A REPLY TO MARTIN BROSZAT REGARDING THE ORIGINS OF THE FINAL SOLUTION by CHRISTOPHER R. BROWNING
MARTIN BROSZAT's article "Hitler und die Genesis der 'Endlosung.' Aus Anlass der Thesen von David Irving,"1 (Hitler and the Genesis of the Final Solution, in response to David Irving's theses) has been justly praised as the most comprehensive refutation of Irving's claim that the Final Solution was implemented without the Fuhrer's approval.2 In addition, however, Broszat develops his own thesis on the origins of the Final Solution. Although he is undismayed by the absence of any document signed by Hitler explicitly ordering the extermination of the Jews (for such orders would have been given orally),3 Broszat is disturbed by the absence of any reference in postwar interrogations or surviving diaries by close associates like Goring, Ribbentrop, Frank, or Goebbels, to a specific verbal order by Hitler for total extermination.4 Broszat then offers the intriguing possibility that there was no single comprehensive decision to kill, but rather the destruction program developed gradually (shickund schubweise) out of a series of separate killing actions in late 1941 and early 1942. These local massacres were the improvised responses to a situation created by two factors: ideological and political pressures for a judenrein Europe (exerted above all by Hitler himself) and the military failure on the eastern front which caused a lack of both rail transportation and reception areas for the Jews who were to be uprooted. Once underway, the killing program gradually became institutionalized and, having proved itself logistically the simplest solution, finally grew into a comprehensive and distinctive program.5
Broszat's demolition of Irving merits praise, but this provocative and stimulating thesis deserves critical examination. Broszat admits that the origins of the Final Solution, particularly the central decision-making process, remain shrouded in darkness. Conceding that his interpretation cannot be definitively proved, he nonetheless maintains that it has "a far greater probability than the assumption of a comprehensive secret order for the destruction of the Jews in the summer of 1941.6 The question then is whether the evidence Broszat marshalls on behalf of this thesis, together with that which he omits, constitutes a persuasive case for "far greater probability." My conclusion is that, on the contrary, Hitler ordered, or to be more precise, incited or solicited, the preparation of an extermination plan in the summer of 1941. Henceforth, Goring, Himmler, and Heydrich (and gradually others also) were conscious of this as a goal they were striving to achieve. The "industrial revolution" in mass murder was not instantaneous, however. Time was required to make decisions on the basic questions concerning the technology, organization, logistics, location, and inclusiveness of the extermination program. Though not all of these questions were resolved within a few months, the basic outline of the extermination plan resulting from Hitler's order of the previous summer was approved by the Fuhrer in October or November of 1941.
Let us examine more closely the evidence, argument, and probability of Broszat's thesis. In Broszat's view, Goring's authorization to Heydrich of July 31, 1941, to prepare a "total solution" of the Jewish question in those territories of Europe under German influence and to coordinate the participation of those organizations whose jurisdiction was involved, did not signify a decision to kill the European Jews.7 Goring's letter initiated extensive activities for massive resettlement "without at the same time being clear about the consequences." In Broszat's mind, "the determined will of the Nazi leadership now radically to solve the Jewish question did not as yet correspond to any equally clear goal regarding the further fate of those to be deported."8
To support this contention, Broszat relies in part on citations from yet unpublished fragments of Goebbels's diaries from the last half of 1941. These sources reveal Hitler's August pledge to deport the Berlin Jews to the East as soon as the Russian campaign was over, along with the increasing difficulties that the promised deportations encountered in the fall of 1941 because of the stalled military offensive and the transportation shortage. Nowhere, as yet, did Goebbels make reference to plans for systematic extermination. Broszat concludes that Hitler's fanatical determination to create a judenrein Europe had led him into a "blind alley" by November, and that as a "way out," minor extermination actions that were not part of any comprehensive plan began to take place to reduce the number of Jews who had eventually to be deported to Russia.
Broszat's reliance on Goebbels is problematic, for the Propaganda Minister simply is not an accurate barometer for measuring changes in Nazi policy toward the Jews. After the Kristallnacht confrontation between Goebbels and the triumvirate of Goring-Himmler- Heydrich, the latter did not share its hard-won control over Jewish policy with Goebbels. Goebbels may have been a constant inciter of more radical Jewish policies, but he was neither the designer nor executor of those policies. If, in the summer of 1941, Hitler had urged Goring, Himmler, and Heydrich to prepare a feasible program for the extermination of the Jews, they need not have shared such information with Goebbels. Indeed, Goebbels's isolation from the main currents of Jewish policy is demonstrated in his diary entry of March 7, 1942, six weeks after the Warmsee Conference (to which no representative of Goebbels's ministry was invited) and about which he seems to have received only an expurgated and belated report:
I read a detailed report from the SD and police regarding the final solution of the Jewish question. Any final solution involves a tremendous number of new viewpoints. The Jewish question must be solved within a pan- European frame. There are 11,000,000 Jews still in Europe. They will have to be concentrated later, to begin with, in the East; possibly an island, such as Madagascar, can be assigned to them after the war. In any case there can be no peace in Europe until the last Jews are eliminated from the continent.
Presumably the Propaganda Ministry received this report in connection with the Mischlinge conference of March 6, 1942, which one of Goebbels's men attended. The Foreign Office, in contrast, received its copy of the unexpurgated Wannsee Conference protocol (one of thirty) on January 26, and even the low-echelon officials of the Colonial Desk were informed by February 10 that the Madagascar Plan was defunct.10 Clearly, much about Nazi Jewish policy already shared with the ministerial bureaucracy was still being kept from Goebbels. His first awareness of the Final Solution is recorded only on March 27, 1942, several weeks after Belzec began operating.11
That, of course, raises a large number of exceedingly delicate questions. What is to be done with the half-Jews? What with those related to Jews? In-laws of Jews? Persons married to Jews? Evidently we still have quite a lot to do....9
The absence of specific testimony by either Goring or Ribbentrop, about an extermination order coming directly from Hitler should also not be taken too seriously. Goring, on trial for his life, obviously had a personal interest in denying that his authorization to Heydrich on July 31, 194 1, referred to such an order. Ribbentrop, was not a confidant of Hitler on Jewish policy, and Foreign Office participation in the Final Solution was initiated by his ambitious Undersecretary, Martin Luther. The Foreign Minister remained generally oblivious, even in August 1942, to the importance which Hitler attached to the Final Solution. When piqued by SS encroachments on his jurisdiction, he ordered his Foreign Office to cease temporarily pressing Germany's allies on the deportation question. It was not until early 1943 that Ribbentrop perceived the political expediency of engaging in personal diplomacy on behalf of the Final Solution.12
If Broszat relies too much on Goebbels, he completely ignores the testimony of SS personnel who were in charge of devising and carrying out the extermination plan. Himmler and Heydrich did not live to testify, but Adolf Eichmann and Rudolf Hoss did. While the testimony of each man is not without inconsistencies, a common picture does emerge. In his early testimony before the International Military Tribunal, Hoss was clearly confused and ran together events of 1941 and 1942. However, his 1946 testimony before the Polish interrogators in Cracow and his 1947 autobiography present a relatively coherent account. In Berlin, in the summer of 1941, Himmler told Hoss of the Fuhrer's order to exterminate all the European Jews. Hoss was then visited by Eichmann, who discussed the inadequacies of shooting and gas vans as a means of extermination but could not yet give him details about the starting date of the exterminations or the gassing technology to be employed. These questions were still unanswered when Hoss attended a conference of Eichmann's men in Berlin in November. That same fall, Cyclon B gassing was carried out on Russian prisoners in Auschwitz, and then this gas was selected for the Jewish extermination that began with the arrival of Jews from Upper Silesia early in 1942.13
In general, Eichmann's various accounts are more consistent than those of Hoss.14 Eichmann testified that Heydrich informed him late in the summer of 1941 that the Fuhrer had ordered the physical destruction of the Jews. He was then assigned to report on various preparations and killing- actions in the East. First, Heydrich sent him to the already informed Odilo Globocnik in Poland, who showed him the early construction of one camp designed to use exhaust gas from a captured Russian U-boat engine. Eichmann remembered the bright fall colors there. He was then sent by Heinrich Muller to Minsk to witness Einsatzgruppen activities. The weather had already turned cold, for he was wearing a long leather coat that got splashed with the brains of a baby held up to him by a desperate mother. Finally, Muller sent him to Chelmno in late December or early January to report on the gas van killings that had just begun there. Upon his return, he was chided by Muller for not having noted with precision the timing involved in the killing operation. The one event in the sequence that Eichmann did not relate with consistency was his first visit to Auschwitz. While in his court testimony he denied the Hoss account of a fall visit to Auschwitz, in earl ier.interrogat ions he admitted having been sent by Muller to Auschwitz "at the beginning," where he discussed gassing methods with Hoss and was shown the small hut in which Cyclon B pellets had been tested on prisoners. The use of Cyclon B pellets, he noted, was the major difference between Auschwitz and the other camp he had seen. This discrepancy in Eichmann's account does not, however, alter the general thrust of his testimony: that he was informed in the late summer of 1941 of the Fuhrer's decision physically to exterminate the Jews and was sent by his superiors in the SS to report on the experiences gained from various killing operations in the East.15
Does any documentary evidence survive to indicate that planning activities within the SS during the fall of 1941 focused on the difficulties of extermination, not merely on deportation? On August 28, 1941, Eichmann wrote the Foreign Office and added to the old formulation "in view of the imminent final solution" the ominous phrase "now in preparation.16 Although this was not a document of decisive importance, the timing of the change in phraseology is important because it coincides with Eichmann's own account of learning about the extermination order in late summer.
That the Nazis no longer considered mere deportation a satisfactory solution to the Jewish question is reflected in several memoranda of Undersecretary Martin Luther of the Foreign Office in mid- October 1941.17 A number of Spanish Jews had been arrested and interned in France, which led Spain to suggest the possibility of evacuating all Spanish Jews in France (some 2,000) to Spanish Morocco. On October 13, Luther urged negotiations in that direction-a position fully in line with the hitherto prevailing policy of achieving a judenrein Europe through the expulsion of the Jews. Four days later, however, Heydrich's Reich Security Main Office (RSHA) informed Luther by telephone of its opposition to the Spanish proposal, as the Spanish government had neither the will nor the experience to guard the Jews effectively in Morocco. "In addition these Jews would also be all too much out of the direct reach of the measures for a basic solution to the Jewish question to be enacted after the war" [italics added]. The rejection of deportation to Morocco combined with the mention of measures for a basic solution to be enacted after the war (which otherwise would have been avoided) indicates that a fundamental shift in Nazi Jewish policy had occurred and that the Nazis had more than a "vague notion" of what constituted this basic solution.
Also in October 1941, Eichmann's associate, Friedrich Suhr, accompanied the Foreign Office Jewish expert, Franz Rademacher, to Belgrade to deal with the Jewish question in Serbia. After the fate of the adult male Jews was settled (they were shot by army firing squads in reprisal for casualties suffered from partisan attacks), Rademacher reported on the women, children, and elderly: "Then as soon as the technical possibility exists within the framework of a total solution of the Jewish question, the Jews will be deported by waterway to the reception camp in the East."18 just after learning at a conference attended by one of Eichmann's men of plans for a reception camp in the East, Rademacher received a letter from Paul Wurm, foreign editor of Der Sturmer.
Dear Party Comrade Rademacher!
Taken together, these documents indicate that experts on the Jewish question coming to and from Berlin in the month of October were aware of plans for a "reception camp" in the East to receive Jews incapable of heavy labor and "special measures" being arranged for their extermination. The exact location of the planned reception camp was not clear, though the reference to transport by waterway would suggest that a Danube-Black Sea route to Russia was being considered.
On my return trip from Berlin I met an old party comrade who works in the East on the settlement of the Jewish question. In the near future many of the Jewish vermin will be exterminated through special measures.19
Discussion of both gassing and the creation of new camps for Jews in Russia was recorded on yet another occasion in October by 0stministerium Jewish expert Alfred Wetzel, who met with Eichmann and euthanasia supervisor Viktor Brack.
Brack of the Fuhrer Chancellery has declared himself prepared to take part in the construction of the necessary shelters as well as the gassing apparatus. At the moment the apparatus under consideration are not available in sufficient quantity but must first be manufactured. Because in Brack's view the manufacture of the apparatus in the Reich will cause greater difficulties than their manufacture on the spot, he considers it most expedient immediately to send his people, especially his chemist, Dr. Kallmeyer, to Riga, who will take care of everything on the spot.... Sturm ban nfUhrer Eichmann, the expert for the Jewish question in the RSHA, has agreed to this procedure. According to Sturmbannftihrer Eichmann, Jewish camps are about to be set up in Riga and Minsk, to which Jews from the Old Reich will also possibly come. At the moment Jews evacuated from the Old Reich are to come to Lodz, but also to other camps, so that later, insofar as they are capable of labor, they will be put to work in the East. As things stand there is no reason why those Jews who are not fit forwork should not be removed by the Brack method.... The workworthy on the other hand will be transported to the East for labor. Obviously, among the Jews capable of labor, men and women must be separated.20
On October 10, at a conference in Prague chaired by Heydrich, Riga and Minsk were also mentioned as destinations for deported Jews. At this same conference, Heydrich noted that "Nebe and Rasch could take in Jews in the camps for communist prisoners in the theater of operations." Perhaps Heydrich meant Stahlecker and Nebe, the respective Einsatzgruppen commanders in Riga and Minsk. In any case, the fact that deported Jews were to be turned over to Einsatzgruppen commanders, who were supervising the killing of Jews and communists, does not support the conclusion that even in early October Heydrich was in doubt about the specific fate of these deportees.21
These October documents do not yet portray the Final Solution in its definitive form, but they do suggest that frenetic planning was under way and that key ingredients of the Final Solution- special reception camps for the deported Jews and gassing-were being discussed among the experts on Jewish matters, not only in the SS but also in the Fuhrer's Chancellery, the Foreign Office, and the Ostministerium. These documents enhance the credibility of Eichmann and Hoss, not the contention of Broszat that even after the deportations from Germany began in October, the Nazis still had only a vague notion or general conception (allgemeine Vorstellung) of the fate of the deportees. If concrete steps were being taken in planning the fate of the deportees, as Eichmann and Hoss testified, then Broszat's own persuasive arguments vis-a-vis Irving, that such steps were inconceivable without Hitler's knowledge and approval,22 strengthen the case for a Hitler destruction order in the summer of 1941.
In addition to relying on the absence of any reference to an explicit Hitler destruction order by high-ranking Nazis, Broszat also counts upon the improvised nature of the fall deportations from Germany to support his contention that no comprehensive extermination order was issued and that initially the Nazis were unclear as to the fate of the deportees. Broszat notes Himmler's statement in a letter to Gauleiter Greiser of the Wartheland dated September 18, 1941, that 60,000 German Jews would be sent to Lodz to await further deportation east the next spring, and argues that Himmler's ensuing quarrel with Uebelhoer over the reception capacity of Lodz was inexplicable if a destruction plan already existed.23 Broszat concludes that the stalled Russian campaign required use of Polish territory as a winter way station for the deported Jews, and that the inability of the Polish ghettos to absorb more deportees from Germany threatened to thwart the entire deportation program. The pressure could only be relieved by sporadic executions (such as those at Riga and Kovno and in the "ad hoc" extermination camp at Chelmno).
However, it is important to note that the improvised nature of the fall deportations from Germany is not incompatible with systematic plans for extermination stemming from a Hitler order of the previous summer. Goring's July authorization referred to a plan for the entire German sphere of influence in Europe, not Just for Germany and the Protectorate. In August, before such a plan could be devised, Hitler resisted pressure from Heydrich and Goebbels for immediate deportations from Germany.24 As of September 13, Eichmann also told the Foreign Office that no deportation of Serbian Jews to the General Government or Russia was possible, for not even German Jews could be lodged there.25 On September 14, however, Rosenberg urged Hitler to approve the immediate deportation of German Jews in retaliation for the Russian deportation of Volga Germans to Siberia. Four days later, Himmler informed Greiser of interim deportations to Lodz because the Fahrer wished to make the Old Reich and the Protectorate judenfrei as soon as possible, if possible by the end of the year. In Prague, shortly thereafter, Heydrich likewise announced the Fuhrer's wish that, insofar as possible, the German Jews were to be deported to Lodz, Riga, and Minsk by the end of the year.26 Both Himmler and Eichmann (later in his conversation with Wetzel) definitely treated the fall deportations as temporary. The Jews would be sent "to the East" in the spring, by which time preparations for a "total solution" to the Jewish question would be complete. The fall deportations were indeed improvised, because they originated in a snap decision by Hitler in mid-September to seek an interim solution for Germany even before the "total solution" for all of Europe could be designed and implemented. If the July authorization and the fall deportations stemmed from two different decisions, the improvised nature of the latter does not exclude the comprehensive intentions of the former.
In addition to the scant documentary evidence and the testimony of Eichmann and Hoss, circumstantial evidence should be considered as well. Is Broszat's contention that the Nazis were so obsessed with deportation that in October 1941, after the deportations from Germany had already begun, they still had only a "general conception" of the fate of the Jews-even plausible? When Broszat does attempt to describe more specifically the Nazis' perception of this fate, the result is scarcely distinguishable from the plan for systematic extermination he elsewhere denies. Of this general conception he writes, "The Jews would be put to hard labor in ghettos and camps in the East, whereby many would soon die, and as for those incapable of work one could help to liquidate useless prisoners, similar to what was then being done in the concentration camps in Germany and the work camps in Poland."27 Since the vast majority of Jews to be deported to the East would be women, children, elderly, or sick, and the work-worthy would be a distinct minority put to exhausting labor that would soon render them likewise "useless," the Nazi deportation program implied systematic extermination even in Broszat's own terms.
It is unlikely that the Nazis were acting blindly and did not perceive these implications. The SS had already been forced to call off deportations to the Lublin Reservation in the spring of 1940 because limited but indiscriminate deportation ofjews without careful preparation had proved chaotic and unfeasible. There was no desire for a repetition of that fiasco, yet the attempt to resettle Europe's entire Jewish population in Russia would have had far graver consequences. German planners acknowledged openly and frequently that exploitation of Russian food supplies was going to entail the mass starvation of native inhabitants. In a meeting of state secretaries on May 2, 1941, it was noted that ". . . umpteen million people will doubtless starve to death when we extract what is necessary for us from the country."28 The Wirtschaftsstab Ost report of May 23, 1941, stated:
The population of this area [the forest regions], especially the urban population, will inevitably face a great famine.... Many tens of millions of people will be superfluous in this area and will die or have to emigrate to Siberia.29 Attempts to rescue the population there from famine by drawing upon surplusses from the black earth region can only be at the expense of provisioning Europe. They endanger Germany's capacity to hold out in war, they endanger Germany's resistance to blockade. Absolute clarity must prevail in this regard.30
And in August, Goring "reckoned with great loss of life on grounds of nutrition...31 Was anyone seriously considering a massive influx of additional people into Russia under these circumstances without being clear about the consequences?
When in the summer of 1940 SS experts in Jewish matters began seriously to plan for the Madagascar resettlement, they produced within two months a neatly printed brochure, complete with table of contents and maps, outlining the future governance and economy of the "superghetto."32 However fantastic the Madagascar Plan may have been, the planners were men who clearly thought beyond the initial stage of deportation. By 1941 they could have had few illusions about the practical difficulties of solving the Jewish question. It is inconceivable that they spent the autumn of 1941 wrestling with the obstacles to deportation while resting content with nothing more than a vague notion of how to cope with the most important problem of all-the disposition of the deportees.
If Broszat's thesis is not accepted as one of "far greater probability," it is incumbent upon the critic (unless, of course, he is David Irving) to provide a scenario that is at least as feasible. The decision to launch the Einsatzgruppen massacres of the Russian Jews was a quantum leap in Nazi Jewish policy and should not be seen (as Broszat seems to see it) merely in the context of a Vernichtungskrieg (war of destruction) in the East, unconnected with the Nazis' treatment of the total European Jewish question.33 Nazi Jewish policy had already reached a blind alley when Hitler's decision to invade Russia posed the old dilemma that further military success would burden the expanding German empire with millions more Jews. The decision to kill the Russian Jews solved this dilemma and henceforth beckoned as a solution for the European Jews as well.
In such a context, what constituted a Hitler destruction order? When Goring authorized Heydrich to make plans for a total solution to the Jewish question, the extermination of the Russian Jews was already in full swing. We do not know if Hitler gave a more explicit verbal order to Himmler and Heydrich, but such an order would scarcely have been necessary. Given the political structure of the Third Reich, in which rival paladins vied for Hitler's favor and were successful in the degree to which they anticipated and realized his desires, Himmler and Heydrich needed little more than a nod from Hitler to perceive that the time had come to extend the killing process to the European Jews. The Goring authorization in this context was, at the very least, sufficient incitement to prepare a program for systematic extermination.
Given the already apparent inadequacies of the Einsatzgruppen operations and their even greater unsuitability for nonRussian Jews, Himmler and Heydrich faced a number of problems: What preparatory measures were necessary? How and where were the Jews to be killed? How was the needed cooperation of other institutions and countries to be achieved? What about the utilization of Jewish labor? Which Jews might have to be exempted for other reasons? The Nazis were venturing into uncharted territory and attempting the unprecedented; they had no maps to follow.
Preparatory measures were least difficult in Germany. In September, the German Jews were marked. In October, further emigration was forbidden, and Slovakia, Croatia, and Rumania were asked to permit the inclusion of Jews of their citizenship residing in Germany in the deportations from the Reich. In November, the 11th Decree to the Reich Citizenship Law provided for the loss of citizenship and the forfeit of property by Jews residing outside German borders. Admittedly, such preparatory measures would have been necessary whether the German Jews were destined merely for deportation or for extermination as well. Such preparations, however, fad to support the picture of a bureaucracy incapable of analyzing the consequences of its actions.
More difficult were the questions of how and where to carry out the killings. The organizational problem was overcome by merging three already existing programs with which the Nazis had prior experience: the concentration camp system, euthanasia gassing, and Eichmann's specialty- forced emigration and population resettlement. Auschwitz, because of its rail connections, was chosen as one site for a killing center. The possibility of other sites in Russia may have been weighed until the military and transportation situation made this impracticable. Poland then became the chief center of the extermination camps. The exact type of gas to be used remained unresolved; in the end, the Polish camps, manned by euthanasia experts, retained carbon monoxide, while Auschwitz and Maidanek adopted Cyclon B.34
Presumably Hitler approved these plans before construction of the extermination camps commenced, but the dates are difficult to ascertain precisely. The Polish investigating committee concluded that work on Chelmno and Belzec may have begun as early as October 1941.35 Arndt and Scheffler estimate October or November for Chelmno and an even vaguer "winter 1941/2" for Belzec.36 The judgment of the Chelmno trial in Bonn likewise estimated October or November, while the Munich state court concluded that Belzec construction began in the late fall of 1941.37 Hilberg dates the beginning of the construction of the special Birkenau camp at Auschwitz at "the end of 1941."38 One surviving document dates a design change (from two to five crematory ovens) to February 27, 1942, which clearly indicates that design and construction were already under way before this.39 Arndt and Scheffler accept January 1942 for the first gassings of Jews in makeshift facilities at Auschwitz.40 It is probable, then, that construction of the major extermination camps at Belzec and Auschwitz began in November or December 1941, roughly at the same time that German Jews were first massacred at Kovno-November 25-and Riga- November 30-and that gassing operations began at Chelmno-December 8. Reassignment of the euthanasia personnel (Sonderkommando Lange) to Chelmno by Brack in the Fuhrer's Chancellery and the construction of the technologically less sophisticated extermination camp there must have been slightly earlier. This cluster of events suggests a late October or November approval by Hitler of the extermination plan he had solicited the previous summer.
The behavior of Heydrich and Himmler at that time is compatible with this hypothesis. On October 30, Heydrich sent the first five "Activity and Situation Reports of the Einsatzgruppen of the Sipo-SD in Russia" to the Foreign Office. These reports detailed the massacres that had taken place the previous summer. As the Foreign Office copy was often only one of as many as 100 copies, it is evident that such information was being widely circulated.41 Perhaps Heydrich's timing was fortuitous. Or perhaps he was attuning recipients to the "new realities," preparing them psychologically for participation in the Final Solution. On November 11, Himmler told Kersten that "the destruction of the Jews is being planned.... Now the destruction of the Jews is imminent."42 And on November 29, Heydrich issued his invitations to the Warmsee Conference, originally scheduled for December 9 but postponed until January 20, 1942.
For many who had been waiting anxiously for direction from Berlin on the Jewish question, December was a month of resolution. An inquiry of the Reichskommissariat Ostland as to whether all Jews should be liquidated regardless of age, sex, and economic interest was answered from Berlin on December 18: "In the meantime clarity on the Jewish question has been achieved through oral discussions: economic interests are to be disregarded on principle in the settlement of this problem."43 On December 16, Hans Frank, who had sent his State Secretary Buhler to Berlin to find out what was behind the Warmsee invitation, reported to his followers in the General Government that the Polish Jews could not be deported; thus they would have to liquidate these Jews themselves. He did not know exactly how, but measures would be taken "in connection with the great measures to be discussed in the Reich" to accomplish this task. If unsure of the method, Frank had no doubt of the goal: "Wir miwen dieJuden vernichten."44
Frank's comments foreclose the possibility that the agenda of the Warmsee Conference changed radically between the initial invitation and the eventual meeting. Heydrich clearly had approval for the destruction plan by the end of November. At the Warmsee Conference, Heydrich announced a comprehensive, Europe-wide program and unmistakably asserted that no Jews were to survive "as a germ cell of a new Jewish reconstruction.45 This was no vague conception, but rather a firm commitment. Similarly, there was nothing improvised about the purpose of the conference; it was to organize the participation of the ministries in an already decided Jewish policy, not to debate that policy.
While the goal and scope of German Jewish policy were no longer in doubt, some aspects of the Final Solution were still unsettled. Various "possible solutions" were discussed at the Wannsee Conference, which Eichmann confirmed to have been a discussion of "killing possibilities."46 Though the Chelmno gas vans were already operating and the makeshift facilities at Auschwitz were just being put into operation, apparently it was not until mid-March, with the opening of Belzec, that the gas chamber passed the final test. Much of the Warmsee Conference was spent discussing the treatment of Mischlinge and German Jews in mixed marriages, issues that would never be definitely resolved.
Thus, the July 31 authorization of Goring to Heydrich should not be seen as the Hitler order from which the Final Solution sprang full-blown. It was rather a commission to draw up a destruction plan, the completion of which inevitably involved the exploration of various alternatives, false starts, and much delay. It was this seeming ambivalence and confusion surrounding German Jewish policy in the late summer and early autumn of 1941, aggravated by the decision in mid-September to deport German Jews before the new killing facilities had been devised, that led Broszat and Uwe Dietrich Adam before him to deny the crucial significance of the July 31 authorization.47 By late October or November, however, the pieces were falling into place, a plan was ready for Hitler's approval, and the first concrete steps for implementing the Final Solution were taken.
Given the state of the evidence, this interpretation cannot be definitively proved any more than can Martin Broszat's. It is, as he states, a question of probability. This scenario, however, is a more likely one than Broszat's tour de force, because the latter would require us to disregard the historical context of the Russian massacres (within which the July authorization for the total solution to the Jewish question was given), to assume that references in the fall of 1941 to shipping the deported German Jews (and surviving Serbian Jews) further east the following spring are to be interpreted literally rather than as code words for extermination, to ignore the explicit testimony of Eichmann and Hoss (while accepting arguments from silence based on Goebbels's diaries), and to overlook the implications and timing of the Warmsee Conference.
The original German version of this paper was published in the Viertel- jahrsheftefir Zeitgeschichte (29/1 January 198 1), to whose editors I am grate- ful for permission to publish this revised version in English. The revisions were made possible through research supported by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
1. Martin Broszat, "Hitler und die Genesis der 'Endlosung.' Aus Anlass der Thesen von David Irving, " Vierte1jahrsheftefar Zeitgeschichte 25, no. 4 (1977): 739-75.
2. Bradley Smith, "Two Alibis for the Inhumanities: A.R. Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century and David Irving, Hitler's War," German Studies Review 1, no. 3 (1978): 333; Henry Friedlander, "Toward a Methodology of Teaching about the Holocaust,". Teachers College Record 80, no. 3 (1979): 526; Charles Sydnor, "The Selling of Adolf Hitler: David Irving's Hitler's War, " Central European History 21, no. 2 (1979): 182-85.
3. Broszat, "Genesis," 756.
4. Ibid., 747. Broszat states his viewpoint succinctly: "It appears to me quite the opposite, that there was no comprehensive general destruction order at all, [that] the program of destruction developed little by little institutionally and de facto out of numerous individual actions up to the spring of 1942 and attained definitive character after the erection of the death camps in Poland (between December 1941 and July 1942)."
5. Ibid., n. 26 on p. 753.
6. Ibid., 753.
7. Nuremberg Document 710-PS, in Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal [Blue Series] (42 vols.; Nuremberg, 1947-49) [hereafter cited as TMW] 26: 266-67. Broszat accepts the arguments of Uwe Dietrich Adam, Judenpolitik im Dritten Reich (Dilsseldorf, 1972), 308-14, concerning the significance, or more precisely the insignificance, of this document, but not Adam's subsequent conclusion that a definitive decision was reached between September and December.
8. Broszat, "Genesis," 748.
9. The Goebbels Diaries 1942-1943, ed. Louis Lochner (Garden City, New York, 1948), 115-16.
10. Christopher R. Browning, The Final Solution and the German Foreign Office (New York, 1978), 79-81.
11. Goebbels Diaries, 147-48.
12. Browning, Final Solution, 174-75.
13. Rudolf Hoss, Commandant of Auschwitz (New York, 1959), 135-38, 173-76, 197, as opposed to* his earlier testimony in TMWC 11: 396 ff., and Nuremberg Document 3868-PS, in TMWC 38: 275-79.
14. "Eichmann Tells His Own Damning Story," Life Magazine 49/22 (November 28, 1960); transcript of Eichmann's interrogations by the Israeli police, Bunclesarchiv, All. Proz. 6/1-6; Eichmann's handwritten "Mcine Memoiren, " Bundesarchiv, All. Proz. 6 /119; Eichmann's handwritten notes to his attorney, Bundesarchiv, All. Proz. 6/169; Eichmann, Adolf, defendant. In the District Court ofjerusalem, Criminal Case No. 40 / 6 1; Bernd Nellessen, Der Prozess von Jerusalem (Dusseldorf, 1964).
15. The motivation for Eichmann's change of testimony is highly suspect in any case. In the Life magazine account he said he had visited Auschwitz I I repeatedly, " though he did not specify the time of his first visit. He characterized Hess then as "an excellent comrade and a very proper fellow. ... I was on close, comradely terms with Hess . . . I liked to visit him." After excerpts of Hess's autobiography were read to Eichmann by the Israeli police interrogators, which in Eichmann's mind attempted to shift too much responsibility from the WVHA (Economic and Administrative Main Office of Oswald Pohl, in charge of the camps) to the RSHA (Reich Security Main Office of Heydrich, including the Gestapo) and to Eichmann personally, both his account and his opinion of Hess changed. He now claimed he had not visited Auschwitz until the spring or summer of 1942. He provided his defense attorney with many notes to support this contention, "because," he admitted candidly, "I must prove Hess the archliar, that I have had nothing at all to do with him and his gas chambers and his death camp . . . . "
16. Politisches Archiv des Auswdrtigen Amtes [hereafter cited as PA], Inland 11 A/B 47/1, Eichmann to D 111, August 28, 1941.
17. PA, Pol. Abt. 111 246, Luther memoranda of October 13 and 17, 1941.
18. Akten zur deutschen Aussenpolitik, 1918-1945 [hereafter cited as ADAP], Series D, vol. 13, part 2 (Gottingen, 1970), 570-72.
19. PA, Inland 11 A/B 59/3, Wurm to Rademacher, October 23, 1941.
20. Nuremberg Document 365-NO.
21. H.G. Adler, Theresienstadt 1941-1945 (2nd ed.; Tubingen, 1960), 720-22. The day following Heydrich's meeting in Prague, Stahlecker informed the Generalkommissar of Latvia, Dr. Drechsler, that a concentration camp near Riga was to be set up for Jews from the Reich and the Protectorate. On November 8, Sturmbannfi(hrer Otto Lange of Einsatzgruppe A confirmed that 25,000 Jews were coming to the new camp at Salspils near Riga and another 25,000 to Minsk. When Dr. Trampeclach of the RK Ostland wrote to Berlin to urge that the transports be stopped, Dr. Leibbrandt of the Ostministerium replied that there was no cause for worry since the Jews would be sent "further east." Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the Europeanjews (Chicago, 1961), 232.
22. Broszat, "Genesis," 756-57.
23. Ibid., 750-51.
24. Bernhard Loesener, "Als Rassereferent im Reiclisministerium des Innern, " Vierteliahrshefte far Zeitgeschichte 9, no. 3 (1961): 303; Broszat, "Genesis," 750.
25. PA, Inland 11 g 194, Rademacher marginalia of September 13 on Benzler letter of September 12, 1941.
26. Adler, Theresienstacit, 720-22.
27. Broszat, "Genesis," 748.
28. Nuremberg Document 2718-PS, in TMWC 31: 84.
29. "Because rail transportation was out of the question," the report noted earlier, "this problem [of emigration to Siberia] will also be an extremely difficult one. "
30. Nuremberg Document 126-EC, in TMWC 36: 141, 145.
31. National Archives, Wi / ID 1420, " Anlage zu: Verb. St. d. OKW / Wi R6 Amt beim Rcichsmarschall v. 14.8.4l." In the same document, I I the Reichsmarschall opined that the Jews in the territories dominated by Germany had nothing more to seek. " I am grateful to Prof. Dr. Helmut Krausnick for sending me a copy of this document.
32. PA, Inland 11 g 177, Reichssicherheitshauptamt Madagaskar Projekt.
33. Broszat, "Genesis," 747. Broszat does concede that the Einsatzgrup pen massacres provided a lesson that liquidation was the simplest and quickest solution to the Jewish question, but he makes it clear that in his opinion this was a lesson that was not learned or applied to the European Jews until much later.
34. Gerald Rcitlinger, The Final Solution (New York, 1961), 145-54; Ino Arndt and Wolfgang Scheffler, "Organisierter Massenmord an juden in nationalsozialistischen Vern ichtu n gslagern, " Vierte1jahrshefte ftr Zeitgeschichte 24, no. 2 (1976): 122-35.
35. Reitlinger, Final Solution, 244.
36. Arndt and Scheffler, "Massenmord," 116, 118.
37. Adalbert Rfickerl, NS- Vern ichtungslager in? Spiegel deutscher Strafprozesse (Munich, 1977), 262, 132.
38. Hilberg, Destruction, 565.
39. Nuremberg Document 4472-NO.
40. Arndt and Scheffler, "Massenmord," 130.
41. Browning, Final Solution, 72-76.
42. Felix Kersten, The Kersten Memoirs 1940-1945 (New York, 1957), 119. In addition to Heydrich and Himmler, Rosenberg also was aware by November 18, 1941, that the Jewish question could be solved "only in a biological eradication of all Jews in Europe. " Cited in Christian Streit, Keine Kameraden.- Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen 19411945 (Stuttgart, 1978), n. 274 on p. 355, from: PA, Pol. XIII, "Berichte der VAA bcim OKW und den AOKs 1941-42."
43. Nuremberg Document 3666-PS, in TMWC 32: 437.
44. Das Diensttagebuch des deutschen Generalgouverneurs in Polen 1939-1945, eds. Werner Praeg and Wolfgang Jacobmeyer (Stuttgart, 1975), 457-58; TMWC 12: 68-69; Hilberg, Destruction, 263.
45. ADAP, E, 1 (1969), ~06.
46. Nellessen, Prozess, 206.
47. While I differ with Adam on the significance of the July 31 authorization, in contrast to Broszat, Adam and I are in full accord that November 1941 is the latest plausible date for Hitler's approval of the Final Solution. Adam, Judenpolitik, 312.