Fresh Evidence that Hitler Knew Jews Were Being Killed

Roundup: Talking About History

Toby Axelrod Jta, in the Jerusalem Post (3-3-05):

How much detail did Adolf Hitler know about the genocide of the Jews? Quite a bit according to a rediscovered Soviet book on the subject commissioned by Josef Stalin. Hitler knew in detail about the attempted extermination of the Jews. That's according to Das Buch Hitler - "The Hitler Book" - a newly published German translation of a work written in Russian for the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in 1949.

Though few have really doubted that Hitler knew about the genocide of European Jewry the book seeks to make clear that SS chief Heinrich Himmler conferred with Hitler about the details of the mass murder according to historian Matthias Uhl of the Institute for Contemporary History in Berlin.

An English-language edition of "The Hitler Book" is due out in November.

"The most remarkable thing about the book is the direct connection between Hitler and the Holocaust Uhl said. This is the first information showing that Hitler got real information from Himmler on the gas chambers and that Himmler showed him the sketches of the project of the gas chambers. This is the first time that we have this information that Hitler was so involved in the Holocaust."

Not all historians agree that the book offers an important contribution. It's one of several new books focusing on Hitler and the Third Reich including Hitler's Bomb by Berlin historian Rainer Karlsch about Nazi testing of atomic weapons; and Hitler's Ethnic State: Robbery Racial War and National Socialism by journalist and Hitler expert Goetz Aly.

"I think it's completely insignificant how much Hitler knew of the details of the genocide said Wolfgang Benz, director of the Center for Research on anti-Semitism at the Technical University in Berlin. It's clear that Hitler knew. And whether he knew about the methods in detail or if he just told Himmler to get rid of the Jews it's all the same."

"I consider such books dumb even if I haven't yet read them Benz added, because they keep on adding importance to this figure of Hitler."

"If you take the international scene I would agree that most historians do know that of course Hitler knew said rabbi and historian Andreas Nachama, director of the Topography of Terror" archive and documentation on the history of the Gestapo.

"But German historians are in a class by themselves. They say 'We haven't seen any proof for that.' So for a German historian that might be of importance said Nachama, even though for me personally I never had any doubt that anything important that happened in the Third Reich was basically known to Hitler."

Nachama said he would read the new book with interest but added "the interrogations were probably done by KGB intelligence personnel and you have to be in a way cautious with these kinds of sources he said.

The book, which had been stashed in a Soviet archive for decades, was based on interviews with two of Hitler's aides- his butler, Heinz Linge, and SS adjutant Otto Guensche, who worked as Hitler's assistant for 10 years....

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