HITLER AND THE FINAL SOLUTION by Gerald Fleming

HITLER AND THE FINAL SOLUTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A detailed attempt to establish, with new evidence, that Hitler was directly involved in the Final Solution--contrary to the contentions of David Irving (Hitler's War) and other ""revisionists."" Saul Friedlander's introduction explains what's at issue: was there a straight line from Hitler's anti-Semitic ideology to Nazi persecution of Jews to the Final Solution, as the ""intentionalists"" maintain, or were decisions made expediently, without a master plan or central direction, as the ""functionalists"" claim? In this context, Friedlander characterizes Fleming (Univ. of Sussex) as an ""ultra-intentionalist""--without dissenting from his specific findings. These are presented in kaleidoscope fragments, within a rough chronological framework. First comes discussion of Hitler's personal anti-Semitism, during his schooldays in Linz and youth in Vienna--a section that rests much on inference. The major motif of Hitler's ""deceptiveness"" is then introduced: the use of code languages, and other camouflage, to shield first the euthanasia program and then the Final Solution--because ""Hitler was politically too shrewd to assume that a majority of Germans would, in the last analysis, share his unbounded hatred for the Jews."" A second major motif, also linked to the non-existence of a written liquidation order, is the interpretation, at all levels, of ""the Fuhrer's wish"" as an order. ""Did individual Einsatz commandos ask Himmler who it was that bore the responsiblity for the mass extermination of the Jews?"" Fleming quotes individuals: ""Himmler categorically stated that this measure had been personally ordered by Hitler."" He dwells particularly on the mass shooting of Jews outside Riga in November and December 1941 (before the fateful Wannsea Conference)--tracing the transmission of an eyewitness report of the ""atrocities"" (detrimental to army morale), confirming Hitler's reported words to Canaris, ""You're getting soft. I have to do it, because after me no one else will."" He quotes specific, later examples of cover-up: a request that ""'special treatment of the Jews' be mentioned nowhere in the document""; a directive that ""only written Fuhrer-orders concerning the Final Solution were also subject to strict secrecy."" There is reason behind the position of Fleming and other intentionalists that Hitler's anti-Semitism was a major impetus; and he has gone further than previous historians to document Hitler's close connection with certain salient events.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1984
ISBN: 0520060229
Publisher: Univ. of Calif. Press