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Use your own knowledge to assess how far the sources support the interpretation that the decision to implement the Final Solution arose mainly from a long-standing and widespread hatred of the Jews.
During the Nazi Party’s reign of Germany from 1933-1945, it is estimated that around 6 million Jews were slaughtered to death, whilst in Nazi concentration and extermination camps, during WWII. These Nazi ‘forced labour’ camps were set up all over the newly formed Weimar Republic, such as Auschwitz and Dachau, with their main function – genocide. The Nazi German policy to ‘exterminate the European Jews’ was shown through out the Holocaust, especially in the ‘Final Solution’ stage, which Hitler labelled as “the final solution of the Jewish question”.
From the beginning of the Nazi reign of Germany, Adolf Hitler set about implementing laws that could ban Jews from doing specific things. By 1st April 1933, Jewish doctors, shops, lawyers and stores were to be boycotted. Not only this, but 6 days later, Hitler began to unravel his plan to Germany by producing a new law which banned Jews from being employed in government. These upper-class jobs were to be reserved for the ‘Aryan race’, as Jews were forced out of high positions to be replaced by ‘Aryan’ Germans. This begins to prove that there was a strong feeling of hatred towards the Jews from the Nazi’s which they would aim to implement nationally.
Source A states that the influence of the Nazi’s was not as ‘widespread’ as many had come to believe. SOPADE reports how many of the German population have been convinced that ‘Jews start all bad things’. This is an example of the Nazi propaganda working for its intended purpose. Propaganda such as: speeches, posters, literature, radio shows etc, were aimed at the German public, trying to persuade them that the Jews were the root of what was wrong in Germany.
However, source A also explains that the ‘vast majority’ of the population chose to ignore the ‘anti-Jewish propaganda’. Not only this, but they ‘preferred to shop in Jewish department stores’ almost as a protest to the new Nazi laws. However, as this piece was only written in 1936, 3 years after the regime had began and at least 5 years before the implementation of the Final Solution, it can be assumed that by 1936, the Nazi’s had not gained as much widespread support compared to 1941. Not only this, but this particular piece was written by an Anti-Nazi, socialist and therefore, this source cannot be seen as truly reliable, as it may show bias against the Nazi’s.
Source B is an example of how a typical German girl was ‘brainwashed’ into supporting the Nazi regime and ‘totalling identifying herself with National Socialism’. The Nazi’s targeted many of the young German population with Hitler Youth groups and Nazi education schemes. The Hitler Youth groups were anti-Semitic groups which aimed to promote military activities, even resembling basic military training, including strategy and assault course tests. Melita Maschmann recalls the moment she ‘switched to accepting’ that the ‘Jews were the enemies’. She herself had been a member of the girls section of the Hitler Youth groups and she even begins to describe the moment from where she felt ‘something terrible had happened’ to ‘accepting the situation’.
This is another example that the Nazi propaganda and schemes had begun to take effect. This account is written based on the events of Kristallnacht, where on a single night, 91 Jews were murdered and around 25,000-30,000 were arrested and deported to concentration camps, on the 10th November 1938. In source A, it stated that by 1936 not many of the population had been convinced the Nazi Party, however, source B suggests that the Nazi plan was starting to take effect by 1938. However, yet again it has be noted that this ‘recalled’ account was written after WWII in 1964, therefore events may have occurred that have changed this persons account of that night.
Source C is a brief insight into what it was like to be in a family in Nazi Germany that had been separated by political views. Bernt Engelmann recalls how he spoke of the ‘unspeakable crudeness and cowardice’ of the Nazi’s, whereas his cousin, Klaus-Gï¿½nther objected by stating ‘you have to accept the idea of political necessity’. This is in comparison with source A which suggested that there were conflicting, political views through out the German population. Not only this, but it also identifies with source B and the Nazi propaganda. It can be established that the cousin, Klaus- Gï¿½nther, has been influenced by Nazi propaganda, such as Hitler Youth and Nazi literature.
He details his feelings towards the Jews by labelling them ‘parasites’. This again suggests that there was much widespread hatred of Jews, which of course could have helped make the decision to implement the Final Solution. The ‘future SS General’ Klaus, also argued that the violence at Kristallnacht was much better than a ‘hundred years of struggle’. However, clearly the Nazi propaganda had lead people to believe that the new Aryan race was superior to the Jews, and that they should make them pay and put the money towards ‘our defences in the West’. It also looks as though Hitler was preparing for war and felt that he could make the Jewish community pay for the German defences.
Source D is the testimony of Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess at the Nuremburg war crime trials in 1946. In his testimony he suggests that it was Hitler’s hatred of the Jews which forced the Nazis into ‘solving the Jewish question, once and for all’ – the Final solution. This order had been put to Himmler and Hess, through the extermination camps. From 1941 onwards, Jews were to be transferred to extermination camps, which generally had very high death rates as a result of executions, starvation, and disease etc, nevertheless, only the extermination camps were intended specifically for mass killing. Before 1941, concentration camps, such as Dachau and Belsen, had been the primary location in which Jews were mistreated, starved and killed. In the testimony, ‘Auschwitz’ is selected as the main location in which the Nazi extermination camp would be set up.
In the Auschwitz concentration camp, Hess decided to make the gas chambers ten times bigger than the ones seen at Treblinka, so that they could kill 2,000 people at once, rather than 200. Later on in his testimony, Hess also stated that up to 3 million Jews were killed in the Auschwitz death camp. This is another example of how the Nazi’s attempted to wipe out the Jewish race; however it does not give any information on how widespread this hatred was in Germany. This source is fairly reliable due to the fact this testimony was given 5 years after the incident and the fact that he had flown himself to Scotland to restore peace with Britain. It could be suggested that once he had been arrested there was not a lot he could argue; due to the fact he was responsible for the death of millions of Jews.
Source E attempts to argue that the Nazi policy had ‘not been set on genocide in the period before 1941’. Evidence that could be argued to back up this point is that Hitler did not order the transfer of Jews to extermination camps until 1941. He also states that Himmler regarded it as ‘impossible and against German nature’. However, both points could be argued that due to the mass amount of Nazi propaganda, it is hard to argue that Hitler was not always pining for a ‘super Aryan race’ and planned to ‘execute the European Jews’. Not only this, but it could be suggested that Himmler’s statement may also be seen as propaganda, as people may have began to question the Nazi policy, as stated in source B.
Alan Farmer, also attempts to suggest that due to the fact the invasion of the USSR was not going to plan, Hitler was forced to ‘initiate extermination out of desperation’. Therefore, he began to kill all Russian Jews, ‘which lead him to decide to kill all Jews’. This idea conflicts with the majority of the other sources, which have relied on the mass amount of propaganda that was issued during the time, and that many of the authors of the sources were recalling sections of time from the period, whereas Source E is written by a ‘modern historian’. Although, it is fair to suggest that Alan Farmer may have had more information at his disposal and has also had more time to analyse the period.
In conclusion, it does seem as though the large majority of the sources available agreed that there was a widespread hatred of the Jews throughout Germany, caused by the Nazi influence, and this did lead to Hitler implementing the Final Solution. I feel as though Nazi propaganda and other schemes such as Nazi-education, lead to a very convinced nation. I also believe Source B was a good example of how a child could be so easily ‘brainwashed’ into believing the ‘Jews were the enemy’, through Hitler Youth and Nazi Education.