From the introduction to Gerald Fleming's "Hitler and the Final Solution." It may be tempting to state that each approach has its merits and to seek a synthesis between the two positions. In fact functionalism, which stresses the dynamics of a system instead of the central role of a leader, fits better in many ways within the mainstream of modern historiography. The image it offers of Nazism is more "normal," easier to explain: any group can stumble haphazardly, from step to step, into the most extreme criminal behavior. Responsibility remains, obviously; but it is more diluted, more nebulous, because of the very automatism of the process, its outcome unforeseeable, and because of the absence of real premeditation as well. Intentionalism, on the other hand, asserts that the course of action was in some way planned. This latter view gives Hitler a predominant role, but it also implies much greater awareness at various levels; whereas functionalism, pushed to its logical conclusion, gets very close to denying that Hitler had accurate knowledge of the Final Solution. It leaves most of the operation to subordinate agencies -- in a nutshell, to police terror. These considerations are not to be dismissed lightly. But for the historian the only valid test is that of documentary evidence. It appears, in my opinion, that in scanning available evidence -- and Fleming's study has been of major importance in bringing a great deal of it together -- historians may tend to be more convinced by the traditional, intentionalist position, at least insofar as anti-Jewish policies and the Final Solution are concerned. Let me state my own point of view: In the matters with which Hitler was obsessed, those forming the core of his system -- conquest of the Lebensraum, as well as the all-embracing fight against the Jews -- his intervention is clearly seen at crucial stages. In other fields, the functionalist position could easily be proven. The problem of interference between the other fields and the major elements of Hitler's system remains open. Let us now concentrate entirely on key issues relating to the Final Solution itself. The main problem is to verify Hitler's orders for and personal involvement in the extermination process versus the thesis of a more or less haphazard development -- one initiated at a local level and systematized only later, chiefly within the SS and without any overall extermination order ever having been given, at least by Hitler. The latter argument is made possible by the fact that no written Hitler-order about the Final Solution has ever been found; but one may assume that it would never have been given in writing. Since, in one way or another, the extermination process reached its full-scale form in the second half of 1941 and the first weeks of 1942, we shall systematically review the various interpretations relating to that period. In his study of the genesis of the Final Solution, Martin Broszat points out that none of Hitler's main aides, when interrogated after the war, had any recollection of an oral order for the overall extermination of the Jews; moreover, Broszat shows that entries from Goebbels's unpublished diaries, when referring to the Jewish problem during the summer and fall of 1941, often allude to evacuation to camps on Russian territory but do not mention any extermination order. Finally, still in terms of documentary evidence, Broszat quotes the controversy between Himmler and SS- Brigadefuehrer Dr. Friedrich sbelh"r, who was in charge of the Lodz Ghetto. sbelh"r strongly objected, at the beginning of October 1941, to deportations from the Reich to Lodz, because the ghetto was already overcrowded; this controversy would be meaningless if extermination had been decided upon. [For these various arguments, see Broszat, "Hitler und die Genesis der'Endl"sung,"' 746ff.] American historian Christopher R. Browning pointedly answered that Himmler and Heydrich, the main architects of the Final Solution, were dead when the interrogation started and that Goering, the principal defendant at Nuremberg, was fighting for his life and would certainly not have admitted that he had forwarded a global extermination order. And the Goebbels diaries were a poor source at best, as Goebbels since November 1938 was notoriously kept out of Jewish affairs by Goering, Himmler, and Heydrich. On the other hand, Browning points to a whole series of references to the preparation of the Final Solution during the summer and fall of 1941 that gives an unmistakable sense of mass annihilation. He also points to the fact, strangely omitted by Broszat, that after the war Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess and Adolf Eichmann both referred to the planning during that period for overall extermination. Finally, Browning indicates that what Broszat describes as "vague" Nazi plans for dealing with the Jews in the summer and fall of 1941 (forced labor whereby many would die; then possibly "helping" the others to die) in fact represents an extermination program. [Browning, "Zur Genesis der Endloesung," 98ff.] But let us turn now to the sequence of events. Until the fall of 1941, Soviet Jews are the only ones systematically exterminated; Uwe Adam and Martin Broszat do not find a necessary link between those exterminations and an overall Final Solution through mass killing. In the fall of 1941, however, deportations from the Reich start, mostly to Lodz, Kovno, Minsk, and Riga. Some of the deportees sent to Riga and Lodz are exterminated on the spot, along with local Jews, near Riga and in the Chelmno (Kulmhof) extermination camp near Lodz. It would seem that we are now confronted with stages of an overall plan, as the extermination process includes Jews transported from Germany to the killing sites. But in Broszat's view these killings are still initiated to solve local problems (the deportations from the Reich add to the overcrowding of the ghettos and the Jews cannot be sent further east, as the Wehrmacht's advance in Russia is slowing down). In fact, according to Broszat, the very chaotic aspect of the deportations from the Reich, owing to Hitler's sudden wish to see the Reich cleared of Jews as soon as possible, seems to preclude any systematic planning of an extermination process. Gerald Fleming brings important evidence to show that the Riga exterminations are not a local improvisation: the Reichskommissar Ostland, Hinrich Lohse, is advised by Himmler through SS-General Friedrich Jeckeln that the exterminations are on order from Himmler and in accordance with a "wish" of the Fuehrer (see p. 75 below: "Tell Lohse it is my order, which is also the Fuehrer's wish"). Clearly then, this is no local initiative but, for all purposes, a Hitler-initiative. For the genesis of the Chelmno exterminations the evidence is more complex. Martin Broszat reminds us that the idea of exterminating some of the Lodz ghetto Jews in order to solve the problems of overcrowding was already discussed among local SS officers and with the Reich Main Security Office as early as July 1941, when no general plan for the Final Solution could yet have existed. [Broszat "Hitler and die Genesis der 'Endloesung,"' 749n. Dr. Friedrich Uebelhoer's protests against sending deportees from the Reich to Lodz ties in with this reasoning] Would not the extermination in the fall be the result of the same type of consideration, developed at a lower echelon? Here again, Fleming brings us new evidence. In March 1944, Wartheland Gauleiter Arthur Greiser (in whose domain Lodz and Chelmno were included) proudly reports to his Fuehrer that practically all of the Wartheland Jews have been exterminated (mostly in Chelmno). On 21 November 1942, Greiser informed Himmler that when he had met with Hitler he was told, as far as the Jews were concerned, to act according to his own judgment. Greiser had had two meetings with Hitler, 1 October and 11 November 1942. (See p. 22 below.) Greiser's report to Hitler in 1944 clearly means that Hitler's words of October or November 1942 had been understood. Yet Greiser had started the exterminations in Chelmno a year before those meetings. If Greiser had received the same kind of order as that given to Lohse in the fall of 1941, Hitler's directive, a year later, would not make sense. Therefore, information about the overall planning could not have been passed on automatically to those responsible for various killing operations. Although for the Chelmno exterminations "Sonderkommando Lange" (a special task force that used gassing vans, as it had for the euthanasia killings) was sent from Berlin, Greiser was possibly unaware that this was part of an overall action -- until he got the hint from Hitler a year later. If one moves from the single operations to the general context, the whole picture becomes much clearer. In the fall of 1941, the Einsatzgruppen had exterminated nearly one million Jews in the Soviet Union, and Jews from the Reich were being killed in Riga and Chelmno; all emigration of Jews from occupied Europe was forbidden (order of 23 October 1941); construction of the Belzec extermination camp in the Generalgouvernement had begun; and the first killing experiments with Zyklon-B gas had taken place in Auschwitz. The groping phase that characterized the summer and early fall -- and that gave the impression of the haphazardness Broszat uses as a key argument -- was coming to an end: the various projects were falling into place within the general framework of the Final Solution. In this context the meaning of the Wannsee Conference of 20 January 1942 -- at which Heydrich presented the outline for the Final Solution to the assembled representatives of various ministries and SS agencies -- seems unmistakable. Nonetheless, Hans Mommsen states: The forthcoming "Wannsee Conference" is generally identified with the immediate starting of the overall European Genocide, although the "Initiatives" (Aktionen) mentioned by Heydrich in relation to the "evacuation of the Jews to the East" were presented as alternatives (Ausweichmoeglchkeiten), aimed at gathering practical experience "in view of the coming final solution of the Jewish Question." The liquidation of those Jews who were unable to work was mentioned implicitly and the later extermination of the "remainder" was mentioned explicitly. The fiction of compulsory labour (Arbeitseinsatz) created the psychological link between the emigration, then the reservation solution, and the holocaust itself; at the same time, the chimera of a territorial "final solution," which was now to be located beyond the Urals, was still held forth (schimmerte noch durch).20 Mommsen, "Die Realisierung," p. 412] If the inclusion of the Jews in a compulsory labor program was fictitious -- as indeed it was -- then Heydrich's whole scheme was the overall plan for destruction of the European Jews. The setting up of the extermination camps in the Generalgouvernement during the following months dispels any doubt or vagueness about what was meant at Wannsee. Moreover, what logic indicates, direct evidence confirms. At his trial in Jerusalem Adolf Eichmann -- who was the technical organizer of the Wannsee Conference and who attended its meetings -- when asked by the President of the Tribunal what the general sense of the discussion was, answered: "The discussion covered killing, elimination, and annihilation" (p. 92 below). If we admit that the meaning of the Wannsee Conference is unmistakable, if we remember that Heydrich in his opening remarks refers not only to the order given him by G"ring but also to Hitler's agreement to start evacuating the Jews to the East, it can mean only one thing: Hitler's agreement to the extermination plan. One can hardly imagine that Heydrich would present an extermination plan to a whole array of high- ranking civil servants if Hitler had meant a bona fide evacuation plan. Since the conference was first set for 9 December 1941 (and finally postponed to 20 January 1942) and, moreover, since the preparation of the scheme presented by Heydrich must have taken several months, it is probable that Hitler's "agreement" was expressed sometime in the summer of 1941, at the latest. And Hitler's "agreement," like Hitler's "wish," means in fact Hitler's '1order," without the necessity of a formal decree. Moreover, references have been made to Hitler's explicit instructions regarding the exterminations. When Otto Bradfisch, head of the Einsatzkommando 8 operating in the Minsk region, asks Himmler in August 1941 who bears the responsibility for the executions, Himmler answers that "these orders . . . come from Hitler as the supreme Fuehrer of the German government, and . . . they [have] the force of law" (p. 51 below). A year later, SS-General Gottlob Berger suggests, in the name of the Ministry for the Occupied Eastem Territories, devising a more precise definition of the term "Jew." Himmler rejects the very idea of further definition, which would entail only limitations, and adds: "The occupied East will be freed of Jews ( judenfrei). The Fuehrer has laid upon my shoulders the execution of this very difficult order. Moreover, no one can relieve me of this responsibility. I have therefore forbidden any further meddling in the matter.''[P. 112 below. See also Krausnick et al., SS State, 69.] During the first half of 1944 Himmler refers to the very hard Fuehrer-order concerning the Final Solution in no less than four different speeches, three of which were delivered before large audiences of senior Wehrmacht officers (26 January, 5 and 24 May, and 21 June 1944).[ See pp. 52-54 below. As was already mentioned in the case of Heydrich at the Wannsee Conference, one cannot imagine that Himrnler would have referred to a nonexistent Fuehrer-order, especially before such audiences.] And there are still other available references to Hitler's orders, which Fleming does not cite. For instance, according to the testimony of SSJudge Konrad Morgen, when Christian Wirth's special sections were dispatched to the Generalgouvemement to help Globocnik in the extermination process, "Himmler is supposed to have asked of each of them to swear an oath of silence and to have told them: 'I have to expect of you superhuman acts of inhumanity. But, it is the Fuehrer's will."'[Krausnick et al. SS State, 97.] Adviser on Jewish Affairs at the Ministry of the Interior, tells State Secretary Wilhelm Stuckart, that because of the exterminations of the Jews in the Riga region, news of which had reached him, he cannot remain in his position. Stuckart answers: "Don't you realize that all of this is being done on orders from the highest level?" [Bernhard L"sener, "Als Rassereferent im Reichsministerium des Innern '' Vierteljahrshette fur Zeitgeschichte, 9 (1961): 311. See also below, pp. 106- 7.] And in May 1942, the Head of the Reich Main Security Of fice and newly appointed Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, Reinhard Heydrich, and several intelligence officers meet in Prague. In the course of a very heated discussion of the exterminations, Heydrich declares that the Reich Main Security Office was not responsible for the killings; they are being executed on personal order from the Fuehrer (see p. 60 below). Fleming shows that not only are there many references to Hitler's orders, there is also much evidence concerning the Fuehrer's interest in the process of extermination. On 1 August 1941, Gestapo Chief Heinrich Mueller sends the following order to the heads of the four Einsatzgruppen: "The Fuehrer is to be kept informed continually from here about the work of the Einsatzgruppen in the East" (p. 45 below). In December 1942, report number 51 is sent by Himmler to Hitler. It deals with the Einsatzgruppen-actions in Soviet territory for the period August through November 1942, and it mentions "363,211 Jews executed" (according to a note by Hitler's adjutant Pfeiffer, the report was submitted to Hitler on 31 December) (see below, p. 129). During the same month, Himmler notes down, after a meeting with Hitler: "3. Jews . . . to get rid of: Jews in France 600- 700,000, to get rid of" (p. 8 n. 24 below). In fact, as far as statistics are concerned, Himmler will be better informed at the end of December, when the SS Inspector for Statistics, Richard Korherr, will have prepared for him a complete and precise report on the course of the Final Solution. In April 1943 the report, updated to 31 March of the same year and condensed to 6 1/2 pages, is ready for the Fuehrer. The report, typed on the special "Fuehrer- typewriter" (a typewriter with extra-large letters), is submitted to Hitler a few days before 19 April 1943.[ For the text of both Korherr reports and the related correspondence, see The Holocaust and the Neo-Nazi Mythotnania, ed. Serge Klarsfeld (New York, 1978).] According to Eichmann's testimony, when the report was sent back to the Reich Main Security Office, it bore the mention: "The Fuehrer has taken note: destroy. -- H. H." (i.e., Heinrich Himmler; see p. 138 below). Here we must turn to the strange contradictions of Nazi camouflage of the Final Solution. Richard Korherr is asked to eliminate the word Sonderbehandlung (special treatment), which appeared on his report; Rudolf Brandt, Himmler's personal assistant, writes to Korherr: He [Himmler] has requested that "special treatment of the Jews" be mentioned nowhere in the document. Page 9, point 4, should read as follows: "Transport of Jews from the eastern provinces to the Russian East: passed through camps in the Generalgouvernement, . . . through the camps in the Warthegau...." No other wording may be used. I am returning the copy of the report, with the Reichsfuehrer SS's initials, and with the request that page 9 be altered accordingly and then resubmitted. [Below, p. 137- and ibid.] One wonders about the inconsistency of the camouflage measures; on the one hand, even the code word Sonderbehandlung is eliminated from the report sent to Hitler; [It may well be that the explanation, in this case, is supplied by an instruction issued somewhat later, on 11 July 1943, by the head of the Party Chancellery, Martin Bormann, whereby, in agreement with the Fuehrer, the "Final Solution" was in no way to be mentioned in any documents relating to the Jewish question; mention was only to be made of Jews being sent to work. See Joseph Walk, ed., Das Sonderrecht fuer die Juden itn NS-Staat (Heidelberg, 1981), 400.] on the other hand, Himmler refers several times to Hitler's orders when he speaks of the total elimination of the Jews. Or, to sharpen the paradox: in a document sent to Hitler himself, no reference to the Final Solution is allowed; but in speeches held before wide audiences (and not only to SS of Introdu but to regular of ficers of the Wehrmacht), openly refers to Hitler's order. This paradox is reflected in Fleming's book. The author puts great emphasis on showing how carefully Hitler avoided having his name directly linked to the Final Solution, but clearly Fleming is successful in uncovering many references to Hitler's interventions in the extermination process. The formula "the Fuehrer's wish" was understood by everybody concerned to mean a Fuehrer-order. (Saul Friedlander, in Fleming, xviii-xxvi) Work Cited Fleming, Gerald. Hitler and the Final Solution. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984.
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