Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Bila Tserkva, 'Gegenrasse' and the Ideological Roots of the Nazi Murder of Jewish Children

In August 1941, 90 Jewish children in Bila Tserkva, Ukraine, were shot by forces under the ultimate authority of General Field Marshall Walther von Reichenau. When Generalstabsoffizier Helmuth Groscurth attended a meeting to discuss the necessity of killing the children, the Field Commander, Reidl, gave him a justification based purely on ideological [weltanschauliche] grounds [facsimile here, translation here]. The subsequent shooting was described by August Haefner in testimony for the Callsen trial. Reichenau's reply to Groscurth confirmed his permission for these murders, whilst his order of a few weeks later echoed Reidl's emphasis on ideology by stating that "The soldier in the eastern territories is not merely a fighter according to the rules of the art of war but also a bearer of ruthless national ideology and the avenger of bestialities which have been inflicted upon German and racially related nations." Reichenau thus reflected a worldview (Weltanschauung) that the "pitiless extermination of foreign treachery" via a "severe but just revenge on subhuman Jewry" was necessary in order to "to liberate the German people once forever from the Asiatic-Jewish danger." An important task for historians is to address the roots of those beliefs and how they differed from the racism directed at most other Nazi victims of mass murder, such as Slavs.

In 1927, a Rosenberg disciple and future Ostministerium staff leader named Arno Schickedanz published Das Judentum, eine Gegenrasse, which developed the concept of "anti-race" that had been introduced by Rosenberg in 1920. Schickedanz's treatise was republished two years later as part of Ein Lexikon der Judenfrage, and was especially notable for its section on Russia (pp.95-109) which, among other things, claimed that the Jews were physically exterminating the upper and middle classes. Consequently, fourteen years before the Bila Tserkva massacre, Soviet Jews were already being depicted as a group that had posed a threat of physical extermination to Gentiles.

It was therefore always probable that when Hitler announced on March 30, 1941, that the war would be a "struggle for annihilation", this would be perceived by some leading figures as necessitating a physical extermination of Jews, especially when commanders such as Reichenau began to suffer military losses for which they believed that revenge via extermination was necessary. There is evidence that some commanders were already primed for such extermination before the invasion. For example, on May 2, Colonel General Hoepner conveyed much of the same meaning as Reichenau's later order when he wrote that "Both the planning and the execution of every battle must be dictated by an iron will to bring about a merciless, total annihilation of the enemy. Particularly no mercy should be shown toward the carriers of the present Russian-Bolshevik system" (quoted in Bartov, p.129).

Hitler made his thoughts on extermination explicit when he met Kvaternik on July 17, and told him that:
The Jews were the scourge of humanity, the Lithuanians as well as the Estonians are now taking bloody revenge on them...When even one state, for any reason whatsoever, tolerated one single Jewish family in its midst, this would constitute a source of bacilli touching off a new infection. Once there were no more Jews in Europe there would be nothing to interfere with the unification of the European nations. It makes no difference whether Jews are sent to Siberia or Madagascar. He would approach every state with this demand.
Although Hitler included Madagascar in his formulation, he had already decided that European Jews would be sent to Siberia to die out, while the Soviet Jews were to be shot on the spot (with perhaps a stay of execution if they were needed for labour). This is demonstrated by the fact that Himmler was, at that very moment, proceeding with a massive increase in killing manpower, and that reports such as Jaeger's show that women and children began to be systematically shot in the following four weeks, prompted in part by Himmler's visits to the regional HQ of the shooters. This needs to be borne in mind when reading claims by deniers, such as in Mattogno's forthcoming Einsatzgruppen 'handbook', that mass shootings were simply examples of the kind of atrocities that were committed by both sides in such a brutal war. Mattogno has never been able to explain away, for example, the fact that Himmler at Sonthofen in May 1944 stated that it had been necessary to exterminate Jewish children. He therefore chooses to ignore inconvenient passages from the Sonthofen speeches even when published by deniers, such as this extract from May 5, 1944, quoted by Staeglich back in 1979:
In my opinion, we, as Germans, do not have a right – whatever tender sentiments well up from the depths of our hearts – to allow hate-filled avengers to reach adulthood.

[translation by Thomas Francis in Staeglich's 'The Auschwitz Myth', reissued by Mattogno's own English-language publisher in 2015, p.121, and also posted to this CODOH thread. Himmler repeated the same thought on May 24, 1944, translated in Staeglich, p.122].
This type of killing therefore had a different aim than other wartime atrocities, except the total Nazi genocide of the gypsies (who were similarly defined as "asocials"). This was made clear by Thierack, as shown here, when he made a clear ranking of which groups had to be worked to death: "Jews and gypsies unconditionally, Poles who have to serve 3-4 years of penal servitude, and Czechs and Germans who are sentenced to death or penal servitude for life or to security custody [Sicherungsverwahrung] for life." The killings carried out by the Germans against Slavs, or by the Soviets against internal class "enemies", did not result from a belief that the executions were necessary in order to physically exterminate a "parasite" or "anti-race [Gegenrasse]." Whereas Mattogno and other Nazi apologists wish to argue that Jews were only shot because they were aiding the Bolshevists or concentrated in partisan areas, Hitler himself told the troops on October 2 that Bolshevism and plutocracy were caused by "Jews and Jews alone." The enemy was racial, not merely political or military, and the solution, in the heat of a war of annihilation, was rapidly radicalized to one of physical extermination.


  1. Hi Jonathan, thanks for the informative article. Just wanted to point out a few typos:

    - first paragraph, ninth line, Weltanschauung shouldn't be italicized (unless I'm misunderstanding the convention)
    - second paragraph, Das Judentum, eine Gegenrasse should be italicized
    - second paragraph, Das Lexikon der Judenfrage should be Ein Lexikon zur Judenfrage and italicized
    - second paragraph, third line, Shickendanz's is misspelt
    - second paragraph, fifth line, "were" is written twice

    Keep up the good work!

  2. a post by Eric Danielski amounting to nothing more than a commercial plug for a Mattogno book and which was unresponsive to the blog post above was removed. Keep on topic, please.


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