We are understandably reluctant to attribute world-shaking events to trivial causes. In our historical explanations we are biased in favor of great impersonal forces and long-term trends and dominant political and cultural developments, and are uneasy with the contingent, the unexpected, and the accidental. Thus, in trying to understand Adolf Hitler’s coming to power in Germany at the end of January 1933, we are apt to look for its roots in the evolution of German politics since the failure of the revolutions of 1848 and in such things as the domination of German politics in the late nineteenth century by a feudal elite and a nationalistic middle class; and we are also likely to cite the social tensions caused by the rise of a militant working-class movement, the weakness and fragmentation of German liberalism, the susceptibility of part of the population to pseudoscientific theories of race, a foreign policy that was prone to military adventurism, and the horrendous and lasting effects of the military collapse of 1918.
The trouble with this kind of explanation is that it tends to be deterministic and to give the impression that what happened had to happen and that there were no alternatives. In his absorbing new book about the politics of the month of January 1933, Henry Ashby Turner refuses to believe this. Of the remote historical factors he writes:
…Although [they] may in many cases have been necessary to the outcome, they were not sufficient. They can help to understand how the Third Reich became a possibility, but they cannot explain how it became a reality.
They throw no light, for example, on the problem that is at the core of Turner’s book: namely, how it was that a politician whose fortunes had slumped so drastically that on January 1, 1933, respected journals were describing him as a spent force was, only four weeks later, sworn in as chancellor of the republic he was to destroy. This fateful reversal of fortune was not, Turner insists, inevitable, but rather the result of chance occurrences, of accident and luck, and of the passions and follies of a small group of politicians, chief among whom were the presi-dent of the republic, Paul von Hindenburg, his son Oskar, and his chief of staff, Otto Meissner, the current and former chancellors, Kurt von Schleicher and Franz von Papen, and the head of the Nationalist Party, Alfred Hugenberg.
Hitler’s troubles at the end of 1932 were serious and promised to become worse. In the November Reichstag elections, the Nazi Party received two million fewer votes than in the elections of July 1932, and it lost thirty-four Reichstag seats. After three years of unbroken success, this was the party’s first serious setback, and it was a staggering one, particularly since it came at a time when the Nazis were suffering from financial troubles and from growing discontent among the membership with Hitler’s all-or-nothing strategy of refusing to make any power-sharing deal with other parties that did not put the chancellorship in his hands.
The resignation of Gregor Strasser as head of the party’s organizational apparatus on December 8 opened up the possibility of a wider defection, and at the same time a bitter dispute between the leader of the Franconian SA and the local Gauleiter showed that there were limits to the loyalty of the party’s paramilitary forces. These were difficulties that the chancellor, General Kurt von Schleicher, a man with a well-earned reputation for political maneuver, could be counted upon to exploit. Meanwhile, there were signs that the long economic depression that had created the conditions for the remarkable growth of the Nazi Party since 1930 was beginning to lift, a circumstance that made any new resort to the polls a risky proposition.
Only someone who was absolutely persuaded that he was chosen by destiny to be Germany’s leader could have remained undaunted in these circumstances, but Hitler did so, and destiny, in the form of Franz von Papen, now came to his aid. Still smarting over the failure of his own chancellorship, which he blamed on Schleicher’s intrigues, Papen was bent upon revenge and, after a speech in the Herrenklub in Berlin in which he expressed disappointment over the failure of re-cent attempts to bring the Nazis into the cabinet, he had a talk with the Cologne banker Kurt von Schröder, a Nazi sympathizer, in which he revealed his feelings about Schleicher, said that they were shared by President von Hindenburg, and hinted that he would be willing to meet with the Nazi leader.
These intimations led to an invitation to Hitler to meet with the former chancellor in Schröder’s house in Cologne on January 4. For the Nazi leader this was a pure stroke of luck, an unexpected jackpot. Papen and he agreed quickly on the necessity of replacing the Schleicher cabinet with one based on a union of Nazis and nationalistic conservatives that would govern by emergency decrees under the authority of the president and would destroy the leftist parties once and for all. Although they differed on the question of who should become chancellor in such a government (here Hitler was as unmoveable as ever), they undertook to remain in touch. This represented a major breakthrough for Hitler. In a stroke, Turner writes, it ended his political isolation and made him
a major factor in a drastically altered political constellation. He had at last breached the protective ring of advisers that had previously shielded the ultimate arbiter of power—President von Hindenburg—from him. He now had an offer of alliance from a former chancellor whose policies in office had won him the admiration of influential conservative circles and the affection of the head of state.
Indeed, the Nazi leader was now in a position in which he was no longer required to do anything but sit tight, foreswear dangerous initiatives, and take advantage of the illusions and the irresponsibility of the other actors in the political drama. Turner’s book gives a circumstantial and fascinating account of how they played into his hands.
The key figure in the game was the old Field Marshal, for it was he who appointed chancellors and provided them with the emergency decrees that enabled them to govern when they lacked Reichstag support. Hindenburg was now eighty-five years old, and not as vigorous in body and mind as he had once been. After Hitler came to power, the story went around that, on the night of January 30, 1933, as he stood on the balcony of the Reich Chancellery and watched the columns of jubilant brownshirts passing underneath, he had turned to his chief of staff, Otto Meissner, and said, “Ludendorff, I hadn’t realized we had taken so many Russian prisoners.” This was unfair. The President’s mind was clear enough. He was aware of the prerogatives and duties of his office and could defend them with impressive authority. On the other hand, he preferred to be surrounded by people with good manners who deferred to him; he was susceptible to flattery, and his old-fashioned sense of honor inclined him to believe what people told him.
He had a deep affection for Franz von Papen, who, he once said, always showed him true feudal loyalty, and he was uncomfortable with Papen’s successor Schleicher, who had no gifts of deference. It is perhaps not surprising then that when Papen, who continued to have access to the President’s office after his dismissal, gave him a misleading account of the Cologne meeting, saying that Hitler was no longer demanding the chancellorship and was ready to consider a coalition with conservative forces, Hindenburg authorized him to remain secretly in contact with him, despite his personal aversion for the Nazi leader and despite the fact that this virtually made him a member of a conspiracy against his own chancellor.
Until the latter half of 1932, the driving force in this backstairs intrigue, Franz von Papen, had been better known for his skills as a gentleman jockey than for intellectual achievement. Writing about him at the time of his appointment as chancellor, the French ambassador André François-Poncet described Papen as having
the distinction of not being taken at all seriously either by his friends or his enemies. His face bears the mark of an ineradicable frivolity of which he has never been able to rid himself. As for the rest, he is not a personality of the first rank…. He is regarded as superficial, mischief-making, deceitful, ambitious, vain, crafty, given to intrigue.
None of these characteristics, except the first, was a handicap in the game Papen had chosen to play, but his superficiality prevented him from having any appreciation of the potential consequences of his actions. His determination to bring Schleicher down closed his mind to all other considerations, and when he failed to persuade Hitler to give up his insistence on becoming chancellor, he blithely set about the task of persuading Hugenberg and the Nationalists, the President’s closest advisers, Oskar von Hindenburg and Otto Meissner, and the Field Marshal himself to accept Hitler as head of the government. This was not an easy task, and it required all of Papen’s considerable resources of mendacity to accomplish it, so that, in the end, he won Hindenburg’s assent only by allowing him to believe that Hitler would govern by parliamentary rather than presidential authority, and would require no emergency decrees—an assurance that was shown to be completely false after the Nazi leader was sworn in.
More than sixty years after the fact, one is still struck by Papen’s essential frivolity, his unwavering belief that he was the brightest boy in the class, and his complete faith in his ability to control Hitler once he was in power. When Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin, who was later to lose his life for his activities opposing the Nazis, tried at the last moment to persuade Papen of the danger of making Hitler chancellor, Papen answered, “What do you want? I have the confidence of Hindenburg. In two months we’ll have pushed Hitler so far into a corner that he’ll squeal.”
Perhaps Turner’s most original pages are those that deal with Schleicher, whose behavior during the crisis of his chancellorship has always puzzled historians. Kurt von Schleicher was generally considered to be the political general par excellence. In 1928, he had been appointed head of the Reichswehr’s Ministeramt, a liaison body between the army and the Reich ministries and political parties, and had acquired considerable influence in the decision-making process. It was he who in 1930 devised the plan to overcome the deadlock of the political parties by the appointment of cabinets composed of members who were unhampered by a narrow conception of party loyalty and who governed from the standpoint of the national interest alone, relying for their authority upon the support of the president and his emergency powers. Schleicher had a prominent part in the formation of the government of Heinrich Brüning, the leader of the Catholic Center Party, in May 1930 and of the Papen cabinet in June 1932, as he did in the fall of both. When he succeeded Papen in November, he was generally expected to be a strong chancellor. This proved not to be true.
Indeed, Schleicher suffered from a degree of credulity amazing in one with such political experience. His worst mistake was to believe that he could count on Hindenburg’s support, which the old man had pledged to him at the outset of his chancellorship. This was essential to his continuation in power, for he had no parliamentary backing, and when the Reichstag reconvened at the end of January, as it was scheduled to do, he could expect a vote of no-confidence unless Hindenburg authorized him to forestall this by an immediate dissolution of the legislative body. It was not until January 23, 1933, that Schleicher learned, in an interview with the President, that Hindenburg was disinclined to give him a dissolution decree.
This appears to have opened his eyes for the first time to the fact that he was being betrayed, but instead of galvanizing his energies for a struggle to retain his post it seems to have drained him of energy. Turner points out that he might have retained office by resorting to other constitutional options—asking, for example, for an extension of the parliamentary recess until the cabinet could present its budget, which would have kept it in power until the spring, at which time much might have changed. But his discovery that former friends like Papen and Oskar von Hindenburg were plotting against him and that the President had broken his promise to give him the support he needed to govern appears to have shaken him deeply and strengthened his growing desire to leave his post, which had never been as congenial to him as his behind-the-scenes position in the Ministry of Defense during the Brüning and Papen governments. All of this suggests, Turner writes, that “the man who stood between Adolf Hitler and [the chancellorship] lacked the essential ingredient for success in such a high-stakes contest: the appetite for power.” Rather than seek new ways of hanging onto his office, Schleicher went to the President at noon on January 28 and repeated his request for a decree of dissolution. Hindenburg’s refusal marked the effective end of his chancellorship, although the President asked him to remain in office until a successor was found.
In a startling maneuver, however, Schleicher now resolved to bring the influence of the army into play in order to block a Papen chancellorship, which he appeared, wrongly, to think imminent. On the afternoon of January 29, General Kurt von Hammerstein sought out Hitler and promised him army support for his candidacy if he should need it, at the same time expressing the hope that, once in power, he would retain Schleicher as minister of defense. The only result of this démarche—and of a second one by Schleicher’s associate Werner von Alvensleben, who reportedly told Hitler that if “the Palace crowd” was merely playing with him, the Potsdam garrison would have to be called out to “clean out the whole pig-sty from the Wilhelmstrasse”1—was to send rumors of an impending military coup coursing through the city. This enabled Papen to pressure Alfred Hugenberg and his other partners to come to an agreement, and to persuade Hindenburg to agree to swear in the new cabinet, with Hitler as chancellor, on January 30.2
This result, Turner insists, did not have to happen. There had always been alternatives, and if Schleicher had only had a stronger will and more ability he might have foiled both Papen and Hitler by resorting to the most promising of options: a military regime under presidential authority with a general as chancellor. This might have been popular in a country tired of political gridlock, and it would have spared Germany and Europe the dreadful wounds that the Third Reich inflicted upon them. Such a government, Turner writes, would have been
fundamentally conservative, free of the fanatical radicalism unleashed by the Nazis. It would have been authoritarian, but not totalitarian; nationalistic but not racist; distasteful but not demonic. … It would not have made anti-Semitism a matter of government policy or embarked upon a systematic program of genocide…. In addition to sparing humanity the shame of the Holocaust, a military regime in Germany would have averted the carnage and destruction of the Second World War.
One may be permitted to be skeptical about these claims. One cannot foresee what governments will do under the pressure of circumstances, least of all in foreign policy. Even Turner admits that a German military regime would have sought to revise the eastern frontiers drawn at Versailles by going to war with Poland, although he argues that this conflict would have been brief and “could have gone a long way toward clearing the international atmosphere in Europe.” But the Polish Corridor was not the only part of the Versailles Treaty that the German military resented, and, after all, l’appétit vient en mangeant. As for anti-Semitism, it is well to remember that the Nationalist (formerly the Conservative) Party, which would have been the strongest supporter of the military regime, had been a center of anti-Jewish sentiment since the time of its Tivoli Program of 1892.
In the remarkable first volume of his history of the Holocaust, Saul Friedländer’s attitude toward determinacy and contingency is much the same as Henry Turner’s. It is easy enough, he writes, to recognize the factors that shaped the overall historical setting in which the destruction of the Jews took place—such matters as the ideological radicalization of the last decades of the nineteenth century, the new dimensions of mass industrial killing introduced by the First World War, the growing technological and bureaucratic control exerted by modern society, and other features of modernity. “Yet,” he writes,
as essential as these conditions were in preparing the ground for the Holocaust,…they nonetheless do not alone constitute the necessary cluster of elements that shaped the course of events leading from persecution to extermination.
The key to the genesis and implementation of that process, he writes, was Hitler’s personal role and the function of his ideology, the distinctive aspect of which Friedländer calls “redemptive anti-Semitism.”
Sharply different from other forms of anti-Jewish feeling in Germany and Europe, Friedländer argues, this form of anti-Semitism was born from, on the one hand, the fear of racial degeneration caused by the Jewish penetration into German politics and society and into the very bloodstream of the German people and, on the other, a quasi-religious belief that the German and Aryan world could only be redeemed by a struggle to the death against the Jews. In a fascinating chapter, Friedländer argues that the source of this new kind of anti-Semitism is to be found in the Bayreuth circle of Richard Wagner, “that meeting point of German Christianity, neoromanticism, the mystical cult of sacred Aryan blood, and ultraconservative nationalism.” After Wagner’s death, his disciples Hans von Wolzogen, Ludwig Scheemann, and particularly Houston Stewart Chamberlain, in his book The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century (1899), made the opposition between Germandom and Jewry the central theme of world history.
Chamberlain’s book had a remarkable success (more than a hundred thousand copies had been sold by 1915), and its ideas helped to reinforce the conspiracy theories encouraged by the war, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, and the book that Friedländer calls “the canonical text of the Jewish-conspiracy theories,” The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Hitler’s earliest speeches in the beer halls of Munich reflected these ideas, taking as their essential theme the threat to German culture and the drastic form that redemption must take. These formulations were refined and elaborated by the ideological contributions of the journalist Dietrich Eckart, an apocalyptic thinker of whom Hitler wrote, “He shone in our eyes like a polar star.” Eckart saw in Jewry the greatest force for evil in history, and his influence is probably to be found in the notorious passage at the end of the second chapter of Mein Kampf, where Hitler wrote, “Today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” This conviction did not weaken in the years that followed, and Friedländer believes that it was
this redemptive dimension, this synthesis of a murderous rage and an “idealistic” goal, shared by the Führer and the hard core of the party, that led to Hitler’s ultimate decision to exterminate the Jews.
This was not a belief shared by the people he came to lead. In contrast to recent books that have assumed a unity of feeling and goal between Hitler and the German people, Friedländer believes that
the majority of Germans, although undoubtedly influenced by various forms of traditional anti-Semitism and easily accepting the segregation of the Jews, shied away from widespread violence against them, urging neither their expulsion from the Reich nor their physical annihilation.
Despite the unrelenting barrage of anti-Jewish propaganda, which began in the first days of the Nazi regime—Friedländer’s description of it is one of the most striking aspects of his book—ordinary Germans were slow to treat Jews as they were instructed to do. The April 1933 boycott of Jewish stores was far less successful than the party newspapers made it out to be. The peasantry were reluctant to break their ties with Jewish cattle dealers and were not willing to stop patronizing Jewish stores, which were apt to have a wider selection of wares and cheaper prices than Christian ones. Nor were the shoppers in the national capital willing to forego the advantages of Jewish department stores like Tietz and Wertheim. Particularly galling to the Nazis was the fact that even party members continued to do business with the Jews, and that in some of the Baltic resorts in 1935 the “paradoxical situation” developed in which Jewish guesthouses were favored by uniformed members of the armed services.
Drawing on a variety of polls, analysis by government officials, and other documents, Friedländer argues that one of the reasons for the widespread acceptance by the German public of the Nuremberg Decrees of 1935, called the Nuremberg Laws, was the hope that legal segregation of the Jews would put an end to the disorders of the last two years, and that the Jews, now recognized as a national minority, would have the opportunity to develop their own national and cultural life. This was not the view of the party radicals, who regarded the Nuremberg Laws as only a first step toward more systematic persecution; but it is not insignificant that they continued to find much to complain about in the public attitude, which, according to a Nazi Party report in 1937, was all too often indifferent to party propaganda.
The possibility of this passivity developing into real opposition was, of course, never great, and after Hitler had embarked on his program of international aggression in 1938 and the anti-Jewish program had entered a new radical phase, any manifestation of sympathy for the Jews invited drastic consequences. The real turning point was the great pogrom of November 1938 (Reichskristallnacht), of which Hitler himself was the principal mover, although he sought to disguise it as a spontaneous action of the German people. It was not easy to find any evidence to justify such a description, and Friedländer includes in his account a worried letter from a Nazi block warden in Hüttenbach who had been charged with preparing the party chronicle for the year 1938. Writing to his district party leader, he reported that he had first finished an account of the November pogrom, which included the information that
At 5 in the morning, District Party Leader Party Comrade Waltz and Mayor Party Comrade Herzog, District Propaganda Leader Party Comrade Büttner and Sturmführer Brand, arrived and set the Jewish temple on fire. Party members from the local section gave energetic help. But this sentence was criticized by a few Party members: it should not be written that Party members Walz, Herzog, and Büttner/Brand set the synagogue on fire, but the people did it. That’s right. But as the writer of a chronicle I should and I must report the truth. It would easily be possible to take this page out and prepare another entry. I ask you, my District Party Leader, how should I prepare this entry and how should it be worded? Heil Hitler.
Not the least impressive aspect of Friedländer’s book is the skill with which he juxtaposes different levels of reality within an overall chronological frame, moving from high-level Nazi debates on Jewish policy to the routine brutalities of the SA and SS, and from the perceptions of the average German citizen to those of the victims, who, Friedländer writes, sensed “a reality both absurd and ominous, of a world altogether grotesque and chilling under the veneer of an even more chilling normality.” The story of the victims is one of the disintegration of their collective life, reflected in the administrative record of their persecution and extermination; they were year by year reduced to items in a statistical record. Their history can be retrieved only by means of personal stories, and Friedländer’s book is full of these. Some of them are of great poignancy, like that of the young woman who was a quarter-Jew (defined by the Nuremberg Laws as a Mischling of the second degree and thus excluded from the penalties of the new statutes unless she married a Jew), who dreamed that she was at Bad Gastein.
Hitler leads me in animated conversation down an open stairway. We are visible from afar and at the bottom of the stairs a concert is taking place and there is a large crowd of people. I think proudly and happily: now everyone can see that our Führer does not mind being seen with me in public, despite my grandmother Recha.
Other stories reveal the helplessness of people who had committed no crime but were still treated horribly and had no recourse in the face of the Third Reich’s contempt of law and its ability to coerce other governments into tolerating this. In October 1934, the Würzburg wine merchant Leopold Obermayer, a practicing Jew and a Swiss citizen, complained to the police that his mail was being opened. He was taken into custody and, when it was discovered that he was a homosexual, subjected to an endless series of interrogations and beatings and incarcerations. Despite his courageous protests and petitions, the Swiss government found it inexpedient to intervene on his behalf. He was given a secret trial, sentenced to life imprisonment, and died in Mauthausen in 1943.
Some are stories of unrelieved brutality, like that of the eighty-one-year-old Jewish widow Susannah Stern, who was visited on the morning of November 10, 1938, by the SA leader of Elberstadt, Adolf Heinrich Frey, and several cronies. Frey reported that Frau Stern smiled “provocatively” and said, “Quite an important visit, this morning.” He ordered her to get dressed and go with them. She refused and said that they could do what they wanted. When she remained obdurate, Frey drew his pistol and shot her in the chest and again in the head, and finally, as he reported, “to be sure that Stern was dead I shot her in the middle of the brow from a distance of approximately ten centimeters.” Frey was subjected to legal proceedings, but these were a mere formality and were dismissed on orders of the Ministry of Justice.
In May 1933, after an interview on the subject of the Jews in which the new chancellor worked himself up into a state of great excitement, the British ambassador in Berlin, Sir Horace Rumbold, wrote:
My comment on the foregoing is that Herr Hitler is himself responsible for the anti-Jewish policy of the German government and that it would be a mistake to believe that it is the policy of his wilder men whom he has difficulty in controlling. Anybody who has had the opportunity of listening to his remarks on the subject of Jews could not have failed, like myself, to realize that he is a fanatic on the subject.
Six years later, the world outside Germany had still not fathomed the depths of that fanaticism or the unconditionality of Hitler’s intentions. Preoccupied with their own problems, foreign governments were only fitfully aware that he was the orchestrator of everything that had happened to the Jews since 1933. To be sure, the wild men were sometimes hard to control, but he never allowed his hand to be forced by them and always reined them in when their activities might have adverse economic or political effects. This, Friedländer comments, accounts for the irregular tempo of the persecution of the Jews in the years before 1938. But as time passed and as Hitler learned how effective terror was in persuading the outside world to see things his way, the restraints became more relaxed and, against the time when the Jews would disappear entirely, Hitler, in secret speeches to the upper ranks of the party faithful, reminded them that his ultimate goal was what it had always been.
Michael Burleigh’s volume of essays by various hands deals for the most part with the period of the war and the extermination. Perhaps trying to reassure readers who shy away from collections of this kind, Burleigh writes in his introduction about recent attempts to relativize the Nazi past or subsume it under specialized rubrics, thus transforming reality into a “history” that has no meaning for many people whose lives were affected by Nazism. He adds:
Popular perceptions of the period may for once have greater veracity than the increasingly febrile constructions of some academic historians, whose writings have an unreality akin to that of some branches of theology. All of the essays in this book represent original contributions commissioned from leading researchers in the field, working in Britain, Germany, Israel and the United States. None of the contributors belongs to a self-conscious historical “school,” or self-styled “new” generation of scholars, and some of them would, no doubt respectfully, agree only to differ regarding their interpretations of the subject.
The essays in Burleigh’s volume range widely in subject matter, treating such themes as the attitude of the working class during the Third Reich (Ulrich Herbert) and the treatment of forced labor in the Volkswagen factory (Klaus-Jörg Siegfried), the persecution of gypsies and homosexuals (Wolfgang Wippermann and Hans-Georg Stümke respectively), the eugenics movement and the euthanasia program (Paul Weindling and Michael Burleigh respectively), and women, motherhood, and the family (Jill Stephenson).
Omer Bartov, whose careful researches forced a radical revision of the old view that there was a marked difference between the conduct of the German army in the field and that of the Einsatzgruppen and other SS units,3 has contributed a brilliant essay on the war in Russia, in which he shows how the morale and motivation of the troops were fortified by the increasingly savage nature of the fighting. Jeremy Noakes has written a highly original piece on Nazism and high society, in which he describes how the energetic attempts of the Nazi elite to integrate the old upper class of birth and property proved to be ineffective against a nobility that did its patriotic duty in the war as pilots, commanders, and civil servants but remained “more or less totally detached from the regime and regarded it with a mixture of contempt and disgust.”
Of the two articles on the Holocaust, Götz Aly’s “The Planning Intelligentsia and the ‘Final Solution”‘ is perhaps too provocative for its own good. It begins with a dubious proposition, that “there is a broad consensus among scholars that no rationally conceived motives informed the Nazis’ murder of European Jews.” It goes on to argue that, on the contrary, theories of the optimum relation between Germans and other populations, as preached by economists, agronomists, demographers, and other experts in agencies like the Reich Office for Area Planning and the Reich Commissariat for the Strengthening of Ethnic Germandom, had a marked influence in the program of extermination in Poland and elsewhere. The evidence for this is not convincing, and one is inclined to agree with Saul Friedländer, who has confessed to finding it difficult to believe that “the planning” of Nazism’s anti-Jewish policies was “mainly left to the cost-benefit calculations of technocrats.”
More convincing is Avraham Barkai’s essay, “The German Volksgemeinschaft from the Persecution of the Jews to the ‘Final Solution.”‘ Barkai sees the mobilization of racial feeling rather than economic plans and ambitions as the necessary background for the extermination of the Jews, and, like Friedländer, emphasizes the crucial effect of Nazi propaganda on the masses. In brief compass, his essay shows
how seven or eight years of fanatical ideological indoctrination and concrete visual instruction in racial matters could befog the consciences of millions of Germans and corrode their moral inhibitions.
He concludes that “without these prior developments the Holocaust would not have been possible.”
May 29, 1997
John W. Wheeler-Bennett, The Nemesis of Power: The German Army in Politics, 1918-1945 (St. Martin’s, 1953), pp. 283-284. ↩
Schleicher and his wife were murdered on June 30, 1934, the Night of the Long Knives, perhaps because Hitler continued to believe he had wanted a military coup. ↩
Omer Bartov, Hitler’s Army: Soldiers, Nazis and War in the Third Reich (Oxford University Press, 1991). ↩