John Toland's Adolf Hitler: a Definitive Biography, tells of Hitler seeing the United States as having conquered living space by exterminating natives. It was for Hitler an example of Darwinian struggle. Too bad, he thought, that the United States had later succumbed to racial and cultural pollution.
On August 22, 1939, days before he invaded Poland, at a reception he gave at his Berchtesgaden retreat he told his generals and commanders that he was not interested "in reaching a specific line or a new border," that what he was interested in was the "destruction of the enemy." Hitler was going beyond the normal consideration that it was necessary for soldiers to be prepared to actually kill an enemy combatant. He was elevating killing to a motive.
There was in this, moreover, Hitler's belief in the inherent superiority of his fellow Germans over other ethnicities or races. A little more than a month into his invasion of Poland he spoke to the Reichstag about "the most important task ... to establish a new order of ethnographic conditions." Hitler appointed Heinrich Himmler to carry out this project, and Himmler ordered that Poles be classified by race. It was Hitler's belief that Jews were a race, and he joined others in ranking the worthiness of individuals by the category of race — no matter that some were much more intelligent than some Germans. It was simplistic but a generalization that for many was a habit.
The German word for the inferior others was Untermenschen. It was applied not only to Jews but also Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), and Slavic peoples such as Poles, Serbs, and Russians. Hitler and his propaganda minister, Goebbels, compared the Slavs to the "rabbit family" and "stolid animals" who were "idle" and "disorganized" and spread like a "wave of filth". Untermenschen were considered people of worth only for the exploitation of their labor — a new slavery to serve the fatherland during the war.
But those Slavs (including Poles) who happened to have Nordic features (including perhaps blond hair) were deemed to have distant Germanic descent which meant partially "Aryan" origin, and if under 10 years old, they were to be Germanized. According to Wikipedia more than 200,000 children in occupied Poland would be "Germanized."
In German-occupied Poland, Jews were crowded into ghettos, the Nazis looking for easier control of the Jews and toward subsequent expulsion. (People in the Lotz ghetto were living six to a room on average.) In mid-November 1940, the Nazis set up the Warsaw ghetto, into which they packed at least half a million people. Very soon, there more than 5,000 people per month dying of hunger, typhoid and other infectious diseases.
On 24 September 1941 in London, governments-in-exile — Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, and Yugoslavia — join with the Soviet Union and Charles de Gaulle of the Free French to proclaim adherence to principles of the Atlantic Charter. Hitler saw the alliance as an international Jewish conspiracy and looked forward to his Final Solution to the "Jewish problem".
The rounding up of Poland's Jews was more-or-less completed in late 1941 (while the Germans were advancing on Moscow), and now a so-called "special treatment" of Jews was to begin. In mid-December 1941, Hitler's Governor-General in occupied Poland, Hans Frank, told his cabinet in Krakow:
Gentlemen, I would ask you to steel yourself against any thoughts of compassion. We have to destroy the Jews wherever we find them.
The diplomat Franz Rademacher, in charge of the "Jewish department" of the German foreign minister wrote:
The Jewish problem must be solved during the war because this is the only way it can be completed without a general global hullabaloo.
At first, Jews were locked in sealed trucks and poisoned with exhaust fumes. The Germans had the first extermination camp built in Chelmno near Lodz in November 1941. By the summer of 1942 they had built extermination facilities at Auschwitz, Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka and Majdanek by the summer of 1942.
An extermination camp had also been set up by Germany's ally Croatia, one of the largest concentration camps in Europe and to be called "the Auschwitz of the Balkans." Murdered there were Serbs, Jews, Roma and the puppet regime's Croatian and Bosniak (Muslim) political opponents.
Before invading Poland, the Hitler regime had top-secret lists of more than 61,000 members of the Polish activists, intelligentsia, scholars, clergy, actors, former officers, and others, who were to be interned or shot. Members of the German minority living in Poland assisted in preparing the lists.
The plan was finalized in May 1939. Following orders from Hitler, a special unit dubbed Tannenberg was created that commanded a number units that in occupied Poland were supposed to track down and arrest all the people on their list. After one month into the invasion of Poland, the special units, with the help from the regular army, had killed at least 20,000.
With the invasion of the Soviet Union the Hitler regime's contempt for Slavs was expressed by systematic abuse of captured of Soviet prisoners of war. Of the 5.7 million Soviet prisoners of war at least 3.5 million were to die in German custody.
With the German army's advance, the Nazi "Final Solution" was applied against Jews on Soviet territory. Operational groups (Einsatzgruppen) were assigned to follow the regular military and kill alleged Soviet partisans and to round up Jews. These special killing units shot Jews and dumped them into mass graves outside of towns.
According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia (ushmm.org), there were 522,000 Jews living in Germany when Hitler became chancellor in January 1933. Approximately 304,000 of them emigrated during the fist six years of Hitler's rule. About 214,000 remained when Germany invaded Poland, thousands of them in concentration camps since the mass arrests following Kristallnacht in November 1938.
With the outbreak of war in September 1939, a strict curfew was imposed on Jews and new restrictions on where Jews could go. Jews were prohibited from using public transportation, and Jews were required to publicly identify themselves by wearing a yellow Star of David. When food rationing began, the Jews received reduced rations, and further decrees limited the time periods in which Jews could purchase food and other supplies. Jewish households often faced shortages of the most basic essentials. The Hitler regime demanded that Jews relinquish to local officials property "essential to the war effort" such as radios, cameras, bicycles, electrical appliances, and other valuables. Jews were forced to live in designated areas, and ordinances were issued requiring Jews fit for work to perform compulsory forced labor.
Following Hitler's authorization in September 1941, German authorities began deporting German, Austrian, and Czech Jews to killing centers, primarily to Auschwitz in German-occupied Poland. There, in 1943, 6,000 people were being gassed each day. A google search for "German Jews during the Holocaust, 1939–1945" produces a description of most German Jews as having been deported and murdered by 1943 and "about 8000 Jewish men in Berlin working at forced labor.
At the Nuremberg Trials (from November 1945 to October 1946), the estimated number of murdered Jews from different countries and continents was presented to the court: Africa 526, Albania 200, Austria 65,000, Belgium 24,387, Czechoslovakia 277,000, Denmark 77, Estonia 4000, France 83,000, Germany 160,000, Greece 71,300, Hungary 305,000, Italy 8,000, Latvia 85,000, Lithuania 135,000, Luxembourg 700, Netherlands 106,000, Norway 728, Poland 3,001,000, Romania 364,362, Soviet Union 150,000, Yugoslavia 67,122. All of the estimates totaled 6,258,673 — with people suggesting an actual range of between five to seven million.
CONTINUE READING: Hitler and Mussolini Lose It
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