The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of Adolf Eichmann
Sessions 6-7-8
(Part 2 of 10)

Holocaust, Adolf Eichmann, Eichmann trial, holocaust, Jewish holocaust
Hatred of the Jews, now called "anti-Semitism," was not invented by Hitler. It had existed for many generations. Its roots are in the disastrous dispersion of the Jews, in ignorance and prejudice, superstition and envy. Stupid people have always hated those who differ from them, those who are exceptional. But the Nazis converted anti-Semitism into a doctrine of hatred which started with hostility and culminated in murder. It was a spontaneous and irresistible development. He that gave free reign to hatred for the Jews had taken the steep path that plunged down to the "Day of Boycott" against the Jews on 1 April 1933; to the "Kristallnacht" of 9-10 November 1938; to the "physical extermination" decision of 31 July 1941. This was the logic of events, each of which evolved from the one before, and led inevitably to its successors. The way of anti-Semitism led to Auschwitz.

Hitler knew that for the success of his lying doctrines he would have to use the age-old weapon of hate. He needed to place before the German people an object to which could be attributed everything loathsome and contemptible, an object worthy of abhorrence which would be the absolute antithesis of the Aryan man, the Nazi, and whose existence and activities could be presented as the cause of all the failures and difficulties that Germany had encountered.

This object was the Jew. Hitler had other hates: the Marxists and Communists were regular targets for his virulent attacks. But there was this difference: the latter could redeem themselves in his eyes by turning their backs on their former faith and finding their way into the bosom of National Socialism. The Jew, however, was the eternal scape-goat. He had no way out; he was in no position to escape the storm of hate.

Anyone who reads the speeches, writings and reported conversations of Hitler is shocked at his ignorance, at his ability to describe fantasies as if they really existed, and above all at his power to persuade others of the truth of the most enormous lies. Otto Strasser, one of his supporters, who became an opponent, wrote of him:

"I have been asked many times what is the secret of Hitler's extraordinary power as a speaker. I can only attribute it to his uncanny intuition, which infallibly diagnoses the ill from which his audience is suffering. If he tries to bolster up his argument with theories or quotations from books he has only imperfectly understood, he scarcely rises above a very poor mediocrity. But let him throw away his crutches and step out boldly, speaking as the spirit moves him, and he is promptly transformed into one of the greatest speakers of the century..."

"Adolf Hitler enters a hall. He sniffs the air. For a moment he gropes, feels his way, senses the atmosphere. Suddenly he bursts forth...

"His words go like an arrow to their target, he touches each private wound on the raw, liberating the mass unconscious, expressing its innermost aspirations, telling it what it most wants to hear."{Hitler and I, pp. 74-7}

And Hitler did in fact liberate the hatred of the Jew which was in the hearts of large sections of the German people, intensify it and stimulate it into greater activity. The germ of anti-Semitism was already there; he fed it with appropriate conditions and transformed it into the source of an epidemic. For the purposes of Nazi Germany's internal policy the Jew was a convenient object of hatred; he was weak and defenceless. The world outside remained silent when he was persecuted, and contented itself with verbal reactions that did little harm. The Jew was pilloried as a supporter of Communism - and therefore an enemy of the German people. In the same breath he was accused of being a capitalist - and therefore an enemy of the workers. National- Socialism had found an object of hostility appropriate to both halves of its name, and it set him up as a target for both national enemy and class hatred. The Jew was also a ready target through which the attention of the public could be diverted from other problems. This too was an age-old weapon which had been used by many anti-Semites down the ages. On this point we shall find the Accused saying:
"The Jewish Question was a welcome tactic to divert attention from other reverses...Whenever any difficulties of another sort arose, they took flight, at least at this time, to the Jewish Question, and immediately the diversion was created. This was done not only by Hitler himself, not only by the Gauleiters; this was the practice of every one among the so-called high leadership."
A confused and blinded world was not alarmed by this campaign of hatred and the denial of human rights. It did not understand that the persecution of the Jews was only the beginning of an onslaught on the entire world. The man whose henchmen howled the infamous words, "When Jewish blood spurts from the knife Then all goes doubly well!" (Wenn das Judenblut vom Messer spritzt - Dann geht's nochmal so gut!). The same man would soon, by a natural development and led by the same master-feeling of hate, proclaim that all the cities of England would be subjected to the same fate as bombed Coventry.

In order to complete the picture, we should point out that there were in Germany tens of thousands of scientists and ecclesiastics, statesmen and authors and ordinary people, who dared to help the Jews, to raise their heads in opposition to the iniquitous regime, and even to rebel against it, and among them were men whose names were famous in German science and culture. Thousands of opponents of the bloody regime were imprisoned and were later destined to suffer greatly in concentration camps before the Nazi monster was beheaded. Thousands of these died without seeing the day of victory. Hundreds of ecclesiastics were arrested and imprisoned.

There were also examples of personal bravery - like that of the priest who was sent by Eichmann to a concentration camp for intervening openly on behalf of the Jews. There were Germans who concealed Jews and shared their rations with them and who at the risk of their lives helped them to hide or obtain "Aryan" papers, and there were others who maintained an anti-Hitler underground. During the War there were Germans who protested to Hitler at the disgrace the Gestapo was bringing on the German people by acting like beasts of prey, as they described the extermination of the Jews. There were also soldiers who tried to frustrate the killings by direct intervention.

But after all is said and done, these were a small minority. The decisive majority of the German people made peace with the new regime and were phlegmatic witnesses of the most terrible crime ever perpetrated in human history. And when Goebbels, the Nazi Propaganda Minister, made a public bonfire of the creations of men of the spirit, Jewish and non-Jewish - the works of such men as Heinrich Heine, Thomas Mann, Wassermann, Einstein, Freud, Upton Sinclair, H.G. Wells, Zola, Havelock Ellis, and scores of others, because they were "in opposition to the German spirit," he proclaimed:

"Now the soul of the German people can again express itself. These flames not only illuminate the final end of an old era; they also light up the new."
The majority of German intellectuals were ready to warm themselves at those bonfires, and to accept as their spiritual guide the false glitter of these flames.

Nazi Germany became the scene of an anti-Jewish campaign directed and spurred on by brutish passions of hate. The slogan, "Germany awaken - Jewry die!" (Deutschland erwache - Juda verrecke!) appeared on the walls. The Jews were accused of every fault and defect in existence. A poisonous diet of bestial incitement was published weekly in Der Stuermer, that odious newspaper edited by Julius Streicher, who was eventually executed by sentence of the International Military Tribunal.

In order to denigrate the Jew, all his works had to be denounced. For this purpose, the Nazis defiled the greatest Jewish creation of all the ages - the Bible. Alfred Rosenberg, one of the "thinkers" of the Movement, demanded that the Holy Scriptures be removed from any sphere where they could be a spiritual influence or source of religious faith. He considered it a prime defect of the Protestant faith that it sanctifies the Old Testament. There was talk of "the redemption of Jesus" from his connection with Judaism, in order to make it possible to degrade the people into which he was born.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion - that forgery which describes the "Jewish conspiracy to rule the world," which had long been exposed to be a base fabrication was revived as a valuable means of propaganda, and was widely distributed and taught.

Even the loathsome "blood libel," long banned by popes and kings, was revived. It was later to appear in a new and unprecedently cynical guise. On 19 May 1943, at the height of the War, the Chief of the SS, Reichsfuerer Heinrich Himmler, sent to Eichmann's superior officer, Kaltenbrunner, Chief of Head Office for Reich Security (Reichssicherheitshauptamt), hundreds of copies of the book, Jewish Ritual Murder, and asked him to distribute it among those dealing with Jewish affairs. He ordered that steps be taken to spread the blood libel in Rumania, Hungary and Bulgaria, in order to persuade their governments still hesitating to stain their hands with murder, to deport the Jews.

Himmler proposed to Kaltenbrunner the setting up of a special radio station for the spread of anti-Semitism, beamed towards England and the United States, over which material from the Stuermer would be broadcast.

"In addition," he wrote, "personnel should immediately be allocated to follow up notices published by the police and courts in England so that we may be able through our transmitter to broadcast notices to the effect that, in such and such a place, a child is missing, who was murdered of course by the Jews, for ritual purposes." "In my opinion," he added, "we can, in general, make immeasurable progress in setting in motion powerful anti-Semitic propaganda in the English language, and perhaps also in Russian, by using the accusation of ritual murder."
But let us not anticipate events. On 30 January 1933, Hindenburg gave the rule of Germany over into Hitler's hands. Did the old man know what he was doing to his people and the world? After swearing in the members of the new government he said to them: "And now, gentlemen: Forward, with the help of God!" Germany did indeed stride forward - towards war, horror and shame.

Even before the power was firmly in their hands, the Nazis initiated official measures of persecution against the Jews. On 1 April 1933, only two months after the inception of their rule, they organized the "Day of Boycott," to give symbolic form to the goal of uprooting the Jews and driving them out of the German Reich. Jews were beaten and imprisoned in concentration camps; Aryan customers were forbidden to enter Jewish places of business. It was then that Robert Weltsch wrote his unforgettable article in the Juedische Rundschau, the organ of German Zionism: "Wear it with Pride the Yellow Badge!" But even Weltsch could not foresee that the yellow badge would become the distinctive sign which, a few years later, would be forced upon all the Jews in countries ruled by the Nazis, so that they might be more easily identified for the purpose of the blood-bath.

The economic boycott of the Jews was kept up until their final extermination. At a later stage it was enforced by means of legislation. Thus a series of laws excluded Jews from a number of professions. Law, medicine and teaching were closed to them. They were dismissed from the army. In 1935 the Nuremberg laws were enacted which forbade Jews to intermarry with Gentiles and deprived them of German citizenship. Later, they were driven out of industry and expelled from the entire German economy.

After the Nazis had succeeded in using anti-Semitism as an important instrument for securing their power in Germany itself, they planned to use the same poison of hate to bind together the enemies of the Jews throughout the world and to undermine by this means the opposition to the hegemony of Nazi Germany. And while German military might cast its shadow of terror on peoples and lands, silencing the voice of reason, anti-Semitism was exploited as a deliberate expedient to undermine the conscience of the nations, to excite the basest of passions, and to encourage Quisling and other collaborators. The Jew was described in the official publications of the Party and the German Reich as an enemy of the peace of the world, and there was a proposal for an alliance between the peoples against Judaism: "Ein Voelkerbund gegen Juda."

Wherever the Nazi conqueror set foot, there awaited him a prepared group of adventurers, traitors to their country, underworld characters - sometimes plain assassins, who cast lustful eyes on Jewish property and lent their unclean hands to the destructive work. Wherever the German legions trod, they introduced the suppression of human freedom and whipped up Jew-hatred.

Anti-Semitism became an excellent article of "export," to be sown everywhere and cultivated by German ambassadors and representatives abroad. We shall see during this trial how the Nazis used the deliberate fanning of anti-Jewish hostility and agitation in order to form Fascist parties in various countries, to facilitate their work of undermining the independence of peoples and states, and to prepare the Fifth Column which was at their disposal in all the countries they conquered. This Fifth Column was always anti- Semitic and it was organized and developed by exploiting hatred of the Jew. Acceptance of Nazi doctrine and a deliberate, carefully fostered anti-Semitism came to be one and the same thing throughout the entire range of movements developed by the Reich: the Nasjonal Samling, Quisling's party in Norway; Mussert's NSB in Holland; the Croix de Feux in France; the Degrelle movement in Belgium; Hlinka's party in Slovakia; Pavelic's Ustasa in Croatia; the Iron Guard in Rumania; Szalasi's Arrow-Cross in Hungary; the Ukrainska Povstanskaja Armyia in the Ukraine; the Perkonkrust in Latvia; theDNAS in Belorussia; and others. All were fascist, all totalitarian, all anti-Semitic.

Ribbentrop, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, laboured to set up an anti-Semitic International as a vanguard of corruption among all the nations, to pave the way for the armies of conquest. Anti-Semitism in the hands of the Nazis was a weapon no less efficient and deadly than their cannon, bombers, submarines and the rest of the death-dealing weapons which they brought into operation against peoples and lands.

In the end, the military pride of Germany was defeated, the voice of the cannon silenced, the bombers shot down, and the submarines sunk - but the poisonous seed of anti-Semitism spread, still lives, and its sprouts continue to grow. At times it even lifts again its monstrous head, when its followers go out at night to scrawl their swastikas on the walls.

Even on the verge of defeat in World War II, when the balance of the scales was moving towards the side of the Allies, when the Red Army had forced the retreat of the Germans from most of the conquests in the East, when the forces of the West had brought about the surrender of Italy, when the greatest expeditionary force in history was preparing in the British Isles for a mighty invasion in the fateful summer of 1944, when the cities of Germany itself had been in part reduced to ruins - in April of that same year, the German Foreign Ministry convened a meeting of diplomats in the European capitals for a consultation on ways and means of strengthening Jew-hatred in the world. At this meeting, Ambassador Schleier gave an account of the progress of anti-Semitism in England and the United States; suggested lines of action for the future; emphasized that the spread of anti-Semitism was one of Nazi Germany's military aims; and declared that the extermination of the Jews in the East had already deprived Jewry of her biological reserves - though Judaism still existed in the Soviet Union, England and the United States. In his conclusion he said:

"Not only in Germany but also throughout the world, the problem of the Jews must find its solution."
The assembled diplomats then went on to a detailed discussion of the next steps to be taken to disseminate Jew- hatred, by means of literature, caricatures, films and the Press. The activities for each country were planned in accordance with its special circumstances. The Slovakians must be told that the Jews were identical with Bolshevik Russia, and they should be offered, in place of the Pan-Slavic idea, the ideal of Pan-anti-Semitism. In Turkey, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion would be distributed. As for England and the United States, the ether waves should be flooded with improved radio propaganda. In France, the activities of the Anti-Jewish Institute and the exhibitions should be expanded. Propaganda pamphlets should be sent to Switzerland; the Italians told that the Jews deal on the black market, and the Swedes sent postcards with anti-Jewish jokes. Thus the Nazis tried to accomplish through anti- Semitism what they could not achieve by force of arms.

There is a Hebrew saying: "The wicked, even at the gate of Hell, do not repent." In April, 1945, at the moment of his death agonies, when the Soviet cannon were thundering in the streets of Berlin, when Hitler sat imprisoned in the cellar of the Reichskanzlei, his entire world in ruins and his country stricken, over the corpses of six million Jews - at that moment, the Fuerer wrote his political last will and testament. He bequeathed to his people the injunction of eternal hatred for the Jews, and he concluded: "Above all, I enjoin the leaders of the government and the people to uphold the racial laws to the limit and to resist mercilessly the poisoner of all nations, international Jewry."

Even from beyond the grave, Hitler was still trying to sow the seeds of hatred and destruction for the Jewish people.

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