Document 3 An ex-Nazi evaluates theanti-Jewish aspect of national socialism, 1939

The author of the following passage, Hermann Rauschning (1887-1982), joined the Nazi Party in 1932 but resigned in 1934, put off in part by anti-Jewish agitation. He became a refugee in 1937, settling in Great Britain in 1938 before moving to the United States in 1941. His writings after leaving Germany became staples of anti-Nazi propaganda in the West. They helped to popularise the image of Hitler as a man devoid of ideas, interested solely in power for its own sake. That image received its most famous incarnation in Charlie Chaplin’s 1940 film, The Great Dictator, but subsequent scholarship has shown that Hitler had a far more developed and original world view than Rauschning understood.

... [T]he fight against Judaism ... is now an element in the revolutionary unsettling of the nation, a means of destruction of past categories of thinking and valuation, of destroying the liberalist economic system based on private initiative and enterprise; it is also a sop to the destructive revolutionism of the masses, a first lesson in cynicism ... It is of functional importance only, a means and nothing more. It is the main element in propaganda. The question to be asked of it is not its meaning but its purpose. It serves mainly for the propagation, in a form assimilable by the masses, of revolutionary aims which can be harbored at first hand only by a small élite. The function of the philosophy is to keep alive the fighting character of the movement ... Nothing is of more importance to National Socialism than the possession of ‘enemies’, objects on which this pugnacity can sharpen its claws. This is the root explanation of such senseless and horrible myths as that of the totally evil character of the Jews. If there is no other enemy available there is always the Jew, whose despised figure can always be made to serve as fuel for the fighting spirit, and at the same time to keep alive the happy feeling of belonging to the company of the elect...

All these elements, so primitive and threadbare in their psychology, are nevertheless thoroughly effective in practice. It would be a great mistake to suppose that so cunning an individual as the German minister of propaganda [Goebbels] is not perfectly well aware that the atrocity propaganda against the Jews ... is preposterous nonsense, that he does not see through

Documents 125 the racial swindle just as clearly as those compatriots of his whom it has driven out of their country. It would be simply foolish to imagine that any member of the élite truly and sincerely believes in the bases of the ‘philosophy’. They have been deliberately concocted for their demagogic effectiveness and for the furtherance of the party’s political aims. They have also been chosen with a cunning realization of the needs of the ... German masses. Other representations of good and evil, of hero and weakling, may ‘work’ in other countries; the selection for Germany was already indicated by the experience of the pan-Germans and the anti-Semitic ‘racial’ parties. (Rauschning, 1939: 22, 52-53)

Document 4 Hitler and Horthy discuss the fate of Hungarian Jewry, April 1943

From the minutes of a conversation between Hitler and the regent of Hungary, Miklos Horthy, held at Klessheim Castle near Salzburg, Austria, 17 April 1943

The Führer [Hitler]... described to Horthy the German measures for rationing, which had been implemented in a completely orderly fashion. There is no black market in Germany ... In this connection Horthy observed ... that he was not yet able to control the black market. The Führer responded that the Jews were responsible for this ... When Horthy asked in response what he ought to do with the Jews, since he had already done so much to take away all possibilities for economic survival - after all, he couldn’t kill them -the Reich foreign minister [Ribbentrop] explained that the Jews must either be destroyed or placed in concentration camps. There was no other way [to deal with them] ... [The Führer stated that] the Jews had never had any organizational value. All of the fears that had been repeatedly expressed to him in Germany notwithstanding, everything was proceeding quite well without the Jews. Wherever the Jews were left to themselves - in Poland, for example - the most awful misery and depravity prevailed. They are simply pure parasites. In Poland these conditions have been fundamentally cleared away. Jews who did not want to work there were shot. If they couldn’t work, they had to die. They were to be treated like tuberculosis bacteria who might infect a healthy body. This is not cruel if you keep in mind that even innocent creatures of nature, like rabbits and deer, have to be killed so they will do no damage. Why should we treat the animals who thought to bring us Bolshevism any better?

(Trials of the Major War Criminals, 1949, vol. 35: 427-428)

 
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