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writes from London, May 18, 1998:
Gerlach and the Himmler Document of 18 December 1941
A MINOR but key point of observation concerning your recent mention on your internet web-site of my reference to 'partisan warfare' in connection with the Gerlach 'discovery' of the Himmler appointment book entry for 18 December 1941 of his meeting with Hitler, and the Führer's decision that Jews should be exterminated 'as partisans'. [*]
What I believe was being discussed was the continued shooting of the German Jews in the Ostland. In other words, they were being dealt with as the German and Nazi authorities on the eastern front had been dealing with partisans as of 22 June 1941, i.e. by shooting.
The instruction which Hitler gave to Himmler on the date in question was directly related to the mechanical specifics of the then current policy of destroying the Jews of Germany and Austria when transported to the east rather than being directly related to a wider pan-European scheme of things (although in the long run the two were of course connected).
Consequently, and contrary to Gerlach's assertion in his recent article published in Germany, not only did the Hitler-Himmler discussion of 18 December 1941 have nothing to do directly and immediately per se with the pan-European notion of Endlösung, but consequently it had nothing to do with the agenda and proceedings of the Wannsee Conference of 20 January 1942.
Indeed, that conference had two agendas. The first was discussion of the Vernichtung durch Arbeit of the Jews, while the second, implicitly, was the destruction of the Jews through gassing. Neither of those processes of destruction was to be through 'shooting'.
Ergo, 18 December 1941, in my opinion, was pertinent to quite a specific matter: how the SS were to deal with the regular transports of Jews being sent to the Ostland from the Reich and the Ostmark by shooting them. The 'methods' of proceeding with the European Final Solution of the European Jewish Question were, therefore, to be entirely different.
Gerlach, then, in my opinion, has got a great deal seriously wrong - above all his unwarranted assertion that somehow, between 6 and 12 December 1941, Hitler arrived at a decision to kill the Jews of Europe, and then told a group of Gauleiters (!) of his 'decision'. That is a complete and quite absurd misreading of everything concerning 1941. With best wishes,
* see too New York Times, January 21, 1998: "Hitler's Genocide Order: 5 Days After Pearl Harbor?"