The Holocaust, its Causes

There were indeed “some segments” in America that dabbled with fascism, including pro-Nazi German-American Bunds, and William Pelley’s Silver Shirts – but all were suppressed when the war broke out.

On YouTube you can find “Why We Fight,” a series of war-propaganda films shown to American troops during WWII. One curious omission: While the segment about the rise of the Nazis details all kinds of crimes, there is no mention, ever in the whole series, of Nazi antisemitism. We do see synagogues burned and rabbis arrested, but only in the context of a general Nazi crackdown on religion (probably much exaggerated – the Nazi Party’s relationship to the churches was complicated, some Nazis being Christians, some atheists, and some hoping to replace Christianity with a revived Gernanic paganism). Probably the producers did not want to risk inflaming American antisemitism, which was still very much a thing then.

Germany declared war on the US, not the other way around.

There may be a grain of truth buried in this theory, but it’s not really to do with the US involvement in the war. Hitler wanted a Judenrein Reich, not only as an end in itself but because he didn’t think he could win the war without dealing with what he saw as a domestic threat/weakness. In principle he was happy if that was acheived by all Jews emigrating from, or being expelled from, the Reich. But
(a) wartime conditions made that impossible, plus (b) invasion and occupation of huge chunks of Eastern Europe made the problem bigger, not smaller, because the expanded Reich territory embraced more and more Jews. So this combination of circumstances meant that emigration/expulsion could not acheive this war aim, and other methods would have to be resorted to.

On this view, its not the involvement of the US in the war that made systematic murder “necessary”, but the involvement of the USSR. Arguably US involvement made it still more “necessary”, but I think the combination of circumstances that led inexorably to this was in place from June 1941.

If there had been no war, or if the war had been confirfed to the West, there might have been no Holocaust, in the sense of a systematic, organised attempt to murder all Jews. There would still have been much murder and mass expulsion, of course.

I am not arguing at all. I am surprised you think I am.

The actual campaign of relentless mass murder began on June 22 1941 when the Germans invaded the Soviet Union. The army was followed by Einsatzgruppen who were murdering every Jew they came across systematically. It was only after the terrible human cost (to the killers) that the Nazis realized they needed to find faster and more indirect ways to deal with the Jews. After experiments with killing vans, explosives and other measures did the concept of the extermination camp come to the forefront.

Gosh here is another Wiki-article pushing the same line. I have never before heard anyone make such a claim.

Sounds like wiki may be suffering an attack of fake history posting by the Forces of Darkness.

One early observation here: Remember that those were the Nazis using their own propaganda as a convenient excuse to ramp up the holocaust. In reality there is strong and circumstantial evidence to report that the final pieces of the Holocaust were there already in place before October 1941.

Christopher Robert Browning, a professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a specialist on the Holocaust, points that in this PDF paper from 2003:

UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM CENTER FOR ADVANCED HOLOCAUST STUDIES Initiating the Final Solution The Fateful Months of September–October 1941

Important for the discussion at hand is that, while there are historians that propose the view from the OPs article, the consensus historians have is not that one.

After several decades of debate, historians have reached relative consensus on a number of important points concerning the decisions for the Final Solution.

First, there was no single decision, no “big bang,” that produced the Final Solution. Rather, there were a series of decisions taken incrementally; the decision-making process was cumulative and prolonged. Second, the Final Solution on Soviet territory did not result from a clear decision and unequivocal instructions given to the Einsatzgruppen prior to the invasion on June 22, 1941. Instead closure of this phase of the decision-making process was reached in mid-summer, and both awareness and implementation of the new goal spread unevenly across the Eastern Front. Third, there is more continuity than discontinuity between the decisions for the Final Solution taken in 1941 and those behind the policies of ethnic cleansing and demographic engineering—what the Nazis euphemistically called “population policy” or Bevölkerungspolitik—in 1939–40. Fourth, decision-making did not abruptly stop in 1941; vital decisions continued to be made in 1942 and even later. Finally, most historians agree that the decision-making process was an interactive one between the center and the periphery, and it was based on both consensus and polycracy. It must be studied from below as well as from above. Christopher Browning • 3

Within this broad consensus, there still are differences of interpretation and emphasis, in particular concerning the extension of systematic and total mass murder from Soviet to the rest of European Jewry. The American historian Richard Breitman argues in the “intentionalist” tradition that a basic decision was taken in early 1941 in the context of preparation for Operation Barbarossa.1 Subsequent decisions are best understood as decisions of implementation. The Swiss historian, Philippe Burrin argues for a position he dubs “conditional intentionalism,” namely that Hitler had already decided in the mid-1930s that under the condition of war on all fronts he would settle accounts with the Jews. This condition, he argues, was fulfilled in the fall of 1941 in the context of Hitler’s frustration over the prospect of a prolonged war on all fronts due to failure of the Blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union and the imminent entry of the United States into the war.2 The German historian Christian Gerlach,3building on the earlier work of the Austrian Hans Safrian4 and Dutchman L.J. Harthog,5 argues that Hitler, in December 1941, took the “fundamental decision” or Grundsatzentscheidung to murder all the Jews of Europe. He emphasizes the failure of Barbarossa in that it blocked earlier plans to expel the Jews to the east, and especially Pearl Harbor and the resulting U.S. entry into the war. This meant the end of any usefulness to holding the Jews of Europe hostage and ushered in the “world war” (as opposed to a mere European conflict) that Hitler had prophesied in January 1939 would result in the destruction of the Jews in Europe. And finally, Peter Longerich has portrayed the development of Nazi “Jewish policy” as composed of four stages of escalation. He downplays 1941 while emphasizing September 1939 as the beginning of Vernichtungspolitik or “policy of annihilation” and April/May 1942 as the point at which the Final Solution emerged in its definitive form.6

In contrast, my own position emphasizes the importance of September/October 1941 over early 1941, December 1941, or spring 1942. It places these key decisions of September/October 1941 in a context of euphoria of victory rather than frustration over failed Blitzkrieg and either imminent or actual American entry into the war. It places greater weight on the key roles of Hitler and Himmler im comparison to regional and local initiatives. Quite simply, my thesis is that in September/October 1941 the Nazis crossed the watershed from conceiving of a solution to the Jewish question through expulsion and decimation to envisioning the Final Solution as the systematic and total mass murder of all Jews within the German grasp.

In essence: That last item pointed at by Paul_in_Saudi is likely to have taken place, but it was like corroborating Hitler’s predictions when it was like the predictions of Nostradamus, that can be compared to that of an arrow being shot at a tree trunk on which the believers later paint a target around where it landed. The Holocaust was already on its way before the Nazis painted the target on the American intervention as a reason for the Holocaust, in this case as a way to also exonerate themselves (in their minds) for their past and future crimes.

Historical sense has never been a prerequisite for putting forth theories about history. There’s lots of people with vested interests in the notion that Hitler held a gun to the head of every German for 12 years and no one else bears moral responsibility for the war or the Holocaust - from apologists for their ancestors’ actions, to anti-Americans who want to blame the entire sequence of events on Versailles, to those who have contemporary reasons for denying that anti-Semitism is a major factor in the political beliefs of some people. Even the major great theories of history have to find some economic or rational power-maximizing reason for the death camps because they have no room for the psychology of evil as a behavioral motivator in itself.

Thank you GIGObuster. Your post seems to be quite clear & definitive.

Except there were orders to commit genocide before the fall of 1941.

My understanding is that experiments with gassing people in various ways were well under way by 1940, and that the process culminating in the Wannsee conference wasn’t to invent out of the blue a policy to “eliminate” Jews, but rather to rationalise and industrialise, under the sole authority of the SS, the various “actions” that had already been put into effect, and to establish a single overarching principle: to work to death those that could work, and accept that the rest would fall by the wayside (by means unspecified but left to the SS to undertake).

It’s noticeable that the protocol of the meeting isn’t written as an action plan for those involved, it’s clearly written for the higher-up, and anyone else who needed to know, to demonstrate that all government ministries had their fingerprints on it.

Bear in mind that Hitler’s long-term victory scenario is well-known: The Greater Germanic Reich – Germany would find its lebensraum by destroying the nations of Poland and Russia – not merely conquering and exploiting them like a colony in Africa, but destroying them utterly as nations, and building a greater Germany on their bones. Their territory would be colonized by Germans. As for the native inhabitants, except for a lucky few like the Volga Germans, all would be either enslaved, exterminated, or driven to Siberia. Then Germany would be a continental power, on a par with the United States, and ready (in the next generation) to challenge the U.S. for global dominance. Now, of course this process would require as a first step the extermination of the vast Jewish populations of Poland and the USSR – they couldn’t allow the “Jewish race-poison” to exist in the GGR.

And also the large Jewish population of Germany itself, many of whom had thought of themselves as fully assimilated, and some of whom were German war veterans of WWI.

Germany had been for some time previously one of the best places in the world to be Jewish.

Didn’t Hitler start ramping up his plans after he got a diagnosis of Parkinson’s? That was around 1941 too.

I am not aware he ever was diagnosed. I have cracked open the free sample of the new Hitler biography, Downfall. I notes that he was in fine physical shape in the spring of 1940, the invasion of the west. He was a wreck in just five years.

Might amphetamines have had something to do with that?

The details hardly matter. He was a wreck, and his decline was quite rapid. But yeah, he was a druggie.

The book Blitzed is much overlooked. No understanding of this period can be complete without understanding that huge numbers of Germans were drug addicts.

I have to go to work.