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  Dr Goebbels

Dr Joseph Goebbels

David Irving referred to the Bruns eye-witness account in his bioigraphy of the nazi propaganda minister, Goebbels. Mastermind of the Third Reich. Notes are renumbered and in second panel.

Page 379         Exodus

IT was during these same weeks that he dictated his tract entitled 'The Jews are to Blame.'1 He ordered it given the widest circulation on the eastern front.2

It appeared in Das Reich on November 16, 1941. A few excerpts suffice to illustrate its pernicious thrust. 'The Jews wanted this war,' he argued, 'and now they have it.' They were getting their just desserts. An eye for an eye. All Jews alike, whether languishing in an eastern ghetto or trumpeting for war from New York, were conspiring against Germany. The Yellow Star, he argued, was akin to a 'hygienic prophylactic,' because the most dangerous were those otherwise not recognizable as Jews. To those who might bleat that the Jews were humans too he pointed out that the same could be said of muggers, rapists, and pimps. 'Suddenly one has the impression that all of Berlin's Jews are either darling little babies who wouldn't hurt a fly, or fragile old ladies.' 'Were we to lose this war,' he continued, 'these oh-so harmless Jewish worthies would suddenly turn into rapacious wolves… That's what happened in Bessarabia and the Baltic states after the bolsheviks marched in, and neither the people nor the governments there had had the slightest sympathy for them. For us, in our fight against the Jews, there is no going back.'

The article displayed a far more uncompromising face than Hitler's towards the Jews. When Hitler came to Berlin for Ernst Udet's funeral he again instructed Goebbels to pursue a policy against the Jews 'that does not cause us endless difficulties,' and told him to go easy on mixed-marriages in future.3

Dieter Wisliceny, one of Eichmann's closest associates, would describe this Goebbels article as a watershed in the Final Solution of the Jewish Problem.4 The S.S. took it as a sign from above. Adolf Eichmann would write in his unpublished memoirs, 'It's quite possible that I gave orders to direct this or that railroad transport to Riga.'5 On the last day of November, on the orders of the local S.S. commander Friedrich Jeckeln, four thousand of Riga's unwanted Jews were trucked five miles down the Dvinsk highway to Skiatowa, plundered, and machine-gunned into two or three pits.6 According to one army colonel who witnessed it, a trainload of Jews from Berlin - those expelled three days before - arrived in the midst of this Aktion; its passengers were taken straight out to the pits and shot.7 This happened even as Hitler, hundreds of miles away in the Wolf's Lair, was instructing Himmler that these Berlin Jews were not to be liquidated.8

© Focal Point Publications 1998 and Parforce (UK) Ltd 1996

Source Notes

  1. Goebbels [JG], 'Die Juden sind schuld!' in Das Reich, Nov 16; cf. NYT, Nov 14; broadcast Nov 14, 6:45 P.M. (PRO file FO.371/26569).
  2. OKW Wi.II, Gruppenleiter, circular, Nov 17, 1941 (NA film T77, roll 672, 8117ff): the government had ordered steps to get rid of the Jewish danger 'for all times'. JG wrote in his unpubl. diary Nov 23, 'My article on the Jews has been applauded particularly by the party membership'; it provided 'the ordinary member' with the arguments he needed.
  3. Obviously a reference to the Gottschalk tragedy. Typically, JG began even this entry (diary, Nov 22, 1941) with the words, 'On the Jewish Problem too the Führer is totally in agreement with my opinions.' Clearly he was not.
  4. Wisliceny report, Bratislava, Nov 18, 1946 (IfZ, F.71/8).
  5. Eichmann, MS: "Deportationen aus den baltischen Ländern" (original in this author's possession).
  6. Stahlecker states that 'at the beginning of Dec 1941' 27,800 Jews (possibly an exaggeration) were killed in an Aktion by the SS and police chief in Riga; and see the report by the army liaison officer to the foreign ministry in Riga, Apr 5, 1943 (NA film T120, roll 780, 372,208ff). - Another report by Einsatzgruppe A (ND: NO --3257) gives the overall total as four thousand Jews from the Riga ghetto 'and from an evacuation transport from the Reich.'
  7. Conversation of Lt Gen Werner Bruns overheard on Apr 25, 1945, CSDIC(UK) report SRGG.1158 (PRO file WO.208/4169). The two or three pits 25 metres long which he described, with the victims forced to lie down with their heads towards the centre 'like sardines,' would have held one or two thousand victims each. - See too his interrogation on Feb 13, 1948 (NA film M.1019, roll 20), and the interrogations of Rocques and Elke Sirewitz. - Sellenthin, 85, reproduces a Transportliste confirming that 3,715 Berlin Jews left to Minsk (Nov 14), Kaunaus (Nov 17), and Riga (Nov 27), and on p.86f a letter written in Feb 1942 from some of their relatives, published the Neue Volkszeitung, New York, Apr 25, 1942.
  8. This is a probable interpretation of Himmler's note on his telephone call from Hitler's 'bunker' to Heydrich at 1:30 P.M. Nov 30, 19415: 'Judentransport aus Berlin. Keine Liquidierung.' (NA film T84, roll 25).
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