Chapter 65: The Racial State—the Third Reich
The figure of Adolf Hitler towers over the twentieth century. He, and the state which he created, National Socialist Germany, remains one of the most controversial topics of contemporary history and can still command media and popular attention more than half a century later.
Despite all the intense scrutiny, it is difficult to obtain a source which presents an objective overview of Hitler and the Third Reich. A large amount of what has been written about Hitler and Nazi Germany has varied between outright lies and sycophantic (and distorted) praise—neither of which contribute to a proper understanding of the correct historical context of this time period. The reason for these distortions is that the Third Reich era still influences politics in the twenty-first century, and as a result, is the object of a large number of subjective opinions.
Adolf Hitler, unquestionably the single most popular politician in European history.
The faithful gather at the “Reich Party Day” at Buckberg, Schleswig Holstein, October 1933. In a referendum held after he came to power, Hitler polled over 99 percent approval from the German people, and their willingness to fight to the end for him showed that this result was not faked.
The Jesse Owens and the “Big Lie” Myths
Two examples of distortions which have entered the popular consciousness about Hitler are the story of the 1936 Olympics and the black American athlete Jesse Owens, and the equally famous story of the “Big Lie” technique.
It is often claimed that Hitler refused to shake Owens’ hand after he had won a race at the 1936 Olympics, because the athlete was black. For example, the Encarta Encyclopedia’s entry on Owens said that “Owens . . . [was] one of the greatest track-and-field athletes of all time . . . A member of the US track team in the 1936 Olympic Games, held in Berlin, Owens won four gold medals . . . Despite Owens’ outstanding athletic performance, German leader Adolf Hitler refused to acknowledge his Olympic victories because Owens was black.”
The reality was substantially different. Hitler attended the first day of the track-and-field events on August 2, 1936, and personally congratulated the German athlete Hans Woellke, who was the first German to win a gold medal in the Olympics since 1896. Throughout the rest of the day, Hitler received and congratulated all the event winners, German and non-German, in his VIP box.
The next day, August 3, the chairman of the International Olympic Committee, Comte Baillet-Latour, approached Hitler early in the morning and told the German leader that he had violated Olympic protocol by having winners paraded in his box. Hitler apologized and promised that he would from then on refrain from publicly congratulating any winners, German or otherwise. It was on this second day that Owens won his gold medals, and in line with the Olympic Committee’s ruling, Hitler did not shake his hand, or anybody else’s, at the games again. It is therefore false to claim that Hitler deliberately chose to ignore Owens.
In Owens’ autobiography, The Jesse Owens Story, he recounted how Hitler had stood up and waved to him. “When I passed the Chancellor he arose, waved his hand at me, and I waved back at him. I think the writers showed bad taste in criticizing the man of the hour in Germany,” wrote Owens. Ironically, the only person who refused to shake Owens’ hand was American president Franklin D. Roosevelt. The president, involved in an election and concerned about winning the vote in southern states, refused to see Owens at the White House as was traditional for the American Olympic champions. Owens was later to remark that it was Roosevelt, not Hitler, who snubbed him. “The president didn’t even send me a telegram,” Owens wrote in his autobiography, adding that Hitler, on the other hand, sent the black athlete a commemorative inscribed cabinet photograph of himself.
Another common allegation about the 1936 Olympic Games is that Owens’ victory “disproved the Nazi master race theory.” In fact, Germany won the Olympic Games with a total of eighty-nine medals, and the US came second with fifty-six.
The story about the “Big Lie” technique is yet another widely-believed distortion. The most common version of this story is that Hitler invented or advocated the principle “the bigger the lie, the more people will believe it.” In fact, the truth is precisely the opposite, and Hitler actually warned people against the “Big Lie” technique, which, he said, was used by Jews.
The quotation comes from chapter ten of Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf, where he wrote that the technique was used by Jews against the World War I German general Ludendorff: “But it remained for the Jews, with their unqualified capacity for falsehood, and their fighting comrades, the Marxists, to impute responsibility for the downfall [of Germany in WWI] precisely to the man who alone had shown a superhuman will and energy in his effort to prevent the catastrophe which he had foreseen and to save the nation from that hour of complete overthrow and shame. By placing responsibility for the loss of the world war on the shoulders of Ludendorff they took away the weapon of moral right from the only adversary dangerous enough to be likely to succeed in bringing the betrayers of the Fatherland to Justice. All this was inspired by the principle—which is quite true in itself—that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily, and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously” (Mein Kampf, Chapter X, Adolf Hitler).
ENGLISH SOCCER TEAM AT 1936 OLYMPICS
Hidden by all the false propaganda about Jesse Owens and the 1936 Berlin Olympics is the reality that many of the competing teams were overawed by Hitler’s Germany and enthusiastically supported it. Above, the English soccer team greets the crowd with Nazi salutes before kickoff.
Nazis Suppress Democracy
It is also claimed that Hitler “subverted democracy.” This is an allegation which is most certainly true, except for the fact that there was never any pretense over this matter. The Nazi Party openly abhorred democracy and aimed to replace it with the “leadership principle” which it claimed was in line with the natural order of the world. Resultantly, as soon as the Nazis came to power, they implemented a program which resulted in the imposition of a one-party state.
One month after Hitler came to power, a Dutch Communist, Marinus van der Lubbe, assisted by three other men, set fire to the Reichstag building in Berlin. The Nazis used the arson attack to pass a law, the Enabling Act, which turned Germany into a legal dictatorship. By the end of June 1933, all other parties had been banned or had dissolved themselves. On July 14, 1933, the Reichstag passed a law which turned the Nazi Party into Germany’s only legal political party.
The Reichstag became little more than a rubber stamp for Nazi Party decisions, and the German voters were allowed to vote in referenda on set issues which only required “yes” or “no” votes. In each case, the voters returned over 98 percent endorsements for whatever the government had done. This anti-democratic drive extended to the press and freedom of speech as well. Newspapers were placed under state, or state-sympathetic, control. One of the most interesting examples of this control was, ironically, provided with the case of the famous anti-Semitic broadsheet Der Stürmer, printed by Nazi Party member Julius Streicher. Hermann Göring outlawedDer Stürmer in East Prussia (where he was state premier) and the leader of the Hitler Youth, Baldur von Schirach, banned the newspaper within his organization.
In addition, literature and art deemed to be undesirable were placed on a banned index. The famous book burning incident occurred only once—after that, such books were simply not printed in Germany.
Although the suppression of free speech and freedom of the press were characteristic of Nazi Germany, there are in reality almost no countries, even to the present day, which have complete freedoms. In most present-day European nations, for example, there are laws which make it a criminal offense to discuss racially related topics.
Hitler Elected to Office
It was thus ironic that Hitler came to power by being voted into office. In the election of March 1933, the Nazi Party received the single largest share of the vote, with 44 percent of the seats in the German Reichstag, or parliament. Hitler entered into a coalition with a number of smaller nationalist and right-wing parties, and thereby achieved a bare majority. These smaller parties were to later merge with the Nazi Party of their own free will.
Once in power, the Nazis combined their mastery of propaganda with an extended program of political and social reform. Within three years, this had persuaded the vast majority of Germans to support Hitler. Upon taking office in 1933, Hitler asked the Germans for four years in office, after which, he said, a referendum would be held to test the popularity of his government.
This referendum was duly held in 1938 with the question, “Do you approve of the National Socialist Government or not?” The result was a staggering 44,461,278 “yes” votes, or 98.8 percent of the number of voters. “No” votes amounted to 540,211.
This result could not have been produced through mass intimidation, and represented a level of support which was breathtaking by any standard. Hitler’s personal popularity remained very high for almost the entire war, and was the single most important reason why Germans fought to the bitter end without large-scale mutinies (as had happened in the First World War). This was even more amazing when it is considered that the Nazi state was strictly authoritarian.
NAZIS OUTLAW ANIMAL EXPERIMENTATION
Heil Goring! The lab animals of Germany salute Hermann Goring for his order banning vivisection. In August 1933, the reichsmarschall announced an end to the “unbearable torture and suffering in animal experiments” and threatened to commit to concentration camps “those who still think they can treat animals as inanimate property.”
One of the very first laws passed by the Nazi-controlled parliament of East Prussia in 1933 was the abolition of vivisection, or experimentation on animals. This law also banned shechita, which is the Jewish form of animal slaughter whereby meat is made kosher. The method of slaughter (in which the animal’s throat is slit so that it bleeds to death while a rabbi prays over the scene) was rejected by the Nazis as barbaric and inflicting unnecessary pain. This anti-vivisection law was soon extended throughout Germany.
Nazi Germany also forbade the use of the pesticide DDT on the grounds that it was a health hazard (it would be decades before this policy was adopted by other countries), and instead used a German produced version known as Cyclone-B (Zyklon-B).
Nazi scientists were among the first to warn of the dangers of radiation, asbestos, lead, cadmium, and mercury. In addition, German medical journals of the 1930s and 1940s were the first to warn against the ill effects of artificial food colorants and preservatives in food and drinks. They also stressed the need for a return to “organic” or natural ingredients in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, fertilizers, and foods.
Hitler Backed Anti-Smoking Drive
Nazi Germany was also the world’s first government to actively campaign against smoking. In July 1939, the Bureau against the Dangers of Alcohol and Tobacco was founded, and the Reich Health Office sponsored cash prizes for research into the effects of nicotine upon human chromosomes.
In June 1942, Hitler personally funded the Institute for the Struggle against Tobacco at the University of Jena in Saxony with 100,000 reichsmarks of his own money (the German leader was a millionaire from the sale of his book, Mein Kampf). In 1944, Germany became the first country in the world to ban smoking on public transport.
NAZI WAR ON SMOKING—YEARS AHEAD OF ITS TIME
The Nazi Party banned smoking in many public places, including party offices, waiting rooms, and in 1944, on public transport. Above: Nazi anti-tobacco activists tried to associate smoking as something not done by Germans. Note the Negroid head on the cigar.
A poster which pointed out that Germans smoked the financial equivalent of two million Volkswagens per year.
Nazis Discourage Alcohol Abuse
In 1937, the Nazis enacted the world’s first laws which prohibited the sale of alcohol to minors and enacted stiff penalties for drunken driving. They also introduced the first blood tests for automobile drivers suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.
As part of the state’s efforts to control alcohol consumption, the SS promoted the production and consumption of mineral water. The SS’s business interests expanded considerably so that by 1945, it controlled 75 percent of all mineral water production in Germany.
Economic Reforms Transform Economy
When Hitler came to power in 1933, the unemployment rate stood at 30 percent. By 1938, Germany had a shortage of labor.
This economic recovery was achieved not by “rearming Germany” as some propagandists have claimed, but rather by reforming and reinvigorating the German economy. The unemployment problem was also tackled by the creation of great building projects, most notably Hitler’s pet project, the autobahns.
Among the many reforms was one which antagonized the international banking community. Nazi Germany’s economy was based on a barter system, through which German surplus goods were exchanged for what was needed from other countries—in common language, by swapping. This replaced the previous system of government funding through enormous loans from foreign and local banks, and had the practical effect of reducing the German government’s dependency on the vagaries of international finance.
Hitler also abandoned the gold standard as a means of weighting the reichsmark. Money in Nazi Germany was not based on gold but on the capacity of the German people to produce goods.
Hitler said in 1937: “We were not foolish enough to try to make a currency coverage of gold of which we had none, but for every mark that was issued we required the equivalent of a mark’s worth of work done or goods produced . . . we laugh at the time our national financiers held the view that the value of a currency is regulated by the gold and securities lying in the vaults of a state bank.”
Workers’ Rights and Benefits
Labor unions were dissolved and reformed under the authority of the state-controlled Labor Front. It became illegal to strike and for management to lock workers out, and the state actively intervened in labor disputes.
The economic upturn increased the average standard of living, and working-class Germans were (for the first time ever) able to travel abroad in state-sponsored holidays through a program known as “Strength through Joy.”
Children were obligated to serve in the Hitler Youth (or its female equivalent) as a form of national service. The meetings of these youth organizations were timed to be on Sundays at exactly the times that the main churches held their services. Soon the pews began to empty of young people who preferred to go camping, shooting, or playing sport.
Nazi Atomic Science
Another common myth about Nazi Germany is that the country was not able to build an atomic bomb of its own because it rejected the “Jewish science” of Albert Einstein and other Jewish scientists. This allegation was proven false with the release in 1999 of previously top secret files on the Nazi atomic bomb project which were made available in the Munich state museum. The papers, which contain research notes by famous German physicists such as Werner Heisenberg and Otto Hahn, show that German research into the atomic bomb was parallel with efforts in the United States, and that the only reason the Third Reich had not built an atom bomb by 1945 was due to the Allied carpet bombing campaign which had disrupted the supply of raw materials. One of the documents is a November 1945 report by two US investigators which says that “only the lack of plutonium” kept Germany from completing an atomic bomb.
If the Allied bombing campaign had been any less severe, there can be no doubt that Nazi Germany would have been able to field nuclear weapons before the Americans.
Hitler and Christianity
Contrary to popular belief, Hitler and the inner core of the Nazi party were not Christians. In public, Hitler accepted or even praised Christianity, but in private, he detested religion, as a reading of his personal dinner table chat recorded by Martin Borman, and published as Hitler’s Table Talk, reveals.
Of Christianity, Hitler said: “The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity’s illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity.
“Bolshevism practices a lie of the same nature, when it claims to bring liberty to men, whereas in reality it seeks only to enslave them. In the ancient world, the relations between men and gods were founded on an instinctive respect. It was a world enlightened by the idea of tolerance. Christianity was the first creed in the world to exterminate its adversaries in the name of love. Its keynote is intolerance.
“Without Christianity, we should not have had Islam. The Roman Empire, under Germanic influence, would have developed in the direction of world-domination, and humanity would not have extinguished fifteen centuries of civilization at a single stroke. Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things. Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure” (Hitler’s Table Talk, 1941–1944, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1953, p 7).
“UNTERMENSCH” REFERRED TO DEGENERATE GERMANS, AND NOT TO OTHER RACES
Nazi eugenics was primarily concerned with German whites, not other races. The word Untermensch (or under-man) was actually used to refer to degenerate whites, as this illustration from the 1937 publicationVolk in Gefahr (“A People in Danger”) shows. The illustration deals with the issue of criminality among degenerate Germans in this way: “The Threat of the Untermensch (Under-man). Male criminals have an average of 4.9 children; a marriage of criminals has 4.4 children; parents of slow learners have an average of 3.5 children; a [healthy] German family has an average of 2.2 children; and a marriage from the educated circles has on average 1.9 children.” The Nazis were, therefore, primarily concerned with preventing degenerate whites from overwhelming society.
The Racial State
It is also often claimed that Nazi Germany’s racial policies consisted of wishing to breed a “master race” of blue-eyed blond people. Leading Nazi-era racial theorists, such as Hans F. K. Günther, however, were well aware that the majority of Germany’s population were not of the classic Nordic racial type, but rather a mixture of Nordic, Alpine, and other influences.
Hitler personally was a prime example of this “average” German. The American writer T. Lothrop Stoddard (who was granted a personal interview with the German leader in December 1939) provided the only English-language firsthand description of Hitler as follows: “There are certain details of Hitler’s appearance which one cannot surmise from photographs. His complexion is medium, with blond brown hair of neutral shade which shows no signs of gray. His eyes are very dark blue” (Into the Darkness, Nazi Germany Today, T. Lothrop Stoddard, New York: Duell, Sloan & Pearce, Inc., 1940).
Nonetheless, it is true that under the influence of Nordicists such as Günther, certain Nazi officials held out the hope that through a process of what they called “racial regeneration,” German society would become increasingly Nordic, hence the “master race” claim.
The Nordic racial type often assumed an abstract notion rather than a racial reality in Nazi literature. Hitler preferred to use the term “Aryan” to describe Europeans (his most important writing on race, Chapter eleven of Mein Kampf, called “Race and Nation,” never uses the word “Nordic”). There was, of course, no detailed definition of what comprised an “Aryan” (probably because there was not really such a race. The original Aryans were a tribe of Indo-Europeans who occupied northern India and Afghanistan in ancient times, and not a distinct race by themselves).
These theoretical issues aside, the Nazi state introduced a range of racial laws which were designed to prevent admixture from non-European sources and to improve the racial stock of Germany.
NAZI GERMANY NOT ONLY COUNTRY WITH STERILIZATION LAW
“We do not stand alone”—Nazi propaganda justifying the 1934 sterilization law, shows a German couple surrounded by the flags of nations which already had identical laws.
On July 14, 1934, the German government passed the law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring, also known as the Sterilization Law. In terms of this law, an individual could be sterilized if, in the opinion of specially established courts, that person suffered from any genetic diseases, identified as feeblemindedness, schizophrenia, insanity, genetic epilepsy, Huntington’s chorea, genetic blindness or deafness, or severe alcoholism. It was only in the early 1990s that American scientists “rediscovered” the genetic link to alcoholism.
This law, for which Nazi Germany became infamous, was by no means the first such regulation in the West. The Swiss canton of Waadt had passed a law in 1928 in terms of which the mentally ill could be sterilized. Denmark had passed similar legislation in 1929, Norway in 1934, Sweden and Finland in 1935, Estonia in 1936, and Iceland in 1938. Other nations which also had sterilization laws included Mexico, Cuba, Latvia, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Hungary.
In America, the state of Indiana passed a sterilization law in 1907, and by 1930, a further twenty-eight US states and one province in Canada had followed suit. This resulted in the sterilization of some fifteen thousand mentally ill people in America before 1930, a total which rose to more than thirty thousand by 1939.
In 1930, the women’s supplement to the anti-Nazi German Social Democratic Party’s newspaper, Vorwaarts, criticized the 1929 Danish sterilization law for not requiring the compulsory sterilization of “inferiors.” In 1931, even the German Communist Party supported sterilization of psychiatric patients under certain conditions.
German records show that, by 1945, just under 400,000 people (none of whom were Jews) were sterilized in Germany as a result of the sterilization law. The only nonwhites to be sterilized were five hundred children born of sexual relationships between German women and black French soldiers who had been used to occupy the Rhineland area after World War I. The claim, therefore, that it was “only the Nazis” who sterilized the mentally ill, is yet another propaganda distortion. In reality, the Nazis were relative latecomers to the sterilization program.
The Mother’s Cross
The Nazi government encouraged large families and, in imitation of the ancient Greek and Roman attempts to encourage population growth, introduced laws which rewarded people who had many children. These rewards took the form of financial payments and tax concessions.
In addition, a special Mother’s Cross medal was struck, given in bronze to German women who had four children, silver for six children, and gold for eight. Hundreds of thousands of these medals were given out before the war ended.
A combination of these incentives and the abolition of abortions (except in cases of the mentally ill) caused an increase (over and above what would have been the case had Hitler not come to power) of just over three million in the number of children born in Germany during the Third Reich era.
The Nuremburg Laws
In September 1935, the German government passed the Reich Citizenship Law which limited citizenship of Germany to only those of “German and related blood who through their behavior make it evident that they are willing and able faithfully to serve the German people and nation.” Jews and other non-Germans were reclassified as aliens and denied German citizenship.
The Blood Protection Law, proclaimed on the same day, forbade all sexual relations between Germans and non-Germans, based on citizenship. It was these two laws which colloquially became known as the “Nuremburg Laws.”
To address the issue of already existing marriages and children, the law defined a Jew as a person who had two Jewish grandparents. Anything less than that and the person was classified as a German, and allowed to marry other Germans. This was a Nazi concession to the fact that many European Jews were to all practical purposes European in racial makeup.
The Blood Protection Law specifically forbade such “one quarter Jews” from marrying other “one quarter Jews”—this was done to promote the further dissolution of Jewish genes, and conversely to prevent the strengthening of any Jewish gene pool in Germany which might result from such unions.
Contrary to propaganda surrounding the Third Reich, many of these one quarter Jews served the new German government faithfully, in all areas of the Reich’s administration, including the armed forces, without persecution of any sort.
NUREMBURG LAWS DETERMINED RACIAL ANCESTRY
The Nuremburg Laws classified a person as Jewish if they had more than one Jewish grandparent. This chart, issued by the Reich Health Office in 1936, is an overview of “admissibility of marriage between Aryans and non-Aryans.” The white circles represent “pure Germans;” the circles with black indicate the proportion of Jewish blood. Allowable (zulassig) was a marriage between a full German and a one-quarter Jew; not allowed (verboten) was a marriage between a one quarter Jew and a three quarters Jew. The latter was an example of how the Nazis actually sought to assimilate part-Jews into Germany. The law was drawn up with the support and cooperation of the pro-Zionist Council of German Jews, who shared a common aim with the Nazis in that they also wanted the Jews to leave.
Zionist Support for Nazi Racial Laws
It was not without irony that the Nuremburg Laws were drawn up in consultation with, and approval from, the German Council of Jews, particularly those in favor of the Zionist movement who wanted Jews to leave Europe to settle in Palestine.
Soon after the Nazis came to power, the Zionist Federation of Germany submitted a document to Hitler’s office which offered its support in “solving the Jewish question” (Memo of June 21, 1933, as reproduced in The Third Reich and the Palestine Question, Francis R. Nicosia, Austin: University of Texas, 1985, p. 42).
The document continued: “Zionism believes that the rebirth of the national life of a people, which is now occurring in Germany through the emphasis on its Christian and national character, must also come about in the Jewish national group.
“Our acknowledgment of Jewish nationality provides for a clear and sincere relationship to the German people and its national and racial realities. Precisely because we do not wish to falsify these fundamentals, because we, too, are against mixed marriage and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group and reject any trespasses in the cultural domain, we—having been brought up in the German language and German culture—can show an interest in the works and values of German culture with admiration and internal sympathy” (ibid.).
When the Nuremburg Laws were first adopted by the Nazi Party at its congress of 1935, they were specifically welcomed by the Zionist-supporting Jewish German newspaper, the Jüdische Rundschau, which published an editorial which read: “Germany … is meeting the demands of the World Zionist Congress when it declares the Jews now living in Germany to be a national minority. Once the Jews have been stamped a national minority it is again possible to establish normal relations between the German nation and Jewry.
“The new laws give the Jewish minority in Germany its own cultural life, its own national life. In future it will be able to shape its own schools, its own theater, and its own sports associations. In short, it can create its own future in all aspects of national life.
“Germany has given the Jewish minority the opportunity to live for itself, and is offering state protection for this separate life of the Jewish minority: Jewry’s process of growth into a nation will thereby be encouraged and a contribution will be made to the establishment of more tolerable relations between the two nations” (Jüdische Rundschau, Sept. 17, 1935).
The head of the Zionist State Organization, the Jewish Cultural League, and former head of the Berlin Jewish Community, Georg Kareski, declared in an interview with the Nazi newspaper Der Angriff that “For many years I have regarded a complete separation of the cultural affairs of the two peoples [Jews and Germans] as a pre-condition for living together without conflict . . . I have long supported such a separation, provided it is founded on respect for the alien nationality. The Nuremberg Laws . . . seem to me, apart from their legal provisions, to conform entirely with this desire for a separate life based on mutual respect . . . This interruption of the process of dissolution in many Jewish communities, which had been promoted through mixed marriages, is therefore, from a Jewish point of view, entirely welcome” (Der Angriff, Dec. 23, 1935).
The large measure of Jewish support for the provisions of the Nuremburg Laws is deliberately covered up by most present-day historians.
Haavara—the Transfer Agreement
The Transfer Agreement, also known by its Hebrew name, Haavara, was a formal agreement between the Nazi government and the World Zionist Organization signed in August 1933. In terms of this agreement, any Jew who wanted to emigrate to Palestine could deposit money in an account in Germany, which was overseen by the government and the Zionists.
This cash was used to purchase German-made agricultural tools, building materials, fertilizer, and other goods, which were then exported to Palestine and sold by the Jewish-owned Haavara Company in Tel Aviv. Proceeds from the sales of these goods were then provided to the emigrant Jews upon their arrival in Palestine.
Jewish Underground in Palestine Offered Military Alliance with Nazis
The British, who controlled Palestine after World War I, realized that a Jewish state would result in the dispossession of the Arabs in the region and had reneged on the 1917 Balfour Declaration which promised support for a Jewish homeland in the Middle East.
The Zionist movement then set up an underground resistance movement, dedicated to driving the Arabs and the British out of Palestine. The most prominent of these Zionist underground factions was called Lehi, better known as the “Stern Gang” after its leader Yair Stern. (Another famous member of Lehi was Yitzhak Shamir, who later became prime minister of Israel.) In December 1940, Lehi contacted Germany with a proposal to aid German conquest in the Middle East in return for recognition of a Jewish state (The Land Beyond Promise: Israel, Likud and the Zionist Dream, Colin Shindler, 1995, I.B. Tauris, p. 22). The proposal, made by Lehi’s representative, Naftali Lubenchik, to the German embassy in Beirut, offered Jewish help in spying on British troop movements in the Middle East and the sabotage of the Allied army installations.
Finally, Lehi said, it would raise an army of forty thousand Jews from Europe, who, with German assistance, would descend on Palestine to drive the British out. All the Germans had to do in exchange was to facilitate the transfer and recognize the Jewish state which would be created.
This offer was formally transmitted to Berlin in written form by Vice Admiral Ralf von der Marwitz, the German naval attaché in Turkey in 1941. The German response was either not recorded, or has yet to be discovered.
The third and last racial law passed by the German government was the Law for the Protection of the Genetic Health of the German People, promulgated in October 1935. This law required couples wishing to marry to submit themselves to a medical examination before marriage to see if any genetically undesirable traits might be passed on to children born of such a union.
The law forbade marriage between individuals suffering from venereal disease, feeblemindedness, epilepsy, or any of the diseases encompassed in the Sterilization Law.
Those who were classed as bearing such genetically undesirable traits were only allowed to marry if they agreed to be sterilized—so that no children would be born of the marriage.
The Euthanasia Project
In 1938, a German father by the name of Knauer wrote to Hitler asking that his child, born blind, retarded, and with one arm and one leg, be granted a mercy death, or euthanasia. The case so moved Hitler that he ordered his personal physician, Karl Brandt, to establish if the claims were true, and if so, that the child be granted euthanasia. This Knauer case was to be the start of a legal euthanasia program, the first in Western civilization since the times of the Spartans and early Romans.
In all, some five thousand retarded and deformed children were euthanized by the German government before the end of the war. Each case was individually reviewed by a specially appointed committee.
The policy of administering euthanasia to retarded and deformed children was then also extended to incurably insane adults. Thanks to the German habit of keeping meticulous records, the exact number of incurably insane adults granted euthanasia is known: 70,273.
Although the adult euthanasia project was conducted in secret, it was impossible to conceal such a thing from the German public. By 1941, news of its existence had been leaked and public pressure on the Nazi government forced its abandonment in that year. The fact that public opposition could bring an end to the euthanasia program also reveals much about the relative openness of the Nazi state and the government’s responsiveness to public opinion.
European Support for Hitler
Hitler was not only popular in Germany. Many Europeans of other nationalities openly supported Nazi ideology and volunteered, either as workers or military servicemen, to actively assist the German war effort. Active support came from Britain, Ireland, France, the Low Countries, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Russia.
In many of these nations, parties and movements which openly supported National Socialism, or homegrown variants, were started, and some achieved a significant level of public support. A few of the more famous such parties included the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists, the Mouvement Franciste in France, the Rexist Party in Belgium, the Dutch National Socialist Bund, the Iron Guard in Romania, and the Russian National Liberation Army.
PRO-HITLER SENTIMENT IN EUROPE FROM BRITAIN TO RUSSIA
The British Union of Fascists and National Socialists rally in Earl’s Court, London, 1936, was one of the largest public meetings ever held in Britain.
In France, anger at the prewar Jewish Prime Minister Leon Blum’s repression of democracy and banning of French nationalist groups, saw a dramatic rise in support for the Mouvement Franciste after the German occupation of France in 1940. This picture shows a Franciste rally at the Velodrome d’Hiver in Paris, attended by thousands.
Contrary to postwar propaganda, the Nazis were not seen by all Europeans as invaders, but often as welcome liberators. Above: Ecstatic Ukrainians welcome the German army, 1941; and below, Dutch civilians greet German troops pouring into Holland, 1940.
Waffen-SS—A Pan-European Army
One of the most striking examples of the popularity of Hitlerian politics in Europe was the emergence of the first pan-European army, the Waffen-SS (“Armed SS”). The original SS, or Schutzstaffel (defense echelons), had started as a small bodyguard unit for Hitler’s personal protection but grew into the ideological army of the Nazi Party, eventually forming a state within the state, with its own officers and infrastructure.
The next SS unit to be formed was the SS-Totenkopfverbände (“Death’s-Head Units”) which administered the concentration camps. The Waffen-SS were the third branch of the SS to be formed, and became the best known.
The Waffen-SS was an entirely voluntary, ideological army which developed a unique spirit among its members. In the ordinary German army, the Wehrmacht, soldiers were under strict orders to keep their trunks containing their personal possessions locked to prevent theft. In the Waffen-SS, however, all personal trunks were open at all times, under order. It was expected that no Waffen-SS man would steal from his comrades. Violators of this rule were severely punished.
EUROPEANS WHO FOUGHT FOR HITLER
A standard-bearer from the Spanish “Blue Division” which fought in Russia.
Above: French Waffen-SS leave Paris by train for the eastern front, and below, French SS men on the Eastern Front. A French Waffen SS unit was the last defender of the Reich Chancellery building in Berlin in 1945, deliberately holding the building long enough to prevent Soviet troops from capturing it on May Day, May 1st.
Danish SS men take the salute at a graduation ceremony.
Dutch Waffen-SS march through Amsterdam.
Cossack Waffen-SS from the steppes of Russia.
General Andrei Vlasov, a former Soviet army general who, when captured by the Germans, raised an anti-Communist army from Russians, reviews his troops.
SS Leader Heinrich Himmler Speaks on the White Race
A valuable insight into exactly how the Nazis viewed the racial situation in Europe vis à vis Germans and other nationalities, is afforded through the memoirs of Arturs Silgailis, chief of staff of the Inspectorate General of the “Latvian Legion” (of the Latvian Waffen-SS). In his book, Latvian Legion, Silgailis describes a conversation he had with Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS and second most powerful man in Nazi Germany, in this manner: “He (Himmler) then singled out those nations which he regarded as belonging to the German family of nations and they were: the Germans, the Dutch, the Flemish, the Anglo-Saxons, the Scandinavians, and the Baltic people. ‘To combine all of these nations into one big family is the most important task at the present time [Himmler said]. This unification has to take place on the principle of equality and at that same time has to secure the identity of each nation and its economical independence, of course, adjusting the latter to the interests of the whole German living space.
“After the unification of all the German nations into one family, this family. . . has to take over the mission to include, in the family, all the Roman nations whose living space is favored by nature with a milder climate . . . I am convinced that after the unification, the Roman nations will be able to persevere as the Germans . . . This enlarged family of the white race will then have the mission to include the Slavic nations into the family also because they too are of the white race . . . it is only with such a unification of the white race that the Western culture could be saved from the yellow race . . . At the present time, the Waffen-SS is leading in this respect because its organization is based on the principle of equality. The Waffen-SS comprises not only German, Roman, and Slavic, but even Islamic units and at the same time has proven that every unit has maintained its national identity while fighting in close togetherness . . . I know quite well my Germans.
“The German always likes to think himself better but I would like to avert this. It is important that every Waffen-SS officer obeys the order of another officer of another nationality, as the officer of the other nationality obeys the order of the German officer” (Latvian Legion, Arturs Silgailis, R.J. Bender Pub, 1986). This private discussion shatters the myth that the Nazis viewed Germans as the only superior race, and regarded Latin or Slavic nations as inferior. Both these allegations are false, as revealed in Himmler’s own words.
Sixty Percent of the Waffen-SS Were Non-Germans
The Waffen-SS was also the foremost indicator of the popularity of Nazism beyond the borders of Germany. It is a little known fact that of the one million men who served in the Waffen-SS during the course of the war, 60 percent, or 600,000 men, were volunteers from countries outside of Germany.
Non-German volunteers came from the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, France, Denmark, Norway, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and included a small number of British ex-prisoners of war. They fought alongside their German comrades to the end, and all but a few thousand of the twenty thousand French Waffen-SS volunteers, organized into a division called Legion Charlemagne, were killed in the Battle of Berlin in 1945.
Russians Volunteer in Their Thousands
The Waffen-SS also recruited heavily among Russians, Ukrainians, and Cossacks. Thousands of Russians volunteered for service with the conventional German army. In 1944, they were organized into a separate unit under a former Soviet Army general, Andrey Vlasov, who had been taken prisoner by the Germans in 1942 and subsequently defected.
Vlasov and his Russian army surrendered to the Americans and British rather than face capture by the Soviets. His hope was misplaced. In an operation code-named Keelhaul, Vlasov and around twenty thousand of his soldiers were handed over to the Soviets by the Western allies. Vlassov and his commanding staff were charged with treason and hanged by the Soviets in 1946.
Support Dissipated by Defeat
The widespread support for Hitler and National Socialism had dissipated by the end of the war, mainly due to the defeat and subsequent propaganda against Nazi Germany. Few people chose to actively associate themselves with a defeated enemy who was so effectively demonized.
Resistance movements sprang up in almost all countries occupied by Germany during the war. These movements, encouraged by the Allied powers, were in contravention of the Geneva Convention which stated that once a country’s government had formally surrendered, it was against international law to take up arms once again. The most infamous reprisals took place at Oradour, France; Lidice, Czechoslovakia (in both these instances, entire villages were massacred); Amsterdam, the Netherlands (where groups of civilians were rounded up at random and shot in public squares in retaliation for resistance attacks), and at several places on the eastern front.
The “Final Solution”—Nazi Policy toward Jews
The Third Reich and Adolf Hitler will always be associated with an outburst of anti-Jewish sentiment not seen since the Crusades or the Middle Ages. Countless books and films have appeared which explained in detail what the Nazis did, but few have ever attempted to explain why the Nazis were opposed to Jews in Germany. Nazi anti-Jewishness was based on three pillars:
• Firstly, Jews were identified as a racially-alien group who engaged in political and social subversion, and were linked with Communism. As outlined earlier, this belief of a link between Communism and Jews was not a Nazi invention and had been discussed in public by Winston Churchill, Henry Ford, and many others long before the Nazi Party came into existence.
• Secondly, the Nazis associated Jews with hypercapitalism and economic exploitation. This descended directly from the traditional and pre-Christian objections to Jews. Hitlerian anti-Jewishness also accentuated the links between Jewish hypercapitalists and Communism, personified by the financing of the 1917 Russian Revolution by the American Jewish banker Jacob Schiff.
• Thirdly, the Nazis associated Christianity with Jews, arguing that this religion was the product of Middle Eastern thought rather than European.
Only in this light can an understanding of the motivating factors behind Nazi policy be gained. It was a combination of centuries-old anti-Semitism and modern political thought which associated Jews with Communism and subversion.
Jewish Declaration of War on Germany 1933
Even though the Zionists supported Germany’s racial laws, other groups of Jews agitated against the Nazi regime. On March 23, 1933, a meeting of Jewish leaders from around the world formally declared war on Germany. The Jewish declaration of war was carried publicly by a large number of newspapers, including the Daily Express in London, which ran a bold full-page headline “Judea Declares War on Germany” on its edition of March 24, 1933.
According to that newspaper, the meeting called on “all Jews of the world to unite” and to launch a series of mass demonstrations and institute a worldwide boycott of German goods, presumably through their international business connections.
This public declaration of war on Germany served to inflame anti-Jewish feeling in Germany. Shortly afterward the Nazi government passed laws which barred Jews from holding public office or other positions of influence: university lecturers, journalists, and newspaper editors, among others.
This declaration of war also provided the legal basis upon which Germany would later justify its internment of large numbers of Jews inside Germany. This rationale was used by the American and Canadian governments to inter their Japanese populations after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and by the British government to inter all Italians in Britain after 1940.
Despite this, not all Jews in Germany were interned. A fully functioning Jewish community, several thousand strong and still with synagogue intact, was present in Berlin in 1945 when the Soviet Army overran the German capital.
The Concentration Camps
Nazi Germany is most commonly associated with concentration camps, particularly those in which large numbers of emaciated and dead prisoners were discovered at the end of the war. The first concentration camps were set up soon after the Nazis came to power, with the best known being Dachau, situated to the north of Munich.
These first camps were in reality large prisons to which inmates had been sentenced by the ordinary criminal courts to fixed terms of imprisonment. The offenses for which these prisoners were sentenced ranged from “ordinary” crimes to those of a political nature, with membership or activism in the banned Communist Party being the most frequent.
Imprisonment at the camps was not necessarily permanent, as was proven beyond question by the uncovering in the Moscow State archives of a release note for a prisoner from Auschwitz in 1944—supposedly at the height of that camp’s gas chamber operations. The large Jewish involvement in the Communist Party’s activities meant that a significant number of the internees in these early camps were Jews. However, by the time the Second World War started, the majority of Germany’s Jews (some 319,900 out of a total population of 500,000) had emigrated for good.
Nazi Plans to Evacuate all Jews Founder with Reversals on Eastern Front
The outbreak of the Second World War meant that the Nazi and Zionist polices of getting Jews to emigrate from Germany largely came to an end. German territorial conquests in Europe by 1941 also meant that an ever-increasing number of Jews came into the Nazi sphere of influence.
Initially the Nazi plan to evacuate all Jews under its control was open-ended. A number of projects and possibilities were considered, including resettling the Jews in Rhodesia, Madagascar, or Palestine. In this way one of the more remarkable alliances of the war was struck up between SS General Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Main Security Office, and the Zionist movement.
Heydrich, in cooperation with the Zionists, set up farms in German-occupied Czechoslovakia where Jews who wished to emigrate to Palestine were taught basic agricultural skills. These Nazi-trained Jewish farmers were then smuggled through Turkey into Palestine during the war.
However, these plans proved impractical as the war raged on. Eventually, a conference of top Nazi leaders was called in January 1942 at a villa in the suburb of Wannsee outside Berlin. This meeting is known as the “Wannsee Conference.”
It is often claimed that this conference was the place where the mass murder of the Jews was planned, but the minutes of the meeting—which survived the war—show nothing of the sort. Instead, the conference actually discussed evacuating Jews to the newly occupied areas of Russia, and never mentioned mass extermination. Even then, the minutes said, certain groups of Jews were to be excluded from these deportations, such as World War I veterans, those married to Germans, and those working in vital industries in Germany. It is widely claimed that the use of the word “resettlement” in the Wannsee minutes meant murder, but there is no evidence for this allegation in the document.
Finally, the Wannsee Conference minutes provided a list of how many Jews were in Europe. According to the official Nazi records, there were some 11,292,300 Jews in Europe—but only 4,536,500 were under direct German control. The rest—some 6,755,800—were either in countries not occupied by Germany, or were not under direct German control (Bulgaria: 48,000; England: 330,000; Finland: 2,300; Ireland: 4,000; Italy, including Sardinia: 58,000; Albania: 200; Croatia: 40,000; Portugal: 3,000; Romania, including Bessarabia: 342,000; Sweden: 8,000; Switzerland: 18,000; Serbia: 10,000; Slovakia: 88,000; Spain: 6,000; Turkey: 55,500; Hungary: 742,800; and the USSR: 5,000,000).
According to the present-day German government, some 4,384,138 individual claims for compensation were made by Holocaust survivors against the postwar German government (West German Federal Indemnification Law-BEG “Wiedergutmachung.” German Finance Ministry, Leistungen der öffentlichen Hand auf dem Gebiet der Wiedergutmachung Stand: December 31, 2009).
This is a significant figure when the total number of Jews, as calculated by the Nazis as being under their control, was some 4.5 million.
In the interim, Germany had invaded the Soviet Union and conquered huge areas. Behind the front lines, resistance to the German occupation flared, and specialist anti-partisan units, known as Einsatzgruppen (“Special Action Groups”) were formed to stamp out the Communist-organized underground movement. In addition, the Einsatzgruppen were instructed to execute, by shooting, all Communist functionaries, partisans, or other “politically unreliable” elements behind the front line.
The Einsatzgruppen carried out their task with Germanic efficiency and sent back regular reports to Berlin which detailed how many people they had killed in each time period. Due to the fact that a large number of Communist functionaries were Jews, this group made up a large number, but not always a majority, of the people eliminated by the Einsatzgruppen.
The battle with Communist partisans was sometimes particularly fierce: more than one Einsatzgruppen commander was killed in combat. Although a final tally of Einsatzgruppen victims has never been conclusively estimated, it is claimed that around 200,000 people were killed during the war behind the Russian front line. The Einsatzgruppen were dissolved in the wake of the German retreat from the occupied areas.
AUSCHWITZ—ORIGINAL ARCHITECT PLANS DO NOT SHOW GAS CHAMBERS, ONLY MORGUES
The original German architectural building plans for Auschwitz can be seen at the camp museum. They do not contain plans for gas chamber. It is claimed that the underground structures, marked as mortuaries (leichenkeller), were used as gas chambers—something which would technically be almost impossible, given the extremely high airtight specifications which would be needed. The absence of any German records showing homicidal gas chambers (as opposed to defumigation chambers for clothes, which every camp had), has served as grist to the mill of Holocaust revisionists who question the extent of the mass murder claims at Auschwitz and elsewhere. The camp museum has also admitted that the only gas chamber on display to tourists was built after the war. While a full evaluation of the veracity of all the mass murder claims falls outside of the scope of this book, it is clear that the topic should be the subject of an independent forensic examination.
The Concentration Camps in Poland
In the part of Poland set up as a German protectorate, called the Government General, six new concentration camps were built, with the first starting to function in late 1942, and the last being closed by August 1944. The six camps became known by the towns to which they were nearest situated: Chelmno (also known as Kulmhof), Belzec, Sobibór, Treblinka, Majdanek (also known as Lublin), and Auschwitz.
Auschwitz and Majdanek were originally built as prisoner-of-war camps to hold Polish and Russian soldiers captured during those campaigns, and were sited next to large industrial centers. In Auschwitz, for example, nearby factories which used labor from the camp included Agfa, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, and Siemens. In addition, the famous Buna rubber plant (which produced much of Germany’s supplies of rubber and innovated the oil-from-coal process) was also sited there.
As the plan mapped out at the Wannsee Conference was implemented, the other four camps (Chelmno, Belzec, Sobibór, and Treblinka) were established as transit centers to hold Jews on their way to the east. These camps have become known as the “Aktion Reinhard” camps, named after Fritz Reinhard, a civil servant in the Finance Ministry who designed the logistical process whereby personal effects seized from deported Jews were transferred back to Germany.
The Wannsee Conference’s plans to resettle Jews in the far east of Russia fell into chaos when the expected military victory against the Soviet Union did not occur, and soon the camps in Poland were overcrowded.
The Six Million
Despite the presence of massive industrial operations and the short time that the camps were in existence (less than two years all told), it is claimed that some six million Jews were killed in gas chambers at these six camps in Poland. (The other concentration camps in Germany, such as Dachau or Bergen Belsen, did not, it is claimed, have gas chambers.)
There is, however, considerable confusion over the exact number of Jewish deaths in all the camps, and indeed a debate over whether gas chamber executions even took place on the scale so often alleged. The complete lack of German documentation on the issue has not helped: unlike the Einsatzgruppen, where at least a partial record was kept of all killings, the Germans kept no records of mass murders in any of the camps. An increasing number of historian dissidents are challenging the claim of mass exterminations of Jews and others by the Nazis during World War II, to the point where such revisionism has been declared illegal in many European countries. This in itself is cause to question the allegations, as truth should not need to be defended by law.
As the over 4.3 million claims against the postwar German state from Jews who suffered as a result of the Nazi persecution showed, it is almost certain that the Jewish fatality rate was less than what is often claimed. Increasingly, all the evidence urges a complete revision of this aspect of the history of World War II. An analysis of all the claims and counterclaims is, however, outside of the scope and purpose of this book.
HORROR SCENES AWAIT ALLIES IN BERGEN-BELSEN AND OTHER CAMPS
Nightmarish scenes awaited Allied troops who seized control of the Bergen-Belsen camp in Germany, 1945. The bombing of Germany had prevented the supply of food and delousing material to the camp, with the result that many inmates were starving, and a typhus epidemic (borne by lice) had broken out. The Allied soldiers found thousands of dead and dying prisoners in advanced stages of typhus (which includedthe characteristic thinness caused by uncontrollable diarrhea). The unfortunate victims had to be buried in mass graves (as pictured above). These images came to symbolize the concentration camps, even though the dead had not been executed. The Allies quarantined the camp to bring the typhus epidemic under control. The quarantine proved ineffective in halting the epidemic, and the Allied soldiers were forced to set fire to the camp with flamethrowers to kill the lice infestation. Below, a photograph of the Allied quarantine of Belsen, with a sign warning visitors to drive slowly to prevent the spread of typhus.
Jewish Persecution in Nazi Germany
All the debate around the Holocaust and its impact upon Jews and Nazi Germany aside, no one would question that the Jews, like everyone else in the Second World War, suffered great misfortune and were in particular subjected to unprecedented persecution and harassment on racial grounds. International Jewry had, however, publicly and openly declared war on Nazi Germany, and the Nazis therefore regarded Jews as a hostile combatant group of special significance. Jews were prohibited in many German towns completely, and barred from many professions, including operating mail order businesses, offering services at public markets, taking orders for goods, and from holding leadership positions in German factories.
In 1938, they were forbidden from changing their names to “German sounding” ones. Later that year, they were compelled to add Sarah or Israel as a middle name to their original names (depending upon their sex) so as to distinguish them further.
German Jews were prevented from attending public theaters and film shows in 1939. Places were denied to them at universities and other institutions of learning and they were subjected to special taxes. Crude anti-Jewish propaganda was taught and encouraged at schools, and in November 1938, Jews were barred from attending German schools.
They were also subjected to bouts of physical attacks. One of the most serious examples of this came in 1938 after a Polish Jew living in Paris, Herschel Grynszpan, assassinated a German diplomat, Ernst vom Rath. This murder provoked anti-Jewish riots in Germany the next day which became known as the Kristallnacht (“Crystal Night”—so named because the glass from the broken Jewish shop windows lay like crystal in many streets).
The German government was, however, receptive to public opinion. This was illustrated in 1943 when a public demonstration in Berlin, known as the Rosenstrasse Protest, took place. Around one thousand German women voiced their objection to the planned deportation to the east of their Jewish husbands and teenage sons. The protests resulted in the release of all 1,200 interned Jews and half-Jews, and most survived the war.
Even though the Nazi state was destroyed in 1945, and its surviving leaders executed shortly after the war by the victorious allies, Hitler and the Third Reich remain one of the most discussed topics in popular culture. Films, books, art works, tours, political discussions, and debate still rage about this time period, and show no sign of abating in the near future. The intense amount of propaganda directed against Hitler, which still emerges to the present day, on a daily basis, has created a climate where even an objective attempt to overview this time period is attacked. One day, if the European people last that long, it will be possible to discuss Hitler and the Third Reich in its proper historical context without attracting emotive responses.