Breaking news, at least of a kind: Adolf Hitler played a central role in the Holocaust.
There seems little surprising in that thesis, which is apparently self-evident. But it is not: because Hitler took great care not to issue instructions or to specify procedures in writing, documentary evidence linking Hitler to mass murder is scarce; thus Holocaust deniers have argued that the enormity was the doing of misguided lieutenants, and not of the Führer. British historian Longerich drafted this work as expert testimony for the defense in the 1997 libel suit brought by one such apologist, David Irving, against Deborah Lipstadt, author of Denying the Holocaust. His argument provides beyond-reasonable-doubt evidence that Hitler’s political career was bracketed, from start to finish, by deep-seated bloodlust against the Jews, “a murderous intention that was expressed over and over again, internally and in public speeches, by the leader of the Nazi Party, the head of state and commander of the armed forces,” and that Hitler saw to it that his intentions were made real. Though many hands were required to effect the Nazi program of genocide, and though German anti-Semitism had deep roots, Hitler took the guiding role in shaping every phase of the regime’s anti-Jewish policies and actions, rejecting programs that originated with others within the Reich, such as Heinrich Himmler’s proposal to resettle European Jews in Madagascar, prefaced with modest words of dissent to the effect that Himmler had dismissed “Bolshevist methods for the physical extirpation of a people as un-German and impossible.” Hitler had no such scruples, Longerich demonstrates, and though direct orders have yet to be found, the fact that “Hitler had expressed himself in the most drastic manner imaginable about the ‘solution’ to the Jewish question” means that Nazi responsibility for the crime cannot be separated from the will of the Nazis’ supreme leader.
Even if those whom it is meant to sway will likely reject it out of hand, students of the Nazi era will find Longerich’s work of much value.