The "Final Solution of the Jewish Question"

Extermination or Ethnic Cleansing? A Review – Short Version
Published: 2007-01-01

The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust, by Jeffrey Herf, Belknap Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2006, 416 pages.

Dr. Jeffrey Herf, professor of history at the University of Maryland and a prominent student of German-Jewish issues, has written a very interesting book that examines anew the National Socialist "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" and attempts to answer one of the most important questions surrounding World War II: Why did Nazi Germany so vehemently oppose and persecute the Jews?

The Jewish Enemy has received very favorable reviews. In the Los Angeles Times, Jonah Goldberg wrote that "it may be the most important book on the Holocaust in a decade." Another reviewer in the influential Jewish newspaper, the Forward, also dubbed it "incredibly important." Jay W. Baird, author of The Mythical World of Nazi Propaganda, 1939-1945, called it "indispensable for both students of the Third Reich and general readers."

There is no doubt that this book deserves a thorough response from the Holocaust revisionist camp. Here in part one of a projected series of articles we will examine Professor Herf's theory about the "Final Solution," the alleged Nazi policy to exterminate the Jews of Europe. Future articles will examine other historical issues that are addressed in this well written but deeply flawed tome.

Herf attempts to uphold an orthodox view of the Final Solution. He believes the Nazis came to power with the intention of exterminating the Jews of Europe, and they publicly announced this objective to the whole world. By the summer and fall of 1941, the German leadership publicly declared the extermination of the Jews was official government policy.

As the leading historian for the orthodox version of the Jewish fate during the Third Reich, Raul Hilberg, asserts in his major work, The Destruction of the European Jews: "The success of the killing operations [of the Jews in the concentration camps] depended… on the maintenance of secrecy. Unlike any administrative task confronting the bureaucracy, secrecy was a continuous problem… The killers had to conceal their work from every outsider, they had to mislead and fool the victims, and they had to erase all traces of the operation."

Hilberg, who studied the German documents for decades, adds this most amazing claim about the alleged mass murder operations. The Germans omitted "mention of 'killing' or 'killing installations' in even their secret correspondence in which such operations had to be reported. The reader of these reports is immediately struck by their camouflaged vocabulary: 'Final Solution to the Jewish Question,' 'solution possibilities' 'special treatment' 'evacuation' 'special installations' 'dragged through' and many others."

If the success of the Nazi killing operations, the "gas chambers," depended upon the maintenance of secrecy, and the killers had to conceal their work from every outsider, mislead and fool the victims, and erase all traces of the operation, why would Nazi leaders turn around and publicly tell the German populace that they were exterminating the Jews? Why would the Nazis publicly announce their plans to exterminate the Jews of Europe, and simultaneously, in their secret correspondence try to hide and camouflage something they publicly announced? In regard to this serious dilemma, Herf provides no answers.

The late Holocaust historian Gerald Reitlinger began his magnum opus with a statement that renders Herf's theory as ridiculous. "'The Final Solution of the Jewish Problem,'" Reitlinger insists, "was a code-name for Hitler's plans to exterminate the Jews of Europe. It was used by German officials after the summer of 1941 in order to avoid the necessity of admitting to each other that such plans existed, but previously the expression had been used quite loosely in varying contexts, the underlying suggestion always being emigration."

So, according to Herf the leaders of the Third Reich publicly announced in 1941 that the extermination of the Jews was now official policy. But then again, Reitlinger points out that German officials used code-words after the summer of 1941 to avoid admitting to each other that such a mass murder policy even existed. Therefore, the Germans used the code-word—"The Final Solution"—to avoid admitting to each other that the publicly admitted and announced mass extermination policy even existed!!!

Who were the Germans trying to hide this murderous policy from? After all, according to The Jewish Enemy's thesis, Hitler and Goebbels already announced it to the world!

Holocaust Revisionism maintains that there was no extermination policy. Arthur Butz developed a revisionist definition: "The 'final solution' meant the expulsion of all Jews from the German sphere of influence in Europe."

On March 20, 1942, Joseph Goebbels had a conversation with Hitler. Here is how the Propaganda Minister described the conversation in his diary: "The Fuhrer remains merciless. The Jews must be driven from Europe, if necessary by using the most brutal means."

Here we have a straightforward and frank description the Final Solution, which is consistent with Butz's definition. It was not a policy of extermination, but rather one of ethnic cleansing in which the Jews would be driven out of Europe, sometimes even by barbaric means.

As its spiritual father, Harry Elmer Barnes, defined it, Historical Revisionism is the process of bringing history into accord with the facts, creating the most accurate and truthful picture of the past as is humanly possible. Its purpose is not to create alibis for any past political regimes.

Ergo, Holocaust revisionism is not an apology for National Socialism. The Nazi Final Solution was a brutal and cruel plan of ethnic cleansing, during which a large number of Jews undoubtedly suffered and perished; it was not a plan to exterminate all the Jews within the German grasp. Just as Revisionism is not an apology for German National Socialism, it is also not an apology for the British Churchill government, the American Roosevelt administration, the murderous Stalinist/Communist regime, or international Zionism and the state of Israel.

All of the war crimes and brutalities that were committed by the Germans were equaled and even excelled by the Allied powers. Indeed, even Professor Deborah Lipstadt, Revisionism's most bitter academic opponent, admitted in her Denying the Holocaust that Stalinist Communism killed more people than Nazism ever did.

The orthodox view of the Final Solution does not underscore any "moral dichotomy" between Nazi Germany and its enemies as Herf claims. Quite the contrary. The raison d"etre for his orthodox view is plain to see. It serves the political, social and financial needs of various Jewish and non-Jewish power elites. To be specific, it covers up and obliterates Soviet Communist, American, Zionist and British atrocities, and makes these victorious powers look "morally correct and good."

The traditional view of the Final Solution that Jeffrey Herf so ardently tries to promote accords the Jewish people a certain "moral authority," which plays a crucial role in their dealings with the non-Jewish world. What is most interesting is that it was admitted in the Forward, the very important Jewish newspaper that gave Professor Herf's book a favorable review, the Holocaust doctrine is an ideological weapon used against the non-Jewish world. It was stated: "The world is aware how jealously the Jewish community guards the Holocaust, both as a memory and a weapon."

Even a believer in the traditional view of the Final Solution, Professor Norman Finkelstein, has highlighted the obvious: "The Holocaust is not an arbitrary but rather an internally coherent construct. Its central dogmas sustain significant political and class interests. The Holocaust has proven to be an indispensable ideological weapon. Through its deployment, one of the world's most formidable military powers [Israel], with a horrendous human rights record, has cast itself as a 'victim' state, and the most successful ethnic group in the United States [the Jews] has likewise acquired victim status. Considerable dividends accrue from this specious victimhood—in particular, immunity to criticism, however justified."

Is this why Jeffrey Herf promotes a distorted view of the Final Solution?

All of the so-called "evidence" put forth by Professor Herf in The Jewish Enemy is consistent with Holocaust revisionism. In order to see how this so, the reader is encouraged to read the "full text with footnotes" of my review of The Jewish Enemy at

Editors Note: This is a shortened / edited version of Mr. Grubach's complete treatment of Jeffrey Herf's book. This review originally was published in Smith's Report No. 146.

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Paul Grubach
Title: The "Final Solution of the Jewish Question", Extermination or Ethnic Cleansing? A Review – Short Version
Sources: Shortened version from Smith's Report No. 146
Published: 2007-01-01
First posted on CODOH: June 29, 2007, 7 p.m.
Last revision:
Comments: Review of: "The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During World War II and the Holocaust, by Jeffrey Herf," shortened version from Smith's Report No. 146
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