note puts Hitler in planning for 'Final
BERLIN - A Berlin historian who found
SS chief Heinrich Himmler's
appointment book in KGB archives says it
may help settle the debate over whether
Adolf Hitler personally ordered the
extermination of Europe's Jews.
The discovery has made headlines across
Germany this week, where newspapers
declared the "Final Solution" proven. But
other historians say the researcher may be
reading too much into a sketchy diary
Nazi leaders decided on the
extermination plan at the Wannsee
Conference in Berlin on Jan. 20, 1942.
But Hitler did not attend that secret
meeting and the lack of a signed order or
other evidence of his involvement has led
to competing theories on the exact origin
of the Holocaust.
Right-wing revisionists have argued
that Hitler was unaware of the killings, a
view rejected by mainstream
Most believe that discussions by top
Nazis on how to get rid of Europe's Jews
began in 1941 at the latest, either in
January or in midJuly.
But in the latest edition of
Werkstatt Geschichte, a historical
journal, Christian Gerlach
argues the Himmler diary puts the decision
later and directly in Hitler's hands.
Gerlach notes the Wannsee
Conference was initially scheduled for
Dec. 9,1941, to discuss deportations of
German Jews and decide who would be
considered a Jew.
It was postponed, however, after the
Dec. 7 bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan, a
Nazi ally. Germany and the United States
declared war on each other Dec. 11.
On Dec. 12, Nazi propaganda chief
Joseph Goebbels noted in his diary
that in a meeting that day, Hitler
recalled a 1939 speech in which he
prophesied that the Jews of Europe would
not survive another world war.
"Only with Hitler's declaration of war
on the United States did the war become a
world war for Germany," Gerlach wrote.
Himmler's office diary, which Gerlach
says he found in a Moscow archive while
researching Nazi policies in occupied
Belarus, records a meeting on Dec.18 with
Their first point of discussion was
key. Himmler wrote: "Jewish question - to
be wiped out as partisans."
Himmler had been using the partisan
excuse to justify killing Jews in the
Soviet Union since summer 1941.
Taken with the developments of the days
previous, Gerlach insists Himmler was
referring to a "basic
decision of Hitler's to murder all the
Jews of Europe."
Associated Press. Reproduced from The
Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 21,