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

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(v) Conclusion >>

(ii) The meeting between Hitler and Horthy on 16 and 17 April 1943.

 
1. The meeting between Hitler and Horthy on 16 and 17 April 1943 has generally been regarded by historians as one of the few occasions on which Hitler openly admitted the extermination of the Jews in Poland. The minutes of the meeting were taken by Dr. Paul Otto Schmidt, who confirmed them and added his own recollections at the Nuremberg trials.7 There is no doubt about their authenticity. The minutes for the meeting on 17 April 1943 record a statement by Ribbentrop, in Hitler's presence, to a point made by Horthy:
On Horthy's retort, what should he do with the Jews then, after he had pretty well taken all means of living from them - he surely couldn't beat them to death - The Reich Foreign Minister replied that the Jews must either be annihilated or taken to concentration camps. There was no other way.8
2.This blunt statement by Ribbentrop contributed to the conclusion of the judges at the Nuremberg trials in October 1946, that Ribbentrop had played an important part in the 'final solution' and was guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.9
3. On 17 April 1943, Hitler almost immediately confirmed Ribbentrop's explicitly murderous statement at some length:
Where the Jews were left to themselves, as for example in Poland, gruesome poverty and degeneracy had ruled. They were just pure parasites. One had fundamentally cleared up this state of affairs in Poland. If the Jews there didn't want to work, they were shot. If they couldn't work, they had to perish. They had to be treated like tuberculosis bacilli, from which a healthy body could be infected. That was   not cruel, if one remembered that even innocent natural creatures like hares and deer had to be killed so that no harm was caused. Why should one spare the beasts who wanted to bring us Bolshevism more? Nations who did not rid themselves of Jews perished.10
4. Despite this open language, Horthy was clearly not convinced about the need to murder large numbers of Jews, much to Hitler's annoyance.
5. Some three weeks after Hitler's meeting with Horthy, on 8 May 1942, Propaganda Minister Goebbels noted down in his diary the following statement by Hitler:
The Jewish question is solved worst of all by Hungary. The Hungarian state is completely permeated by Jews, and the Führer met with no success during his discussion with Horthy in convincing him of the necessity for harsher measures. To be sure, Horthy is himself, together with his family, extraordinarily strongly interwoven with Jews and will also in future struggle with all his might against getting a really active grip on the Jew-problem. Here he is bringing forward thoroughly humanitarian counter-arguments, which naturally possess absolutely no importance in this connection. There can be no talk of humanity towards Jewry. Jewry must be thrown to the ground. The Führer has been at great pains to convince Horthy of this point of view, but he has only succeeded to a very small extent.11
 
6.Thus it is clear that the statements by Ribbentrop (in Hitler's presence) and of Hitler himself on 17 April 1943 pose an insurmountable problem for anyone who wishes to argue, as Irving does, that Hitler neither knew nor approved of the extermination of the Jews. Whilst Irving never openly challenges the authenticity of the minutes of Hitler's meeting with Horthy, he attempts in various ways to minimise their significance, as we shall now see.

Notes

7. Trials of the War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals, Vol. X, pp. 231, 244. By contrast, Schmidt's self-serving memoirs, Hitler's Interpreter, are unreliable.
8. 'Auf die Gegenfrage Horthys, was er denn mit den Juden machen solle, nachdem er ihnen so ziemlich alle Lebensmöglichkeiten entzogen habe - erschlagen könne er sie doch nicht -, erklärte der Reichsaußenminister, daß die Juden entweder vernichtet oder in Konzentrationslager gebracht werden müßten. Eine andere Möglichkeit gäbe es nicht'; A. Hillgruber (ed.), Staatsmänner und Diplomaten bei Hitler, Vol. 2 (Frankfurt a.M., 1970), p. 256.
9. Trials of the War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals, Vol.XXII, pp. 605-6.
10. 'Wo die Juden sich selbst überlassen wären, wie z.B. in Polen, herrsche grausamstes Elend und Verkommenhheit. Sie seien eben reine Parasiten. Mit diesen Zuständen habe man in Polen gründlich aufgeräumt. Wenn die Juden dort nicht arbeiten wollten, würden sie erschossen. Wenn sie nicht arbeiten könnten, müßten sie verkommen. Sie wären wie Tuberkilbazillen zu behandeln, an denen sich ein gesunder Körper anstecken könne. Das wäre nicht grausam, wenn man bedenke, daß sogar unschuldige Naturgeschöpfe wie Hasen und Rehe getötet werden müßten, damit kein Schaden entstehe. Weshalb sollte man die Bestien, die uns den Bolschewismus bringen wollten, mehr schonen? Völker, die sich der Juden nicht erwehrtenverämen'; Ibid., pp.256-6. Hillgruber (ed), Staatsmänner, vol. 2, p. 256.
11. 'Die Judenfrage wird am allerschlechtesten von den Ungarn gelöst. Der ungarische Staat ist ganz jüdisch durchsetzt, und es ist dem Führer bei seiner Unterredung mit Horthy nicht gelungen, ihn von den Notwendigkeit Härterer Maßnahmen zu überzeugen. Horthy ist ja selbst mit seiner Familie außerordentlich stark jüdisch verfilzt und wird sich auch in Zukunft mit Händen und Füßen dagegen sträuben, das Judenproblem wirklich tatkräftig in Angriff zu nehmen. Er führt hier durchaus humanitäre Gegenargumente vor, die natürlich in diesem Zusammenhang überhaupt keine Bedeutung besitzen. Dem Judentum gegenüber kann nicht von Humanität die Rede sein, das Judentum muss zu Boden geworfen werden. Der Führer hat sich alle Mühe gegeben, Horthy von seinem Standpunkt zu überzeugen, allerdings ist ihm das nur zum geringsten Teil gelungen'; E. Fröhlich (ed.), Die Tagebücher von Joseph Goebbels, Teil II, Vol. 8, p. 236.
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(v) Conclusion >>