The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

David Irving's Hitler
A Faulty History Dissected
Two Essays by Eberhard Jäckel
Translation & Comments by H. David Kirk

Essay 2

© Copyright Eberhard Jäckel
© Translation Copyright H. David Kirk

Once More
Irving, Hitler and the Murder of the Jews[ 41]

New Documents?

In a way David Irving has triumphed and I have to admit that I may have helped him to that end. In his book Hitler's War, the nimble historian-author declared that the murder of the European Jews had been committed without Hitler's knowledge and against his will. Though everything we know suggests otherwise, with conclusive proof against that absurd thesis being unavailable I had, on August 25, 1977 in this news-paper,[42] brought reasoning and examples to bear against it. Thereupon Irving reproached me in a letter-to-the-editor (dated September 23, 1977) saying I had failed to mention "several new documents" which, he said, gave further reinforcement to his thesis. For example (he mentioned only one): "Hitler's decree in the spring of 1942 to the effect that the 'Final Solution' was to be postponed until the war's end."

When I inquired whether there was such a decree, Irving replied that, although such a document was now no longer in existence, it was still there at the time of the Nuremberg Tribunal.[43] He said that there it had been officially registered as a "Staff Evidence Analysis" but had subsequently "disappeared." One could practically feel Irving's suspicions: the Nuremberg Tribunal must have discovered the truth and, because it should not have been there, had let it disappear.

The "Disappeared" Document Turns Up

Thereupon I followed the matter up. Since Irving had supplied the archival codes, I easily discovered everything, i.e., both the registration and the document itself. A copy was found among the Nuremberg Tribunal data and the original in the archives of the West German Government. The document had thus certainly not "disappeared." I now sent a copy to Irving and added my interpretation of it. He was so delighted that he dropped his previous pieces of "evidence" and, while carefully omitting my explanation, sent out a press release[44] to the effect that proof of his thesis had now been discovered.

Here is the [document's] wording: "Reichsminister[45] Lammers informed me that the Fuehrer had repeatedly declared to him he wished to see the solution of the Jewish question put on the back burner until the end of the war. Accordingly, Minister Lammers considers the current discussions to have merely theoretical value. He would in any case see to it that no basic decisions are made without his knowledge."

There, didn't it say it all clearly in black and white? Not really; much remained to be explained: how is it that after and in spite of such an order millions of Jews were in fact murdered? Was Hitler really a powerless phantom whose orders were not obeyed? And there is also the question why Hitler, according to Irving ignorant of it all, would have ordered the matter to be put on the back burner.

The "Secret" Behind the "Lost" Document

Meanwhile, all this is less important than the pressing question of what this whole document really implies. It has neither a heading nor a signature and there is no date on it. For that reason alone an interpretation of it becomes necessary if it is to become understandable. Who was it to whom Lammers had given the information, and when? Obviously only in the larger context can such questions be answered. Actually the context is not far to find.

The piece belongs to a file of the Nazi government's Ministry of Justice, namely the volume entitled "Treatment of Jews" (catalogue number R 22/52). Only a few pages are of interest. There is a letter of March 12, 1942, in which the officiating Minister of Justice Schlegelberger addresses Lammers, the Minister and Chief Officer of the Chancellery, then at the Fuehrer's Headquarters, saying that he was just "informed of the outcome of a meeting of March 6, concerning the treatment of Jews and Mischlinge (part-Jews[49]." He continues, it seems to him that decisions were being prepared there which he could not but consider utterly impracticable. And since the outcome was to provide a basis for the Fuehrer's ultimate plans he urgently wished an opportunity to "discuss this issue with him [i.e., Lammers]."

Lammers replied on March 18, that he would be glad to comply when, as he anticipated, he would be in Berlin toward the end of the month, at which time he and Schlegelberger "could discuss these issues." Indeed, as other files show, he arrived on March 28, and on April 10 he and Schlegelberger had their confab.

The latter had already on April 5 prepared a lengthy memorandum entitled "Concerning: Final Solution of the Jewish Question," addressed to no fewer than seven high government bureaus. It dealt with the legal treatment of Mischlinge of the first and the second degree,[47] subdivided into those capable of reproduction and those not. The central issue of the memorandum concerned the facilitation of divorce in cases of marriages between people of German blood and Jews. That's the kind of problem with which the efficient officials of the Ministry of Justice had for a long time busied themselves and around which they had engaged in inter-departmental arguments.

Precisely there, in that set of papers we find that "evidential document," and the following conclusion becomes inevitable: the author of the filed notice and the person who talked with Lammers was Schlegelberger, and the point of reference was the discussion of April 10, the subject being the Justice Ministry's worries. And now, without further ado, we come to understand the meaning of Lammer's report of Hitler's declaration.

It did not refer to the bloody Final Solution of the Jewish Question, i.e., the murder of the Jews. Murder was not at all within the jurisdiction of the Minister of Justice. But to whom should he have passed on Hitler's "order"? The subordinates of the Minister of Justice were judges, state prosecutors, and prison officials. Murder, however, was the work of Himmler's subordinates, Heydrich and Eichmann; it originated in the Nazi Party Chancellery and the Central State Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt) .

In contrast, for Schlegelberger, the term "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" implied the multi-faceted procedures to deprive German Jews of their civil rights. It was about such issues that he spoke with Lammers who replied that all this was currently just of theoretical interest, and that the Fuehrer wished to have the matter put on the back burner until the end of the war.

It is all easily understandable: Hitler was never much impressed by jurists; in the third year of the war there were for him more urgent matters than the procedures for facilitating divorces in the case of mixed marriages, aside from the fact that all this was going to be superfluous since by war's end there would be no more Jews.

The jurists however stuck by their case. Not less than a year-and-a-half later, again in regard to the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question," Lammers argued with Bormann about a proposed decree to regulate divorce in the case of mixed marriages between Germans and Jews. And once again it says in a file entry of October 6, 1943: "The head of the Party Chancellery (Bormann) was of the opinion that the Fuehrer would at this time not be willing to receive the report. It was therefore agreed that the issue would have to be postponed."

Seek And Ye Shall Find

All this is well known to Irving. He, however, merely searches for and collects whatever pieces of information fit his preconceptions. That is why he has interpreted a postponement of the "Solution of the Jewish Question" through his pet formula [i.e., the absence of an explicit order by Hitler].

Before long we can expect his newly reinforced thesis to appear as a book, perhaps even with expressions of appreciation for help received from a certain historian in locating the document that provided "proof" for the "correctness" of his thesis!


41. This essay first appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of 22 June 1978, p. 23. 42. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 43. The Allied Governments' court procedure against Nazi war criminals. 44. Several newspapers ac ally published it. 45. Nazi government minister. 46. People of mixed, i.e., Jewish and non-Jewish, descent. 47. First-grade = people with two Jewish grandparents; second-grade = people with one Jewish grandparent.

Work Cited

Jaäckel, Eberhard. David Irving's Hitler: A Faulty History Dissected. H. David Kirk, Translator. Port Angeles, Washington: Ben-Simon Publications, 1993. Library of Congress Catalog Number 93-072355, ISBN 0-914539-08-6.

Ben-Simon Publications, P.O. Box 2124, Port Angeles, Washington, 98362 Ben-Simon Publications, P.O. Box 318, Brentwood Bay, British Columbia, V0S 1A0.

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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