“Germans were not being asked to hate Jews; they were being asked to love other Germans. … It would be a mistake to equate Nazi values with hate.”
The Complexities of Judenpolitik, 1933–1939
Although David Cesarani’s book is divided into eight chapters, it is best reviewed by dividing it in two sections: the author’s treatment of the development of Jewish policy by the National Socialist government before the war, and their development of Jewish policy following the outbreak of hostilities with Britain and France in 1939. The separation of the two is essential. Throughout history, during times of war governments and heads of state have made significant changes or accelerations in their policies towards minorities, particularly ethnic and religious minorities with suspect loyalties. A major weakness in mainstream historiography on the Third Reich, particularly that authored by Jewish historians, is the refusal to make this concession. Instead, Jewish-authored narratives of Jewish casualties suffered in wartime overwhelmingly trace the sum total of deaths to earlier laws, edicts or policies in which very different circumstances prevailed, and in which no future outcomes were pre-ordained. By doing so, these “histories” become essentially anti-historical.
For over a decade I have been fascinated by the development of National Socialist Judenpolitik between 1933 and 1939. Indeed, I find the period infinitely more interesting than anything that occurred during the war years. The world then, in terms of government, diplomacy, and the global economy, was actually not that different from today. What careful study of this period offers is a unique opportunity to peer into the attempts of a modern state, with modern obligations and responsibilities, to reckon with the question of Jewish influence. It is therefore essential that those with an interest in this question familiarize themselves with the political and economic ramifications of attempting to deal with it. “Holocaust education” may therefore be of some use after all, although quite different from that envisaged by our educators.
David Cesarani was of course one of the foremost of these educators, yet he begins Final Solution with some frank admissions about the Holocaust trope he so relentlessly promoted. In one of many tactical retreats, he admits that histories of World War II have been pushed on the mass public as a part of a network of “extraneous agendas” which aim, among other things, at bolstering multiculturalism and constructing “an inclusive national identity.” Most of these histories “lazily draw on an outdated body of research, while others … downplay inconvenient aspects of the newer findings.” The inaccuracies, false memories, and downright lies of many self-professed “Holocaust survivors” “routinely trump the dissemination of scholarship.” The Holocaust is more a “cultural construction rather than the historical events to which it is assumed to refer.” Cesarani even argues that the term ‘Holocaust’ itself should be abandoned since it is “well past its sell-by date,” and if nothing else, its “politicization” is a “good enough reason to retire it.” The author admits the failings of a “standardized version [of Jewish deaths during World War II], to which I have myself contributed.” Read more