In his New Year proclamation Hitler had promised the German people the war would be over by the end of 1941. By mid-August he knew this promise would not be fulfilled. Indeed, by the end of the year none of even his interim objectivesLeningrad, Moscow, or Rostovhad been captured because the invading armiescaught between the doctrines of the General Staff and the intuition of the F¸hrerwere halted by the onset of winter.
The General Staff argued that the enemys military strength must always be destroyed first ; in August 1941 this was the Red Army mass assembled by Marshal Timoshenko in front of Moscow. Field Marshal von Bocks Army Group Center must therefore advance on Moscow ; the other two army group operations in the north and the south were seen as strictly subsidiary. Bock, a tall, bony, upright Prussian professional, agreed. But when Hitler visited him on the fourth, as the battle for Smolensk was drawing to its end and another three hundred thousand Russian captives were already being marched westward, it was clear that the F¸hrer had not yet made up his mind on how to fight the next phase of the campaign. For one thing, Hitler was still intoxicated by Bocks historic triumphs, and his mind was on the New Order he planned for the east. Now we will put things in order here for a thousand years, he had exclaimed on leaving his headquarters early that morning. For another, what precisely was Russias military strength ? Halder himself would wanly admit that everybody had underestimated the Soviet colossus. When we attacked, we assumed there were 200 enemy divisions. To date we have already counted 360.... And if we destroy a dozen of these, the Russians throw another dozen in.
Clearly the enemys military strength was not the finite quantity it had been in White and Yellow. Russias manpower reserves were virtually limitless. Halder felt that the answer was to attack Soviet industrial conurbations like Moscow. To Hitler the more immediate and final solution lay farther afieldin Russias raw material centers, the sources of her food, her iron ore, coal, and oil, and particularly the Donets region beyond Kharkov : That is the entire base of the Soviet economy. To a visiting diplomat he explained, Soon we will occupy the richest Russian economic regions, bearing 61 percent of their iron and 35 percent of their molybdenum ; and when we cut off their oil supplies from the south the fate of bolshevism will be sealed.
By August 6, visiting Rundstedt and General Antonescu at Army Group South headquarters in the dreary Ukrainian town of Berdichev,(1) Hitlers mind was all but made up. He would make his main push southeastward toward the oil fields, while the northern advance on Leningrad from the Luga bridgeheads began. Moscow would be left for last. Meteorologists had assured him the dry weather would remain longer in the center than the south anyway. Yet even so no firm directive was issued.
At the Wolfs Lair Hitler began holding war conferences each morning and evening. These were to become nightmares for their regular participantstheatrical performances dominated by the insistent monologues of the F¸hrer, rambling discourses on generalities intermingled with sudden snap decisions intervening in even the lowest echelons of the armys command. The conferences lasted for hours on end, sapping the energy of his generals, who were grimly aware that they had more urgent business elsewhere. It was not a pleasant atmosphere. Individual generals hesitated to speak their minds in front of such a large and compliant audience. Of Hitlers regular staff only his army adjutant, Major Engel, had a ready wit and biting tongue ; the other adjutants were more diplomatic in their approach. As for his commanders, they found out that in private Hitler could be frankly spoken to ; but there were fewamong them Rundstedt, Reichenau, Guderian, Manstein, and later Milch, Zeitzler, and Ferdinand Sch–rnerwho had the requisite courage.
Life within Security Zone One revolved around Hitler ; when he was away visiting the frontline headquarters, it was as though the dynamo had been wrenched bodily out of the powerhouse. Favored indeed were those with special passes to the compound. To these officers and Party officials it seemed an almost unforgivable act on Hitlers part to have brought his female staff with him to this sacred half-acre ; Hitler, however, guarded his ladies with an almost comic jealousy, snapping at the young Walther Hewel for getting Gerda Daranowski, Hitlers attractive secretary, to do some typing for him instead of employing a clerk of his own. One of the secretaries wrote :
Its a thorn in some peoples side that even in wartime the Chief has his personal staff around him, and particularly of course that we two females are included. An orderly told me of late-night comments in No. 1 Dining Room ; I am furious about them, because we arent here on an outing but because the Chief wants us and maintains he cant work without us. More than once he has stressed in these gentlemens presence that without us ... he would be in a hopeless mess. ... It cannot have been a very pleasant situation when a few days after these utterances the Chief asked his Wehrmacht adjutant [Schmundt] whether a tent has been laid on for his ladies at the next headquarters. The reply was in the negative, so the F¸hrer angrily ordered that accommodation was to be provided for us. Oh, they had imagined they were only going to stay there in a tent encampment a few days, so we would not be needed ! All these excuses show how much they want to get rid of us. But the Chief has no intention whatever of being talked into it. An omnibus had to be laid on at once for us to sleep and work in. This episode quickly rid me of the illusion that the officers concerned could ever have friendly feelings for us women, whatever the latenight hours spent together in the dining room might suggest : that was just an alcoholic mirage.... The men have only one thoughtto show themselves in the best light possible. The most ludicrous picture I think is when the Chief is standing with a cluster of his men, and the photographer begins to focus his Leica. At that moment, moving like lightning, they all crowd as close to the Chief as possiblelike moths around a flameso they too can get into the picture. I find this conduct quite absurd.
Three weeks later the same secretary was again complaining of the monotony. We have now been here nine weeks, and the rumor is we shall stay here until the end of October.... I am so sick of inactivity that I recently tried to convince the Chief he needs only one secretary ... but he changed the subject straight away so that I could not even touch on my request to be of some use somewhere else for the duration of the war, either in a hospital or an arms factory. Yet indirectly this secretary was serving a purpose for history, for her writings unmistakably reflect Hitlers inner thoughts. Thus on August 20 we find her recording :
A few days ago we saw here a British newsreel that reached us from America, showing the horrifying devastation of entire streets in London : all the big department stores, Parliament, and so on are in ruins. The camera showed the huge fires raging, as it panned across whole sections of the city, with warehouse after warehouse forming one sea of fire. The commentary says says that the British are sticking it out in the knowledge that Berlin looks just the same. Oh, if the poor British could only guess that the damage they are causing to Berlin is a mere shadow of this in London I am sure they would never go on fighting. Captured British officers themselves say their government is acting wholly irresponsibly. And that is really saying something, if the British admit this, and officers at that....
I long for nothing more fervently than that the British should come forward with peace proposals once we have dealt with Russia. This war with Britain can only result in us smashing each others cities to smithereens. And Mr. Roosevelt chuckles in gleeful anticipation of the day he will inherit Britains legacy. I really cannot understand why the British wont listen to the voice of reason. Now that we are expanding to the east, we have no need for their colonies. I find it all so much more practical that everything will be right on our doorstep : the Ukraine and Crimea are so fertile we can plant everything we need there, and the rest (coffee, tea, cocoa, etc.) we can obtain by barter from South America. It is all so simple and obvious. God grant that the British soon come to their senses.
Hitlers was not an isolated view. From Lisbon came word that the Duke of Windsor had privately written to his former host there confirming that he believed Britain had virtually lost the war already and that the United States would do better to promote peace rather than war. Those in authority were, however, bent on Hitlers extinction. In the second week of August, Churchill and Roosevelt had met aboard their warships off Newfoundland, and proclaimed the eightpoint Atlantic Charter, affirming that they sought no territorial aggrandizement, that they frowned on all territorial changes that did not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned, and that all nations should enjoy equal access to the raw materials of the earth and to its oceans. (Russia, which had lost the European territories it had annexed in 1940, subscribed to the Charter in 1942 along with some twenty nations that were then at war with Germany.) On August 25, Britain and Russia invaded Iran, on the pretext of warding off a similar Axis plan. (In fact Hitler had been aware since early July, through an indirect tip from King Farouk, that the British chiefs of staff had decided to occupy the Iranian oil fields.)
More serious than the propaganda dimensions of the Charter were the secret covenants that accompanied it. The United States now took over the naval watch of the Denmark Straits (south of Iceland) and undertook escort duties on North Atlantic convoys. Clearly the distinction between neutrality and belligerency was being increasingly blurred. Goebbels favored publishing the eight points in full, but Hitler was against it. He did, however, approve Goebbelss mischievous idea of immediately following Clement Attlees broadcast on the Atlantic talks (as Churchills deputy) with two OKW special communiquÈs, announcing that the Black Sea ports of Odessa and Nikolaev were now under siege and that the Soviet iron-ore fields were in German hands. In private,(2) Goebbelsnot without reasonscoffed at the Charters meager content. There is to be no territorial aggrandizement. Very impressive, coming from two powers who own half the earths surface. They wish to see self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of it. This is also thoroughly understandable, as this self-government is to perpetuate the atomization of Europe which is so much in British and American interests. Theyll give all countries equal access to the worlds raw materialsnote that : to the raw materials, and not to the sources of the raw materials . . . And disarmament is essentialonly of the aggressor-nations, of course, while the peace-loving countries are to remain in possession of their weapons.
Hitler had asked Propaganda Minister Goebbels to come and see him on August 18, 1941. Apparently he was prompted by the growing Catholic clamor against the Nazi euthanasia program.
Early in July the Bishop of Munster, Count von Galen, had blown the lid off the scandal in a pastoral letter, and on the twenty-seventh he had instituted private criminal proceedings against persons unknown, explaining from his pulpit on August 3 that under German law he was obliged to report any knowledge of a crime being committed. For the Nazi party and government alike it was acutely embarrassing : Hitlers arbitrary 1939 law authorizing euthanasia had never been published. Bormann was eager to bring the Partys fight against the Church right out into the open and submitted to Hitler a memorandum on the desirability of executing the bishop. But short of treason by the bishop there was no way. Goebbels supported Bormann, arguing that Galen had spiced his sermon with wholly unfounded chargesthat permanently disabled Wehrmacht battle casualties were being murdered, for example. But Hitler sagely disregarded Goebbelss advice, and instead on August 24 he ordered the entire secret euthanasia operation shut down immediately.
It was characteristic of his slackening grip on domestic affairs in Germany that the euthanasia operation continued nonetheless.(3) Immersed in Barbarossa, Hitler was even unaware that Martin Bormann was already waging open war on the Church. Hitlers movie cameraman Walter Frentz heard Hitler say in jest to Bormann over lunch in 1941, If you had your way, Herr Bormann, all the monasteries would be shut down !which was precisely what Bormann was doing. On another occasion Hitler said, If my mother were still alive, shed definitely be a churchgoer and I wouldnt want to hinder her. On the contrary, youve got to respect the simple faith of the people. Goebbels uncomfortably noted this in his diary. But according to Hitlers doctor, Hasselbach, the spectacle of the worthies of the Church of England now praying for the victory of bolshevism satisfied the F¸hrer that all clergy were hypocrites. (He seemed to have forgotten that he himself had temporarily allied himself with bolshevism.) He assured Goebbels and Rosenberg that he would not easily forgive the German church leaders their behavior during this emergency period. But first the war must be won, and until then the Party must proceed slowly against the Church. On July 30, 1941, Bormann personally circularized all the Gauleiters on Hitlers orders, instructing them to refrain from any persecution of the religious communities, since this would only divide the nation Hitler had so arduously united.
Goebbels brought with him to Hitlers headquarters on August 18 radical proposals for intensifying the surveillance and persecution of the remaining Jews in Germany. In the eastern campaign, his memorandum read, the German soldier has seen the Jew in all his cruelty and repulsiveness. Jews had allegedly mutilated German soldiers or shot them down from the rear. Clearly when the soldier comes home from the wars, he must not find any Jews here waiting for him. Ever since the summer of 1940 Goebbels had impatiently prepared for the rapid deportation of Berlins seventy thousand Jews to the eastto Poland ; but the war needs for transport overrode his ambitions, and he told the Berlin police that they could not begin the big roundup until the war was over. Now, in August 1941, Goebbels and Heydrich jointly proposed harsh measures to hound and intimidate the Jewsbanning them from certain districts, from all public entertainment and eating places, and from non-Jewish shops. On August 17, Heydrich recommended to Bormann that all Jews should be forced to wear a distinctive emblem, to make their surveillance as potential enemies of the state easier. Goebbels supported him. One only needs to imagine what the Jews would do if they had us in their power, to know what we must do now that we are on top.
Afterward Goebbels wrote : I manage to get my way completely with the F¸hrer on the Jewish matter. He agrees we can introduce a large, visible badge for all the Jews in the Reich, to be worn by all Jews in public, so as to obviate the danger that the Jews will act as grumblers and defeatists without being detected. And in future we will allocate to Jews who dont work smaller food rations than to Germans ; this is only right and properthose who dont work wont eat. After all, of Berlins 76,000 Jews, for example, only 26,000 work ; the rest are sustained not only by the toils but also by the food rations of the Berlin public ! Incidentally, the F¸hrer agrees that as soon as the first transport possibilities arise, the Berlin Jews will be deported from Berlin to the east. There they will be taken in hand under a somewhat harsher climate.
Goebbels noted that Hitler also reminded him of his January 1939 Reichstag speech.
The F¸hrer is convinced that the prophecy he uttered then in the Reichstagthat if the Jews once more succeeded in provoking a world war, it would end with the destruction of the Jewsis coming true. It is coming true these weeks and months with a dread certainty that is almost uncanny. In the east the Jews will have to square accounts ; they have already footed part of the bill in Germany and they will have to pay still more in the future. Their last refuge will be North America, and there too they will one day, sooner or later, end up footing the bill. Judaism is a foreign body among the cultured nations, and its works these last three decades have been so devastating that the popular reaction to it is absolutely comprehensible, necessary, indeed one might almost say self-evident. At any rate in the coming world the Jews will have little cause for mirth. . . .
Heydrich ordered that in the future Jews would have to wear yellow-and-white armbands to distinguish them ; early in September, when the law was published, it was amended to a yellow star. As soon as Barbarossa was over, Hitler had agreed, the deportation of Berlin Jews could commence.
August 18 was a beautiful summer day at the F¸hrers headquarters, and Hitlers dysentery had passed, so he spent the four hours of his talk with Goebbels strolling in the woodsthe first time he had done so in five weeks. Goebbels detected the strain in Hitlers features, but for a man of fifty-two the F¸hrers vitality and application were remarkable. He asked Goebbels about the mood in Berlin, which had recently undergone small-scale British and Russian air attacks. He had no worries about the morale of his people as a whole, though he strongly distrusted the intellectuals, and he promised Goebbels he would speak to the nation in the autumn.
The Wehrmachts big push southward would shortly begin. The F¸hrer is not concerned with occupying particular regions or cities, wrote Goebbels. He wants to avoid casualties if at all possible. Therefore, he does not intend to take Leningrad [Goebbels wrote Petersburg] or Kiev by force of arms, but to starve them into submission ; once Leningrad has been cut off, his plan is to destroy the citys lifelines with his Luftwaffe and artillery. Probably not much will be left of this city. This is presumably justified by expediency. No doubt, gloated Goebbels, there will be a degree of chaos among its millions of inhabitants. But the Bolsheviks would not have it otherwise. Our first Luftwaffe attacks will hit the water, power, and gas stations. Even as they were talking, a message was handed to Hitler that, true to the letter of Stalins orders, a Russian town had burned its entire food stocks shortly before its capture. Hitler ordered the town left to starve so that other towns might have second thoughts about relying on the Wehrmachts benevolence.
The exhausted German panzer divisions would shortly recuperate, continued Hitler to Goebbels. He hoped to be beyond Moscow by the time winter set inpresumably in mid-October. He put Stalins losses at three million dead already. Perhaps, he mused wistfully, Stalin might even now sue for peace. He has of course little in common with the plutocrats in London ; nor will he let Britain dupe him as it did the potentates of those minor countries who allowed London to lead them to the slaughter. He is a hard-bitten realist, and the moment he sees that the Bolshevik system itself is on the verge of collapse and can only be salvaged by surrender, then he will certainly be willing to do so. When Goebbels asked what then, Hitler disclosed that he would agree to a peace request provided he was given considerable territorial safeguards and the Red Army was dismantled to the last rifle. Bolshevism without the Red Army is no danger to us. Peace, thought Hitler, might come upon them quite unexpectedlyafter all, nobody had expected at the beginning of January 1933 that thirty days later Hitler would be in power.
The F¸hrer is convinced that Moscow and London were in the same line of business long before June, wrote Goebbels. Their aim had been identical, the destruction of the Reich. He was overwhelmed at the very thought of what it would have meant if the Bolshevik hordes had swarmed into highly civilized central and western Europe. Perhaps we still do not fully know the precarious position we were in this June. Autumn would definitely have brought the showdown. He admitted that German Intelligence had been grossly misled on Russian tank and aircraft strengths, and this had led to errors of judgment. For example the F¸hrer had estimated there were five thousand Soviet tanks, whereas in reality they had something like twenty thousand. We thought they had around ten thousand aircraft ; in fact they possessed over twenty thousand, albeit largely unsuitable for battle. Hitler consoled himself with the idea that had he known the truth he might never have ordered Barbarossa, but he could not conceal from his shrewd propaganda minister his inner annoyance at having been fooled by the earlier reports from the Soviet Union. He has worried a lot over this, observed Goebbels. AndindignantlyThe Bolsheviks deliberately set out to deceive us.
The advancing German armies had certainly found concrete indications of Stalins true disposition toward western Europe. Captured Russian generals admitted they had been hampered in their enforced retreats by a total lack of maps of their own country ; on the other hand, they had been furnished with entire truckloads of maps of Germany. While some German division commanders began Barbarossa with nothing more detailed than maps torn from automobile club handbooks, they found the enemy had better large-scale maps of Germany, Austria, and Silesia than they did themselves. Air reconnaissance now revealed that Stalin had established a huge complex of arms factories beyond the Urals. The Russians had also built several completely unpublicized highways along which they advanced, while the Wehrmacht adhered to the only roads they were aware ofthe lanes that turned to swamps as soon as the rains fell. It also appeared that the German war department had been furnished by Communist agents with maps depicting completely fictitious roads and obstacles. In Red Army barracks were found dummy German soldiers that had been manufactured for target practice long before June 1941. From the absence of any Soviet written orders for actual operations in western Europe, it seems unlikely that anything was planned as early as the autumn, but most of Hitlers commandersincluding Bock, Kluge, Richard Ruoffagreed that the F¸hrer had selected the proper time to strike.
Hitler properly realized that fast-flowing transport of supplies to his armies was the key to victory. Aided by thousands of prisoners, army engineers labored around the clock to repair the demolished Russian railway lines and re-lay them on the different German gauge. By mid-August a twin track extended as far as Smolensk. As Hitler repeatedly remarked, he was not going to make the mistakes a certain other famous manmeaning Napoleonhad made.
On the seventeenth, he had educated his staff on the dangers of overoptimism. Always credit the enemy with doing just what you least want, he told Hewel. For example, he tried to envisage what Stalin would do if the Pripyet Marshes did not exist. On August 19, Martin Bormann quoted Hitler as remarking, Itd be a good thing if the German people had a war every fifteen or twenty years. An army whose only job is keeping the peace ends up playing soldierslook at Sweden and Switzerland ! And, If it is held against me that my warmaking has cost one hundred thousand or two hundred thousand lives my answer is this : through my activities so far the German nation has already gained over two-and-a-half million people. Even if I ask ten percent of this as a sacrifice, I have still given ninety percent.
On August 18, the day of Goebbelss visit, Brauchitsch submitted to Hitler a written argument for the immediate resumption of the attack on Moscow, as the citys capture would take at least two months and Guderians and Hoths tanks first needed overhauling. The OKW operations staff agreedthough Colonel von Lossberg, Jodls army aide, seemed pessimistic. Hewel noted : A wager with Lossberg. I say the war will be shorter than World War I ; he says itll be longer.
Hitler rejected Brauchitschs memorandum outright. It was most urgent, in his view, to deprive Stalin of his raw materials and arms industry. Besides, a rapid advance southward would encourage Iran to resist the Anglo-Russian invasion which he already knew was in the cards ; in any case, he wanted the Crimea in German hands : it was from Crimean airfields that Russian bombers had recently attacked Romania. Hitler was plagued at night by a recurring nightmarethe petroleum fields of Ploesti, ablaze from end to end. His panzer generals Hoth and Guderian lamented that their tanks were largely in need of overhaul. Hitler did not believe them, as he had heard the same story before Dunkirk. After meeting with them at Borisov on August 4where Guderian had claimed that he alone needed three hundred new tank-enginesHitler told Keitel in exasperation that the two generals were obviously just claiming that their tanks needed overhauling to conceal their own arrogant disapproval of his grand strategy.
Well, he was F¸hrer, and now he was in better health too. On August 21 he dictated a brusque letter to Brauchitsch beginning with the words The armys proposal for continuing the operations in the east, dated August 18, does not accord with my intentions. I order the followingand he restated the objectives he had been demanding since December 1940. In the north, the isolation of Leningrad ; and in the south, the capture of the Crimea, the Donets industrial and coal regions, and the Caucasus oil fields. Field Marshal von Bocks Army Group Center, facing Moscow, was to remain on the defensive.
This rude rebuff caused uproar in the army. Halder literally wept over Hitlers pamphleteering, as he believed that Hitler was throwing away the years main chance. Brauchitsch suffered his first mild heart attack. For many nights his adjutant heard him arguing with Hitler in his sleep. He lacked the courage to resign as yet. Halder, made of sterner stuff, wrote to his wife on August 23 : Tortured days lie behind me. Again I offered my resignation to stave off an act of folly. The outcome was completely unsatisfactory. . . . The objective I set myselfnamely to finish off the Russians once for all before the year is outwill not be achieved.... History will level at us the gravest accusation that can be made of a High Command, namely that for fear of undue risk we did not exploit the attacking impetus of our troops. It was the same in the western campaign. But there the enemys internal collapse cast a merciful veil over our errors.
Bocks diary bespoke an equally anguished heart. I dont want to capture Moscow ! I want to destroy the enemys army, and the bulk of that army is in front of me ! He telephoned Colonel Schmundt asking that the F¸hrer at least give a hearing to Guderian, who was warning that his tanks urgently needed rest and rehabilitation. Guderians controversial midnight conference with Hitler on August 23, without Halder, can be reconstructed from his private letters and the diary of his Chief of Staff. After hearing Hitlers case for the main thrust to continue now toward the south, Guderian recognized that the F¸hrer was right and pocketed his own doubts ; but he made one conditionthat his Panzer-Gruppe should be committed in its entirety to this thrust and not to two divergent campaigns. Hitler agreed. I returned, wrote Guderian afterward, on the twenty-fourth, well satisfied and with high hopes. Hitler had been as always very nice and clear-thinking, and unambiguously insistent on the direction I am now taking.
Bocks wrath and Halders indignation, when they learned of Guderians defection, were immense and deviously expressed : Guderian commenced his southward thrust on August 25but Halder confiscated his most powerful corps, the Forty-Sixth Panzer, and assigned it to the Fourth Army on the Moscow front. With only two corps, Guderians offensive limped and stumbled, although his troops fought well. Since the twenty-seventh Ive been fighting for reinforcements, but they are granted me only in driblets and too late, he wrote in one letter. His Chief of Staff observed in his diary that Guderian has the impression that [Bock and Halder] are still hanging on to their old planthe advance on Moscow. By early September it was clear, as bad weather arrived, that the Red Army north of the Desna River had eluded him. Not until September 19 did Kiev fall to Reichenaus Sixth Army. A week later the huge encirclement action to the east of Kiev was over, with four Soviet armies wiped out and 665,000 prisoners taken ; it was a famous victory, but the war was far from won.
At the end of August 1941, Hitler again found time for his allies. Italy had dispatched an expeditionary corps to the Ukraine, presenting the German army transport officials with the unenviable choice of transporting either the unloved Italians or the supplies essential to the Wehrmacht offensive. Goebbels had recently told Hitler that the Italians planned a North Africa propaganda film in which the part played by Rommels forces would be ignored. Mussolini might need such a film for domestic consumption, but it would have fateful consequences in Germany. Hitler instructed Goebbels to refuse the Italian request for assistance. At the German premiere of another Italian film, there were hoots of laughter when the Italian troops were praised as speedy; Hitler ordered the offending sound-track obliterated before the films release. Otherwise, particularly in Austria, the entire Axis relationship would be damaged. His cynicism was manifest when in August Mussolinis son Bruno was for a time reported missing in action. Its a pity that Mussolinis son was not killed in action after all. Fascism could have done with that at present.
The Duce arrived at the Wolfs Lair on August 25. Hewel noted : War conference, then a communal meal in the dining bunker and a talk with my Chief [Ribbentrop]. In the evening a cold buffet in the garden. Vittorio Mussolini is particularly unattractive and dumb. . . . The next day Hitler showed Mussolini over the battlefield at Brest-Litovsk, where the two-ton projectiles of his 620-millimeter mortars had reduced the citadel to ruins. He admitted that his military Intelligence had grossly misinformed him about the Soviet powers of resistance, but he predicted that final victory would be his by the spring of 1942. He was already manufacturing the extra naval and Luftwaffe equipment needed to invade Britainor so he told Mussolini.
That evening both dictators left for the F¸hrers southern headquarters site in Galicia. Their two trains were shunted into specially modified tunnels for the night, and Mussolini joined Hitler for a confidential talkpouring his heart out for the first time about the very real difficulties his Fascist revolution was in.(4) In 1943 Hitler reminisced : We were speaking that night about the Russian commissar system, how you could not have two masters, and so on. He began to brood, and I went and dined in his train. Then he suddenly said to me, What you were saying, F¸hrer, about not having two masters in one army, is quite right ; but tell me, what can you do if you have got officers with reservations about the regime and about its ideologies ... who saythe moment you talk of your ideology or of raison dÈt’tWe are monarchists : we owe our allegiance to the King ! This admission of impotence in face of the Italian monarchy was a shock to Hitler, and he never forgot Mussolinis words.
The next day, August 28, both dictators flew across the fertile Ukrainian countryside for hours until they reached Rundstedts command post at Uman. Keitel was to write : The impression left by the sheer expanse of black soil and theby German standardsimmense harvest-lands of the Ukraine was overwhelming. For miles on end one often saw in the gently undulating open and treeless landscape nothing but the shocks of one enormous, endless wheatfield. One could sense the virginity of the soil. Three months later, in talking to a foreign diplomat Hitler described his own vivid impressionshow he had found himself surveying areas where the milk and honey flowed, where the soil was more fertile than anywhere else in Europe, and yet the people were pitiful and impoverished beyond comprehension. I must have seen thousands of women there, but not one of them was wearing even the cheapest ornaments. In their wretched hovels there was neither cutlery nor other household goods. And this misery prevailed in a region whose soil was capable of the biggest harvest imaginable. Today there still lives there this terrified, scared mass of people, trembling with constant fear of their commissars. Only when these pitiable creatures saw with their own eyes the commissars being shot did they gradually turn back into human beings again.
And Joachim Ribbentrop on his return from the Ukraine to Hitlers headquarters wrote his own privateand prematurepanegyric on the Wehrmachts achievement in conquering the east. The F¸hrer is exceptionally pleased with the way things are going. I firmly believe we will reach our target by winterwe shall have finally annihilated the fighting remnants of the Red Army and captured the main centers of population, raw materials, and industry so that even if the Soviet Union does not collapse completely it will be virtually incapable of regeneration in the coming winter, i.e., they will in effect cease to be of value as an ally to Britain. And perhaps then after all the moment will come when the west adopts a different tone of voice, and we can achieve (albeit after a considerable detour) what we had in mind these last few yearsmeaning concord with Britain. But he added : Admittedly the interests of our allies now have to be taken fully into account. Hitler had evidently told Ribbentrop nothing of his secret talks with Mussolini ; the foreign minister had to glean what information he could from the Forschungsamts intercepts of the Italian ambassadors subsequent reports to Rome on his conversations with the Duce.
The summer would soon be over. At the end of August, Christa Schroeder wrote :
Our stay here at the headquarters gets longer and longer. First we thought we would be back in Berlin by the end of July, then they talked of mid-October ; and now they are already saying we will not get away before the end of October, if even then. It is already quite cool here, like autumn, and if it occurs to the Chief to spend the winter here we shall all be frozen. This protracted bunker existence cant be doing us any good. The Chief does not look too well either, he gets too little fresh air and now he is oversensitive to sun and wind the moment he goes out in his car for a few hours. I would have loved to stay in Galiciawe were all in favor of itbut security there is not good enough. They say there are incidents there every day, and as they cant cordon off the area there as at our present headquarters the danger would be too great. But the countryside down there has a surprising charm, with woodland on one side and gentle slopes on the other and the cattle silhouetted against the blue sky while the farmers plod behind their plows. How romantic the peasant cottages look, all battered and windblown, with thatched roofs and scarcely a window in them, a wishing-well in front of them with a bucket on a rusty chain and a few sunflowers ; the women are suntanned and barefoot with large dark cloths wrapped around their heads and reaching down to their waiststhey stand there beside their cow, a little mournful, a little mysterious, but absolutely part of the landscape. It reminds me somehow of home.
The whole countryside there is freer. Here in the forest it all crowds in on you after a while. Besides, there you didnt have the feeling that you were locked in : you saw the peasants working in the fields and it made you feel free, while here we keep stumbling on sentries and are forever showing our identity cards. Well, I suppose that wherever we are were always cut off from the worldin Berlin, at the Berghof, or on our travels. It is always the same sharply defined circle, always the same circuit inside the fence.
Just what Hitlers New Order would be in Europe was a secret he closely kept. That Slavs and Bolsheviksparticularly if they were Jewishwould not prosper under it was obvious ; but the positions of countries like Italy, France, Hungary, and even Russia were still undefined. Hungarys astute military experts were not optimistic about Barbarossa, and public opinion in Hungary frowned on Horthys associations with the Nazis. The pro-German army Chief of Staff, General Henrik Werth, had been replaced by the isolationist General Ferenc Szombathelyi, and when Horthy visited Hitler on September 8 it was to ask for his divisions to be withdrawn from the battlefield. They visited Marienburg (now Malbork) in East Prussia together, and Horthy was deeply impressed at the genuine popular acclaim for the F¸hrer. We dont have your Jewish problem, Hitler pointedly explained. To his private staff he observed as the regent left, Hungarians will always be Hungarians.
Oddly enough, it was Mussolini who had raised the New Order issue, although Italy by the extravagance of her claims on France was doing most to hinder it. Hitlers naval adjutant, Puttkamer, wrote revealingly on August 11, 1941 :
At lunch yesterday the F¸hrer spoke about our relationship with France. This elicited for the first time the reason why he doesnt take up any of the proposals made about it. He said he thought that a man like Darlan is being perfectly honest and that it was quite possible to achieve a bearable relationship with France by progressing from armistice to a preliminary peace. This was absolutely possible, in his view, even if we made stiff demands : France expected them, would uphold them, and would join the war at our side. Soif we were aloneeverything could be attained. The decisive obstacle was however Italys claimsTunis and Corsica. No French government could uphold these. But he couldnt persuade the Italians to drop them ; he had to associate himself with these claims too. He couldnt barter our ally Italy against France, he said. So thats the real reason, which was news to both me and Jodl, whom I discussed it with.
On September 8the day of Horthys arrivalHitler told Hewel : These are all just alliances of expediency. For example, the German people know that our alliance with Italy is only an alliance between Mussolini and myself. We Germans have sympathies only with Finland ; we could find some sympathy for Sweden, and of course with Britain. Here he must have sighed, for he added : A German-British alliance would be an alliance from people to people ! The British would only have to keep their hands off the Continent. They could keep their empireand the world if they wanted !
However, Churchill was still in power, and any New Order must take account of that. Hitlers conquest of the Ukraine would mean that he no longer needed the raw-material regions of France. As he explained to his ambassador in France, Otto Abetz, on September 16, the Soviet iron-ore fields at Krivoi Rog alone would yield a million tons of ore a month. Hitler would insist only on Alsace and Lorraine, and the Channel coast facing Englandhe had thought a lot about the latter, but felt he could not relinquish it now, as he might have to reconquer it in years to come. Nor could he overlook the need for France to participate in the defeat of Britain. Given what he saw as modest claims, Hitler assured Abetz that France would certainly have a share of the pickings from the New Order. Turkeys position was more ambivalent. Britain had tried to restore her own standing after Ankara signed its ten-year treaty with Germany on the eve of Barbarossa; but the Turkish foreign minister secretly assured Hitlers shrewd ambassador, Franz von Papen, that every true Turk longed in his heart for a German victory.
In his diary of September 15, 1941, Weizs”cker described Hitlers foreign policy in these words : The quasi-depression of four weeks ago has been cured, probably the physical malaise too. An autobahn is being planned to the Crimean peninsula. There is speculation as to the probable manner of Stalins departure. If he withdraws into Asia, he might even be granted a peace treaty.... Hes unlikely to be replaced, let alone eliminated by a general. The next day, Papen also raised Stalins future with Hitler, and the F¸hrer repeated what he had told Goebbels a month beforethat once the Wehrmacht had occupied a certain forward line in Russia, it might be possible to find common ground with the Red dictator, who was after all a man of enormous achievements. As another diplomatHasso von Etzdorfnoted on September 22 : [Hitler] sees two possibilities as to Stalins fate : either he gets bumped off by his own people, or he tries to make peace with us. Because, he says, Stalin as the greatest living statesman must realize that at sixty-six you cant begin your lifes work all over again if it will take a lifetime to complete it ; so hell try to salvage what he can, with our acquiescence. And in this we should meet him halfway. If Stalin could only decide to seek expansion for Russia toward the south, the Persian Gulf, as he [Hitler] recommended to him once [November 1940], then peaceful coexistence between Russia and Germany would be imaginable.
Papen for his part impressed on Hitler the need to promote a constructive peace plan after Russias overthrow, a plan capable of inspiring all Europeans. From what Ribbentrop learned, Hitler agreed with Papen and planned a series of bilateral agreements with each European country, rather than one overall conferenceexcept perhaps for the final grand act of ratification.
The F¸hrer then turned to his plans for the east, relates the only existing record of Hitlers conversation with Abetz on September 16 :
Petersburg [Leningrad], the poisonous nest from which for so long Asiatic venom has spewed forth into the Baltic, must vanish from the earths surface. The city is already cut off. It only remains for our artillery and Luftwaffe to bombard it to pieces, destroying the water mains, the power stations, and everything the population needs to survive. The Asiatics and the Bolsheviks must be hounded out of Europe, this episode of two hundred fifty years of Asiatic pestilence is at an end. The Urals will be the frontier beyond which Stalin and his like can do as they please. But he [Hitler], by launching occasional expeditions across the Urals, will also ensure that Stalin gets no respite there either.
After the expulsion of the Asiatics, Europe will never again be dependent on an outside power, nor need we care two hoots about America. Europe will meet its own raw material needs, and it will have its own export market in the Russian territories so we will no longer need the rest of the worlds trade. The new Russia this side of the Urals will be our India, but far more handily located than that of Britain. The new Greater German Empire will embrace 135 million people, and it will rule 150 million more.
The backbone of the new empire would be the Wehrmacht and above all the SSthe capable new elite, alone in Hitlers view entitled to rule the Slavs and the inferior races of the east.
Himmler and Heydrich were frequent guests at the Wolfs Lair. On one occasion in September Hitler found himself lunching with Himmler and six SS generals (albeit some of only honorary rank : Bormann, Dietrich, Schaub, and Karl-Hermann Frank). In public Hitler talked with Himmler only of innocuous mattersarchitecture, the salon of Frau Bruckmann, or the relative nutritive values of the potato and the soya bean. In private they elaborated ways of fighting the growing Hydra-headed partisan movements throughout the Nazi-occupied territories. Hitler linked these movements with Stalins July broadcast, and he condemned as far too mild the treatment so far meted out to captured offenders. On September 7as Himmler was at the Wolfs Lairhe ordered that if the murderer of a German NCO in Paris was not found immediately, fifty hostages were to be shot ; and in future the ratio was to be a hundred Communists for each German life taken. (The German military commander admittedly protested, and Hitler left the final scale of reprisals to his discretion.) The partisan threat was particularly severe in the Balkans, and on the sixteenth Hitler signed an order giving his local army commanders special powers ; but the enemy purpose was being achieved, for more and more divisions would have to be diverted to this counterinsurgency campaign, and the differences between an initially passive population and their German occupiers hardened into an implacable hatred.
The siege of Leningrad symbolized the brutalization of this war. Four million people now packed the citys streets. By mid-September Leeb had taken the last high ground to the south. Already his tank crews could see the glittering gold spires of the admiralty building. The Russians had evacuated the main munitions factories in July, and a chaotic attempt at getting the women and children to safety had begun. But with the German capture of Petrokrepost the city was now cut off ; in a formal directive, Number 35, issued on September 6, Hitler ordered Leningrad to be so thoroughly isolated by his ground forces that by mid-September at the latest he could recover his tanks and Richthofens air squadrons for the main assault on Moscow after all. On September 9 the Luftwaffe began around-the-clock bombing operations. Jeschonneks deputy wrote in his diary : We hope to have achieved a tight encirclement of Leningrad within a week. Food already appears to be short there. On the tenth, Rosenbergs liaison officer reported to him from Hitlers headquarters :
For three days now our 240-millimeter guns have been firing into the city. Richthofens bombing has destroyed the big waterworks. The Russians have only evacuated the Stakhanovite and other top-grade workers needed to expand their industry beyond the Urals ; apart from that the entire population has remained and actually been swollen by the evacuation of the surrounding suburbs. Already its almost impossible to get bread, sugar, and meat in Leningrad. The F¸hrer wants to avoid house-to-house fighting, which would cost our troops heavy casualties. The city is to be just shut in, shot to pieces by artillery and starved out. A few days or weeks here or there make no difference, as the besieging army wont have to be very big. The Finns have suggested diverting Lake Ladoga into the Gulf of Finlandwhich lies several meters lowerto wash away the city of Leningrad.
On September 12, General Halder emphasized to Leebs army group that his tanks would shortly be needed for the attack on Moscow. This provoked angry protests from the tank commanders. General Hans Reinhardt protested at the shattering effect this order to halt was having on his men. The city is spread out before them, and nobody is stopping them going right on in ! But Hitler agreed that the tanks should not be committed ; Leningrad should be destroyed by bombardment instead. Admiral Raeder asked him to spare at least the dockyards for the German navy ; this too Hitler refused, but as regards the tanks Keitel telephoned Leeb to postpone their withdrawal by forty-eight hours. On the twelfth the Luftwaffe commander, Richthofen, entered in his diary : Colonel Schmundt came this afternoon to lecture the higher echelons of the army on how the F¸hrer sees things. Very necessary, unfortunately, as Halder and Brauchitsch either told them nothing at all or got it all wrong. [Schmundt] talked about the problem of Finland and Leningrad. Over L. the plow shall pass ! On September 16 the tanks were finally halted, and their withdrawal to the Moscow front began. As for Leningrad, on September 27 the naval staff learned that any surrender offer is to be rejected.
Kiev at least was in German hands. The news broke at Hitlers headquarters late on September 19. For days afterward he spoke at lunch and dinner of his plans for Europe. Dr. Fritz Todt came, and so did Gauleiter Koch, whose mission would be to tame the Ukraine for western Europes needs. Dr. Werner Koeppen, Rosenbergs liaison officer, recorded these historic conversations :
Lunchtime, September 19
Dr. Todt related his impressions of his latest journey to Oslo and Trondheim, and of the first ground broken for the major traffic link between Germany and Denmark. The F¸hrer talked about his plan to rebuild Trondheim afresh in terrace-form, so that every house will be in the sun all day long ; this presents no traffic problems, as Trondheims main traffic will always rely on its waterways. The F¸hrer then spoke of the need to build one autobahn to Trondheim, and another down to the Crimea. After the war the German citizen shall have the chance of taking his Volkswagen and looking over the captured territories in person, so that if need should arise he will also be willing to fight for them. We must never repeat the prewar error of having the colonial idea the property of only a few capitalists or corporations. In the future the road or autobahn will play an incomparably larger part in public transport than the railway, which will take care of goods transportation. Only road travel enables you to get to know a country. The railway traverses distances, but the road opens them up.
He planned the New Order as a deliberately European Raumpolitik. Earlier, as he told Seyss-Inquart on the twenty-sixth, it was downright absurd that though a vast only sparsely populated empire lay in the east with almost inexhaustible resources and raw materials, western Europe struggled to meet its needs by imports from colonies far overseas. In time of war those sea lanes could always be endangered. This is why it is unimportant how long we have to go on fighting in the east. Once we have securely occupied the vitally important European regions of the Soviet Union, the war east of the Urals can go on a hundred years, for all we care. Meanwhile the 130 million people living in Europes new eastern empire would be a captive market for virtually every industrial product Europe manufactured, from a simple water-glass to the largest artifact. The east would supply raw materials. Hitler had just learned, for example, that rubber was being grown near Kharkovhe had himself already seen excellent samples of it. The giant farms Stalin has introduced will probably be the best way to use the land in the future too, as they are probably the only way of cultivating the land intensively. . . He felt that most Russians had become quite accustomed to being treated like animals.
The Ukrainians, he had said at lunch a few days earlier, were lazy, amorphous, nihilistic, and Asiatic in their ways ; they would never understand such concepts as duty or the ethos of work ; they responded only to the whip. This is why Stalin is one of the greatest living men, because he succeeded in forging this Slav rabbit family into a nation, albeit only by the cruelest coercion. Both Hitler and Koch rejected any notion of a Free Ukraine for this reason. Chaos came naturally to the Ukrainians, it was their natural ambience. Half an education would make them dissatisfied and anarchistic ; hence Rosenbergs ambition to found a university at Kiev must be rejected. If the occupying authorities controlled the alcohol and tobacco supplies, they would have the population eating out of their hands. In private conference with Hitler and Keitel, Koch emphasized the need to be brutal right from the start if the errors of 1917-18, stemming from vacillating occupation policies, were to be avoided. Hitler agreed. He suggested that the British rule over India must be the model for their own administration of the east. Koch departed from the Wolfs Lair amid the congratulations of Hitlers staff : Koch was undoubtedly the second Stalin the Ukraine needed.
The frontier between Europe and Asia, reflected Hitler over dinner on the twenty-third, is not the Ural Mountains but there where the settlements of Germanically inclined people end and unadulterated Slav settlements begin. It is our task to push this frontier as far east as possible, and if need be far beyond the Urals. It is the eternal law of nature that gives Germany as the stronger power the right before history to subjugate these peoples of inferior race, to dominate them and to coerce them into performing useful labors. I admit this has nothing to do with Christian ethics, but the very fact that it is according to the more ancient and well-tried laws of nature makes it the more likely to last a long while.
In the Protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia, draconian measures succeeded. By 1941 Hitler had incarcerated twenty-five hundred Czech opponents, but in October 1940 he had stipulated that the trials are to be postponed until the wars over, when they will be drowned by the noise of victory celebrations. For insurgents and rebels Hitler preferred to use the firing squadformal trials just produced folk heroes like Andreas Hofer and Leo Schlageter (Germans executed by the French occupation forces in the Twenties). But since Barbarossa a wave of opposition had appeared in the Protectorate. Crops had been sabotaged, there were slowdowns and stoppages and terror incidents. Rumor reached Hitler that a full-scale uprising was being plotted. Only now do they realize that there is no escape. As long as the great Russia, mother of all Slavs, was there they could still hope. Obviously the ailing and respectable Baron Konstantin von Neurath was too inefficient as Reich Protector to crush the mutiny at birth. Koeppen quoted Hitlers remarks at lunch a few days later : He keeps repeating that he knows the Czechs of old. To them Neurath was just a friendly old duffer whose blandness and good humor they rapidly mistook for weakness and stupidity. ... The Czechs are a nation of cycliststhey bow from the waist upward, but the legs still kick !
On Bormanns advice Hitler sent Neurath on extended sick-leave and appointed the feared SS General Reinhard Heydrichhead of the SS main security officeActing Protector. (It was at my suggestion that Heydrich was appointed ! Bormann later crowed in his diary.) When Bormann, SS Reichsf¸hrer Himmler, Heydrich, and Karl Frank (Neuraths state secretary) came to the Wolfs Lair on September 24, Hitler told Heydrich his job would be a fighting mission, of only limited duration. He gave Heydrich carte blanche, signed in his own hand, to do as he saw fit, and he pointed out : You observe that wherever I believe the unity of the Reich to be at risk I appoint an SS commander to safeguard it. Heydrich proudly flew to Prague on September 27 and arrested the rebellious ringleadersamong them General Alois Elias, the prime minister. The next day Heydrich phoned Himmler that Elias had confessed to being in contact with the exiled Benes government in London. Elias was tried in public and condemned to death. But Hitler decided he was of more value as a hostage for the Czechs good behavior, and he survived until May 1942.
Hitler briefed Heydrich fully on the position of his Protectorate in the New Order. Heydrich reported this secretly to his local German governors in Prague on October 2 : Germany was to remain permanently in occupation of certain European countries. Norway, Holland, Flanders, Denmark, Sweden, andbecause of the fifth- and sixth-century Germanic invasionsBritain too were nations of Germanic origin ; they would be led humanely and justly into a closer alliance with the Reich. Heydrich also closely followed Hitlers thoughts on the final solution of the vexing Slav problem. One day the Protectorate would be permanently settled by Germans. This does not mean, said Heydrich, that we now have to try to Germanize all Czech rabble.... For those of good race and good intentions the matter is simple ; they will be Germanized. For the rest, those of inferior racial origin or with hostile intentions, I shall get rid of themthere is plenty of room in the east for them. Inferior but well-meaning Czechs would probably be sent to work in the Reich. The more difficult categorythose of good racial characteristics but hostile intentionswould have to be liquidated, if all attempts at Germanizing them failed ; it would be potentially too dangerous to turn them loose in the east.(5)
Hitler advised Heydrich to introduce the Czech workers to both the carrot and the stick. In any factory where sabotage occurred, ten hostages were to be shot ; but in factories with a good output and a sabotage-free record the workers were to get extra rations. Heydrich went much further, introducing the Czechs for the first time to the full Bismarckian social security program. This social experiment lasted until May 1942, when Heydrich was assassinated in Prague by Free Czechs agents parachuted into the country.
The Czech workers have accepted the liquidation of the conspirators quite calmly, Koeppen had written when Heydrich first reported back from Prague, over dinner on October 2. The most important thing to them is to have enough food and work. . . . One worker has even written to Heydrich, stating his full name, saying that Czech history has always been like this : each generation has to learn its lesson and then there is peace for a time. He added that nobody would object if another two thousand of them were shot, either. The Nazis rose to the occasion.
For Hitler the last act of Barbarossa, as he thought, had now begun. At five-thirty on the morning of October 2, 1941, Field Marshal von Bocks army groupnearly two thousand tanks commanded by Guderian, Erich Hoepner, and Hoth, and the armies of Maximilian von Weichs, G¸nther-Hans von Kluge, and Adolf Straussopened the first phase of Operation Typhoon, the attack on Moscow. Hitler calculated that four weeks of fighting weather still remained.
At 11:30 P.M., after his supper with Heydrich, he took his special train to Berlin, where he was to speak to the German people.
1 Rundstedts headquarters was in a former Soviet military school. Hewel noted that day : We strolled through Berdichev. Ruined monastery church. Opened coffins, execution, ghastly town. Many Jews, ancient cottages, fertile soil. Very hot. Three hours flight back.
2 An unpublished segment of his diary.
3 It continued until February 1945, evidently on the local initiative of Gauleiters and doctors.
4 On August 30, 1941, Canaris returned to Berlin from talks with his Italian counterpart, Colonel Cesare AmÈ. He told his Abwehr staff. A. describes the situation in Italy as very grave and hinted particularly at serious ill-feeling in army circles toward the Duce and the Fascist regime. A. believes that when the three hundred thousand Italian prisoners of war return they will want the System to give a very clear explanation of why this war was fought. The surprise caused by the eastern campaign has had an extremely unpleasant effect on the Italian people, and A. has great apprehensions about the coming winter of war.
5 Hitler had used the same language to Neurath, State Secretary Karl-Hermann Frank, and the minister of justice in September 1940 : Czechs turned down on racial grounds or anti-Reich in attitude were not to be assimilated. This category was to be eliminated (sei auszumerzen). In conversation over lunch on October 6, 1941, Hitler announced that the Jews in the Protectorate were all to be deported eastward. If the Czechs still dont behave themselves then, the F¸hrer will amend their protectorate status : Moravia will be completely detached from Bohemia and large parts handed over to the Lower Danube Gau. Gauleiter Dr. [Hugo] Jury has been waiting long enough for his missing capital city Br¸nn [Brno]. After this war the F¸hrer proposes to transplant all the racially valueless elements from Bohemia to the east.
p. 297 On Stalins strength, Goebbels wrote in his unpublished diary on August 8, 1941 : The number of enemy tanks was originally estimated at ten thousand, but is now assumed to be twenty thousand. Moreover there was no doubt that Stalin had built up a major armaments industry beyond the Ural mountains (T84/267).
p. 301 On the Bishop Galen affair : Bormanns memorandum of August 13, 1941 (3702-PS); Goebbels diary, August 14, 1941, March 21, 1942, and May 12, 1943 ; Table Talk, July 4, 1942 ; Rosenberg memo, May 8, 1942 (1520-PS); Hasselbach manuscript, September 26, 1945 (BA, K1.Erw. 441-3); M. Bormann, circular of April 26, 1943 (T175/68/1860).
p. 301 Dr. Karl Brandt testified to Hitlers order stopping the euthanasia operation during his Nuremberg war crimes trial (Case 1, protocol page 2443); see his interrogation, October 1, 1945. Only a few days earlier, on August 21, 1941, the pro-euthanasia film Ich Klage an (I Accuse) had met an enthusiastic reception at the F¸hrers HQ (Hewel diary). Up to one hundred thousand bedridden incurably insane people were mercy-killed by the wars end. The Germans argued that once the full weight of Allied saturation bombing fell on the cities, lunatic asylums were nowhere safe from air raids ; that the existing hospital space was inadequate for the one million Wehrmacht casualties that were hospitalized ; and that this space was further reduced by the necessity to leave all the upper floors of hospitals empty as an air raid precaution. The local authorities considered they had little choice but to empty hospital beds by euthanasia of the useless insane.
p. 302 Goebbelss brief for his discussion of anti-Jewish measures with the F¸hrer, dated August 17, 1941, is on film T81/676/5739 et seq., and see his diary, August 13-20. I also used his ministerial conferences of July 19, September 6 and 17, 1940, and May 27, 1942, and foreign ministry documents on AA Serial 4851H, pages 247680-8 and 247716. On the introduction of the Yellow Star emblem, see the Reich Law Gazette (RGBl) I, 1941, page 547, and Heydrichs ordinances in BDC file 240, II, pages 167 et seq. (Everything is to be done to prevent arbitrary and illegal excesses against the Jews now marked in this way. Swift action is to be taken against such transgressions.)
p. 308 Anti-German feeling in Italy ran high. According to the Hassell diary, September 20, 1941, Italian officers had declared to Admiral Canaris that there was to be a military putsch against Mussolini that winter. Two days later Major von Etzdorf noted that an Italian staff officer in the Balkans had muttered to a German officer, Meglio perdere que vincere con la Germania ! (Better to lose than to win with Germany.)
pp. 310-11 The only record of Hitlers conversation with Abetz is in Etzdorfs files, AA Serial 1247, pages 337765 et seq. A summary by the quartermaster general went to the economic staff in France on September 24 (IfZ microfilm MA-167); and compare Koeppens report of September 18, 1941. Weizs”ckers diary of September 15 adds ominously : Switzerland will be meted out her punishment in a quite special manner.
p. 312 Late on September 3, 1941a few hours after Field Marshal von Leeb had already authorized sporadic artillery fire on LeningradKeitel assured him that Hitler had no objection to the citys shelling or air bombardment (war diary, Army Group North).
p. 313 On the cruel conditions in beleaguered Leningrad, see Himmlers report to Hitler of October 23, 1942 (T175/194/3896), and an interrogation report of September 22, 1941 (T77/32/0896 et seq.) According to Lossberg, Im Wehrmachtf¸hrungsstab, page 132, Hitler had learned from an ancient paper by Ludendorff of the difficulties of feeding Leningrad and had then against his soldiers ordered the elimination of the population by starvation, freezing, and air raids. But OKW files contain Lossbergs own draft recommendations, dated September 21, 1941, for the fencing off of the city if possible by electrified wire, with machine-gun guards ; Lossberg admitted there might be epidemics, and it was furthermore questionable whether we can trust our soldiers to open fire on women and children breaking out (T77/792/1456 et seq.). After lunch with the F¸hrer on September 18, Koeppen noted that the idea was to destroy all Russias cities as a prerequisite to the lasting German domination of the country.
p. 314 The secret AA record of Hitlers remarks to Seyss-Inquart on September 26, 1941, was produced as evidence at the later Nuremberg trials (NG-3513).
p. 316 My account of Heydrichs posting to Prague is based on Koeppens notes ; Bormanns diary ; the Reich justice ministry files R22/4070 and /4087 ; interrogations of Neurath, Karl-Hermann Frank, and Kurt Daluege ; and Schellenbergs original manuscript, Vol. II, page 243 ; I also used an AA memo on Hitlers secret discussion with Neurath, Frank, and G¸rtner, dated October 5, 1940 (ND, GB-521). The transcript of Heydrichs revealing speech of October 2, 1941, is in Czech state archives.