht. Jedenfalls ist es das Ziel des Führers, Westeuropa gänzlich judenfrei zu machen. Hier dürfen sie keine Heimstätte mehr haben'; E. Fröhich (ed.), die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels, Teil II, Vol. 4 (Munich, 1966), p. 406.
58. Irving, Hitler's War (London, 1991), pp. 465-466; see also the edited version on p. 395 of Irving, Goebbels, where the first sentence of the diary entry is also suppressed.
59. Aly, 'Endlösung;', pp.268-279.
60. expert report by Dr. Longerich; see also P. Longerich, Politik der Vernichtung (Munich, 1998) for the wider context.
61. Expert report by Dr. Longerich.
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