World War II in the News is a review of WWII articles providing thought-provoking collection of hand-picked WW2 information.

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Path to Final Solution

The Nazi Path to the Final Solution - Preparation and decisions.
Latest hand-picked WWII news. See also: Axis, German Atrocities, Adolf Eichmann, Heinrich Himmler, Nazi Memorabilia, Hitler & Jews.

American corporate complicity and Adolf Hitler's Final Solution
Who gave Adolf Hitler the basis for turning centuries of hatred into a new twentieth century political anti-Semitism? It was Henry Ford, who bought a failed newspaper, which serialized the Protocols of the Elders of Zion for 91 weeks. Then he published the series as a book, The International Jew. Adolf Hitler read his work at least two years before Mein Kampf was written. No wonder Ford got Hitler's German Eagle medal. Who gave Hitler the principles to justify a war to achieve a master race with the duty to kill all inferior races? It was the American Carnegie Institution, which set up science programs in post-WW1 Germany, to teach the deadly race science of eugenics.

Hitler, the Germans and the Final Solution - By Ian Kershaw   (Article no longer available from the original source)
In 1941 Rolf-Heinz Hoppner wrote to Adolf Eichmann with a suggestion on what to do with the 300,000 Jews in his province. "... the Jews can no longer all be fed. It is to be seriously considered whether the most humane solution might not be to finish off those Jews not capable of working with some sort of fast-working preparation. This would... be more pleasant than letting them starve." Ian Kershaw challenges the view that the Final Solution was a smoothly organised system initiated and overseen by Adolf Hitler. He argues that the Nazi officials were acting on Hitler's speeches rather than on direct orders from Hitler passed down a chain of command.

July 29, 1942: Zionist Chaim Pazner was first to hear of Final Solution
Zionist official Chaim Pazner stationed in Switzerland was likely the first person to receive information from a German source regarding the systematic extermination plan, according to "Chaim Pazner - The Man Who Knew" by Menahem Michelson, with contributions from historian Sir Martin Gilbert. Chaim Pazner forwarded the information to senior British officials and to officials in British-ruled Palestine, and the report reached the top echelons of the British government. On July 29, 1942, Pazner received a coded message: "In the East, there are camps being prepared which will be used to destroy all the Jews ... and many of the Soviet war prisoners by gas..."

Nazi Govt. Wanted to Deport Jews to Soviet Union
A document found in a Moscow archive suggests that the Soviet leadership rejected a Nazi proposal to deport Jews to the Soviet Union. The letter discusses a German proposal - maybe written by Adolf Eichmann and Alois Brunner - to move more than 2 million Jews to the Soviet Union. But the Soviet leadership rejected almost immediately the idea: "We cannot take these Jews. We have an awful lot of our own already," Chekmenyov wrote in the letter to Molotov. Nazi officials had also proposed other ways of evicting Jews, such as deporting them en masse to the island of Madagascar, as a territorial solution to what the Nazis referred to as the “Jewish question”.

House of the Wannsee Conference to unveil archive materials   (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Wannsee conference was once thought to be the point at which the Nazis decided to stop randomly killing Jews and instead to industrialize their murder. However, the decision had already been made months earlier. Reinhard Heydrich called the meeting to ensure everyone knew what Adolf Hitler wanted done and to establish SS oversight of the process. -- The exhibit: With the opening of the eastern European archives, the role of the police battalions and the Gestapo has become much clearer. The centerpiece is the minutes of the meeting taken by Adolf Eichmann, which spells out the Nazi's plans in bureaucratic language.

High-ranking german officers knew of Holocaust
High-ranking German officers knew much more about Adolf Hitler's plans than previously thought. During the Second World War, British intelligence secretly bugged the cells occupied by captured german commanders. The transcripts have recently been made available and show that: Senior Luftwaffe officers mused together at the end of 1943 that millions of Jews had already been killed. General Dietrich von Choltitz admitted that he had been involved in killing Jews; Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had been fully briefed about the 1944 attempt to kill the Nazi leader, and refused to betray the plotters.

The Wannsee meeting is the subject of the film
The Nazis' "Final Solution" began with a top-secret meeting at a magnificent mansion in Wannsee, on the outskirts of Berlin on Jan. 20, 1942. The conferees - 15 men around a large table - agreed to it over a buffet lunch. The meeting is the subject of the HBO film, "Conspiracy," which starred Kenneth Branagh as Reinhard Heydrich and Stanley Tucci as Adolf Eichmann, the man who organized the conference.

Beast of Belsen and his lover in Nuremberg exhibit
The faces of two lovers who did terrible things to others in a terrible place were shown to a mass online audience for the first time. The couple, Josef Kramer, nicknamed the Beast of Belsen, and Irma Grese, 25, in charge of death cells at the Nazi concentration camp, were seen in photographs digitised by the Imperial War Museum. They were hanged after being convicted of mass atrocities at the Nuremberg trials. Kramer was camp commandant. Grese was so steeped in blood that a legend persists of her ghost haunting a building on the site of Belsen in the former east Germany.

U.S. gave tips on Holocaust low priority in '42 Hitler's plan kept quiet for months
U.S. intelligence officials learned within months of the U.S. entry into World War II that Nazi Germany planned mass killings, scholars reviewing newly declassified reports said Thursday. But the U.S. government gave the information low priority in August 1942, the scholars concluded, not acknowledging that Germany had a plan to exterminate Jews until six months later.

When did Hitler decide on the Final Solution?
One of the most interesting, and hotly debated, aspects of the Holocaust is when Hitler ordered it to begin. The thinking to now has been that the decision was made in early to mid 1941, and that it got into full gear in early 1942. That thinking is now challenged by the recent discovery of hitherto unavailable documents, recently uncovered by German historian Christian Gerlach. The new documents include a diary entry by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels of December 12, 1941 and a portion of Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler's diary entry of December 18, 1941.

Hearts of darkness - Perpetrators of the crime tell the story
This is the first documentary about the Nazi death camp Auschwitz in which the perpetrators of the crime tell the story. One of them, Hans Friedrich, a former member of the 1st SS Infantry Brigade, recalls the moment Ukranian Jews were told to strip and prepare to die. The interviewer asks him what he was thinking as he pulled the trigger of his rifle. "Nothing," he says without hesitation. "I only thought aim carefully so you hit properly. That was my thought."
(Sydney Morning Herald)

Hitler's murderous obsession to annihilate the Jews
Adolf Hitler waged all-out war on the Jews, proclaiming as the Nazis marched through Europe and into Africa and Asia that his empire would be cleared of Jews. The Holocaust saw the systematic murder by the Nazis of an estimated six million Jews, which wiped out two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe. Purpose-built concentration camps with gas chambers and crematoria were devised. Most of the slaughter took place in Poland, the Baltic states, the Balkans and Soviet territory occupied by the Nazis. Hated SS death squads advanced with the German army to exterminate Jews in conquered lands.

Adolf Hitler kept himself aloof from the dirtiest work
He never visited a single death camp and would not speak openly about his plans to annihilate the Jews, but the Führer's imprint can be found at the Final Solution, writes Ian Kershaw. No written order by Hitler for the Final Solution has ever been found, this has fuelled neo-Nazi claims that he was not responsible. But those who put the Final Solution into practice (Adolf Eichmann, Rudolf Höss) operated under the presumption that the orders derived from Hitler himself. Though Hitler's own actions are often hidden in the shadows, Goebbels' description of him as "the unswerving champion of a radical solution" to the "Jewish Question" was spot on.

Average German civilians: Slaughtering women and children day after day
Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men was uniquely horrifying book. He described how a group of average German civilians formed Reserve Police Battalion 101 and proceeded in village after village, day after day, to slaughter the Jewish men, women and children they found there. At least Browning went some way to open up one of the two great questions left by the Holocaust: 'How could they have?' The other question is whether the Nazis always meant to kill the Jews, or whether they drifted into murder when other 'final solutions' became impossible. Browning shows how the decision for total extermination was crystallised by changing circumstances.

Belgian historians examine country's role in atrocities against Jews
Over 60 years after the first "death train" left Belgium for the gas chambers of Auschwitz a probe into the complicity of the Belgian authorities in the final solution is to be carried out. Historians are for the first time to be given full access to archives. According to official figures 30,544 Jews were deported from Belgium to Nazi death camps. Only 1,524 survived and at least 20% of those who died were kids. Local authorities actively collaborated in rounding up Jews for deportation. Jewish groups want a probe into the role of the Catholic church, which stayed silent, and clarification of the role of certain Jewish lobby groups whom they suspect of collaboration.

Revealer of Holocaust secret dies
Jan Karski was led into the Warsaw Ghetto through a tunnel. The streets were crowded with starving and dying Jews. Naked dead bodies lay on the streets. He was then asked to see for himself what was happening in a camp at Izbica - possible because bribed Ukrainian guards gave him a uniform. Soon Karski got ready for a dangerous journey to London. He carried microfilms inside a key and had teeth removed, so the swelling would give him an excuse not to talk. Using local trains he travelled to Berlin, then through Vichy France to Spain, to Gibraltar and on to London. His accounts of the unfolding horrors of the Holocaust were largely disregarded in Britain and the US.

The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by Its Perpetrators and Bystanders
The Good Old Days is divided into two parts: the murder of Jews in the daily life of the Einsatzgruppen and the extermination centers. In their own words, members of the SS and Wehrmacht detail atrocities in the Soviet Union and Poland. A teleprinter engineer from Einsatzgruppe C said: "I myself was detailed to the firing-squad; however, I only managed to shoot about five times. I began to feel unwell, I felt as though I was in a dream. Afterwards I was laughed at because I couldn’t shoot any more..." A driver who witnessed a mass shooting of Jews recalled saying at the time: "May God grant us victory because if they get their revenge, we’re in for a hard time."

Gestapo man Alfons Goetzfried accused of playing a part in 17,000 executions
A former Gestapo member went on trial in Stuttgart accused of helping to murder 17,000 people at Majdanek concentration camp in Poland in 1943. Alfons Goetzfried denied the charge that he shot 500 people, and said he only reloaded the weapons. Recalling how prisoners were brought to the edge of a pit, some of them naked, he said: "It was terrible how the people were shot. The men, women and children wept and were then shot in the head or neck." Goetzfried took part at Majdanek in "Operation Harvest Festival" in which 42,000 people were killed. The operation was ordered by Heinrich Himmler, to make room in Majdanek and two other camps for Jews from the Lublin area.