For years Hitler and his men had discussed what to do about "The Jewish Problem". While the Jews were no more a problem in the 20th century than they had ever been, they are the one people who have remained a nation within nations, and having never lost their national identity, many monarchs and rulers throughout the centuries have felt uneasy at their presence, often scapegoating them for the sins of a nation. At the turn of the 20th century, the same attitudes existed, only now in the light of the new world view of the National Socialists, the Jews in the Reich's eyes, were the stumbling block to a 'New European Order', and to the possibility of Herrenvolk or a racial type of a 'superior' people. The Judenrein of Germany and Europe, or the cleansing of all Jewish bloodlines,culture and influence, was the determinant solution to the 'Jewish Question' which became known as "Endlosung" or "The Final Solution to the Jewish Question". At the beginning of the war, only the methods remained undecided.
Coupled with the problems of these 'citizen-guests' the early 1900s saw the first World War with the defeat of Germany, a recession turned depression, a failing experimental republic, and worst of all to the Germans, the advent of the Bolshevik Revolution, or the birth of modern communism. In the eyes of Germany, the ruin of any semblance of a German lifestyle and national feeling would be defeated by the intrusion of Communism, Communism, or 'Bolshevism' to them was a degenerate form of government which would leave Germany impoverished, and lead to lack of freedom and identity. The reason the Third Reich received the initial aid of the Vatican was not so much that they were integrated, as that they shared the common purpose of fighting communism.
To Hitler's Third Reich, the Jews were racially inferior, 'polluting' the bloodlines of Europe and equated with degenerate thought and practices. For Hitler, the Jews would be the ones who would allow or encourage the entrance of 'bolshevism' into Germany: speech after speech reminded Domestic Germany that Karl Marx, the philosophical founder of modern communism, was a Jew. For those who did not ascribe to the Nazi's more religious perspectives of Root-Race Theory, the assault against the Jewish Community was much more plausible by aligning them with Stalin and Bolshevism. Jews who actually were communists merely gave credence to the stereotype, and allowed the National Socialists a platform of bigotry and criticism. By the time Hitler took office in 1933, there had already been multiple acts of violence of the SA against the Jews and others who supported them. It was felt that since Jews had in the Nazi's eyes no allegiance to Germany first, that they would bring in Communism, Degenerate art forms, and ill-teachings which would be the ruin of Europe.
Inherent in Nazi Beliefs was a concept of "Land and Blood". Influenced heavily by early mentors (See People Influencing the Nazis) many Nazis especially in leadership believed in a strong tie between Aryan bloodlines and German Soil. While this is a difficult concept to grasp for some, it means basically that to be a pure Aryan, and therefore characterizing Nordic perfection, one would also be tied to German land. The notion of Lebensraum comes from such thinking in which the spread or colonizing of Europe by Aryan bloodlines would have to accompany or correlate with the colonization being on 'Germanized' soil: conquest of the land and bloodlines were related. The tie of German Blood to german soil, was]initially a nationalistic plea for a 'return to the land' away from crowded metropolitan areas with a 'pride in Germany' connotation, but became applied to racial issues with the Jews. A People, in this case the German Volk, were stable and continuing because of their tie to the land: the Jews, in addition to have racial inferiority and degenerate bloodlines according to the Nazis, also had no land, and wanderers were an insignificant people. (The Roma and Sinti were also in this category).
'Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews. As soon as I have the power to do so, I will have gallows built in rows - at the Marienplatz in Munich, for example - as many as traffic allows. Then the Jews will be hanged indiscriminately, and they will remain hanging until they stink; they will hang there as long as the principles of hygiene permit. As soon as they have been untied, the next batch will be strung up, and so on down the line, until the last Jew in Munich has been exterminated. Other cities will follow suit, precisely in this fashion, until all Germany has been completely cleansed of Jews.' 1) Josef Hell, "Aufzeichnung," 1922, ZS 640, p. 5, Institut für Zeitgeschichte. Der Gerade Weg.
McFee 1 notes recent discoveries of documents which suggest proof of Hitler's deep involvement and knowledge, noted by Hitler's secretary's observation of Himmler after a meeting in 1941 in which the order for annihilation came. This was before the Wannsee Conference which is traditionally held as the wholesale directive to kill the Jews of Europe.
A second position called the "Functionalist" 2 position declares that Hitler's initial plan was to relocate all Jews from German and German-occupied territory, and perform an 'ethnic and national cleansing' in those areas. In this position, Hitler, Himmler, Eichmann and Goering are seen as making the decision for total annihilation of the Jews only after deportations did not accomplish the goal they had hoped. One difficulty with this position is that while the numbers grew after the Wannsee directives and aktion Reinhard, large numbers of Jews were already being gassed, poisoned, hung, shot and killed in various other ways in camps and killing centers which dated from as early as 1933. The question is somewhat muddied by whether a 'formal directive' for the Final Solution was really the beginning of it, or whether it was just a matter of putting definition and clarity to a program that was already well under way. In any event, there were two divisions in the "Final Solution" which cause some confusion in the discussion:
The ridding of the Jews from Europe via deportation and The Extermination of the Jews.
That Hitler meant to rid Europe of the Jews was self-evident even from his writings and speeches from the 20's; as he assumed office in 1933, he immediately began to segregate and make laws and plans toward that end. Little is controversial there. In letters and notes though as early as 1939 and 1940, Heydrich, for example makes a reference to "All Jews out of Europe" with the orders to kill Jewish Commissars (all Jews became commissars at that point) and he proceeded with the Einsatzgrüppen which lead to 1.5 million deaths and was noted as a continuation of a plan. 4 Goering's Letter of July 31, 1941 is also seen as a definitive edict to exterminate, because deported Jews could after the war return.
Segregation & Redefinition Civil Rights Restrictions Euthanasia Programs (T-4) in Germany Plans and Implementation of Judenrein through Deportation Ghettoization Interment in Camps Operation Reinhard and the Einsatzgruppen The non-stop, post Wannsee Conference Killing of the Jews of Europe and other non-favored, non-aryan peoples.
1 McFee [Middle Tennesee State University]
2MTSU:B.Austin Holocaust Studies
31) Josef Hell, "Aufzeichnung," 1922, ZS 640, p. 5, Institut für Zeitgeschichte. Der Gerade Weg.
4The Order of Hitler for the Extermination of the Jews [http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/zionmyth4.htm]