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Fascism, Nazism and the Holocaust: Challenging Histories
 2020028636, 2020028637, 9780367539924, 9780367539979, 9781003084181

Table of contents :
Half Title
List of figures
Introduction: challenging histories
1 ‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’: the irony of the ‘Transnational Local’ in Anglo-German Rural Revivalism
2 Aurel Kolnai’s The War against the West and British attempts to understand Nazism before the War
3 Race science, race mysticism and the racial state
4 Nazi race ideologues
5 Ideologies of race: the construction and suppression of otherness in Nazi Germany
6 Structure and fantasy: Holocaust perpetrators and genocide studies
7 Christianstadt: slave labour and the Holocaust
8 Belsen and the British
9 The Iron Guard in Nazi Captivity: evidence from the International Tracing Service
10 Romania and the Jews in the BBC Monitoring Service Reports, 1938–1948
11 Concentration camps: a global history
12 The course of history: Arno J. Mayer, Gerhard L. Weinberg and David Cesarani on the Holocaust and World War II
13 The return of fascism in Europe? Reflections on history and the current situation

Citation preview

“Focusing on the Holocaust, fascism, and Nazism, this is an excellent book about the ways historians practice their trade. With erudition, style, and considerable nuance, Stone illuminates how the solid basis of disciplinary procedures produces different historical interpretations according to changing historical contexts. This is a must read not only for scholars of the Third Reich, the Holocaust, and fascism, but to all historians curious about the inner mechanisms of historical writing.” Alon Confino, Author of A World Without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from ­Persecution to Genocide “Written with Dan Stone’s characteristic clarity and insight, this lively collection offers fresh perspectives on diverse themes in the historiography on Nazism and the Holocaust, from fascist and Nazi ideology to perpetrator motivations, c­ oncentration camps, and the internment experiences of Jewish women. Promoting above all the value of methodologically diverse historical approaches, Stone’s book is a timely reminder that ‘the past’ is necessarily subject to multiple interpretations, and that no history is, or ever should be, unchallengeable.” Shirli Gilbert, Professor of Modern Jewish History, UCL, UK “This significant and wide-ranging collection offers yet more evidence that Dan Stone is one of the most incisive and intelligent scholars writing on the Holocaust today.” Mark Roseman, Author of Lives Reclaimed: A Story of Rescue and Resistance in Nazi Germany


This book contains essays on Fascism, Nazism and the Holocaust by distinguished scholar Professor Dan Stone. It examines issues such as race science and the racial state, Nazi race ideology, slave labour, concentration camps, British reaction to the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust, the search for missing persons in the chaos of postwar Europe and the postwar revival of fascism. Though mainly focused on Nazi Germany, it also makes comparisons with other fascist movements and regimes in Romania and elsewhere. This book will be of great interest to scholars and students of antisemitism, fascism, Nazism, World War II, genocide studies and the Holocaust. Dan Stone is Professor of Modern History and Director of the Holocaust Research Institute at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. He has published widely on Nazism, concentration camps and the Holocaust.

Routledge Studies in Fascism and the Far Right Series editors Nigel Copsey, Teesside University, UK and Graham Macklin, Center for Research on Extremism (C-REX), University of Oslo, Norway.

This new book series focuses upon fascist, far right and right-wing politics primarily within a historical context but also drawing on insights from other disciplinary perspectives. Its scope also includes radical-right populism, cultural manifestations of the far right and points of convergence and exchange with the mainstream and traditional right.

Titles include: British Fascism After the Holocaust From the Birth of Denial to the Notting Hill Riots 1939–1958 Joe Mulhall Fascism, Nazism and the Holocaust Challenging Histories Dan Stone France’s Purveyors of Hatred Aspects of the French Extreme Right and its Influence, 1918–1945 Richard Griffiths Conservatives and Right Radicals in Interwar Europe Edited by Marco Bresciani For more information about this series, please visit: www.routledge.com/RoutledgeStudies-in-Fascism-and-the-Far-Right/book-series/FFR


Dan Stone

First published 2021 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2021 Dan Stone The right of Dan Stone to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Stone, Dan, 1971– author. Title: Fascism, Nazism and the Holocaust : challenging histories / Dan Stone. Description: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY : Routledge, 2021. | Series: Routledge studies in fascism and the far right | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2020028636 (print) | LCCN 2020028637 (ebook) | ISBN 9780367539924 (hardback) | ISBN 9780367539979 (paperback) | ISBN 9781003084181 (ebook) Subjects: LCSH: National socialism—Historiography. | Fascism— Germany—Historiography. | Holocaust, Jewish (1939–1945)— Historiography. | World War, 1939–1945—Public opinion. | Transnationalism. | Germany—History—1933–1945—Historiography. | Germany—Foreign public opinion, British Classification: LCC DD256.48 .S76 2021 (print) | LCC DD256.48 (ebook) | DDC 940.53/180722—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020028636 LC ebook record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020028637 ISBN: 978-0-367-53992-4 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-367-53997-9 (pbk) ISBN: 978-1-003-08418-1 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo by Apex CoVantage, LLC


List of figures ix Acknowledgementsx

Introduction: challenging histories


  1 ‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’: the irony of the ‘Transnational Local’ in Anglo-German Rural Revivalism


  2 Aurel Kolnai’s The War against the West and British attempts to understand Nazism before the War


  3 Race science, race mysticism and the racial state


  4 Nazi race ideologues


  5 Ideologies of race: the construction and suppression of otherness in Nazi Germany


  6 Structure and fantasy: Holocaust perpetrators and genocide studies93   7 Christianstadt: slave labour and the Holocaust


  8 Belsen and the British


viii Contents

  9 The Iron Guard in Nazi Captivity: evidence from the International Tracing Service


10 Romania and the Jews in the BBC Monitoring Service Reports, 1938–1948


11 Concentration camps: a global history


12 The course of history: Arno J. Mayer, Gerhard L. Weinberg and David Cesarani on the Holocaust and World War II


13 The return of fascism in Europe? Reflections on history and the current situation




7.1 7.2 8.1 8.2

Report on the Gross Rosen sub-camp Christianstadt, 1987 Vlasta Semeradová, Treuhand questionnaire Supplement to British Zone Review, 13 October 1945 Lieutenant H. François-Poncet, ‘Report on The Search in Belsen’, 10 June 1946 8.3 Map accompanying François-Poncet’s report 8.4 and 8.5 ‘Report on the Visit to BELSEN Camp by Capt I. D. Kadomtzeff and Lt M. L. Graham (17 Aug 45 to 25 Aug 45)’ (n.d., early September 1945) 8.6 ‘Convoy of political prisoners 4.4.45’ from Buchenwald to Bergen-Belsen 9.1 Search for Horia Sima is ended, 21 December 1942 9.2 Certificate of incarceration for Vasili Jasinschi 9.3 Vasile Iasinschi, T/D card 9.4 Questionnaire for Vasile Iasinschi 9.5 Ilie Gârneaţă, application for UNHCR assistance, Argentina, 5 December 1961 9.6 Dumitru Groza, letter to ITS, 27 March 1975 9.7 Simon Wiesenthal to Albert de Cocatrix, ITS, 15 June 1976

110 114 124 128 130

131 135 144 147 148 149 151 152 155


My thanks first to Craig Fowlie at Routledge, editor responsible for the Fascism and the Far Right series, for suggesting that I bring these essays together in this volume. Most of the chapters have been previously published, as follows: Chapter 1: ‘ “The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer”: The Irony of the “Transnational Local” in Anglo-German Rural Revivalism’, European Review of History/ Revue européenne d’histoire, 26:6 (2019), 996–1012 Chapter 2: ‘Aurel Kolnai’s The War against the West and British Understandings of Nazism’, in Wolfgang Bialas (ed.), Aurel Kolnai: The War against the West Reconsidered (London: Routledge, 2019), 69–82 Chapter  3: ‘Race Science, Race Mysticism and the Racial State’, in Devin O. Pendas, Mark Roseman and Richard F. Wetzell (eds.), Beyond the Racial State: Rethinking Nazi Germany (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 176–196 Chapter  4: ‘Nazi Race Ideologues’, Patterns of Prejudice, 50:4–5 (2016), 445– 457. Special issue: Fascist Ideologues Past and Present, ed. Matthew Feldman and John Pollard (Routledge) Chapter 5: ‘Ideologies of Race: The Construction and Suppression of Otherness in Nazi Germany’, in Hilary Earl and Simone Gigliotti (eds.), The WileyBlackwell Companion to the Holocaust (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2020) Chapter 6: ‘Structure and Fantasy: Holocaust Perpetrators and Genocide Studies’, in Anne O’Byrne and Martin Shuster (eds.), Logics of Genocide: The Structures of Violence and the Contemporary World (London: Routledge, 2020), 246–263 Chapter 7: ‘Christianstadt: Slave Labour and the Holocaust in the ITS Digital Archive’, Freilegungen: Jahrbuch des International Tracing Service, 4 (2015), 78–91 Chapter 8: ‘Belsen and the British’, in Tom Lawson and Andy Pearce (eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Britain and the Holocaust (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)

Acknowledgements  xi

Chapter 10: ‘Romania and the Jews in the BBC Monitoring Reports, 1938– 1948’, East European Politics and Societies and Cultures, 31:3 (2017), 545–564 Chapter  11: ‘Concentration Camps’, in Louise Edwards, Nigel Penn and Jay Winter (eds.), The Cambridge World History of Violence. Volume IV: 1800 to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020), 386–407 Chapter 12: ‘The Course of History: Arno J. Mayer, Gerhard L. Weinberg, and David Cesarani on the Holocaust and World War II’, Journal of Modern History, 91:4 (2019), 883–904 Chapter 13: ‘The Return of Fascism in Europe? Reflections on History and the Current Situation’, in Eleni Braat and Pepijn Corduwener (eds.), 1989 and the West: Western Europe since the End of the Cold War (London: Routledge, 2020), 266–284 My thanks to the publishers for permission to reprint this material. Chapter 9, ‘The Iron Guard in Nazi Captivity: Evidence from the International Tracing Service’, is previously unpublished. All the figures in this book come from the International Tracing Service Digital Archive, Wiener Holocaust Library, London, UK. Many friends and colleagues have supported me in various ways in the writing of these chapters. For their long-term assistance, I would especially like to thank: Suzanne Bardgett, Elise Bath, Robert Eaglestone, Matthew Feldman, Simone Gigliotti, Becky Jinks, Barry Langford, Florin Lobonţ, Jens Meierhenrich, Dirk Moses, Andy Pearce, Mark Roseman, Christine Schmidt and Dieter Steinert.

INTRODUCTION Challenging histories

According to the philosopher of history Allan Megill, coherence is not the main task faced by historians. This is so because, as he writes: Historians have offered, and continue to offer, many things besides coherence. Indeed, if coherence were their main offspring, they would be mythmakers and fabulists without being historians at all. One of the most important things historians offer, or ought to offer, is a critical perspective on the past, on the present, and on our present use of the past. These claims, which set ‘coherence’ and ‘critical perspectives’ against one another as mutually exclusive, fly in the face of what most people expect historians to do. The popular history shelves in the bookstores are full of histories which offer coherence or, at the very least, rounded narratives offering satisfying closure. What is wrong with coherence and why should producing it make history into myth or fable? According to Megill, it is because the historian’s duty to offer ‘critical perspectives on the past’ contradicts the desire for an ordered and controllable world; coherence, in other words, represents a restricting of possibilities and a circumscribing of human potential. The world is not only more messy than it seems in a coherent narrative, but revealing it to be so suggests that things did not have to turn out the way they did, and thus that the range of future possibilities is far greater than a conventional historical text implies. ‘Criticism’, he writes, ‘means the revealing of fissures and contradictions – in the past, in historians’ representations of the past, in historians’ assumptions as they seek to represent the past, and in dominant and perhaps also non-dominant assumptions concerning the future, the present, and the past.’1 Many practising historians would not disagree, although some might question what it might mean to identify fissures and contradictions in ‘the past’ in

2 Introduction

contradistinction to fissures and contradictions in historians’ representations of the past, given that ‘the past’ only exists in representations of it, including the traces of the past that remain in the present. That problem aside, however, there seems no doubt that the sort of history written by academic historians – which addresses analytical problems and pursues research questions – differs considerably from popular history – which offers stories about the past – even if the two genres are sometimes produced by the same historian, able to work in two registers. Scholarly historiography tends to reject coherence because it recognizes that ‘the past’, that is to say, historical representations of the past, is/are never finished. One might write in a narrative style but giving the impression that one’s history is the substitute for the past as opposed to one possible substitute among an infinite variety; that would presumably qualify as what Megill means by mythmaking. As Jacques Rancière nicely puts it: There is history because there is a past and a specific passion for the past. And there is history because there is an absence of things in words, of the denominated in names. The status of history depends on the treatment of this twofold absence of the ‘thing itself ’ that is no longer there – that is the past; and that never was – because it never was such as it was told.2 For popular readers, the historian’s craft consists in generating powerful and emotional stories which resonate in the present but which are not of the present, for they offer coherent arcs of pastness. As Hans Kellner wrote thirty years ago, ‘coherence is the goal (and assumption) of historical readers, who desire to create coherence from among the scattered relics of the past.’3 With more pointed reference to questions of conflict, Nancy Partner writes that ‘narrative is the formal voice of persuasion, group authentication, and deep recalcitrant conviction.’4 Scholarly readers by contrast expect a good historian to offer a fresh interpretation of a topic on the basis of new evidence or the reinterpretation of existing knowledge on the basis of rigorous theoretical conceptualization. Indeed, these are the standard criteria for the award of a PhD in history, and they are the criteria by which critical history is judged in general. These are histories which are very much of the present, in the sense that the historian understands the present-day concerns which motivate his or her research questions and in the sense that they are problems which not only shed light on the past but, as in Megill’s formulation, grapple selfconsciously with the present use of the past in order to shed light on the present. This is not the same as saying that the past can act as a guide to present or future action but rather that it helps us to understand how and why things have turned out the way they did, often despite anyone having foreseen the course of events.5 Or, as Zoltán Boldizsár Simon puts it, ‘historical writing – by providing essentially contested knowledge of the past – is the best tool we have for negatively indicating the contours of the future community that is presently taking place.’6 This book takes as its starting point the watchword that history is about rejecting coherence. That does not mean writing in a way that is difficult to follow but rather

Introduction  3

offering interpretations which do not ‘wrap up’ the past too neatly, packaging it as if one could write it mimetically, as it really happened. This is not a controversial position – other than for readers of popular history – in the way it still to some extent was when Hans Kellner was arguing for ‘crooked reading’ in the late 1980s. But given the proliferation of historians and the remarkable diversification of historical practice, the question is how to offer readings of the past – especially those sections of the past that have been so well picked over as the Nazi regime and the Holocaust – that generate new ways of thinking. Challenging Histories takes up this problem in two ways. The first is to focus on topics which are themselves challenging: Nazism, the Holocaust and their relationship to and problematizing of modern European history. The second is to consider ways in which current interpretations of those topics may be challenged by offering alternative interpretations. In these two senses, the essays collected here deal with challenging histories as a way of thinking about which aspects of the past historians choose to research and write about and how they go about it. In these complementary endeavours, the book follows Hans Kellner’s summary of Hayden White’s enterprise, in which narrative, with its shortcomings and promises, replicates the endless search for meaning: The challenges and contradictions of Hayden White’s theorizing of discourse are the contradictions of life itself, condemned to a feeble mode of selfknowledge and endowed with the powerfully erratic tool of language. And with this endowment, driven to create and to live a life of freedom, in spite of everything . . . at least in the life of the mind, much more is possible than we have imagined.7 The focus of the book is not theory of history, however, but the practice of history and methodology. That is because much recent theory of history is tending towards the reconciliation of theory and practice, or at least argues that theory of history needs to be set alongside and illustrated by the practice of historians if it is to have any purchase on how history is written and understood. Hayden White’s notion of the ‘practical past’ is just the best known of these proposals, in which he argues that professional historians have drained the past of its ‘ “practical” utility’.8 In another example, Zoltán Boldizsár Simon argues that history writing provides an inchoate philosophy of history even if it does not engage in outright philosophizing. The challenge for theory of history today, writes Simon, ‘lies in making the implicit explicit.’ He rejects White’s notion of the ‘practical past’ because in his opinion it partakes of a notion of deep temporal continuity which Simon finds problematic; as White writes, ‘the bridge-building activity’, which is history writing, spanning the gap between past and present, ‘presupposes a notion (ontological) of a present at once continuous with and disjoined from that part of the past that constitutes the target-object of interest.’9 Simon’s main point, however, that history is not a contribution to public life but is ‘the very arena in which public life is at stake’ suggests more than a concern with history’s place in the world.10 What

4 Introduction

is at stake, according to Simon, are ways in which history can tell us what we are not, what we have not become, and what the future cannot hold. History remains essentially contested because the only way it could not be would be if the speculative philosophies of history of the eighteenth century were to be proven right and history would fulfil its goal and come to an end. Simon’s conclusion that ‘we are history’ does not carry any specific recommendations with respect to methodology, only suggesting that the importance of history is that it is an arena in which the meaning of public life is shaped.11 And so the writing of history, as I have tried to do in the chapters in this book, needs to be polyvocal, methodologically diverse and open to multiple interpretations. Simon’s argument, although it differs considerably from and indeed criticizes narrativist approaches, also suggests another reason why history (here meant as the written representation of the past) needs to remain contested. Hayden White notes that the ‘linguistic turn’ in the humanities, and in history in particular, persuaded (some) historians of the merits of paying attention to their texts as representations rather than as mimetic reproductions of past reality. But many historians continued to assume that the way to judge competing interpretations was by reference to ‘the past’ when in fact the past is accessible only through the artefacts (textual or otherwise) that remain of it. As White puts it: The belief in the commensurability of different representations of any aspect of the past hinges on the prior belief in a past to which all representations of it can be referred and differentially assessed as to their validity and their status as contributions to our knowledge of it. But the real past is not, of course, accessible except by way of its representations – indexical, iconic, or symbolic, as the case may be.12 History is unavoidably a poetic act and, as White says, ‘irredeemably tropological’.13 It follows that historians should investigate and experiment with many different ways of constructing the past, for there is no single ‘right’ way to do so. With specific reference to the Holocaust, White has explained that ‘when it comes to an important historical event like the Holocaust, there is no “original” structure of happenings to which any given account can be likened or considered to be a contribution.’14 If there exists a limited repertoire of historical representations, this is not because of the ‘event itself ’ but because of historians’ self-policing, their sense of decorum and disciplinary boundaries. How then does one judge between the essentially contested interpretations of the past that proliferate today in unprecedented numbers? Crucial for the chapters that follow is Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen’s argument about what he calls ‘rational constructivism’. Set out most fully in his 2015 book, Postnarrativist Philosophy of Historiography, Kuukkanen’s argument is that the postwar constructivist critique of history is largely correct, but that acknowledging this fact does not really necessitate a change in the way historians go about their business of writing history. Kuukkanen accepts that history is constructed by historians in the present on the

Introduction  5

basis of the traces of the past that remain, and that it is not, by contrast, an objective, mimetic representation of the past as it really was. At the same time, he argues that the shared disciplinary procedures of source critique, rational persuasion, comparative analysis and, above all, dialogue between historians provide safeguards which ensure that history has a ‘rational warrant’ such that anti-constructionist suggestions that ‘anything goes’ are invalid: since there is a heterogeneous community of historians working in many different sub-disciplines who nevertheless share basic principles concerning sources and the limits of viable interpretations, there is no danger of history losing its distinction as a discipline or of becoming indistinguishable from fiction. In Kuukkanen’s terms, on rhetorical, epistemic and discursive grounds, history is a rational pursuit that is nevertheless a constructed discourse.15 This combination of arguments means that Kuukkanen is able to arrive at a solution to the ‘central challenge of postnarrativist philosophy of historiography’: how ‘to outline a theory of rational evaluation without truth (as correspondence) and without falling into an “anything goes” position.’16 As I indicate in chapter twelve, however, Kuukkanen’s argument about history’s rational warrant, whether one accepts it or not (and traditional narrativists will find his argument that historiography is structured less by narrative substances than by rational argument, whether implicitly or explicitly set out on formal grounds, unpersuasive), can constitute only an argument as to whether a particular work counts as a valid historical interpretation.17 It cannot adjudicate as to which particular work is a better interpretation of the past than any other. In one sense, this does not matter: if history, as Simon stresses, is what we are, then its (our) essentially contested nature is not just normal but a guarantee against tyranny. It is no surprise that postwar thinkers such as Karl Popper accused speculative philosophers of history (Hegel especially) of preparing the ground for totalitarianism and that dictatorships of all stripes tend to want to stop the passage of time. On the other hand, in the competition to be heard in which academic and popular historians engage, we must and do evaluate the histories we read. On what criteria do we do so? Crucially, and despite what critics sometimes imply, we do not do so by reference to ‘the past’ but only to the traces of the past that remain. Historians who invent pieces of evidence, who fail to use or deliberately misuse pieces of evidence generally held to be important are rightly criticized by their colleagues and readers. At their most egregious, engaging in such practices risks the author being run out of the historical profession altogether, as in the case of David Irving. That still does not mean, however, that histories, especially of hotly contested and emotionally compelling topics such as the Holocaust, can be judged against ‘the past’ as if the past were a story waiting to be unveiled. Instead, judgement about historical narratives and their arguments is made on the basis of the factors Kuukkanen lists: rhetorical, epistemic and discursive factors, but also on the basis of political, ethical, aesthetic and other factors. As an example, it suffices to list a handful of the best known synthetic histories of the Holocaust: Christopher Browning’s The Origins of the Final Solution, Peter Longerich’s Holocaust, David Cesarani’s Final Solution, Saul Friedländer’s The Years of Extermination, Christian Gerlach’s The Extermination of the

6 Introduction

European Jews and Donald Bloxham’s The Final Solution: A Genocide, to which could be added a large number of earlier studies, from Raul Hilberg’s ground-breaking The Destruction of the European Jews to Leni Yahil’s The Holocaust. Each of them offers a plausible interpretation of the unfolding of the programme to murder the Jews of Europe that the Nazis called the ‘Final Solution of the Jewish Question’ and that we have come to call ‘the Holocaust’. As emphases change, depending on the archives examined and the research questions asked, these histories are more or less ‘intentionalist’ or ‘structuralist’, more or less comparative, more or less focused on race thinking and antisemitism as the drivers of Nazi policy, more or less focused on the role played by Nazi Germany’s allies, more or less shaped by an emphasis on the way that the war impacted on the direction of Jewish policy. Each is a study by an expert historian and each presents its own explanation for the ways the Holocaust unfolded (and, by implication if not explicitly, why), but one cannot say that one is preferable to another by reference to ‘the past’. Indeed, this is a natural state of affairs and indicate that only by reading competing historical interpretations does one begin to gain a historical sense of past events oneself. These competing interpretations (of the Holocaust or of anything else) are not ‘the past’; they are substitutes for it that meet a need in the present and, as F. R. Ankersmit says, the ‘crucial question to be asked about substitutes is not whether they give a good likeness but whether they can “function” as the original they replace.’18 The sense that a historical interpretation functions as a good (i.e. suitable, emotionally and rationally compelling) substitute for the past is driven by numerous factors. First of all, we need to be assured that the historian has subjected his or her sources to appropriate source criticism; that is, they understand where the source comes from and what purposes it served in the past, at the same time as recognizing that ‘sources’ are themselves representations and are not ‘reality’. But beyond that, we read and evaluate competing interpretations on the basis of the ways they meet present needs, whether political, moral or aesthetic. Saul Friedländer’s emphasis on Nazi antisemitism (what he calls ‘redemptive antisemitism’), for example, is of a piece with current-day ‘Holocaust consciousness’, in which the programme to murder the Jews is held as the centrepiece of Nazi criminality and in which Holocaust commemoration is a crucial part of contemporary self-understanding in the United States, Israel and Europe. By contrast, David Cesarani’s revisionist account, which emphasizes the significance of the military situation for the unfolding of the ‘Final Solution’, argues that for all their antisemitism, the actual course of the Holocaust was shaped far more by opportunism and military circumstance than by a firm resolve to kill the Jews no matter what. This explanation pays homage to recent developments in critical military history of World War II and suggests a subtle critique of contemporary Holocaust commemoration and the institutionalization of Holocaust memory. Donald Bloxham’s and Christian Gerlach’s accounts stress the ways in which the genocide of the Jews was part of a broader Nazi and Axis vision for the demographic reshaping of Europe along ‘racial’ lines and take a resolutely more comparative approach, arguing that the murder of the Jews cannot be understood on its own as a singular phenomenon. These arguments draw

Introduction  7

on comparative genocide studies and a careful focus on the policies of the Third Reich’s allies, to show that the ‘Final Solution’ as it took shape in many parts of Europe owed as much to pre-existing nationalist agendas as it did to Nazi antisemitism, and they also imply that the current-day fascination with the experience of the Jews, vital though it is, is insufficient for explaining how and why the Holocaust took place. Which interpretation is ‘correct’? The answer is none, for we cannot compare a historian’s text with the past itself. In fact, rather than worry about whether or not a text matches the past – a strange worry given that truth as correspondence has long been rejected as a possibility for history – we should instead celebrate the diversity of historical interpretation and see that the multiplicity of narratives vying for our attention is, as Simon says, part of the construction of the present and the many ways in which we understand ourselves. Were there only one history – as in ‘authorized’ versions of the past in communist regimes – there would effectively be none. In the chapters that follow, I have sought to respond to these developments in theory of history not by slavishly subscribing to one version of the past, be that ‘post-narrativist’ or ‘constructivist’, but rather by showing, through the writing of history, that the past is constructed by the historian but, as Kuukkanen says, on the basis of shared disciplinary procedures. Most of the chapters can be understood not only as history of ideas but also as historiography understood in the sense of the history of history writing. They approach history in a revisionist spirit, questioning received wisdoms not for the sake of it but, in light of the earlier discussion, with the aim of promoting openness in interpretation and methodological pluralism. As Whites says, ‘Every history is a counter-history, written against as much as with the archive, and even the first historian, Herodotus, presupposes a version of “the past” against which his discourse presents itself as a contending, alternative version.’19 The first five chapters tackle fascist and Nazi ideology. Although only the first takes an explicitly transnational approach, all argue that fascism, and Nazism in particular (which tends to be regarded as a purely German phenomenon), cannot adequately be seen only as national manifestations. The exchange of ideas between British and German proto-fascist activists examined in the first chapter deals for the most part with a period before Nazism came to power but shows that ideas associated with the Nazis were by no means uniquely German. The transnational approach receives here cautious support, in the sense that, as is also the case for comparative methods, one needs to be careful not to overlook what is specific to particular traditions. But when it comes to examining the transmission of ideas in modern Europe, as I also argue in several chapters, the very intertwined nature of twentieth-century European societies makes anything other than a transnational approach – or rather, taking solely nation-state-centred approaches but neglecting the transnational – seem inappropriate. Chapters two to five, although not explicitly transnational, aim to show that fascism and Nazism were influenced and shaped by a wide range of pan-European strands of thought. But their main thrust lies elsewhere: in disaggregating Nazism, showing that there was no monolithic or unchanging notion of ‘race’ in the Third

8 Introduction

Reich. This argument has become pressing given the huge influence of the ‘return of ideology’ to the study of Nazi Germany.20 It is now received wisdom that the Third Reich was a ‘racial state’, although, remarkably, we still lack a comprehensive overview of the role played by race thinking under that regime.21 This consensus will not be challenged here, but what does need consideration is the widespread view that ‘race’ in Nazi Germany’ meant ‘racial science’ and that the Holocaust followed logically from eugenics and early-twentieth-century physical anthropology, what the Germans called ‘racial hygiene’. In chapters three, four and five, I do not claim that race science was uninfluential or unimplicated in the crimes committed by the Nazis. Rather, I argue that it did not provide the main drivers for Nazi antiJewish policy, for which one must look instead to the paranoid conspiracy theories about the Jewish ‘hidden hand’. In these ideas, Jews were racialized through conspiracy thinking. In other words, the Nazis believed that the Jews’ sinister nature, which led them to seek to destroy the ‘Aryan race’, was an essential part of their own racial make-up, but the influence of this view over the leading Nazis derived less from science – although many scientists compromised their scientific training in order to defend such claims – than from an affective position and from reading in völkisch literature. One of the first thinkers who clearly understood this affective dimension of Nazi race thinking was the Hungarian philosopher Aurel Kolnai. In chapter two, I show that Kolnai’s emphasis on Nazism’s ‘thinking with the blood’ in his book The War against the West (1938) was a remarkable feat of scholarship in the pre-war period, when most commentators  – certainly in the English-speaking world  – refused to take Nazi thinkers seriously, instead deriding them as anti-intellectual thugs.22 This description may well have been true for the SA mobs and for many local cell leaders, but scholars who supported the regime cannot be so easily pigeonholed. In Kolnai’s attempt to understand what he identified as the appeal of fascism, he emphasized the Nazis’ (self-)identification of the ‘Aryan race’ as a racial nobility, a position which rejected rational or scientific warrants in favour of a mystical racial communion. In chapter three, I develop this focus on what I term a more ‘mystical’ version of race thinking by comparing the place of such race thinking in Nazi Germany with its place in other Axis countries, notably Romania, showing how Jewish policy in Nazi-allied countries was of course shaped by pre-existing traditions of antisemitism, but that, as in Germany, this was not an antisemitism primarily underpinned by science. And in chapters four and five, I argue that encouraging a disaggregated understanding of ‘race’ in Nazi Germany can bring greater clarity to our understanding of the workings of the ‘racial state’: how it functioned and why so many Germans fell into line so easily with the Nazis’ demands, even if they thought much of what they were saying was implausible. This becomes especially clear in comparison with other fascist regimes, in which race was important but not placed centre stage in everything they did, as in Nazi Germany. Chapter six broadens out the discussion and should be read more as a contribution to genocide studies than to the history of the Holocaust in the narrower

Introduction  9

sense. By taking the now very large scholarly literature on Holocaust perpetrators as my starting point, I  argue that perpetrators of genocide  – in a strategy that follows the line of argument of chapters three and four – should not be seen as homogeneous. The outcomes they produce – piles of corpses – might be the same, but perpetrators come from a very heterogeneous range of backgrounds. As in the argument about ‘race’, in chapter six I take on a mainstay of thinking about genocide, which is that it is driven by rational motives – the competition for resources or land, for example. By contrast, the Holocaust is usually regarded as different because it was driven purely by hatred and had no obvious instrumental goal. I show that both claims are false and that all genocides are fuelled by a combination of rational motives and ‘non-rational’ beliefs and fantasies. The former are amenable to social scientific analyses, the latter less obviously so, which does not make them any less ‘real’. Here I show that genocide – even when committed, as has historically been the case in the twentieth century, by the state – gains its dynamic from the combination of genuine grievances misapplied to the wrong object. That is to say, genocide often emerges from societies in crisis (it is hard to see how that could be otherwise) but that the crisis is ascribed to a particular ‘out-group’. Even if there is a kernel of truth to some allegations made by ­génocidaires – such as that small numbers of radical Armenian nationalists were opposed to the Ottoman Empire – the jump from this knowledge to a decision to destroy a whole group involves far more than the working of rational means-ends thinking. It necessitates the ascription of supernatural powers to the out-group, such that they are believed, as a whole, to threaten the existence of the majority group. Working out how to negotiate a meaningful path between ‘structure’ and ‘fantasy’ is the role of chapter six. Chapters seven and eight deal specifically with the Holocaust and the ways it was experienced in different locations at different times. The term ‘Holocaust’ designates a vast range of different events and can hardly contain them all in a meaningful way without massive simplification, which is why it has taken so long for issues such as the ‘death marches’ at the end of the war or the Holocaust in the Axis states to be tackled by historians, or for a mature historiography of gender, resistance or hiding to emerge. Thus, one needs to consider the ways in which the persecution of the Jews played out in different parts of Europe at different times, for although the persecution and deportation of the Jews of the Netherlands aimed ultimately at the same end as the face-to-face shooting of the Jews of Lithuania, these events are so different as to be hardly containable under the same name. Many events which are considered part of the Holocaust in fact often fall out of the scholarly analysis of it, since they do not easily fit our understanding of the ‘final solution of the Jewish question’, which encompasses ghettoization, deportation and industrial mass murder. As well as those already mentioned, one can think, for example, of the liberation of the camps and the aftermath of the Holocaust, which has only in recent years become a major field of research; of the experiences of those who were subjected to Nazi medical experiments and the attempts of Jewish doctors to resist Nazi plans; of the transnational experiences of Jewish refugees,

10 Introduction

thrown to all corners of the globe and subjected to endless bureaucracy and constant movement; of Holocaust archaeologies; or of seemingly peripheral but in fact highly revealing topics encompassed in the recent turn to microhistory: the hunt for Jews in the Polish countryside, the destruction of the massive Jewish cemetery in Thessaloniki or the response of local Christians in Transnistria to the murder of their neighbours.23 An important topic that has been neglected by historians  – thanks in part because of the ways it does not fit with the template of ‘Holocaust’ – is the subcamps. Especially towards the end of the war, the Nazis reversed their decision not to employ Jews as labourers in large numbers (there had always been some Jews used in this way, e.g. in the Siemens factory in Berlin or the ‘shops’ of the Łódź Ghetto, just as non-Jewish concentration camp inmates had always been forced to work) and, in the desperate circumstances of the failing war economy, drafted in Jews from concentration camps to new sub-camps, which were overseen by the SS but largely paid for by the firms which used the camp inmates – Jews and non-Jews alike – as slave labourers. In chapter seven, I examine the case of one sub-camp of Gross-Rosen – itself a neglected site in the history of the Nazi camp system – in which Jewish women from the Łódź Ghetto and Auschwitz were set to work in a vast, hidden industrial complex in Silesia, in what is now western Poland: Christianstadt. Almost unknown today, this site was one of the most important for German military production in the late stages of the war. The surviving records in the International Tracing Service (ITS; now called the Arolsen Archives), and to a limited extent elsewhere, show how the social lives of these camps can be approached, especially in the case of the women’s camps, using a gendered perspective. It is possible and necessary to write an institutional history of the sub-camps, but here I focus on the experiences of the victims and what their testimonies can tell us about life in the camps, chances for survival, the behaviour of the guards and the tragic period following the evacuation of the camp. Likewise, chapter eight follows a similar approach, using ITS documents to shed new light on what many regard as a very well-known story: the liberation of Belsen. This is usually told as a British story, for the simple reason that the majority of the troops involved in the liberation of Belsen and the gargantuan ‘relief effort’ that followed were British, though there was also notable Canadian involvement.24 But after the first days and weeks, when the army’s medical teams re-established the water supply, provided food for the starving inmates and set up hospital facilities (in a way that seems no less miraculous in light of the massive hospitals set up across the world at short notice in 2020 to deal with the COVID19 crisis), the charities involved in helping the recovering inmates were from around the world. And the efforts in the liberated camp to help trace the relatives of the survivors or put survivors in touch with each other were also conducted on an international basis. The British narrative of Belsen is one that feeds into a myth of Britain ‘standing alone’ and of British exceptionalism; it in no way detracts from the British achievement at Belsen to note that in fact this was by no means solely a British story.

Introduction  11

Chapters seven and eight thus promote a multifaceted and catholic approach to the writing of history, showing how different methodologies bring different results depending on one’s questions, but not arguing that any one must take precedence. Especially with such a vast ‘event’ such as the Holocaust, which was experienced so differently in time and place, a multiplicity of approaches to it – including the nonhistorical, for which there is no space here – must be approved of. That means, from a historian’s point of view, approaching the topic with a variety of methodologies and different sorts of sources. The same applies to the study of perpetrators, such as those discussed in chapter nine. Here the focus is different from chapter six. I  do not focus on those who directly carried out the Holocaust in Romania but the group of Iron Guard members who were incarcerated in German concentration camps following Ion Antonescu’s exclusion of the Guard from government in early 1941. ‘Perpetrator studies’ often seeks to explain the big questions of perpetrator motivation or to show how situational dynamics shape behaviour. Here I focus instead on attempts by Romanian fascists to exculpate themselves after the war and, whether still in now-communist Romania or elsewhere in the world (Spain or Latin America, for example), to gain compensation from the West German state for their incarceration. I discuss the audacity of this move in the chapter, but here I want to stress only that, methodologically speaking, the use of documents from the West German compensation process sheds light on a specific group of fascist ideologues and activists. It suggests that these people had by no means changed their views but were cynically manipulating the compensation system, first to paint themselves as victims of Nazism and second to disguise their continued ideological affinities. In other words, here the ITS sources point to a wider postwar problem of the survival of fascist thinking in an age when fascism was presumed to be dead. The Romanian theme continues in chapter ten but with a quite different approach. Here the focus is far more on the victims of the Holocaust in Romania but as filtered through several layers: Romanian radio broadcasts from the period 1938–1948, which witnessed a major change in regimes and hence dominant ideological positions, and then the transcription and translation of these broadcasts by the BBC’s Monitoring (BBCM) Service, a little known wing of the BBC which provided a crucial source of ‘open source intelligence’, especially during World War II. This foray into the history of intelligence examines the changing ways in which the different regimes (primarily Antonescu’s fascist regime and the developing communist one after the war) dealt with the questions of Holocaust perpetrators and, especially, their Jewish victims. Methodologically speaking, however, the chapter is a case study in the ways in which information from the past is mediated. Historians know that sources are never a direct window on to the past – they do not show the past ‘as it really was’, a concept which is in fact meaningless. But in this instance the BBCM material brings to light the layers of mediation which are often hidden, leaving us able to acquire certain types of information – often propagandistic  – about past events, and thus needing to supplement them with other sources for a more appropriate representation (with ‘appropriate’ meant here in

12 Introduction

Kuukkanen’s sense of an interpretation which meets the shared disciplinary criteria, not one which corresponds more closely to ‘the past’). Perhaps more than with most sources, open source intelligence demands rigorous source criticism. But the concept of source criticism is of course applicable to all sources, including the texts historians write, which can be considered as historical sources in the manner of all human production. That means that the writing of ‘synthetic histories’, a project which is often frowned upon by those who value archival research above all else, is itself necessarily a time-bound effort. Chapter eleven, which condenses a large amount of material on the history of concentration camps into a short chapter, is an exercise in synthesis on a surprisingly neglected topic – the history of Nazi Germany is vast but the number of studies of concentration camps through time is rather small – and thus, by its nature, a study on the limits of synthesis. I argue that concentration camps tell us something important about how modern states react when they (that is to say, their leaders) feel threatened and about the status of populations and population control under the technological conditions of the modern state. The chapter also suggests that this sort of historical panorama inevitably throws up more questions than it answers and that, whilst it appears to aim for comprehensiveness, it cannot help but leave in its wake hanging threads, which invite further research. In that sense, synthetic overviews are spurs to research as much as summaries of it. Even when historians do not turn to methodologies derived from cognate disciplines in the humanities or social sciences, historiography changes and is continually subject to revision. One notable example of this change is considered in chapter twelve. The failure to integrate the Holocaust into the military history of World War II was a notable characteristic of military historians until quite recently. But the same is true in reverse: Holocaust historians commonly note that the war was the ‘cover’ for the murder of the Jews but have not, as a rule, shown how the war influenced the unfolding of the genocide of the Jews. Earlier attempts to show that the war did indeed shape the Holocaust, such as Arno J. Mayer’s Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? (1988), were criticized for not taking seriously enough the Nazis’ ambition to rid the world of the Jews, irrespective of the military situation. David Cesarani’s revisionist account, Final Solution (2016), represents a real reversal: Cesarani aimed to make it a commonplace position to note that the Holocaust’s course was to a very large extent shaped by military circumstances and the possibilities the Nazis had at their disposal to attack particular Jewish populations in Europe. Chapter twelve analyses the ways in which that argument has changed and become more acceptable over the last few decades and offers an explanation as to why change happens in historiography. Perhaps more significant than advances based on the accessibility of the archives, what we see in this case is a shift in what can be considered acceptable in the light of changes in ‘Holocaust consciousness’ more broadly in society. Thus, history does not take place in a vacuum but is shaped by politics in the widest sense. This is nowhere more true than in current debates concerning fascism. Historians and political scientists have long debated whether it is possible to find a

Introduction  13

definition of fascism; they have also tended to distinguish ‘classic fascism’ from its postwar variants, sometimes querying whether post-1945 radical right movements can be labelled fascism at all. I have addressed this question elsewhere.25 Here I turn to the way in which these debates have become newly urgent, given the rise to prominence on the world stage of leaders and parties that are usually called ‘populist’. In chapter thirteen, I question the distinction between ‘fascism’ and ‘populism’ and, while not trying to be alarmist or reductionist, and noting the different contexts in which interwar fascism and twenty-first-century populism operate, argue that the crises of our own age contain the possibility for a renewed variety of fascism. The chapter is markedly different from those that precede it; here I aim to show that historians can provide meaningful analyses of the present but only if they recognize that their approach is only one of many that need to be applied if we are to understand our own dilemmas rather than those of past actors. Whether the approach taken here is transnational, gendered, spatial, microhistorical, history of political ideas, comparative, social, diplomatic, institutional or genocide studies, my aim is to demonstrate that there are many ways – and many more besides those represented here – of constructing the past. In response to the questions we ask, the past we ‘see’ can look quite different in each case. When the focus turns from Holocaust perpetrators to the use of open source intelligence, or from a social history of a Nazi sub-camp to the question of how change happens in historiography, it is clear that there will always be greater possible variety in the questions we ask of history than in the tentative answers we are able to give. This is a state of affairs that we should applaud, for it is a reflection of human plurality and is by no means a failure of scholarship. As a philosopher of history, Paul A. Roth says, ‘tolerating a pluralism of worlds does not sanction sacrificing rigour’;26 it would be strangely ahistorical for historians to imagine that their texts are the last word on any subject, for their texts, like everything else in the world, are historicizable. Although this truth applies to every historical field and every topic, my focus in this book on the subjects of fascist ideology, Nazism and the Holocaust and their aftereffects in postwar European history seeks to show that especially with respect to the most contested, instrumentalized and politicized issues, we need to stay firm about the fact that there can be no ‘final account’, no single, simple interpretation, whether approved by states, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or influential historians, that cannot be revised. Challenging histories indeed.

Notes 1 Allan Megill, Historical Knowledge, Historical Error: A Contemporary Guide to Practice (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 208. 2 Jacques Rancière, The Names of History: On the Poetics of Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), 63, emphasis in original. 3 Hans Kellner, Language and Historical Representation: Getting the Story Crooked (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), 13. 4 Nancy Partner, ‘Narrative Persistence: The Post-modern Life of Narrative Theory’, in Frank Ankersmit, Ewa Domańska and Hans Kellner (eds.), Re-Figuring Hayden White (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009), 95.

14 Introduction

5 Good examples might include the return of authoritarianism in post-communist Poland or the rise of nationalism and the extreme right in the United States and Europe. See Dan Stone, Goodbye to All That? The Story of Europe since 1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014) for further discussion. 6 Zoltán Boldizsár Simon, ‘We Are History: The Outlines of a Quasi-Substantive Philosophy of History’, Rethinking History, 20:2 (2016), 263. See also Simon, ‘Planetary Futures, Planetary History’, in Zoltán Boldizsár Simon and Lars Deile (eds.), Historical Understanding: Past, Present, and Future (London: Bloomsbury, 2021). 7 Hans Kellner, ‘Narrativity and Dialectics Revisited’, Rethinking History, 20:3 (2016), 327. 8 Hayden White, ‘The Practical Past’, Historein, 10 (2010), 18. And see White, The Practical Past (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2014). 9 Hayden White, ‘History as Fulfillment’, in Robert Doran (ed.), Philosophy of History after Hayden White (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), 35–36. 10 Simon, ‘We Are History’, 261. See also Simon, ‘History Manifested: Making Sense of Unprecedented Change’, European Review of History/Revue européenne d’histoire, 22:5 (2015), 819–834 for a fuller explanation of his rejection of White’s ‘practical past’. 11 Other critics will see this as a typical statement of historians’ sense of self-importance and will note that the historians’ reconstruction of the past holds no greater epistemological or moral weight than other varieties of ‘past-making’. See, for example, Claire Norton and Mark Donnelly, Liberating Histories: Truths, Power, Ethics (London: Routledge, 2018). 12 White, ‘History as Fulfillment’, 40. 13 White, ‘History as Fulfillment’, 45. 14 Hayden White, ‘Coda: Reading Witness Discourse’, in Nicholas Chare and Dominic Williams (eds.), Representing Auschwitz: At the Margins of Testimony (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 225–226. 15 Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen, Postnarrativist Philosophy of Historiography (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). For further discussion, see my article ‘Excommunicating the Past? Narrativism and Rational Constructivism in the Historiography of the Holocaust’, Rethinking History, 21:4 (2017), 549–566 and chapter 12 of this book. 16 Zoltán Boldizsár Simon and Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen, ‘Introduction: Assessing Narrativism’, History and Theory, 54:2 (2015), 158. 17 It can easily provide a counter to Holocaust denial, for example, as non-historical. 18 F. R. Ankersmit, ‘Reply to Professor Zagorin’, History and Theory, 29:3 (1990), 294. 19 Hayden White, ‘Comment’, in Doran (ed.), Philosophy of History after Hayden White, 213. 20 Dalia Ofer, ‘Holocaust Historiography: The Return of Antisemitism and Ethnic Stereotypes as Major Themes’, Patterns of Prejudice, 33:4 (1999), 87–106. 21 See the essays in Devin O. Pendas, Mark Roseman and Richard F. Wetzell (eds.), Beyond the Racial State: Rethinking Nazi Germany (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017). 22 Indeed, this has very largely remained the case, with surveys of Nazi thinking being notable by their absence. For an exception, see Johann Chapoutot, The Law of Blood: Thinking and Acting as a Nazi (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018). 23 Claire Zalc and Tal Bruttmann (eds.), Microhistories of the Holocaust (New York: Berghahn Books, 2017); Michael A. Grodin (ed.), Jewish Medical Resistance in the Holocaust (New York: Berghahn Books, 2014); Paul Weindling, Victims and Survivors of Nazi Human Experiments: Science and Suffering in the Holocaust (London: Bloomsbury, 2015); Caroline Sturdy Colls, Holocaust Archaeologies: Approaches and Future Directions (Cham: Springer Verlag, 2015); Zuzanna Dziuban (ed.), Mapping the ‘Forensic Turn’: Engagements with Materialities of Mass Death in Holocaust Studies and Beyond (Vienna: New Academic Press, 2017). On microhistory, see also Sigurður Gulfi Magnússon, ‘The Singularization of History: Social History and Microhistory within the Postmodern State of Knowledge’,

Introduction  15

Journal of Social History, 36:3 (2003), 701–735; Magnússon, ‘Far-reaching Microhistory: The Use of Microhistorical Perspective in a Globalized World’, Rethinking History, 21:3 (2017), 312–341; Zoltán Boldizsár Simon, ‘Microhistory: In General’, Journal of Social History, 49:1 (2015), 237–248. 24 See Mark Celinscak, Distance from the Belsen Heap: Allied Forces and the Liberation of a Nazi Concentration Camp (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015). 25 See, for example, Dan Stone, ‘The Uses and Abuses of “Secular Religion”: Jules Monnerot’s Path from Communism to Fascism’, in The Holocaust, Fascism Memory: Essays in the History of Ideas (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), ch9. 26 Paul A. Roth, ‘Ways of Pastmaking’, History of the Human Sciences, 15:4 (2002), 125.

1 ‘THE ULTIMATE CROSS-CULTURAL FERTILIZER’ The irony of the ‘Transnational Local’ in Anglo-German Rural Revivalism

Introduction Transnational approaches to history have most recently been successfully applied to institutions that are obviously and self-consciously international(ist), such as the United Nations (UN) or the European Union (EU).1 Ideas that obviously and easily cross and defy boundaries, such as human rights and modern protest movements, are equally amenable to transnational analyses.2 But approaches which depart from traditional comparative methodologies (establishing lines of similarity and difference), offering instead explanations of how intertwined the world is, are just as applicable to ideas and movements that, on the face of it, appear strictly national in orientation. A good example is the history of eugenics, which has expanded outwards from the Anglo-American ‘core’ to encompass the whole globe, as historians increasingly recognize that national debates about ‘improving the quality of the race’ took place in the context of a transnational eugenics movement.3 An even better example is the history of fascism: although fascist movements glorify the idea of the homogeneous nation-state, and historians have tended to follow that self-image by highlighting the extent to which local fascisms were ‘exceptional’, in practice fascist ideas, style, ritual, institutions and behaviour – in short fascism as idea and action – were shared. This may seem surprising, but intellectually there was a good deal of commonality between fascist movements, and although in practice relations between rival ultra-nationalisms could be strained, to the point at which the attempt to create a ‘universal fascism’ to rival the communist international was defeated by too many internal contradictions, even the incipient existence of such a movement is itself revealing. Fascism, in other words, was a genuinely transnational movement such that the cross-border appeal of Italian Fascism and German Nazism ‘cannot be reduced to a camouflage of quests for predominance.’4 There were, in other words, genuine incentives to cooperation

‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’  17

between fascist movements, not merely a forced maintenance of uneasily friendly relations as different national movements jockeyed for power. In Britain, fascism was regularly dismissed as a ‘foreign invention’, a ruse which helped in the fight to keep fascism out of power. And in German history, scholars still argue about the relationship between Nazism and fascism.5 In reality, in Britain, fascism developed as much from indigenous political traditions (especially the Edwardian crises over Irish Home Rule, House of Lords reform and the policies of the ‘Diehard’ Lords) as it did from Italian and German influences. As the AngloCatholic editor of the English Review, Douglas Jerrold put it, ‘the fact remains that the real inventors of fascism were not Signor Mussolini and Herr Hitler but Sir Edward Carson and Arthur Griffith.’6 Even in Germany, which tends to be treated as sui generis, intra-German developments were by no means isolated from those elsewhere in Europe or further afield. Indeed, the fact that several leading Nazis came from outside Germany – from Russian or Baltic German communities, for example7 – already points to an understanding of Nazism that transcends the nation-state framework. An excellent example of the transnational dimension of fascism comes with the links between Italian and Argentine fascism. Federico Finchelstein shows, in his compelling study, how large-scale Italian immigration to Argentina in the late nineteenth century influenced Mussolini’s attitudes to Argentina  – he not only saw it as a potential ally but assumed that it would point the way forward for the other Spanish-speaking Latin American countries. By funding certain sections of the Argentine press and political movements, Mussolini hoped to export fascist ideology to a country where he believed there was a natural constituency for it. He ‘thought that Italians abroad should be representatives of fascism.’8 But in attempting to create a community of Italians that encompassed those outside as well as those inside Italy, fascist transnationalism here ran up against the nationalizing agenda of foreign states, in this case Argentina, whose nationalists – many of them of Italian origin – were irritated, to say the least, by Mussolini’s condescending assumption that they would look to Rome for guidance and leadership. Other scholars have followed Finchelstein’s lead and have started to show that “transnational fascism” is by no means an illogical concept.9 In this chapter, I analyse one aspect of this transnational fascism: the transfer of ‘ruralist’ ideas between Germany and Britain, and vice versa. Rather than compare such movements, I will show how connections can be made across time and space between British and German fascist(ic) ideologies of landscape and rural belonging. Focusing mainly on two individuals who bridged the countries, Rolf Gardiner and Georg Götsch, who are central to the discussion of British ruralist ideas in Germany and vice versa, I show in this chapter that this key aspect of fascism drew on a store of ideas common to much of Europe at the time. Ironically, these ideas depended heavily on images that glorified ‘local beauty’, whether that be the village, the regional or the national landscape.10 Alon Confino, for example, shows how an ensemble of small-scale nature, such as brooks and hills, and local institutions, especially the church tower, provided a widespread and non-specific

18  ‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’

evocation of the German Heimat.11 The same is true of postwar fascisms, which continued, and still continue, to swoon over the greatness of the national landscape in exactly the same terms in every national context and by making use of the same stock of images that they all (without admitting it) share. Finally, apart from making a contribution to transnational history, showing how it can bring new understandings to fields even as well-trodden as fascism (if I can be excused that metaphor in this context), I also want to make a theoretical contribution to ‘fascism studies’. My emphasis on ruralist ideology does not so much stand as a contrast to the recent emphasis on ‘modernism’ as return us to the obvious truism that fascism constituted a modern movement with a combination of technocratic and scientistic as well as nostalgic and romantic elements.12 The fact that some fascist ideologues devoted themselves to the rural does not automatically mean that such thinking was reactionary or anti-modern; just so, a focus on technology does not indicate that romantic fantasies were not at work. Rather, fascism forces us to reconsider what is meant by ‘modern’ in a transnational context, taking us beyond simple dualisms such as ‘reactionary’ and ‘avant-garde’ or ‘futurist’ and ‘nostalgic’. The transnational exchange of ruralist ideas, though they might appear simply romantic, contributed to the ‘modern’ nature of fascism insofar as such characteristics of ‘rural revivalism’ were symptoms of a modernity that had, in Alun Howkins’ words, ‘discovered’ the countryside.13 That is to say, only under the sociological conditions of modernity, when the rural way of life could be perceived as something other than the norm, was the rural ideologized and operationalized as a problem for modern politics and culture. Finally, by discussing individuals who do not unequivocally fall into the camp of ‘fascism’, if only because they rejected the label themselves – in particular, Gardiner – I want to suggest that the construction of fascism on a transnational level needs to be seen as an ongoing conversation, and a process of emerging out of existing ideas. Fascism did not just appear one day fully formed; it coalesced around the rejection of older ideas, the radicalization of others and the response of a particular generation to the crises going on around them in Europe. The focus in this chapter will be on the stage in that process which sees fascist ideas developing in a transnational context. This is no coincidence, for after they were formed, fascist movements were then far more likely to identify themselves – openly at least – as solely national in orientation and to deny any links with similar movements abroad, indeed, even to reject the idea that there were any such similarities.

Gardiner and Götsch Arnd Bauerkämper notes that, along with links between leading fascists and their official representatives, ‘scholars and writers favouring fascism as a solution to the perceived cultural crisis interacted in transnational networks.’14 Insofar as transnational history is interested in the movements, flows and circulations of people, technology or ideas, we can see that fascist intellectuals certainly engaged in what historians would now regard as transnational networks. What distinguishes this

‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’  19

claim about transnationalism from a comparative approach is the argument that the nature of fascism was shaped and constructed by these movements.15 For example, Nazism was shaped to some degree by Hitler’s admiration for Mussolini and the former’s deliberate courting of the latter. In return, Italian Fascism was reshaped by its interaction with Nazism, especially as, in the mid-1930s, international fascist movements reoriented themselves towards Germany as Nazism became the dominant movement. Italian Fascism was at the same time shaped by the impact on it of Italians abroad, whom Mussolini wooed, thinking he could bring them under his control, but with the result that, to some extent at least, they changed the focus and aims of the party in Rome. In what follows, I will illustrate how this circulation and recirculation of ideas helped to shape the fascist response to nature and conservation, with specific reference to Anglo-German transfers of ideas. As with Hofmeyr’s argument, I  will suggest here that such transfers did not simply involve the sharing of ideas or the visits of friendly representatives of movements with similar ideologies across national boundaries. Rather, I argue that fascist and proto-fascist groups and parties themselves were shaped – and should therefore be defined – by these movements of ideas. I do not want to assert that this was always and everywhere true of fascist movements, which remained first and foremost national responses to perceptions of international crisis. But the ‘age of fascism’ was an epoch, not a geographically confined phenomenon, precisely because this perception of crisis and the need for renewal was widely experienced. The result was that fascism represented a contradiction in itself: a movement promising national regeneration and national glory in a context of many movements all offering the same thing, indeed developing their Weltkritik on the basis of a shared understanding of crisis. The demand to protect nature, for example, which was a key component of fascist thought, seems ironic given the immense environmental destruction brought about by World War II.16 The existence of many movements demanding national glory was, one might surmise, bound to end in conflict, yet the emergence of the phenomenon indicates the presence of what historians would now call transnationalism. Two examples illustrate how issues of nature protection and rural revivalism were bound up with potentially violent racist thinking, in these cases demonstrating how conservation and antisemitism went hand in hand. In 1939, an article was published in the journal Naturschutzparke, the journal of the Conservation Association in Germany, entitled ‘Jews and Nature Conservation’. Its author, Heinrich Wilckens, the chairman of the association, argued that ‘the Jew’ had no connection to the land and that Jews therefore had no conception of protecting the land: Since he sought to subjugate the world as he wanders restlessly, he has never gained an innermost relationship to the earth on which he lived as a parasite. The ground and earth lack meaning for him unless he can turn them into movables. Land has no significance for him, but its mortgage does; an animal has no significance, but its market value does. . . . Judaism and German nature are irreconcilable concepts. And only after warding off the final

20  ‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’

remnants of the Jewish subversive spirit can we entirely understand the great thought of nature conservation as well.17 In the same year, Franz Schattenfroh published a book entitled Wille und Rasse (Will and Race), which argued that ‘the Jew’ was ‘an outsider of nature, who no longer understands nature and is no longer understood by nature [der die Natur und den die Natur nicht mehr versteht]’ and who was therefore ‘inassimilable’.18 Such statements are easily multiplied. Where did such ideas come from? Were they uniquely German? And did those who propounded them share their ideas not just with their national compatriots but with others, irrespective of their national identity? As soon as one poses such questions, it is evident, merely on the basis of what historians already know, that fascist ideas exceeded national boundaries. What transnational lenses allow us to perceive are connections that are already known about, but which can be newly conceptualized so that they bring to the fore the extent to which fascism developed across Europe (and more widely) on the basis of interconnectedness amongst its adherents. This new way of conceptualizing fascist movements should not prevent us from seeing the limits of such discourse and from recognizing that their national specificities were key. If that were not so, then we would have to say that the process by which Nazism came to power in Germany in contrast to (say) the Iron Guard’s failure to do so in Romania was purely random. Local conditions matter. Nevertheless, domestic circumstances do not circumscribe the nature of fascism, as the example of rural revivalism shows. Taking the earlier quotations from Wilckens and Schattenfroh as end points, I  will show that the process of generating a fascist attitude to the land and to farming took place over a long period between the wars and that this process involved contestation and negotiation over many ideas before an authentically ‘fascist’ understanding took shape. Along the way, many other individuals and groups, including romantic nostalgics, technocratic modernizers, and aristocratic revivalists, entered the debate, indicating that the shape of the final ideological brew could not be foreseen by analysing the individual ingredients that went into the mix. That is to say that individuals who cannot themselves be labelled ‘fascist’ in a straightforward way often contributed – sometimes willingly, sometimes inadvertently  – to the process whereby fascism was generated. Whilst there is no necessary connection between green and brown ideologies, it would also be too hasty to assert that the concept of nature found in National Socialist thought has no connections at all to that found in green political thought.19 For example, in the years before the Nazis came to power, the British youth leader Rolf Gardiner (1902–1971), who had spent time in Berlin as a child, organized many exchanges between German and British youth groups, including theatre, hiking and folk-dancing tours. These exchanges indicate that more was going on than a mere juxtaposition of ideas; rather, the explicit aim of such undertakings was to establish a joint Anglo-German response to the perceived crises of European civilization. There is considerable debate over whether Gardiner was a fascist

‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’  21

or not, but this is not here the issue.20 More significant in this context is the fact that – whatever we name the political tendency under examination here – we see in Gardiner’s undertakings a genuinely transnational phenomenon. It is certainly clear that several of his close associates in the 1920s and 1930s, especially Georg Götsch (1895–1956), did become committed Nazis, as Gardiner well knew. Yet the ideas with which Gardiner was associated in the 1920s, such as nudism, hiking, gymnastics, work camps and the folk revival, were for the most part considered to be progressive at that point in time. Gardiner was, somewhat improbably, friends with the leading British pacifist Max Plowman,21 and he praised too the Arbeiterjugendbewegung (workers’ youth movement) in the first issue of his journal Youth (1923) for their ‘true crusading ardour’. And by the time he started to write about rural conservation, it was long after he had become a real farmer, as Matthew Jefferies reminds us.22 Gardiner’s importance for understanding transnational fascism rests on the links which he cultivated from the 1920s onwards, which placed him in a mediating position between the German and British youth movements, and the basic idea of Northern European unity, which underpinned all of his ideas and activities. These links cannot all, by any means, be labelled ‘fascist’, but their general tendency – towards rural revivalism and the regeneration of the national ‘stock’ on the basis of ‘manly’ or ‘vigorous’ values, and the idea of a common culture around the Baltic and North Seas – led many of those involved in Germany to make the transition from the interwar youth movements to fascism or Nazism quite smoothly.23 In histories of the German youth movements, the Bündische Jugend, Deutsche Freischar or Wandervogel, Gardiner is one of the only non-Germans to be mentioned.24 He played a pivotal role in bridging the German and British youth movements and did so out of a belief that the two racially and culturally kindred northern nations had a special role to play in resisting the soulless regimentation of technocratic modernity and mindless consumerism represented, respectively, by the USSR and the USA. Even though sections of the German youth and conservationist movements in the interwar years were anti-Nazi, and even if many of Gardiner’s friends and acquaintances left Germany in the 1930s, such as Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy (1888–1973) and Ehrenfried Pfeiffer (1891–1961), his own sympathies for and presuppositions about Germany (as opposed to Nazism) led him to an apologetic position, even if not to full-fledged fascism. Most important, Gardiner’s reading as a young man included not only Oswald Spengler and Ludwig Wittgenstein but also Ludwig Klages, noted as a vitalist thinker and a pioneer of modern German ecological thought, but equally significant for being a Nazi philosopher; and, even more influential on him was Richard Walther Darré (1895–1953), the Reich Farmers’ leader (born, incidentally, in Argentina and fluent in Spanish, English and French). Indeed, Gardiner’s writings are often reminiscent of Darré’s, the man who coined the term ‘blood and soil’. Gardiner’s invitation to the Reich Farmers’ Congress (Bauerntag) at Goslar in 1936 probably came from Darré; Gardiner and his close associate, the pro-Nazi Viscount Lymington, were Darré’s guests when they visited Germany in 1939 and, as Jefferies notes, they remained in correspondence

22  ‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’

after the war.25 Gardiner, in other words, was shaped by British just as much as by German writers, but that is precisely the point: Gardiner was a transnational thinker and actor who saw no contradiction in cultivating links between German and British groups whose outlooks, especially as they radicalized in the 1930s, stressed the ‘special’ local particularities of each. Let us consider a few quotations from Darré, for they provide obvious points of contact with Gardiner’s worldview. In his classic short piece ‘Blut und Boden’, Darré set out the basis of the organicist view, that specific nations are necessarily linked to specific pieces of territory: Precisely this inner relationship of a people with its territory and with the order of its state produces the specificity of the state and provides it with its living character, that is to say, makes an organisational problem into a vibrant organism. It is thus no coincidence which people lives on which soil and what sort of state is created by that people on its territory.26 This fundamental idea was already fleshed out some years before the Nazis came to power, at a time when Gardiner and many others were putting forward similar suggestions. Darré argued that the German’s natural occupation was as a peasant, that is, as a free farmer. With his contempt for cities, his feeling for the organic wholeness of his work and his sense of service, the peasant forms the basis of the German character and the German state: ‘Out of the Nordic peasantry grew that moral standard which measures the deeds of a free man according to other standards than egotism’, writes Darré. ‘It is the innermost need of the Nordic to place his life at the service of a cause and to develop inner moral principles for himself out of the necessities which determine this work.’27 The words are more or less interchangeable with Gardiner’s. Indeed, in an unpublished essay of 1934, Gardiner argued that the ‘German revolution is a revolution with a rural bias’, praised Darré’s attempt ‘to recreate a vigorous German peasantry through which a new and potent aristocracy might spring’ and argued enthusiastically that ‘nowhere but in Germany to-day is an attempt being made deliberately and courageously to stem the universal world tide of urbanization and industrialism.’28 He was equally explicit with respect to the necessity of looking to the soil for national revival in his 1943 book, England Herself: ‘The potential reserves of British character, the artisans descended from the old craftsmen families, the descendants of yeomen and peasants, sailors and fishermen, have not been tapped. It is from these’, Gardiner asserted, ‘that we must expect the leaders of the England to be.’29 These sorts of statements, claiming that working the land builds the people who forms the backbone of the racial group and that the peasantry’s most noteworthy characteristic is devotion to service, are very familiar to readers of Gardiner. They were central to the ideology of the English Array, the extreme-right, monarchist, ruralist political group to which he belonged. The Array, which began life as the English Mistery, was ideologically shaped largely by the disaffected Mason William

‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’  23

Sanderson and, more tellingly, by the anti-feminist Nietzschean Anthony Mario Ludovici, a man who was deeply enamoured of the Nazis and who travelled on several occasions to the Third Reich, and Viscount Lymington (later the Earl of Portsmouth), one of the British aristocracy’s most vociferous supporters of eugenics, rural revivalism and the Third Reich.30 But the notion of ‘service’ to which the English Array was dedicated drew not only from local sources. In a 1934 article on medieval German eastward expansion, Gardiner wrote that the ‘true spirit of Prussian discipline and service can only be comprehended by a realization of this accomplishment, the colonization of a realm dedicated to the Virgin Mary by a warrior order of priestly nobles.’ His description of the Teutonic Knights could be a vision of what the English Array was supposed to be (and which, needless to say, it was not): ‘There is something awe-inspiring about the noiseless determination of this masculine achievement. For these were men who knew the living secrets of human order and political skill, who manifested the principle of true aristocracy which is power based on self-denial and service.’31 Indeed, Gardiner found this sense of service – and sought to re-create it – in his activities with the English and German youth movements. In folk dance, Gardiner saw the most profound sentiments of race and culture and conceived of using it as the wellspring of a racial renewal in England. The Morris dance, in particular, would reconnect the English to a sense of authenticity that was to be found beneath ‘the apparently thin, transient veneer of modern industrial capitalism.’32 To that end, and to the chagrin of Cecil Sharp and the English Folk Dance Society, which regarded Gardiner as an ill-qualified dancer and a politically suspect upstart, he led Morris dancing tours in Britain and Germany between 1922 and 1938, arranged for German groups to visit Britain, and made music and dance the centrepiece of his vision. That medievalist vision, expressed most perfectly at his farm at Springhead in Dorset, was one which imbued the local with powers to bind racially and culturally rooted people in the land and thence to radiate these values outwards to take on the deleterious effects of cities and the modern art-forms (ballet [effete], dance bands [individualistic], movies [brash]) and lower forms of culture (dog-racing, football [vulgar]) which prevailed in them, all in thrall to money rather than national well-being. It is hardly surprising that there ‘was much about Gardiner’s thinking that resonated with the voelkisch mood of bourgeois German youth organizations in the 1920s.’33 After attending an English Array summer camp at Farleigh Wallop, Lymington’s estate in Hampshire, he glowingly reported that ‘I cannot describe this camp to you save in a few words, that was in form and spirit the English equivalent of the best Freischar Arbeitslager that I  ever attended, although toned down to suit the humours of war-scarred Englishmen.’34 Where the transnational ideological imperative on blood and soil is most evident is in the writings of the Array’s key members, best summed up by the words of Ludovici, the group’s ‘intellectual’ and Lymington, its leader. The former described Nazi Germany as proof of ‘what miracles can still be wrought with

24  ‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’

the ultra-civilised and often effete populations of modern Europe if only they are given a lofty purpose.’35 He spoke too of the connection between soil and race, claiming that to protect the sound from extermination by the unsound, and to resist their being sacrificed for the latter – in fact, to assume towards humanity the very attitude which, to a farmer contemplating his animals and his crops is a commonplace of good husbandry, is to-day one of the most difficult and precarious of undertakings, particularly for the head of a State.36 And the latter explicitly linked the soil and the race: In loving service to the soil men see each season how death may be cheated and learn how they must always protect the sound seed from the weeds, and how close breeding makes fine types of stock. . . . [I]f the best are to survive it must be by careful tending and protection and from weeds and parasites. If only to relearn this ancient lesson, regeneration of the soil must come before national revival.37 His book Famine in England (1938), a violent, pro-eugenics, anti-immigrant, ultraright-wing polemic, concluded: It is blood and soil which rule at last; but if they fail only anarchy and slavery succeed. . . . If we serve our soil we can bring back the fertility of the strong breeds that will people the Empire with desired men and women who could hold it against the tides of yellow men and brown.38 Here we see the ideas associated most famously with Darré being given full support in the British context. This is no coincidence; there are clear lines of transmission from Darré to Gardiner and Ludovici, both of whom read German and were familiar with the German political scene, and thence to Lymington. These connections then fed through into Gardiner’s Kinship in Husbandry, a group he founded during the war to combine the promotion of organic farming methods with political notions of racial and cultural purity. Although not all members of the Kinship were as radical as Lymington (Ludovici was not a member), who was saved from internment under Regulation 18B thanks only to his aristocratic status, most displayed clear sympathies towards Nazi Germany.39 Gardiner is more intriguing, though. If Gardiner rediscovered the spirit of the Arbeitslager at the English work camps, this was in no small measure down to the involvement of Germans, particularly Gardiner’s closest friend in the German youth movements, musician Georg Götsch. Götsch was one of the leaders of the Altwandervogel youth group, which ran Arbeitslager as a means of breaking down class and professional barriers between youngsters and contributing to the building of the new Volksgemeinschaft, or racial community. As Gardiner put it, by the end of the 1930, many young men, ‘discontented with

‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’  25

the dreary see-saw of Fascism-Communism and aware of the chaos of English leadership’, felt increasingly ‘drawn to the land, realizing that by doing practical work alongside skilled countrymen they would not only give service but gain much to offset the effete intellectualism of their own cultural background.’40 Gardiner and Götsch organized a camp at Hermannsburg on the Lüneburg Heath in 1927 and an expedition of German students to Northumberland in the same year. Götsch noted in his report on the Northumberland trip that the expedition was ‘not an isolated event but part of a series involving many different groups of people connected by a common interest in activities affecting all the Germanic countries of Northern Europe.’41 The fact that the two men were thinking on very similar lines is evident in Götsch’s assertion that ‘[c]ommunity life need not fall a prey to the danger of becoming the life of a herd, with its attendant barbarization of thought, if the proper and rhythmic alternation of individual and group activity is preserved, and still further if it is balanced by the presence of men of different age.’42 When Götsch argued that Germany lacked an ‘appropriate form’ and needed to undertake ‘manly experiments’, he, like Gardiner, was advancing an incipient political philosophy that prized ‘authenticity’ and the ‘revival’ of deep-rooted traditions which would prevent the country from becoming ‘overwhelmed and choked in foreign jungles.’43 Gardiner also helped to establish centres for the youth movement, such as the Boberhaus in Löwenberg (Silesia); the Musikheim in Frankfurt an der Oder, which Götsch directed until 1942; and the Meihof in the Netherlands. Götsch returned the favour, spending two days at Gardiner’s Gore Farm (Dorset) in July  1928 and filling Gardiner with enthusiasm for his project there.44 Götsch’s support for Gardiner meant that ‘German students and Freischar members would contribute to the physical and cultural developments both at Gore and Springhead in the coming years.’45 The two men’s friendship flourished, with several exchanges in either direction. Soon Gardiner was discussing their meetings in almost mystical terms: The [1930] expedition to the Ostmark was a fresh vindication of our activity; it marked a distinct advance in the coordination of English and Germans, cooperation being fuller and easier than during the summer school of 1929. On the English side there was at last a getting to grips with the implications of these tours, a dawning realization that they signify something more than a novel and exhilarating form of holiday, something even beyond a widening of personal experience, namely that they are potentially a training and preparation for the reconstructive tasks which confront our generation in England.46 Gardiner shared Götsch’s passion for music and believed that music and dance, as well as physical labour and intellectual discussion, were key to the camps’ success.47 Music was not merely decorative but central to the process of national revival: ‘the

26  ‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’

resumption by masculine leadership and by state-building forces of the musical life of the people’ would provide the ‘way out from this decadence.’48 The work camps were indeed nothing less than ‘an answer of the European spirit to the mechanising and standardising of all social and economic process.’49 Gardiner and Götsch’s close collaboration raises some interesting questions for understanding the problem of ‘transnational fascism’. This chapter is not the place to recapitulate the debate over whether Gardiner was a fascist. Suffice it to say that a simple accusation or defence is inadequate to the task. The issue is made complex because Gardiner, as is natural, changed his mind over time, from saying that ‘every nation to-day requires a form of Fascism to rescue it from the pitfalls of its own self-sufficiency’ in 1932 to condemning fascism from 1933 to 1934 onwards, especially Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists (BUF), as illustrative of the mechanized soulless modernity he was trying to fight.50 But it is not this change of heart that is the most problematic issue. Rather, Gardiner’s real views are slippery, for although he condemned fascism, he continued to maintain the view that only a ‘Germanic revival’ could rescue ‘England’ from degeneration. Although he claimed that his vision meant something other than fascism, in retrospect we might wish not only to pay attention to Gardiner’s own views but also to put them to work, and set them in a meaningful context. That means an emphasis on the transnational. For irrespective of whether one regards Gardiner as a fascist or not (and by comparison with some of the other figures in this book, the epithet is less obviously applicable), the transnational nature of his efforts is clear; indeed, more so than many of the figures in this book, Gardiner epitomizes the concept of the transnational, for his work with Götsch (and many others) was founded on the concept of Northern European unity – not just the meeting of like-minded English and German groups but bringing them together to create something new from the amalgam. At the same time as he was condemning fascism – a move which allowed him to save face during and after the war – Gardiner was espousing ideas about ‘Germany’ and the ‘Germanic’ which placed him on the radar of the security services in Britain and of the Nazis in Germany. The two-way relationship of the youth movement’s ideas is evident not only in Götsch’s impact on Gardiner but vice versa. Gardiner clearly thought that he was resisting ‘fascism’ when he advocated a rural revival, but his continued collaboration with Götsch throughout the war and beyond could not have occurred without his realizing that he was dealing with a man who had become a full-fledged Nazi. As Götsch wrote to Gardiner from Farleigh Wallop shortly before the outbreak of war, to explain his commitment to the Nazi regime: ‘There is young [sic] generation in Germany which is obviously willing to carry out on a large scale and bring into national reality, what my friends and myself searched for all our lives and tried out in preliminary activities in smaller groups.’51 Gardiner was able to continue working with Götsch because his own views, for all his public condemnation of Nazism, had hardly changed. In April  1933,

‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’  27

Gardiner wrote to Joseph Goebbels, not only offering his services in promoting Germanic values in England but suggesting to him that at the Musikheim he would find in Götsch ‘a true executor of the ideas of the National Socialist state.’ Whilst he would not have done anything so outré by the time war broke out, his advocacy of ‘renewing Germanic values in all countries around the North and Baltic Seas’ remained unchanged.52 In private, he was writing to colleagues to ask: ‘Is the attempt to destroy the Nazi regime, upon which our bellicose idealists are so furiously bent, worth the destruction of Christendom. . .?’ and to state, as late as the end of 1941: ‘you know how deeply I am committed to the task of Anglo-German reconciliation.’53 Similarly, if to an English audience he discussed the Musikheim as ‘something in the nature of a regional power-house aiming at the cultural recovery of eastern Germany’, in 1933 he described it to Goebbels as a place of work where a popular [volksnahen] music, conscious of its responsibility, is cultivated through teaching and masterly craft, where all musical forms – the amateur play, the ballroom dances and men’s dances in the Germanic tradition (which we English proudly brought back to our German friends) – are sung and played with the clear political and social obligation of educating the German people.54 In 1941, and therefore long after Gardiner had publicly dissociated himself from any association with the Third Reich, he published an article on rural reconstruction, in which the ambiguities of his thought become especially clear. Gardiner condemned Nazism, but he did so on the grounds that it had failed to live up to its promise, not that it was intrinsically bad. Reiterating his familiar call to focus on the local in order to counter the dangerous trends of mass industry and consumerism, Gardiner claimed that ‘National Socialist Germany set out to restore the experience of blood and soil to a rapidly urbanized nation. But the experience remained a doctrine and the blood and soil were sacrificed to the Baal of war.’55 In his 1943 book, England Herself, he set out his vision for the postwar world; it was to be one of reviving lost leadership with a focus on the local. ‘Specific local and regional prosperity would be the focus of men’s thoughts, and absorb their energies’, he proposed, ‘instead of these latter being misspent on vapid political agitations. The genius loci would once more become the channel of divine power. For men would love their surroundings and call them home.’56 For all Gardiner’s explicit condemnation of Nazism – and we can be confident that he was sincere in this condemnation – it is clear that Gardiner had lost none of the enthusiasms which had led him initially to be sympathetic to it. His dream of racial regeneration founded on rural revivalism, with strong leadership based on service emerging organically out of a local setting, remained undimmed. And although he had less to say in public about the unity of Northern European countries linked by race, culture and tradition, this dream too survived the war as his private correspondence and unpublished writings show.

28  ‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’

Conclusion Ignazio Silone’s 1934 novel, Fontamara, gives a more accurate portrayal of the Fascist regime’s treatment of the Italian peasants than does official propaganda. It also contains some penetrating observations about the people who became fascists and their motivations. When a large contingent of men arrive at the village and attack and rape the women who are there whilst the men are out working the fields in the Fucino, they are mostly comprised of peasants, the landless kind, the kind that go out working for the landlords, earning little and living by sneaking and thieving. . . . Thieves and vagabonds entrusted with the task of defending order and property. Men without honour, without faith, impious, poor and yet enemies of the poor. The narrator’s husband confirms his wife’s impressions, stating that ‘poor folk’ made up their ranks, ‘but a special kind of poor folk; landless, not brought up to any trade, or knowing too many trades, which is the same thing.’ He adds that such people have ‘always been at the disposal of anyone who gives orders’; what is new about fascism is ‘recruiting them into a special army, giving them a special uniform and special arms.’57 What Gardiner and Götsch aspired to was of course something nobler. But the Italian example indicates the likely outcome of measures supposed to improve rural life. The difference between fascist ideas and fascist action was often, as has been noted many times, quite substantial, and dreams of reviving a race of yeoman were even less likely to succeed in the British context – where the vast majority of the population were already urban or suburban dwellers – than in Italy or France, where peasants still existed in the 1920s and 1930s.58 Gardiner may have been right to say that the Third Reich reneged on its promise to ‘protect Natural Beauty’, which is what the Reichsnaturschutzgesetz proposed to do, a goal which many in England applauded ‘whatever we may think or feel about Nazi political philosophy’,59 but he was seduced by the promise and remained convinced throughout his life that only a return to the soil could save England from the consequences of modernity. The irony is that Gardiner’s argument about the virtues of the local as the locus of national rebirth was being replicated all over Europe in the interwar period, as rural revivalist groups, many of them turning to or being absorbed by fascist movements, demanded recognition of their own chosen ‘local genius’. If that clash of localisms was bound to end disastrously, it is nevertheless the case that in their formative stages, the blood and soil variety of localist philosophy that was such an important component of fascism was generated transnationally. Gardiner and Götsch exemplify the process. Following the Springhead Ring’s visit to the Kassel Music Festival in 1938, just days after Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich, Gardiner presented a vellum scroll to the Musikheim, inscribed with the following words: ‘The Springhead Ring gave this to the Musikheim, Frankfurt-an-der-Oder,

‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’  29

in token of friendship between England and Germany, in remembrance of a common task and service, and in thanksgiving for release from the madness of impending war.’60 At the ceremony itself Gardiner presented Götsch, seated on the throne of ‘the Ansager, a sort of Chronos or King of the Masque’, with a bowl of earth from Springhead, to be ‘taken to the Musikheim where it will be interred on the German Day of Remembrance, November  9.’61 As David Matless noted of this ceremony: ‘English earth with English humus goes abroad to a place of affinity, the ultimate cross-cultural fertilizer.’62

Notes 1 See, for example, the Journal of World History, 19:3 (2008), on the UN; Wolfram Kaiser, Brigitte Leucht and Morten Rasmussen (eds.), The History of the European Union: Origins of a Trans- and Supranational Polity, 1950–72 (London: Routledge, 2009); Wolfram Kaiser and Peter Starie (eds.), Transnational European Union: Towards a Common Political Space (London: Routledge, 2005) on the EU. 2 Especially in the context of the Cold War and the developing opposition to communism after the Helsinki Process. See, for example, Daniel C. Thomas, The Helsinki Effect: International Norms, Human Rights, and the Demise of Communism (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001); Sarah B. Snyder, Human Rights Activism and the End of the Cold War: A Transnational History of the Helsinki Network (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011). 3 Alison Bashford and Phillipa Levine (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), esp. the essays in Part I: Transnational Themes in the History of Eugenics. 4 Arnd Bauerkämper, Der Faschismus in Europa 1918–1945 (Stuttgart: Reclam, 2006), 176; Bauerkämper, ‘Ambiguities of Transnationalism: Fascism in Europe between PanEuropeanism and Ultra-Nationalism, 1919–39’, Bulletin of the German Historical Institute London, 29:2 (2007), 43–67, here 45. See also Martin Durham and Margaret Power (eds.), New Perspectives on the Transnational Right (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011); Tamir Bar-On, ‘Transnationalism and the French Nouvelle Droite’, Patterns of Prejudice, 45:3 (2011), 199–223, esp. 214–215, where Bar-On argues, rather contentiously, that the existence of pan-European SS brigades during World War II testifies to the existence of a ‘fascist international’. 5 Geoff Eley, Nazism as Fascism: Violence, Ideology, and the Ground of Consent in Germany 1930–1945 (London: Routledge, 2013). 6 Douglas Jerrold, The Necessity of Freedom: Notes on Christianity and Politics (London: Sheed & Ward, 1938), 159. Similarly, the BUF activist James Drennan (aka W. E. D. Allen, formerly Conservative MP for West Belfast until he joined Mosley’s New Party in 1930) wrote, ‘The Ulster movement was, in fact, the first Fascist movement in Europe.’ See Drennan, B.U.F. Oswald Mosley and British Fascism (London: John Murray, 1934), 292. For further discussion, see Dan Stone, Responses to Nazism in Britain 1933–1939: Before War and Holocaust, 2nd edn (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), ch4. 7 See, for example, Michael Kellogg, The Russian Roots of Nazism: White Émigrés and the Making of National Socialism, 1917–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). 8 Federico Finchelstein, Transatlantic Fascism: Ideology, Violence, and the Sacred in Argentina and Italy, 1919–1945 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 38 and passim. 9 See especially Arnd Bauerkämper and Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe (eds.), Fascism without Borders: Transnational Connections and Cooperation between Movements and Regimes in Europe from 1918 to 1945 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2017). For a more critical approach to transnationalism in this context, see David D. Roberts, Fascist Interactions: Proposals for a New Approach to Fascism and Its Era, 1919–1945 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2016).

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10 For the ways in which local landscapes could inform nationalist ideas in Germany, see, for example, Thomas Lekan and Thomas Zeller, Germany’s Nature: Cultural Landscapes and Environmental History (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2005); Alon Confino, The Nation as a Local Metaphor: Württemberg, Imperial Germany, and National Memory, 1871–1918 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1997); Celia Applegate, A Nation of Provincials: The German Idea of Heimat (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990). 11 Alon Confino, Germany as a Culture of Remembrance: Promises and Limits of Writing History (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 46. 12 Roger Griffin, Modernism and Fascism: The Sense of a Beginning under Mussolini and Hitler (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). Griffin makes a similar point (see esp. 255– 258) and criticizes those historians who focus only on Nazi technocratic visions or on Nazism’s romantic ‘anti-modernism’. See also the valuable comments in Patrick Glenn Zander, Right Modern: Technology, Nation, and Britain’s Extreme Right in the Interwar Period (1919–1940), PhD dissertation, Georgia Institute of Technology (2009), esp. 63–76. Zander’s claim that the mainstream of British fascism (especially the BUF) admired Italian Fascist schemes for land improvement and aimed to mechanize agriculture is well taken. However, despite his sensible conclusion (76) that fascism aimed at ‘finding a proper balance between industry and agriculture rather than attempting to be entirely techno-futuristic or entirely focused on a return to the idealised past’, by dismissing fascist rural nostalgia as a minority view, he tends to reproduce the modernist/antimodernist dichotomy that Griffin wants to overcome. 13 Alun Howkins, ‘Discovery of Rural England’, in Robert Colls and Philip Dodd (eds.), Englishness: Politics and Culture, 1880–1920 (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), 85–111. 14 Bauerkämper, ‘Ambiguities of Transnationalism’, 54. 15 Isabel Hofmeyr states in ‘Conversation: On Transnational History’, American Historical Review, 111:5 (2006), 1444, that the ‘claim of transnational methods is not simply that historical processes are made in different places but that they are constructed in the movement between places, sites, and regions.’ 16 See Frank Uekoetter, The Green and the Brown: A History of Conservation in Nazi Germany (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006). 17 Cited in Boaz Neumann, ‘National Socialism, Holocaust, and Ecology’, in Dan Stone (ed.), The Holocaust and Historical Methodology (New York: Berghahn Books, 2012), 111. 18 Franz Schattenfroh, Wille und Rasse (Berlin: Verlag für Wissenschaft und Kultur Bauer & Co., 1939), 69. 19 As Piers Stephens claims in his critical analysis of Anna Bramwell: ‘Blood, Not Soil: Anna Bramwell and the Myth of “Hitler’s Green Party” ’, Organization and Environment, 14:2 (2001), 174. Stephens is right to take on some of Bramwell’s more provocative claims, but the fact that mainstream contemporary green thinking has divorced itself from its far-right origins should not lead to a denial of those origins altogether. 20 See the essays in Matthew Jefferies and Mike Tyldesley (eds.), Rolf Gardiner: Folk, Nature and Culture in Interwar Britain (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), especially Richard Griffiths, ‘The Dangers of Definition: Post-Facto Opinions on Rolf Gardiner’s Attitudes towards Nazi Germany’, and Dan Stone, ‘Rolf Gardiner: An Honorary Nazi?’, 137–149, 151– 168, respectively. My chapter is reprinted in The Holocaust, Fascism and Memory: Essays in the History of Ideas (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), ch7. 21 Mike Tyldesley, ‘Rolf Gardiner and Pacifism: The Case of Max Plowman’, in Jefferies and Tyldesley (eds.), Rolf Gardiner, 121–135. 22 Matthew Jefferies, ‘Rolf Gardiner and German Naturism’, in Jefferies and Tyldesley (eds.), Rolf Gardiner, 60; Youth cited on 63. 23 See Mike Tyldesley, ‘The German Youth Movement and National Socialism: Some Views from Britain’, Journal of Contemporary History, 41:1 (2006), 21–34. 24 For example: Walter Laqueur, Young Germany: A History of the German Youth Movement (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1984), 243.

‘The Ultimate Cross-Cultural Fertilizer’  31

25 Jefferies, ‘Rolf Gardiner and German Naturism’, 62. Gardiner’s report on the Goslar Bauerntag twelve years later presents an image of a man frightened by the ‘blind, irresistible forces [that] were being let loose’ – a far cry from the sort of terms he used to describe Nazi Germany during the 1930s. See ‘The Bauerntag Congress’, in Andrew Best (ed.), Water Springing from the Ground: An Anthology of the Writings of Rolf Gardiner (Springhead: Trustees of the Estate of the Late H. Rolf Gardiner, 1972), 126–127. 26 R. Walther Darré, Blut und Boden: Ein Grundgedanke des Nationalsozialismus (Berlin: Reichsdruckerei, 1936), 2; offprint from Odal: Monatsschrift für Blut und Boden. 27 R. W. Darré, ‘The Peasantry as the Key to Understanding the Nordic Race’, in Barbara Miller Lane and Leila J. Rupp (eds.), Nazi Ideology before 1933: A Documentation (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1978), 105. 28 Rolf Gardiner, ‘A Survey of Constructive Aspects of the New Germany. With Some Notes and Suggestions as to the Methods of Projection’ (June 1934), 44, 43, Cambridge University Library, Rolf Gardiner Papers (henceforth RGP), M3/7. 29 Rolf Gardiner, England Herself: Ventures in Rural Restoration (London: Faber and Faber, 1943), 170–171. 30 On the English Mistery, see my Breeding Superman: Nietzsche, Race and Eugenics in Edwardian and Interwar Britain (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2002). 31 Rolf Gardiner, ‘German Eastward Policy and the Baltic States’, Contemporary Review, 145 (1934), 324. 32 Matt Simons, ‘ “Pilgrimages to Holy Places”: The Travelling Morrice, 1924–1939’, in Michael Heaney (ed.), The Histories of the Morris in Britain (London: English Folk Dance and Song Society & Historical Dance Society, 2018), 133–149. 33 Malcolm Chase, ‘Review of Jefferies and Tyldesley (eds.), Rolf Gardiner: Folk, Nature and Culture’, Twentieth-Century British History, 23:3 (2012), 446. 34 The Springhead Ring News Sheet, 23 (5 November 1938). Arbeitslager = labour camps. 35 Anthony Mario Ludovici, ‘Hitler and the Third Reich’, English Review, 63 (1936), 39. 36 Anthony Mario Ludovici, ‘Hitler and the Third Reich, Part III’, English Review, 63 (1936), 234. 37 Viscount Lymington, Famine in England (London: The ‘Right’ Book Club, 1938), 118. 38 Lymington, Famine in England, 208. See also my article, ‘The English Mistery, the BUF, and the Dilemmas of British Fascism’, Journal of Modern History, 75:2 (2003), 203–218. 39 On Kinship in Husbandry, see Stone, Responses to Nazism, ch5; Richard J. Moore-Colyer, ‘Back to Basics: Rolf Gardiner, H. J. Massingham and the Kinship in Husbandry’, Rural History, 12 (2001), 85–108; Moore-Colyer and Philip Conford, ‘A “Secret Society”? The Internal and External Relations of the Kinship in Husbandry, 1941–52’, Rural History, 15 (2004), 189–206. 40 Gardiner, England Herself, 49. 41 Ernst Buske and Georg Goetsch, ‘German Leaders’ Report’, Appendix II in Rolf Gardiner and Heinz Rocholl (eds.), Britain and Germany: A  Frank Discussion Instigated by Members of the Younger Generation (London: Williams and Norgate, 1928), 259. 42 Buske and Götsch, ‘German Leaders’ Report’, 266. 43 Georg Goetsch, ‘Germany between Russia and England’, in Gardiner and Rocholl (eds.), Britain and Germany, 103–104. 44 Gardiner, diary, July  1928, cited in Richard Moore-Colyer, ‘Rolf Gardiner, Farming and the English Landscape’, in Jefferies and Tyldesley (eds.), Rolf Gardiner, 99. 45 Moore-Colyer, ‘Rolf Gardiner, Farming and the English Landscape’, 99. 46 Rolf Gardiner, ‘The Musikheim, Frankfurt an der Oder’, North Sea and Baltic (1930), 16. 47 Jefferies, ‘Rolf Gardiner and German Naturism’, 56. 48 Rolf Gardiner, ‘Reflections on Music and Statecraft’ (1933), in Best (ed.), Water Springing from the Ground, 100. 49 Rolf Gardiner, ‘The Triple Function of Work Camps and Work Service in Europe’, in Best (ed.), Water Springing from the Ground, 110.

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50 Rolf Gardiner, World without End: British Politics and the Younger Generation (London: Cobden-Sanderson, 1932), 33. 51 Götsch to Gardiner, 13 August 1939, RGP E2/4. 52 Gardiner to Goebbels, 25 April 1933, RGP A2/6, 5. 53 Gardiner to Arthur Bryant, 8 October 1939 (Christendom); 30 December 1941 (reconciliation), King’s College London, Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, Bryant Papers, E19. For further discussion, see my Responses to Nazism in Britain 1933–1939, ch5. 54 Rolf Gardiner, ‘Georg Goetsch and the Musikheim’, in Best (ed.), Water Springing from the Ground, 70; Gardiner to Goebbels, 25 April 1933, 4. 55 Rolf Gardiner, ‘Rural Reconstruction’, in H. J. Massingham (ed.), England and the Farmer: A Symposium (London: B. T. Batsford, 1941), 107. 56 Gardiner, England Herself, 56. 57 Ignazio Silone, Fontamara, trans. Gwenda David and Eric Mosbacher (London: Panther, 1965), 91, 96. But see also Antonio Pennacchi, The Mussolini Canal, trans. Judith Landry (Sawtry: Dedalus, 2013) for a portrayal of rural fascism that focuses on a more prosperous peasant family. At one point (195) Pennacchi has Mussolini say: ‘Out of the towns with you, into the countryside . . . that’s what Fascism is all about.’ 58 See Dan Stone, ‘Rural Revivalism and the Radical Right in France and Britain between the Wars’, in Stone (ed.), The Holocaust, Fascism and Memory, ch8. 59 Lord Howard of Penrith, ‘Lessons from Other Countries’, in Clough Williams-Ellis (ed.), Britain and the Beast (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1937), 284. 60 Rolf Gardiner, ‘The Kassel Festival’, in Best (ed.), Water Springing from the Ground, 136. 61 Gardiner, ‘The Kassel Festival’, in Best (ed.), Water Springing from the Ground, 134, 136. 62 David Matless, Landscape and Englishness (London: Reaktion Books, 1998), 123.


The War against the West in Britain Aurel Kolnai’s The War against the West remains one of the most insightful analyses of Nazi thought ever written.1 In 1938 it was a revelation. Quite different in tone and approach from most other analyses of Nazism available in English, it was remarkable for the thoroughness with which it discussed the writings of Nazi thinkers and for the seriousness with which it took their views. Only a few other British scholars  – such as R. G. Collingwood and E. O. Lorimer  – and émigré authors – such as Franz Borkenau and Sebastian Haffner – took the Nazis at their word, and none of them offered such an in-depth analysis of the Nazis’ own writings. In this chapter I will bring out the uniqueness of Kolnai’s achievement in The War against the West and compare Kolnai’s approach with those taken in both popular and scholarly analyses of Nazism that were published in Britain before the war. In general, émigré scholars were better equipped than English authors to understand what Nazism meant, but The War against the West, especially in its analysis of Nazi race thinking, was unique. Not only was Kolnai not in Britain when he wrote the book, but he had never even set foot in the country. Yet his ability to penetrate, in English, the mindset of the Nazis was second to none, an accomplishment that was recognized in the book’s reception. Given that The War against the West was written in English and published in London, one might be forgiven for thinking that the British context of contemporary analyses and understandings of Nazism would be crucial to judging its success. Yet The War against the West was quite different from most British publications on the Third Reich. Furthermore, The War against the West should be judged neither in the light of Kolnai’s later incarnation as a Cold Warrior nor by the fact that it was published by Victor Gollancz’s Left Book Club (LBC). For it neither discussed communism (or comparative ‘totalitarianism’) nor was it a standard,

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orthodox labour socialist LBC work. Victor Gollancz, the publisher of the LBC, himself claimed that the book was ‘without exception, the most important book that the Club has yet published’ and referred to it as ‘the bible of anti-fascism’, quite a remarkable appraisal when one sees the extent to which it departs from the standard British leftist analysis of fascism as ‘crisis capitalism with a cudgel’, what Orwell called the ‘Strachey-Blimp thesis’ in which ‘Hitler was a dummy with Thyssen pulling the strings.’2 While Kolnai shared with Gollancz a variety of Christian Socialism, Kolnai’s understanding of Nazism went way beyond that ordinarily associated with the LBC. Likewise, his Personalist Christian conservatism  – he sympathized, for example, with Hilaire Belloc’s description of the ‘servile state’ and the Distributist argument that freedom depended on the widest distribution possible of private property – would have been anathema to Labour Party intellectuals like John Strachey and Harold Laski, both closely associated with the Left Book Club.3 His task, as he saw it, was to educate British readers, making them realize the real meaning of Nazism: ‘English public opinion will have to learn that the mere removal of “injustices” and discriminations is far from touching on the core of the German problem, and the farthest possible from unseating National Socialism.’4 It should come as no surprise, then, that while the Manchester Guardian praised the book, other reviewers were less convinced by the unfamiliar, strident tone. The Sunday Times noted that the book sounded like Churchill but that ‘its idiom was un-English’, and the TLS reserved its praise for Kolnai’s grammar. Many reviewers seemed to prefer Hermann Rauschning’s Germany’s Revolution of Destruction, also published in 1938 (in German as Die Revolution des Nihilismus, then in English in June 1939), a book whose emphasis was more on the Third Reich destroying itself than having to be destroyed from without.5 By the time The War against the West appeared, Kolnai had already spent most of the previous decade thinking and writing about little else. The book itself had been planned since at least early 1933. Perhaps Gollancz’s own Christian Socialism provided the link with Kolnai that overcame what seemed to be, on the face of it, the incompatibility between Kolnai and the LBC.6 Gollancz certainly set much store by Kolnai’s book, agreeing to publish it years before Kolnai managed to bring it to completion: ‘Gollancz seems to be a brick; he even writes: “I have an instinct that this is going to be a most important book.” How quixotically English. Imagine a German publisher writing anything of the sort.’7 Fortunately, Gollancz was willing to wait. Quite apart from the enormous body of literature that Kolnai proposed to analyse, the content of that literature was not exactly uplifting: ‘I have some idea of the urgent necessity that my book should appear as soon as possible’, he wrote to his future wife in 1936, ‘but working on it makes me positively sick.’8 The fact that Kolnai wrote much of the book (in English) while sitting in a Nazi café in Vienna probably did not help, although he took a malicious pleasure in doing so. The book was finally published in July 1938 as the LBC’s ‘additional book’ for subscribers; it was, and remains, one of the finest studies of Nazi philosophy, providing dense and detailed discussions of many Nazi thinkers. In a letter to Irene

Aurel Kolnai’s The War against the West  35

Grant on 30 November 1934, Kolnai wrote that he was trying to decide whether Nazism constituted ‘[c]apitalism re-arranged for fight’ or a ‘[m]ystical relapse into tribal barbarism’, or whether in fact the one was ‘a mere mask or implement for the other’.9 By the time the book was published, Kolnai was clear that the latter was closer to the truth but that this was a kind of barbarism that came wrapped up firmly in the clothes of modernity. No amount of quotation can do justice to Kolnai’s fierce irony, sharp analyses and barely disguised disgust.10 Much of the 700-page book was given over to allowing the Nazis and those considered by Kolnai to be their forerunners (Friedrich Nietzsche, Stefan George, Martin Luther, Oswald Spengler and Ludwig Klages) to speak for themselves. Kolnai’s passages of interpretation are the real point of interest. Although these do not develop an authentically ‘conservative’ critique of Nazism, instead emerging from Kolnai’s liberal-democratic tendencies, the book is one of the few that insists on taking the phenomenon seriously, no matter how outlandish some of its claims may have sounded to British ears. And while Kolnai admitted that the arguments used by some of the Nazi thinkers were impressively constructed – ‘there is no immediate contradiction in fighting the intellect intellectually’ – the doctrines they defended were subjected to harsh criticism.11 This criticism did not prevent Kolnai from doing what most other commentators refused to do: recognize the appeal of fascism. ‘The National Socialist doctrines’, he wrote, ‘though ultimately false and immoral, and liable to degenerate into comic vulgarity, are at their highest endowed with spiritual grandeur and relevancy.’12 This kind of claim is still shocking today; one’s instinct is to dismiss it out of hand. Kolnai, however, was not expressing a personal choice in favour of Nazism but seeking to understand the sources of its attraction. To do so, Kolnai divided his study up thematically, showing how concepts such as ‘community’, ‘state’, ‘faith’, ‘morals’, ‘law’, ‘society’, ‘race’, ‘nation’ and ‘empire’ figured in Nazi thinking and how the whole was held together by certain key concepts. Kolnai’s fundamental criticism of Nazism was that it replaced objective standards and rational thinking with ‘the mysterious and inexpressible “nobility” of particular breeds of men.’13 It was not a theory of race as such that was the ‘vital point of the Nazi attitude’, but ‘the subjectivist conception of a peculiar breed of men, claiming, by virtue of its very peculiarity, to be a law unto itself, and ultimately the whole world.’14 From this starting point, Kolnai analysed how the major concepts of Western philosophy were being distorted, often in remarkably articulate and seductive ways. Kolnai understood Nazism in the same way that he later understood communism – as a ‘fall away from Christianity’ – and fought it on the grounds of its atheism and its rejection of reason.15 Nazism, he argued even before it came into power in Germany, represented no mere counter-revolution but an ‘overturning of values’ (Umsturz der Werte).16 Hence, like Franz Borkenau, he argued that there was no point in trying to compromise with Nazism, but one must instead understand it in order to combat it. While this meant undertaking the distasteful task of entering

36  Aurel Kolnai’s The War against the West

into the thought processes of Nazis, this was, he maintained, the only way of really getting to grips with the phenomenon. This methodology led to some potentially rather dangerous exercises in proximity. Kolnai sought in a way that must have seemed quite shocking to British readers (for whom Kolnai explicitly wrote, in English), to elucidate the appeal of fascism to its adherents. English writers, such as Collingwood, who had previously tried this sort of approach, found themselves isolated as intellectual renegades, but Kolnai did not face Collingwood’s problem of uppity Oxford colleagues and picked up where Collingwood left off. Outside of the descriptions of the Nuremberg rallies offered by fellow travellers of fascism, statements like Kolnai’s about the Nazi doctrines’ ‘spiritual grandeur and relevancy’ were seldom heard, least of all in the LBC’s publications; they bespeak Kolnai’s intellectual bravery and his attempt to infuse antifascism with the sort of energy that drove the fascists themselves.17 In an article from January 1939, Kolnai wrote the following: We . . . are hugging the complacent belief that the essence of democracy is compromise; so we book ‘compromise’ with the fascists, of the Munich type for instance, as a triumph not only of peace but even of democracy. We only forget that there is a marked difference between compromise within democracy, which presupposes the common ground of democracy accepted by all the various competing groups of the people, and compromise with the convinced and uncompromising mortal enemies of democracy. We are extremely afraid of tarnishing the immaculate beauty of our democracy by any use of violence or display of intolerance; not, however, of compromising democracy in its integrity.18 Or, as he put it in his talk to the LBC summer school in 1939: The naïve people who in March 1939 accused the Germans of having committed a ‘breach of faith’, ‘deceived’ Mr. Ch[amberlain] at Munich, could have been spared their surprise and deception if they had not refused dogmatically to attach an importance to Nazi ideologies.19 Thus, like Borkenau, Kolnai’s basic message was that attempting to understand Nazism through the tools of diplomacy, analysis of leaders’ speeches or Nazi legislation was fruitless. Rather, he argued that one had to grasp the will that drove the Nazi dynamic towards war and catastrophe; fascism, he argued, would make war not to placate its supporters or to counter popular discontent but ‘to save its soul: to stave off the revelation of its inner barrenness, the vacuum of despair at its core.’20 While this analysis necessarily took Kolnai – and his readers – too close to the core of Nazism for comfort, this was precisely the point, for treating Nazism as a difficult but otherwise ordinary political movement was, in his estimation, to set off down the road to ruin. In order to understand the appeal of fascism, there was

Aurel Kolnai’s The War against the West  37

little point merely condemning it. Every sane person would condemn it, but this was insufficient to combat fascism. ‘We must have the courage’, Kolnai went on, to fight an enemy, – or rather, to reject a creed – of which we recognise the grandeur, the positive implications, the creative power. Evil may be ‘ultimately’ destructive, but no great evil is merely and altogether destructive. Else, it could not even be really, effectually destructive.21 Hence, when Orwell began his May 1940 review of Borkenau’s The Totalitarian Enemy, he most likely had Kolnai’s argument in mind: ‘We cannot struggle against Fascism unless we are willing to understand it, a thing which both left-wingers and right-wingers have conspicuously failed to do – basically, of course, because they dared not.’22 Kolnai’s writings reveal that a theory proclaiming the need to crush fascism, not compromise with it, had, by the start of the war, extended beyond the radical Left and contributed to the hardening of resolve required to end rightist appeasement, leftist pacifism and armchair anti-fascism, and to take on the Third Reich in the only way possible. As Kolnai noted in his memoirs, ‘With the birth of the Third Reich, the Second World War had virtually begun, and anti-Nazi action came forthwith under the heading, not of domestic politics but of War operations.’23 It was this approach that distinguished Kolnai from mainstream British analyses of Nazism, for the latter steadfastly failed to understand that the Nazis really meant what they said. This is nowhere as clear as in relation to the question of Nazi race thinking and, above all, of Nazi antisemitism. On the question of community, for example, Kolnai’s discussion was subtle in its analysis and forthright in its condemnation. Kolnai recognized that one of Nazism’s strengths was its invocation of the Volksgemeinschaft (the racial community). He thus set about to show that the Nazis did not actually understand what they meant by the word: ‘we go so far as to deny that he has a real understanding of the very essence of community.’ For Kolnai, community ‘can be based only on personality, which is the irreducible core of human existence.’24 Hence the ‘superhuman community of the Tribalists, however powerful it may prove, is but a godless ghost, a monster that abuses the devotion of men.’25 On the question of the place of warfare in Nazi ideology, Kolnai was especially insightful, for here he saw, like Borkenau, that the most pressing problem was not one of how to conduct international diplomacy but of how to resist the expansion and aggression inherent to the Nazi system: Fascist dictatorship is bound sooner or later to attempt spectacular foreign expansion, because an achievement of this order is inseparable from its meaning, its unwritten law of constitution. It needs imperialistic enterprise, not to ‘placate popular discontent’, but to execute the Will that drives on, and holds together, its closest supporters. . . . Fascism must make war to save its

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soul: to stave off the revelation of its inner barrenness, the vacuum of despair at its core.26 This nihilistic energy was far more frightening than any individual threat or promise that Hitler might make and to which Western politicians, journalists and scholars, being accustomed to believing that such language bore some relation to reality, devoted so much attention. Kolnai showed that the real threat was more profound and more difficult to dislodge. Similarly, on eugenics, Kolnai did not dismiss the possibility that the science might have a ‘humanistic and rational meaning’ but noted that any such possibility was smothered in the Third Reich by ‘the overtones of superstitious “Teutonic” tribalism and fascist arbitrariness in the Nazi formula.’27 And he adumbrated today’s discussion about the combination of modern technology and rationality with phobic fantasies and desire for redemptive violence when he pointed out that the hyper-rationality that drove eugenics could also end in social madness: These unattractive implications of misdirected social ‘rationalization’ and ‘planning’ become the centre of interest, when, instead of mere abstract fancies and schemes, they are inserted into a system of state-power founded on an irrational creed of political mystery and racial discrimination. If arrogant madness is a danger in itself, if the hunger for a rational control (uncontrolled, in its turn, by commonsense and a tinge of healthy scepticism) is itself liable to work itself out in madness, then truly the original madman wielding the engines of high technical rationality portends embroilments of no little significance.28 At each point, Kolnai’s method consisted of accepting the potential validity of the ideas on which Nazism was based and then demonstrating that the Nazis themselves neither understood what it was they claimed so much to admire nor were able to control the forces they had unleashed. Kolnai’s most important contribution in this book comes in his discussion of the racial anthropology that underpins Nazism. The 120-page chapter on ‘Nation and Race’, together with other key subchapters elsewhere in the book, is a sophisticated and nuanced reading of the racial theories of numerous Nazi thinkers. Once again, Kolnai’s starting point was taking this Nazi philosophy seriously: ‘There is a little more in it than mere commonplace or idealistic nationalism.’29 It is also important to note, as a telling comment on the temper of the times, that Kolnai stressed the fact that Nazi racial policy would affect everybody, not just the Jews: ‘Though I am myself of Jewish extraction’, he wrote, ‘our judgment of the new Nazi Germany must be determined above all by its negation of mankind and its intrinsic enmity to Western democratic society, and not by its special ill-will against Jews.’30 Indeed, he went so far as to claim that ‘[a]nti-Jewish action belongs to the system of operations by which Teutonic Counter-Revolution combats Christian, Roman, and Democratic Western Civilization.’31

Aurel Kolnai’s The War against the West  39

The attack on the Jews, then, since the accusations it launched had no basis in reality, derived from ‘the psychology of a declining aristocratic class, which associates all idea of a rational reorganization of society with a kind of uncanny witchcraft practised by a gang of alien conspirators.’32 It implied more than just the persecution of the Jews: ‘What they are engaged in persecuting is not so much the Jews as the Jewish spirit, and not so much the Jewish Spirit as the Spirit.’33 And he noted the bitter irony of the fact that, although the Nazis had injured Judaism, they had also inadvertently ‘thrust greatness upon it’, since they had made the Jews ‘the symbol of persecuted Liberty, Reason and Justice.’34 In other words, Kolnai did not attribute much importance to demonstrating the scientific errors of Nazi racial theory, though he did this as well. Instead, he suggested ‘paying more attention to the moral falsity and essential aggressiveness inherent in the creed of racial mastery than to its alleged absurdity from a scientific point of view.’35 In this way, Kolnai is able to explain how it is that competing and even contradictory strands of anthropological and racial theory could be incorporated into Nazi wisdom: In the concrete reality of the Nazi movement, racial beauty and political soundness and valour mutually support each other in spite of an occasional absence of personal union between them; together they provide an unassailable guarantee of thoroughgoing racial superiority which neither of them alone could safeguard. From this we see how the racial creed is utilized (and violated) in the service of racial counter-revolution; but we also see how seriously that counter-revolution is meant, how far it exceeds any aim at mere restoration, how expressly it points towards a recreation rather than a mere restitution of a world of masters and serfs.36 No other book published in English in these years provided so thorough a survey of Nazi philosophy nor demanded quite so plausibly and unceasingly that Nazism must not be dismissed as outlandish but rather needed to be treated with all the seriousness that a movement disposing of untold reserves of ‘mystical’ energy deserved. Nothing in this required accepting Nazism’s estimation of itself, but it did necessitate a probing into the depths that took the reader (as Kolnai himself had been) about as close to identifying with the object of discussion as is ethically and emotionally bearable.

British approaches It is worth briefly comparing this approach of Kolnai’s with some of the more commonplace ideas about Nazi race thinking that one could find in British publications on Nazism. I will not deal here with pro-Nazi apologists (who were quite numerous) or with the popular books by Konrad Heiden or Hermann Rauschning, but only with those British authors whose views were firmly anti-Nazi.37 Despite their political position, they nevertheless often failed to understand the

40  Aurel Kolnai’s The War against the West

fact that at Nazism’s core lay an antisemitic conspiracy theory and nor did they fully recognize the extent to which this theory was passionately held by the leading Nazis. Emily Lorimer, for example – author of a bestselling Penguin Special titled What Hitler Wants (1939) and a key protagonist in debates over the translation of Mein Kampf into English – managed to justify her anti-Nazi stance with reference to stereotypes about Jews: The English reader, remembering with gratitude how much the stability of British finance has owed to the co-operation of generations of British Jews with English bankers, would like some indication of just how Hitler would prove Jewish finance was necessarily so fatal to Germany, but Hitler does not attempt to prove any of his amazing theses. He asserts, and in Nazi Germany it is believed: such is the magic of the Führer’s word.38 Lorimer really sets the tone for the British understanding of Nazi racism a little later on, however, when she writes that ‘to justify his intention to exterminate the Jew, he had to evolve some theory of Race; hence he created the mythical Aryan, alternatively called the Nordic or, more bluntly, the German’.39 This combination of a suggestive understanding of where Nazi persecution of the Jews was heading (‘his intention to exterminate the Jew’) with a mocking tone that scoffs at Hitler’s inability to think for himself and finds the substance of his thinking laughable is absolutely typical of the British response to Nazi race thinking. On the one hand, we see here a quite prescient claim and, on the other, an explanation that undermines the insightfulness of the observation. Indeed, British writers were on the whole reluctant to take the Nazi idea of race seriously. The partial exception to this rule was ‘defence literature’, which collated documents testifying to the Nazi persecution of the Jews. This is typified by Gollancz’s publications, The Brown Book of the Hitler Terror (1933) and The Yellow Spot: The Extermination of the Jews in Germany (1936), both of which emphasized the importance of antisemitism for the Nazi regime.40 Other examples include Gustav Warburg’s Six Years of Hitler (1939), which argued that ‘Jew-baiting in Nazi Germany is not incidental. It is the very basis of the regime’, and Joseph King’s The German Revolution (1933), which claimed, not dissimilarly from Kolnai, that ‘[t]he Nazi Terror against the Jews is a world-tragedy; it is nothing less than a high-wall barrier between the great German nation and the rest of Western Civilization.’41 Such words constituted restrained calls to action; as Otto Dov Kulka noted, the authors of these books, ‘precisely because of their position as a combatant and persecuted party, imposed on themselves an exceptional degree of methodological objectivity – perhaps possible only at that stage, which preceded knowledge of the concrete horrors of the Holocaust.’42 Yet because ‘race’ as a concept was a standard component of most people’s mental world in the 1930s, and notions of racial superiority were basic presuppositions in the British Empire, most popular writers managed both to condemn

Aurel Kolnai’s The War against the West  41

Nazi race thinking and reproduce their own racialized worldview without noticing the contradiction  – they condemned the practice but did not disavow the conception. The Bonar Law College lecturer Hugh Sellon was thus typical when he condemned the idea of the Aryan race but then wrote that ‘it is quite futile to deny that there is such a thing as race.’43 Although Sellon was reluctant to reach any firm conclusions on whether the Jews should be considered a race, he nevertheless felt able to say, Whilst it is true that every European State has many Jews who are Jewish, and not European, in racial characteristics and habits, it is equally true that every such State has many people who, though they may be of Jewish descent, have no Jewish racial characteristics, but have become completely Europeanised.44 He thus reaffirmed his belief in a Jewish ‘race’ even as he admitted uncertainty over the matter. Kolnai’s approach was thus completely different. Most academics and journalists who considered Nazism as a political phenomenon focused on whether or not the concept of ‘totalitarianism’ made sense of it.45 Others subscribed – especially after the start of the war – to a ‘Luther to Hitler’ style of propaganda or emphasized the opposition to Hitler.46 And among the most popular of the books on Nazi Germany were accounts by former inmates of Nazi prisons and concentration camps.47 Even when British authors analysed Nazi race thinking and even when they quarrelled – as did journalists Vernon Bartlett and Robert Dell48 – they tended to combine incredulity that the Nazis could be serious and condemnation of the ‘excesses’ to which Nazism led with a failure to allow this criticism to induce them to question their own racialized assumptions. The only notable exceptions are émigré authors such as Franz Borkenau, Sebastian Haffner and Leopold Schwarzschild, and they struggled, even if their books sold quite well, to convince the broader public and the government that the Nazis meant what they said.49 Kolnai not only showed that the Nazis did indeed take race seriously and traced the intellectual origins of the race idea but also moved the discussion away from anthropological considerations of whether or not the Jews constituted a racial group – a discussion that quite missed the point about the power of the race idea as such – to show instead that race, for the Nazis, was a feeling, a generator for the Volksgemeinschaft. Indeed, the fact that ‘race’ had multiple meanings and evaded description, the fact that it was both ‘scientific’ and quite unamenable to being captured by scientific practice, was precisely, Kolnai understood, the source of its potency. When, in 1939, Kolnai spoke at the LBC’s summer school, the talk he gave condensed the argument of The War against the West and sharpened his claims about the necessity of responding seriously to Nazism. The abbreviated version of the book’s argument that one finds in this speech is perhaps the clearest statement of

42  Aurel Kolnai’s The War against the West

Kolnai’s views on the way in which Nazism needed to be tackled. Once again, his estimation of Nazism’s qualities is startling: [T]here is an experience of freedom present in the fascist system and in the mental state of its subjects: though it be the extreme opposite of what we are accustomed to understand by freedom. It is the sense of an unlimited Power in which the subject is supposed to ‘participate’ in a mystical way, as it were: through patriotic loyalty, kinship of ‘kind’ as contrasted to ‘alien kind’, through the very fact of his absolute, total subjection.50 And he argued that it is a mistake to conceive of fascism as being merely destructive since, were that the case, ‘it would be far less dangerous.’51 As in The War against the West, Kolnai argued here that Nazism’s central position was the replacement of ethics with ‘an anthropology fraught with the idea of value.’52 His message was stark: it was no good merely condemning Nazism, as if that alone would defeat it. It was necessary to enter its thought processes, to understand its affective force and appeal. His call to action is still challenging. Few thinkers have had the stomach to follow Kolnai, for fear of lending too much credence to the thing they seek to destroy. But he paved the way for a philosophical understanding of Nazism that remains as yet unfulfilled.

Kolnai’s contribution After the war, Gollancz received hundreds of letters from admirers, convinced that the LBC had helped bring about the Labour Party’s victory. As one member from Leeds wrote, ‘Along with thousands of others I am grateful for the extraordinary work of political education you have carried out during the last ten years, which contributed, I am sure, to the results of the General Election.’53 Kolnai’s contribution to this outcome was, if not as directly ‘political’ as the books of G. D. H. Cole, John Strachey or Wal Hannington, crucial in turning the LBC’s members away from the anti-war camp and thus hardening the anti-Nazi resolve in Britain. As he himself put it with admirable reserve, ‘I have published “The War Against the West”, which has earned a certain reputation in the English-speaking world, and am therefore not a wholly nondescript unit.’54 Kolnai became a Cold Warrior after 1945, devoting much of his time to fighting communism. He enjoyed the atmosphere in Franco’s Spain, which he visited several times and where he would have liked to have lived, and published articles that developed the links with Distributism and conservatism that he had cultivated in the 1920s and 1930s.55 He argued, in an analysis of Nazism, communism and ‘Progressive Democracy’ – the three threats to a stable and free society – that communism was ‘the absolute, classic and insuperable type of totalitarianism proper.’56 The inclusion of Progressive Democracy in this trio of ideologies shows that Kolnai saw liberalism unhindered by transcendental bonds of religion as just as dangerous as fascism.

Aurel Kolnai’s The War against the West  43

In his memoirs, he continued to acknowledge Nazism’s ‘unique evilness’ but also maintained that, although he ‘was happy to have my book published by Mr Gollancz’, he had ‘failed to understand, then, that the elemental destruction of civilization and of man’s unbiased and many-sided sense of value, as wrought by Communism, was not and could not be equalled by any kind of Fascism’. He believed that at the time, under the shock of Nazism, he had been under the illusion that ‘ “anti-Fascism” must needs imply a resolute Leftism (short of Communism) as its foundation and operational frame.’57 In reality, he now thought that ‘not only was there greater moral weight in combating Fascism on conservative grounds, even “anti-Fascism” as such made us miss the special edge of Naziism.’58 He did not imagine for a moment that it had not been necessary to destroy Nazism, but, writing in the mid-1950s, it now seemed to Kolnai that ‘Communism is incomparably more evil than Naziism, which by contrast might be described as a benign and anodyne affair, a merely skin-deep perturbation of the social order.’59 No wonder that his writings today inspire the kind of neoliberal critiques that take such thinkers as Friedrich Hayek as their guides. Kolnai was indeed no typical LBC author; in 1938 his book was all the better for that.

Notes 1 Some of the material in this chapter is taken from Dan Stone, Responses to Nazism in Britain 1933–1939: Before War and Holocaust, 2nd edn (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), ch1. 2 Victor Gollancz, ‘The Most Important Book the Club Has Issued’, Left News, 25 (1938), 790–791; George Orwell, ‘Review of The Totalitarian Enemy by F. Borkenau’, Time and Tide (4 May 1940), 484; reprinted in Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus (eds.), The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell. Vol. 2: My Country Right or Left 1940–1943 (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970), 40. 3 On Personalism, see John Hellman, ‘From the Söhlbergkreis to Vichy’s Elite Schools: The Rise of the Personalists’, in Zeev Sternhell (ed.), The Intellectual Revolt against Liberal Democracy 1870–1945 (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1996), 252–265. John Strachey was the author of The Menace of Fascism (London: Victor Gollancz, 1933) and Harald Joseph Laski of Democracy in Crisis (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1933). 4 Aurel Kolnai, The War against the West (London: Victor Gollancz, 1938), 518. 5 All reviews cited in Aurel Kolnai, Twentieth-Century Memoirs (1952–55), Kings College London, Archives, MV29/8, 84. 6 Kolnai’s friend and correspondent Irene Grant, whom he had got to know in Vienna, was involved in the English Christian Socialist revival. See Francis Dunlop, The Life and Thought of Aurel Kolnai (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002), 131. 7 Kolnai to Irene Grant, 11 December 1934 (Kolnai Papers, University of St. Andrews). Manuscripts belonging to Kolnai were seen by the author when they were in the personal possession of Professor Francis Dunlop, University of East Anglia. They are now archived at the University of St. Andrews. See also Kolnai’s letter to Grant of 16 January 1935 (Kolnai Papers), expressing his amusement at becoming a British taxpayer following receipt of an advance from Gollancz (cf. Dunlop, Life and Thought, 146). 8 Kolnai to Elizabeth Gémes, 20 March 1936 (Kolnai Papers, University of St. Andrews). 9 Cited in Dunlop, Life and Thought, 145. 10 I use the term advisedly. In his fascinating article on disgust (1929), Kolnai argued that it arises from the proximity of an object that simultaneously terrifies and allures us,

44  Aurel Kolnai’s The War against the West

disturbing one’s being. Among the symptoms of ‘ethical disgust’ Kolnai lists Lebensplus (extra-vitality), which, he says, often implies a ‘decay of moral substance’. See Kolnai, ‘Der Ekel’, Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung, 10 (1929), 515–569; Dunlop, Life and Thought, 123–125. 11 Kolnai, War against the West, 57. 12 Kolnai, War against the West, 18. 13 Kolnai, War against the West, 34. 14 Kolnai, War against the West, 36. 15 Dunlop, Life and Thought, 137. 16 Aurel Kolnai, ‘Die Credo der neuen Barbaren’, Der Österreichische Volkswirt, 24 (3 September 1932), 1174. 17 For recent reappraisals of anti-fascism, see Hugo García, Mercedes Yusta, Xavier Tabet and Cristina Clímaco (eds.), Rethinking Antifascism: History, Memory and Politics 1922 to the Present (New York: Berghahn Books, 2016); Kasper Braskén, The International Workers’ Relief, Communism, and Transnational Solidarity: Willi Münzenberg in Weimar Germany (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015); Kasper Braskén, Nigel Copsey and David Featherstone (eds.), Anti-Fascism in a Global Perspective: Transnational Networks, Exile Communities, and Radical Internationalism (London: Routledge, 2021). 18 Aurel Kolnai, ‘Pacifism Means Suicide’, The Nation (21 January 1939), 88. 19 Aurel Kolnai, ‘The Pivotal Principles of NS Ideology’, Kolnai Papers, University of St. Andrews, handwritten MS. 20 Kolnai, War against the West, 637. 21 Kolnai, ‘The Pivotal Principles of NS Ideology’, 3. Should one be reminded here of Heidegger’s infamous statement concerning the ‘inner greatness’ of the National Socialist movement, one should note Kolnai’s article, written under the pseudonym Dr. A. von Helsing, ‘Heidegger und der Nationalsozialismus’, Der Christliche Ständestaat (17 June  1934), 5–7, in which he accuses Heidegger of being ‘a prophet, visionary and inspiration of the Third Reich’ (5). 22 Orwell, ‘Review of The Totalitarian Enemy by F. Borkenau’, 40. 23 Kolnai, Twentieth-Century Memoirs, 10. For analyses of these different sorts of anti-fascism in Britain, see Nigel Copsey and Andrzej Olechnowicz (eds.), Varieties of Anti-Fascism: Britain in the Inter-War Period (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); Daniel Tilles, British Fascist Antisemitism and Jewish Responses, 1932–40 (London: Bloomsbury, 2015). 24 Here Kolnai recalls John Dewey, who, in his ‘The Ethics of Democracy’ (1888), argued that democracy ‘means that personality is the first and final reality’ (199). Dewey’s essay is reprinted in Louis Menand (ed.), Pragmatism: A Reader (New York: Viking Books, 1997), 182–204. 25 Kolnai, War against the West, 65. 26 Kolnai, War against the West, 636–637. 27 Kolnai, War against the West, 480. 28 Kolnai, War against the West, 483, emphasis in original. Cf. Dominick LaCapra, Writing History, Writing Trauma (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001). 29 Kolnai, War against the West, 478. 30 Kolnai, War against the West, 495. 31 Kolnai, War against the West, 511. 32 Kolnai, War against the West, 501. 33 Kolnai, War against the West, 511. 34 Kolnai, War against the West, 511. 35 Kolnai, War against the West, 585, emphasis in original. See also Kolnai, ‘Der Sinn des Rassenwahnes’, Der Österreichische Volkswirt (17 March  1934) for a similar argument: ‘When the interest of the Volk demands it, Shakespeare and Rabelais can be German, Haeckel or Ebert un-German, Hungarians Aryans, the Japanese Europeans, the Jews Asiatics, and Jesus of Nazareth Germanic’ (539). 36 Kolnai, War against the West, 477–478.

Aurel Kolnai’s The War against the West  45

3 7 See my discussion in Stone, Responses to Nazism, 83–92. 38 E. O. Lorimer, What Hitler Wants (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1939), 49. On Lorimer, see Dan Stone, ‘The “Mein Kampf Ramp”: Emily Overend Lorimer and Hitler Translations in Britain’, German History, 26:4 (2008), 504–519. 39 Lorimer, What Hitler Wants, 58. 40 The Brown Book of the Hitler Terror and the Burning of the Reichstag (London: Victor Gollancz, 1933); The Yellow Spot: The Extermination of the Jews in Germany (London: Victor Gollancz, 1936). See also Joint Foreign Committee of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Anglo-Jewish Association, The Persecution of the Jews in Germany (London: Joint Foreign Committee of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Anglo-Jewish Association, 1933). 41 Gustav Otto Warburg, Six Years of Hitler: The Jews under the Nazi Regime (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1939), 14; Joseph King, The German Revolution: Its Meaning and Menace (London: Williams & Norgate, 1933), 128. 42 Otto Dov Kulka, ‘Major Trends and Tendencies in German Historiography on National Socialism and the “Jewish Question” (1924–1984)’, in Michael Marrus (ed.), The Nazi Holocaust: Historical Articles on the Destruction of European Jews. Volume 1: Perspectives on the Holocaust (Westport, CT: Meckler, 1989), 341. 43 Hugh Sellon, Europe at the Crossroads (London: Hutchinson & Co., n.d. [1937]), 179. 44 Sellon, Europe at the Crossroads, 179. In 1940, Sellon became professor of international politics at the University of Reading. 45 See Peter Lassman, ‘Responses to Fascism in Britain, 1930–1945: The Emergence of the Concept of Totalitarianism’, in Stephen P. Turner and Dirk Käsler (eds.), Sociology Responds to Fascism (London: Routledge, 1992), 214–240. 46 See, for example, Ivan Lajos, Germany’s War Chances as Pictured in German Official Literature (London: Victor Gollancz, 1939); William M. McGovern, From Luther to Hitler: The History of Fascist-Nazi Political Philosophy (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1941). For a more sophisticated version of this argument, see Rohan D’O. Butler, The Roots of National Socialism (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1942). On opposition, see Heinrich Fraenkel, The German People versus Hitler (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1940); René Kraus, Europe in Revolt (London: Jarrolds, 1943). 47 For example, Wolfgang Langhoff, Rubber Truncheon: Being an Account of Thirteen Months Spent in a Concentration Camp (London: Constable & Co., 1938); Stefan Lorant, I Was Hitler’s Prisoner: Leaves from a Prison Diary (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1939); G. R. Kay, Dachau: The Nazi Hell: From the Notes of a Former Prisoner at the Notorious Nazi Concentration Camp (London: Francis Aldor, 1939); Bruno Heilig, Men Crucified (London: The Right Book Club, 1942). See Dan Stone, Concentration Camps: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019), ch3 for further discussion. 48 Bartlett was the author of Nazi Germany Explained (London: Victor Gollancz, 1933) and Dell of Germany Unmasked (London: Martin Hopkinson, 1934). See Stone, Responses to Nazism, 106–107. 49 See F. Borkenau, The New German Empire (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1939); Sebastian Haffner, Germany: Jekyll and Hyde (London: Secker & Warburg, 1940); Leopold Schwarzschild, World in Trance (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1943). 50 Kolnai, ‘The Pivotal Principles of NS Ideology’, 1. 51 Kolnai, ‘The Pivotal Principles of NS Ideology’, 3. 52 Kolnai, ‘The Pivotal Principles of NS Ideology’, 4. 53 Kenneth Muir, Letter to Gollancz, 12 September 1946, University of Warwick, Modern Records Centre, Gollancz Archive, MSS157/3/LB/1/61. 54 Aurel Kolnai, Letter to Irene Grant, 16 January 1939 (Kolnai Papers, University of St. Andrews). 55 Dunlop, Life and Thought, 249. It is important to note that earlier Kolnai had written, in a rather different vein, that ‘it does make a slight difference who “wins” and who “loses” the [Spanish civil] war’ (‘Pacifism Means Suicide’, 87). On Distributism, see, for

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example, Kolnai, ‘Bellocs Vision vom Sklavenstaat: Wirkungen des Kapitalismus – Wege zu seiner Überwindung’, Schönere Zukunft? 4:6 (4 November 1928), 116–118; ‘G. K. Chesterton’, Der Christliche Ständestaat, (28 June 1936), 619–621. 56 Aurel Kolnai, ‘Three Riders of Apocalypse: Communism, Naziism and Progressive Democracy’, Appraisal, 2:1 (1998 [1950]), 7. See also Kolnai, ‘Notes sur l’utopie réactionnaire’, Cité libre (Montreal), 13 (1955), 9–20; ‘La mentalité utopienne’, La table ronde (September  1960),  62–84. Borkenau too became a Cold Warrior, though this is less surprising in an ex-communist; see his European Communism (London: Faber & Faber, 1953). 57 Kolnai, Twentieth-Century Memoirs, 72–73. 58 Kolnai, Twentieth-Century Memoirs, 77. 59 Kolnai, Twentieth-Century Memoirs, 82.


According to Nazi philosopher Ernst Krieck: We have learned from Chamberlain’s and especially from the Führer’s teachings that the verification of the existence of race, and perhaps of existence in general, does not require artificial scientific tools. . . . The fact of the existence of race is not doubtful, because man carries it in his heart, his spirit, his soul, or because man wants race to become a fact.1 Statements such as this alert to the indisputable fact that the Third Reich was a racial state. But of what sort? The dominant historiographical paradigm of the last two decades – since the gradual displacement of the structuralist explanation – has been the ‘return of ideology’ to the study of Nazism and the Holocaust. This paradigm has had spectacular results, reminding us that ideology was no secondary concern for the Nazis, to be espoused merely for rhetorical effect or to facilitate social mobilization. Rather, the seriousness with which the Nazis dedicated themselves to building their new Volksgemeinschaft (racial community) and the eagerness with which many Germans subscribed to the project have been all too clearly illuminated by this research. We have seen that in the case of the war in Poland and, especially, in the Soviet Union, the ideology of the ‘war of annihilation’ was the necessary counterpart to the Volksgemeinschaft, for the killing of the Reich’s enemies in ‘the East’ went hand in hand with the creation of a comfortable feeling of belonging at home.2 Whether one looks at SS indoctrination programmes, regional studies of the Holocaust, the history of ghettos and ghettoization, Nazi culture, the internal structure of the Third Reich, local and regional administration, the development of the concentration camp system, education and schooling under Nazism, racial science and Judenforschung (research into the Jews, a significant academic field in the Third Reich) or Täterforschung (perpetrator research) broadly

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conceived, to name just some of the many flourishing research areas, ideology is now widely regarded as central to any explanation of the nature of the Third Reich and its crimes. To be sure, there are some objections. Some historians challenge the so-called voluntaristic turn, which conceives of the Third Reich less as a terror state and more as a consensus dictatorship, for overlooking the spheres of German society which Nazism found it hard to penetrate and for downplaying the role of terror.3 (Few would dispute, however, that recent scholarship on popular adherence and allegiance has exploded some of the myths of duress or mere fellow-travellership prevalent in the postwar Germanies.) In the case of the recent literature on the Volksgemeinschaft, much of which has yet to find its way into English, the concept’s ability to contribute to historical understanding is also being questioned. Historians do not object to the argument that the Nazis wanted to create such an ethnic community, which would overcome the cleavages of class, religion and region amongst Germans, but they do think that it is important not to exaggerate the extent to which the Nazis actually achieved this goal. Ian Kershaw, for example, suggests that great care must be taken when talking of the Nazis’ Volksgemeinschaft, not to lend the regime a coherence that in actuality it lacked, for this would be to fall prey to Nazi propaganda and Nazi dreams and visions.4 Citing well-known, representative memoirs, such as Melita Maschmann’s, on the appeal of the racial community, should not obscure the fact that the Volksgemeinschaft never existed in the way she and others dreamed of.5 Still, there is no going back to the comforting vision of a terrorized German population brutalized by a vicious, conspiratorial elite with the aid of their ubiquitous and single-minded Gestapo secret police network. Too many historians writing in too many different ways – whether from the standpoint of German moral life or the linking of mass murder and home front comforts6 – have brought to light the true extent of popular support for the Reich and its ambition to create a Volksgemeinschaft. Even when we acknowledge that the Nazis could not entirely overcome existing class and religious divisions, or that some sections of the population remained more or less impervious to the attractions of the Volksgemeinschaft, or, most pertinent to this discussion, the fact that racial science and völkisch thought were far from synonymous, the general picture of a willing population is clear. No topic better illustrates the gains and limits of the ‘return of ideology’ paradigm than the literature on ‘race’. Thanks to the sorts of studies mentioned earlier, scholars now paint a picture of the Third Reich as a society imbued with racial thinking, in which every area of life, from schooling to sport, from charity and leisure, from religion to the army, was dominated by race thinking and reorganized along racial lines. The very notion of the Volksgemeinschaft presupposes a definition of the Volk to which people could willingly subscribe. And this implies that some variety of race thinking – but not necessarily one based on science – lay at the heart of the Third Reich. The starting point for this chapter is a recognition of the gains that have been made by understanding the Third Reich in racial terms. Even with all the

Race science, race mysticism, racial state  49

scholarship of the last two decades, the vast amount of racially inspired literature and research produced by the Third Reich is still being uncovered, whether (for example) with respect to the complicity of academic historians with the regime or the ways in which art exhibitions, music or poetry were supposed to represent the revivified, authentic Germanic impulse.7 But I will go on to suggest that one result of all this scholarship is that the limits of the racial paradigm are now clear. In particular, I will suggest that whilst it remains imperative to see the Third Reich as a ‘racial state’, we need to distinguish two different registers of race thinking: race science, on the one hand, and race mysticism or simply ‘race thinking’, on the other. The emphasis on the former in the literature results from the notion of Nazism as ‘modern’ and the assumption that race mysticism is somehow atavistic, when in fact it too is a symptom of modernity. That emphasis on racial science has the consequence too of making the Nazi regime and its intellectual legitimizers appear far more coherent and consistent than was actually the case. Furthermore, by drawing this distinction between race science and race mysticism, we can see that in each case race on its own is insufficient as an explanation for the crimes committed by the Third Reich or, by extension (as I discuss in the second part of the chapter), for genocide elsewhere. Irrespective of the extent to which actions and policies are driven by race thinking  – and the Third Reich is the clearest example of this phenomenon – neither race science nor race mysticism operates in a vacuum. They must be set to work and made intelligible by their advocates in particular historical contexts. Race science may be intrinsically fascinating as a historical phenomenon, but as an explanation of the internal structure of the Third Reich – not to say of the Holocaust – it is too neat and tidy. Where the modernity argument associated with Götz Aly, Susanne Heim, Detlev Peukert or Zygmunt Bauman was originally the more politically radical (with its implied attack on the ‘surveillant’ or ‘disciplinary’ state; by contrast, the earlier, Nuremberg-inspired ‘Nazism as aberration’ thesis suggested a need for more Enlightenment and restricted the spread of guilt in Germany to the Nazi leadership), over time it has become more conservative in its implications: Nazism as a form of or mutated version of Darwinism or of modern science becomes an indictment of biological science or Enlightenment aspirations per se and/or potentially a defence of counter-rational thinking. This is a worrying trend, because the sources of Nazism ultimately lay in non-rational fantasies about the world, which took on a modern flavour because of the ways in which they were mixed up with and legitimized by a scientific vocabulary and, more significantly, the collaboration of scientists with the Nazi regime. In particular, the notion that Nazi racism followed logically from Darwinism stems from a very presentist concern that genetic engineering is ‘playing God’ and implies that the dangers thrown up by twenty-first-century genetics far outweigh any potential medical benefits. Hitler undoubtedly drew on social Darwinism to support his beliefs in racial struggle and the need for selection to maintain and improve the Aryan race, but the genocide of the Jews was less an expression of evolutionary ethics – the pursuit of evolutionary progress in biological terms understood as the elimination

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of a racially polluting enemy – than the attempt to rescue the Aryan race from the political threat of the international Jewish conspiracy. This conspiracy involved the use, as the Nazis saw it, of miscegenation and the promotion of anything that furthered Aryan racial degeneration (such as jazz or modern art), but the belief in that conspiracy, whatever may have been the means with which it was combated, did not derive from science in the strict sense.8 Raphael Gross, for example, argues that many authors have pointed out that ‘the essence of National Socialist ideology lay in its attempt to biologize the social’; but, he adds, an explanation of the fact that these biological concepts are bound up with moral categories and that this is how they acquire their aggressive character is seldom offered.9 What these points add up to is a need to distinguish between race science and race mysticism. Both registers were at work in Nazi Germany, and the former was ultimately dependent upon the existence of the latter. The Third Reich was a racial state, but one that was not driven primarily by ‘rational’ scientific calculations about racial belonging or the (mis)application of vulgar Darwinian notions of struggle and selection, except in the loosest (metaphorical) sense. Rather, Nazi race science was placed at the service of a fundamentally mystical or ‘non-rational’ idea, one that really owed nothing to science: the idea of an Aryan salvation history that understood History as the clash of Aryan and non-Aryan forces. This sort of vulgar Nazism, as Mark Roseman reminds us in relation to Nazi views of the Jewish threat, is not reducible to the question of race: ‘Though the language continued to be racial, the real force of the argument was of a particularly insidious foreign power.’10 Besides, Nazi race theorists and other scientists often condemned Darwinism for being intellectual, mechanistic and too far removed from the life of the Volk. The botanist Ernst Bergdolt, for example, ‘accused Darwinism of liberal and Jewish influences.’11 As Christopher Hutton states, in his detailed survey of the links and differences between racial science, genetics, linguistics and psychology under the Third Reich and the Nazi regime, ‘The fact that Nazi ideology made foundational use of Darwinism should not be understood as implying any simplistic equation of the two.’12 Very helpful articles by David Lindenfeld and Alan Beyerchen make the point clearly and in a way that will guide this essay. ‘To be sure’, writes Lindenfeld, ‘the execution of the Holocaust required massive amounts of planning and organization on the parts of the state and parts of the private sector as well. But this was pursuant to decision that had been made by other, nonrational means.’13 Or, as Beyerchen notes, ‘[m]eans were certainly open to suggestions, measures of efficiency, and participation by specialists, professionals, academics, and other rationally motivated experts’, but this indictment of Germany’s professional elite for their complicity with Nazi genocide should not obscure the fact that they were not the ones who decided on ends. These were the products of the leading Nazis’ ‘aesthetic-cultic’ vision of Aryan salvation through the two-pronged strategy of eliminating racial enemies, especially the Jews, and the creation of a Volksgemeinschaft.14 I  suggest, following Lindenfeld and Beyerchen, that historians need to replace race mysticism at the heart of Nazism and the Third Reich instead of race science; doing so,

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I suggest, maintains the significance of ‘race’ as a category for understanding the Third Reich but does not succumb to the danger, identified by Mark Roseman, of ‘obscuring the popular, the national and the social by the biological.’15 Making this distinction also allows us to see more clearly that because race was not as coherent as the Nazis wanted it to be; it cannot function for us as an explanation sui generis for Nazi genocide; rather, for all its power, race in Nazi Germany needed a wider set of social, political and institutional backers to make it popular, seductive and powerful. Among these broader settings we could include varieties of group thinking other than racial – nationalist, ethnic or religious, all of which mobilized Germans just as powerfully as did race. A few examples will suffice to show that ‘race’ and ‘Volk’ were different, that race science and race mysticism did not add up to a coherent and logical body of thought and that non-biological varieties of group thinking played a role at least as significant as race in Nazi Germany. Perhaps the most famous and bestloved of the popularizers of race science was Hans F. K. Günther (known as ‘der Rassen-Günther’ to distinguish him from the many others with the same common surname). In his Kleine Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes (first edition 1929), Günther plainly stated that all Western nations were racially mixed and that what distinguished them was ‘not the race as such, but the proportion in which the races are mixed.’ He then went on, apparently without seeing any contradiction, to explain in detail the racial characteristics of the Nordic race, a combination of noble physical and moral features, not least ‘a pronouncedly heroic disposition’ and ‘a transcendent leadership in statesmanship or creativity in technology, science and art.’16 Walter Gross, the head of the NSDAP’s Rassenpolitisches Amt (Office of Racial Policy), provided guidance in a circular of 24 October 1934 to regional racial-policy offices, stressing the need for consistency in racial thinking when dealing with outsiders who question Nazi racial thinking. Interesting here is his remark in a speech to alte Kämpfer (‘old fighters’) who had little time for academic debate that ‘[e]ven though the rightness of our racial ideas is absolutely clear to us without additional scientific proof, such proof is indispensable in our struggle against those who oppose racial values.’ That is to say, proof of racial theory would only be required for nay-sayers, not for those who already believed. What Gross stressed in this instance was the need not to use the term ‘German race’ because, as Günther had established, the Germans were racially mixed. Instead, one should use the term ‘German Volk.’17 Gross saw his role as mediating between the world of ‘science’ and that of ‘ideology’ and understood the education of the German people to be the best way of bringing about a practical reconciliation between the scientists’ understanding of genetics and the Nazis’ Weltanschauung.18 From the party’s point of view, as long as that did not threaten the dominance of Nazi ideology, this approach was acceptable. Where applied science could serve the regime best by adhering to and performing well according to international norms, the ‘disciplines of Volk’ would be ‘under the tutelage of the NSDAP.’19 Hence, once it became clear that there was no scientific proof of Jewishness, once, as Koonz puts it, ‘[n]o blood type, odor, foot- or fingerprint pattern, skull size, ear lobe or nose shape, or any other

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physiological marker of Jewishness withstood scrutiny’, the party focused instead on Jews’ cultural traits in its propaganda – which were supposedly racially given – and encouraged race theorists to focus as much on intuition as on observation.20 Intuition, of course, is not a recognized scientific method. Naturally, one can reasonably argue that because these two examples come from popularizers of race science, they do not represent the contribution of race scientists to the Nazi regime. But precisely their status as popularizers is what is important here. As Hutton notes of Günther, whilst his ‘aestheticizing racial anthropology’ was ‘fundamental to Nazi images at the level of propaganda, it was inadequate as a basis for a science of race.’ Racial anthropology as practiced by academic scientists separated from ‘popular race propaganda’, with writers such as Günther and Gross acting as mediators.21 Besides, when one examines race science, one quickly runs up against a similar fundamental problem: for all the genuine scientific research and for all that the race scientists were located in prestigious, world-famous institutions such as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society’s various institutes, there is a gulf between the way in which their research was conducted and the presuppositions that underpinned it. Certainly genetic, biometric and physical anthropological experiments and measurements were carried out in order to try and establish the racial origins of different populations groups under Nazi control. But these were underpinned by a non-rational belief in the existence of and the possibility of distinguishing between races, in particular the possibility of isolating and defining scientifically a Jewish race. That race had already been separated by a moral outlook which decreed that ‘the Jew’ was a menace to ‘the Aryan’. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer, for example, one of Nazi Germany’s foremost geneticists and race scientists, may have been held in high regard across the world for his work on, among other things, hereditary disposition to tuberculosis, but his rabid Jew-hatred was not based on scientific methodology or research. As Eric Ehrenreich demonstrates, ‘there is compelling evidence that the theories that proponents used to rationalize Nazi racial, and especially anti-Jewish, policies were clearly not “scientific” in any meaningful sense, even as the term was then understood.’22 Indeed, like Eugen Fischer and his student Josef Mengele, and like Günther, Gross and many others, Verschuer had to abandon scientific methodology in order to make his claims about Jews’ racial characteristics, for these were not supported by scientific evidence. I draw this distinction between race science and race mysticism in order to show that the coherent image of the Third Reich painted by scholars who focus solely on one or the other is unwarranted. Especially in the historiography of race science, there is a tendency for scholars to assume that the internal coherence of the race scientists’ world corresponded seamlessly with the norms underpinning wider society. If one examines race science and the dominance of a social Darwinist standpoint under Nazism, it seems logical that there was a straight line running from the sterilization law of July 1933 to the Nuremberg Laws of September 1935 and thence to the T4 euthanasia programme of 1939–1940 and to the murder of asylum inmates in occupied Poland and the USSR, and finally to the murder of the Jews in what has become known as the Holocaust. The latter is then seen as

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the logical conclusion of the Nazis’ eugenic vision; beginning with the removal of racially degenerate Aryans and the attempt to encourage the racially fit to breed, the eugenic logic of the cleansing programme became more and more radical – particularly under war conditions  – and culminated in the elimination of racial enemies, Roma, Poles and Soviet POWs, and especially Jews.23 But this image is false. There is first of all a methodological fallacy at work: studying the sources relating to race science gives the impression that the Nazi racial legislation and the Holocaust emerged logically from the writings and activities of race scientists and physical anthropologists.24 The latter most certainly had a major impact on the Nazi regime, helping to spread the word through advising ‘hereditary courts’, creating propaganda films and offering medical advice about the cost to the Volksgemeinschaft of supporting the disabled, for example, and thus justifying their ‘removal’. More importantly, their activities helped to create a community of Aryans who complied with the regime’s requirement that they acquire an Ahnenpass (an ID card showing ‘ancestral proof ’) in order to access state services and, in general, to document their membership in the Volksgemeinschaft.25 Yet the sources, without wider contextualization, might not provide the whole story. Informative though such research into racial science often is, it cannot even account for the murder of the disabled, which might appear prima facie to have derived from racial science; nor can it account for the genocide of the Jews.26 The decision-making process for those programmes cannot be reconstructed from the works of the race scientists alone. They served the Nazi state, but they did not direct it. As Robert Proctor notes, ‘The Nazis supported anthropology – but perhaps only because so many anthropologists were so eager and willing to support the Nazis.’27 It was not necessary to be an anthropologist or a physician to send women, children and old people to the gas chambers in Birkenau.28 And most crucially, whilst the anthropologists and doctors certainly threw in their lot with the Nazi regime most enthusiastically – what is said here is in no sense meant to whitewash their crimes – the key decisions regarding the murder of asylum patients and Jews were made by Hitler, Himmler, Heydrich, other leading Nazis and the SS, a fact that is inexplicably often overlooked in much of the literature on race science in the Third Reich. What these various claims suggest is that the monolithic ubiquity of the racial state paradigm needs to be unpacked. The point is not that race was unimportant to the Third Reich but that it was too important to be left to the race scientists. Like antisemitism, which has been described as a ‘moving target’, race was a floating signifier, a master concept that could be used in any number of different ways depending on the context.29 Hence the Nazi regime valued simplicity; academics who spent too much time trying to ascertain the percentage of Dinaric, Alpine or Mediterranean stock that contributed to the German Volk’s racial make-up were likely to find themselves not the recipients of research funding but at best ignored, and at worst ordered to cease their research. The Nazi regime  – as opposed to individual Nazis, many of whom took a ‘philosophical’ interest in such matters – was not interested in academic racial scientists’ attempts to provide scientifically precise definitions of race but wanted the race scientists to confirm the regime’s

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basic, simple, repeatable point about the supremacy and vitality of the German Volk.30 Race, then, meant political paranoia as much as it meant skull shape and blood groups. The persecution of the Jews, though certainly framed in racial terms, resulted less from the diagnosis of the Jews as an inferior or degenerate race, and more from their identification as a dangerous, polluting race, whose deviousness threatened the purity and success of the Aryans. Jews’ characteristics were racialized, that is, understood as immutable and hereditary; combating them was a duty understood by the Nazis in social Darwinist terms as the struggle of the fittest to survive. But the identification of the Jews as a racial group and the belief in the need to fight their supposedly deleterious influence stemmed not from race science but from a mystical race thinking that postulated the Jewish conspiracy to overthrow Aryan purity, whether through capitalism, communism, degenerate art and music, the liberal press and the arts, humanist ethics or race mixing.31 Race science was drafted in to lend this preposterous theory credibility, not the other way round. Hence, we need to go beyond the notion of the racial state understood as a coherent monolith dominated and directed by racial science and to replace it with a more complex view of a society mixing long-established norms and moral values with revolutionary aspects of the Nazi worldview, in which new institutions co-existed uneasily with older ones, and in which the language of race and racial struggle gradually seeped into every area of life, but in a promiscuous, fast-shifting and mobile way. * These claims can best be understood by situating the Third Reich in a wider context. It is obviously the case that, as a racial state, the Third Reich was more radical than other European states, for nowhere else was race made the basis of state policy in the same, all-embracing way. However, this fact did not preclude the successful rise to prominence of völkisch, ultranationalist, racist movements elsewhere in Europe, and it certainly did not prevent many other states from participating in national ‘cleansing’ projects. In particular, many states tied themselves into or made themselves indispensable to the Nazis’ murder of the Jews, and some, under the umbrella of Nazi-directed criminality, also used the opportunity to eradicate national minorities and other traditional ‘enemies’, such as Roma and Serbs in the Yugoslav territories under control of the Independent State of Croatia.32 But race in these instances was rarely the main driving force, and race science specifically was of limited import. A more diffuse notion of race thinking, however, certainly has some purchase here. And more important still are non-biological varieties of exclusivist group identities; if in Nazi Germany, where race thinking was ubiquitous, one has to take account of völkisch, nationalist and other forms of group belonging instead of just seeing everything as being situated in the domain of race science, in other genocidal contexts we see very clearly that even where social distinctions were racialized, non-biological group distinctions played a greater role in energizing eliminatory ambitions than did race in the narrow sense of race science or a

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biologization of the social. What recent research shows is that race thinking needs to be seen as but one part of radical nationalist (and sometimes trans-nationalist) thinking in which the articulation and performance of racial thought are driven by factors and forces that have little to do with the inner logics of race thinking itself.33 Although comparative history is hardly a recent invention, and although the notion of the Holocaust’s uniqueness is no longer the subject of heated debate in academia in the way it was in the West German Historikerstreit of the mid-1980s, the attempt to situate Nazism in general and the Holocaust in particular into a broader context has, of late, become newly controversial. This time, in the different setting of the discipline of ‘genocide studies’, scholars have set out to show that Nazism emerged in the context of the collapse of the European empires and the violence that characterized the successor states of Central Europe and that the Holocaust should not be understood only as an internal problem of the Third Reich but, on the one hand, as part of a Euro-Asian history of ethnic and nationalist violence that dates back at least fifty years prior to Hitler’s accession to power, and, on the other hand (to the extent that these strands are separable), as related to the history of the violence that accompanied European overseas colonialism and imperialism.34 In this narrative of the widespread turn to violence in modern European history, race thinking is only one explanatory strand. On the one hand, the argument suggests a less prominent role for race thinking than might be the case if one examines Nazi Germany on its own or if one’s focus is solely on an institutional history of race science institutions, publications or ideas. On the other hand, the widespread complicity of scientists with ethnonationalist projects has emerged more clearly. We know now that race scientists accompanied and encouraged national cleansing projects throughout Europe.35 Thus, even if the idea of the racial state is too simplistic for understanding the turn to authoritarian ethnocracies across Europe in the interwar years, a transnational race thinking that posited a more mystical notion of racial struggle and national renewal as intertwined played a significant role in fuelling this process. Like fascism, then, race thinking and particular related manifestations of it, such as the eugenics movement, should be seen as transnational movements.36 To give one example: in Romania in the early twentieth century, ‘race’ in a rather diffuse sense played a role in spreading a ‘revolutionary ethos’ against ‘modern’ institutions and liberal ethics and in contributing to nationalists’ advocacy of the elimination of non-Romanian, especially Jewish elements in the population.37 Romanian race scientists often found themselves at odds with these ethnonationalist accounts of Romania’s Dacian roots.38 Nevertheless, when it came to eugenic sterilization, such measures could be justified both in terms of the scientific campaign against ‘undesirables’ and in terms of the political discourse that aimed at ‘the political engineering of a biologically defined community.’39 During World War II, the eugenicist Iordache Facaoaru, following his mentor Iuliu Moldovan at the Institute of Hygiene and Public Health in Cluj, advocated compulsory sterilizations based not on notions of Romanian racial purity (which they rejected) but on reversing the putative threat of racial degeneration.40 In Transnistria, the area of Ukraine

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occupied by (though not fully incorporated into) Romania during the war (including the city of Odessa), anthropologists sought to identify the Romanian essence of the population and took part in the Holocaust in the process. As Marius Turda puts it, there was a clear connection ‘between eugenic discourses of national purification and ideas of ethnic homogeneity’ in Transnistria.41 Although there was neither always nor necessarily a direct correlation between eugenic discourse and radicalright politics,42 the point here is to show that the racial state that was being created in various forms throughout interwar and wartime Europe – not just the German Volksgemeinschaft – was a product not only of science but of far broader political presuppositions and aspirations.43 Race thinking, then, was clearly key to the process of creating ethnocracies in interwar and wartime Europe. But that race thinking should be seen as part of a broader social, cultural and above all political process that emerged out of the great changes in European life that followed World War I. Race here was a social and political driver that could be expressed in scientific terms but that gained purchase the more it was conjoined to political processes that contributed to the forging of new nation-states, such as the eradication of minorities from civil services, universities and the worlds of trade and culture; the creation of ethnically homogeneous middle classes; and the enforcement of linguistic conformity. Focusing only on Germany has tended to encourage overlooking these wider processes. By widening the picture, we see that race thinking was by no means confined to Germany but also that race only took effect as an idea when it furthered social and political change. * If the racial state approach has overstated the coherence of the race idea to the internal social history of the Third Reich, what then accounts for the current centrality of race in the historiography not only of the Third Reich but of the modern world in general, including the histories of eugenics and genocide? The answer is not only a matter of presentist concerns for, as I have argued, race thinking of a certain variety was indeed one element of the makeup of the Nazi state and of others besides. But today, a combination of identity politics, human rights awareness and the prevailing definition of genocide have made ‘race’ in the sense of racial science loom larger in the historical imagination than is warranted by the diversity of factors that contributed to the nature of the Third Reich. By focusing on race at the expense of non-biological forms of group identity such as nationalism, it is also easier to assume that ‘we’ in the civilized world are immune from such ‘crazy’ ways of thinking. Although Holocaust historiography and genocide studies are sometimes perceived as at odds with one another – particular versus universal, or specific versus typologizing  – in fact, the centrality of race to genocide studies, which has increased since a new generation of historians began developing the earlier work

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of political scientists, means that genocide studies is confirming the new consensus within Holocaust history.44 This again brings up the question of whether race is a determining factor of genocide. Whilst no one would gainsay the role played by racialization (in the broad sense of the biologization of the social or more narrowly in the narrowing of identity options) in recent cases of genocide, such as in Cambodia, Bosnia or Rwanda, the notion that either genocidal regimes or whole populations were mobilized solely on the basis of race thinking is somewhat fanciful. What the historiography of Nazi Germany that goes beyond the racial paradigm reveals is that far from being united by race, in fact modern genocides, including the Holocaust, all have exactly the opposite in common: they are all characterized to a greater or lesser extent by race thinking, but it is not this race thinking per se that is significant. Rather, what is noteworthy is that this race thinking is articulated and mobilized when it meshes with the concerns of other varieties of radical, exclusivist group thinking. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge sought to build Democratic Kampuchea on the basis of a range of ideological imperatives, most clearly expressed by Kiernan as the four factors that for him characterize genocide in general: race, religion, expansion and cultivation.45 Whilst certain minority ethnic groups in Cambodia were targeted, especially the Muslim Chams, the Vietnamese and the Chinese, the Khmer Rouge were motivated more by a social Darwinist, ultra-peasantist Maoism than by racial science, which, if they knew of it at all – from Pol Pot’s student days in France, for example – was put through the rice-growing mangle and made the agent of ultra-radical social reorganization. In Bosnia, as John Mueller has shown, the violence was directed by a small, radical leadership and executed by paramilitaries and gangs of violent thugs and common criminals, who were able to exercise a role in society at a moment of crisis that they would normally be unable to enjoy. Mueller may himself understate the role played by longer-term factors in the Wars of Yugoslav Succession, especially competing memories of World War II, which were keenly exploited by all sides. But his basic point, that ethnic warfare derives from ‘banalities’ rather than highfalutin racial theory, is surely right.46 Even in Rwanda, which is the example in which longstanding racial theories and stereotypes, derived from colonial anthropology, played the most obvious role in directing the genocide,47 the radical fracture between Hutus and Tutsis that occurred between the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF)’s invasion of 1990 and the genocide of 1994 was one that had been turned from a social to an ‘ethnic’ question over many decades but that reached crisis point only in the context of other factors. The civil war itself that consumed Rwanda was a long-term consequence of the 1959 revolution, which left several generations of Tutsi refugees outside of Rwanda, so this conflict was a ‘racial’ one from the start. But racial politics needed other crises to become effective, and these occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s, in the context of Rwandan economic decline and constitutional confusion over the introduction of a more democratic polity, and the civil war engendered by the collapse of power sharing and the RPF invasion.

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Nevertheless, for most scholars it is axiomatic that race is central to understanding genocide. This understanding has two important consequences. First, the circumstances in which race theory is mobilized are downplayed, so that race thinking is taken as both a necessary and sufficient explanation for the occurrence of genocide. Second, race thinking is taken to be synonymous with racial science. But are we really thinking of racial science when we call to mind powerful organic notions of the Volk, of Angkar or of Hutu Power? Did not these notions, with their calls to organic purity,48 rely far less on science – though science was welcome to back them up where it could do so – than on a desire for their ethno-political visions and fantasies to become true? Could it be that scholars’ and other commentators’ determination to find racial motives where thuggish ones exist relies too heavily on the perpetrators’ own categories? And, more worryingly, does this procedure of taking the perpetrators literally help to make the perpetration of atrocities easier and persuade the international community that intervention is impossible? John Mueller thinks so: The mistaken – even racist – notion that an entire ethnic group is devotedly out to destroy another ethnic group can in such cases shatter any ability to perceive nuance and variety, and it can be taken to suggest that efforts to foster elite accommodation are essentially irrelevant and therefore bound to prove futile. Further, the all-against-all image can discourage policing because it implies that the entire ethnic group – rather than just a small, opportunistic, and often cowardly subgroup – must be brought under control.49 One cannot simply assume that Mueller’s argument is right, even though his description of a radical genocidal regime backed by armed thugs is an accurate account of Bosnia or Rwanda, and even though it has received the backing of scholars who stress that for genocide to occur one needs not (or not at first) large social movements but a determined leadership group.50 Yet there are many reasons why ‘race’ in the sense of race science is overemphasized in the scholarly literature. One is the science of victimhood that has emerged since the 1960s and the rise of the civil rights movement in the United States. For all its shortcomings – its tendency towards conspiracy theory, most notably – Peter Novick’s explanation of the rise of ‘Holocaust consciousness’ in the United States compellingly shows how an interest in the Holocaust amongst Jews was inculcated by community organizations and how that interest gradually spread more widely across the American population. Second is the emerging human rights agenda, which has developed rapidly since 1968.51 But most important for the scholarly analysis of genocide, the UN Genocide Convention (UNGC) famously specifies that for genocide to occur, there must be the ‘intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.’ Given that the international legal regime on genocide has developed so quickly and influentially since 1999, with the first judgements of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal

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Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the establishment of the International Criminal Court, it is no surprise that scholars have tended towards the ‘racialization’ of their subjects in order for them to meet the criteria of the ‘crime of crimes’.52 None of this is meant to suggest that race per se is unimportant to the perpetration or understanding of genocide. Nor is it meant to suggest that science in general in the Third Reich was nothing other than ‘pseudoscience’; a glance at the activities of engineers, aircraft designers, microscope technology, new data technologies or cancer research during the Nazi regime immediately scotches such a claim.53 But the assumption that ‘race’ and ‘race science’ were synonymous in the twentieth century means that a far-too-coherent vision of race has been applied to cases of genocide and ethnic cleansing, one that dissociates race from society, or at best assumes that social consequences are driven ideologically by regimes subscribing to scientific (or ‘pseudoscientific’) ideas. In fact, the type of race thinking that is key to genocide is the more mystical one of social and national regeneration, which is a more generally held ‘modernist’ view for the rebuilding of the nation in a time of supposed threat or degeneration. In this understanding, race is just one of the terms – articulated more or less scientifically, depending on the context – that contributes to sustaining and developing national stereotypes. This is why so much of race science merely confirmed existing norms, which had been derived from folklore, hearsay or cultural stereotypes. It is also why the Third Reich was more of a racial state than anywhere else: there, the mystical fantasies of race that were so important to the regime were mobilized in the absence of genuine conflict, as occurred in other cases of genocide, where the element of fantasy-thinking required was one that necessitated jumping from a certain, usually low-level threat (from Armenian nationalist groups, for example), to mass murder of all members of the putatively threatening group. In Nazi Germany, the language of race permeated all spheres of life, but it hardly added up to a coherent and orderly scientific system; it was, rather, an ontologically articulated Weltanschauung that postulated – in the absence of evidence, or rather, with the absence of evidence being taken as proof of the conspiracy – a Lebenskampf (or Todeskampf) between Aryan and non-Aryan. As the Third Reich collapsed, Hitler dictated the following words to Martin Bormann in the bunker: Out of the sacrifice of our soldiers and out of my own close ties with them unto death, the seed will one day germinate in German history one way or another, and give rise to a glorious rebirth of the National Socialist movement, and thus to the realization of a true racial community [Volksgemeinschaft]. As Bernd Wegner notes of this passage, it reveals that ‘it was not Social Darwinism that ultimately prevailed, but völkisch romanticism.’54 At the moment of self-destruction that Hitler here perversely celebrated, the central element of the Nazi Weltanschauung became clear: not race science, but the mystical communion of the Volk.

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Notes 1 Ernst Krieck, ‘Die Intellektuellen und das Dritte Reich’, c.1938, excerpted in Uriel Tal, Religion, Politics and Ideology in the Third Reich: Selected Essays (London: Routledge, 2004), 9. 2 An argument stated most clearly and controversially by Thomas Kühne, Belonging and Genocide: Hitler’s Community, 1918–1945 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010). But see also Michael Wildt, Volksgemeinschaft als Selbstermächtigung: Gewalt gegen Juden in der deutschen Provinz 1919 bis 1939 (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2007); Frank Bajohr and Michael Wildt (eds.), Volksgemeinschaft: Neue Forschungen zur Gesellschaft des Nationalsozialismus (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2009); Boaz Neumann, Die Weltanschauung des Nazismus: Raum, Körper, Sprache (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2010); Peter Fritzsche, Life and Death in the Third Reich (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008); Peter Fritzsche and Jochen Hellbeck, ‘The New Man in Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany’, in Michael Geyer and Sheila Fitzpatrick (eds.), Beyond Totalitarianism: Stalinism and Nazism Compared (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 302–341. 3 For warnings not to get too carried away by the voluntaristic turn, see Geoff Eley, ‘Hitler’s Silent Majority? Conformity and Resistance under the Third Reich’, Michigan Quarterly Review, 42:2 (2003), 550–583 (part 1) and 42:3 (2003): 389–425 (part 2); Neil Gregor, ‘Nazism – a Political Religion? Rethinking the Voluntarist Turn’, in Neil Gregor (ed.), Nazism, War and Genocide: Essays in Honour of Jeremy Noakes (Exeter: Exeter University Press, 2005), 1–21; Richard Evans, ‘Coercion and Consent in Nazi Germany’, Proceedings of the British Academy, 151 (2007), 53–81. It should be noted that the voluntaristic turn does not necessitate an emphasis on ideology. Götz Aly’s work, for example, has placed far more emphasis on the Third Reich as a ‘welfare dictatorship’ than on the power of ideas. See his Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006). 4 Ian Kershaw, ‘ “Volksgemeinschaft”: Potenzial und Grenzen eines neuen Forschungskonzepts’, Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, 59:1 (2011), 1–17. 5 Melita Maschmann, Fazit: Mein Weg in die Hitler-Jugend (Munich: dtv, 1981); on Maschmann and the way in which her text has been incorporated into textbooks on the Third Reich, see Joanne Sayner, ‘ “Man muß die bunten Blüten abreißen”: Melita Maschmann’s Autobiographical Memories of Nazism’, Forum of Modern Language Studies, 41:2 (2005), 213–25. 6 Raphael Gross, Anständig geblieben: Nationalsozialistische Moral (Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer, 2010); Frank Bajohr, ‘Aryanization’ in Hamburg: The Economic Exclusion of Jews and the Confiscation of Their Property in Nazi Germany (New York: Berghahn Books, 2002); the controversial Aly, Hitler’s Beneficiaries. 7 For example: Konrad H. Jarausch, ‘Unasked Questions: The Controversy about Nazi Collaboration among German Historians’, in Jeffrey M. Diefendorf (ed.), Lessons and Legacies, Vol. VI: New Currents in Holocaust Research (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2004), 190–208; Alan E. Steinweis, ‘Nazi Historical Scholarship on the “Jewish Question” ’, in Wolfgang Bialas and Anson Rabinbach (eds.), Nazi Germany and the Humanities (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2007), 399–412; Alan E. Steinweis, Studying the Jew: Scholarly Antisemitism in Nazi Germany (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006); Dirk Rupnow, Judenforschung im Dritten Reich: Wissenschaft zwischen Politik, Propaganda und Ideologie (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 2011); Joan L. Clinefelter, Artists for the Reich: Culture and Race from Weimar to Nazi Germany (Oxford: Berg, 2005); Jay W. Baird, Hitler’s War Poets: Literature and Politics in the Third Reich (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). 8 Cf. Richard Weikart, Hitler’s Ethic: The Nazi Pursuit of Evolutionary Progress (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). Weikart writes, for example, ‘In Hitler’s view, whatever promoted the health and vitality of the human species was morally good. Conversely, anything contributing to biological degeneration or decline he deemed immoral’ (5).

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So far, so good, for Hitler’s beliefs here have nothing to do with the findings of race science but with assumptions that have been common since antiquity. But when Weikart goes further, the argument is less persuasive: ‘Hitler’s evolutionary ethic was the guiding principle behind many important policies, including eugenics, population growth, killing the disabled, expansionist warfare, racial struggle, and killing the Jews’ (15). In explaining the Holocaust, or even the ubiquity of race thinking in the Third Reich, one runs up against non-rational beliefs at every turn, such as: ‘the Jews are an inferior race’; according to what scientific criteria? Hitler’s social Darwinism – the emphasis on life as racial struggle – is more appropriately understood as race mysticism than race science. See also Hitler’s Ethic, ch4, where the two categories merge. In general, Weikart ascribes far too great a sense of coherence and consistency to Nazi racial thinking. 9 Gross, Anständig geblieben, 8. See also Neumann, Die Weltanschauung des Nazismus, 24. For Neumann, Nazism should be understood not as an ideology but as a Weltanschauung, that is to say, not a way of thinking that is restricted to a political programme but to a way of life. ‘Wir hoffen’, as Goebbels said in a speech of 1935, ‘daß einmal die Zeit kommt, daß man über den Nationalsozialismus nicht mehr zu sprechen braucht, sondern daß er die Luft ist, in der wir atmen!’ (‘We hope that one day the time will come when one no longer needs to speak about National Socialism but that it will be the air that we breathe!’; cited in Neumann, Die Weltanschauung des Nazismus, 24). Nazism, in Neumann’s understanding, is based on a pure ‘ontology of life’ (34). 10 See Mark Roseman, ‘Racial Discourse, Nazi Violence, and the Limits of the Racial State Model’, in Devin O. Pendas, Mark Roseman and Richard F. Wetzell (eds.), Beyond the Racial State: Rethinking Nazi Germany (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 31–57. 11 Thomas Junker and Uwe Hoßfeld, ‘The Architects of the Evolutionary Synthesis in National Socialist Germany: Science and Politics’, Biology and Philosophy, 17:2 (2002), 223–249, here 242. For another example, see Paul Brohmer, Biologieunterricht und völkische Erziehung (Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Moritz Diesterweg, 1933), extracted in George L. Mosse (ed.), Nazi Culture: Intellectual, Cultural and Social Life in the Third Reich (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1966), 81–90. 12 Christopher M. Hutton, Race and the Third Reich: Linguistics, Racial Anthropology and Genetics in the Dialectic of Volk (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005), 198. 13 David Lindenfeld, ‘The Prevalence of Irrational Thinking in the Third Reich: Notes toward the Reconstruction of Modern Value Rationality’, Central European History, 30:3 (1997), 376–377. 14 Alan Beyerchen, ‘Rational Means and Irrational Ends: Thoughts on the Technology of Racism in the Third Reich’, Central European History, 30:3 (1997), 390–392. 15 Roseman, ‘Racial Discourse, Nazi Violence, and the Limits of the Racial State Model’, 34. 16 Hans F. K. Günther, Kleine Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes (edition of 1933), extracted in Mosse (ed.), Nazi Culture, 63–65. 17 Gross, cited in Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003), 197. For the original, see Walter Gross, ‘Deutsche Rasse’ (24 October 1934), in Léon Poliakov and Joseph Wulf (eds.), Das Dritte Reich und seine Denker (Frankfurt am Main: Ullstein, 1983), 411–413. 18 Hutton, Race and the Third Reich, 181–183. 19 Hutton, Race and the Third Reich, 194. 20 Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, 197. 21 Hutton, Race and the Third Reich, 208. 22 Eric Ehrenreich, ‘Otmar von Verschuer and the “Scientific” Legitimization of Nazi Anti-Jewish Policy’, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 21:2 (2007), 56. 23 For further discussion, see A. Dirk Moses and Dan Stone, ‘Eugenics and Genocide’, in Alison Bashford and Philippa Levine (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), 192–209.

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24 Detlev J. K. Peukert, ‘The Genesis of the “Final Solution” from the Spirit of Science’, in David F. Crew (ed.), Nazism and German Society, 1933–1945 (London: Routledge, 1994), 274–299. 25 Eric Ehrenreich, The Nazi Ancestral Proof: Genealogy, Racial Science, and the Final Solution (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007). For another example of scientists’ service to the Nazi state, see Sheila Faith Weiss, ‘ “The Sword of Our Science” as a Foreign Policy Weapon: The Political Function of German Geneticists in the International Arena during the Third Reich’, Ergebnisse: Vorabdrucke aus dem Forschungsprogramm ‘Geschichte der Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft im Nationalsozialismus’, 22 (2005); Weiss, The Nazi Symbiosis: Human Genetics and Politics in the Third Reich (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010). 26 See, for example, the excellent exhibition catalogue, Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race (Washington, DC: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2004). 27 Robert Proctor, ‘From Anthropologie to Rassenkunde in the German Anthropological Tradition’, in George W. Stocking (ed.), Bones, Bodies, Behavior: Essays on Physical Anthropology (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988), 138–179, here 166. 28 Henry Friedlander, The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1995), 302. 29 ‘Moving target’ is Peter Pulzer’s term, cited in Gross, Anständig geblieben, 18. 30 See Hutton, Race and the Third Reich. As Hutton notes, the völkisch movement contained strongly anti-Darwinist elements, such as Julius Langbehn, Ludwig Klages and Oswald Spengler (177–178). 31 Theodor Fritsch’s highly influential Handbuch der Judenfrage, 49th edn (Leipzig: Hammer, 1944 [1887]) detailed the supposed activities of the Jews in some fifteen spheres of German cultural life, from the stock exchange to the theatre. 32 For fuller discussion of the pan-European dimension of the Holocaust, see my Histories of the Holocaust (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), ch1. 33 My thanks to Mark Roseman for this formulation. 34 Donald Bloxham and Robert Gerwarth (eds.), Political Violence in Twentieth-Century Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); Cathie Carmichael, Genocide before the Holocaust (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009); Benjamin Liebermann, Terrible Fate: Ethnic Cleansing in the Making of Modern Europe (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2006); Donald Bloxham, ‘Europe, the Final Solution and the Dynamics of Intent’, Patterns of Prejudice, 44:4 (2010), 317–335; Bloxham, The Final Solution: A  Genocide (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009); Jürgen Zimmerer, Von Windhuk nach Auschwitz? Beiträge zum Verhältnis von Kolonialismus und Holocaust (Münster: LIT Verlag, 2009); Stone, Histories of the Holocaust, ch5; Geoff Eley, Nazism as Fascism: Violence, Ideology, and the Ground of Consent in Germany 1930–1945 (London: Routledge, 2013), ch5. See especially the forum on Bloxham’s The Final Solution: A Genocide in the Journal of Genocide Research, 13:1&2 (2011), 107–152. 35 For example, see the essays in Marius Turda and Paul Weindling (eds.), Blood and Homeland: Eugenics and Racial Nationalism in Central and Southeast Europe 1900–1940 (Budapest: CEU Press, 2007). See also Ingo Haar and Michael Fahlbusch (eds.), German Scholars and Ethnic Cleansing, 1919–1945 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2005). 36 For example: Federico Finchelstein, Transatlantic Fascism: Ideology, Violence, and the Sacred in Argentina and Italy, 1919–1945 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010); Marius Turda, Modernism and Eugenics (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); Weiss, The Nazi Symbiosis, ch1. 37 Razvan Pârâianu, ‘Culturalist Nationalism and Anti-Semitism in Fin-de-Siècle Romania’, in Turda and Weindling (eds.), Blood and Homeland, 354–356. 38 Richard McMahon, ‘On the Margins of International Science and National Discourse: National Identity Narratives in Romanian Race Anthropology’, European Review of History, 16:1 (2009), 101–123. 39 Marius Turda, ‘ “To End the Degeneration of a Nation”: Debates on Eugenic Sterilization in Inter-war Romania’, Medical History, 53 (2009), 77–104, here 78. 40 Turda, ‘ “To End the Degeneration of a Nation” ’, 92–93.

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41 Turda, ‘ “To End the Degeneration of a Nation” ’, 103. See also Vladimir Solonari, ‘Patterns of Violence: Local Populations and the Mass Murder of Jews in Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, July-August  1941’, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, 8:4 (2007), 749–787, which shows that genocide was driven primarily by a programme of nation-building. 42 Maria Bucur, ‘Eugenics in Eastern Europe, 1870s-1945’, in Bashford and Levine (eds.), Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics, 398–412, here 403. 43 See also Richard McMahon, ‘Anthropological Race Psychology 1820–1945: A Common European System of Ethnic Identity Narratives’, Nations and Nationalism, 15:4 (2009), 575–596 on the role of race science in legitimizing national-racial stereotypes and their contribution to geopolitical identity narratives. 44 A. Dirk Moses, ‘The Holocaust and Genocide’, in Dan Stone (ed.), The Historiography of the Holocaust (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 533–555. 45 Ben Kiernan, ‘Twentieth-Century Genocides: Underlying Ideological Themes from Armenia to East Timor’, in Robert Gellately and Ben Kiernan (eds.), The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 29–51. See also Kiernan, Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007). 46 John Mueller, ‘The Banality of “Ethnic War” ’, International Security, 25:1 (2000), 42–70. 47 Mahmood Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001). 48 Scott Straus, ‘Organic Purity and the Role of Anthropology in Cambodia and Rwanda’, Patterns of Prejudice, 35:2 (2001), 47–62. 49 Mueller, ‘The Banality of “Ethnic War” ’, 70. Besides, Mueller is not making a point about race but about the identification of wider society with the perpetrators, which need not be (and probably is not) made on the basis of race. 50 Benjamin A. Valentino, Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th Century (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2004). 51 Samuel Moyn, The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010). 52 Jeffrey S. Morton and Neil Vijay Singh, ‘The International Legal Regime on Genocide’, Journal of Genocide Research, 5:1 (2003), 47–69; Alex Obote-Odora, ‘Genocide on Trial: Normative Effects of the Rwanda Tribunal’s Jurisprudence’, Development Dialogue, 55 (2011), 125–151. 53 Robert Proctor, ‘Nazi Science and Nazi Medical Ethics: Some Myths and Misconceptions’, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 43:3 (2000), 335–346. Cf. Volker R. Remmert, ‘What’s Nazi about Nazi Science? Recent Trends in the History of Science in Nazi Germany’, Perspectives on Science, 12:4 (2004), 454–475; Volker Roelcke, ‘Medicine during the Nazi Period: Historical Facts and Some Implications for Teaching Medical Ethics and Professionalism’, in Sheldon Rubenfeld (ed.), Medicine after the Holocaust: From the Master Race to the Human Genome and Beyond (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), 17–28. 54 Bernd Wegner, ‘The Ideology of Self-Destruction: Hitler and the Choreography of Defeat’, Bulletin of the German Historical Institute London, 26:2 (2004), 18–33, here 33. For the context, see Hans Mommsen, ‘The Indian Summer and the Collapse of the Third Reich: The Last Act’, in Hans Mommsen (ed.), The Third Reich between Vision and Reality: New Perspectives on German History, 1918–1945 (Oxford: Berg, 2001), 109–127, and Michael Geyer, ‘Endkampf 1918 and 1945: German Nationalism, Annihilation, and Self-Destruction’, in Alf Lüdtke and Bernd Weisbrod (eds.), No Man’s Land of Violence: Extreme Wars in the 20th Century (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2006), 35–67.


According to Achim Gercke, Walter Gross’ assistant at the Nazi Party (NSDAP)’s Office of Racial Policy, ‘racial ideas . . . are the therapeutic doctrine of our era’ and the ‘racial question’ was ‘the very axis on which the National Socialist worldview turns.’1 Gercke’s statement receives confirmation from the Dutch novelist Harry Mulisch, who observed in his remarkable book on the Eichmann trial: The truth is that Hitler did not need the writing from Gobineau to Rosenberg. He appreciated it as some sort of canonical tradition, which continued next to or behind what he himself possessed, something much more awful: a mystical revelation. He did not need to write or think. He knew.2 Given that historians are in more or less unanimous agreement that the Third Reich was dominated by its racial worldview, on the face of it, it would appear that there is little to say here; the task of the historian might solely consist in tracing the origins and spread of the Nazis’ ideas as they were transmitted from one individual, institution or agency to others. However, the very unanimity of historians should itself give us pause for thought. For once such an idea becomes uncritically shared, it can then slip all too easily into a commonplace position which hides more than it reveals. The problem I wish to address in this chapter, which builds on the ideas set out in the previous one, is whether historians’ acceptance of the all-embracing nature of race in the Third Reich obscures the extent to which ‘race’ was not a unanimously agreed-upon concept amongst the Nazis themselves, and certainly not amongst the general population in the Third Reich. In other words, how does one differentiate between and assess the significance of Nazi race ideologues in a state in which everything was interpreted through racial lenses? How do we decide which ‘race ideologues’ were most important, and on which criteria? Finally, this chapter will address the question of whether historians have taken the Nazis’ own

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statements about race too uncritically and have thus exaggerated the significance of race to the structure and functioning of the Third Reich. A short vignette from the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg takes us directly into the issue: during the prosecution’s cross-examination of Wolfram Sievers, head of the Ahnenerbe (the ‘German Ancestral Heritage Society’, a body tasked with providing information on Germanic prehistory and genealogy that would support the SS’s indoctrination programmes) in August 1946, the witness not only perjured himself by admitting he knew far more about Nazi experiments than he had earlier admitted (in his 27 June  1946 evidence to the Commission appointed by the Tribunal), especially with respect to the collection of skeletons from Auschwitz acquired by Professor August Hirt in Strasbourg. More important from the point of view of this article, Sievers illustrates the ways in which a relatively insignificant institution, which had been established to examine the prehistory of the Aryan peoples – and thus was always imbued with racial thinking – evolved into a racially motivated arm of the SS to become involved in medical experiments in Dachau and elsewhere (as well as controlling the V2 rocket production process). The increasing spread and virulence of Nazi race ideology is worth examining here, not just to confirm what we already know – that the Third Reich was a ‘racial state’ – but to help us to think about the limits of that racial vision. Sievers, in a vain attempt to wriggle out of his culpability, tried to argue that his position in the Ahnenerbe afforded him ‘special opportunities of working illegally against the Nazi system’, by which he meant a tenuous link with the 20 July 1944 conspiracy against Hitler. He also, like so many others, resorted to the defence of ‘superior orders’: I repeatedly protested against the experiments, with the result that finally Himmler issued an order, also included in these documents, that resistance against these experiments would be regarded as high treason, and would therefore be punishable by death. Among other things, he told me that no one would ask me to carry out the experiments personally, and that he himself would have the full responsibility for them. Besides  – as I  myself read later – he said that such experiments on human beings had taken place repeatedly as part of medical research and were necessary, as was proved by the famous experiments on human beings carried out in 1900 by Dieth, and later by Goldberger, in America. Nevertheless, my conflict of conscience . . .3 At this point Sievers was interrupted by Major Elwyn Jones. As with several other important witnesses at the IMT (such as Otto Ohlendorf), Sievers was later tried at the Nuremberg Military Tribunals (NMT), or successor trials, in this instance in the so-called Medical Trial. When Sievers tried out his superior orders argument at the NMT he was rapidly shot down, on the well-established basis that this defence ‘has never been held applicable to a case where the one to whom the order is given has free latitude of decision whether to accept the order or reject it.’ Dismissing Sievers’ argument that he had been forced by Karl Brandt and Himmler

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to participate in the murder of the 112 Jews whose skeletons were sent to Hirt in Strasbourg, the tribunal noted that although ‘the basic policies or projects which he carried through were decided upon by his superiors . . . in the execution of the details Sievers had an unlimited power of discretion.’4 The point of this brief reference to Sievers  – which could equally well have been to many other similar figures from the Third Reich – is not only to show that Nazism was deeply suffused with race thinking; it is also reveals the limits of that vision. What Sievers’ weasel words here indicate is that when the race theorists ran out of self-confidence or when the Nazi leadership’s demands exceeded their comfort-zones, they could back off (I am not here accepting Sievers’ defence, but using his claim to illustrate who was really in charge) and ‘the Nazis’ would carry on anyway. If this were the case for an SS agency such as the Ahnenerbe, how much more true might it be for non-party organizations such as scientific research institutes and university departments? Yet the IMT decided to spend time on trying to show how eugenically inspired racial anthropology had furthered the Nazi murder project even though, as Paul Weindling says, the activities of the Ahnenerbe ‘were marginal to the hands-on murder strategy of the trial.’5 In other words, the British interest in the medical experiments helped shape a ‘Nuremberg historiography’ which ascribed too great a role to the race scientists. So my argument here will be that in distinguishing between race ideologues, professional race scientists should be accorded a lesser priority in the Nazi hierarchy than, for want of a better term, the ‘race mystics’ or ideological simplifiers. Historians have profited greatly in the last twenty years by questioning the focus on social history of the 1960s and 1970s, and by criticizing the structuralist/ functionalist paradigm associated with Martin Broszat, Hans Mommsen and others. A newer emphasis on ideology, which has gone hand in hand with the rise of cultural history and an emphasis on representation/symbolic practice drawn from anthropology, has revealed the remarkable extent to which the Third Reich ‘racially groomed’ itself, to use Peter Fritzsche’s startling term. Whether in schooling, the arts and humanities, the sciences, daily news or the organization of welfare, work and tourism, the Nazi regime was synonymous with a racial Weltanschauung. Yet questions remain: does the stress on the Volksgemeinschaft (racial community) take the Nazis too readily at their own word and overlook the fact that they never succeeded in actually creating such a community?6 Does it conveniently forget that, despite the work of Leni Yahil, Robert Gellately, Peter Fritzsche and others suggesting that the Third Reich was a ‘consensus dictatorship’, in fact large sections of the population were to a greater or lesser extent impervious to, indifferent to, or only partially responsive to Nazi ideas and the Third Reich’s ‘successes’ in domestic and foreign policy?7 In what follows, I will argue that the Third Reich was indeed a racial state, but that Nazi race ideologues were most important to the regime when they performed simple propagandistic tasks, and not when they offered what we might call scientific justifications for racism – even if the distinction is hard to make in practice, especially if one takes a subjective view which argues that science simply is what scientists do. This somewhat artificial distinction

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between race propaganda or race mysticism on the one hand and race science on the other is important because there is still a tendency to explain the Holocaust as an outcome of eugenics or race science or to exaggerate the role played by scientists in the Third Reich in general.8 Whilst scientists and other experts did indeed incriminate themselves and do all manner of appalling things in Nazi Germany, that should not lead us to overemphasize the power they enjoyed to direct the regime’s decision-making.9 A historian’s research questions can lead to a focus on a particular problem, period or group of people to the exclusion of others. All historians are familiar with the problem of overreliance on one set of sources or of making one’s sources do more work than they can bear. This has often been the case with historians of racial ideologues in Nazi Germany. An interest in race theorists such as Alfred Rosenberg, Walter Gross, Hans F. K. Günther, Alfred Bäumler, Ludwig Klages and Ernst Krieck (among many others) is easily justified in terms of the history of ideas; such men, especially Rosenberg and Gross, were genuinely influential. But it would be a mistake to ascribe too much influence to them, especially when it comes to the workings of power in the Third Reich. It would be even more of a mistake to assume that their analyses of ‘race’ were of a piece with race scientists in the narrow sense. Indeed, we have to be even more aware of this problem when dealing with race scientists such as Eugen Fischer, Hans Mrugowsky, Otmar von Verschuer or Josef Mengele, all of whom were both working scientists and criminals, but whose criminality should not tempt historians into making them into the driving forces of the Nazi regime. They certainly lacked the power of the leading Nazi race propagandists such as Rosenberg, Gross, Kriek, Klages or Bäumler, except when they produced explicitly antisemitic or ‘ethical’ treatises which crossed over from scientific analysis to use the imprimatur of science in order to justify views already held, as in some of Verschuer’s or Lenz’s writings.10 As Robert Proctor writes, ‘The Nazis supported anthropology – but perhaps only because so many anthropologists were so eager and willing to support the Nazis.’11 A comparison can usefully be made with émigré historians who – for good and understandable reasons – overstated the influence of Nazi historians on the regime. The émigrés insisted on ‘the value of objectivity and truth’ in order to bring some coherence to a fragmented opposition and in order to emphasize the Nazi historians’ lack of scholarly credentials and their ‘prohibition of rational and verifiable investigation’, that is to say, their invention of the past for ideological reasons.12 Writing in the Journal of Modern History in 1941, Oscar J. Hammen argued that the denigration of ‘scientific and objective values’ in German historiography since 1933 was only ‘the continuation of a movement which had gained momentum since 1919, enforced by the emergence of the “younger generation” which largely sought to interpret history as the manifestation of such broad lines and forces as “spirit and idea or blood and destiny”, without too much methodical research.’13 Historians such as Peter Viereck or Arthur Rosenberg, from very different political perspectives, noted that Nazi historiography placed race at the centre of historical explanation and argued that this unverifiable mythology had to be debunked.14

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Such claims of course involved taking the writings of Alfred Rosenberg et al seriously, an undertaking developed most fully by Aurel Kolnai in his remarkable, detailed analysis of Nazi philosophy in his 1938 book The War against the West.15 This is not to say that such theorists, or scholars who ‘coordinated’ themselves with the regime, were unimportant. Quite to the contrary, they underpinned the regime and spread its ideas into all spheres of life. But we need also to understand the limits of such influence and not to make exaggerated claims. Most important, we need to remember that if influential people in all walks of life produced ideas which ‘resembled Nazi antisemitic propaganda aimed at dehumanizing the Jews’, as Christopher Probst puts it with respect to Protestant theologians, taking care not to overstate their role, it is the resemblance which is key.16 We need then to distinguish between scholars, including scholars of race, who to a greater or lesser extent bought into the Nazi message and who sought to make themselves useful to the regime – such might be the scientists of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes – and racial ideologues who were in key positions of power and who sought to collate the ideas about race being produced by scholars and disseminate them to the broad population, in the process distilling them down to the simplest possible message. Such might be the party’s newspaper the Völkischer Beobachter and men such as Julius Streicher and Walter Gross. In the short space available here a couple of examples will have to suffice – a comparison between Walter Gross and Hans F. K. Günther. The latter, who had been publishing popular works on race since the early 1920s, was the most famous race theorist in Nazi Germany, with studies devoted to the European peoples in general as well as to the racial specificities of the Germans and the Jews in particular. He argued for the racial co-opting of ‘Nordic forefathers’ such as Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, suggesting that the latter was the avatar of a ‘Nordic form of Christianity’ in which a tendency towards rugged individualism was manifest in a typically Nordic rejection of an overly rule-bound church in favour of the individual’s relationship with God.17 What is immediately striking here is the reduction of a complex theological-philosophical position to a simplistic racial message. All that one needs to know is that Kierkegaard is a Nordic thinker. Exactly the same thing happened to Nietzsche, though on a grander scale. Many scholars have shown how the Nazis – certainly not only Günther – bowdlerized Nietzsche in order to make him into the leading philosopher of the will to power. I want only to add here that what commentators on Nietzsche today all note is the complexity and multivocality of his thought, such that it is impossible to reduce it to any one variety of thinking, whether liberalism, fascism, feminism, environmentalism, aristocracy, social Darwinist or whatever (for all of which he has been claimed). Yet this is what the Nazis sought to do, not only through the Völkischer Beobachter (the subject of David Dennis’ recent study) but through many official and non-official publications on Nietzsche that appeared throughout the Third Reich. Articles in the Völkischer Beobachter on Paul de Lagarde, Julius Langbehn and Houston Stewart Chamberlain all also promoted a simple understanding of race in which Aryan superiority was vaunted and the danger posed to it by the Jews placed centre-stage. For the

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Völkischer Beobachter, Chamberlain, for example, was the ‘first great spiritual Führer of Germany.’18 Günther was foremost in spreading this sort of simple reductionist message but only whilst his sort of Nordicism was not complicated by academic discussions of racial composition and the like. The task of making racial propaganda simple and consistent fell instead to Walter Gross. Gross, head of the NSDAP’s Office of Racial Policy (Rassenpolitisches Amt), devoted himself, through radio broadcasts, speeches and the pages of his journal Neues Volk, to spreading the Nazi message of the protection of the Aryan race from the weak and ill, thus making the Volkskörper (racial body) rather than the individual the measurement of value and worth. Whilst appealing to science for legitimization, he emphatically proclaimed that his message was not primarily a scientific one, as can be seen in this passage from a text written for children: ‘for us the teaching of blood and race does not mean primarily an important and interesting bit of biological science, but above all a political and philosophical principle which basically determines our attitude on many questions of life.’ This position was based on an understanding of the principles of heredity, which revealed that an individual’s abilities were a result of his belonging to a particular racial stock and were not reflections of the individual’s worth alone, that is ‘a recognition of the deep, even spiritual meaning of the racial differences within mankind’ which spoke against the ‘sickly ambition’ of trying to bring about an ‘equalization’ of the world’s races.19 Gross’ worldview was a fairly crude one which he dressed up in philosophical-sounding terminology, arguing along familiar Nazis lines that the ‘international Jew’, who had substituted an effete ethics of democracy and care for the weak for authentic German values, was the cause of racial degeneration. Gross’ enthusiastic propounding of ‘racial welfare’ was based on his belief in ‘the voice of the blood streaming through history’ and his dismissal of ‘false humanism’ and ‘exaggerated pity’.20 These were views derived far less from science than from ethics or politics. As Wolfgang Bialas argues, ‘Nazi theorists blamed Jews not only for the racial contamination of the Germans but also for having introduced ethics into history and specifically the moral institution of conscience into Western ethical discourse’ with the consequence that the strong could no longer rule over the weak with the clarity and assuredness that they once supposedly could.21 The victory of racial antisemitism, noted the physicist and Nobel Prize winner Johannes Stark in the notorious SS journal Das Schwarze Korps, would only be a ‘partial victory’; ‘we also have to eradicate the Jewish spirit, whose blood can flow just as undisturbed today as before, if its carriers hold beautiful Aryan passes.’22 These arguments about the Jews were ‘racial’ insofar as they supposedly conformed to the laws of nature and identified the Jews’ allegedly immutable traits, but their existence owed little if anything to science in the sense of physical anthropological measurements such as anthropometry or craniology, or to laboratory experiments on disease, serology or genetics being undertaken by the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (KWI) scientists. The difference between Günther and Gross lay in their respective ability to exercise real power. Günther, though lauded by Hitler and profoundly influential on the

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field of Judenforschung (the academic study of the Jews), was not a decision-maker; Gross was, and he constantly exhorted Nazi policy-makers to sterner action against the Jews – something which he soft-pedalled when addressing the public at large. Although not being a member of the SS, Gross never achieved the levels of power of men such as Adolf Eichmann or Rudolf Hoess, nevertheless his blend of scientific vocabulary and the ‘spiritual question’ of being for or against Germany, as US ambassador William Dodd put it, made him a representative figure of the Nazi race ideologue.23 The more powerful race ideologues such as Walter Gross spread their message about the superiority of the Aryan race, the need to eradicate the weak and the threat posed by the Jews by claiming to be backed up by science. Under this scientific patina, however, Gross was essentially making political assertions about the danger to the Germans of not attending to a racial or eliminationist agenda. As Claudia Koonz notes, ‘Hitler and his comrades were self-taught bigots who mingled romantic Nordic racism with crude antisemitism. Arcane jargon about genotypes, phenotypes, skull measurements, and Mendelian inheritance laws meant nothing to them.’ Gross, with his medical background, impressed them by appearing to give their views scientific backing.24 But it was really a mystical politicalethical agenda that he and the Nazi leaders were espousing. The eugenicist Fritz Lenz, who had praised Hitler as early as 1931,25 was closer to the truth when he spoke of race as a ‘principle of value’ (Die Rasse als Wertprinzip, 1933). Likewise, Ernst Krieck, the political scientist and rector of Heidelberg University, wrote with startling honestly that we have learned from Chamberlain’s and especially from the Führer’s teachings that the verification of the existence of race, and perhaps of existence in general, does not require artificial scientific tools. . . . The fact of the existence of race is not doubtful, because man carries it in his heart, his spirit, his soul, or because man wants race to become a fact.26 More important, someone with genuine power, Josef Goebbels, could in 1943 describe the ‘disappearance of all Jews from Europe’ as a matter of ‘state security’ since the Jew, who cannot help acting in accordance with his inner essence, ‘destroys states and peoples’ and who therefore had to be destroyed himself.27 This was a perfect example of Nazi race ideology, but the argument is neither amenable to nor dependent on science – except insofar as scientists used their authority also to defend such statements. The point here is that the regime was not interested in a complex genealogy of völkisch ideas or in academic debates about racial origins and development; rather, it wanted clear and straightforward messages about the greatness of the German Volk to set against its fears and hatreds of the Jews and to act as justifications for aggression. This is not a simple materialist view in which ideas are sought to justify naked aggression; indeed, the naked aggression was partly an outcome of the power of such ideas. But for the Nazi leadership, their persuasiveness lay in their simplicity

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and the desire to believe in racial destiny in contrast to a conclusion reached after long study. Krieck’s establishment of the scholarly journal Volk im Werden for example, which espoused a ‘völkisch political anthropology’, led to conflict with Alfred Rosenberg over its hard-line Nazi anti-Christianity.28 What this amounts to is that, methodologically speaking, scholars need to disaggregate the various types of Nazi race ideologues. They do not form one undifferentiated mass. Ultimately all the Nazis were race ideologues, and chief among them were Hitler and Himmler and the other leading figures. All of the leading Nazis, whether they dealt specifically with ‘racial policy’ or not, put forward an ideology which was a racialized ideology. But those who made a name for themselves specifically as race theorists did not therefore all share the same views, nor did they all contribute in equal manner to the regime’s crimes. Scholarly antisemites such as those associated with Judenforschung, race theorists affiliated to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes, race ‘experts’ belonging to the Reichssippenamt, the RuSHA, the genealogical courts, the Ahnenerbe, the Rassenpolitisches Amt’s propagandizing for Rassenpflege (‘care’ of the racial self) or Volksgesundheit (‘the health of the people’) or the intellectuals and murderers of the SD all performed different services to the Reich, all at the level of theory and research, but not all to the same degree at the level of action. Their contribution served the regime well, which thereby won scholarly support for its racist views. But the regime held those views irrespective of those contributions and distinguished itself from other fascist movements and regimes across Europe only by taking them into the heart of government, thereby making race central to all the state’s activities alongside ultra-nationalism, autarky, the eradication of liberal opposition and the championing of martial values. In this, Nazi racial ideologues took to their extreme ideas which were common to fascism everywhere in interwar Europe and America. As Claudia Koonz writes, ‘What distinguished Nazi “ethnic improvement” schemes was not the logic that underwrote them but their magnitude.’29 Besides, many people were – and still are – attracted to the view that some people are biologically superior to others; where Hitler went wrong in this view is in applying the theory to the wrong groups. As an author of a 1945 article on ‘the bio-social basis of thought in the Third Reich’ put it: ‘Hitler has been vanquished rather than repudiated. Most of those who opposed him reacted against the application of his concepts to them. They have still to disavow his conception.’30 Finally, it is worth making some comments about race in action under Nazism. For despite everything that has been said so far in the chapter, one must also note that the Nazis were willing to hold their racial theories in abeyance when the survival of the regime was at stake. In other words, when it was in dire straits, the demands of the war effort sometimes trumped racial ideology. In the final stages of the war, from autumn 1944, the Nazis extended the slave labour camp system, with many new sub-camps being created and attached to concentration camps such as Neuengamme or Gross-Rosen.31 The latter, for example, still a relatively unknown camp, grew hugely at this time so that by the end of 1944 it contained almost 77,000 inmates (some 11% of the Nazi empire’s entire camp population) spread

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across the main camp and over 100 sub-camps, a third of which were exclusively for Jewish women. These camps were harsh but, for Jewish inmates transferred to them from the Łódź Ghetto or from Auschwitz-Birkenau, they offered a chance of survival which would otherwise hardly have existed. There can be no doubt that these Jews were ultimately destined to be murdered but they were kept alive thanks to the parlous state of the Third Reich’s war economy in 1944–1945; many survived the horrors of the death marches and the vagaries of liberation thanks to the chaos that characterized the war’s end in the Third Reich.32 Additionally, when the focus is on race ideologues, even if that term encompasses far more influential people in Nazi Germany than in other contemporaneous fascist or authoritarian regimes, we do well to remember that ‘race’ alone cannot account for the extent of popular participation in the Third Reich. Even if one goes along with the arguments of historians who speak of Nazi Germany as a ‘consensus dictatorship’, suggesting with Peter Fritzsche that the broad population ‘racially groomed itself ’ or with Thomas Kühne that belonging to the Volksgemeinschaft and the genocide of those excluded from it went hand in hand, historians cannot show that enthusiasm for racial theories permeated every section of society.33 Crucially, this indicates not a weakness of the Nazi ‘race ideologues’ but a demonstration of their reach. It is clear that some Germans (former Social Democratic Party [SPD] or Centre voters, perhaps) went along with the regime partly out of fear, partly out of grudging admiration for Hitler’s ‘successes’; however, it is equally obvious that many collaborators across occupied Europe willingly engaged in violence against Jews and other victims, not so much out of racial conviction but opportunism, greed and venality. What that shows is less that racial ideologues were unable to persuade everybody – which is hardly surprising – but that the Third Reich managed to create an atmosphere in which race theory was all-pervasive, forming a framework within which people could operate irrespective of whether or not they were ‘true believers’. Race science and racial mysticism are not easily separated. Yet while race science flourished everywhere in Nazi-dominated Europe  – largely thanks to the power, funding and appeal of German eugenics and racial anthropology  – the attack on the Jews which has come to be known as the Holocaust was not (or not only) a logical outgrowth of Nazi eugenics. The very idea of the Jews as a separate race with particular, dangerous traits was of course an expression of racial ideology, but it grew from a mystical notion of ‘thinking with the blood’ and the need for a Nazi ethics based on the coherence of the racial community and a distancing from the dangerous ‘Jewish’ ethic and world conspiracy far more than it did out of eugenic or anthropological research into Jews’ physical or psychological characteristics.34 As Paul Weindling notes, ‘Science was a factor in the vast system of population clearance and destruction, but had to be blended with devotion to Nazi values that are difficult to derive from evolutionary biology.’35 The SS and SD intellectuals were enamoured of race science, of course, but primarily because it was grist to their pre-existing racial mill, in which Jews were a priori considered racially dangerous. If the biological and political (or biopolitical) race theories were

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to some extent inseparable, nevertheless the former (biological race theories) were so successful only because they provided backing for the latter (political race theories), which existed independently of the world of science. Accordingly, both the Volksgemeinschaft, to the extent it actually existed, and the Holocaust resulted less from the statistics generated by scientists’ measurements than from a political diagnosis of the threat posed to the Aryan race by a Jewish conspiracy.

Notes 1 Cited in Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003), 117. 2 Harry Mulisch, Criminal Case 40/61, the Trial of Adolf Eichmann: An Eyewitness Account (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), 99. 3 IMT XX, 541 (9 August 1946). 4 TWC II, 262–263, cited in Kevin Jon Heller, The Nuremberg Military Tribunals and the Origins of International Criminal Law (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 301. Sievers was convicted of war crimes (medical experimentation), crimes against humanity and membership of the SS and sentenced to death. 5 Paul Weindling, ‘Victims, Witnesses, and the Ethical Legacy of the Nuremberg Medical Trial’, in Kim C. Priemel and Alexa Stiller (eds.), Reassessing the Nuremberg Military Tribunals: Transitional Justice, Trial Narratives, and Historiography (New York: Berghahn Books, 2012), 91. On the Ahnenerbe, see Peter Longerich, Heinrich Himmler (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 275–279. 6 See the essays in Martina Steber and Bernhard Gotto (eds.), Visions of Community in Nazi Germany: Social Engineering and Private Lives (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). 7 See discussion in Geoff Eley, Nazism as Fascism: Violence, Ideology, and the Ground of Consent in Germany 1930–1945 (London: Routledge, 2013) and Devin O. Pendas, Mark Roseman and Richard F. Wetzell (eds.), Beyond the Racial State: Rethinking Nazi Germany (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017). 8 See the discussion in A. Dirk Moses and Dan Stone, ‘Eugenics and Genocide’, in Alison Bashford and Philippa Levine (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 193–209. 9 See, for example, Ingo Haar and Michael Fahlbusch (eds.), German Scholars and Ethnic Cleansing, 1919–1945 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2005); Michael Fahlbusch and Ingo Haar (eds.), Völkische Wissenschaften und Politikberatung im 20. Jahrhundert: Expertise und ‘Neuordnung’ Europas (Paderborn: Ferdinand Schöningh, 2010); Margit SzöllösiJanze (ed.), Science in the Third Reich (Oxford: Berg, 2001). 10 For example, Michael Kater, Doctors under Hitler (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1989); Eric Ehrenreich, ‘Otmar von Verschuer and the “Scientific” Legitimization of Nazi Anti-Jewish Policy’, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 21:2 (2007), 55–72. 11 Robert Proctor, ‘From Anthropologie to Rassenkunde in the German Anthropological Tradition’, in George W. Stocking, Jr. (ed.), Bones, Bodies, Behavior: Essays on Biological Anthropology (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988), 166. 12 Edoardo Tortarolo, ‘Objectivity and Opposition: Some Emigré Historians in the 1930s and Early 1940s’, in Q. Edward Wang and Franz L. Fillafer (eds.), The Many Faces of Clio: Cross-cultural Approaches to Historiography (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007), 65. 13 Oscar J. Hammen, ‘German Historians and the Advent of the National Socialist State’, Journal of Modern History, 13:2 (1941), 188. 14 Tortarolo, ‘Objectivity and Opposition’, 66. 15 On which see chapter two in this volume and my Responses to Nazism in Britain 1933– 1939: Before War and Holocaust, 2nd edn (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). 16 Christopher J. Probst, Demonizing the Jews: Luther and the Protestant Church in Nazi Germany (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012), 175.

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17 Hans F. K. Günther, ‘Sören Kierkegaard, ein Prophet aus nordischem Blute’, Völkischer Beobachter (23 December 1926), cited in David B. Dennis, Inhumanities: Nazi Interpretations of Western Culture (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 250. 18 Dennis, Inhumanities, 267. 19 Walter Gross, Heilig ist das Blut: Eine Rundfunkrede von Dr. Gross (Berlin: Rassenpolitisches Amt der NSDAP, 1935), online at: www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/gross3.htm. 20 Cited in Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, 110. 21 Wolfgang Bialas, ‘The Eternal Voice of the Blood: Racial Science and Nazi Ethics’, in Anton Weiss-Wendt and Rory Yeomans (eds.), Racial Science in Hitler’s New Europe, 1938–1945 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2013), 350. 22 Stark cited in Dirk Rupnow, Judenforschung im Dritten Reich: Wissenschaft zwischen Politik, Propaganda und Ideologie (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 2011), 292. 23 Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, 106, 123. 24 Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, 112. 25 Henry Friedlander, The Origins of Nazi Genocide: From Euthanasia to the Final Solution (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1995), 12. 26 Ernst Krieck, ‘Die Intellektuellen und das Dritte Reich’, in Uriel Tal, Religion, Politics and Ideology in the Third Reich: Selected Essays (London: Routledge, 2004), 9. 27 Joseph Goebbels, Der steile Aufstieg: Reden und Aufsätze aus den Jahren 1942/43 (Munich: Franz Eher, 1944), 301, cited in Bialas, ‘The Eternal Voice of the Blood’, 358. 28 Christian Ingrao, Believe and Destroy: Intellectuals in the SS War Machine (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013), 42. 29 Koonz, The Nazi Conscience, 105. 30 Morris Edward Opler, ‘The Bio-social Basis of Thought in the Third Reich’, American Sociological Review, 10:6 (1945), 783. 31 See, for example, Marc Buggeln, Das System der KZ-Außenlager: Krieg, Sklavenarbeit und Massengewalt (Bonn: Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 2012); Buggeln, ‘Building to Death: Prisoner Forced Labour in the German War Economy. The Neuengamme Subcamps, 1942–1945’, European History Quarterly, 39:4 (2009), 606–632. 32 For an example of one of these sub-camps, see chapter seven in this volume. 33 Peter Fritzsche, Life and Death in the Third Reich (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008), e.g. 37–38, 83; Thomas Kühne, Belonging and Genocide: Hitler’s Community, 1918–1945 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010). 34 For a similar argument concerning one of Nazi ideology’s forebears, see John Nale, ‘Arthur de Gobineau on Blood and Race’, Critical Philosophy of Race, 2:1 (2014), 106–124. 35 Paul Weindling, ‘Genetics, Eugenics, and the Holocaust’, in Denis R. Alexander and Ronald L. Numbers (eds.), Biology and Ideology from Descartes to Dawkins (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010), 213. See also Robert J. Richards, ‘Was Hitler a Darwinian?’, in Was Hitler a Darwinian? Disputed Questions in the History of Evolutionary Theory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 192–242.

5 IDEOLOGIES OF RACE The construction and suppression of otherness in Nazi Germany

According to the philosopher Eric Voegelin, ‘The idea of the community as a body is always a “mythic” idea, and it always (not only in case of the Christian community) establishes a corpus mysticum.’1 Crucial to the Third Reich’s ‘corpus mysticum’ was the concept of ‘race’. The Nazis’ idea of race determined who would be part of the community and who would be excluded from it. Although the theory and science of race had developed across Europe and North America since the eighteenth century, Nazi Germany was the first modern state to put race thinking at the heart of government, making the promotion of its preferred racial mode of life and persecution of racial enemies central to everything it did. ‘The state must place racial value in the centre of general life’, as Hitler put it. Race underpinned the Nazi view of the world, combining a scientific discourse about hygiene, eugenics and social Darwinism with a mystical, political conspiracy theory which understood world history as a process of struggle between Aryan and non-Aryan forces. In the minds of the Nazi leaders these ideas coalesced into a philosophy of history in which the salvation of the Aryan race was predicated on the defeat of the non-Aryan. Consequently, the apparently ‘normal’ aspects of social, economic and military history in the Third Reich have to be contextualized in the framework of a millenarianism that drove the Nazis towards the apocalypse. This chapter analyses the ways in which Nazism built on earlier notions of racial difference but far exceeded them in terms of radical theory and practice. It begins by looking at the historiography of racial othering and exclusion in the Third Reich; moves on to examine some of the theoretical, administrative, institutional and spatial ways in which the suppression of difference was realized; and concludes with some reflections on where the scholarship on this topic is heading in the near future. Contemporary commentators were well aware of the Nazis’ racial obsessions. In a book published in 1933, and still one of the most insightful studies of Nazi race thinking, Eric Voegelin noted how ‘astonishing’ it was that the Jews had become

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the ‘counteridea’ of the Germans when they constituted so small a percentage of the population. This was thanks, he argued, to ‘a feeling of inferiority on the part of the Germans, to their fear – repeatedly expressed in antisemitic literature – of being dominated by the Jews, to the Germans’ belief in a worldwide organisation of all Jews directed with diabolical cleverness toward the ultimate, total economic enslavement of the Aryans and, most particularly, of the Germans’. According to Voegelin, this idea revealed ‘nothing about Jews but a great deal about the community regarded as positive in contrast to which Jews are simply nothing’.2 Well aware of the Nazis’ attempts to find scientific evidence to underpin their racial fantasies, Voegelin argued that antisemitism served primarily a political purpose, that of creating a cohesive and radically exclusive community. ‘The practical-political race idea’, he wrote, ‘is less positively defined through a race ideal than negatively through the opposition to the Jews’. In other words, Voegelin’s conclusion that ‘the race idea relevant for party politics lacks definition except as the negation of Jewry’ indicates that the Nazis’ devotion to race can primarily be explained by the role it played in shaping the social-political sphere.3 Working with a ‘system of dogmas’ that ‘is neither transcendentally shaken by philosophical anthropology nor deeply affected inherently by the course of biology and scientific anthropology’, race theory was in fact ‘a system of scientific superstition’.4 Voegelin himself came under suspicion of harbouring quasi-mystical views about race, accused of being a ‘fascist savant of rare acumen and coolness’ by the phenomenologist (and convert from Judaism to Catholicism) Aurel Kolnai.5 Kolnai perhaps overstated the extent to which Voegelin’s anti-materialism made him sympathetic to fascism, but in 1938, when he published The War against the West, one of the finest studies of Nazi thought, the claim was perhaps understandable. In this large book, the 120-page chapter titled ‘Nation and Race’, consciously echoing Mein Kampf’s most notorious chapter, is a masterpiece of critical analysis. Without making the mistake of dismissing Nazi thought as an oxymoron, Kolnai delved deeply into what the Nazi philosophers of race had to say, making his critique all the more trenchant. With reference to thinkers such as Ewald Banse, Ludwig Schemann, Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss, Ernst Krieck, Alfred Bäumler, Hans F. K. Günther, Alfred Rosenberg and many others, Kolnai shows how Nazism equates the state with the Volk, how it is devoted to warfare and how it seeks above all to preserve ‘Aryan blood’. Stressing the mystical rather than strictly scientific aspects of race thinking, Kolnai, like Voegelin, argued that with Nazism ‘we are in no way concerned with the anthropological subject of human races or racial fitness as such, only with the neo-German emphasis attached to race for political, social and philosophical reasons’. Or, with a greater sense of distaste, and with particular reference to Krieck, Kolnai noted that ‘the philosophic creed of race has a claim to a sort of primeval, religious dignity, by no means dependent on corroboration by scientific research with its chancy and changing results’.6 Such insights were perhaps easier to stomach in the 1930s; by contrast, after the war when Europe lay devastated and millions were dead, this sort of philosophical analysis that took Nazism seriously as a system of thought was regarded as distasteful; it was easier to dismiss Nazism

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simply as a kind of ‘madness’. Indeed, after 1945 analytical frameworks which understood Nazism as a deviation from a Western liberal norm were to prevail. All had their merits, but all evaded the need to subject Nazi ideology to rigorous analysis and failed to appreciate the seriousness with which Nazism devoted itself to the mystical idea of racial union.

Historiography During the postwar period then, the main interpretive frameworks tended to obscure the centrality of ideology and race. ‘Fascism’ and ‘totalitarianism’ as interpretive concepts achieved many positive analytical gains, but they tended towards a ‘functionalist’ consensus in which large-scale, impersonal structures and institutions loomed larger than the decision-making processes of individuals and groups, and in which the primacy of terror and impersonal dictatorial control overshadowed the experience of grassroots support for and willing adaptation to the Nazi regime, not to mention the willed agency of past actors. Western European and American histories of the 1960s dealing with cultural pessimism or with the ideas underpinning fascism were quickly overshadowed in the context of the dominance of Marxist-inspired social history on the one hand, with its stress on institutions, and liberal political history on the other, with its stress on totalitarianism and terror. Only since the publication of Michael Burleigh’s and Wolfgang Wippermann’s The Racial State (1991) has the centrality of racial ideology to the Third Reich re-entered mainstream historiography.7 The work of scholars such as George L. Mosse, Uriel Tal, Jacob Talmon, Norman Cohn and others who focused more on the quasi-religious or chiliastic aspects of Nazi ideology has been rediscovered and is being reinterpreted.8 Historians today, whether they work on race theory or on topics far removed from it, such as advertising or tourism in the Third Reich or military history in the narrow sense, all acknowledge that the Third Reich cannot be understood without the ideology which underpinned it, an ideology which constructed and suppressed difference with the aim of building what the Nazis, with their utopian ambition, called the Volksgemeinschaft (racial community). Central to Mosse’s view is the idea of Nazism offering a quasi-mystical sense of belonging. Mosse and others like him, such as Tal, stressed the faith-like qualities of Nazism, understanding it as a form of apocalypticism which drove Europe down a fatal path to destruction, in the name of waging a war against what the leading Nazis regarded as the source of all evil: the ‘international Jew’.9 But the construction and suppression of difference in the Third Reich were, on a day-to-day basis, supposedly the preserve of racial science and the bodies set up to administer it, such as ‘racial courts’ and genealogical assessors. From assigning people to racial categories that allowed them to obtain an Ariernachweis (Aryan proof), which was a passport to welfare and a recognition of one’s right to belong to the community, to the eugenic principles which underlay sterilization legislation and later the euthanasia programme, to the campaigns against ‘asocials’, the ‘workshy’ and other undesirables, including Roma, homosexuals and prostitutes, difference and

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exclusion from the Volksgemeinschaft were supposedly a question of the application of scientific principles.10 This chapter therefore notes that ideology in the Third Reich was largely synonymous with the way in which the Nazis understood race. It shows that race was understood as underlying all social phenomena and thus does provide a kind of unifying framework for the Third Reich. At the same time, race was neither a homogeneous nor a stable concept. In the same way that historians have shown that ideology is not a single, unchanging phenomenon – indeed, Nazi ideology was constructed and radicalized in its contestation – so race did not carry a single charge or meaning. It could refer to the nation or a supranational notion of kindred among related peoples; it could refer to physical and psychological traits; it was subjected to scientific analysis and popularizing propaganda. Although they could not be neatly separated in practice, I stress here that the construction and suppression of difference in the Third Reich rested on a scientific strand and a mystical strand.11 They ultimately led in the same direction – to the glorification of the Aryan race, a concept which we understand today to be wholly chimerical. At the time, however, much race theory was accepted across the world as being rooted in science. It therefore makes sense, on the one hand, to examine what the Nazis thought of as scientifically justified arguments about the threats posed by lesser races or ‘degenerates’ within the Aryan race. On the other hand, we should distinguish these ‘scientific’ arguments from claims about the political aspirations of the Jews, that is, their conspiracy to destroy the Aryan race and take over the world on the other, a charge which owed nothing to science except insofar as it rested on a notion that this Jewish plot emerged from a fixed, innate racial quality that the Jews could not help but possess. There is such a large scholarly literature on Nazi racial science and Nazi ideology that one might be forgiven for assuming that nothing remains to be said. In fact, there is as yet no single synthetic volume on the race idea in Nazi Germany, although there are very many studies of individual ideologues, race research institutions, medicine, anthropology and eugenics in the Third Reich, SS agencies which dealt specifically with racial issues (the Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt [RuSHA – Race and Settlement Main Office], for example) and Nazi ideology broadly conceived. Christopher Hutton’s book Race and the Third Reich remains a rare example of an attempt to show how the intersection of anthropology and Nazi propaganda led to a changing understanding of ‘race’ over time during the Third Reich. He shows how race scientists came into conflict with the Nazi leadership because of their insistence that there was no such thing as an ‘Aryan race’. He shows, too, that the same scientists were marginalized within the scientific community as psychology and the new genetics (the post-Darwinian synthesis) came to prominence and that the Nazi leadership thus appealed to science for credibility but ignored its complexity by insisting on propagandizing a simple notion of the Volk (not ‘race’) as a means of making its position clear and accessible to the masses.12 The scholarly literature of the last twenty-five years mostly follows Burleigh and Wippermann’s initiative by focusing attention on a ‘return of ideology’. The Racial State marked the start of what we might call a more sophisticated intentionalism.

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That is to say, Burleigh and Wippermann insisted on the significance of ideas in history, noting the way in which the race concept permeated every sphere of life in the Third Reich. But they also went further, seeking to situate changing ideas about race in social context and asserting that there was no single, predetermined master concept (or ‘Idea’) which worked its way out over time. This meant especially paying attention to changing propaganda campaigns in the Third Reich – against the ‘workshy’ or ‘Gypsies’, for example – and noting how racial ideas waxed and waned in importance according to conditions. The advent of war, for example, witnessed a marked shift in the significance of anti-Bolshevism and antisemitism, with the discourse of the threat to the Volk presented by the ‘international Jew’ acquiring greater urgency, whereas campaigns against vagrants, for example, reached their height in 1937–1938. These insights have been confirmed by other scholars. Peter Fritzsche demonstrates – in the clearest statement of the so-called ‘voluntaristic turn’ in historiography – that the German people willingly adapted to the Nazis’ vision; or as he puts it, they ‘racially groomed themselves’ to become members of the Volksgemeinschaft. This latter concept, though we are rightly warned by Richard Evans and Ian Kershaw not to be seduced by its seemingly all-encompassing nature, has provided a fruitful line of inquiry for historians, who show the ways in which the leadership’s visions merged with the dreams of many Germans for a unified and harmonious social sphere comprised of racial kinsfolk.13 Behind this vision was a large network of institutions geared towards enlightening the German people about the meaning of race. Several scholars have recently shown the significance of race research institutes, some of them inside universities, some Nazi Party bodies. The latter included the Institut zur Erforschung der Judenfrage (Institute for Research on the Jewish Question), whose work was based on the Frankfurt city library’s noted Hebraica and Judaica collection, which was transferred to party ownership under the aegis of Alfred Rosenberg in 1939.14 This institute and others like it elsewhere in Germany and the occupied territories engaged in Judenforschung, that is to say ‘research on the Jews’, which used Jewish sources and humanities-derived scholarly approaches (such as linguistics, philology, history, philosophy, religious studies) to produce antisemitic research. Other institutions included ones geared specifically to race science, such as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society’s Institute for Anthropology (KWIA), Human Heredity and Eugenics, now the subject of a considerable body of historiography.15 Unlike the Judenforschung institutes, the scientists of the KWIA included internationally renowned geneticists like Eugen Fischer and Otmar von Verschuer; their work lent an air of respectability to the Nazi regime’s ideas about race both at home and abroad.16 In Germany, Nazi popularizers of racial ideas, such as Walter Gross or Arthur Rosenberg, appealed to science for credibility even when their claims were not based on any kind of scientific evidence. Gross, for example, argued in 1943 that ‘from the perspective of racial biology and racial politics’, the ‘Jewish race is equally alien to all European races in the same degree’ and that the ‘only way to eliminate from Europe the threat it poses by virtue of its very existence

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is to completely remove it from the territory’.17 Beyond Germany, eugenics was not a German invention and the international eugenics movement welcomed certain aspects of the Nazi regime, especially its sterilization legislation (the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring of 1933).18 Around Europe collaborating regimes promoted similar bodies, building on interwar eugenics movements. In radical cases, such as in Romania and Croatia, the mix of local eugenics and ethno-nationalism with Nazi race science and race mysticism helped fuel brutal campaigns of genocide.19 Finally, the SS’s own agencies were deeply implicated in carrying out research and implementing racial policies on the ground in Germany and the occupied territories, although historians debate the extent to which they were able to fulfil their remit or, indeed, could be flexible with respect to its implementation. Gerhard Wolf, for example, suggests that in the Wartheland, Nazi agencies did not have the resources to carry out a full survey of the population and, when necessary, proved willing (or were forced) to relax racial categories (especially with respect to Poles) in the interests of obtaining labour for the Reich.20 Within the Wehrmacht and the SS, ideological indoctrination was an essential ingredient of members’ training and contributed to the creation of an ‘antisemitic consensus’ amongst Nazi leaders and foot soldiers alike.21 Outside of institutions specifically devoted to racial questions, historians have shown that race permeated all spheres of life in Nazi Germany, from education to applied science, from tourism to religion. Religion was especially important, given that 95% of Germans were church members in 1939.22 Protestant theologians and pastors, including those who resisted the appeal of the German Christians – the most radical wing of the Evangelical (Protestant) Church which sought to combine Nazism and Christianity  – were deeply influenced by and propagated Luther’s teachings on the Jews, which found a ready audience in Nazi Germany.23 The Catholic Church, about which debate continues to rage, especially concerning the actions (or inactions) of Pope Pius XII, though uneasy about Nazi race theories, often accommodated itself to the Nazi regime, believing that it offered a bulwark against ‘godless communism’.24 Amongst philosophers, Nazism was notoriously attractive; apart from the most famous case of Martin Heidegger, many German philosophers, especially proponents of Lebensphilosophie and other varieties of ‘heroic realism’, became open advocates of the Nazi regime or were co-opted by it.25 Nazi philosophers developed an ethics that was based on vitalist notions derived from Nietzsche, scorning the teachings of Christianity concerning care for the weak and love of one’s neighbour and celebrating martial values and racial strength.26 Race science therefore made up only one aspect of the ideology of race in Nazi Germany; just as important were notions of race mysticism and political conspiracy theories or combinations of all of these ideas. This is evident from many of the writings on race from the period of the Third Reich, whether advocates or detractors. Many writers, especially those who stressed the spiritual and not just the physical aspects of race, were willing to accept that the scientific

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understanding of race was only partial and that a sense of racial belonging required more than a material basis. Walter Berger, for example, in a critical appraisal of Nazi race theory written from a Christian perspective, distinguished the ‘cultural-philosophical-aesthetic’ approach of Hans F. K. Günther and Ludwig Clauss, ‘which celebrates racial dogma with the ardour of faith’ from the anthropologically and sociologically oriented race scientists (Fischer, von Eickstedt, Lenz, Scheidt etc.) ‘who see in race less the organic whole than the sum of scientifically observable features’.27 Nazi publications were no less marked by this division between ‘scientific’ and ‘mystical’ approaches. For example, in an issue of a journal aimed at helping to teach heredity and race through the use of ‘diapositives’ (what would later be called transparencies, pages of which were included in the journal and designed to be projected) and text, many pages were devoted to explicating the principles of Mendelian genetics, followed by a brief image devoted to the Jews. The latter has nothing to do with science but instead indicates the percentage of Jews involved in various professions. The commentary reads as follows: ‘The German works chiefly in agriculture, in trade and in industry; we find the Jew overwhelmingly in commerce and finance. This is a result of the Jewish commercial spirit’. And further: Jewish spirit is the opposite of the Nordic. It undermines our concept of honour and purity and endangers our family life. We do not want any thuggish antisemitism and we know perfectly well that high quality, even noble Jews have existed and continue to exist amongst all peoples. But just as the Jew’s blood is alien and dangerous to us, so is his spirit. We are today justified in taking up arms against our exploitation by an alien people and condemn any merging with it, against which the feeling of our blood rebels. The commentary closed by noting that the high rates of intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews had come to an end: ‘That has ended, now that our racial feelings have been newly awakened and sharpened by National Socialism’.28 None of this follows logically from the explication of genetics, but their juxtaposition is intended to lend the weight of science to the critical comments on the Jews, as though simply by being placed side-by-side, the impression would be created that Nazi antisemitism rested on scientific principles. Attempts to racialize the public sphere certainly used a scientific or medicalizing vocabulary, and there is no doubt that race scientists, anthropologists and physicians threw their lot in with the Nazis; as a result, they benefited greatly from the regime in terms of prestige, funding and involvement in the running of the state. They were also deeply implicated in Nazi crimes. But race was a flexible concept and the Nazi regime’s propagandizers were by no means bound to scholarly understandings of race. In fact, quite the contrary was the case: Nazi racism succeeded in persuading the German people to accommodate themselves to its demands so quickly not because they had all become social Darwinists but because the German population could imagine itself as part of an ethnically pure folk (or people’s) community

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and because the larger racial story of the German people under threat from ‘the international Jew’ built on existing conspiracy theories of Jewish power. Thus ‘race’ succeeded not only because it was a weapon of science (race science) but because it provided a narrative about the world that played to people’s longstanding fantasies and fears (race mysticism).29 Historians for the most part no longer argue that the Third Reich was simply a ‘terror regime’; rather, they note the extent of popular approval for the regime. Whilst accepting that the Nazi vision of the Volksgemeinschaft was never fully realized, we should also recognize the fact that many Germans subscribed to the idea. Once the regime had eliminated its ‘natural enemies’ (communists, socialists, ‘asocials’ and Jews), most ‘Aryan’ Germans had little to fear as long as they adapted to the new reality – and historians have shown that a majority did so enthusiastically. Terror was reserved for predefined enemy groups. This was in stark contrast to Stalin’s Soviet Union or Mao’s China, where terror was an instrument of social control – some 680,000–800,000 people were killed in the Soviet Union in 1937– 1938 alone. In Nazi Germany, the Gestapo was far smaller than once thought – it had approximately one officer for every 10,000–15,000 inhabitants – and the number of non-Jewish Germans executed in Germany between 1933 and 1944 was about 16,500.30 This figure of course excludes those killed in the concentration camp system, the genocide of Europe’s Jews and the millions of Soviet prisoners of war (POWs) and European civilians killed during the war, especially in the Slavic countries. But it indicates that within Germany, the idea that the Third Reich was a totalitarian state holds less weight than one might assume. Instead we are faced with the more troubling realization that the Nazi regime operated largely on the basis of consent. Most troubling of all is the realization that this consent meant embracing a deadly relationship: what Thomas Kühne calls ‘belonging and genocide’.31 The creation of the Volksgemeinschaft was not only predicated on the suppression of difference and the spatial removal of those considered dangerous to the ‘Aryans’. Thanks to the Nazis’ insistence that the German Volk’s purity and safety could be guaranteed only by defeating ‘Judeo-Bolshevism’ and acquiring Lebensraum, it also led to war and genocide.

Spaces of exclusion Much of the historiography on race concerns the history of ideas. This focus has vastly expanded our understanding of the ways in which race permeated the Third Reich and startlingly reveals the number of individuals, institutions and agencies devoted to race thinking, from universities to professional bodies to state and party agencies. In order to demonstrate how these ideas about race were actualized in Nazi Germany, and especially in order to show the impact they had on Nazism’s victims, one needs to take a more spatial approach. That means thinking about the sites in the Third Reich and, after 1939, in occupied Europe, in which the Nazis’ racial visions manifested themselves geographically. What is immediately striking about recent research is the extent of the Nazis’ carceral universe, which included

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vast numbers of prisons, forced labour camps and concentration camps such that no community in Germany or beyond could have been ignorant of the ways in which Nazi ideology was being placed in the service of reshaping Europe’s racial demography. These places confirm in essentials Kühne’s thesis that the creation of the Volksgemeinschaft and the exclusion of the unwanted were inseparable. The ‘spatial turn’ in historiography enables us to understand that ‘race’ existed as a reality, not just an idea, in Nazi Germany; it also helps us to see how the race idea was made concrete and how policies and practices of exclusion which flowed from the race idea structured everyday life and death in the Third Reich.32 The Volksgemeinschaft was not just an idea to which Germans were encouraged to subscribe but a goal that the Nazis wanted to realize in spatial terms. The very concept of the Volksgemeinschaft isolated and made visible those groups who were excluded from it: ‘asocials’ of all sorts, from beggars and vagrants to ‘habitual criminals’, prostitutes and the ‘workshy’; dissenting youth groups and movements; homosexuals; and Black Germans. People who were identified as belonging to these groups were subjected periodically to measures designed to define and control them, with actions over the course of the Third Reich ranging from denigration in the official press to campaigns to ‘clean up the streets’, which resulted in imprisonment or deportation to concentration camps. These operations began in 1933 and continued by denying welfare payments to the ‘workshy’ and forcing asocials into specific areas in towns, ‘criminal-biological collection points’, ‘asocial colonies’ such as Hashude in Bremen and, later, concentration camps.33 For example, in Hamburg in 1934–1935, a slum clearance scheme was authorized as a way to eliminate areas of the city associated with ‘asocials’.34 In 1938, Himmler authorized a ‘National Campaign against the Workshy’, which resulted in about 10,000 people being incarcerated in Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, Flossenbürg and Neuengamme, where they would be ‘taught the value of work’. As Kurt Daluege, head of the Order Police (Orpo) and Heydrich’s second in command, noted in 1936, ‘The state cannot be rigorous enough in drawing a line of distinction between the honourable section of the population and the consciously asocial enemies of the people (Volksfeinde) if it hopes to prevent the outbreak of complete moral degeneration’.35 The result was large-scale incarceration in prisons. State prisons, until the second half of the war years, held more inmates than the SS concentration camps. Large numbers of petty criminals  – very few corresponded to the type of ‘professional criminal’ described by criminologists in the 1920s – were locked up not so much because they were dangerous to the public but because they were ‘social (and racial) deviants, unwilling or unable to conform’. In 1942, there were almost 200,000 inmates of state penal institutions in contrast to about 95,000 in the concentration camps.36 During the war, the attack on so-called ‘community aliens’ like habitual criminals was stepped up. Criminals were increasingly executed rather than held in prisons or camps, with large numbers killed in Mauthausen, Neuengamme and Buchenwald.37 Whether or not they were imprisoned, ‘community aliens’ were rapidly shut out from participation in German social and cultural life. Attacks on homosexuality

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and other varieties or ‘deviant’ or ‘asocial’ behaviour sustained the process. An article in the SS journal Das Schwarze Korps in May 1935 argued that it was no surprise that the French revolutionary regime had both emancipated the Jews and decriminalized homosexuality. ‘Now’, it went on, that we have found our way back to our ancient Germanic perspectives on the question of mixed marriages with members of races that are alien to the species, we must do the same for our assessments of the scourge of racial annihilation presented by the degenerate profile of the homosexual and return to the Nordic guiding principle of extirpating the degenerates.38 This construction of difference was backed up by legislation. The Law against Dangerous Habitual Criminals was passed on 24 November  1933. This allowed the police to detain indefinitely people with two or more criminal convictions. Homosexuality was already illegal under Paragraph 175 of the 1871 Reich Criminal Code, but the Nazis tightened the legislation (Paragraph 175a of 1935) to include ‘criminal indecency’ as well as sexual intercourse between men. The number of convictions steadily rose, with a high point between 1937 and 1939, when, as Burleigh and Wippermann note, more than half of the 50,000 convictions for homosexual activity in the Third Reich took place.39 Reference has already been made to the first sterilization law of 14 July 1933 (which took effect on 1 January 1934); this was supplemented with compulsory abortion and led to the sterilization of some 400,000 people by the end of the war. Hitler’s authorization of the euthanasia programme in September 1939 resulted in the deaths of some 70,000 people before the campaign was officially halted in 1941, but the continuation of ‘wild euthanasia’ programmes – such as 14f13, the murder of concentration camp inmates unable to work – means that the true number is considerably higher. With the shift from sterilization to killing disabled children and adults, then to targeting ethnic groups as opposed to supposedly tainted ‘Aryans’, ‘medicine became part of genocidal policies of extermination and resettlement’.40 The group which suffered the most from Nazi persecution, apart from the Jews, was the Roma and Sinti (‘Gypsy’) population. Unlike Jews, Gypsies were not regarded as an existential threat to the Aryan race. Nevertheless, their way of life was regarded as unhealthy and they were seen as racially alien. Even if the Nazis did not impute to the Gypsies the same mystical powers as the ‘international Jew’, the result was similar: the destruction of Gypsy life in Europe and the subjection of Roma and Sinti to genocide, with up to half a million being murdered across Europe, including at Auschwitz. Only some 35,000 Gypsies lived in Germany, and Nazi policies developed first with respect to this small population group. AntiGypsy measures had been in place since the late nineteenth century, with efforts to combat the ‘Gypsy plague’ (Zigeunerplage), including a register of Gypsies in Bavaria and the 1926 Bavarian Law for the Combating of Gypsies, Travellers and the Workshy. Gypsies were targeted under the sterilization law and, if they were stateless, forced out of Germany; in 1936 they were subjected to the scrutiny of the

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newly established Reich Central Office for Combating the Gypsy Nuisance. An anthropological research unit headed by Robert Ritter conducted investigations on Gypsies, leading to Himmler taking a closer interest in the ‘Gypsy question’ with the result that he began to present the Gypsies as a racial and not merely a social menace. Gypsy camps were set up and controlled by the state on the outskirts of several cities, isolating Gypsy communities from the mainstream of society. These camps ‘evolved after 1939 from municipal internment camps into assembly centres for systematic deportation to concentration camps, ghettos, and killing centres’.41 Indeed, very soon after the start of the war, the concentration of Gypsies in these camps made it easy to deport them – following a sustained campaign by the SS and other Reich bodies such as the Genealogical Office (Reichsstelle für Sippenforschung), Department of Health and Criminal Police (Kripo) to demonize them  – to the General Government of occupied Poland in late 1939 and early 1940. Gypsies were, like Jews, shot by the Einsatzgruppen in the Soviet Union; shot by the Wehrmacht in Serbia; experimented on in Dachau, Ravensbrück and other camps; gassed at Chełmno; incarcerated in the Warsaw Ghetto and then deported to their deaths at Treblinka; and, in the largest numbers, murdered in Birkenau after being held in the so-called Gypsy Family Camp (BIIe), which was built in February 1943 by 200 Gypsies sent from Buchenwald especially for that purpose. Axis countries also killed Gypsies in large numbers, especially the Romanians in Transnistria.42 Antisemitism was the Third Reich’s ideological priority but Nazi crimes against the Roma and Sinti were also genocidal.43 The Nazis constructed and made difference manifest most clearly through camps. Volksgenossen (‘racial comrades’) were sent to labour camps whose aim was to break down class and social differences with the aim of producing a racially unified population, literally drilling the Volksgemeinschaft into existence by turning Germany into a militarized society, a kind of giant barracks. By contrast, the regime’s ‘enemies’ were sent to camps of very different sorts. Most infamous are the SS concentration camps. From the first days of the Nazi regime, when so-called ‘wild camps’ co-existed with the newly created Dachau – the only camp to exist for the duration of the Third Reich – to the vastly expanded camp system of the war years, which stretched across the whole of Nazi-occupied Europe, the camps have become synonymous with Nazi Germany. Over the Third Reich’s twelve years, the SS established twenty-seven main camps and more than 1,100 satellite camps;44 they were at the forefront of fulfilling the Nazi ambition of creating the Volksgemeinschaft in the negative sense of being the places where the Nazis could dispose of social, political and racial ‘undesirables’. Yet apart from the SS concentration camps the Nazis created a vast network of incarceration, including forced labour camps, ghettos, POW camps, prisons and brothels, run not only by agencies of the German military and police but by civilians, including private firms. There were some 8 million foreign forced labourers in Germany in 1944. Yet that was not enough; in the same year, the Nazis turned to slave labour from the concentration camps in a desperate attempt to keep the war economy going. The Nazis’ camp system, as one historian notes, became ‘perhaps

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the most pervasive collection of detention sites that any society has ever created’.45 The Nazis’ allies across Europe created their own camp systems too, meaning that Europe under Nazi hegemony was literally a continent of camps. The camp universe should not be understood backwards, however, from how it looked in 1945. Although it was at its vastest and most destructive at the end of the war, it had changed considerably since the first camps were created in 1933. It is necessary to see how the camps evolved in order to understand the ways in which different excluded population groups were dealt with at different times according to specific needs and programmes, as directed by the Nazi leadership. This is best done by considering who was being held in the camps at different points in time. The first camps were set up to hold political opponents, mostly communists and social democrats. This process of eliminating political opposition was swift and brutal, and the news of what the camps were like rapidly put an end to all but the most determined opposition to the Nazi regime. By the mid-1930s, the camps held very few inmates. The growth of the camps in the late 1930s, then, was the result of the regime’s assault on the socially marginal. The new camps – Sachsenhausen (1936), Buchenwald (1937), Mauthausen (1938), Flossenbürg (1938) and Ravensbrück (1939) – marked a new stage in the security apparatus’ clamping down on German society, as well as forcing the supposedly workshy to contribute their labour to war preparations.46 Yet at the start of the war the numbers were still small: Buchenwald held only 5,397 inmates on 31 August 1939.47 Among the early inmates were Jews; although they were not targeted as Jews at this stage, their Jewishness opened them up to especially rough treatment. After Kristallnacht in November  1938, Jews for a brief moment made up the largest number of concentration camp inmates, but the camp system then expanded at the start of the war to hold POWs and political prisoners from occupied countries. The camp system rapidly expanded in 1942, inmate numbers shooting up from 53,000 at the end of 1941 to 224,000 in 1942, rising to 714,211 in January 1945, according to the SS’ figures.48 Only in 1942 did the camps become crucial to the murder of the Jews; before that point Jews had been shot in pits outside towns across eastern Poland, the Baltic States and the western Soviet Union, or were dying in large numbers in ghettos in occupied Poland. Even then, the death camps (Chełmno – which was hardly a camp at all – and the Operation Reinhard camps of Bełżec, Sobibór and Treblinka) were outside of the regular SS camp system. Only Auschwitz and Majdanek combined the functions of concentration camp and death camp. The camps inside Germany became embroiled in the Holocaust only when the need for labour became acute in 1944, and many inmates were shipped from Auschwitz to the new satellite camps of Neuengamme, Gross-Rosen and elsewhere. And the huge numbers of Jewish and non-Jewish survivors that were liberated in Bergen-Belsen, Dachau and Buchenwald were there in April  1945 only because they had survived ‘death marches’ from camps further to the east, as the SS struggled to prevent camp inmates from falling alive into enemy hands.49 Social and spatial practices therefore entrenched differences in the Third Reich, making them concrete, visible and politically effective. One of the conclusions

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of studying these policies is that the camp system was not uniform: there was no single ‘type’ of camp and the camps changed their character over time. Another is that Jews were absolutely to be excluded, although even Jews were temporarily exploited rather than murdered, especially in the last year of the war. Members of other groups could perhaps remain amongst the community undetected – such as homosexuals – or could be released back to the community if they attempted to conform to Nazi expectations – as was sometimes the case with political prisoners, criminals and ‘asocials’. With the exception of Jews, who were either murdered or put to work in deadly conditions, Nazi policy towards other groups varied over time, and the Nazi construction of difference was never a straightforward and unwavering phenomenon.50

Conclusion There are some areas of persecution which have still not received the attention they deserve. In a recent book, Paul Weindling notes that the victims of human experiments in Nazi concentration camps have been largely overlooked in the histories of medicine under Nazism, the T4 project and the medicalized aspects of the Holocaust, which all tended to focus on the general biomedical vision of the Nazis than the specific suffering of the victims. He argues, for example, that ‘how researchers harvested brains on a vast scale from euthanasia victims, and conducted experiments on children held in special killing wards, have been greatly underrated in terms of their extent’.51 Likewise, certain aspects of the history of the camps, such as the killing of Soviet POWs, still need further investigation. The same is true of the ‘death marches’, even if recent work means they are less opaque to understanding than used to be the case.52 Finally, although historians are now moving beyond the racial state, they are not doing so in order to assert the irrelevance of race. Rather they are doing so in ways that take us back to Kolnai’s insight that race was a political tool with quasireligious dimensions, a mobile concept that was nevertheless permanently dedicated to the glorification of the German Volk and the eradication of its enemies, primarily the Jews. As he ventriloquized Nazi racial ideology: The conclusive method of settling the Jewish question consists in extirpating Democracy as a whole and restoring a master ethic, a master race, and a master caste within our own Germanic-Nordic people. It is no use evicting the Jews, even though they do embody the most destructive mongrel element, and are born instigators and profiteers of revolution, if at the same time we cherish the puerile illusion of a homogeneously ‘Nordic’ population fit for a system of democratic equality. Nor will it do to make our people ‘völkisch’ and Jew-free; unless the purge is carried out on a vast international scale, it will only induce Judah to entrench himself the more securely in such places as are safe for him. From these outposts he will continue to endanger ‘our’ isolated counter-revolution. Hence we are bound to undertake the creation of a

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supra-national Counter-Freemasonry in the service of ‘Right-wing culture’, directed against Judaism, Democracy and Bolshevism alike, not to forget the Jesuits!53 Here we see the roots of Nazism’s obsession with the creation and suppression of difference and, without surrendering to the temptation to read the Holocaust as an inevitable consequence of such words, the origins of genocide.

Notes 1 Eric Voegelin, Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Vol. 2: Race and State, trans. Ruth Hein (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1997 [1933]), 13. 2 Voegelin, Race and State, 181, 206. 3 Voegelin, Race and State, 216. 4 Voegelin, Race and State, 9. 5 Aurel Kolnai, The War against the West (London: Victor Gollancz, 1938), 447. On 458, Kolnai also notes Voegelin’s ‘refined distance from passionate partisanship.’ 6 Kolnai, The War against the West, 438, 445. On The War against the West, see Wolfgang Bialas (ed.), Aurel Kolnai’s War against the West Reconsidered (London: Routledge, 2018). 7 Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wippermann, The Racial State: Germany 1933–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991). 8 See, for example, Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of Germanic Ideology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961); George L. Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology: Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1966); Mosse, Nazism: A Historical and Comparative Analysis of National Socialism (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1978); Uriel Tal, Religion, Politics and Ideology in the Third Reich: Selected Essays (London: Routledge, 2004); Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970); Jacob L. Talmon, Myth of the Nation and Vision of Revolution: Ideological Polarization in the Twentieth Century (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1991). 9 See also George L. Mosse, ‘The Mystical Origins of National Socialism’, Journal of the History of Ideas, 21:1 (1961), 81–96. 10 See Eric Ehrenreich, The Nazi Ancestral Proof: Genealogy, Racial Science, and the Final Solution (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007); Robert Gellately and Nathan Stoltzfus (eds.), Social Outsiders in Nazi Germany (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001); Michael Berenbaum (ed.), A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis (London: I. B. Tauris, 1990); Dieter Kuntz (ed.), Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race (Washington, DC: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2004). 11 For this distinction, see chapters 3 and 4 in this volume and Histories of the Holocaust (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), ch4. 12 Christopher M. Hutton, Race and the Third Reich: Linguistics, Racial Anthropology and Genetics in the Dialectic of Volk (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2005). 13 Peter Fritzsche, Life and Death in the Third Reich (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008); Martina Steber and Bernhard Gotto (eds.), Visions of Community in Nazi Germany: Social Engineering and Private Lives (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014); Frank Bajohr and Michael Wildt (eds.), Volksgemeinschaft: Neue Forschungen zur Gesellschaft des Nationalsozialismus (Frankfurt/M: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2009). For critical comments, see Ian Kershaw, ‘ “Volksgemeischaft”: Potenzial and Grenzen eines neuen Forschungskonzepts’, Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, 59:1 (2011), 1–17. See also Geoff Eley, ‘Hitler’s Silent Majority? Conformity and Resistance under the Third Reich’, Michigan Quarterly Review, 42:2 (2003), 550–583 (part 1) and

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42:3 (2003), 389–425 (part 2) and Richard Evans, ‘Coercion and Consent in Nazi Germany’, Proceedings of the British Academy, 151 (2007), 53–81. 14 Alan E. Steinweis, Studying the Jew: Scholarly Antisemitism in Nazi Germany (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006); Dirk Rupnow, ‘Racialising Historiography: AntiJewish Scholarship in the Third Reich’, Patterns of Prejudice, 42:1 (2008), 27–59; Rupnow, Judenforschung im Dritten Reich: Wissenschaft zwischen Politik, Propaganda und Ideologie (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 2011). 15 Carola Sachse (ed.), Die Verbindung nach Auschwitz: Biowissenschaften und Menschenversuche an Kaiser-Wilhelm-Instituten (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2004); Hans-Walter Schmuhl (ed.), Rassenforschung an Kaiser-Wilhelm-Instituten vor und nach 1933 (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2003); Schmuhl, Grenzüberschreitungen: Das Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Anthropologie, menschliche Erblehre und Eugenik 1927–1945 (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2005); Sheila Faith Weiss, The Nazi Symbiosis: Human Genetics and Politics in the Third Reich (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010). 16 Weiss, Nazi Symbiosis, 106. 17 Walter Gross, ‘Racial Prerequisites for the Solution of the Jewish Problem’ (1943), in Anson Rabinbach and Sander L. Gilman (eds.), The Third Reich Sourcebook (Berkley: University of California Press, 2013), 770. 18 Alison Bashford and Philippa Levine (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); Marius Turda, Modernism and Eugenics (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010); Stefan Kühl, The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994); Kühl, For the Betterment of the Race: The Rise and Fall of the International Movement for Eugenics and Racial Hygiene (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). 19 Marius Turda and Paul Weindling (eds.), Blood and Homeland: Eugenics and Racial Nationalism in Central and Southeast Europe 1900–1940 (Budapest: CEU Press, 2007); Anton Weiss-Wendt and Rory Yeomans (eds.), Racial Science in Hitler’s New Europe 1938–1945 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2013); Rory Yeomans, Visions of Annihilation: The Ustasha Regime and the Cultural Politics of Fascism 1941–1945 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013); Anton Weiss-Wendt (ed.), Eradicating Differences: The Treatment of Minorities in Nazi-Dominated Europe (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2010); Vladimir Solonari, Purifying the Nation: Population Exchange and Ethnic Cleansing in NaziAllied Romania (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2010). 20 Compare Isabel Heinemann, ‘Rasse, Siedlung, deutsches Blut’: Das Rasse-  & Siedlungshauptamt der SS und die rassenpolitische Neuordnung Europas (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2003) with Gerhard Wolf, Ideologie und Herrschaftsrationalität: Nationalsozialistische Germanisierungspolitik in Polen (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2012). 21 Frank Bajohr and Dieter Pohl (eds.), Massenmord und schlechtes Gewissen: Die deutsche Bevölkerung, die NS-Führung und der Holocaust (Frankfurt/M: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2008); Jürgen Matthäus, Konrad Kwiet, Jürgen Förster and Richard Breitman (eds.), Ausbildungsziel Judenmord? ‘Weltanschauliche Erziehung’ von SS, Polizei und Waffen-SS im Rahmen der ‘Endlösung’ (Frankfurt/M: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2003); Michael Wildt, Volksgemeinschaft als Selbstermächtigung: Gewalt gegen Juden in der deutschen Provinz 1919 bis 1939 (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2007); Mark Roseman, ‘Ideas, Contexts, and the Pursuit of Genocide’, Bulletin of the German Historical Institute London, 25:1 (2003); Jürgen Matthäus, ‘Controlled Escalation: Himmler’s Men in the Summer of 1941 and the Holocaust in the Occupied Soviet Territories’, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 21:2 (2007). See also the chapters in Jochen Böhler and Robert Gerwarth (eds.), The Waffen-SS: A  European History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), for the variety of peoples recruited to the Waffen-SS. 22 Doris Bergen, ‘Nazism and Christianity: Partners and Rivals’, Journal of Contemporary History, 42:5 (2007), 29. 23 Christopher J. Probst, Demonizing the Jews: Luther and the Protestant Church in Nazi Germany (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2012); Susannah Heschel, The Aryan

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Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008); Robert P. Ericksen, Complicity in the Holocaust: Churches and Universities in Nazi Germany (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012). 24 Kevin Spicer, Hitler’s Priests: Catholic Clergy and National Socialism (DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2008); Michael Phayer, The Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1930  – 1965 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000). For a historiographical survey, see Robert P. Ericksen and Susannah Heschel, ‘The German Churches and the Holocaust’, in Dan Stone (ed.), The Historiography of the Holocaust (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 296–318. 25 Nitzan Lebovic, The Philosophy of Life and Death: Ludwig Klages and the Rise of a Nazi Biopolitics (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013); Paolo Giaccaria and Claudio Minca, ‘Nazi Biopolitics and the Dark Geographies of the selva’, Journal of Genocide Research, 13:1–2 (2011), 67–84; Max Whyte, ‘The Uses and Abuses of Nietzsche in the Third Reich: Alfred Baeumler’s “Heroic Realism” ’, Journal of Contemporary History, 43:2 (2008), 171–194. The classic study is Max Weinreich, Hitler’s Professors: The Part of Scholarship in Germany’s Crimes against the Jewish People (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999 [1946]). 26 Claudia Koonz, The Nazi Conscience (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2003); Raphael Gross, Anständig geblieben: Nationalsozialistische Moral (Frankfurt/M: S. Fischer, 2010); Boaz Neumann, Die Weltanschauung des Nazismus: Raum, Körper, Sprache (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2010); Wolfgang Bialas, ‘The Eternal Voice of the Blood: Racial Science and Nazi Ethics’, in Weiss-Wendt and Yeomans (eds.), Racial Science, 347–371; Wolfgang Bialas and Lothar Fritze (eds.), Nazi Ideology and Ethics (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2014). 27 Walter Berger, Was ist Rasse? Versuch einer Abgrenzung ihrer Wirksamkeit im seelischen Bereich (Vienna: Verlag Gsur & Co., 1936), 12 [orig: ‘die in der Rasse weniger die organische Ganzheit wie jene, sondern die naturwissenschaftlich erfaßbare Merkmalsumme sehen’]. 28 Georg Stohrer, Vererbung und Rasse, des Volkes Schicksal (Braunschweig: Verlag von Georg Westermann, n.d.)  =  Dia, Sonderheft 2, n.p. [Orig: ‘Der Deutsche arbeitet vorwiegend in der Landwirtschaft, im Gewerbe und in der Industrie, den Juden finden wir ganz überwiegend in Handel und Geldverkehr. Es ist der jüdische Händlergeist, der sich hier auswirkt.’ ‘Jüdischer Geist ist das Gegenteil des nordischen. Er zersetzt unsere Auffasung von Ehre und Reinheit und gefährdet unser Familienleben. Wir wollen keinen radauluftigen Antisemitismus und wissen wohl, daß es in allen Völkern auch hochwertige, ja edle Juden gegeben hat und noch gibt. Aber wie das Blut des Juden uns fremd und feind ist, so ist es auch sein Geist. Wir setzen uns heute mit Recht gegen die Ausbeutung durch ein uns artfremdes Volk zur Wehr und verurteilen jede Verschmelzung mit ihm, gegen die sich aus unserem Blut heraus unser Gefühl auflehnt.’ ‘Das ist vorbei, seit unser Rasseempfinden durch den Nationalsozialismus neu geweckt and geschärft worden ist.’] 29 Alon Confino, A World without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to Genocide (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014). 30 Eric A. Johnson, Nazi Terror: The Gestapo, Jews and Ordinary Germans (London: John Murray, 1999), 315. But note the very large numbers of Germans – both Wehrmacht ‘deserters’ or ‘shirkers’ as well as civilians – who were executed towards the end of the war. Richard Evans writes in The Third Reich at War: How the Nazis Led Germany from Conquest to Disaster (London: Penguin, 2009), 500–501: Over the whole course of the war, it has been estimated that courts-martial tried the staggering total of 3 million cases, of which some 400,000 were brought against civilians and prisoners of war. Of all these cases, no fewer than 30,000 ended in a member of the German armed forces being condemned to death. This compared with a mere forty-eight executed in the German forces during the First World War.

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And as Ian Kershaw notes in The End: Germany 1944–45 (London: Penguin, 2012), 390, ‘the regime was a grave danger to its own citizens, increasingly so after the sharp intensification of terror in February 1945.’ 31 Thomas Kühne, Belonging and Genocide: Hitler’s Community, 1918–1945 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010). 32 For more theoretical background, see my ‘Holocaust Spaces’, in Paolo Giaccaria and Claudio Minca (eds.), Hitler’s Geographies (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 45–62. 33 Burleigh and Wippermann, The Racial State, 168–173. 34 Lisa Pine, Hitler’s ‘National Community’: Society and Culture in Nazi Germany (London: Hodder Arnold, 2007), 127. 35 Kurt Daluege, ‘The National Socialist Fight against Criminality’ (1936), in Rabinbach and Gilman (eds.), The Third Reich Sourcebook, 341. 36 Nikolaus Wachsmann, ‘From Indefinite Confinement to Extermination: “Habitual Criminals” in the Third Reich’, in Gellately and Stoltzfus (eds.), Social Outsiders, 174 (quotation) and 184 n4 (statistics). See also Richard F. Wetzell, Inventing the Criminal: A  History of German Criminology 1880–1945 (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2000). 37 Wachsmann, ‘From Indefinite Confinement’, 180. 38 SS-Untersturmführer Professor Eckhardt, ‘Sexually Indecent Abominations against Nature Are Punishable by Death’, Das Schwarze Korps (22 May 1935), in Rabinbach and Gilman (eds.), The Third Reich Sourcebook, 380. 39 Burleigh and Wippermann, The Racial State, 197. 40 Paul Weindling, ‘International Eugenics: Swedish Sterilisation in Context’, Scandinavian Journal of History, 24:2 (1999), 192. 41 Sybil Milton, ‘ “Gypsies” as Social Outsiders in Nazi Germany’, in Gellately and Stoltzfus (eds.), Social Outsiders, 220. 42 Viorel Achim, ‘Atitudinea contemporanilor faţa de deportarea ţiganilor în Transnistria’, in Viorel Achim and Constantin Iordachi (eds.), România şi Transnistria: Problema Holocaustului (Bucharest: Curtea Veche, 2004), 201–233. But cf. Roland Clark’s comments on Achim in ‘New Models, New Questions: Historiographical Approaches to the Romanian Holocaust’, European Review of History, 19:2 (2012), 306. 43 See the careful essay by Michael Zimmermann, ‘The National Socialist Persecution of the Jews and Gypsies: Is a Comparison Possible?’, in Donald Kenrick (eds.), The Gypsies during the Second World War, Vol. 3: The Final Chapter (Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press, 2006), 135–148; also Donald Kenrick and Grattan Puxon, Gypsies under the Swastika, rev. edn (Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press, 2009); Anton Weiss-Wendt (ed.), The Nazi Genocide of the Roma: Reassessment and Commemoration (New York: Berghahn Books, 2013). 44 Nikolaus Wachsmann, KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps (London: Little, Brown, 2015), 5. 45 Geoffrey P. Megargee, ‘Editor’s Introduction to the Series and Volume I’, in Megargee (ed.), Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos 1933–1945 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press in Association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2009), vol. 1, xxiii–xxiv. 46 Nikolaus Wachsmann, ‘The Policy of Exclusion: Repression in the Nazi State, 1933–1939’, in Jane Caplan (ed.), Nazi Germany (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 136–137. 47 Kim Wünschmann, Before Auschwitz: Jewish Prisoners in the Prewar Concentration Camps (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015), 211. 48 Nikolaus Wachsmann, ‘The Dynamics of Destruction: The Development of the Concentration Camps, 1933–1945’, in Jane Caplan and Nikolaus Wachsmann (eds.), Concentration Camps in Nazi Germany: The New Histories (London: Routledge, 2010), 33. 49 Dan Stone, The Liberation of the Camps: The End of the Holocaust and Its Aftermath (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015).

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5 0 Wachsmann, ‘The Policy of Exclusion’, 128. 51 Paul Weindling, Victims and Survivors of Nazi Human Experiments: Science and Suffering in the Holocaust (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 7. 52 Daniel Blatman, The Death Marches: The Final Phase of Nazi Genocide (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2011); Sebastian Schönemann, ‘ “Accounting for the Dead”: Humanitäre und rechtliche Motive der alliierten Ermittlungsarbeit zu den Todesmärschen’, Freilegungen: Jahrbuch des International Tracing Service, 1 (2012). 53 Kolnai, The War against the West, 502.

6 STRUCTURE AND FANTASY Holocaust perpetrators and genocide studies

In Hermann Hesse’s novel Narcissus and Goldmund, which ponders the possibility of reconciling Nietzsche’s Apollonian and Dionysian sides of human life, the vital force which is the young Goldmund thinks to himself at one point, ‘one of the disadvantages of school and learning’ is ‘that the mind seemed to have the tendency to see and represent all things as though they were flat and had only two dimensions. This, somehow, seemed to render all matters of the intellect shallow and worthless’.1 Scholars might be tempted simply to brush off these thoughts as the daydreams of a man of action or else to admit that the problem exists but that there is nothing to be done about it. Calm reflection and disinterestedness are characteristics of scholarship which always stand in opposition to the flux and dynamism of the actual events such scholarship seeks to understand. But perhaps there is something especially nerve-wracking about Hesse’s warning when it comes to studying genocide. I refer not to the problem of empathy, for this is a red herring (we do not have to become perpetrators, ‘only’ try and understand their thought processes), but to the shocking contrast between platitudinous – literally, flat, two-dimensional – words on a printed page and the horrific violence of what is described. Are not such attempts shallow and worthless? The problem is laid bare in an extract from Anna Langfus’ now little-read novel of 1960, The Whole Land Brimstone (original, Le sel et le soufre). The protagonist, a Jewish woman passing as Aryan, encounters a Nazi who has recently been involved in killing actions. He explains to her patiently and calmly that the murder of the Jews is a necessity that has been ordered by the Führer. The protagonist is confused by the fact that before her she sees a sensitive man, but one who openly admits to having murdered a whole family: This was no out-and-out murderer. This was not someone who killed for revenge, for greed, or in a fit of madness. This was a man who had ardently

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performed an act that was quite uncharacteristic of him. Moreover, he would be sincerely astonished to hear the word killer, the word murderer, applied to him. He did not murder; he executed – an operation as natural as smoking out a wasps’ nest, carried out because it was useful. Nothing in that to trouble a man’s conscience. I heard him say: ‘You mustn’t go on thinking about it.’2 Such depictions shake our instinctive wish to see perpetrators as just ‘mad’ or somehow entirely different from ‘us’, and thus begins the need to study such people. Recently, there have been criticisms of attempts to study Holocaust perpetrators, along the lines that such studies represent a morally dubious position and that a ‘correct’ approach would be to focus on the victims.3 This argument is at best confusing and at worst devious. One should certainly encourage studies of victims, whether re-creating the worlds that were lost before the Holocaust, especially Jewish life in Eastern Europe, or explaining varieties of resistance, or undertaking micro-histories of inter-ethnic relationships, as in Omer Bartov’s recent work. A study such as Simone Gigliotti’s on the experience of deportation is especially valuable, for the evidence she highlights, which derives mostly from survivor testimonies, presents information which not only explains the victims’ sensory experiences in ways that would remain otherwise inaccessible but flatly contradicts the image of the murder process presented by the Nazis, as ‘efficient’, ‘clean’ or ‘smooth’. All such studies enrich our understanding of the Holocaust. But unless we want to give up on such questions as how and why the Holocaust could occur, we have no choice but to study perpetrators. It is necessary to study perpetrators, not – it should hardly need to be said – because doing so encourages some sort of identification with them but because only this way can we think about the conditions which are necessary for genocide to take place. As Federico Finchelstein, one of the most penetrating analysts of fascist ideology, has noted: ‘Only fascists can explain to themselves the meaning of victimization. For non-fascists in general, and their victims in particular, the Holocaust makes no sense.’ The Holocaust is, in this understanding, a meaningless event from the standpoint of reason. However, it was also the objective outcome of meaningful mythical formations rooted in unreason. . . . [F]ascism embraces imaginary politics and produces radical events that are beyond the limits of rational representation and justification.4 We are thus required to study the perpetrators.

Holocaust perpetrators First, I will briefly survey some of the work on perpetrators that has been done by other scholars, and which I have discussed in more detail elsewhere.5 The general aim here is to show, first, that there is no single, homogeneous perpetrator type;

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indeed, one can go so far as to say that there is even no ideal-type of Nazi except insofar as the perpetrators’ actions demonstrated in practice what it meant to be a Nazi. Rebecca Wennberg calls this ‘ideological incorrectness’; that is, we should not look for a single definition of Nazism, derived perhaps from intellectual history, for there is none to be found.6 Instead, we see that even those who were in many respects not ideal Nazis (from the point of view of party discipline, perhaps, or inclination) could go on to become archetypal perpetrators of genocide, for example, Arthur Greiser or Odilo Globocnik. This is especially true of Scandinavian collaborators such as those in the Ragnarok circle in Norway, who were committed Nazis but often out of sorts with the Nazi leadership. Examples can be found across Europe, whether in the Netherlands or Croatia, of indigenous fascists who saw themselves as representatives of a local Nazism that was in no way simply a form of collaboration with the Germans – this notion that they were protecting the nations’ interests was often their preferred form of postwar defence. Second, this survey shows that irrespective of the heterogeneous nature of the perpetrators, perhaps even because of it, the end-result of their actions was strikingly homogeneous. That is, whatever their reasons for participation, the result was the same: none blanched at the task of killing the Jews. If there was such a thing as a typical perpetrator, one might look to men like Werner Best, Alfred Six or Paul Werner Hoppe, the commandant of Stutthof, whom Orth identifies as the typical perpetrator: imbued with radical völkisch ideas and able to act according to objective, rational calculations  – an ideal ‘political soldier’.7 The Camp-SS, the Gestapo and the Judenberater (Jewish advisors) all conform to this model of educated men carrying out mass murder, as do the men on the next rung down the hierarchy, the SS and police leaders (SSPF) and Higher SS and police leaders (HSSPF) like Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, Friedrich Jeckeln, Friedrich-Wilhelm Krüger, Otto Ohlendorf, Fritz Rauter and Odilo Globocnik.8 Even the somewhat unusual Erich Koch, Gauleiter of East Prussia and Reich Commissar of Ukraine, more a highly competent administrator than a Nazi fanatic, followed a familiar trajectory of radicalization during World War I, the Freikorps and the struggle for National Socialist dominance. His success in East Prussia meant that he was one of the very few leaders of the Third Reich whom Hitler was prepared to back against Himmler.9 Not very many perpetrators fit the stereotypical bill, like Christian Wirth, who was described as a man ‘who had no feelings or consideration, who treated people – whether Germans, Jews or Ukrainians – as numbers, or even worse’, who had ‘an exceptional talent for organization’, who ‘despised and abused people’ and ‘was a Jew-hater on an unimaginable scale.’10 Claudia Steur writes in her study of ‘Eichmann’s emissaries’ that ‘one can say that the Judenberater’s way of working was marked by an increasing radicalization and perfectionism.’11 The emissaries can, according to Steur, be divided into two groups: those with close links to Eichmann and those without. Among the first group were Theodor Dannecker, Dieter Wisliceny, Alois Brunner, Fritz Boßhammer and Franz Abromeit. In second group were Kurt Asche, Wilhelm Zoepf, Heinz Röthke, Anton Burger, Gustav Richter, Hermann Krumey and Otto Hunsche. All

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were born between 1905 and 1913, lived through World War I  as children and came to maturity in the postwar period. They constitute classic examples of those who had the ground pulled out from underneath their feet by the Weimar crises: ‘Almost all the Judenberater came from the middle class, which had been especially hard hit by the crisis.’ Most were businessmen who joined the NSDAP between 1930 and 1933. A combination of opportunism and craving for social status seems to have been central to their participation: ‘The main reasons for their later participation in the murder of the Jews lie in their striving for power, respect and social ascendancy.’ Boßhammer, for example, found the measures being taken against the Jews ‘terrible and inhuman’ and was shocked that he ‘should find himself employed in the Judenreferate.’ But he still took the job: ‘Only with “unconditional obedience” could one get the chance to rise to the position of Regierungsrat.’ ‘In the face of their superiors’, writes Steur, ‘these men made blind belief and obedience the order of the day and identified themselves completely with Hitler’s state.’12 Globocnik, the subject of a recent biography, is perhaps exceptional, for he allowed his fanaticism to override any notion of dispassionate bureaucratic administration; indeed, it was his demotion from Gauleiter of Vienna (because of corruption) to SS Police Chief in Lublin that gave his violent antisemitic instincts free rein, as he became closely involved in the activities of the Einsatzgruppen in the USSR in 1941 and shortly afterwards the key figure in Operation Reinhard.13 The empirical evidence provided by Orth, Herbert, Steur and others seems to confirm the cliché of the perpetrators as ‘cultured demons’. On the other hand, recent research takes us back to Christopher Browning’s claim that not all perpetrators were radical ideologues; with reference to the Einsatzgruppen, for example, below the leadership level, and especially once conscription and local collaborators had to be used to bolster numbers, one sees a rather heterogeneous group.14 Current research, then, seeks to balance organizational and situational factors against ideological ones. But of course the two overlap, especially when an organization such as the police was heavily impregnated with ideological training. Still, most historians agree that an emphasis solely on ideology, as if comes from nowhere and has no organizational setting, is inappropriate. Edward Westermann, for example, writing about Order Police battalions in occupied Eastern Europe, writes that ‘it is a grave oversight to dismiss the organizational culture of the Uniformed Police in a search for the motive force behind their participation in the conduct of genocide.’ Still, they acquitted themselves as expected, with police chief Daluege congratulating Himmler: ‘For Adolf Hitler, this corps of the SS and the police represents his struggle for a greater Germany, Europe and the world. Its [the SS and police corps’] task is the annihilation of the eternal enemies of all völkisch and racially conscious nations.’15 Westermann still arrives at the conclusion that ideology was important but tries to present it as the outcome not of an innate national belief system but of deliberately organized institutional frameworks to which the men willingly subscribed; he thus seeks to avoid ‘focusing on the ideological forest at the expense of losing sight of the individual trees of human causation.’16

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The same sense of complexity – and hence greater adherence to human behaviour – informs recent discussions of ‘desk killers’ versus ‘active murderers’. The dominant image of the desk killer, prevalent from the 1960s until the 1990s, cohered largely with the functionalist notion of ‘industrial genocide’ and reluctance to confront the brutality of the events. We now know that the division is unjustified, for the men most often identified as ‘desk killers’ – Eichmann and his staff – were actively involved in implementing murderous policies on the ground throughout occupied Europe.17 Similarly, according to the Reich Main Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt, RSHA)’s policy of rotation, two-thirds of Gestapo leaders – with their middle-class upbringings, humanist schooling (almost half of them with doctorates in law) and narrow avoidance of military service in 1914–1918  – were ‘actively involved as leaders of Einsatzgruppen and – kommandos as well as leaders of Stapo- and Sipo-posts in the mass murder of the Jewish population of the occupied regions.’18 Clearly, it is wrong to focus only on bureaucratic efficiency or on radical racist passions, when Nazism in action combined them so successfully. As George Browder neatly puts it: ‘ “Committed ideologue” versus “banal bureaucrat” may even be a false dichotomy; they are at best two extremes on a multidimensional spectrum of perpetrators.’19 This research, whilst placing greater stress than Browning on ideology, appears to confirm a neo-functionalist perspective for two reasons. First, it places considerable emphasis on decisions made at the periphery rather than in Berlin. Second, it suggests that policy developed zig-zag fashion rather than following a pre-ordained blueprint. However, these points are counterbalanced by the fact that many of these studies strongly reassert the primacy of ideology, in that these heterogeneous ‘ordinary men’ (as well as the smaller number of less ordinary, committed careerist Nazis) operated in a framework suffused with antisemitism as a result of which their actions did not need to be directed, for it was already clear to them who their targets were. Whether they were committed ideologues or criminal Exzeßtäter, their generational, social, religious, educational and ideological heterogeneity did not get in the way of the production of a homogeneous victim group: ‘In the final instance, the Shoah proved to be a collective deed carried out by division of labour on a European scale, to which the most varied perpetrator groups contributed with total devotion.’20 Irrespective of the fact that the men of the Einsatzgruppen came from diverse backgrounds, ‘[n]evertheless, the Einsatzgruppe developed a horrifyingly “homogeneous” murderous effect, so that an end neither to their lust for conquest nor to the possibility of realizing it appeared foreseeable from a geopolitical or military standpoint in the winter of 1941–42.’21 This is a conclusion at which Browning also arrives in a later study of the Order Police: ‘Clearly the German Order Police was not monolithic’, writes Browning, ‘but in the end the diversity of attitudes and motives made little difference.’22 When we add in other groups of perpetrators – female SS auxiliaries, nurses and doctors, local collaborators across Europe, who had very many different reasons to become involved – this conclusion (i.e. that a heterogeneous group committed a homogeneous crime) seems even more self-evident.

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These considerations reveal that the historiography of Holocaust perpetrators has become complex and mature; it leads us to consider a question which arises out of this scholarly literature: what is the most insightful way of trying to explain the perpetrators’ actions? The question arises because in the past, scholars have assumed that there is a single type of perpetrator or that perpetrators’ motivations derive from a unique psychological make-up. Ernst Cassirer, for example, rightly identified myth as crucial to Nazism but explained it as an all-embracing monolithic position. His argument that the Nazis targeted the Jews because Judaism represents the rejection of myth par excellence (in the forbidding of graven images, for example) was a suggestive and rich argument. In forwarding it, Cassirer identified the reason why speaking of mere antisemitism is insufficient for understanding Nazism. Instead, he says, Nazism demands ‘a life and death struggle which could only find its end in the complete extermination of the Jews.’23 Yet at the same time as trying to make English-speaking readers understand the single-mindedness of the Nazis, he painted an undifferentiated picture of them which reduced them to the same. Not all people who became Holocaust perpetrators were dyed-in-the-wool antisemites or believers in the world conspiracy of ‘the Jew’ as put forward by Hitler and his inner circle; many became for involved for far more mundane reasons. As this section has shown, we now have a historically rich account of the different sorts of people who can become perpetrators, most obviously and thoroughly in the case of the Holocaust, but increasingly so for other cases of genocide too. Even if in the end they converge on a consensus position that a specified enemy group needs to be eliminated, the paths to that point are actually remarkably varied. In order to try to answer this question in more detail, this chapter will henceforth broaden its scope beyond the Holocaust to think about genocide perpetrators more generally. I hope that the justification for doing so – analytical clarity – will become evident along the way. My aim is to examine one of the most intractable separations in the historiography on perpetrators with the aim of reconciling the competing interpretations, thus providing a meaningful synthesis of them, with the hope of explaining that scholarly divide to a non-specialist audience and encouraging further research on genocide takes a new, wider approach to the subject. The divide in the literature to which I refer is that between those who study the Holocaust (and genocide in general) as a structural phenomenon – the outcome of major international pressures such as competition between states and the radical decision-making of states in crisis – and those who study it as a voluntaristic phenomenon, with a focus on the actual killing process, often examining perpetrators as individuals in a quasianthropological fashion as meaning-producers in moments of crisis but with less focus on elites and the decision-making processes that brought about a genocidal situation in the first place.24 I will refer to these two approaches as ‘structure’ and ‘fantasy’ for convenient shorthand, though it is of course the case – as with all ideal types – that scholars who fall into one or other category rarely ignore altogether the other factors. All historians are familiar with these concepts since debates about individuals and structures have underpinned many paradigmatic debates in modern

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historiography, from the Annales School’s focus on large-scale structures in the longue-durée of human affairs, English Marxist historiography’s version of social history, the Bielefeld School’s inversion of (what they perceived as) individualistic German historicism in favour of ‘structures’ when explaining the Sonderweg (special path) of the Kaiserreich or competing assessments of Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners (1996), which returned the reader’s attention to the role of individuals and their scope for moral choices even in the face of structural frameworks not of their own making.25 I  seek to demonstrate that, whilst both approaches have contributed greatly to our understanding of genocide, bringing them together allows us to perceive genocide as a part of ‘normal’ human behaviour insofar as it derives from and exacerbates social crises that require the institutions and structures of the modern state in order to function but that also require fantasy-thinking in order to be thought of as permissible in the first place and in order that the context of crisis in which genocide takes place can be made manifest, with the consequence that perpetrators feel the necessity of their action.

Structure and fantasy Genocide is often regarded as a crime of state, which therefore relies on the agencies, institutions, bureaucracies and power of the state. Although the UNGC does not specify that genocide must be committed by states (Article IV speaks, rather, of ‘persons committing genocide . . . whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals’), in the twentieth century (and beyond), it was the case that states were indeed the major perpetrators of genocide. In a world divided into nation-states, few other actors have the kind of control over the means of violence and the bureaucratic and technological capacity for such organized attacks on whole population groups. From the destruction of the Armenians in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire to the systematic attacks on ‘Black’ (as opposed to ‘Arab’) Sudanese in Darfur a century later, genocide has achieved its dreadfully spectacular results thanks to state-led organizations, from access to weapons to local bureaucracies’ ability to separate in-groups from out-groups, thanks to censuses and the workings of local administration, such as the burgomaster system in Rwanda. Given the nature of international relations (IR) discourse on states, which employs vocabulary such as ‘the state system’, we should not be surprised that the focus in much genocide scholarship tends to be on rational decisionmaking processes, bureaucratically driven dynamics which follow their own course in an almost deterministic fashion and a tendency to portray elites as driven less by ideology than by perceptions of raison d’état. Yet the decisions of elites, and the participation of their subordinates, in genocide do not rest at the level of objective social relations: warfare, insurgency, threats to territorial integrity, treasonous contact with foreign powers and so on. Rather, whilst these are often the settings for genocide, to make the jump from the conflicts involved in any of the earlier discussed scenarios to genocide, fantasies about the nature of the enemy collective as such must exist. These can take many forms, and

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just as there is no single type of perpetrator, so there is no uniform fantasy about the ‘enemy’ group. To take one obvious example: when the Young Turks felt the territorial integrity of the Ottoman Empire to be threatened by the actions of small groups of Armenian nationalists – who they believed were fifth columnists, in league with the Russians and thus the Triple Entente – they responded not by disarming such groups but by deporting and massacring Armenians in general. What possible logic can have led them to believe that the group as such was a threat to the security of the Empire? Even the context of warfare and the unfortunate timing of the Van uprising just as the Empire was being invaded at Gallipoli are insufficient to explain the series of events that became genocidal. Only a sense of paranoia and ressentiment at the humiliation of the Empire at the hands of the Western Allies can help in explaining the otherwise incomprehensible leap from countering a few (from the Ottoman state’s point of view) terrorist groups to destroying a whole population group. Similarly, the perception of Stalin and the leading circle of communists around him that the Soviet Union’s security and territorial integrity were threatened not just by actual military enemies but by potentially traitorous national groups all the way along the country’s vast borders led to the order to deport so-called ‘punished peoples’: half a million Chechens and Ingush were deported in 1943–1944 as Nazi collaborators, as were large numbers of Kalmuks, Karachais, Crimean Tartars and others; and in the few years before the war, many other national groups arrayed along the borders, from Poles or Finns in the west to Koreans in the east, found themselves shipped off from places where fifth columnist activities could be harmful to places in the interior where, as the regime saw it, such schemes would be rendered impotent, such as Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Tajikistan or Siberia. Whether or not these actions constitute genocide – as Norman Naimark argues – one has to account for the fact that, apart from the problem of the groups that fell victim to Stalinist criminality not always fitting the UNGC (‘kulaks’), it is hard to establish an attempt to destroy the group ‘as such’, even in the case of the Koreans, which saw a whole population group (172,000 people) deported from the Soviet Far East to Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan because they were suspected (highly improbably, it need hardly be said) of being Japanese collaborators.26 The question of definition aside, however, such actions clearly owed less to any empirical evidence that non-Russian national groups were undermining the Soviet Union than to fears of being swamped by enemies without, aided by their national compatriots within. We are reminded here that genocide is a group crime. It is committed by groups against individuals only insofar as they are members of another group, as defined by the perpetrators – and people exist in societies, so the decision to participate or not in genocide is rarely, if ever, purely a matter of individual moral choice; nor is it explicable simply via individual psychology. Nevertheless, we can perhaps take some psychoanalytical categories that apply most obviously to individuals and adapt them to group situations. The argument is not that there is such a thing as a ‘group mind’ in a literal sense. But there are such things as group dynamics and shared narratives of history and identity, and individual being in the world is always

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experienced in society – one’s sense of selfhood is defined partly in opposition to one’s daily life as part of one or more collectives. Thus, we are dealing here not with fantasies at the level of individual psychologies – although these may be highly influential through writings, speeches, charismatic leadership, propaganda, education, terroristic control of society and so on – but with fantasies that are always already built into the structures of society and of rule-making. Marvin Hurvich’s notion of ‘annihilation anxieties’ is perhaps the most productive psychoanalytical approach here, although one also needs to pay attention to theories which deal with emotions such as fear, hatred and humiliation, as well as the fantasies of revenge and retaliation, which such emotions engender, often in the process creating cycles of hatred and violence that span generations and geographical setting, making these cycles very hard to break. My argument is that these fantasies are not found in a separate sphere of human experience from the rational, structural factors that make genocide operational but that they are themselves constitutive of those very structures. What appear to be  – and often are – ‘modern’, technological, even rational processes of categorization, collection and deportation of ‘enemy’ groups are underpinned not by rational calculation in the narrow sense but by an instrumental rationality that is based on a non-rational understanding of what is taking place. It is not that some genocides are driven by rational calculation – for example, competition for land, food or other resources – and others by pure fantasies, such as the notion of a Jewish world conspiracy, but that all genocides involve a combination of the two. The fantasies in question are of course often rooted in actual experiences of ethnic violence or other forms of group division, but they need not be: the case of the Holocaust is the prime example here, for the heartfelt notion that Germany was being colonized by Jews or that the Aryan race was deliberately being destroyed by Jewish plots for miscegenation and racial degeneration had no basis in fact, no matter how hard the Nazis tried to convince themselves and the German people of the existence and meaningful agency of ‘world Jewry’.27 The point is that, no matter what histories of actual conflict might exist, genocide demands a kind of thinking (‘thinking with the blood’) that advocates ‘final solutions’ far removed from the actual conditions which led to the conflict in the first place. Thus, even in a case like Rwanda, where the RPF invasion made sure that a genuine conflict provides the background for the genocide in 1994, a purely military strategy would not have involved attempting to hunt down and kill every last Tutsi as if they were all in league with, or potential fighters for, the RPF. Genocide scholarship tends to hold these two fields of human existence apart for heuristic reasons: on the one hand, explaining either the workings of bureaucracies or elites’ decision-making processes; on the other hand, explaining the ‘carnivalesque’ dimension of enjoyment or frenzy in killing. The two approaches derive largely from two separate methodological traditions and sets of assumptions about how societies function, with the former (more social scientific in orientation) looking more towards ‘objective’ social relations and networks of power, the latter (inclined more towards anthropology or history of ideas) focusing on

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moments of transgressive behaviour, especially among individual perpetrators or small groups of grassroots killers – mobs, instead of elites.28 But the two are in fact inseparable: both focus on moments of crisis when the norms of society are turned upside-down or when rules that normally control ‘civilized’ (for want of a better term) behaviour legitimize ‘barbaric’ behaviour, often in the name of being civilized, or defending civilization. What we have said so far argues that the decision-making processes of elites – the real key factor in bringing about genocide as a policy – are suffused with fantasy-thinking. By the same token, the frenzy or ‘licence’ with which individuals or groups of killers operate during genocide is not simply driven by bloodlust, although this factor should by no means be downplayed; they too derive from structural factors as much as from ‘voluntaristic’ motives.29 It is also the case, in other words, that ‘[t]here is always a danger when detailing structural factors in history of seeming to absolve individual actors of decision-making power and moral responsibility.’30 I  want to bring these two approaches together, not just because they are in fact always simultaneously present in genocide but in order to challenge some common methodological assumptions. The first is that genocide is a ‘modern’ phenomenon, in the sense that it requires the state and its bureaucratic and technological capacities to become a widespread and successful policy. This has the consequence of making the Holocaust the paradigmatic case, even at the cost of ignoring aspects of the murder of the Jews which do not fit the bill of ‘factory-line genocide’, such as the ghettos and face-to-face killings in Eastern Europe.31 And the second, no less damaging, assumption is that massacres or frenzied attacks take place among more ‘primitive’ societies; indeed, the condescending term ‘communal violence’, which is commonly used to describe events in India/Pakistan, carries with it unmistakeable colonial undertones of ‘restless natives’, completely occluding the role played by officialdom, the military or the state, and seeing only passion-fuelled hatreds between groups divided along primitive ethnic or religious lines – passions to which ‘we’ in the civilized world are, of course, not subject.32 My basic assumption then is that all modern genocides (from nineteenthcentury colonial genocides onwards) and probably all cases of genocide before that involve a combination of power relations and structures that can be analysed using tools of political science or political economy, and a form of fantasy-thinking that defines the enemy and makes perpetrators feel that their actions are required and justified. Genocide does not occur solely as a slide, without human agency, of structures into genocide, that is, a radicalization of social structures that is built into the system (à la Bauman), but nor can fantasy alone (antisemitism, racism, fear of pollution or being ‘swamped’, for example) account for why genocide occurs at one moment but not another. Rather, the combination of the two factors, to varying degrees, is a necessity if we are to understand the meaning of the ‘dark side of modernity’. The example of Holocaust historiography is instructive here, with its language of networks, competencies, inter-agency cooperation and competition, as well as

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a scientific vocabulary of eugenics, racial hygiene and medicalizing technology. All offer an image of the Holocaust as a rationally planned, efficiently executed murder process (which is in fact only partly true). By contrast, the language of the carnivalesque – words such as Rausch, jouissance, licence, frenzy and transgression – appears on the face of it to be inapplicable. It is relatively straightforward to speak, as LaCapra does, of the Holocaust being characterized by a combination of these elements; ‘perhaps’, he writes, ‘only this disconcerting conjunction helps to explain the incredible excesses of brutality, cruelty, and at times carnivalesque or “sublime” elation in Nazi behaviour towards Jews.’33 The difficulty is to demonstrate in detail how these two aspects of genocide worked together in the Holocaust. Can the Holocaust as such be understood as a moment of ‘effervescence’, ‘elation’ or ‘transgression’, including the ‘rational structures’ and planning processes that went into realizing it (and which seem a long way from the frenzy of a massacre)? Is it possible to show that the face-to-face killings carried out by the Einsatzgruppen and their accomplices; the authorized pogroms in eastern Europe; the vicious and degrading treatment of Jews in Transnistria, Yugoslavia and elsewhere on the part of the Nazis’ local collaborators; and the mocking and jeering crowds that accompanied deportations in Germany itself were all not simply the actions of mobs acting out their ‘licence’ but were part of a broader network of perpetration, centrally directed and controlled and subject to administrative planning? Here the notion of ‘transgression’ or ‘elation’ might be useful, insofar as they apply not only to the behaviour of rampaging mobs but to the decisions of elites – an aspect of state planning that is commonly missed in structural accounts. Certainly, one can helpfully demonstrate that political movements such as the Muhajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) in Pakistan and Zdravko Primorac’s Bosnian Croat ‘violence formation’ are characterized by what Oskar Verkaaik calls the ‘aesthetics and ethics of transgression’ and the ‘effervescence of collective violence.’34 And, as Mart Bax notes, describing collective violence only as directed carefully from above implies ‘an uncritical acceptance of a central or national leader perspective, dismissing as deviant anything that does not go according to plan and denying the significance of specific local and regional circumstances or at any rate failing to problematize and examine them.’35 Nevertheless, what is often figured as a bureaucratically organized, managerially efficient and division-of-labour-based state-led operation – which genocide might well be – is always already suffused with a sense of elation, borne from the ‘necessity’ of directing a great project, one which will possibly save a nation, race or other group from the putative predations of another. For grassroots violence to be effective, we still need to see, as Jacques Semelin reminds us, opinion leaders who will affirm: this is what is happening to us, this is who is responsible for our misfortune. It is they who are the cause of our suffering. We absolutely must get rid of them. We promise that afterwards everything will be better. Just give us your support, or better yet, join in the fight to rid ourselves of this scourge.36

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To this extent, the historical analyses of the networks and bureaucracies of genocide, though vital, are only partial explanations unless they can also account for this non-rational premise which informs elites’ decisions to embark on what we might henceforth call (in clear breach of the term’s meaning in theorists such as Georges Bataille) ‘organized transgression’. By ‘non-rational’ here is meant the premise on which the project is built, not the execution of the project. Even the premise implies a logic: if one believes that one’s ‘race’ is being thwarted by a Jewish world conspiracy, then it makes sense to target ‘the Jew’. But the premise – the idea that ‘the Aryan race’ is threatened by ‘the Jew’ – is non-rational in the sense that it is not amenable to evidence-based confirmation. All thinking always already contains rational and non-rational elements in this sense: much of what we believe is subject to change in the face of evidence, but not all of it. In the case of genocide, a crisis of some sort, usually in recent history a crisis of the state, suffices to bring to prominence beliefs that would normally not be sanctioned because of their unverifiability; ‘the logic of genocide’ refers then to a process by which a non-rational premise becomes policy and is then driven through in a logical way. ‘Licence’ is taken to the heart of the system, permitting a controlled and instrumental execution of a radically transgressive premise. It is this ‘organized transgression’ which brings about genocide. Distasteful though it is, this is why we must study perpetrators.

Notes 1 Hermann Hesse, Narcissus and Goldmund (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969), 73. 2 Anna Langfus, The Whole Land Brimstone (London: Collins, 1962 [orig. 1960]), 159. 3 See especially Alexandra Garbarini, ‘Reflections on the Holocaust and Jewish History’, Jewish Quarterly Review, 102:1 (2012), 81–90. See also Rebecca Jinks, Representing Genocide: The Holocaust as Paradigm? (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), 24 n71. 4 Federico Finchelstein, ‘The Holocaust as Ideology: Borges and the Meaning of Transnational Fascism’, Dapim: Studies on the Shoah, 25 (2011), 278–279. 5 Dan Stone, Histories of the Holocaust (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), ch2. 6 Rebecca Wennberg, Ideological Incorrectness beyond “Political Religion”: Discourse on Nazi Ideology among Scandinavian National Socialist Intellectuals, 1933–1945, PhD thesis, Royal Holloway, University of London (2016). 7 On Hoppe, see Karin Orth, Die Konzentrationslager-SS: Sozialstrukturelle Analysen und biographische Studien (Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2004), 217–221. See also Orth’s discussion of Hoppe in ‘Die Kommandanten der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager’, in Ulrich Herbert, Karin Orth and Christoph Dieckmann (eds.), Die nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2002), vol. 2, 755–786. It is worth noting Miroslav Kárný’s comments in that volume’s next chapter (‘Waffen-SS und Konzentrationslager’, 787–799), that the ideal-type of ‘political soldier’ broke down into something altogether more shabby and brutal in the face of the reality of the camps – which these same ‘political soldiers’ created. 8 Ronald Smelser and Enrico Syring (eds.), Die SS: Elite unter dem Totenkopf. 30 Lebensläufe (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2000) for some of these men. 9 Ralf Meindl, Ostpreußens Gauleiter: Erich Koch  – eine politische Biographie (Osnabrück: Fibre, 2007).

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10 Michael Tregenza, Christian Wirth: Inspekteur des SS-Sonderkommandos ‘Aktion Reinhard’ (1993, typescript held at Wiener Holocaust Library, London), 1, citing Franz Suchomel. 11 Claudia Steur, ‘Eichmanns Emissäre: Die “Judenberater” in Hitlers Europa’, in Gerhard Paul and Klaus-Michael Mallmann (eds.), Die Gestapo im Zweiten Weltkrieg: ‘Heimatfront’ und besetztes Europe (Darmstadt: Primus, 2000), 403–436, here 431. 12 Claudia Steur, ‘Eichmanns Emissäre’, 431, 432, 433, 434. On Dannecker, see Steur, Theodor Dannecker. Ein Funktionär der ‘Endlösung’ (Essen: Klartext, 1997). 13 Berndt Rieger, Creator of Nazi Death Camps: The Life of Odilo Globocnik (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2007). Unfortunately, the author seems more interested in Globocnik’s personal life than in the broader context necessary for a ‘political biography’. 14 Klaus-Michael Mallmann, ‘Menschenjagd und Massenmord: Das neue Instrument der Einsatzgruppen und – kommandos 1938–1945’, in Mallmann and Paul (eds.), Die Gestapo im Zweiten Weltkrieg, 304. 15 Daluege cited in Edward B. Westermann, ‘Shaping the Police Soldier as an Instrument for Annihilation’, in Alan E. Steinweis and Daniel E. Rogers (eds.), The Impact of Nazism: New Perspectives of the Third Reich and Its Legacy (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2003), 145. 16 Edward B. Westermann, ‘ “Ordinary Men” or “Ideological Soldiers”? Police Battalion 310 in Russia, 1942’, German Studies Review, 21:1 (1998), 42. 17 Hans Safrian, Die Eichmann-Männer (Vienna: Europaverlag, 1993); Yaacov Lozowick, Hitler’s Bureaucrats: The Nazi Security Police and the Banality of Evil (London: Continuum, 2002). Lozowick is somewhat out of step with most perpetrator research, seeing his subjects as ‘monsters’ in the manner of postwar stereotypes; see the review by George Browder, ‘No Middle Ground for the Eichmann Männer?’, Yad Vashem Studies, 31 (2003), 403–424. For an excellent example of a man who was both a desk killer and an actual murderer, see Jürgen Matthäus, ‘Georg Heuser – Routinier des sicherheitspolizeilichen Osteinsatzes’, in Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Gerhard Paul (eds.), Karrieren der Gewalt: Nationalsozialistische Täterbiographien (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2004), 115–125. 18 Gerhard Paul, ‘Von Psychopathen, Technokraten des Terrors und “ganz gewöhnlichen” Deutschen: Die Täter der Shoah im Spiegel der Forschung’, in Gerhard Paul (ed.), Die Täter der Shoah: Fanatische Nationalsozialisten oder ganz normale Deutsche? (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2002), 45. See also Steuer, ‘Eichmanns Emissäre’ for similar comments on the Judenberater, especially Dannecker and Brunner, who combined bureaucracy and ideological commitment with particular brutality. 19 George C. Browder, ‘Perpetrator Character and Motivation: An Emerging Consensus?’, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 17:3 (2003), 495. 20 Paul, ‘Von Psychopathen’, 62. 21 Andrej Angrick, Besatzungspolitik und Massenmord: Die Einsatzgruppe D in der südlichen Sowjetunion 1941–1943 (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2003), 450. 22 Christopher R. Browning, Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 169. 23 Ernst Cassirer, ‘Judaism and the Modern Political Myths’, Contemporary Jewish Record, 7 (1944), 126. See also Cassirer, The Myth of the State (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1946), esp. Part III for more detailed discussion. 24 For example: Donald Bloxham, ‘Organized Mass Murder: Structure, Participation, and Motivation in Comparative Perspective’, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 22:2 (2008), 203–245; Dan Stone, ‘Genocide as Transgression’, European Journal of Social Theory, 7:1 (2004), 45–65. 25 Chris Lorenz, ‘ “Won’t You Tell Me, Where Have All the Good Times Gone?” On the Advantages and Disadvantages of Modernization Theory for Historical Study’, in Q. Edward Wang and Franz L. Fillafer (eds.), The Many Faces of Clio: Cross-Cultural Approaches to Historiography (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007), 113–116; A. Dirk Moses, ‘Structure and Agency in the Holocaust: Daniel J. Goldhagen and His Critics’, History and Theory, 37:2 (1998), 194–219.

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26 Norman M. Naimark, Stalin’s Genocides (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010); Eric D. Weitz, ‘Racial Politics without the Concept of Race: Reevaluating Soviet Ethnic and National Purges’, Slavic Review, 61:1 (2002), 1–29; cf. Nicolas Werth, ‘The Crimes of the Stalin Regime: Outline for an Inventory and Classification’, in Dan Stone (ed.), The Historiography of Genocide (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 400–419; Werth, ‘Mass Deportations, Ethnic Cleansing, and Genocidal Politics in the Later Russian Empire and the USSR’, in Donald Bloxham and A. Dirk Moses (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 386–406. 27 But cf. Dirk Moses’ claims in ‘Paranoia and Partisanship: Genocide Studies, Holocaust Historiography, and the “Apocalyptic Conjuncture” ’, The Historical Journal, 54:2 (2011), 553–583. 28 John Mueller, ‘The Banality of “Ethnic War” ’, International Security, 25:1 (2000), 42–70. 29 ‘Licence’ comes from Aristotle Kallis, ‘ “Licence to Kill” and “Ordinary People”: The “Carnival” of Eliminationist Violence’, ch10 of Genocide and Fascism: The Eliminationist Drive in Fascist Europe (London: Routledge, 2009). 30 Donald Bloxham and Fatma Müge Göçek, ‘The Armenian Genocide’, in Stone (ed.), The Historiography of Genocide, 367. 31 Timothy Snyder, ‘The Holocaust: The Ignored Reality’, New York Review of Books (16 July 2009); Dan Stone, ‘Beyond the “Auschwitz Syndrome”: Holocaust Historiography after the Cold War’, in Stone, The Holocaust, Fascism and Memory: Essays in the History of Ideas (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 15–24. 32 Veena Das, ‘Collective Violence and the Shifting Categories of Communal Riots, Ethnic Cleansing and Genocide’, in Stone (ed.), The Historiography of Genocide, 93–127. 33 Dominick LaCapra, ‘Lanzmann’s Shoah: Here There Is No Why’, Critical Inquiry, 23:2 (1997), 268–269, n4. 34 Oskar Verkaaik, ‘Fun and Violence: Ethnocide and the Effervescence of Collective Aggression’, Social Anthropology, 11:1 (2003), 3–22, on the MQM. 35 Mart Bax, ‘Warlords, Priests and the Politics of Ethnic Cleansing: A Case Study from Rural Bosnia-Hercegovina’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 23:1 (2000), 28, on Primorac. 36 Jacques Semelin, Purify and Destroy: The Political Uses of Massacre and Genocide (London: Hurst & Company, 2007), 13.

7 CHRISTIANSTADT Slave labour and the Holocaust1

In 1987, a group of forty-two Czechoslovak women submitted a report to the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen on a little-known sub-camp of Gross-Rosen called Christianstadt. Today the village is called Krzystkowice, on the outskirts of Nowogród Bobrzański in Lubusz Province (wojewódstwo lubuskie, created in 1999), not far from the German and Czech borders, whose nearest town is Zielona Góra and nearest large city Wrocław. Recent film footage of the camp shows the ruins of a large, modern factory and the various buildings associated with it deep in the forest.2 Gross-Rosen itself, in Rogoźnica, about 60km from Wrocław (Breslau) in Lower Silesia, was originally established as a sub-camp of Sachsenhausen in 1940, used by the SS’s Deutsche Erd- und Steinwerke (DESt) for quarrying granite. A year later, on 1 May 1941, it became an autonomous camp and, by the end of the war, an important one. Between 1941 and 1945 some 120,000 people passed through the main camp and its more than 100 sub-camps. Of them, 47.5% were Jews, the largest proportion of them from Poland and Hungary.3 At the end of 1944, GrossRosen’s camps housed nearly 77,000 inmates, about 11% of the Third Reich’s total camp population. In fact, 1944 was the camp’s key year, for it was during this year that the network of sub-camps developed, fuelled by the deportation of large numbers of Poles from prisons in Lemberg (Lwów), Warsaw and Krakow, as well as from Płaszów and Auschwitz-Birkenau. These camps included the Riese complex of twelve camps, which was set aside for the building of Hitler’s underground headquarters in the Eulen Mountains, and Brünnlitz, the site of Oskar Schindler’s factory, as well as twenty-eight ‘Jewish forced labour camps’ (Zwangsarbeitslager für Juden) taken over from the Organisation Schmelt. One of the noteworthy characteristics of the Gross-Rosen complex is the large number of women’s camps: Jewish women started arriving in large numbers in March  1944, and by the end of the year, there were about 25,000, working in

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forty-two women’s camps, in which all the women were Jews. Thus about a third of all Gross-Rosen’s inmates at the end of 1944 were Jewish women. The female slave labourers worked partly in the textile industry, producing articles for the Wehrmacht, partly in munitions factories, and partly in digging trenches and other earthworks. Alfred Konieczny, the leading historian of Gross-Rosen, wrote over fifteen years ago that our knowledge of Gross-Rosen is limited because the most important files were destroyed and because the remaining fragments are scattered across the world and remain, in some cases, inaccessible.4 The claim is still true today, although the situation has been improved somewhat by the work of Bella Gutterman, Isabell Sprenger, Andrea Rudorff and a few others.5 The Christianstadt factory and camp complex was established in 1940, first as an IG Farben chemical works and then as a Dynamit AG explosives and munitions plant. It soon grew to become the largest explosives and munitions industrial complex in the Third Reich, with over 800 buildings on the site. It was given the code name ‘Ulme’. In the summer of 1944, the attached labour camp complex was expanded so that among the eleven camps, one was an SS-run slave labour camp for Jewish women (FAL – Frauenarbeitslager), with the name ‘Am Schwedenwall’.6 The women – many of them actually still girls – all came from Auschwitz, having been first in either Theresienstadt, the Łódź Ghetto or Hungary. The women, most of them Czech, Polish, Hungarian and Romanian, initially worked mainly for Siemens-Bauunion, but also for other firms such as Boswau und Knauer. There was also a ‘forest commando’, which involved the women cutting trees and levelling the ground for a rail track. Later the main workplace was the Dynamit factory, about 4km from the camp, where the women worked on the production of arms and explosives.7 Christianstadt is not widely known amongst scholars of the Holocaust, with the most widely disseminated discussion of it occurring in Ruth Klüger’s memoir, Weiter leben: Eine Jugend (1992), published in English in 2001 as Landscapes of Memory. In Germany the camp has come to public attention thanks to Jan Faktor’s novel Georgs Sorgen um die Vergangenheit, in which the narrator discusses his visit to the camp with his mother, a Christianstadt survivor. His description of the site gives a powerful insight into its vastness: As I looked once more into the gigantic, dark interior, at the full extent of this former fiery hell, I knew that it could be a very special place of remembrance for the Holocaust. Today one would not be able to build anything more gigantic anywhere.8 Another noteworthy reference to the sub-camp is in the information about Otto Weidt’s Blindenwerkstatt (blind people’s workshop). Weidt hid and protected Jews in his workshop in Berlin (today a museum in the Hackescher Market) and his former secretary, Alice Licht, was among the inmates. He travelled to Christianstadt and, with the help of a Pole, smuggled medicine, food and clothing into the camp. Weidt wanted to help Licht escape from Christianstadt but was unable

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to do so once a bombing raid destroyed his house and thus Licht’s place of refuge; however, she did manage to escape from the death march in February 1945.9 Other sources include a handful of interviews in the USC Visual History Archive; a few published memoirs, particularly those of Anna Hyndraková and Hildegard Friedman; and the works of historians of slave labour and the GrossRosen camp system, in which Christianstadt sometimes features. Obviously such a dearth of sources presents methodological problems, which is why I have sought to find as many as possible relating to Christianstadt. In his study of the Starachowice labour camp, Christopher Browning talks about the ‘individual plural’, that is to say, that in using survivor testimony as evidence, the fact that a large number of such testimonies tend to agree on key points can make the historian feel reasonably sure that the sources are reliable.10 I would argue something similar in this case; although I am dealing with just one key source, it is signed by fortytwo women and thus represents something like an ‘individual plural’ document. When complemented by other sources, including other testimonies by one of the signatories to the ITS report (Hyndraková), as well as questionnaires filled in by the women as part of their correspondence with the Treuhand (available in the ITS’s Tracing and Documentation files), it is possible to feel quite sure of one’s ground – at least insofar as historians can ever feel sure, which means that at least individual truth claims made by a historian can be backed up with reference to the traces of the past which we dignify with the name of ‘documents’ or ‘sources’. An analysis of Christianstadt can help us to understand what Jeffrey Wallen means when he talks about the tension between focusing on the human scale of the Holocaust on the one hand and the massive collective crime of the Holocaust on the other. Wallen writes: ‘Paradoxically, in order to better understand the Holocaust, we need to move continually in opposing directions: from “paper” to “human beings” (as Wiesel urged historians to do), but also from “human beings” to “paper.” ’ He also gives Christianstadt as an example and explains that becoming better informed about sites such as these little-known sub-camps can help us to make better sense of the complex history of the Holocaust, including how some inmates were taken from Birkenau to work in sub-camps late in the war and how that fact changes the dominant view of a single narrative of deportation and murder.11 Lack of knowledge about Christianstadt was what prompted the ITS to write to Vlasta Semerádová and her former slave labour colleagues to ask for more information. Contact between the Czechoslovak women and ITS dates back to the mid-1960s, when the Czechoslovak Antifascist Fighters’ Union wrote on behalf of Hana Loužecká, asking for confirmation from ITS that she had been in Christianstadt.12 Years later, the women were in touch with the Compensation Trust (Treuhand) in Frankfurt am Main, mentioning that they had written a report on Christianstadt, and this correspondence had been copied to Arolsen. The latter then wrote to Semerádová, and despite the official tone, one can easily detect the note of excitement in Heinrich Siebel’s words: ‘Since we are only in possession of incomplete documentary material of the former concentration camp Gross-Rosen,

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in the interests of the former victims of the Nazi regime we would be grateful if you could provide us with a copy of the material mentioned above.’13 In what follows, I analyse the women’s report and, placing it alongside other documents pertaining to Christianstadt, show how the ITS collections can be used to aid our understanding of aspects of the Holocaust which might otherwise

FIGURE 7.1 Report

on the Gross Rosen sub-camp Christianstadt, 1987

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remain in obscurity. In particular, I have identified three aspects of the report which deserve closer scrutiny: the social life of the camps, including issues of food, dress, and work (including the distinction between ‘forced labour’ and ‘slave labour’); gender, specifically the experience of women in slave labour camps; and the death marches. I  will not treat them separately as they were not separate in actuality. Many other topics could be included, such as the structure and development of the concentration camp system; solidarity and resistance amongst the inmates; the identity and characteristics of camp guards, many of whom are named in documents; and ‘aftermath’ issues, including the history of the restitution process, Cold War interactions across the Iron Curtain and the history of the tracing process itself. But that would require a more in-depth discussion than can be offered here. The report begins with a brief description of the camp’s layout, the dates of the approximately 1,000 women’s arrivals from Auschwitz (500 on 8 July 1944 and 500 at the end of August/start of September 1944, of whom most of the latter had been in the Łódź ghetto) and the naming of some of the female SS guards, in particular the commandant Emmie Harms and her deputy Lina Pohl.14 The women then open the report with details of their clothing.15 It is immediately apparent that this apparently small detail was crucial for their survival. Most were clothed in a shortsleeved prisoner dress, underpants and wooden shoes. A few of the women had vests. The group of women from Łódź were dressed in civilian clothing – summer dresses with a square patch sewn on the back, with the letters KZ painted on – and also had wooden shoes but no undergarments. Since the women were supposed to be there to work, this dress unsurprisingly caused difficulties once the weather turned wintry, and the report claims that the women were only given warmer clothing when their ability to work was seriously impaired.16 Their condition was not helped by the lack of food. This was the subject of some debate amongst the Nazi authorities, who knew that labourers needed to be fed if they were to work but were reluctant to feed them since providing for the Wehrmacht and the home front, also challenging by late 1944, took precedence and, primarily, because Nazi ideology regarded Jewish slave labourers as expendable and easily replaceable. Neither did the women’s exhaustion improve the situation. On their limited food rations, they had to stand at roll call each morning between 3am and 4am, then walk an hour to their workplace, where they typically did a twelve-hour shift, and then stand in roll call again in the evening. Limited hygiene provisions worsened the situation. Unlike in Auschwitz there was a washroom – one for the 1,000 women – but although there was water, it was unreliable and soap, made from sand, was a rarity. There were no towels, combs, sanitary towels or toothbrushes, and no provision for washing clothes. The barracks had no ovens, although in a few of them the women managed to ‘organize’ them. Roll call, the women note, served ‘not just for counting the prisoners [Häftlinge] – it was also an opportunity to belittle us, to punish us, and to torment us.’ At the slightest perceived infraction, the guards would hold a so-called ‘Strafappell’ or punishment roll call. These roll calls took place whatever the weather; the commonest cause for them was as punishment for covering themselves with their blanket during roll call. Although forbidden, the women ‘could not stop ourselves, for

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the cold was unbearable.’17 The result of the women’s treatment was, as the report laconically notes, that the firms for which the women were supposed to be working complained to the camp personnel that ‘the material delivered is incapable of work.’18 Such reports only hardened the guards’ attitude and they tortured the women even more: ‘Anyone who fainted during roll call had cold water thrown over them by a guard. The victim then had to stand up again in her wet dress, even when it was frosty.’19 Despite these tough conditions, the women knew, after their time in Auschwitz, that they needed to keep working, and not only because of the lack of medical resources in the Krankenbau. Knowing full well that their only chance of surviving was by being able to work, the women rarely reported sick. The authors point out that a particularly noteworthy chapter of their report concerns those women who arrived at the camp pregnant. Here the historian is presented with tantalizing glimpses of information that open up intriguing vistas on to concentration camp life – and death. Shortly after their arrival in Christianstadt, the camp commandant requested pregnant women to present themselves, saying they would be sent to another camp where they would do lighter work and be well cared for. A few women did come forward; they were taken away by truck. After the war, the Czech women say, they heard that the pregnant women had been returned to Auschwitz and gassed. But some others did not report and they, supported by the other women, attempted to hide their pregnancies. One woman, Rosalia Fuchs, gave birth to a baby girl in the camp in November 1944; the baby was taken away from her and she never saw her again.20 Most strikingly, the report claims that on the death march out of Christianstadt, one of the women, Anna Steinerová (now Nettlová, and one of the signatories), gave birth to a boy and that ‘by a miracle both survived, thanks too to some helpful people, who even at that time existed.’21 Other than this matter of fact statement, the report says nothing more about Steinerová and her son  – though it seems incredible that a woman could give birth on a death march and that she and the baby could survive – and so here we must look for other sources. Finally the report describes the death march. Leaving the camp on 3 February  1945, the command was taken over by a male unit. The marchers received nothing to eat for the first few days, thereafter some soup in the evenings. Some of the women were able to escape from the march, including Anna Hyndraková, who after four nights of hiding heard Czech being spoken and were able to hide with locals until the death march moved on.22 But most were walked, seeing those unable to keep up shot or left for dead, for four weeks until they reached Cheb (Eger). At this point they were put into cattle trucks – so tightly packed that they couldn’t sit, and again without food or water – and sent as far as Celle near Hannover. From there the remaining survivors were marched to their final destination: Bergen-Belsen. The report ends here, saying nothing about Bergen-Belsen, but it is worth noting the comments that some of the women made on other opportunities about the infamous concentration camp which, in early 1945, was functioning, as Hagit Lavsky says, like a death camp.23 *

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To what extent can the report be used by the historian to re-create the life of the camp? In fact, although the sources are quite sparse, those that exist tend to confirm much of what the 1987 report says. In what follows, I will show that the report – and by implication, the somewhat random sources to be found in the ITS collections – is extremely informative but that, from a historian’s point of view, it needs to be read alongside other sources in order to establish, to the extent that is possible, its reliability. What the report reveals, in unemotional tones, is the everyday challenge of survival in such a camp. Other sources concur. All survivors agree that Christianstadt was better than Auschwitz. Miriam Jung, for example, says that it was ‘like being on vacation’ in comparison with Auschwitz; Věra Hájková-Duxová says they ‘couldn’t get over our amazement’ when they saw proper bunks with straw mattresses; and Joli Hillman-Noy recalls that on arriving at Christianstadt, she thought it was ‘a very nice place.’ Like Jung, she also thought Christianstadt was going to be a ‘vacation’ – until, that is, she ‘woke up.’24 Ruth Klüger writes that, in its idyllic and quiet forest setting, and with its ‘actual rooms’ as opposed to stables as in Birkenau, Christianstadt ‘seemed bearable.’ She was able to snatch hours lying on the grass, enjoying the open air.25 Although the young female guards, especially the commandant Emmie Harms, could be brutal – ‘They were such beasts that there are no words to describe them’, writes Hyndraková26 – they were less vicious than in Auschwitz. But the work was hard, as is confirmed in many sources. In the Treuhand questionnaires the women speak in an objective, dispassionate tone: ‘For Dynamit Nobel I worked on the lead shift [Bleischichte] where for the most part we cleaned excess lead or explosive material from grenades.’27 Elsewhere we can learn what this work actually meant. The toxic material used to fill the grenades burned the women’s hands and gave some of them seizures resembling epileptic fits; the women had to use rags to keep their hands and feet from freezing in the snow on the way to and from the factory; and when they worked in the open, they did so in the snow, having been inadequately fed, and were forced to carry huge bags of cement or blocks of bricks.28 Thus, work in the camp, whether it is considered ‘forced labour’ or ‘slave labour’, was hard and potentially fatal. It seems that the concept of ‘extermination through labour’ did not apply in Christianstadt, if it really applied anywhere. Certainly the guards did not care whether the inmates lived or died, but there was no policy of killing them through work. As Jews, we can be quite sure that, had the Nazis won the war, they would then have been killed, but for the duration of the war, some Jews were used as workers, and not just as an alternative way of killing them. But the 1944 decision to use Jews for slave labour went against the basic principles of Nazi ideology and was, as Marc Buggeln notes, ‘a measure of last resort for a mercilessly overheated armaments industry and in a system whose downfall was ever more likely in view of the hopeless state of the war.’29 Many of the sources suggest that the weapons being produced at Christianstadt were substandard, with the women taking every opportunity to sabotage the grenades by filling them with insufficient powder. An interesting case is that of

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FIGURE 7.2 Vlasta

Semeradová, Treuhand questionnaire

Hildegard Taussig Friedman, who was at first taken to work for the female guards. She wrote in her memoir that, astounded by the way the guards threw uneaten bread on the floor, she forced herself to ask one of them to keep some leftovers for the inmates. Her daring paid off and she was able to bring some pieces of bread

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back to her colleagues. Nevertheless, the story reveals that, as Friedman says, the food ‘was worthless [nichts wert]. We starved and yearned for some warm soup. At 4am we waited in long rows at roll call for coffee. It was “weak coffee” [Blümchenkaffee], not coffee, but we drank it anyway, at least it was warm.’30 Clearly, whatever term we use to describe the labour, it was of little value for the Nazis’ war effort, since the workforce were insufficiently fed and protected to be able to perform properly, and we are faced with the well-known paradox that Nazi ideology and the demands of the war effort were never able to be reconciled. In the grenade factory, for example, the powder used to fill the shells made the women ill; they were supposed to be given milk to counter its effects but the Jewish workers were not given any. In this way, even without an explicit policy of ‘extermination through labour’, the Nazi sub-camps were often fatal for their workforce. Hildegard Friedman, for example, though she survived, was poisoned by the powder (she was transferred to work in the factory after becoming ill) and struggled with serious ill health for the rest of her life, including needing numerous operations, which led to three-quarters of her stomach being removed. With respect to the death march, the sources are also in agreement: the end of the camp was the most dangerous period for Christianstadt’s inmates. One survivor, the artist Edith Birkin, recalls that the camp’s forest setting was beautiful and that, because she had not been so badly treated in Christianstadt, she even almost enjoyed the forced march out of the camp: It may sound crazy, but I didn’t mind the march. It was January, but I loved winter weather, and we had not been too badly treated at Christianstadt, so I was well enough to be able to appreciate being in the open air and not being surrounded by barbed wire. The countryside was beautiful, too. I was young, and I had to recover from my losses quickly in order to keep going myself. But, Birkin recalls, the walk got harder and, at the end, she would have died in Belsen from typhus had the British army arrived just a couple of days later.31 Ruth Klüger writes that in the first weeks of 1945 ‘there was so little to eat you couldn’t think of anything but food.’ When forced out of the camp on foot, the cold and the fear were exacerbated by the frustration that the Red Army was not far away, but that they were being marched in the opposite direction. On the second night, with her mother, Susi, and three other Czech women, they ran away and escaped from the death march. Hildegard Friedman too escaped from the death march after three days. Thinking herself fortunate that the woman whose house she knocked at let her in and provided her with hot water and soap and a bed for the night, she appeared in the woman’s kitchen only to discover four SS men. They let her go to sleep but then awoke her in the middle of the night for an interrogation. Claiming to be a Fräulein Lehmann from the Sudetenland, Friedman convinced her interviewers who, despite their suspicions, set her free and sent her off to work in a steel factory in Weißwasser, about 60km from Christianstadt. Yet another

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escapee, Fanny Goldschmidt, explains that she and a few others joined the stream of German refugees fleeing westwards from the advancing Red Army; she says that having claimed that they had lost their parents, these people never betrayed them and always provided them with food.32 The report’s claim about one woman giving birth and both mother and baby surviving is also confirmed in several of the other sources. Věra Hájková-Duxová recalls what happened in her memoir. One of the guards noticed Steinerová’s pregnancy but was persuaded not to report it by one of the other women who suggested to her that she might be glad not to do so, given that the end of the war was nigh. Thus Steinerová set out on the evacuation, nine months pregnant. ‘After a few days’, Hájková-Duxová says, ‘she stopped in a barn, saying she couldn’t go any farther. There, assisted by her friend Rutka, she gave birth to a boy whom she named Tomáš. However we didn’t learn that till after the war.’ At the same time, two Polish women who had given birth a few days before the camp’s evacuation were left behind together with two girls who were too sick to walk.33 It is clear that however much better Christianstadt must have seemed after Auschwitz, food rations were insufficient, especially given the hard labour, clothing was inadequate, the women did not get enough sleep and it was impossible to maintain satisfactory hygiene standards. Yet the women were able to hold ‘Sunday cultural afternoons’ when they sang songs, recited poetry and even performed ballet, something that would have been impossible in Birkenau.34 As Anna Hyndraková says, at Christianstadt the women were ‘starving but not dying’; although the guards ‘tortured us’, it was ‘not like in Auschwitz’. This is an accurate reflection of the fact that unlike Auschwitz, Christianstadt was not a death camp. The guards did not care whether the slave labourers lived or not but whether through luck or any other reason, as Hyndraková notes, ‘it was possible to survive.’35 Indeed, some, such as Erica Hacker, survived together with her mother, sister and sister-in-law, a feat which would have been highly unlikely in Auschwitz, where family groups were mostly destroyed.36 Other women enlarged their families, such as Klüger and her mother, who adopted Klüger’s ‘foster sister’, Susi. Joli Hillman-Noy also survived with her sister and mother, but her story gives us a clearer indication of how a camp such as Christianstadt fits into the bigger picture of the Holocaust. Importantly, sub-camps such as Christianstadt indicate that the Nazi attempt to kill all the Jews could be held in abeyance in the face of desperate wartime needs.37 Yet this fact does not overturn the historian’s insight that ultimately what the Nazis wanted was to create ‘a world without Jews’.38 It is one thing to acknowledge that slave labour camps offered Jews a chance of survival in ways that death camps did not. That is true. The fact is, however, that the concentration camps and their sub-camps – with striking variation between and within them depending on the work being done and other factors39 – were all too often murderous in themselves and in their long-term effects. Consider what happened to Hillman-Noy at the end of the war: together the whole time with her mother and sister, they were marched close to the Czech border in the direction of Dresden and thence west to Belsen. The camp, with its

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piles of unburied corpses, looked, Hillman-Noy says, ‘like Auschwitz’, and here she became ill with, she says, typhoid fever (in fact, probably typhus). Liberation, Hillman-Noy recalls, was a surprise, and she clearly remembers the British entry into the camp. This is not a happy ending, however, in the way we want liberation to be. On the day of the camp’s ‘liberation’, Hillman-Noy’s mother died. HillmanNoy herself was very ill and under the triage system that the British were forced to operate – there were tens of thousands of dying inmates and only a handful of army doctors – she was left to die. Only her younger sister’s pleading with a British army doctor saved her life; he yielded and sent her to the hospital that the British were setting up. And although Hillman-Noy herself recovered and, remarkably, was found by her husband so that they could travel to Ulm DP camp together in 1946, her little sister died three months after the liberation, her lungs too damaged to sustain her. The little family group survived Christianstadt, but it killed two of them nonetheless.40

Notes 1 I am very grateful to Christine Schmidt for helping me to navigate the ITS collections, to Andrea Rudorff for reading an earlier version of this article, to Marc Buggeln for providing me with the Sächsische Heimatblätter, and to the participants at the May 2015 USHMM conference in Washington, DC, ‘The International Tracing Service Collections and Holocaust Scholarship’ for their feedback. 2 For example, on Youtube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQBQG2xQcME and on the ‘virtual museum’ DAG Fabrik Christianstadt: www.dag-krzystkowice.com/ 3 Alfred Konieczny, ‘Das KZ Groß-Rosen in Niederschlesien’, in Ulrich Herbert, Karin Orth and Christoph Dieckmann (eds.), Die nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2002), vol. 1, 324. 4 Konieczny, ‘Das KZ Groß-Rosen in Niederschlesien’, 324. 5 Bella Gutterman, A Narrow Bridge to Life: Jewish Forced Labor and Survival in the Gross-Rosen Camp System, 1940–1945 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2008); Isabell Sprenger, Groß-Rosen: Ein Konzentrationslager in Schlesien (Cologne: Böhlau Verlag, 1996); Andrea Rudorff, Frauen in den Außenlagern des Konzentrationslagers Groß-Rosen (Berlin: Metropol, 2014). Konieczny has written numerous specialist studies on aspects of the camp, mostly still in Polish. 6 On the wider context of the women’s slave labour camp for Jews in the Christianstadt camp complex, see Martina Löbner, ‘Geheime Reichssache Christianstadt’ – Das Ende einer Kleinstadt zwischen Oder und Neiße sowie der Sprengstoff-Fabrik ‘Ulme’, PhD dissertation, University of Hannover (2002), 149–174. 7 Barbara Sawicka, ‘Christianstadt’, in Geoffrey P. Megargee (ed.), United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos 1933–1945. Vol. 1: Early Camps, Youth Camps, and Concentration Camps and Subcamps under the SS-Business Administration Main Office (WVHA) (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009), 722. 8 Jan Faktor, Georgs Sorgen um die Vergangenheit oder im Reich des heiligen Hodensack-Bimbams von Prag (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2011), 596. See also Jan Faktor, ‘Das vergessene Konzentrationslager Christianstadt: Tarnname Ulme’, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Feuilleton, 27 August 2010, online at: www.faz.net/aktuell/ feuilleton/themen/das-vergessene-konzentrationslager-christianstadt-tarnname-ulme11027861-p4.html?printPagedArticle=true#pageIndex_4 9 www.blindes-vertrauen.de/alicelicht.html. See Rudorff, Frauen in den Außenlagern des Konzentrationslagers Groß-Rosen, 317. 10 Christopher R. Browning, Collected Memories: Holocaust History and Postwar Testimony (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2003), 39.

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11 Jeffrey Wallen, ‘The Witness against the Archive: Toward a Microhistory of Christianstadt’, in Claire Zalc and Tal Bruttmann (eds.), Microhistories of the Holocaust (New York: Berghahn Books, 2017), 300–314. 12 J. Volejník, Antifascist Fighters’ Union (Svaz Protifašistických Bojovníkú), to ITS, 5 December 1966,, ITS Digital Archive, Wiener Library, London (henceforth ITS DAWL). 13 ‘Da uns gerade von ehemaligen Konzentrationslager Gross Rosen nur sehr unvollständiges Dokumentmaterial vorliegt, wären wir in Interesse der ehemaligen Verfolgten des Naziregimes dankbar, wenn Sie uns Kopien des vorgennanten Materials zukommen lassen könnten.’ Siebel to Semerádová et al, 23 July 1987,, ITS DAWL. 14 The two are also named in the women’s Treuhand questionnaires; see note 26 of this chapter. 15 Vlasta Semerádová et al, Bericht über das KZ Gross Rosen / Lager (Kommando) Christianstadt, 9 September 1987,–229, ITS DAWL. The précis of this report in the next few paragraphs refers to this document. 16 See also Rudorff, Frauen in den Außenlagern des Konzentrationslagers Groß-Rosen, 174. 17 ‘ . . . aber wir konnten nicht nachgeben, da die Kälte unerträglich war.’ 18 ‘ . . . dass das gelieferte Material nicht arbeitsfähig ist.’ 19 ‘Wer beim Appell in Ohnmacht fiel, wurde von der Aufseherin mit kaltem Wasser begossen, und im nassen Kleid musste das Opfer weiterstehen, auch bei Frost.’ 20 Löbner, ‘Geheime Reichssache Christianstadt’, 165. 21 ‘Eine von ihnen – Anna Nettlová (damals Steinerová) – gebar ihr Kind, einen Jungen, auf dem Todesmarsch; beide überlebten durch ein Wunder, auch dank hilfreichen Menschen, die es auch damals gab.’ See also Löbner, ‘Geheime Reichssache Christianstadt’, 166. 22 Hyndraková, University of Southern California, Visual History Archive (henceforth USC VHA), interview 2058. 23 Hagit Lavsky, New Beginnings: Holocaust Survivors in Bergen-Belsen and the British Zone in Germany, 1945–1950 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2002), 37. See also ch8 in this volume. 24 Jung and Hillman-Noy, USC VHA 12042 and 46499; Věra Hájková-Duxová, ‘Such Was Life’ (1981), in Anita Franková et al, World without Human Dimensions: Four Women’s Memories (Prague: State Jewish Museum, 1991), 101. 25 Ruth Klüger, Landscapes of Memory: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered (London: Bloomsbury, 2003), 135, 137. 26 Anna Hyndraková, ‘Letter to My Children’, in Franková et  al. (eds.), World without Human Dimensions, 166. 27 Vlasta Semerádová, Treuhand questionnaire,, ITS DAWL. See also similar documents for Hana Loužecká, Vera Kolářová, and Felicitas Prušová. 28 Hájková-Duxová, ‘Such Was Life’, 103–104. 29 Marc Buggeln, ‘Were Concentration Camp Prisoners Slaves? The Possibilities and Limits of Comparative History and Global Historical Perspectives’, International Review of Social History, 53 (2008), 125. See also Buggeln, Das System der KZ Außenlager: Krieg, Sklavenarbeit und Massengewalt (Bonn: Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung, 2012), 116–118. 30 Hildegard Taussig Friedman, Meine Lebensgeschichte, 16, online at: www.chgs.umn.edu/ museum/responses/friedmann/timeline2.html 31 Edith Birkin in Anton Gill, The Journey Back from Hell: Conversations with Concentration Camp Survivors (London: HarperCollins, 1994), 429. 32 Goldschmidt cited in Hans Brenner, ‘Todesmärsche über sächsische Straßen (Teil 2): Evakuierung niederschlesischen Außenlager des KZ Groß-Rosen’, Sächsische Heimatblätter, 2 (2006), 115. 33 Hájková-Duxová, ‘Such Was Life’, 107, 109. 34 Hájková-Duxová, ‘Such Was Life’, 105. 35 Hyndraková, USC VHA 2058. 36 Hacker, USC VHA 25045.

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37 See Donald Bloxham, ‘A Survey of Jewish Slave Labour in the Nazi System’, Journal of Holocaust Education, 10:3 (2001), 25–59. 38 Alon Confino, A World without Jews: The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to Genocide (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014). 39 See Marc Buggeln, ‘Building to Death: Prisoner Forced Labour in the War Economy. The Neuengamme Subcamps, 1942–1945’, European History Quarterly, 39:4 (2009), 606–632. 40 Hillman-Noy USC VHA 46499.


In 1946, Dutch Holocaust survivor Abel Herzberg published a small collection of essays about Bergen-Belsen, where he and his wife were incarcerated from January 1944 until the liberation of the camp in April 1945. In the book, he describes at one point how one of the female guards beat a fifteen-year-old boy whose father was already dead, whose mother was at death’s door, one of whose sisters was in hospital with pulmonary tuberculosis and whose other sister was ‘wandering about somewhere or playing in the mud, unsupervised, unkempt, with a snotty nose, ragged, an open and oversized shoe on one foot, and a shredded slipper on the other.’ He commented on this image: ‘That, historian of the future, was how it was every day in the heart of Europe, around the middle of the twentieth century. In the background of such a tableau, paint in only a garbage truck full of naked, emaciated corpses.’1 Decades after Herzberg wrote these words, we still reel at the images captured by the military photographers and film-makers at Bergen-Belsen. The ‘historians of the future’ have described the history and changing nature of the camp in great detail, and they have written a huge amount about its liberation by British and Canadian (and some American) forces, and the assistance rendered them by doctors, nurses and charitable organizations. Yet they, like everyone else, remain shocked by what the Nazis did at Belsen. Although it was not established as a death camp like Treblinka or Auschwitz-Birkenau, at the end of the war, Belsen was functioning like a death camp, and the photographs and film footage of the mountains of corpses – about 10,000 of them – around which some 50,000 inmates were desperately clinging to life, have lost none of their power as evidence of the Third Reich’s brutal abandonment of the basics of human decency. The job of clearing the camp, as Colonel Bird noted, took weeks, but explaining it remains a challenge. This chapter focuses on the immediate post-liberation period in order to analyse what the British found at Belsen in April 1945 and how the camp was understood

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by those who saw it in those first days and weeks after ‘liberation’.2 I examine the British approach to dealing with the survivors, noting that criticism of the feeding regime and medical care needs to be contextualized so that the enormity of the task is better appreciated. I note that it did not take long for ‘Belsen’ to enter into British consciousness as a byword for evil. But I also show that amongst the confusion of the end of the war, which led to the fact that Belsen’s place in the Nazi camp system remained poorly understood for decades, there were commentators who saw clearly what Belsen was and why, even if it was not a death camp, it could act as an appropriate symbol of Nazi atrocity. Most important, in a chapter on ‘Belsen and the British’, I show that dealing with the aftermath of the liberation was never just a British affair; rather, from medical care to identifying the dead to tracing survivors (a topic which is rarely mentioned in the British-focused literature), everything associated with the administration of Belsen, though it was headed by the British occupation forces and civilian authorities, required international assistance. Here I draw on the holdings of the International Tracing Service (ITS) to illustrate the international dimension of the relief process, understood in the widest terms. Part of the confusion that arose in the British ‘memory’ of Belsen was a result of the fact that national pride obscured the complex, international nature of the military takeover of the camp and everything that flowed from it, leaving in its place a simplified narrative in which ‘the British’ alone were responsible for what happened next. This simplification meant that ‘Belsen’ was identified in British popular understandings with ‘Auschwitz’ or ‘Treblinka’ as a major killing site, when it only became one in the first months of 1945. Nevertheless, as I show in the final section, the misidentification of Belsen as a death camp was not wholly inappropriate given the huge numbers of inmates who died there in the last months of the war, especially when the camp is understood from the victims’ rather than the perpetrators’ perspective.

The military at Belsen A purely military analysis of the liberation of Belsen might begin with the ceasefire agreement between the British army and the Wehrmacht, who surrendered the camp according to the somewhat vague terms of the agreement of 13 April 1945. Agreeing that ‘[b]oth British and German tps [i.e. troops] will make every effort to avoid a battle in this area’, the camp – the true state of which had not been revealed by commandant Josef Kramer to the British – was handed over.3 The report might then continue in dispassionate terms with reference to the disarming of the Hungarian troops who had been left behind, the reconnecting of the water supply and the start of the process of clearing the camp and caring for the inmates. However, the human element soon bursts through in all such accounts, and no matter how often one reads the soldiers’ reports, one cannot but be struck by their shock and their sense that words were inadequate. For example, Lieutenant Colonel R. I. G. Taylor, commander of the 63rd Anti-Tank Regiment, who took over

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as commandant of the camp, starts his report in typical, clipped style by noting the sequence of events running up to the entry into the camp. A few paragraphs later, Taylor struggles to remain restrained: As we walked down the main roadway of the camp we were cheered by the internees, and for the first time we saw their condition. A great number of them were little more than living skeletons, with haggard yellowish faces. Most of the men wore a striped pyjama type of clothing  – others wore rags, while the women wore striped flannel gowns, or any other garment that they had managed to acquire. Many of them were without shoes and wore only socks and stockings. There were men and women lying in heaps on both sides of the track. Others were walking slowly and aimlessly about  – a vacant expression on their starved faces. There was a concrete pit near the first cookhouse we visited, with a few inches of dirty water in the bottom – this was the only water supply that was seen, and crowds were round it trying to fill tins and jars tied to the end of long sticks.4 Many such reports were even more graphic, not flinching from recounting the filth, the heaps of corpses lying around and evidence of cannibalism. Brigadier Hugh Llewelyn Glyn Hughes statement to the court at the Belsen Trial on 18 September 1945 that ‘[t]he compounds were absolutely one mass of human excreta’ serves as a metaphor for the Nazi camps in general.5 What Taylor and other British officers could not know was that in those final days before they entered the camp, the madness of Belsen reached its apogee as the SS forced the dying inmates to carry corpses to mass graves. ‘And so we saw and enacted the last of those memorable tableaux which will stay in our minds forever’, as German inmate Rudolf Küstermeier put it. ‘Two bands played music all day long while two thousand men were dragging corpses to the burial pits. . . . [T]he corpses jolted over the stones and the SS men and Capos clubbed and lashed the stumbling prisoners, to the melodies of Léhar and Johann Strauss.’6 The soldiers’ reports are closely echoed by the survivors’ diaries and testimonies. What follows is a typical description of liberation from the point of view of one of Belsen’s inmates: Finally, one morning, I think it was 15 April 1945 (at that time I could no longer perceive my environment and I lay almost the whole time in agony), a high-pitched cry rang out: ‘They’re here, they’re here!’ ‘Who?’ ‘The English of course.’ ‘Ah’, sounded the answer, almost without interest. It is peculiar and paradoxical, that the moment we had been yearning for throughout the whole period of the war, about which we spoke ceaselessly, which we painted for

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each other in the most varied fantasies, that shone in the distance for us like a lighthouse showing us the way, the moment that not only we but the whole world had waited for, left us cold. If you ask what feelings I had at the liberation, I reply: ‘absolutely none.’ A person whose sister died in her arms a few hours before, who was herself standing with one foot in the grave, was naturally as little interested in the fact that the English had come to liberate her, as in the fact that it was raining at the equator. But here hats off to the English! They immediately set to work and threw themselves fearlessly and without protective masks into the contaminated blocks. They carried the corpses out with their bare hands and dug an enormous mass grave so that the bodies would not roll on the ground like carrion. They started the water immediately, supplied us with food and freed us from lice. They accomplished a huge achievement in the shortest possible time, for they gradually brought all those still living to a new, clean camp. And when the camp was closed behind the last prisoner, they set this most horrible place in the world alight, and it disappeared from the surface of the earth forever. However, it remained in the memories of all those who had lost their dearest relatives and friends there. We, the survivors of Belsen, spontaneously pay our respects to our heroes and dedicate a reverent and silent thought to them.7 Like many others in the camp, Zdenka Fantlova was dying and was in no shape to appreciate what was happening. Moving scenes of survivors kissing the hands of their liberators – as in the famous footage of the camp in the American documentary film Nazi Concentration Camps – are exceptions, not the norm. More common was the scene of utter degradation and the inability of the inmates to react to events unfolding around them, for they were too ill. In his report of 18 May 1945, ‘The Story of Belsen’, Captain Andrew Pares provided an exemplary description of what the British forces found at Belsen after the ceasefire had taken effect: About 50% of the inmates were in need of immediate hospital treatment. All of them had been without any food for seven days, and prior to that living on the normal concentration camp semi-starvation scale of diet. There were about 10,000 typhus-infected bodies, mostly naked and many in an advanced stage of decomposition, lying around the camp, both inside and outside the huts, which required immediate burial; and the daily death rate was 4/500. The living conditions were appalling – people were sleeping 3 in a bed, mainly treble-bunk beds, and huts which would normally accommodate 60 were housing 600. There were no sanitary arrangements, and both inside and outside the huts was an almost continuous carpet of dead bodies, human excreta, rags, and filth.

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There were some 50,000 persons to supply and feed, but the cooking facilities were totally inadequate. There were 5 cookhouses of varying size equipped with a number of large boilers, and the only containers available to distribute the food were a few 100 and 50 litre tubs. A large proportion of the occupants were bed-ridden, and many were incapable even of feeding themselves.

FIGURE 8.1 Supplement

to British Zone Review, 13 October 19458

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The internees had lost all self-respect and been degraded morally to the level of beasts. The clothes were in rags and teeming with lice; they had no eating utensils or plates, and at the time of the food distribution they behaved more like ravenous wolves than human beings.9 Such reports, and especially that published in the supplement to the British Zone Review on 13 October 1945, provided the first detailed accounts of the liberation and established many of the tropes that identified Belsen with ‘the British’ for decades thereafter.

Medical care after liberation Planning for relief began several years before the end of the war. Apart from the military services, in 1942, COBSRA, the Council of British Societies for Relief Abroad, was established with the aim of pooling expertise and resources. Of the forty teams that joined, eleven sent members to continental Europe at the end of the war.10 Yet preparation was wholly inadequate for what the military and the charities were to find at Belsen. Many historians have criticized the British army for not being better prepared, and it does indeed seem strange that with all the knowledge of Nazi camps that had proliferated from 1933 onwards, including considerable intelligence towards the end of the war about slave labour and the sub-camp system, more was not done.11 Yet apart from the fact that Belsen was the only camp to be surrendered by the SS and that it was in the middle of an ongoing war zone, the forced evacuation of tens of thousands of inmates from camps further east meant that one can understand why what the Allies found there was some way from what they had been led to expect. As Brigadier Glyn Hughes, who headed the medical relief work, noted, based on their knowledge of numbers in the camp, presumably from Kramer’s report when negotiating the ceasefire, HQ 8 Corps had estimated initial requirements; ‘ignorant however of the indescribable conditions that existed’, Glyn Hughes went on, ‘these could not possibly be adequate.’12 As a result of Belsen’s change in status shortly before the end of the war, becoming a dumping ground for evacuees from concentration camps further east, the medical challenge was immense. It is easy to forget that the number of inmates in the camp meant that it was the size of a small town and that it soon became the largest hospital in Europe. Glyn Hughes noted that of 28,185 in the women’s compound in Camp 1, 21,000 required hospitalization, with the comparable figure for the men being over 9,000 of 12,000.13 Given that fact, the medical care that did take place should be recognized as a tremendous effort on the part of the liberators. Certainly, mistakes were made and initially supplies and resources were woefully inadequate, but it is too easy to lay the blame for this at the door of the British. Even if, as Ben Shephard rightly says, the planning literature had little to say about Jews or concentration camps specifically, so that ‘[t]he genocide of the Jews was contained within a larger cataclysm’, the scale of Belsen would still have challenged the best-prepared relief effort.14 As Major Charles Phillip Sharp of the

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113th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment noted in his diary: ‘The RAMC are beginning work at BELSON [sic] and their first forecast is that 15000 (minimum) of the living will not last 10 days. . . . We start to feed the poor wretches but many of them are too far gone to eat.’15 Too many of the inmates were simply too close to death to be helped. This was the fault of the SS’s Business Administration Main Office (WVHA), which controlled the administration of concentration camps, and not the British Army. The international nature of the post-liberation scene is evident not just in the number of testimonies given by survivors in almost every language of Europe but in the memoirs of those involved in caring for them. As with the military occupation of the camp, British doctors, nurses and charities predominated. But, just as Canadian forces were alongside the British,16 so the medical operation would have been severely hindered without the help of an international cast of supporters, including amongst others: Belgian medical students, international agents of the ICRC and other humanitarian organizations, those survivors of Belsen from across Europe now well enough to assist and, much to the chagrin of the survivors and many of the British, German nurses. The existence of testimonies such as that by Swiss Red Cross worker Anny Pfirter in languages other than English reminds us that what has come to be known as ‘the relief of Belsen’ was not solely a British affair. Were that the case, communication between the liberators and the surviving inmates and the former guards, to name only the most obvious matter, would have been considerably harder in this ‘babylonische Sprachengewiss’.17 As Pfirter added: In addition to numerous dialects, 22 official languages were spoken in the camp. I can hardly believe now that we managed to understand the stories told by our patients in a foreign language. When they spoke in their mother tongue, and in their dialect in particular, their speech was more spontaneous and we understood them better than if it were partially interpreted.18 Most important, one should not forget that the running of the Hohne DP camp, though it was in the British Zone of Occupation, fell officially under the c­ ontrol of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA). UNRRA and its successor agency, the International Refugee Organization (IRO), with their remits to repatriate displaced persons (DPs) and later to resettle them in third countries, were the lead organizations; the roles played by British and international charities, however invaluable their contribution, took place in this wider international context.19 Some of the most important relief organizations, such as the Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad (JCRA), left the COBSRA umbrella organization and made direct agreements with UNRRA. For the JCRA, this decision, which took it out of the British Red Cross Society’s embrace, allowed it to focus more on its own priorities, that is, Jewish survivors and keeping up pressure with respect to the British government’s position on Palestine.20 Nevertheless, as Dieter Steinert reminds us, the COBSRA teams’ work remained indispensable

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throughout the whole UNRRA period. In fact, when the IRO took over from UNRRA in the summer of 1947, the importance of the COBSRA contribution rose again. And besides the British Red Cross Commission, five Jewish charities were especially important: the American Joint Distribution Committee (‘the Joint’), the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the Organisation for Rehabilitation and Training, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and the JCRA. There were relief contributions made by the Italian, Dutch, Polish and American Red Cross, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), the Papal Relief Commission, Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe (CARE), CRALOG (Council of Relief Agencies Licensed to Operate in Germany) and the Quakers.21 That said, in the early post-liberation days before civilian workers were allowed in, the relief effort was primarily a British affair, with assistance from the Canadian military. Fantlova’s praise for the British in those first days, despite the high postliberation death rate, is well-deserved, for, as Anita Lasker-Wallfisch observed, ‘[w]hat the British Army had to cope with was simply mind-boggling.’22 Glyn Hughes reminds us that the organization of essentials in the immediate post-­liberation period, their transport into place and the equipping of a hospital which grew to 14,000 beds were ‘carried out solely by RAMC units and medical personnel.’23 Medical officer Robert Collis said of the medical students sent to Belsen that they ‘have done and are doing a work of epic gallantry and are worthy of all honour’; Lieutenant Colonel J. T. Lewis, the man in charge of the Glyn Hughes Hospital at Belsen, praised the nurses there for having ‘shed a light on British nursing which will never be forgotten’; and Josef Rosensaft, head of the Central Committee of Liberated Jews and by no means afraid of criticizing the British over their policies towards the survivors, was full of admiration for Glyn Hughes and Colonel Johnston, who ‘conducted the desperate drive to save the liberated inmates of Belsen, and many were saved because of their efforts.’24

‘The Search in Belsen’ Among the activities conducted at Belsen, the work of tracing individuals has been long neglected by historians, who have focused more on the medical care of survivors and the creation of the DP camps.25 Yet the work of tracing and identifying people was a crucial aspect of the post-liberation tasks facing the occupiers and is something we can now appreciate thanks to the opening of the ITS collections. Among them, the so-called ‘factual documents’ (Sachdokumente) on Belsen are not extensive – as opposed to records of individuals who were at some point in Belsen, which are numerous – but they contain some revealing material. In particular, a report by Lieutenant H. François-Poncet, the French Search Officer at Belsen, is especially interesting for the light it sheds on postwar activities at the former concentration camp. The report began with an account of the liberation of the camp and the problems facing the British once they discovered the true scale of the task, as seen in Figure 8.2.

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FIGURE 8.2  Lieutenant

H. François-Poncet, ‘Report on The Search in Belsen’, 10 June 194626

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By the time this report was written, the Belsen DP camp was under the control of UNRRA, which received assistance from a British Red Cross team, the Jewish Relief Unit and the Joint in education, welfare and emigration matters. The Tracing Unit that was established at the Belsen DP Camp ran on a tight budget but recruited staff from local Germans as well, primarily from amongst the DPs, because of their language skills and knowledge of what had transpired. Perhaps one of the reasons why historians have not devoted much attention to tracing at Belsen is because it does not fall into the ‘Belsen and the British’ narrative. Rather, from its inception, tracing was a transnational affair, involving staff from many countries and the sharing of information across national lines.27 A  map produced by the French Mission in Belsen, accompanying lists of French deportees, provides a helpful illustration of the camp itself and its surroundings and of this international dimension (see Figure 8.3). François-Poncet noted the general problems with identifying people, such as the many possible spellings of frequently occurring names, the presence of many survivors with the same name and how people often gave false names either to the Germans when they entered the camp – for fear that their families would be subjected to reprisals – or to the liberating authorities, if they were trying to avoid returning to Eastern European countries. He then alluded to the specific problems affecting Belsen, in particular that the Germans had destroyed the camp records and that it had been impossible to identify the dead who were buried in huge numbers in communal graves in the days and weeks following the liberation. “As most of the survivors could not even give their own names”, he drily observed, “it was useless trying to obtain information as to the identity of the dead.” The result was that out of some 28,000 people buried after the liberation, only about 3,500 could be identified.28 Still, the committees formed by the inmates even before the Germans surrendered the camp had compiled some lists and these, together with lists created by national liaison officials sent to the camp after the liberation to obtain information on and aid nationals of their countries with repatriation, formed the basis of tracing work in the DP camp, at least until such officials left, taking their lists with them, as François-Poncet complained. Tracing work in the camp was, by mid-1946, thus reliant on records kept by the Central Registration Office in the camp, the Central Jewish Committee, the Polish Committee, the Glyn Hughes Hospital and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Another report gives a good indication of the organization of the searching process at Belsen and stresses the different tracing organizations involved. It was unavoidably a work of international cooperation (see Figures 8.4 and 8.5). As the report notes, cooperation between the different agencies was not always as generous as it could have been, meaning that there was considerable duplication of efforts. Even so, it is clear that this aspect of the camp’s afterlife brought the British into close relationships with survivors’ committees and national organizations from other countries.

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FIGURE 8.3 Map

accompanying François-Poncet’s report29

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FIGURES 8.4 AND 8.5 ‘Report

on the Visit to BELSEN Camp by Capt I. D. Kadomtzeff and Lt M. L. Graham (17 Aug 45 to 25 Aug 45)’ (n.d., early September 1945)30


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Belsen as a death camp Included in the ITS collections on Belsen is a report by a former inmate on ‘this extermination camp’.31 The report itself is fascinating – its author states that before they arrived there just a few weeks before the liberation, no one among his comrades had heard of Belsen  – but the mere fact that he designates the camp an ‘extermination camp’ (Vernichtungslager) is noteworthy. In similar vein, Ada Bimko (Rosensaft), a famed inmate doctor and later key player in the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the British Zone, testified at the Belsen Trial that in its final months, Belsen was worse than Auschwitz in terms of food and sanitation, a statement which gives some indication of how the camp was perceived by its inmates.32 That Belsen became central to British culture, including being shorthand for anyone thin or for atrocity in general, is beyond doubt. We have become used to the claim that the British misunderstanding of the Holocaust  – that is, its association with concentration camps in Germany itself – was based on the mistaken assumption that Belsen was a death camp and that the focus on Belsen was a direct consequence of its being liberated by British forces. Images of the liberation of Belsen became touchstones in the British collective memory of World War II and the genocide of the Jews, and only decades later – from the 1990s onwards – did scholars and public consciousness really grasp the fact that Belsen was not really a ‘Holocaust camp’. Although it was always involved in the unfolding of the Holocaust, Belsen was originally a ‘detention camp’ (Aufenthaltslager) for ‘privileged prisoners’. These were Jews with passports of neutral or Allied states, or ‘prominent’ Jews who the Nazis believed could be used as bargaining chips; in other words, Jews who were exceptions in that they were not to be immediately killed or worked to death. Thus, although the camp’s main historian, Eberhard Kolb, is right to say that the development of Belsen into the ‘horror camp’ of early 1945 ‘was anything but “accidental” ’ since what happened there was ‘in keeping with the internal logic of the concentration camp system’,33 it only turned into the site of mass death found by the British army in April 1945 at the start of that year. In the 1990s, the death camps further east, that is the Operation Reinhard camps, Chełmno, Majdanek, even smaller camps such as Mały Trostinec and Vaivara, came to people’s attention, as did, most obviously, Auschwitz, the main killing centre of the Holocaust. Given that new understanding, the notion that Belsen had been a death camp gradually fell from British ‘Holocaust consciousness’ to be replaced by Auschwitz. In both cases, a simplification – one camp standing in for a continent-wide genocide – lay at the heart of British understandings. From the point of view of institutional history, this revision of ‘collective memory’ of Belsen is correct. The history of the Nazi camps was one of permanent change, and the murder of the Jews was not part of the history of the camp system until 1942 – Jews had been incarcerated in camps before then, but once the Holocaust began, the majority of Jews were killed by face-to-face shooting in the occupied east or by being starved to death in ghettos in Poland, with death camps which were separate from the SS’s ‘regular’ camp system taking over in 1942.34

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Belsen itself had several uses from 1940 onwards, as a POW camp; and, from 1943, when it became part of the WVHA’s camp system, a detention camp; and then, in the SS euphemism, a ‘recuperation camp’ (Erholungslager).35 Thus although it was part of the camp system, Belsen, like Dachau and Buchenwald, became truly embroiled in the killing process only in the last chaotic weeks of the war as the Third Reich was collapsing and camp inmates – by no means only Jews – were forcibly evacuated from camps that were being approached by the Red Army and made to walk westwards or, in the case of Mittelbau-Dora, in the face of the American approach. These so-called ‘death marches’, as the camps’ inmates called them, witnessed massive loss of life and ended in the camps inside the Third Reich that, unlike the Reinhard Camps, for example, were part of the SS’s concentration camp system (i.e. administered by the WVHA). Where previously Belsen and the other camps inside Germany had been connected to the Holocaust through the structures which administered slave labour (such as the Schmelt and Todt organizations) and resources, such as the distribution of stolen goods, at this point they became directly involved. This is also something that UNRRA’s Central Tracing Bureau (the forerunner of the ITS) knew, thanks to its remarkable ‘graves recheck’ programme, which sought to retrace the death marches. As well as mapping the routes themselves, the fieldworkers also drew plans of the cemeteries in which camp inmates who had died or been murdered on route were buried in every locality through which they had passed.36 For example, the map of the ‘convoy of political prisoners’ from Buchenwald to Bergen-Belsen on 4 April 1945 gives a clear indication of the route taken on the evacuation. Further documents detail names  – where known  – of inmates who died or were killed on the way and show their burial locations in local cemeteries.37 Huge amounts of information about the death marches were acquired in this way, which gave rise to a clear understanding of why so many Jewish concentration camp inmates ended up at Belsen and other camps inside Germany at the end of the war, as Figure 8.6 illustrates. What I want to consider here is not how the change in understanding came about so that we now grasp Belsen ‘correctly’, as it were, in its institutional history as part of the camp system and as part of the Holocaust. Rather, the assumption that a British misunderstanding of Belsen derives from the British liberation of the camp when the liberators assumed they had stumbled across an extermination camp is only partly correct. In fact, some early commentators and survivors understood well that Belsen was not a death camp in the sense that Treblinka or Sobibor had been. Derrick Sington, for example, one of the first British soldiers to enter Belsen on 15 April 1945, wrote a fine little book about the camp, published in 1946. In it he describes a group of Jewish women who had arrived at Belsen only a few days earlier and who were thus not yet as dehumanized as camp inmates of longer standing. He writes of them knowledgeably: Some had come direct from factory camps where conditions, though hard, were not always sub-human. Other young Jewesses, hardy, strong-willed and

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FIGURE 8.6 ‘Convoy of political prisoners 4.4.45’ from Buchenwald to Bergen-Belsen38

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perhaps a little lucky, had retained their self-respect in the extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau from whose gas-chambers they had been saved by the Russian advance.39 A little further on, Sington refers to the about 18,000 Jewish women in the camp as follows: They were a large part of the survivors of European Jewry, hastily piled into Belsen as the advance of the Allied armies from East and West forced the Germans to evacuate the extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland and the scores of slave-labour camps in Silesia and North East Germany. The greater part of these Jewish women were sole survivors of families who had perished in the gas-chambers of Birkenau and Treblinka.40 Similarly, Captain Pares wrote in his report on Belsen: ‘There was no gas chamber as at the even more infamous camp at Auschwitz, where according to numerous testimonies hundreds of thousands were done to death by this means. Starvation, disease, and physical degradation were the lethal weapons employed at Belsen.’41 There is no misunderstanding about Belsen or the death camps here. Indeed, many of the women described by Sington were former slave labourers who had been extracted from Auschwitz, the Lodz Ghetto or Nazi-occupied Hungary as the Third Reich desperately tried to sustain its war effort in autumn 1944, even breaking with its own racial beliefs in the process – here pragmatism trumped ideology, although only partly: the way the slave labourers were treated suggested not only that the Nazis had no regard for their well-being or productivity but that they imagined there was an inexhaustible supply of camp labour. Sington’s recognition of the fact that many of these women were sole survivors of their families helps to explain the alacrity with which they, like survivors across Europe, immediately tried to set out – whether they were well enough yet or not – at the first whiff of rumour to try and locate relatives who might be alive (see FrançoisPoncet’s comments in the earlier section of the chapter). This criss-crossing of Europe, often ‘illegally’, was one of the reasons the Allies sought to take control of the tracing process: having huge numbers of refugees on the roads was perceived as a hazard by the military and as a form of anarchy by civil authorities.42 Sington’s ability to perceive nuance is echoed in some of the first scholarly inquiries. In the chapter of her Origins of Totalitarianism devoted to concentration camps as the ‘central institution of totalitarian organisational power’, Hannah Arendt included the following footnote: It is of some importance to realise that all pictures of concentration camps are misleading insofar as they show the camps in their last stages, at the moment the Allied troops marched in. there were no death camps in Germany proper, and at that point all extermination equipment had already been dismantled. On the other hand, what provoked the outrage of the Allies most and what

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and what gives the films their special horror – namely, the sight of the human skeletons – was not at all typical for the German concentration camps; extermination was handled systematically by gas, not by starvation. The condition of the camps was a result of the war events during the final months: Himmler had ordered the evacuation of all extermination camps in the East, the German camps were consequently vastly overcrowded, and he was no longer in a position to assure the food supply in Germany.43 The ‘misunderstanding’ about Belsen thus set in only later, in the universalizing of the victims in the postwar newsreels so that their Jewishness was not mentioned, and in the 1950s with the popularization of Anne Frank’s Diary, the success of bestsellers such as Lord Russell’s The Scourge of the Swastika and the continued assertion of a British nationalist war narrative, from Dunkirk and ‘standing alone’ in 1940 through to D-Day and postwar films of bravery and derring-do, all of which contributed to turning the Holocaust into an abstract evil, the actual facts and figures of which hardly mattered.44 Nevertheless, although from the institutional standpoint of the perpetrators, Belsen was of little importance to the ‘Final Solution’ until early 1945, from a different point of view it was crucial. This is the difference between writing the history of the Holocaust from the perpetrators’ perspective, by which I mean on the basis of perpetrator documents and understanding how the perpetrators ran the whole process, and the victims’ perspective, that is to say, the Holocaust as it was experienced and felt by its victims. This shift represents a recent change in Holocaust historiography, which has tended to be dominated by top-down history, and in which the victims’ agency has been largely absent or side-lined. Saul Friedländer’s recent work, along with that of Christopher Browning, Nikolaus Wachsmann, Laura Jockusch and others, has changed things, so that history written on the basis either of victim documents from the Holocaust period itself (diaries, letters, photographs, official and forged documents) or of postwar testimonies, or indeed a combination of both, is becoming more familiar. Friedländer’s notion of an ‘integrated history’, in which the perpetrators, victims and wider society are brought together in an over-arching narrative, is considered by many historians now to be the most desirable approach. In such an integrated history of Belsen, we would find that from the perpetrators’ point of view, the camp could be used to house (in the loosest sense – there should be no connotations of homeliness here) ‘evacuees’ from camps further east in the hope of preventing camp inmates from falling into enemy hands. The fact that Belsen had not previously been significant for the killing of the Jews was irrelevant at this stage, when the Third Reich was collapsing. From the victims’ perspective, by contrast – and here it is important to remember that as the Holocaust was ongoing the victims did not have a notion of ‘the Holocaust’ or, for the most part, an understanding of how the Nazi camp system was administered – Belsen was just another camp in their long journey through the universe of Nazi camps. Indeed, and this is the key point, for many of the victims who arrived there in 1945, Belsen was actually the worst camp they had been to, for reasons that are familiar: the

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massive overcrowding, the lack of food, the absence of hygiene, the huge number of dead and dying in the camps – in other words, their total abandonment by the guards and, therefore, by the Nazi camp system as a whole. For the camp inmates who survived death marches and arrived at Belsen in the early months of 1945, the distinction between a ‘concentration camp’ – that is, a place where inmates were treated brutally and many died but which were not designed solely to kill – and a ‘death camp’ – that is, a facility to which people were sent to be murdered on arrival – was impossible to discern. Hanna Levy-Hass, for example, a Jewish Yugoslav communist and a long-term inmate of Belsen (she had been there since summer 1944), concluded after describing the deaths of the inmates ‘like animals’, that the vilest, most savage humiliation imaginable has turned life here into something that no longer bears any relationship to life as we understand it. In reality we are dealing with the barbaric annihilation of thousands of human beings – of this there can be no doubt, not the slightest doubt.45 Given that about 35,000 people died in Belsen between January and 15 April 1945, over 18,000 of them in March alone, could we possibly say that she was wrong? It is quite correct to say that Belsen was not a death camp and that British collective memory was mistaken to regard Belsen as a Holocaust camp, just as British culture misused Belsen as a symbol of Nazi ‘atrocity’ without considering the humanity or specificity of the victims. But that scholarly precision about the functioning of the camp system masks the lived experience of the Holocaust. Many people who had survived Belsen and liberated it knew full well that Belsen had not been a camp established solely to kill Jews. But they also knew that in its final incarnation as a holding pen for survivors of death marches, Belsen was functioning like a death camp, for both Jewish and non-Jewish inmates. In other words, in its last days, and whatever the Nazis intended it to be for, Belsen was in fact a death camp.46 In fact, it was ‘an extermination camp in the truest sense of the word’, as one former inmate put it.47 There has always been a temptation amongst British – and not only British – commentators to universalize the Holocaust, meaning well in seeking to warn humanity of the dangers of genocide but thereby overlooking the specific experiences of the Jews. Sometimes, however, such universal lessons seem warranted. In a BBC radio programme from 1946 marking the first anniversary of the liberation of the camp, Harold Le Druillenec, the only known British survivor of Belsen, said the following: Though the Germans perfected the Concentration Camp, it was not a German invention, and I saw men of other nationalities employed in the camps, behave as brutally as the Germans. No, the Concentration Camp is a new weapon, as new as gunpowder was in the fifteenth century. It is a scientific instrument of domination by which

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a Totalitarian state can control millions through fear: not fear of death, but of a living death. I believe that wherever a State achieves total power, wherever free speech and criticism are denied, and power is not subject to democratic control, unscrupulous men will be tempted to use this weapon again. Surely, if civilisation is to survive, we must preserve at all costs a humane and liberal way of life.48 The last seventy years of British attempts to understand Belsen have achieved much; they have, however, neither prevented the appearance of concentration camps in other parts of the world – including in Britain’s colonial empire – nor done away with the widespread sense in Britain that such horrors are alien to British culture.49 As Tony Kushner notes, the meanings that ‘Belsen’ has acquired in British culture ‘have been far from static and have been constantly contested.’50 There is still much to learn from Belsen.

Notes 1 Abel Herzberg, Amor Fati: Seven Essays on Bergen-Belsen, trans. Jack Santcross (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2016 [1946]), 36. 2 I use the term in inverted commas to indicate that the demise of the camp did not mean the end of survivors’ troubles. Indeed, many died after ‘liberation’ because they were too weak to survive and the rest struggled, often for the rest of their lives, to regain some sense of physical and psychic normality. For further detail, see Dan Stone, The Liberation of the Camps: The End of the Holocaust and Its Aftermath (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015). 3 See ‘AGREEMENT with regard to BELSEN CONCENTRATION CAMP made by Chief of Staff, 1 Para Army, Military Commandant BERGEN, and BGS 8 Corps’, The National Archives, Kew (henceforth TNA), WO171/4773. Also reproduced in Raymond Phillips (ed.), Trial of Josef Kramer and Forty-four Others (The Belsen Trial) (London: William Hodge & Company, 1949), 396. 4 Lieutenant-Colonel R. I. G. Taylor, ‘Report on Belsen Camp’, 3. TNA WO171/4773. 5 Phillips (ed.), Belsen Trial, 31. 6 Rudolf Küstermeier, ‘How We Lived in Belsen’ (August  1945), in Derrick Sington, Belsen Uncovered (London: Duckworth, 1946), 138–139. Küstermeier, a Social Democrat, was sentenced to ten years’ hard labour in 1934, at the end of which he was sent to Sachsenhausen and then to Belsen. In March 1946 he became editor of Die Welt. 7 Zdenka Fantlova, ‘Modernes Mittelalter’ [‘The Modern Middle Ages’] (1945)., International Tracing Service Digital Archive, Wiener Holocaust Library, London (henceforth ITS DAWL). Fantlova has subsequently become well known as the author of The Tin Ring, trans. Deryck Viney (Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Northumbria Press, 2010). The start of chapter 49 of that book (p. 214) is based on this postwar statement and I have borrowed some of the translation. It is worth noting that whilst immediately after the war, Fantlova referred to the ‘English’, in The Tin Ring, she corrects it to the ‘British’. 8, ITS DAWL. 9 Captain Andrew Pares, ‘The Story of Belsen’ (18 May 1945), 1. Charles Phillip Sharp Collection, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC, 2004.664.3. This text was published in 113 L.A.A. Regiment, The Story of Belsen (1945), 4, a copy of which is in C.C. Warmer Papers, Wiener Holocaust Library, 1936/1/2. 10 Johannes-Dieter Steinert, ‘British Relief Teams in Belsen Concentration Camp: Emergency Relief Teams and the Perception of Survivors’, Holocaust Studies, 12:1–2 (2006), 63.

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11 See, for example, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces, Evaluation and Dissemination Section, G-2 (Counter-Intelligence Sub-Division), Basic Handbook KLs (Konzentrationslager): Axis Concentration Camps and Detention Centres Reported as Such in Europe (n.d., ca. early 1945), 6.1.1/82328575#1ff, ITS DAWL. This remarkable document shows that the Allies were very well informed about the nature of the camp system in the last months of the war, although it was, of course, a rapidly changing scene, given the evacuations and the shunting of inmates around on ‘death marches’. On pre-war understandings of Nazism, see Dan Stone, Responses to Nazism in Britain, 1933–1939: Before War and Holocaust, 2nd edn (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). 12 H. L. Glyn Hughes, ‘Belsen Concentration Camp’, in Brig. H. L. Glyn Hughes and Lt.Col. Gwyn Evans (eds.), Belsen Concentration Camp: Medical and General Reports Submitted by HQ Second Army (1945), Wiener Holocaust Library, OSP 332, Appendix B, 5. 13 Glyn Hughes, ‘Belsen Concentration Camp’, 2. 14 Ben Shephard, ‘The Medical Relief Effort at Belsen’, Holocaust Studies, 12:1–2 (2006), 33. See also Shephard, ‘ “Becoming Planning Minded”: The Theory and Practice of Relief 1940–1945’, Journal of Contemporary History, 43:3 (2008), 405–419, and Shephard, The Long Road Home: The Aftermath of the Second World War (London: Vintage, 2011), esp. ch6. 15 Major Charles Phillip Sharp, Notes. From 1 Jan 45 (unpublished manuscript), 57. Charles Phillip Sharp Collection, USHMM, Washington, DC, 2004.664.3. I  am indebted to Tim Cole for alerting me to Major Sharp’s diary; see Tim Cole, Holocaust Landscapes (London: Bloomsbury, 2016), 201–202. 16 Mark Celinscak, Distance from the Belsen Heap: Allied Forces and the Liberation of a Nazi Concentration Camp (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015). 17 Or ‘Babel of languages.’ Anny Pfirter, ‘Erinnerungen an einer Mission des I.K.R.K.: Hommage a Mademoiselle Odier’ (3 October  1955),, 4, ITS DAWL. 18 Pfirter, ‘Erinnerungen’, 4. This rough translation of the original is from Ben Flanagan and Donald Bloxham (eds.), Remembering Belsen: Eyewitnesses Record the Liberation (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2005), 54. 19 It is worth bearing in mind that the UK made the second-largest contribution to the costs of UNRRA and IRO, after the United States. 20 Johannes-Dieter Steinert, Nach Holocaust und Zwangsarbeit: Britische humanitäre Hilfer in Deutschland. Die Helfer, die Befreiten und die Deutschen (Osnabrück: Secolo Verlag, 2007), 81–82. 21 Steinert, Nach Holocaust und Zwangsarbeit, 83. 22 Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, ‘A Survivor’s Memories of Liberation’, in Suzanne Bardgett and David Cesarani (eds.), Belsen 1945: New Historical Perspectives (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2006), 25. 23 Glyn Hughes, ‘Belsen Concentration Camp’, 9. 24 W. R. F. Collis, ‘Belsen Camp: A  Preliminary Report’, British Medical Journal (9 June 1945), 814; J. T. Lewis, ‘Medical Problems at Belsen Concentration Camp (1945)’, Ulster Medical Journal, 54:2 (1985), 123; Josef Rosensaft, ‘Our Belsen’, in Irgun Sheerit Hapleita Me’Haezor Habriti (ed.), Belsen (Tel Aviv: Irgun Sheerit Hapleita Me’Haezor Habriti, 1957), 29. For further discussion, see Stone, The Liberation of the Camps, ch3. 25 On the Hohne (Belsen) DP Camp, see Angelika Königseder and Juliane Wetzel, Waiting for Hope: Jewish Displaced Persons in Post-World War II Germany, trans. John A. Broadwin (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2001), 167–210; Hagit Lavsky, New Beginnings: Holocaust Survivors in Bergen-Belsen and the British Zone in Germany, 1945–1950 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2002); Erik Somers and René Kok (eds.), Jewish Displaced Persons in Camp Bergen-Belsen 1945–1950: The Unique Photo Album of Zippy Orlin (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2004); Nicola Schlichting, ‘Öffnet die Tore von Erez Israel’: Das jüdische DP-Camp Belsen 1945–1948 (Nuremberg: Antogo Verlag, 2005); Habbo Knoch and Thomas Rahe (eds.), Bergen-Belsen: Neue Forschungen (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2014).

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2 6, ITS DAWL. 27 See Dan Stone. ‘The Memory of the Archive: The International Tracing Service and the Construction of the Past as History’, Dapim: Studies on the Holocaust, 31:2 (2017), 69–88; ‘ “The Greatest Detective Story in History”: The BBC, the International Tracing Service, and the Memory of Nazi Crimes in Early Postwar Britain’, History & Memory, 29:2 (2017), 63–89; ‘On the Uses and Disadvantages of the Arolsen Archives for History’, in Henning Borggräfe, Christian Höschler and Isabel Panek (eds.), Tracing and Documenting Victims of Nazi Persecution: History of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Context (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020), 13–31; Fate Unknown: The Search for the Missing after the Holocaust and World War II (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021). In May 2019, the ITS changed its name to the Arolsen Archives but has retained the name ITS for the documentary collections. 28 François-Poncet, ‘Report on The Search in Belsen’., ITS DAWL. See also the discussion of this document in Suzanne Brown-Fleming, Nazi Persecution and Postwar Repercussions: The International Tracing Service Archive and Holocaust Research (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2016), 170–171. 29 Henri François-Poncet, Mission Française de Raptriement et Recherche B.A.O.R. (Mission de Belsen), Listes ayant trait aux déportés français du camp de Belsen (1 October 1946),, ITS DAWL. 30 and 82350946_1, ITS DAWL. The report was sent by Lt Col C.C. Allan of the Search Bureau at Bunde (the British National Tracing Bureau) to SSO 30 Corps on 14 September 1945. 31 Arnošt Basch, ‘Bericht über die letzte Zeit im Konzentrationslager BERGEN-BELSEN vor, während und nach der Befreiung, zusammengestellt von einem ehemaligen Häftling dieses Vernichtungslager’ (n.d., c1945),–82351029_1, ITS DAWL. The document came to ITS from the Yad Vashem archives. Basch had survived a death march from Hannover-Linden, a sub-camp of Neuengamme, to Belsen at the end of March 1945, following the Allied bombing of the factory in which he was set to work. 32 Bimko in Phillips (ed.), Belsen Trial, 71. 33 Eberhard Kolb, Bergen-Belsen: From ‘Detention Camp’ to Concentration Camp, 1943–1945, trans. Gregory Claeys and Christine Lattek, 2nd edn (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck  & Ruprecht, 1988), 50. See also Thomas Rahe, ‘Das Evakuierungslager Bergen-Belsen’, Dachauer Hefte, 20 (2004), 47–57, esp. 48, where he indicates that the later development of the camp was connected to its incorporation into the WVHA. 34 Nikolaus Wachsmann, KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps (London: Little, Brown, 2015). 35 To appreciate how outrageous a term ‘Erholungslager’ really was, see Dr Fritz Leo, ‘The Concentration Camp for Sick, Bergen-Belsen’, Wiener Holocaust Library, London, Warmer Papers, 1936/1/4, e.g. 5: ‘50,000 people perished from disease and hunger! People mainly between 20 and 40 years, formerly well and healthy, of all nations. This is how they fell victims to this inferno called “Sick Camp.” ’ 36 Sebastian Schönemann, ‘ “Accounting for the Dead”: Humanitäre und rechtliche Motive der alliierten Ermittlungsarbeit zu den Todesmärschen’, Freilegungen: Jahrbuch des International Tracing Service, 1 (2012), 122–135. 37 See documents in 5.3.2 and 5.3.5, ITS DAWL. 38 5.3.3/84619448_1, ITS DAWL. 39 Sington, Belsen Uncovered, 26. 40 Sington, Belsen Uncovered, 47. 41 Pares, ‘The Story of Belsen’, 3. 42 Jenny Edkins, Missing: Persons and Politics (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011), ch3. 43 Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, rev. edn (San Francisco, CA: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1979), 446, n138. Her comments are right insofar as they pertain to the genocide of the Jews. In fact, millions of Soviet POWs were left to die by starvation in forgotten corners of concentration camps, a gruesome mass murder that has still not properly been researched by historians.

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44 See, for example, Tony Kushner, ‘ “I  Want to Go on Living after My Death”: The Memory of Anne Frank’, in Martin Evans and Ken Lunn (eds.), War and Memory in the Twentieth Century (Oxford: Berg, 1997), 3–25; Kushner, “ ‘Wrong War Mate”: Fifty Years after the Holocaust and the Second World War’, Patterns of Prejudice, 29:2–3 (1995), 3–13; most importantly, Kushner, ‘From “This Belsen Business” to “Shoah Business”: History, Memory and Heritage, 1945–2005’, Holocaust Studies, 12:1–2 (2006), 189–216. 45 Hanna Levy-Hass, Inside Belsen (Brighton: Harvester Press, 1982), 68–69. 46 See also Hagit Lavsky, ‘The Day After: Bergen-Belsen from Concentration Camp to the Centre of the Jewish Survivors in Germany’, German History, 11:1 (1993), 36–59, esp. Part I: ‘The Bergen-Belsen Death Camp’. 47 Arnost Basch, “Bericht über die letzte Zeit im Konzentrationslager BERGEN-BELSEN vor, während und nach der Befreiung, zusammengestellt von einem ehemaligen Häftling dieses Vernichtungslager” (n.d.)., ITS DAWL. 48 The Man from Belsen (broadcast 15 April 1946), in ‘Lesser-Known BBC Broadcasts: The Scripts’, Holocaust Studies, 12:1–2 (2006), 151. 49 Dan Stone, Concentration Camps: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019); Aidan Forth, Barbed-Wire Imperialism: Britain’s Empire of Camps, 1876–1903 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017); Andy Pearce, Holocaust Consciousness in Contemporary Britain (London: Routledge, 2014); Tom Lawson, The Last Man: A British Genocide in Tasmania (London: I. B. Tauris, 2014). See also, for specific discussion of Belsen, Matthew Boswell, Holocaust Impiety in Literature, Popular Music and Film (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), esp. ch4 on the Sex Pistols. 50 Tony Kushner, ‘The Holocaust in the British Imagination: The Official Mind and Beyond, 1945 to the Present’, Holocaust Studies, 23:3 (2017), 366.

9 THE IRON GUARD IN NAZI CAPTIVITY Evidence from the International Tracing Service

As is well known to students of Romanian history, just a few months after the establishment of the National Legionary State (14 September  1940), General Antonescu, with the support of Hitler, forcibly removed the Iron Guard from government and dissolved the Legionary State he had himself been instrumental in creating (14 February 1941). More than 9,000 Guardists were incarcerated, and some who had participated in killing Jews during the Bucharest pogrom in January 1941 were executed. As Constantin Papanace put it, ‘The whole state apparatus was put in motion in order to exterminate the flower of Romanian youth.’1 Those who escaped mostly did so with German help; ironically, between 1942 and 1944, they were interned in Berkenbrück or Rostock and then in Buchenwald and other camps. For Eugen Weber, the internment highlighted a problem faced by any movement such as the Iron Guard, which stresses the importance of youth. With the persecution of 1938–1939 under Carol II, with Marin and Moţa killed in the Spanish Civil War in January 1937 and finally with Antonescu’s crushing of the movement in January 1941, most of the original leadership group (who would still have only been in their late thirties or early forties in 1940) was eliminated and thus the Iron Guard ‘avoided’ the sort of generational conflict that characterized other movements. But the German internment of 1942 mainly affected men who were still very young, most of them in their twenties, meaning that the leadership stratum of the Iron Guard was decimated.2 However, given that the Iron Guard had always operated, as Weber noted, like a ‘cargo cult’, we should not be surprised that the surviving members who found refuge in Spain, Austria, Brazil and elsewhere maintained their belief in the mystical devotion to purity, violence and Romanian exceptionalism that made up the Legionary ideology.3 Although the Iron Guard was finished as a political force, its post-Codreanu evolution, as Constantin Iordachi asserts, ‘illuminates its charismatic nature and political trajectory.’4

144  The Iron Guard in Nazi Captivity

On 16 December 1942, Horia Sima, Codreanu’s successor as leader of the Iron Guard, escaped from German captivity for Italy. He was arrested in Rome at the Germans’ request and returned swiftly to Berlin, when the search for him was called off, as we see in the Gestapo file from Koblenz shown in Figure 9.1. Sima was then interned with his adjutant, Traian Borubaru, in Buchenwald, where they were held as special prisoners (Ehrenhäftlinge or Sonderhäftlinge) in a villa on the grounds of the camp. Fearing discontent among the other members of the Iron Guard in Germany, 130 legionaries who had been working in an aircraft factory in Rostock were also transferred to Buchenwald. Unlike most inmates, however, they were able to wear civilian clothes, and on 24 April 1943 they were transferred to a new camp at Fichtenhain, which was constructed especially for them. Their wives followed a month later and were placed in a separate barrack. Others were interned in Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück.5 Although they were kept in concentration camps, they were far better treated than most camp inmates; in March 1943, for example, Sima and Borubaru were relocated to a special area of Sachsenhausen, where they were well housed and could be kept ready for ‘re-use’ by the Nazi regime, should the need arise. This it did following the 23 August 1944 ‘change of sides’, with King Mihai’s overthrow of Antonescu and the strained alliance with the Soviets. At this point, Sima was released to meet with Hitler, and then, from Vienna, proclaimed his leadership of the Romanian state and of a Romanian resistance to the Red Army, which he maintained until the end of the war and, indeed, until his death in Madrid in 1993.6

FIGURE 9.1 Search

for Horia Sima is ended, 21 December 19427

The Iron Guard in Nazi Captivity  145

These facts are quite well known, even though it still occasions surprise that fellow fascists were held by the Germans in concentration camps – out of expedience in terms of maintaining a stable regime in power in Bucharest rather than because the Iron Guard were considered ‘enemies’ in the usual manner of concentration camp inmates. What is less well known is that records of this period of incarceration can be found in the records of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen in Germany. The ITS was established at the end of World War II by the Allies, in the context of the creation of UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration), with the aim of tracing missing persons. That meant anyone who was a victim of Nazi persecution and was a member of what were now being called the ‘United Nations’. Germans and their allies were not eligible for assistance, with the exception of German Jews and others who had been persecuted by the Nazis on ‘racial’ grounds. After initially being established in Versailles, then in Frankfurt, the fledgling ITS (still known at that point as the UNRRA Central Tracing Bureau) moved to Arolsen in northern Hesse, where it has remained to this day. The ITS was administered first by UNRRA, then, from 1948, by its successor body, the International Refugee Organization (IRO) – with the result that, in the context of the Cold War, the Soviets withdrew their cooperation – and then, after 1951, by HICOG (the Allied High Commission for Germany). In 1955, when the worst threats posed by the Cold War in Europe had passed, the Allies decided that they no longer needed immediate control over the body. Whilst it remained legally under the control of an International Commission, administration was handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which ran ITS until 2011. Following intense lobbying, ITS was opened to the public and to researchers in 2007, and the ICRC handed over control to the German government, which continues to fund and run ITS, which is now as much an educational and commemorative institution as it is a tracing service (which it remains, now renamed the Arolsen Archives). The documents in ITS are vast: over 30  million documents including wartime records from concentration camps, prisons and other places of incarceration; records on postwar displacement, including DP registration records and documents from the IRO’s programme of resettlement; and tracing files in their millions, charting the process whereby adults and children have been sought since the end of the war. Using these documents one can discover in minute detail information about, for example, sub-camps of the concentration camp system; the use of slave labour; the ‘death marches’ that took place as camps were evacuated; the process of liberation and the creation of displaced persons’ camps; and the postwar efforts to trace and identify people, including the remarkable ‘graves recheck’ programme, which retraced the routes of the death marches and mapped out thousands of cemeteries where ‘United Nationals’ were killed, and the extraordinary work of the child search branch.8 ITS was created to help the victims of Nazi persecution and their relatives. But in the concentration camp and displaced persons camps records, there are also, of

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course, many ‘anomalies’. After the war, many former perpetrators and other collaborators tried to pass themselves off as victims and sought to acquire the help of UNRRA or the IRO in being resettled. This applied especially to former camp guards, auxiliary policemen or other volunteers for civilian or military service from Ukraine or the Baltic States who refused to ‘return’ to the Soviet Union, as they were supposed to do according to the Yalta agreements. It applied too to many forced labourers from those regions, but they were legitimate clients of ITS. Probably the most famous case among those who slipped the net is John Demjanjuk, or ‘Ivan the Terrible’, whose tracing files explain how he managed to reach the United States after the war. Since they were interned in concentration camps, the members of the Iron Guard can also be found in ITS. And in the T/D (tracing and documentation) files which survive for a number of them, one can see how they were being sought after the war or, indeed, how they contacted ITS themselves in the hope of obtaining documentation that would attest to their incarceration, with the hope of obtaining compensation from the West German state. Some of these documents appear innocuous but are in fact anything but. Take, for example, the certificate of incarceration issued for Vasili Jasinschi (Figure 9.2). The certificate is dated 2 October 1945, that is, five and a half months after the camp’s liberation by the Americans. Issued by the ‘Camp Secretary of Dachau’, this means by the group of prisoner functionaries who managed, at the end of the war, to preserve the camp’s records at considerable personal risk. These men, such as Jan Domagała, Walter Cieslik (the signatory of Jasinschi’s certificate) and Ali Kuci, who had previously worked in the camp’s registration office (Lagerschreibstube), now set up the International Information Office (IIO) at Dachau and responded to inquiries from people who believed that their relatives might have been held in the camp. One of the earliest postwar tracing services, the IIO’s records are now held at ITS. In a report produced in 1946, Cieslik, then head of the IIO, wrote: Hundreds of people are waiting the return of their relations, who never come back from Dachau Conc. Camp. The International Information Office has endeavoured to reveal the mystery of the many unknown graves by circular letters, inquiries, and by examination of various eye-witnesses.9 Into this atmosphere of justice for the victims and the ethical demands of tracing, pieces of documentation such as Jasinschi’s certificate suddenly appear. The certificate says nothing about him, but it is obvious from the dates that Jasinschi was one of the Legionaries transferred out of Dachau following Mihai’s coup of 23 August 1944 – he was released five days later. In fact, Jasinschi (or, in the proper Romanian spelling, Vasile Iasinschi), by profession a pharmacist in Cernăuţi, Bukovina (Czernowitz in Yiddish; today Chernivtsi, Ukraine), had long been a member of the Iron Guard since he first came into contact with Codreanu in the 1920s. He was minister of labour during the short-lived Legionary State, foreign minister under Sima’s Legionary Government in Vienna and eventually one of the leaders of

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FIGURE 9.2 Certificate

of incarceration for Vasili Jasinschi10

the Iron Guard in exile after the war. The first tracing request for him submitted at the end of the war came, as we can see on his T/D card entry, from the American embassy in Bonn (Figure 9.3). Iasinschi had been held by the Americans at a camp in Glasenbach, Austria, together with other Guardists, although he was set free at the end of the Nuremberg

148  The Iron Guard in Nazi Captivity

FIGURE 9.3 Vasile

Iasinschi, T/D card11

International Military Tribunal, since the Iron Guard was not a proscribed organization. Sentenced to death in absentia by the Romanian People’s Court in 1946, Iasinschi lived out his days in Madrid, editing the Legionary journal Libertatea and becoming president of the Consiliu Legiunii (Legionary Council), until his death in 1978. It seems outrageous now, but at the same time Iasinschi was penning Legionary paeans in Madrid, he was also engaged in making a restitution claim against the West German government for his incarceration. In 1961, the office of the Cologne Regierungspräsident (state president) wrote to ITS asking it to confirm that Iasinschi’s questionnaire (Fragebogen) was in order. On that form, Iasinschi answered the questions directly, but without adding anything that would make his particular circumstances clear – although they would have been easy to establish (see Figure 9.4). In the questionnaire Iasinschi sets out his trajectory through the Nazi camps following his arrest in Bucharest, looking for all the world like the passage of a regular concentration camp inmate. Indeed, the fact that he came from the Stapo makes his arrest appear in the same light as, say, a resistance fighter arrested on the streets of Paris. Only the fact that after the war he travelled to Spain with a legitimate travel document might suggest that Iasinschi was no mere victim of Nazi persecution, but it would not have been hard for the West German authorities to establish the facts. Indeed, on the certificate of incarceration issued by ITS, it was noted under ‘general remarks’ that the word ‘Legion’ appears on Iasinschi’s camp registration record (Schreibstubenkarte).12 That, however, is the only indication that Iasinschi’s case might not have been quite as deserving; unlike most camp inmates, Iasinschi’s being spirited out of Romania and his relatively comfortable stay in Dachau probably saved

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FIGURE 9.4 Questionnaire

for Vasile Iasinschi13

him from being murdered by the Antonescu regime and certainly saved him from being executed after the war following the People’s Court’s sentence. Iasinschi’s case is just one of many which can be found in ITS. For most of the Legionaries for whom there are records, their T/D files constitute the extent of

150  The Iron Guard in Nazi Captivity

what can be found out about them in ITS, although there are also concentration camp records such as registration cards and clothing inventories. The T/D files include such items as tracing requests from other people, compensation applications, applications for certificates of incarceration and residence and IRO applications for assistance with resettlement. For example, in April  1975, the Rumänisch-Deutsche Studiengruppe, a right-wing organization based in Vaterstetten on the outskirts of Munich, wrote to ITS inquiring after Ilie Gârneaţă, also known as Antonio Gjini. Gârneaţă’s T/D file shows that he was held in Berkenbrück, Spandau, Buchenwald and Dachau, but, in the form that he filled in for the UNHCR in Argentina, he states that when incarcerated in Dachau it was ‘with the most severe regime with the impossibility of contacting or writing to his family or the outside world’ (con el mas severo regimen y imposibilidado de contacto ni por escrito con la familia y con el exterior). As with Iasinschi, Gârneaţă presents himself as a victim of Nazism. Yet he was one of the founding members of the Iron Guard in 1927 and as early as 1922 had been appointed by Codreanu as president of the Association of Christian Students in Iaşi. He was one of the group of students who tried in 1923 for a plot to murder politicians, journalists and bankers in order to try and encourage a revolt against the emancipation of the Jews.14 A such, he was a longstanding and deeply committed member of the Iron Guard and hardly an innocent victim. The same is true for others involved in the plot, such as Teodosie Popescu and Corneliu Georgescu, the ‘Văcăreşteni’, who were also later held by the Germans. Gârneaţă returned home to Iaşi to a hero’s welcome, as did Popescu and Georgescu, in Cernăuţi and Cluj, respectively.15 Nevertheless, the ITS issued him with a certificate of incarceration in 1962.16 The same is true of another Legionary, Dumitru Groza, who corresponded with ITS from his hometown of Hunedoara in 1975. Referring to himself as a ‘political detainee’, Groza explained that he had been detained in Buchenwald and Dachau from December 1942 until September 1944 but does not say why he was released at that date. His status as a ‘political prisoner’ is evidenced by virtue of the fact that he was held in the same ‘special section’ of Dachau as Martin Niemöller as well as a number of Catholic priests from Bavaria and two English officers. He was hoping, as he openly stated, that his incarceration would count towards his state pension, which he was soon due to receive in Romania. If it were not remarkable enough that a former Legionary should be claiming compensation for his time spent in German concentration camps as a contribution to his state pension in communist Romania, Groza’s request seems even more extraordinary when one bears in mind that at the time of the National Legionary State, he was the head of the Corpul Muncitorilor Legionari (CML; Legionary Workers’ Corps), a body which officially replaced all trades unions in Romania, and called Codreanu ‘the Messiah of the Romanian worker’.17 Under Groza, the CML was heavily involved in the clash with Antonescu in January 1941 and in the Bucharest pogrom. He was also an opportunist, as his collaboration with Antonescu’s Siguranţa Statului (state security service) during the war suggests. In any

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FIGURE 9.5 Ilie

Gârneaţă, application for UNHCR assistance, Argentina, 5 December 196118

case, he was hardly a walking advert for socialism, and his request for assistance from the ITS was, like those of his comrades, an insult to Nazism’s real victims. He too received very friendly letters from ITS director, Albert de Cocatrix, and a certificate of incarceration, in July 1975.19

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FIGURE 9.6 Dumitru

Groza, letter to ITS, 27 March 197520

Requests for information about former legionaries came from sources other than the Rumänisch-Deutsche Studiengruppe. For example, in 1949, George V. Cârsteanu, the secretary general of the Roumanian Committee in Munich, wrote to ITS for information on Ilie Smultea, who had been incarcerated in Buchenwald

The Iron Guard in Nazi Captivity  153

and Dachau. A few months later, having had no reply, Cârsteanu wrote again, saying that Smultea was “in urgent need” of the certificate of incarceration – presumably to facilitate his entry to the United States.21 He was issued with a certificate of incarceration in 1950 and the certificate of residence (Aufenthaltsbescheinigung) that was issued for Smultea ten years later showed that he had indeed emigrated to the United States in 1952.22 More problematically, the ITS noted that on Smultea’s CM1 form (the IRO’s care and maintenance form, requesting assistance with resettlement), he was ‘an opponent of the Romanian government of the time’, which is why he was arrested in March 1941.23 This obfuscation of the facts smoothed Smultea’s passage through the IRO’s care regime. It was not until over thirty years later that the Criminal Division of the US Department of Justice was also inquiring after him. By that time, Smultea, who had headed the Iron Guard’s Fraţi de Cruce (Brothers of the Cross, the Guard’s school pupils’ wing24) during the period of the Legionary State, was well established in the United States as a Cold Warrior and was working as a professor of law at Humboldt University in California. He died in 1997. The documents in ITS concerning the Iron Guard are insufficient on their own to provide a detailed historical account of their period in captivity, just as the documents in ITS in general are insufficient for producing a comprehensive history of the Holocaust. Using ITS records requires some knowledge of the events of which they are part, and they usually need to be supplemented with sources from other archives. ITS is not, as some commentators first hoped and believed when it was first opened to the public, ‘Hitler’s Archive’ in the sense of a comprehensive archive of the Holocaust and Nazi crimes more generally.25 Nevertheless, the material in ITS, when used with care, offers a powerful addition to existing sources and helps to provide a more rounded picture, especially when thinking about the postwar years. With respect to the Iron Guard, the ostensibly neutral documents that show how its members were held in German camps, without explaining why, need to be set in the context of Hitler’s relationship with Antonescu, the Iron Guard’s violence and, especially, its ideology. A  better idea of the Legionaries’ motivation can be gleaned from one of the postwar writings of Constantin Papanace. Papanace, who wrote his Orientări pentru legionari in Berkenbrück in 1942, stated with typically purple prose in a postwar publication: But this youth, ‘from the Pindus to the far side of the Dniester’, as the Captain writes, fought with determination all persecution and took upon itself all the sins of our people. A  ghost of the Christian epic whirled in their soul. And they spilt their blood with generosity, writing that epic on every line of longitude and latitude: from the Majadahonda to the banks of the Volga and the heights of the Caucasus; from Greek prisons to Nazi concentration camps!26 Indeed, in his own request for assistance from the UNHCR, written from his postwar exile in Italy, as well as noting his incarceration in Dachau, Papanace claimed

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that he had been persecuted in Vienna from September  1944 to March  1945 because he refused to cooperate with a ‘ “soi-disant” Romanian government-inexile.’27 What this actually meant was that he had different views from Horia Sima on how to respond to King Mihai’s actions in August 1944 and opposed Sima’s leadership, not that he was somehow a victim of fascism. In fact, Papanace had written to the German Foreign Office to propose installing General Ion Gheorghe or Metropolitan Visarion Puiu as head of the Romanian National Government, suggestions which were rejected by von Ribbentrop.28 The ITS was aware of these facts. In 1976, for example, famed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal wrote to ITS from his Vienna-based Document Centre, asking for information on Viorel Trifa, another former Guardist who had been held at Dachau (see Figure 9.7). What prompted Wiesenthal’s interest in Trifa? In 1950 Trifa emigrated to the United States, becoming just two years later a deputy bishop (episcop vicar) in the Romanian Orthodox Church in America. He was widely esteemed, even giving the opening prayers before the US Senate at a session in 1955. Acquiring US citizenship in 1957, in 1960 he was appointed Archbishop. At that point rumours which had long circulated about his Legionary activities became increasingly loud; these included being president of the National Union of Romanian Christian Students (1940) and taking part in the putsch of January 1941. A campaign against him was begun by Charles Kramer, a Jewish doctor born in Romania, aided by several Jewish organizations as well as Rabbi Moses Rosen, the Chief Rabbi or Romania, and the Romanian Foreign Affairs Secret Service (Direcţie de Informaţii Externe). In 1975, the Department of Justice opened a case against Trifa, alleging that by hiding his involvement in the Iron Guard he had entered the United States under false pretences.29 In his letter, Wiesenthal writes: ‘After the war the “Guardists” sought to acquire the status of antifascist political inmates  – which was, however, denied them. They were responsible for a number of anti-Jewish pogroms in 1941 in Romania.’ Wiesenthal was right, except insofar as ITS continued to provide former Guardists with the service they should have been providing to genuine Nazi victims. Even in 1976, when de Cocatrix replied to Wiesenthal, there was no acknowledgement that ITS had done anything untoward; he simply referred Wiesenthal to the relevant section of Eugen Kogon’s Der SS Staat (as if Wiesenthal might have been unaware of it!) which set out the conditions in which the Romanians lived in Dachau.30 In 1980, Trifa renounced his US citizenship, was deported and found refuge in Portugal, where he died in 1987, although he was buried in Michigan at the headquarters of the Romanian Orthodox Church. It is thus hardly surprising that it was only in the 1980s that the ITS acknowledged that the assistance it provided to former Legionaries after the war may have been inappropriate.31 Although belated, this was at least better than the stance taken by the Romanian Orthodox Church, which in 1990 officially rehabilitated Visarion Puiu, the former metropolitan of Transnistria and Bukovina, as well as Trifa, arguing that they were victims of communism.32

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FIGURE 9.7 Simon

Wiesenthal to Albert de Cocatrix, ITS, 15 June 197633

Far from being victims of Nazism, in fact, Hitler protected the Legionaries from being murdered by the Antonescu regime and, furthermore, saved many of them from being prosecuted and executed after the war by the People’s Courts – in Romania after between 10 October and 2 November  1944, 972 legionaries

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were arrested.34 What we see in the Legionaries’ ITS records is a body established to help victims of Nazism being put to the service of Romanian fascists and the audacity of those fascists in using ITS to deceive the authorities and to further their compensation claims against the West German state for their period of detention. Their incarceration was in fact their salvation. Yet another illustration of the ironies of history.

Notes 1 Constantin Papanace, Martiri Legionari (Rome: Editura ‘Armatolii’ Cetatea Eternă, 1952), 70: ‘Intreg aparatul de Stat a fost pus în mişcare pentru exterminarea floarei tineretului român.’ My thanks to Florin Lobonţ, Mihai Murariu, Ion Popa and Christine Schmidt for their comments on earlier drafts of this chapter. 2 Eugen Weber, ‘The Men of the Archangel’, Journal of Contemporary History, 1:1 (1966), 119. 3 Eugen Weber, ‘Romania’, in Hans Rogger and Eugen Weber (eds.), The European Right: A Historical Profile (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965), 524. 4 Constantin Iordachi, Charisma, Politics and Violence: The Legion of the ‘Archangel Michael’ in Inter-war Romania, Trondheim Studies on East European Cultures and Societies, 15 (2004), 130. 5 See Gerhard Köpernik, Faschisten im KZ: Rumäniens Eiserne Garde und das Dritte Reich (Berlin: Frank  & Timme, 2014), 180–207. See also the useful summary in Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe, ‘Inter-Fascist Conflicts in East Central Europe: The Nazis, the “Austrofascists”, the Iron Guard, and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists’, in Arnd Bauerkämper and Grzegorz Rossoliński-Liebe (eds.), Fascism without Borders: Transnational Connections and Cooperation between Movements and Regimes in Europe from 1918 to 1945 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2017), 183–184. 6 See chapter ten in this volume. 7, International Tracing Service Digital Archive, Wiener Holocaust Library, London (henceforth ITS DAWL). Note that under the entry for ‘profession’ (Beruf) is given: ‘Führer of the Iron Guard in Romania’. 8 For more on these phenomena, see chapter seven in this volume and the references in chapter eight, note 27. 9 Walter Cieslik, ‘Preface’ to Cieslik and Ing. St. Kubalka, Dachau (May  1946), 1. 5.3. 3/84629700, ITS DAWL. 10, ITS DAWL. 11, ITS DAWL. 12 ITS, Certificate of Incarceration and Residence (Inhaftierungs- und Aufenthaltsbescheinigung) for Vasile Iasinschi (n.d.);, ITS DAWL. The same note appears on most of the Iron Guard members files in ITS. 13, ITS DAWL. See also Regierungspräsident Köln to ITS, Betr.: Entschädigungssache des Vasile Iasinschi, 2 June  1961;, ITS DAWL. 14 Roland Clark, Sfîntă tinereţe legionară: Activismul fascist în România interbelică (Iaşi: Polirom, 2015), 55–57. 15 Clark, Sfîntă tinereţe legionară, 61. 16 See ICRC/ITS Certificate of Incarceration for Ilie Gârneaţă, 29 January  1962;, ITS DAWL. 17 Radu Ioanid, The Sword of the Archangel: Fascist Ideology in Romania (Boulder, CO: East European Monographs, 1990), 171. On the CML up to 1938, see Clark, Sfîntă tinereţe legionară, 104–107. 18 Ilie Gârneaţă, application for UNHCR assistance, Argentina, 5 December 1961; 107411805_1, ITS DAWL.

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19 ITS/ICRC Certificate of Incarceration for Dumitru Groza, 3 July  1975; 101408966_1, ITS DAWL. 20, ITS DAWL. 21 Cârsteanu to ITS, 13 January 1950;, ITS DAWL. 22 ICRC/ITS, Certificate of Residence for Ilie Smultea, 19 July 1960;, ITS DAWL. 23 ITS to Bayerisches Landesentschädigungsamt (BLEA), 19 July 1960;, ITS DAWL: ‘Der Obengennante war ein gegner der damaligen rumänischen Regierung.’ 24 See Clark, Sfîntă tinereţe legionară, 125–127. 25 See Jennifer Rodgers, From the ‘Archive of Horrors’ to the ‘Shop Window of Democracy’: The International Tracing Service, 1942–2013, PhD thesis, University of Pennsylvania (2014). 26 Papanace, Martiri Legionari, 70: ‘Dar acest tineret, “din Pind şi până dincolo de Nistru”, cum scrie Căpitanul, înfruntat cu hotărîre toate prigoanelei şi şi-a luat asupra sa toate păcatele neamului nostru. Un duh de epopee creştină i-a involburat sufletul. Si sângele său generos s’a vărsat scriind această epopee pe toate meridianele şi paralele: de la Majadahonda până pe malurile Volgei şi înălţimile Caucazului; din închisorile greceşti până în lagarele de concentrare naziste!’ 27 Constantin Papanace, UNHCR application for assistance (French), 28 February 1961;, ITS DAWL. 28 Köpernik, Faschisten im KZ, 231. 29 Details from Ion Popa, The Romanian Orthodox Church and the Holocaust (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017), 134–137. On Trifa, see also the brief comments in Radu Ioanid, ‘The Pogrom of Bucharest 21–23 January 1941’, Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 6:4 (1991), 380–381, and in Paul A. Shapiro, ‘Faith, Murder, Resurrection: The Iron Guard and the Romanian Orthodox Church’, in Kevin Spicer (ed.), Antisemitism, Christian Ambivalence, and the Holocaust (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007), 162–163. 30 De Cocatrix to Wiesenthal, 6 July 1976;–1971, ITS DAWL. For the English version of Kogon’s book, see The Theory and Practice of Hell: The German Concentration Camps and the System behind Them (London: WDL, 1958), 52. 31 See, for example, a letter from H. Siebel, ITS, to Dempsey B. Mizelle, US Embassy, Bonn, 3 June 1982, with particular reference to Viorel Trifa;–1959, ITS DAWL. 32 Popa, The Romanian Orthodox Church and the Holocaust, 169, 173. On Puiu, see also Ion Popa, ‘Visarion Puiu, the Former Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan (Archbishop) of Transnistria – A Historical Study on His Life and Activity before, during, and after the Holocaust (1935–1964)’, Holocaust: Studii şi Cercetări, 6 (2013), 182–203. 33, ITS DAWL. 34 Clark, Sfîntă tinereţe legionară, 249.


During the years 1938–1948 Romania went through a series of remarkable changes. From a parliamentary democracy until February 1938, when King Carol II established a ‘royal dictatorship’, to a fascist state between December 1940 and February 1941, to a fascist regime-cum-military dictatorship from February 1940 until August  1944, to a communist satellite of the Soviet Union, Romania was not simply caught between the machinations of the superpowers. Certainly the Romanian decision to ally itself with Nazi Germany – taken before Ion Antonescu came to power – was made out of fear that this represented the only chance of retaining some independence and having the possibility of regaining lands ceded to the USSR (Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia) and Hungary (Northern Transylvania) in June and August 1940 respectively. The fact that the choice was Hitler’s Germany rather than Stalin’s Soviet Union tells something about the country’s political culture: monarchist, nationalist, xenophobic, with a longstanding antisemitic consensus and, despite Bucharest’s interwar cosmopolitanism, by 1938 moving decisively into Germany’s orbit. But geopolitics were just as, if not more, significant: the tendency towards Germany was bolstered by widespread fear of communism, which was by no means particular to Romania but which was given added force by virtue of the fact that the USSR had territorial claims against Romania whereas Germany did not. And it gained further traction after the German invasion of Poland, when the Romanians could see for themselves the ineffectiveness of Anglo-French guarantees. In short order, the country lost a third of its territory, following which King Carol II, under German pressure, was forced to offer dictatorial powers to General Antonescu and then to abdicate in favour of his son Mihai. At first Antonescu shared power with the Iron Guard, with the Guard’s leader, Horia Sima, appointed deputy prime minister when the ‘National Legionary State’ was declared on 14 September 1940. After a few chaotic months, characterized by Iron Guard violence, culminating in the Bucharest pogrom of

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January 1941, in which 120 Jews were murdered, Antonescu dissolved the National Legionary State on 14 February and established a new government which offered a less wayward rule, a more stable partnership with Germany and, in Antonescu’s eyes at least, a stronger likelihood of regaining northern Transylvania. ‘The road to northern Transylvania’, writes Dennis Deletant, ‘lay through Russia and allegiance to Hitler’ – or so Antonescu believed.1 Antonescu, soon promoted to marshal, ruled Romania until, with the Red Army approaching and the conducător (leader) remaining indecisive, the young King Mihai (Michael) intervened and on 23 August 1944 engineered the country’s switch of sides just in time to try and stave off the indignity of Soviet defeat and humiliating terms.2 Instead the coup bought Mihai about six months before the Soviet occupation was being presented as a friendly operation in the final struggle against ‘Hitlerite and Horthyite Fascism’, as Romania swiftly turned into a communist country – now with the humiliation presented as being the will of the Romanian people. This last change was perhaps the most remarkable given that Romania’s indigenous communist party (RCP), outlawed throughout the interwar and wartime period, numbered no more than 1,000 members, some 800 of whom were in prison. ‘Romania’s external position immediately after the coup’, Deletant reminds us, ‘was that of an independent state waging war against its former allies on the side of its former enemies.’3 Or, as Nikita Khrushchev put it, Romania, like Hungary, was one of ‘our involuntary allies.’4 The rapid incorporation of Romania as part of the Soviet Union’s sphere of interest in Eastern Europe signalled the fact that, as with Poland, Stalin wanted to ensure that a ‘friendly’ regime was in place, first to recognize the border changes that were in effect at the end of the war (the Soviet occupation of Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia, the latter of which was to become the Soviet Republic of Moldova)5 and, second, to prevent any resurgence of fascism  – in other words, to secure Soviet security, which was Stalin’s main aim after World War II. By March 1945, the interim governments of Sănătescu and Rădescu had been replaced by the Soviets’ nominee Petru Groza. In November 1947 the Social Democratic Party was forcibly merged with the Communist Party to create the Romanian Workers’ Party, and in December 1947, with Mihai’s forced abdication, the communist takeover was complete. These changes were observed by, among many others, the BBC Monitoring Service (BBCM). BBCM is an example of what is now referred to as Open Source Intelligence (OSINT), that is, an example of a source other than a ‘secret’ one that can be used to understand one’s adversary’s thinking and behaviour.6 This concept was crucial to the founding of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1947, but, since the age of the Internet, it has received a great deal of attention from intelligence agencies and scholars alike.7 BBCM was set up when war broke out in 1939 and began operating on 1 January 1940. Its role was not merely to translate and transcribe foreign radio broadcasts – especially useful in countries where BBC journalists were banned – but to assess them. Accordingly, the BBCM monitors produced a daily and weekly ‘Digest’ of the broadcasts, selecting what they considered the most significant, which was passed on to the relevant government

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departments, including the Ministry of Information, which had been responsible for conceiving of the service in the first place. In other words, BBCM has been one tool in the government’s armoury of international diplomacy. The archives of BBCM, though owned by the BBC, were held for many years at the Imperial War Museum’s (IWM) site at Duxford, near Cambridge. Its size is remarkable, with boxes of transcripts from around the world, including China, the USSR, India and many other countries. Thanks to an initiative of the IWM – a research project headed by Suzanne Bardgett, head of Research at IWM – researchers were permitted access to the archive for a brief period during 2015. Given that the UK is generally regarded as a good example (if not as good as the United States) when it comes to archival access, it is worth noting that the BBC, a public body which is funded by British tax-payers’ television licence fees, only allowed researchers into the archive for a brief period; would not allow them to download, copy or print the documents; and then reclosed the archive, which has only recently reopened to researchers after being relocated to the BBCM site near Caversham in Berkshire.8 This chapter is based on a visit to the archive in November 2015, in the context of the IWM research project on BBCM, when I examined the transcripts of Romanian broadcasts. This is a small collection in comparison to those from the world’s major powers, but it nevertheless provides a fascinating insight into how a geopolitically crucial country sought to portray itself to the outside world in the context of the momentous events of the mid-twentieth century. In the first full-length academic study of BBCM, Laura Johnson rightly observes that ‘the BBC Monitoring Service archives are a selective record of broadcasting, they are not the media sources themselves’; in other words, the role played by the monitors in translating and shaping the material needs to be considered.9 Even so, the files allow us to come close to accessing the representation of the events through the words of the Romanian radio service. Of course, one needs to bear in mind that the transcripts have been translated, which itself raises the possibility that, as Hilary Footitt notes, a failure to problematize the translated text might mask the extent to which translating itself can domesticate a foreign text, screening out key aspects of its essential foreignness, a process which could encourage recipients of translation to maintain a type of cultural parochialism in which translated texts tend to be compared with what is known – similar texts and situations in English – rather than provoking speculation on what may be as yet unknown, and as yet, in intelligence terms, unthinkable.10 Nevertheless, with the BBCM, translated texts are what we have to work with. The shift from fascist-cum-military dictatorship to communism is especially striking, as of course is the gulf in just about every report between what the broadcasters claimed  – irrespective of which regime was in control  – and the facts as they can be discovered from other sources. One can write history on the basis of the BBCM reports on Romania, but it would be a history that veered widely from an understanding of the same events from the perspective of post-communist,

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twenty-first-century Europe. Before 23 August  1944, the monitoring reports describe the unleashing of the war as a result of an international Jewish conspiracy to undermine the Romanian people. After that date, they present ongoing events as the triumph of the Romanian working people against the fascist oppression unleashed by big business and foreign, especially German and Hungarian capital. In other words, for historians to use the BBCM reports in the Romanian context, a good dose of source criticism is necessary, and the broadcasts – in themselves fascinating – need to be placed alongside other documents, even if one’s interest is solely in the self-portrayal or propaganda of fascism or communism. The BBCM sources are transcripts of sources ‘from above’, that is, official positions, which are often uniform and ideologically straitjacketed; they need to be supplemented by sources ‘from below’, that is, testimonies of everyday life in Romania as well as by sources that come from outside observers.11 This chapter will examine the BBC Monitoring reports as they concern four representative moments: the wartime expropriation of Jews prior to their planned deportation, Romania’s changing of sides in the war as of 23 August 1944, the return of Jewish deportees after the war and the communist governments’ changing attitudes towards Palestine/Israel and Jewish emigration.

Persecution of the Jews This contrast between the sources and the reality is readily apparent with respect to the treatment of the Jews in Romania. The authorities were by no means shy of advertising their decisions to expropriate Jewish property and, in general, to remove the Jews from Romanian economic and social life. For example, a broadcast of 3 April 1941 reported on measures taken in that vein: A lengthy explanation was given as to the significance of the Rumanian Decree-Law by which the land property owned by the Jews was expropriated by the Rumanian State. All kinds of factories were by this measure also expropriated by the State and the work of Rumanisation was thus enabled. The Under Secretary of State for Rumanisation takes care that the necessary measures should be carried out in the interest of the state. The Rumanian authorities are careful to prevent any abuses which could occur by the transfer of Jewish property to the ownership of the State.12 A broadcast one month later added: ‘A National “Center of Romanisation” has been created which will issue several decrees: the expropriation of Jews, replacing Jews by Rumanians in all establishments etc. This center is also going to control the Economic life and the Finance.’ It also reported in a news flash that a new law had been passed forbidding Jews to trade in cereals.13 The next day further detail was added in a broadcast to European countries outside of Romania: The decree concerning the expropriation of Jewish property is an important step in the nationalisation policy of the Government. It concerns big and

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small enterprises, such as mills, bakeries, alcohol distilling plants, refineries, factories of medical drugs, all mining rights and property of mineral resources such as oil, railways, telegraph and telephone companies. All these must be transferred to the state free of debts. An undersecretary of state for Rumanisation and colonisation will be appointed who is to watch over the legal carrying out of the transfer. The Government will pay for the property in form of annuations. By this measure the skilled workers among the refugees from the ceded territories can be again introduced into the economic system.14 The same broadcast also observed the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Ion Constantin Brătianu, ‘one of the founders of the Rumanian state.’ It summed up his achievement thus: ‘He was the creator of the alliance with Germany and Italy, and succeeded in annulling the demands of the Berlin Congress for the emancipation of Jews in Rumania.’ This condensation of Brătianu’s life into a foreshadowing of the Axis aimed to provide the Antonescu regime with a respectable pedigree and set the attacks on the Jews into a context of long-term nation-building. The government did indeed establish on 3 May 1941 a National Centre for Romanianisation (Centrul Naţional de Românizare), tasked with ‘romanianising economic life’ and paying compensation to Jewish property owners.15 This compensation, which undervalued property by more than 75%, was of course never paid.16 But there was more to the measures against the Jews than an attempt to redistribute wealth from the small Romanian middle class (which included many Jews) to the poor Romanian peasantry. If the aim were simply to boost economic development and undertake programmes of ‘modernization’, then attacking the Jews made no sense – they were already contributing to the Romanian economy, the Jews of the Regat (the ‘Old Kingdom’ of Moldavia and Wallachia) thought of themselves as Romanian and the Jews of Banat and Transylvania, though often of German- or Hungarian-speaking backgrounds, could have been regarded by a state with less narrow ethnic aims as net contributors to national life. As Jewish doctor and writer Emil Dorian asked in his diary with respect to his landlord, how has the situation changed ‘if the exorbitant rents go into the pocket of a Gentile rather than a Jewish exploiter?’17 But the fact is that since 1918 and the creation of ‘Greater Romania’ as part of the postwar settlement, the Romanian state had been devoted to a project of national homogenization, of which minorities, especially Germans, Hungarians, Jews and Roma, were the targets. ‘The elimination of the foreign element’, said Antonescu, ‘depends on its replacement by local forces in the spirit of the fullest integrity.’18 The Antonescu regime offered a more extreme version of the Romanianization policy that had been developing in response to the new constitution of 1923, which had granted Jews civil rights. Just before the establishment of King Carol’s royal dictatorship in February  1938, Octavian Goga’s short-lived antisemitic government (December 1937–February 1938) reversed many of the

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Jews’ rights, which Carol never abrogated.19 Ion Gigurtu, then head of government under the royal dictatorship, introduced Nuremberg-style laws in 1940 just before Antonescu took power with the Iron Guard. Not only did Antonescu’s regime take radical measures to steal property from Jews, leaving them destitute, but it murdered them too. The Romanian army was the third largest in the Axis (after the Wehrmacht and the Japanese army). Following the occupation of the part of western Ukraine between the Dniester and Bug rivers, the Germans and Romanians agreed at Tiraspol (17 August 1941) and Tighina (30 August) to name the area Transnistria, run by the Romanians from Odessa but allowing the Germans control of major railway lines and the port of Odessa. Jews were deported there from Bukovina and Bessarabia. Together with the local Jews, including the Jews of Odessa, they were killed there in large numbers or were left to starve or freeze to death in the inhospitable environment. The largest single massacre occurred at Bogdanovka in Golta county, when in December 1941 some 4,000–5,000 Jews were burned alive in a stable block and a further 43,000 shot in a local forest.20 Although Antonescu is not regarded by historians as having been as radical as Hitler and the leading Nazis, he nevertheless held a worldview which regarded Jews as Bolsheviks and as an existential threat to the Romanian nation. In an interview with the Italian newspaper La Stampa, for example, Antonescu explained that the largest problem facing Goga in 1938 had been the ‘Jewish problem’. Explaining that Jews controlled the Romanian economy, Antonescu proposed to resolve the Jewish problem in the course of the reorganisation of the state, substituting Jews with Romanians step by step, and in the first instance with legionaries who will in the meantime prepare themselves. The Jews’ property will for the most part be expropriated in exchange for compensation. . . . Jews will be able to live in but will not be able to be beneficiaries of the resources and wealth of this country. In Romania, Romanians have to live and be valued above all: the others, if there is space left, come after them.21 Antonescu shared with Hitler a paranoid fear of ‘Judeo-Bolshevism’ and stated that ‘Satan is the Jew’.22 If he proved to be more pragmatic in his attitude towards the Jews than Hitler, who never wavered from his chiliastic vision of the Jews as the poisoners of the Aryan race, Antonescu’s fear of Jewish treachery and economic exploitation nevertheless made Romania responsible for killing somewhere between 300,000 and 350,000 Jews as it sought to solve its ‘Jewish question’ in ‘the Romanian way’ until Antonescu changed his mind in October 1942, abandoning plans to deport Jews from the Regat, Banat and Transylvania.23 Among the reasons contributing to this decision, the economic one – that is, the failure of plans to ‘Romanianize’ the economy in the way envisaged by the regime – was not the least relevant.24

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Romania changes sides These events suddenly took on new meanings with the change of regime after August 1944, and their reflection in the Romanian broadcasts gives us an insight into how the new governments wanted to portray themselves to the Romanian people, to the Soviets and to the rest of the world. They indicate what was regarded as important enough to broadcast, how post-Antonescu Romania was to be conceived and, vitally, what the new regime did not want to talk about. The most pressing news was of course the change of regime itself, which was presented in the most positive way possible. King Michael today formally restored the democratic constitution of Rumania by re-establishing the 1923 constitution which had been suspended by his father, King Carol. Until a national legislature can be elected, its powers will be exercised by the King and his Cabinet, in which all the Democratic Parties, including the Communists, are represented. All dictatorial powers bestowed on the Premier by various decrees under the Antonescu regime are abolished by today’s Act. All anti-Jewish decrees and laws passed under the Antonescu regime have also been annulled and thousands of Jewish doctors, lawyers, teachers and others who were driven from those professions by those laws are automatically reinstated, though thousands of others did not survive to benefit by this new reform. At the same time, to keep things in hand here the Government has warned the Press of the reintroduction of Press control, which was dropped after the Palace revolution of 23rd August. Papers have been told that they must publish nothing on military and political matters which is not in accordance with official directives.25 A few days later, a broadcast in French insisted that the coup was no sudden, unplanned action but that it had long been prepared: The Socialist leader Constantin Petresco gave the Socialist paper ‘Libertatea’ details of how the coup d’état on 23rd August was prepared. He said this was not a spontaneous action, but one which had been long prepared for by the four main parties which, although dissolved, had continued their underground activity.26 Even more important, the same broadcast was at pains to stress that Mihai had always intended to take such action and was never tempted to leave the country: Berne: A Rumanian living in Britain recently published in a British paper an article stating that King Michael had sought advice from the allies, and from some Rumanians living abroad, as to whether he should seek refuge abroad, and he had been advised not to leave the country. We are authorised emphatically to deny this assertion. The King never thought of leaving for

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abroad and asked for no advice. On the contrary, he did not hesitate for a minute in preparing the action carried out on 23rd August, and for which his presence was as natural as it was indispensable.27 At the same time, the BBC was also picking up the broadcasts made by the remnants of the former regime, including this stirring statement by Horia Sima, the leader of the Iron Guard: Rumanians! During the last few days the question of Transylvania has been reopened, and it has come to fighting between Rumanians and Hungarians. You must realise that this problem is painful to us – and particularly to us who never lost faith in the nationalist front and are carrying on the struggle against Bolshevism. But this Rumanian-Hungarian conflict at this time serves neither of the two parties, only the Judeo-Bolshevik plans. Their primary intention is for the Nationalist forces to exhaust each other so that the Bolsheviks can more easily penetrate into the heart of Europe and instal [sic] the Communist regime more speedily in the countries they have entered. Rumanians! Refuse to be deceived by current events. There is a peril which at this moment overshadows all territorial problems, for it threatens our people’s very life. It is Judeo-Bolshevism. World Jewry takes advantage of this sacred problem of our people solely as a means of agitation in its own interests. . . . In the new Europe of tomorrow, the problem of nationalities will be settled by Adolf Hitler in a spirit of justice and in accordance with the sacrifices which every nation has made for the sake of the final victory of the new world. Rumanians! Retain your calm and dignity. Refuse to be diverted from the main problem of this hour, the Judeo-Bolshevik menace, and concentrate all your energies and fighting spirit in this direction alone.28 At this point Sima was in Vienna, and as the Third Reich collapsed, he was able to find his way to Madrid, where he lived until 1993, penning anti-communist and Legionary tirades. The title of the monitor’s report suggests that in September 1944 the situation was still sufficiently in flux for the BBC to refer to Sima as a representative of the enemy-controlled ‘Rumanian national government’; since Sima was regarded by the Nazis as the head of a puppet ‘government-in-exile’, this designation was understandable. Yet in reality, given the Soviet advance, there was no likelihood of a fascist revival in Romania. Rather, the first broadcasts after 23 August were designed to show that the new King was trying to negotiate a path between the Western Allies and the Soviets. He wanted to win time to hold free elections, keeping the Allies to their word as given at Yalta. Yet this shaky state of affairs stood no chance in the face of the Soviet determination to control Romania. The new realities soon became entrenched, and by autumn 1944, the Romanian press was celebrating more forcefully the newfound friendship between the Romanians and the Soviets, on the one hand, and the rallying round King Mihai, on the other. Later such

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broadcasts were designed to channel nationalist sentiment in a pro-Soviet direction, but as the following report indicates, whilst Sănătescu was still head of government, the press was advertising the attempt, by defending the King, of keeping Romania from total subordination to the Soviet Union: King Michael’s Birthday. All Rumania celebrates to-day the anniversary of King Michael’s birth. The Rumanian nation rallies round the King whose fate is bound with it for ever. [Reference to 23rd August, ‘which brought about a decisive change in Rumania’s destiny.’] King Michael is a King of justice, and on today’s anniversary the Rumanian people expresses faith in him. (Rumanian national anthem.) The Rumanian premier, Gen. Constantin Sanatescu, today sent a telegram of greetings to King Michael in the name of the Government expressing its unshakeable faith and devotion.29 The Romanian government was not so naïve as to think it could stay within the Western orbit, but such broadcasts reflected policies that were designed to mitigate the worst effects of Soviet occupation. They were to be in vain. One illustration of how the communists triumphed is found in the BBCM’s recording of the trials of war criminals in Romania. As in the rest of what would soon become the region east of the ‘iron curtain’, war crimes trials in Romania served a dual purpose: convicting those alleged to be fascist criminals and reorganizing society, eliminating ‘kulaks’, large landowners, and entrepreneurs – in short, the middle class and bourgeoisie.30 Even though the People’s Tribunals followed the indictments set out in the Nuremberg International Charter (8 August 1945), the social context, legal framework of the court and the vocabulary of the prosecution made it clear that the crimes were to be understood in terms of a Marxist-Leninist interpretation of class struggle. For example, with respect to the trial of those in charge at the aforementioned massacre in Bogdanovka, the guilt of the accused was presupposed through the use of evocative (and typically communist) terms such as ‘hangman’ and ‘assassins’ and through painting a picture of a united public, shocked and dismayed at the actions of the criminals amongst them: The interrogation of the war criminals at the People’s Court continues. The President questioned Popescu, the Bogdanovka Camp hangman, who said he had taken the deportees’ valuables to prevent profiteers from dealing in them. He admitted the deportees were given nothing in return. Asked whether he had organised the massacre of 48,000 people in the camp, Popescu cynically replied that the number was certainly not above 15,000. At this the public voiced its resentment and indignation. Questioned further he explained that typhus had broken out and to prevent a worse disaster, this massacre was decided upon. Sub-Prefect Aristide Padure was questioned next and admitted sending deportees to camps where slow death awaited them.

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Praetor (?Bodei) who, when tens of thousands of internees were starving at the Bogdanovka Camp, ran a bakery producing only 100 loaves a day, and Sgt. (Melinescu?) were also questioned. The latter admitted he had ordered gendarmes to beat inmates. His testimony is valuable because he saw the massacre. He told the President that about 14,000 people were killed, and more were dying every day. The Public Prosecutor asked: ‘Does the accused know that the old, sick and children were shot and their bodies burned in front of the living?’ after a minute’s reflection the Sergeant replied: ‘Such things happened after festivities.’ These then are the assassins and their misdeeds. The proceedings of the People’s Court continue.31 Another broadcast, two days later, followed up with the somewhat implausible claim that all of the war criminals had been indicted and once again making a clear separation between these ‘bad apples’ and the general public: Prof. P. Constantinescu-Iasi, Minister of Propaganda, interviewed by the ‘Victoria’ correspondent, said that public opinion was satisfied that all war criminals responsible for Rumania’s disaster have now been committed for trial. It was the duty of all conscientious citizens to condemn those responsible for the horrors committed, the massacres of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, and the ruin of provinces. By expressing their desire for the severe punishment of war criminals, the people of Rumania must dissociate themselves from the Fascist criminals.32 The authorities insisted that the forty-four meetings organized by the Patriotic Union in Bucharest indicated that ‘[t]housands of civilians, representing all social strata, showed their hostility towards those who committed the basest brutalities and atrocities, and demanded their punishment.’ There was, said Minister Professor Vlădescu-Răcoasa, ‘no excuse for war criminals wearing uniforms and attempting to plead that they only carried out orders, because military regulations forbid looting and murder.’33 Here, indeed, the Romanians anticipated the Nuremberg defence and its dismissal by the tribunal. Nevertheless, the broadcasts were overall highly misleading. The fact is that the Bucharest Tribunal sentenced a mere 187 people. Of those, forty-eight were sentenced to death but only four were actually executed, with the rest being commuted to hard labour or sentenced in absentia. In the Cluj Tribunal, the sentences were harsher, a fact which reflected the region’s occupation by the Hungarians. As Michael Shafir notes, the claim that the Hungarians, and not the Romanians, were responsible for the Holocaust, a position which dominated communist-era historiography, derives from the period of the trials.34 Still, as early as 1950, many war criminals were released and joined the RCP. The Jews were depicted as victims of the Germans and the Hungarians, and the returnees were denied justice. Indeed, RCP secretary Vasile Luca stated in October 1945, ‘There are almost no deportees left in misery. They have become multimillionaires.’35

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Jewish returnees Immediately after Romania changed sides and long before the end of the war, Romanian radio reported on the travails of Jewish refugees. For example, on 27 October 1944, one broadcast focused on the case of a group of refugees crossing Bulgaria: Twenty fifth October one hundred forty Rumanian refugees including children crossed Bulgaria enroute Palestine. Bulgarian Redcross accompanied children to Turkish border. Refugees thanked authorities who arranged transit. Adults reported critical economic situation Rumanian Jews caused by Nazis and fascist Rumanian persecution. Stated they considered their duty to appeal to dots of world to help Rumanian Jews coming winter.36 The same broadcast reported on Jew-baiting in Bulgaria, on the liberation of the Serbian town of Negotin (near the Romanian and Bulgarian borders), in which only one Jewish family was left, having been in hiding, and on how Jews from the same town were now ‘with Tito’. At the same time the broadcasters reported that Romania was threatening to take a bellicose stance towards Germany and Hungary if they mistreated Romanians, including Jews: In view of reports from refugees of the danger threatening the lives of Rumanians conscripted for labour, and of Jews deported from northern Transylvania to Germany and Hungary, or in German-occupied territories, the Rumanian Government has intervened with the International Red Cross asking for an investigation. The Government has also requested the Swiss Government to inform Berlin and Budapest that it will take reprisals against German and Hungarian nationals in Rumania, and against the members of the respective ethnical groups.37 Such reports were certainly a marked change from the Antonescu regime; this expression of concern for Jews was not something that had characterized broadcasts before 23 August. But the reality was not so straightforward. As the broadcasts indicate, life remained terribly hard for Romanian Jews still under German or Hungarian control, but the implication that Jews were now being well treated in Romania itself bears further scrutiny. Before August 1944, the Jewish families and individuals (approximately 7,000 people), mostly from the Regat, permitted to return from Transnistria to Romania after December 1943, were mistreated by local authorities, beaten and forced to pay bribes. Although, as Ancel notes, the decision, by a regime that two years earlier had promised to eradicate the Jews, to permit the return of any survivors at all is remarkable, but at the same time as making the return passage as difficult as possible, the Antonescu regime still made use of antisemitism and ‘linked the

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spectre of losing the war, a Soviet takeover of the country, and Jewish domination of the Romanian people.’38 Ironically, the Soviet occupation of Romania ended the repatriation process with 43,519 Romanian Jews from Bessarabia and Bukovina trapped in Transnistria; only those from southern Bukovina were now eligible to return, and the rest were considered Soviet citizens. Only after protracted negotiations did the Soviets allow, on several occasions in 1945 and 1946, these Jews (and others, from Poland, Hungary, the Baltic States and elsewhere) to cross the border into Romania.39 Following Romania’s switching of sides, the racial legislation of the Antonescu era was abolished and all Romanians became formally equal before the law. The Defence Ministry issued an order, for example, on 15 November 1944, stating that differential treatment of Jews and non-Jews no longer had any use [nu-şi mai avea rostul astăzi], now that all racial laws had been abrogated and, according to the constitution now in place, all Romanian citizens, irrespective of ethnic origin, were equal before the law, having the same rights and obligations in respect of the state.40 The reality was not quite so simple. In fact, the very overturning of antisemitic legislation and the measures for restitution – half-hearted though they were – led to heightened popular resentment against Jews, according to some reports.41 One Security Service report of August 1946 claimed that ‘[h]atred of the Jewish element is on the rise. Among the things contributing to this are rumours that Jews have come to Romania from various areas in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Russia, and will remain here as settlers.’ And in parts of the country from which Jews had been deported (including from Hungarian-occupied Northern Transylvania), Jews who tried to return to their homes were attacked and ‘dozens were murdered.’42 At best, the annulment of the fascist-era laws allowed Jews to rebuild their communities – insofar as this was possible – and to make efforts to emigrate but by no means provided compensation for their losses. Many former Legionaries who had stolen Jewish property were able to hold on to it until the communists nationalized all means of production and shops in 1949; this included community buildings, such as schools, hospitals and even a few synagogues, which were transferred from Legionary to state ownership in 1949.43 A longstanding tradition of antisemitism was not going to disappear overnight, and the communist regime was not only suspicious of Judaism as a religion but made use of antisemitism as an expedient when the circumstances favoured doing so. An example comes from the tenancy law of April 1946, as reported by BBCM: Minister of Justice, Patrascanu, told the press about the new tenancy law, now approved by the Cabinet. He had endeavoured to annul the reactionary law hitherto in force. The new law extends tenancies until 23rd April, 1946 for all categories of tenants. The tenant’s family will benefit from the law regardless of the nature of the original contract. Citizens of enemy countries, Rumanian citizens who have left the country since 23rd August, and citizens of countries which do not grant reciprocal rights to Rumanian subjects are excluded from its benefits. . . . As regards evicted Jews, all owners will return

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to their dwellings. The return of all Jewish tenants is not possible. After examination of all the relevant material and the opinion of social and professional organisations which can only be ignored at grievous risk, it has been decided that war widows, war invalids, war orphans, public servants, artisans and workers should be allowed to stay on in their present dwellings.44 What BBCM did not report were the first post-Antonescu laws to restore property, the so-called Pătrăşcanu Laws, which resulted in returning only a small proportion of stolen Jewish property and ignored the fact that many Romanian beneficiaries of the race laws had quickly sold stolen goods. The communists, keen to entrench their power, ‘chose to disregard their own promises and proclamations about restoring Jewish property and began to defend the many Romanians who had taken it.’45 If, in the first years after August 1944, the Jewish community in Romania – now Europe’s largest at some 353,000 – set about trying to re-establish itself under the leadership of Wilhelm Filderman, the odds were against its success. It was a traumatized and impoverished community, heavily dependent on charity, especially from the Joint; despite formal legislation, it continued to meet hostility and, furthermore, its activities were monitored and increasingly controlled by the state. On 4 March 1949 the Council of Ministers finally banned Jewish charities (including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Organization for Rehabilitation through Training and Organizaţia de Sănătate, the Jewish Health Organization) from operating in Romania, and shortly afterwards the community was formally cast as the Federation of Jewish Communities (Federaţia Comunităţilor Evreieşti) and placed under the charge of the Communist Party and the Ministry of Cults (Ministerul Cultelor).46 Thus, by the late 1940s, a new way of life was taking shape in Romania for Jews and non-Jews alike. The discrepancy between what the communists preached and what they actually did or permitted to happen was only hinted at in the BBCM reports. One example is from a speech delivered by Pătrăşcanu to a group of intellectuals in December 1945: He said that the new Romania would be democratic, for she would either have to be a democratic state or cease to exist. ‘We are making persistent efforts to raise the standard of living of the workers and peasant. In our view, the purpose of democracy is to bring decent living conditions to the masses and acquaint them with culture and the arts. Patriotism must not mean chauvinism or anti-Semitism; the nation and the masses must be treated as identical concepts. Our national ideal is to awaken to consciousness the broad masses. Between the national ideal and our Communist faith there is no contradiction. On the contrary, since we are pre-occupied with the people’s needs and aspirations, we are actually serving the national ideal. In the past we championed our country’s independence; now we mean to preserve it. The people’s forces can build only if the nation is free. We support Socialist culture, but this culture will always preserve its national character. As out

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international outlook does not affect our people’s vital rights, so our national outlook must be based on close collaboration with the national groups in our country.’47 A clearer understanding of the new reality comes from other sources, as in a letter from the Jewish community concerning how its schools were being run. The contortions are readily apparent as the letter described how the meeting inaugurating ‘antifascist week’ unfolded: The Director’s opening words dealt with resistance in the fascist period, major figures in Romania and abroad who opposed fascism, the evils of fascism in contrast to the advantages of democracy, and our debts to the efforts made to achieve victory and the remaking of the country. There then followed a more detailed programme during which [o]ne of the dissertations concerned Hitlerite schools and their great errors in education. Another succinctly treated education in Soviet schools, with their moral and pedagogical advantages for the young. Finally, there was a cultural programme, with lectures by ‘democratic authors’, music and so on.48 Of course, the fact that a Jewish school could run at all in Bucharest marks a striking change from a year earlier, but the particular pressures on the Jewish community, widely regarded as Soviet collaborators and forced by the official line effectively to become so  – like everyone else  – are especially plain. The BBC Monitoring Reports captured only part of what was in fact going on in postwar Romania.

Palestine and Jewish emigration Much has been written on the Romanian communist regime’s shifting position on Jewish emigration at the end of World War II. Not only was the large, local Jewish population impoverished and beleaguered but, as we have seen, Jews from other eastern European countries had managed to find their way into Romania once the Soviet authorities finally gave the green light to their crossing the border between Transnistria and Romania. These Jews wanted to emigrate en masse but were permitted to do so only in certain waves. Up to 1947 the authorities tolerated emigration both legal and illegal (e.g. via Yugoslavia and Italy on to brichah ships to Palestine); in 1948–1949, after the creation of the state of Israel, Romania closed its gates to Jewish migration, in contrast to other eastern European states; then in 1950–1951, when those same states were now preventing Jews from leaving, the Romanians decided to let Jews leave again, with some 100,000 departing in that last year or so in an indication that conditions in Romania were about as bad as they

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could be in postwar Europe. The vacillations were driven less by demand, which remained fairly constant, than by differences of opinion in Party leadership. As Robert Levy has shown, General Secretary Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej wanted to deny exit visas to ‘productive’ Jews (i.e. those with skills and professions), whereas Foreign Minister Ana Pauker, who was herself of Jewish origin, was opposed to any restrictions on Jewish emigration.49 These machinations and internal divisions were not advertised to the outside world and certainly do not form part of the BBCM reports. By contrast, and quite strikingly given the shifting positions taken vis-à-vis Jews, antisemitism and emigration at this time, the Romanian press had a great deal to say about Palestine and, later, Israel. The position it took is one that is familiar to students of the communist countries’ attitude towards Palestine – that is, the communists embraced the opportunity to humiliate the British by attacking imperialism in general and the Palestine Mandate in particular – but one that does not square with the regime’s position with respect to Jewish emigration. Only if one bears in mind the simultaneous existence of equality before the law and a rejection of fascist decrees and a continued, instrumentalized antisemitism, as shown earlier, can one understand that it was entirely possible for the Romanian communists, including a number of prominent Jewish communists (with Pauker as an exception), to celebrate the right of Jewish self-determination in Palestine, initially to welcome the creation of Israel, but at the same time to oppose allowing Romanian Jews to leave the country for Palestine. Early postwar Romanian reports on Palestine painted a picture of Arab princes in league with the capitalist West, preventing ordinary Jews and Arabs from fulfilling their dream of living together in harmony. Noting that ‘[t]he Palestinian convulsions are in the focus of the interest of the whole world’, Romanian radio reported on a story in România Liberă which ‘clarifies which are the interests that clash in the little country on the Mediterranean coast’: After stating that one had to deal there with the desire of the Jewish and Arab peoples to live in peace on one hand and on the other with the desire of the Anglo-American imperialists to maintain their positions (?furtively), the paper unmasks the tools who are carrying out the plans of the monopolists. They are the so called Kings of the Arab countries, the stooges of the big finance of London and Washington. The paper declares that the annual allocation for the maintenance of Abdullah’s Arab Legion amounts to the nice little sum of £2,000,000. Further, ‘Romania Libera’ stresses the nazi methods employed by the terrorist gangs. These endeavours in Palestine can be summed up in this phrase: ‘British and American interests (?coupled) with Arab . . . and Nazi methods’, concludes the paper.50 Three years later, the authorities in Romania were mobilizing the Jewish population to celebrate the proclamation of Israel. This was clearly significant to the RCP, since it trailed the events the day before they occurred and reported them

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immediately afterwards too.51 The report of 24 May  1948 presented a view of events in Israel that was at odds with how they were being portrayed in the Western press: At a meeting yesterday, the Jewish population of Bucharest expressed its joy over the creation of the State of Israel and protested against the intrigues of Anglo-American imperialists. Events in Palestine have revealed the real meaning of Anglo-American policy, said one of the speakers; it is pursued to satisfy the desires of a tiny bunch of exploiters. Another speaker emphasised the disinterested help offered by the Soviet Union to the Jewish people. A telegram was sent to UN expressing the indignation felt by the Jews of Rumania over the Anglo-American policy of imperialism in Palestine.52 The same argument was offered a few days later, this time in the wider context of postwar European developments. In the context of now irreversible Cold War tensions – this was just after the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, the Prague coup and the creation of Comecon, all of which marked decisive moments in Cold War rivalry – the Romanian press used Israel as an object-lesson in how to understand Western policies in general. Stalin clearly felt betrayed by his former allies, and here Western policy is presented as form of banditry, as the split between the wartime allies is understood as the West ‘reverting to type’, shamelessly abandoning the Soviet Union in favour of rehabilitating fascists: Discussing palestine problem in light of whole jewish question, today’s Scanteia says that solution of palestine problem depends on destruction of last remnants of fascism and . . . everywhere. Whilst mosley freely propagates antisemitism and united states practice racial discrimination, writes scanteia, whilst in germany and italy racial prejudices are reborn under american protection, antisemitism has been successfully fought in soviet union and in new democracies. Just as victory of progressive and democratic forces in many countries contributes to definite solution of jewish problem in respective countries, so establishment and consolidation of jewish state in palestine can only be result of victory of world wide democratic and antiimperialist camp.53

Conclusion The BBC Monitoring reports only recorded what the international media wanted to broadcast; it is no criticism of BBCM to say that its transcripts paint a very partial understanding of the events they describe. When placed in context, the broadcasts remain a highly revealing and useful set of sources, for they speak to the self-understanding and self-presentation of the regimes that sent them out into the world. In the specific case of Romania, we see with both the fascist-cum-military

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dictatorship and the communist regime that there is often an enormous gulf between the claims made in the broadcasts and what we know from other sources. Nevertheless, it is still possible to be surprised by the frankness and stirring rhetoric that one sometimes encounters. In November 1945, the Russian writer Ilya Ehrenburg, co-author with Vasily Grossman of the Black Book of Soviet Jewry, a 1946 report on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union which was suppressed two years later, gave a lecture in Budapest which was reported on in the Romanians’ Hungarian-language service. It is important to be cynical in the face of these sort of humanitarian claims from Soviet authors; at the same time, it is hard not to be moved and it is even harder to believe that a man such as Ehrenburg could have said these words without meaning them. It is easy to imagine the BBCM monitors recording such statements many times over as they listened to broadcasts from the Soviet Union and its new satellites in eastern Europe. That does not detract from the fact that the message is one that remains meaningful: Ehrenburg said Budapest reminded him of the Russian towns devastated by the Germans and pointed to the price Russia paid for victory. ‘But this victory is not only ours, it is also that of Europe and mankind. Europe was devastated by the racial idea and in the name of German superiority, they wiped out cities and killed millions of people. Victory is won, but it is not enough to wipe out the Fascists on the battlefield. Our soldiers have done their duty; now it is up to the intellectuals to banish German darkness. Today it is not the underground Fascist organisations which constitute a danger but the prejudice remaining in the people’s hearts. It is the intelligentsia’s task to eliminate this danger. We must be on guard for mankind cannot survive another Oswiecim and Majdanek.’54

Notes 1 Dennis Deletant, ‘Ion Antonescu: The Paradoxes of His Regime, 1940–44’, in Rebecca Haynes and Martyn Rady (eds.), In the Shadow of Hitler: Personalities of the Right in Central and Eastern Europe (London: I. B. Tauris, 2011), 284. See also Mariana Hausleitner, ‘Romania in the Second World War: Revisionist out of Necessity’, in Marina Cattaruzza, Stefan Dyroff and Dieter Langewiesche (eds.), Territorial Revisionism and the Allies of Germany in the Second World War: Goals, Expectations, Practices (New York: Berghahn Books, 2013), 173–191. 2 Mioara Anton, ‘Dincolo de Nistru: Politică etnică şi reconstrucţie identitară’, in Diana Dumitru, Igor Caşu, Andrei Cuşco and Petru Negură (eds.), Al Doilea Război Mondial: Memorie şi istorie în Estul şi Vestul Europei (Bucharest: Cartier, 2013), 25–43. 3 Dennis Deletant, Romania under Communist Rule (Iaşi: The Center for Romanian Studies, 1999), 33. 4 Khrushchev cited in Mark Kramer, ‘Stalin, Soviet Policy, and the Establishment of a Communist Bloc in Eastern Europe, 1941–1948’, in Timothy Snyder and Ray Brandon (eds.), Stalin and Europe: Imitation and Domination, 1928–1953 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 275. 5 Igor Caşu, ‘Începuturile resovietizării Basarabiei şi starea de spirit a populaţie (martieseptembrie 1944)’, in Dumitru et al (eds.), Al Doilea Război Mondial, 121–140.

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6 See Abram N. Shulsky and Gary J. Schmitt, Silent Warfare: Understanding the World of Intelligence, 3rd edn (Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2002), 159–163. 7 See, for example, Wilhelm Agrell, ‘The Next 100  Years? Reflections on the Future of Intelligence’, Intelligence and National Security, 27:1 (2012), 118–132; G. M. McGill, ‘OSCINT and the Private Information Sector’, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, 7:4 (1994), 435–443. See also Arthur S. Hulnick, ‘The Downside of Open Source Intelligence’, International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, 15:4 (2002), 565–579. 8 It is unclear why the BBC has been hesitant about opening the BBCM archive, although in the current British climate, in which the BBC receives quite a lot of criticism from those who want to see it abolished in favour of a completely free market in broadcasting, the past and continued existence of what could easily be portrayed to the public as the BBC’s ‘spying wing’ is perhaps a sensitive issue. See www.bbc.co.uk/monitoring/aboutus (accessed 21 September 2016) for the BBC’s description of the BBCM’s activities. 9 Laura Johnson, Establishing Broadcast Monitoring as Open Source Intelligence: The BBC Monitoring Service during the Second World War, PhD dissertation, King’s College, London (2013), 274. For an earlier, short study of BBCM, see Alban Webb and Catherine Haddon, ‘ “An Internal Housekeeping Matter”? Whitehall and the BBC Monitoring Service’, The Political Quarterly, 78:2 (2007), 214–223. 10 Hilary Footitt, ‘Another Missing Dimension? Foreign Languages in World War II Intelligence’, Intelligence and National Security, 25:3 (2010), 289. 11 For a similar observation about the way in which the history of communism in Romania has been written, see Adrian Cioflâncă and Adriana Radu, ‘Instalarea comunismului văzută de la tribună şi din stradă. Mobilizare şi represiune în România până la moartea lui Stalin’, in Andi Mihalache and Adrian Cioflâncă (eds.), Istoria recentă altfel: perspective culturale (Iaşi: Editura Universităţii ‘Alexandru Ioan Cuza’, 2013), 289–335. 12 BBCM, H3, Monitor: Santo. Rumanian for Rumania. 3 April 1941. 13 BBCM, H3, Monitor: Kahlerova. Radio Romania in German, Italian, French and English. 2 May 1941. 14 BBCM, H3, Monitor: Gombrich. Rumanian in German, Italian, French, English, for Europe. 3 May 1941. 15 Dennis Deletant, ‘Ion Antonescu and the Holocaust in Romania’, East Central Europe, 39 (2012), 65–66. 16 Jean Ancel, The Economic Destruction of Romanian Jewry (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2007), 152. 17 Emil Dorian, The Quality of Witness: A Romanian Diary 1937–1944 (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1982), 153 (28 March 1941). For a full study, see Ştefan Cristian Ionescu, Jewish Resistance to ‘Romanianization’, 1940–1944 (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). 18 Antonescu in Universul, 20 February 1941, cited in Ancel, Economic Destruction, 136. 19 For more details, see Paul A. Shapiro, ‘Prelude to Dictatorship in Romania: The National Christian Party in Power, December 1937-February 1938’, Canadian-American Slavic Studies, 8:1 (1974), 45–88. 20 On Bogdanovka, see Dennis Deletant, ‘The Holocaust in Romania’, in Ottmar Traşca and Dennis Deletant (eds.), Al III-lea Reich şi Holocaustul din România 1940–1944: Documente din arhivele germane (Bucharest: Editura Institutului Naţional pentru Studierea Holocaustului din România ‘Elie Wiesel’, 2007), 34–36; Armin Heinen, Rumänien, der Holocaust und der Logik der Gewalt (Munich: R. Oldenbourg Verlag, 2007), 140–145; Jean Ancel, ‘Antonescu and the Jews’, Yad Vashem Studies, 23 (1993), 213–280; Radu Ioanid, ‘The Antonescu Era’, in Randolph L. Braham (ed.), The Tragedy of Romanian Jewry (New York: Rosenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies, 1994), 151; on Transnistria in general, see Jean Ancel, Transnistria, 3 vols. (Bucharest: Atlas, 1998), especially vol. I, 174–217 on Bogdanovka. 21 ‘Interviewul acordat de generalul Ion Antonescu, conducătorul statului, unui corespondent al ziarului italian “Stampa”: “problema evreiască o voi resolva substituind

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încetul cu încetul pe evrei cu români” ’, Timpul, 30 September 1940, in Lya Benjamin (ed.), Evreii în România între anii 1940–1944. Vol. II: Problemă evreiască în stenogramele Consiliului de Miniştri (Bucharest: Hasefer, 1996), doc. 47, 135. See also Jean Ancel (ed.), Documents Concerning the Fate of Romanian Jewry during the Holocaust (New York: Beate Klarsfeld Foundation, n.d.), vol. I, 536. Orig: în cursul reorganizării Statului, substituind încetul cu încetul pe evrei cu români, şi în primul rând cu legionari care între timp se vor pregăti. Bunurile evreilor vor fi în mare parte expropiate, în schimbul unor îndemnizaţii. . . . Evreii vor putea trăi, dar nu vor putea fi beneficiarii resurselor şi bogaţiilor aceştei ţări. În România trebuie să trăiască şi să fie puşi în valoare mai întai românii: ceilalţi, dacâ rămân locuri libere, vin după ei. 22 Deletant, ‘Ion Antonescu’, 285; Deletant, ‘Ion Antonescu and the Holocaust in Romania’, 66. See also Lya Benjamin, ‘The Jew’s Image in Antonescu’s Political Texts’, in Mihail E. Ionescu and Liviu Rotman (ed.), The Holocaust and Romania: History and Contemporary Significance (Bucharest: Institute for Political Studies of Defense and Military History, 2003), 122–133. 23 See ‘Şedinţa Consiliului de Miniştri. Se hotărăşte suspenderea trimiterilor de evrei peste Nistru şi instituirea unei conferinţe interministeriale pentru rezolvarea problemei evreieşti’ (13 October 1942), in Benjamin (ed.), Evreii în România între anii 1940– 1944, vol. II, doc. 147, 455–466. See also Jean Ancel, ‘Plans for the Deportation of the Rumanian Jews and Their Discontinuation in Light of Documentary Evidence (JulyOctober 1942)’, Yad Vashem Studies, 16 (1984), 381–405. 24 Ancel, Economic Destruction, 167. 25 BBCM, H6, Monitor: Baumgarten, 4 September 1944, Bucharest in English. Despatch from Sam Brewer for ‘Chicago Tribune’ via AP Monitoring Service, London. 26 BBCM, H6, Monitor: Filderman, 9 September 1944, Romanian in French. Rumania Coup d’Etat: Socialist Leader on Preparation. 09.27. 27 BBCM, H6, Monitor: Filderman, 9 September  1944, Romanian in French. King Michael and Refuge Abroad: British Report Denied. 09.35. 28 BBCM, H36, 15 September  1944. Rumanian National Government (Enemy Controlled), sub-edited by Gibbons. 29 BBCM, H36, 25 October  1944, Monitor: Santo (reception very poor). Rumanian Home Service. 30 For the wider context, see István Deák, Jan T. Gross and Tony Judt (eds.), The Politics of Retribution in Europe: World War II and Its Aftermath (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000). 31 BBCM, H10, Monitor: Balasz, 16 May 1945 (reception poor). War Criminals’ Trials, Wednesday’s Proceedings. See Deletant, ‘Ion Antonescu’ and Ancel, Economic Destruction, 262–265 for further details. The correct name of the pretor is Gheorghe Bobei and of the Bogdanovka ‘hangman’, prefect Modest Isopescu; Pădure was his adjutant. Nicolae Melinescu was in charge of the gendarmerie in Bogdanovka and, although he was accustomed to beating and generally mistreating Jews, refused to use his men to carry out the order to kill the Jews of Bogdanovka. See Ancel, Transnistria, vol. I, 181–182 and Vladimir Solonari, ‘A Conspiracy to Murder: Explaining the Dynamics of Romanian ‘Policy’ towards Jews in Transnistria’, Journal of Genocide Research, 19:1 (2017), 1–21. 32 BBCM, H10, Monitor: Hamburger, 18 May 1945. Propaganda Minister on Rumanian War Criminals. 33 BBCM, H10, Monitor: Santo, 21 May 1945. Patriotic Union Meetings Demand War Criminals’ Execution. 34 Michael Shafir, ‘Romania’s Tortuous Road to Facing Collaboration’, in Roni Stauber (ed.), Collaboration with the Nazis: Public Discourse after the Holocaust (London: Routledge, 2011), 246–247; Michael Shafir, ‘ “Nürnberg II”? Mitul denazificării şi utilizarea acestuia în martirologia competitive Holocaust-Gulag’, in Radio-grafii şi alte fobii: Studii contemporane, publicistică şi pubelistică (Iaşi: Institutul European, 2010), 361–383. For further

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statistics, see also Comisia internaţională pentru studierea Holocaustului în România, Raport Final (Iaşi: Polirom, 2005), 319–320. 35 Cited in Shafir, ‘Romania’s Tortuous Road’, 249. 36 BBCM, H36. 27 October 1944. 37 BBCM, H6, Monitor: Balazs, 30 October 1944, Rumanian Home Service (poor reception). Rumania Threatens Reprisals against Germany, Hungary. On the significance of these threats to Germans and Hungarians – and the link between such threats and the Romanian desire to retake Transylvania from Hungary – see Holly Case, Between States: The Transylvania Question and the European Idea during World War II (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009), 193–194. 38 Jean Ancel, ‘ “The New Jewish Invasion” – The Return of the Survivors from Transnistria’, in David Bankier (ed.), The Jews Are Coming Back: The Return of Jews to Their Countries of Origin after WWII (New York: Berghahn Books, 2005), 234. For statistics on the Jews returned from Transnistria, mostly from Dorohoi, to Romania, see Dennis Deletant, Hitler’s Forgotten Ally: Ion Antonescu and His Regime, Romania 1940–1944 (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 222–225. 39 Ancel, ‘ “The New Jewish Invasion” ’, 235–238. 40 ‘Ministerul Apărării Naţionale, Ordin General, 15 November 1944’, in Ana Bărbulescu and Alexandru Florian (ed.), Munca obligatorie a evreilor din România: Documente (Bucharest: Polirom, 2013), doc. 245, 527. 41 Hildrun Glass, ‘Die Rezeption des Holocaust in Rumänien (1944–1947)’, in Mariana Hausleitner, Brigitte Mihok and Juliane Wetzel (eds.), Rumänien und der Holocaust: Zu den Massenverbrechen in Transnistrien 1941–1944 (Berlin: Metropol, 2001), 154. 42 Cited in Ancel, ‘ “The New Jewish Invasion” ’, 240–241. 43 Ancel, Economic Destruction, 139. 44 BBCM, H10, Monitor: Balasz, 2 May 1945. New Tenancy Laws. 45 Ancel, ‘ “The New Jewish Invasion” ’, 245–246. 46 Statutul Cultului Mozaic, 1 June  1949, in Andreea Andreescu, Lucian Nastasă and Andrea Varga (eds.), Minorităţi etnoculturale. Mărturii documentare. Evreii din România (1945–1965) (Cluj: Centrul de resurse pentru diversitate etnoculturală, 2003), doc. 171, 423–429. See also Liviu Rotman, ‘Romanian Jewry: The First Decade after the Holocaust’, in Braham (ed.), The Tragedy of Romanian Jewry, 297. 47 BBCM, H14, Monitor: Balasz, 11 December 1945. Dacia Romana in Hungarian. 48 Letter from Jewish Community of Bucharest to Education Minister, 3 April 1945, in Andreescu, Nastasă and Varga (eds.), Minorităţi etnoculturale, doc. 13, 98. For the general situation in Romania, see Deletant, Romania under Communist Rule, ch1. Orig: Cuvântul de deschidere al doamnei directoare s-a purtat asupra rezistenţei în epoca de activitate fascist, marile figure din ţară şi străinătate care s-au opus fascismului, relele fascismului în contrast cu avantajele democraţiei şi datoria noastră de a contribui la efortul pentru victorie şi refacerea ţării.  .  .  . Una dintre disertaţii privea şcoala hitleristă cu marile ei erori de educaţie. Alta a tratat succinct educaţia în şcoala sovietică, cu avantajele ei morale şi educative pentru tineret. 49 Robert Levy, ‘Ana Pauker and the Mass Emigration of Romanian Jewry, 1950–1952’, East European Jewish Affairs, 28:1 (1998), 69–86. See also Levy, Ana Pauker: The Rise and Fall of a Jewish Communist (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001), 163–183. 50 BBCM, L146, Monitor: Hamburger, 18 May  1945. Rumania in Rumanian. Press Review. 51 See BBCM, L146, Monitor: Filderman, 22 May 1948. Rumania in Rumanian (Reception very poor). 52 BBCM, L146, Monitor: Frank, 24 May  1948. Romania Libera in Russian. See also BBCM, L146, Monitor: Macrae (?), 24 May  1948. Rador in English, for a similar report, though presented in a shorthand form. 53 BBCM, L146, Monitor: Day, 26 May 1948. Rador press in English. 54 BBCM, H14, 26 November 1945, Radio Rumania in Hungarian.

11 CONCENTRATION CAMPS A global history

Introduction: what is a concentration camp? Zygmunt Bauman has offered one of the more memorable assessments of concentration camps, with his pithy claim that just as the eighteenth century was the age of reason and the nineteenth the age of progress, so the twentieth century will be remembered as the ‘century of camps’. ‘The camps’, he writes, following Hannah Arendt, were distillations of an essence diluted elsewhere, condensations of totalitarian domination and its corollary, the superfluity of man, in a pure form difficult or impossible to achieve elsewhere. The camps were patterns and blueprints for the totalitarian society, that modern dream of total order, domination, and mastery run wild, cleansed of the last vestiges of that wayward and unpredictable human freedom, spontaneity and unpredictability that held it back. The camps were testing grounds for societies run as concentration camps.1 There is a striking mismatch between this sort of philosophical attempt to account for the meaning of concentration camps and historical studies which examine the development, running, staffing and victims’ experience of camps as they appeared in particular settings. This chapter will consider the historiography of concentration camps, showing how histories of individual camp systems – and individual camps  – mean we now have a detailed understanding of how camps arose, developed and, in many cases, closed, although the scholarship is much better developed in some cases than other. This body of literature now allows historians to ask whether concentration camps should be considered from a transnational perspective, the ‘global portability of the concentration camp’, as Klaus Mühlhahn

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puts it.2 Did regimes learn from one another’s practices? Were ideas about incarceration passed on by particular ‘experts’ or by the press and concerned commentators? Were the specific practices engaged at concentration camps, such as the use of barbed wire, torture, ritual humiliation or forced labour, shared ideas or did they emerge spontaneously across the globe? The answers shed light on camps as one of the twentieth century’s most notable inventions. I suggest that this history should make us wary of accepting some of the most influential philosophical accounts of the meaning of concentration camps, such as Bauman’s, insofar as these argue on the basis of an archetypal and ahistorical ‘camp’. Philosophers and sociologists have asked whether concentration camps are ‘laboratories of violence’ (Sofsky) or places for the ‘eradication of man’ (Arendt). They have claimed that the camps’ victims are reduced to ‘bare life’, that is, non-people whom the guards can kill with impunity, and that this biopolitical control combined with the normalizing of the ‘state of exception’ reveals that camps are ‘the nomos of the modern’ (Agamben). Still, despite talking past one another, in many ways these apparently discrete worlds of scholarship share common ground, and together they can help us understand why and how concentration camps emerged when they did, and why studying them, however unpleasant, remains crucial for understanding twentieth-century world history. The question ‘what is a concentration camp?’ is not as easy to answer as it might at first appear. On the one hand, it may seem straightforward to say that a concentration camp is an enclosed site used to hold against their will and without due legal process a group of civilians deemed ‘unwanted’ by a regime. On the other hand, and thanks mainly to the association of concentration camps with the Third Reich, we tend to think of concentration camps as places where the law has been abandoned, ‘spaces of exception’ where the inmates are set against each other and where they are at the mercy of the guards’ whims. The imagery of barbed wire, guard towers, machine-gun emplacements and ironic slogans over the entrance gates completes the picture. That is all well and good, until we consider some questions which complicate the story. What if we take seriously the notion that camps in South Africa were set up by the British primarily with the aim of preventing a rural population whose land had been destroyed by the British army’s scorched-earth policy from supporting Boer guerrillas and not as ‘punishment’ camps? What if we consider the cases of people interned against their will because of racial and political paranoia, such as citizens of many European countries during World War I, Japanese-Americans or German-Jewish ‘enemy aliens’ during World War II, Jewish Displaced Persons at the end of World War II, either in Germany and Austria or, even more problematically, in the camps set up by the British in Cyprus where Jews who had made the ‘illegal’ crossing to Palestine were held until the establishment of Israel? What happens to our understanding of camps when we discover that in the Soviet Gulag there were prisoners who were granted the right to live ‘outside the zone’ (so-called zazonniki) who could move about unguarded? How should we deal with ‘liberal’ countries’ use of camps – in which brutal torture and mistreatment were rife – in the context of decolonization in Malaya, Kenya or

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Algeria? None of the people in these camps want to be there, but can we say that they are in each case a ‘surplus’ population abandoned to their fate, deprived of the law? The case of Guantánamo Bay is especially disconcerting here. Few would dispute that it is a shocking abuse of power and that it is wrong to hold people for years solely on the basis of suspicion, but is it, as some commentators hold, a concentration camp? Are favelas, slums, sweatshops or enclosed territories such as the Gaza Strip huge open-air concentration camps? There are those who believe so.3 If all of these sites are concentration camps, then we rapidly come to the conclusion that there is no archetypal camp, that a camp need not look like Dachau in order to qualify as a concentration camp, and that the concept of the concentration camp needs to be historicized, for what it designates changes over time.

Histories Concentration camps did not appear out of nowhere. There is a long history of incarceration that includes workshops, POW camps, asylums, quarantine islands, slavery plantations and prisons. The idea of isolating unwanted population groups precedes the modern age. The most important precedent is to be found in the European overseas colonies, ‘spaces of exception from European law’, places in which, as Hannah Arendt argued, anything was possible.4 The consistent forced relocation of American Indians, the forcing off the land of Aborigines in Australia and the wiping out of whole populations such as San Bushmen or Caribs were all justified on the grounds that the ‘natives’ were not able to follow the laws of civilized warfare. Specific cases such as Flinders Island off the coast of Tasmania or Shark Island off the Namibian coast are very close approximations of concentration camps, except that they were ‘ready-made’ rather than constructed. Indeed, the first wave of camps to be known as ‘concentration camps’ were located in the European colonies: Cuba, South Africa, the Philippines, German Southwest Africa. In the first three of these places, concentration camps were established primarily as a military solution to guerrilla warfare. By removing the displaced rural population, guerrilla fighters would lose their source of food, shelter and morale, and the civilian authorities could engage in social engineering. German Southwest Africa is somewhat different; here the camps were established after the war, more as a means of pacifying and humiliating a defeated enemy and forcing them into slave labour than a counter-guerrilla strategy. Revealingly, though, given that the term Konzentrationslager had been used in German, up to that point, to refer to the British camps in South Africa, it is clear that the British experience in their guerrilla war was regarded as some kind of guide by the Germans.5 Klaus Mühlhahn writes that the global history of concentration camps shows that they ‘first emerged in the non-Western world within the historical context of colonial rule – which reinforced the assumptions of white superiority, justified the use of violence against colonized populations, and proliferated ideas of ethnic and/

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or political cleansing.’ That is probably not contentious. His following statement is more interesting, however: Global connections and transfers moved the military and policing doctrines from the European colonial domains to the European continent itself where the implementation of those practices facilitated the shift to total war and also helped shape a new brutality displayed by European armies toward noncombatants during and after World War I.6 This claim makes assumptions about the transnational nature of concentration camps that needs to be tested. Perhaps, following anthropological models, we might in fact discover that similar ideas arose less through ‘diffusion’ – the transnational sharing of ideas – than through ‘evolutionism’ or ‘parallel development’. In other words, the repertoire of violence represented by concentration camps was an expression of structural similarities and family resemblances in modern global history that emerged largely spontaneously in different locations. The most compelling reason for the redeployment in Europe of these colonial practices was World War I. During this conflict, not only were POWs taken in numbers previously unseen but so were civilians interned – and subjected to all manner of suffering – in enormous numbers. Some 8–9 million POWs were held during the war, 2.2 million in Russia alone; nor was this only a European problem, with German POWs being held in Japan, albeit in small numbers. POW camps cannot by definition be considered concentration camps, but the sheer scale of them during World War I, not to mention the high death rates in them, tells us something about the modern state’s ability and willingness to intern huge numbers of people. In the era of total war, this willingness to intern then impacted most forcefully on civilians. As historian of the POW camps Heather Jones notes, in World War I the prisoner of war camp began the conflict as a means of ensuring that the captured enemy combatant was kept away from rejoining the battlefield fight; in other words, with a purely military function; it ended the war as a sophisticated system of state control and as a laboratory for new ways of managing mass confinement, forced labour and new forms of state-military collaboration.7 Even more significant for later developments was the internment of civilians during World War I, and not only in Europe. In 1915, in a move that had enormous ramifications for the rest of the twentieth century and beyond, France revoked the status of naturalized citizens from people of ‘enemy origin’. Belgium, Italy, Austria and Germany soon followed suit, with the result that the idea that one could be stripped of one’s nationality and reduced to statelessness and thus deprived of the benefit of law – this being long before the UN Refugee Convention, of course.

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British civilians in Germany, for example, were held in the Engländerlager Ruhleben near Berlin. In total, by the end of the war, some 111,879 ‘enemy civilians’ were in German internment, and 24,255 German, Austrian and Hungarian civilians were still interned in Britain at the same point, October 1918. The Austro-Hungarians deported French, Belgium citizens for forced labour and Italian citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire for being ‘out of place’: they were either interned or deported to Italy. From 20 May 1915 they were held in what were called ‘concentration camps’, one of which, at Steinklamm, the Italians referred to as the ‘Campo della morte’ (camp of death). The internees were treated very harshly, forced to work for little pay and received inadequate food supplies. The Italian royal commission of investigation noted, in fact, that the ‘really tragic characteristic of these concentration camps was the hunger’ and, in the face of large numbers of deaths, especially of children, claimed that the Austrians intended to ‘destroy or reduce to a small number the Italian race on its territories.’8 The Austrians also rounded up some 7,000 so-called ‘Russophiles’ in eastern Galicia and Bukovina and deported them to the Thalerhof camp near Graz, where nearly 1,500 died. In the colonies, German priests and civilians in Togo and Cameroon were rounded up and interned first in Dahomey and later in Algeria and Morocco, and in British East Africa, German civilians were deported to camps in India. The war also witnessed refugee movements on a huge scale. The Russian Revolution of 1917 created about 1.5  million refugees, and even before that, as a result of the war, in Russia’s larger cities refugees made up more than 10% of the population by mid-1916; in Kharkov it was 25% and in Samara 30%.9 There were philanthropic efforts to help them, but these were insufficient to counter the power of a nationalist language of ‘floods’, ‘swarms’, ‘deluges’ and other biblical disasters, which quickly became associated with refugees across Europe. The Times, for example, described Belgian refugees in Britain as ‘a peaceful invasion’, whilst Russian commentators used even more colourful terms such as ‘lava’ or ‘avalanche’.10 These population movements saw emergency accommodation being created in schools, factories, barracks, monasteries and so on, and the creation of refugee camps for the first time on European soil. The refugees were not always grateful, however. Belgians in Britain, for example, were constrained by the Aliens Restriction Act (4 August 1914), confining them to specific parts of the country; they complained that this amounted to being held in a ‘concentration camp’.11 Whether undertaken out of fear of ‘fifth columnists’, as reprisal actions or in order to obtain forced labourers, the scale of civilian internment during the war was far greater than anything that had been witnessed before. Perhaps more important than the sheer number of civilians held in camps is the reason for their being so held: this is the point at which the emerging nation states, as well as more established ones, became gripped by fears of ‘fifth columnists’, by paranoid fantasies of enemies within and a fascination for racial and national homogeneity which rendered civilians with foreign descent suspect in the eyes of patriots and nationalists. The logical extension of this fear was the declaration of a state of emergency, a state which France, for example, remained in from 1914 until

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1919. Civilian camps were thus the expression of the break with the liberal rule of law and rule by decree under a state of emergency in which those rendered suspect by irrational political fears were placed in a position of enemy number one, with the result that when rendered stateless or denied citizenship rights, they suddenly became very vulnerable indeed. Mühlhahn claims: The temporary internment of displaced and dislocated groups and POWs in the wake of the war together with the politization of citizenship and nationality and the temporary suspension of regular legal procedures provided the conditio sine qua non that facilitated the emergence of concentration camps on the European continent.12 In other words, in the global history of concentration camps, the POW and civilian camps of World War I provide closer connections to the later Nazi and Soviet camps than do the colonial concentration camps of southern Africa. Nowhere is this claim clearer than in the context of the Armenian genocide, during which Anatolian Armenians were deported to the deserts of Syria, with many eye-witnesses describing their destination as concentration camps or even, as in the case of Katma (Ghatma), death camps. Take, for example, Naomie Ouzounian’s description, written in 1982: The ‘camp’ where hundreds of thousands had already been thrown together was a narrow strip of the desert, surrounded by bare hills. The hot, humid air was filled with the stench of human refuse and decaying unburied bodies. I couldn’t breathe, oh, if only I could take a deep breath! The name of this hell was Ghatma. ‘Dear Lord, I hope there is no Ghatma in the hereafter, and if there is one, forgive my sins and do not condemn me to it’, I prayed.13 Historians of the Armenian genocide agree with this terminology. Hilmar Kaiser goes on to talk of the ‘world of the death camps’ as the genocide became more coordinated and ferocious in 1916.14 Other historians concur, Ronald Suny claiming that the ‘concentration camps’ at Tel-Abiad, Ras al Ayn, Mamureh, Katma and Aleppo ‘were way stations toward extermination. They were death camps.’ Taner Akçam too says of the ‘concentration camps’ of Aleppo that ‘the appalling sanitary and humanitarian conditions turned these into death camps.’15 These were not camps designed to isolate civilians but to get rid of them altogether. What is different about twentieth-century camps from colonial and European sites of incarceration that preceded them is thus the context. First of all, we are talking about civilians, people who have not formally been convicted of any crime. As Arendt noted, ‘Criminals do not properly belong in the concentration camps, if only because it is harder to kill the juridical person in a man who is guilty of some crime than in a totally innocent person.’16 They are held against their will because of who they are or what the authorities suspect them of believing or what they might do. That ‘liberal’ regimes have incarcerated  – and continue to

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incarcerate  – people on this basis is an important reminder that concentration camps are not solely the tool of ‘mad’ dictators and evil regimes, though we should be clear that the most complete instantiation of camps as ‘laboratories of human behaviour’ occurred in the fascist and communist regimes of the twentieth century. Second, it is less the physical appearance of camps that is significant than what they represent, that is to say, the power and the nature of the twentieth-century state, although it is true that with the exception of the Soviet ‘special settlements’ – from which there was little chance of escape across hundreds of miles of tundra – they tend to assume a similar pattern, based on conventional prisons, though less accessible to outsiders. Third, the large-scale incarceration of civilians not because they were diseased physically but because they were presumed to be ‘diseased’ mentally or racially conforms to what we know of the development of modern states. Concentration camps appeared in the age of the modern nation-state when the drive to establish homogeneous populations  – ethnically, nationally or ‘racially’ – was common and when the inability to achieve that goal was put down to the existence of ‘alien’ population groups. As multinational empires gave way in Europe to homogenizing nation-states, or as new empires such as the Soviet Union attempted to mould society in a new image, the threat of ‘enemies’ and ‘wreckers’ was in-built as something that had to be combated. Concentration camps were novel forms of incarceration because they were the expression of the modern state when it felt itself to be under threat. This analysis is most easily confirmed when one turns to the literature on the Nazi and Soviet camps, which we will examine briefly. Here the continuities with the earlier manifestations of concentration camps are clear  – but perhaps not as clear as the breaks. Hannah Arendt remarked that the colonial camps provided only ‘apparent historical precedents’ although the fact that they provide precedents at all, even in Arendt’s formulation, should not be dismissed. There is a huge literature on the Nazi camps, exemplified now by Nikolaus Wachsmann’s KL (2015), which follows Saul Friedländer’s paradigm of an ‘integrated history’. This combines topdown institutional history with a deep regard for the ways in which the camps’ inmates lived through the experience and shows how the camp system changed over time, from the ‘wild camps’ of 1933 to the early camps designed to rid Nazi Germany of political enemies and ‘asocials’, and through to the massive expansion of the camps after 1938, peaking at the end of the war with the huge growth in slave labour sub-camps attached to the numerous main camps, and showing how the SS’s camp system became embroiled in the history of the Holocaust, the murder of Europe’s Jews. There are histories of all the main camps and a growing historiography on the sub-camps, dealing with issues such as gender, survival rates, SS economic policy, human experiments, the camps as ‘schools’ for Nazi ideology and many other topics. Yet the Third Reich was a world of camps in another respect too. Just as the regime’s de facto ‘enemies’ were eliminated through the use of concentration camps, so the Volksgemeinschaft, or ‘people’s community’, was to be brought into existence and trained in martial values through the use of a variety of labour camps

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for different constituencies: Hitler Youth, BDM and teachers, for example. Indeed, according to a law of November  1934, the term Arbeitslager (labour camp) was reserved for organizations which catered for Volksgenossen (racial comrades) and which were devoted to the honour of the German Volk. Camps therefore became a necessary fixture of German life, whether for those excluded from the racial community or for those who were to be drilled into it. The Labour Service camps in particular became must-see sites for foreign dignitaries and tourists alike and were regarded by Nazi commentators as ‘the best means of making this National Socialist call for a Volksgemeinschaft a reality’, as Reich Labour Leader Konstantin Hierl put it.17 The Janus-faced nature of the Nazi camps meant that few alterations were required to make a concentration camp for the eradication of enemies into a site for the education of the racially valuable members of the Volk – and vice versa.18 Inclusion and exclusion went hand in hand; the former required the latter. With respect to the Gulag, the rather underdeveloped and partisan historiography of the Cold War has given way to a far more sophisticated and nuanced set of works, which see the camps less as the realization of Stalin’s dream of totalitarian control and more as a changing set of institutions. In particular, the many different faces of the Gulag – which was by no means a monolithic institution – have been revealed. Indicating lines of continuity from Tsarist and early post-revolutionary carceral practices, the Gulag has been traced by historians from its early days on the Solovetski Islands to the proliferation of prison camps, labour camps and ‘special settlements’ across the Soviet Union. Historians have shown how there was no single experience of the Gulag. From the brutal camps of the Far East and Arctic north to the camps of Kazakhstan, the Gulag encompassed a wide variety of institutions: prisons, punishment colonies, corrective labour camps, agricultural colonies, ‘special settlements’ and, after the Stalinist period, psychiatric clinics. The brutal nature of the Gulag’s infamous sites of Magadan and Vorkuta is not in doubt. Recent historiography, though, shows that these places changed over time. Perhaps the most notorious of the ‘camps’ was Magadan in the Soviet Far East, ‘the capital of the Gulag’. The city of Magadan was the administrative centre of a region of nearly 3 million square kilometres which reached from the Lena River to the Bering Strait, an area larger than Western Europe. Magadan’s camps existed because of the area’s gold reserves. Dal’stroi, Magadan’s penal branch, was the largest entity in the labour camp system; its name, an acronym for the Far Northern Construction Trust, was ‘a calculated euphemism for a ruthless organisation whose wide array of functions made it the omnipotent overlord in the Soviet northeast.’19 The growth in prisoner numbers in Magadan mirrored the spectacular growth of the Gulag as a whole: from 9,928 in 1932 to 190,503 in September 1940. A similar process occurred elsewhere. Vorkuta, in the Arctic northeast of Russia, became the site of one the largest camp complexes, holding about 75,000 prisoners in 1950. Coal mining began in Vorkuta in 1931 when a group of thirty-nine prisoners was sent to the uninhabited region for that purpose; it soon grew into a massive camp complex, particularly in 1937–1938 as victims of the Great Terror arrived in large numbers and thus as ‘political enemies’ replaced ‘colonists’.

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Although prisoners were sent there to be ‘reformed’, their deaths in appalling conditions meant that the reality was far grimmer than the authorities had anticipated. Ukhtpechlag camp was, according to the inspectors’ own reports, ‘exceptionally appalling’.20 By the end of 1937, Ukhtpechlag held nearly 60,000 prisoners in an area of over 700,000 square kilometres. It was split into four separate camps in May  1938. But the term ‘camp’ should not conjure up an image of a small, enclosed institution. One of the four camps, Vorkutlag, occupied a vast space in which the small population was not properly divided (‘zonified’) between prisoners and non-prisoners and in which the civilian administration was more or less indistinguishable from the camp administration.21 Even during the war, when control over the prisoners was tightened, not all sections of Vorkutlag had been enclosed behind barbed wire. Far more than the Nazi case – despite the efforts of the WVHI, the SS’s economic wing – the Soviet camps were tied to the country’s economy, proving vital for mining and other basic industries. And historians have shown that inmates were handled with a great degree of variance, ranging from those imprisoned behind barbed wire to the so-called zazonniki (‘un-zoned’), who were able to live and work within a certain territory but were not shackled or permanently guarded. According to one historian, ‘in some parts of the Gulag, such as Vorkuta, it was quite common for prisoners to live outside of the [camp] zone, and the borders between camp and city frequently shifted.’22 Although recent popular histories of the Gulag tend to follow the Cold War script, describing it as an ‘archipelago’ of isolated sites of atrocity, this is to overlook the findings of post–Cold War scholarly research. Certainly there were very isolated camps, and being sentenced to a ‘corrective labour camps’ was tantamount to a death sentence. But elsewhere, especially in the ‘special settlements’ – which were half way between freedom and the concentration camp – the situation was different. Most important, historians now agree that the Gulag provides a microcosmic mirror on Soviet society as a whole, with the camp system’s waxing and waning following the pattern of development of the Soviet system in general. The totalitarian regimes’ use of concentration camps marked their high watermark, although this does not necessarily justify Arendt’s assertion that ‘these camps are the true central institution of totalitarian organizational power’,23 since camps have occurred in numerous settings across the world. In the cases of Francoist Spain, Fascist Italy, communist China, Cambodia or North Korea, or in the rightwing dictatorships of Argentina and Chile, the spread of camps combined the diffusion of camp ‘technologies’ with specific local conditions and national traditions. Even the Nazi and Soviet camps were not particularly bound to one another; contrary to Ernst Nolte’s claim that Hitler’s camps were inspired by a Soviet model, the Germans had already looked to the British for the terminology and to Southwest Africa for the practice and had also officially named as Konzentrationslager two former POW camps reopened in 1921 to hold ‘unwanted foreigners’, that is Ostjuden.24 Russian military officials, too, first used the term konsentratsionnyi lager during the Anglo-Boer War and the Bolsheviks quickly revived the term after the

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1917 revolution. Perhaps it is in Nationalist China where the evidence for transnational learning is strongest: the Guomindang was advised not only by American officers but by General Alexander von Falkenhausen, a friend of Lothar von Trotha, the man responsible for the concentration camps in German Southwest Africa. In Europe, camps became the standard fare of authoritarian regimes. More than half a million Spaniards and other Europeans passed through the more than 180 camps which made up the Francoist concentration camp system. The largest, Miranda de Ebro, opened in November 1936 and remained in existence until 1947. As of June  1937, they were administered by the Prisoner Concentration Camps Inspectorate (Inspección de Campos de Concentración), a name which ‘is eerily reminiscent of Eicke’s Nazi Inspectorate of 1934’.25 Himmler inspected Franco’s camps and prisons in 1940; in the same year Spanish officials visited Sachsenhausen.26 In Italy a ‘Fascist archipelago’ comprised islands such as Ventotene and San Nicola and held political prisoners. Later, some fifty-two ‘fascist concentration camps’, holding about 10,000 civilians, were set up all over Italy between 1940 and 1943, ‘directly influenced by Mussolini’s race laws that he introduced in 1938’ – that is, primarily for Jews and Gypsies, but also foreign citizens.27 There are even indications of an attempt to create in 1932 an ‘extermination camp’ for Italian political prisoners in the Libyan Sahara, in Gasr Bu Hadi, 478km south-east of Tripoli. Financial constraints meant it was not built, but the idea shows the logic of Fascism’s radical exclusion taken to its extreme.28 In fascist states, concentration camps were central to the functioning of the regime as such. The use of concentration camps in the context of colonial wars and decolonization, such as in Kenya, Malaya or Algeria, recapitulated the logic of earlier colonial wars, in separating guerrillas and civilian supporters, and sanctioning exceptional measures that would have been considered unacceptable at home. Several authors refer to the ‘Gulag’ in the context of the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya. More people were detained in Kenya than anywhere else in the British Empire, with a maximum of 71,346 detained in December 1954, the vast majority of them (98%) from Kenya’s Kikuyu-speaking central highlands. David Anderson calculates that ‘at least one in four Kikuyu adult males were imprisoned or detained by the British colonial administration at some time between 1952 and 1958.’29 Kenya already had a higher number of prisoners than neighbouring British colonies of Uganda and Tanganyika, but when the ‘Emergency’ began in 1952, numbers increased rapidly. As part of Operation Anvil in 1954, further camps were built, and the use of forced labour – contrary to international law – was sanctioned by Oliver Lyttleton, secretary of state for the Colonies in Churchill’s Tory government. Operation Anvil itself was ‘Gestapolike’, as loudspeakers were set up in Nairobi and a 25,000-strong security force cordoned off the city to search it sector by sector in order to ‘purge’ it, a technique that the British had previously deployed in Tel Aviv.30 One historian writes that the Kenyan camps ‘were not wholly different from those in Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia’ and suggests, more provocatively, that in these camps ‘Britain finally revealed the true nature of its civilizing mission.’ The slogan placed at the entrance to Aguthi Camp: ‘He Who Helps Himself

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Will Also Be Helped.’31 Clearly, a transnational model has some purchase here, although we lack explanations which prove that the process was a conscious one and which connect the Kenyan camps to the earlier South African ones. Doing so would mean taking into account the British role in liberating the Nazi camps and how that affected British colonial and military self-perception in the context of decolonization. Revelations of the torture and brutal rule that characterized the British camps in Kenya have shocked the public in the last decade. But the scale of the camp system was dwarfed by that established by the French in the context of the Algerian War (1954–1962). Algeria was considered a part of mainland France, not a colony, and the fight to retain it united almost all shades of French political opinion. During the years of the war, some 2.3 million people were driven out of their villages and ‘resettled’ in some 2,000 ‘camps de regroupement’ – in other words, a third of the rural population. The inmates depended on the army for their basic necessities, the hygiene conditions were appalling and one historian notes that they were no more than ‘fenced-in tent camps’.32 After 1958, with de Gaulle’s return to power, plans to improve conditions and turn the camps into ‘new villages’ were announced, but by 1962 only very few had been built. Unsurprisingly, the camps which were supposed to stem support for guerrillas – in Kenya, Algeria and many other examples from Rhodesia to Vietnam  – had the opposite effect. And where resettlement succeeded, as in ‘villagization’ in Malaya, ‘it usually did so not because of any economic benefits it generated for a majority, but through sheer force.’33 By contrast with the lack of interest in British colonial camps, the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II has generated a sizeable historiography. Indeed, this case is in many ways the most disturbing since, like the internment of ‘His Majesty’s Most Loyal Enemy Aliens’ – German and Austrian Jews in wartime Britain – here we are dealing with a state interning its own citizens or residents. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans came under suspicion. In the anti-Japanese clamour, this statement from leading anti-Japanese campaigner Lieutenant-Colonel John L. De Witt was typical: I have little confidence that the enemy aliens are law-abiding or loyal in any sense of the word. Some of them yes; many, no. particularly the Japanese. I have no confidence in their loyalty whatsoever. I am speaking now of the native born Japanese – 117,000 – and 42,000 in California alone.34 Ultimately it was President Roosevelt’s decision to intern the Japanese, one he took on the basis of his own personal antipathy and because anti-Japanese feeling was generally strong – Daniels puts it down to ‘the general racist character of American society’.35 Indeed, the decision to intern the Japanese Americans was made before Pearl Harbor. The presence of a post office, laundry buildings, a library and schools and the fact that internees could receive guests clearly indicate that camps like Tanforan,

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Minidoka or Manzanar were not Dachau. Nevertheless, some historians are in no doubt as to what to call them: The most accurate overall descriptive term is concentration camp – that is, a barbed-wire enclosure where people are interned or incarcerated under armed guard. Some readers might object to the use of this term, believing that it more properly applies to the Nazi camps of World War II. Those European camps were more than just places of confinement, however; many were established to provide slave labor for the Nazi regime or to conduct mass executions. I contend that such camps are more properly called Nazi slave camps or Nazi death camps.36 Whatever we call them, the experience of internment was not pleasant and the decision to intern Japanese Americans was hardly a credit to a democratic state. All that really happened was that ‘[t]he myth of military necessity was used as a fig leaf for a particular variant of American racism.’37 Indeed, the practice set a precedent for postwar America: at the height of the Cold War the Emergency Detention Act (1950) gave the president the right to set up camps for ‘[t]he detention of persons who there is reasonable grounds to believe will commit or conspire to commit espionage or sabotage’ (Sec.101 [14]). Daniels observed in 1971, ‘Any foreseeable use of these concentration camps will be for ideological rather than racial enemies of the republic.’38 Although the act was partially repealed by the 1971 Non-Detention Act, Daniels here presciently foresaw Guantánamo Bay. The liberal countries’ use of camps is dwarfed by the Chinese camp system, however. Internment in the United Kingdom or the United States represented ‘an authoritarian trend  .  .  . in our home life’, as the author of a contemporary study of the policy wrote, suggesting that the spread of illiberal ideas concerning foreigners, citizenship and national belonging was very hard for the democracies to resist when the fascist countries seemed to be in the ascendant.39 But in the communist countries, concentration camps were tools of the wholesale reshaping of society and were inseparable from the regimes’ economic plans. China’s massive laogai system remains understudied. Enough is known, however, for us to agree with the authors of one study that ‘China endured more than its share of concentration camps during the twentieth century. Moreover’, they go on, ‘China is the only major world power to have entered the twenty-first century with a thriving concentration camp system, which has been commonly known as “the laogai system” [laodong gaizao zhidu] since May 1951.’ Of course, in China one cannot refer to ‘concentration camps’, only to ‘remoulding through labour facilities’ or ‘reeducation through labour facilities’. The term is freely used by emigrants who have published their memoirs abroad, as one might expect; but scholars have also found the term applicable. ‘While considerable variability among the camps is naturally present in a country as large and diverse as China’, two scholars write, ‘the living and working conditions in their camps have often evoked the harshness associated

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with concentration camps, particularly during spikes in the death rate such as the record-breaking famine of 1959–62.’40 Like in the Soviet Union, the laogai system has also been characterized by the forced settlement of those formally ‘freed’ from the camps. When Harry Wu returned to China in 1991 to make a film about the camps for CBS, he met a former prisoner named Zhou. Having served eight years from 1956 to 1964 for ‘counterrevolutionary crimes’, Zhou then remained in Xining, the capital of Qinghai province, for a further twenty-seven years. He told Wu that one third of the province’s population were resettlement prisoners and their families. ‘Their labour’, writes Wu, ‘had been used, he told me, to reclaim wasteland, construct roads, open up mines, and build dams, not just prior to 1979 but throughout the 1980s.’41 In other words, far more so than in the Soviet Union, the labour of laogai prisoners was economically beneficial to the CCP; the goods manufactured by the prisoners ‘are sold in domestic as well as foreign markets and have become an indispensable component of the national economy.’42 This is hardly surprising when one considers the numbers involved. In 1992, Harry Wu estimated that at least 50 million people had been sentenced to labour reform camps over the previous forty years and that 16–20  million were still confined in them.43 Thought reform through labour turned out to be a convenient way of acquiring ‘a dependable source of wealth’, as Luo Ruiqing, the public security minister, put it at the Communist general Assembly of 1954.44 Unlike in North Korea, the laogai system was formally abolished in 2013 but the structure of the system remains: prison factories, psychiatric prisons, community correction centres and other forms of extrajudicial incarceration still exist, according to campaigners. As all of these examples show (and there are many others that could have been examined), concentration camps not only have a global history; they are one of the best indicators and symptoms of the nature of the world ‘system’, if we can use that term.

Conclusion In 1949, American critic Isaac Rosenfeld published an article in Partisan Review, entitled ‘The Meaning of Terror’. In this cry of despair, Rosenfeld set out his opinion that the world had been forever sullied: Terror is today the main reality, because it is the model reality. The concentration camp is the model educational system and the model form of government. War is the model enterprise and the model form of communality. These are abstract propositions, but even so they are obvious; when we fill them in with experience they are overwhelming.45 What does it mean to say that the concentration camp is the ‘model form of government’? Surely this is no more than a case of postwar shock? And yet the

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recurrence of concentration camps, states’ ready recourse to them in all parts of the world in different political, geographical and cultural settings, suggests that Rosenfeld might have been on to something. What Rosenfeld captured was the way in which the concentration camp became an expression of modern states, especially fascist states, at a certain historical moment. The German philosopher Karl Jaspers wrote: This reality of concentration camps, this circular movement of torturers and tortures, this loss of humanity threatens human survival in the future. Confronted with the reality of the concentration camps, we are unable to speak. This is a greater danger than the atom bomb, since it represents a threat to the human soul.46 That may be true but it is also ahistorical. Concentration camps emerged in the early twentieth century as modern states emerged out of older empires, sustained by ideas of nationalism and biological metaphors defining the healthy and valuable on the one hand and the polluting and degenerate on the other. It is in fact possible to historicize the emergence of the concentration camp and to explain why, for all the continuities with social and colonial practices of preceding centuries, the term and the phenomenon arose when they did. The concept of the concentration camp, Javier Rodrigo reminds us, ‘refers not so much to a place with a set of uniform features over space and time as to the status that has been conferred on such a place.’ As he notes, concentration camps emerged in many places around the same time, but with distinct local variations, meaning that there is a ‘cumulative history’ of concentration camps, ‘with lessons learned, discontinuities and adaptations to the contexts in which they developed.’ Rodrigo provides a clear statement of the historical context in which concentration camps emerged in the wake of colonial wars and World War I: The concentration camps symbolized the transformation and radicalization of the politics of occupation, which extended from the treatment of political prisoners and prisoners of war to the deportation of civilians, from forced labour in extreme conditions to the hunger and misery occupied peoples were also subjected to. Concentration camps also came to serve as a space for social cleansing and internal politics.47 Concentration camps were ways of keeping the unwanted elements at bay and, furthermore, putting them to use: not only through their labour (which was rarely very productive) but as a warning to wider society too. ‘The camp’, Richard Overy writes, ‘reflected political and social insecurities, and a public discourse of fear, part real, part sustained by regimes built on warring ideologies.’48 The concentration camp was an expression of the centralization of terror, one of the key characteristics of the modern state in the age of nationalism and technology.

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For many historians today, the extraordinary vileness of the Nazi camps means that it is invalid to use the term ‘concentration camps’ to encompass both the Nazi sites and those established by regimes in other times and places. Yet many of the first people to see the Nazi camps in 1945 made the connection explicitly, as a way of warning the world of the risk of seeing the Third Reich as a sui generis case. Percy Knauth, for example, one of the first American journalists to see Buchenwald after liberation, not only admonished his fellow Americans for failing to do anything about the Nazi camps whilst they were in existence, he went further and urged his readers to think through what the Nazi camps meant for humanity: And even in this year of peace and victory, we have let the concentration camp live on. We have let it live in Argentina, right in our own hemisphere. We have let it live in Egypt, where Greek soldiers who a year and a half ago revolted against a government-in-exile which had oppressed them while it held the power were clapped in prison by our British allies. We are letting it live in country after country – in Greece and in Palestine, in India and in Spain, among nations liberated and unliberated from the oppressions against which, after four long years, we were finally forced to fight. We wrote ‘Four Freedoms’ on our banners – freedoms for which men were dying in places we had never heard of; but now the freedoms and the places and the Buchenwalds have all receded into the unpleasant past. . . . Our measure of responsibility for Buchenwald is not so great or immediate as is Germany’s, but it is equal with Germany’s responsibility for concentration camps as a creation of mankind. If we deny that responsibility today, as Germany did when Hitler came to power, we may find Buchenwald in our own land tomorrow.49 This kind of universalizing moralizing is not to everyone’s taste. Some may find Knauth’s argument that all people are to some extent responsible for things done by a certain regime unpalatable, regarding it as playing down the specific responsibility of those who created and ran the camps. Yet there are different ways we can read Knauth. He could be warning us not to regard the Nazi camps as the only manifestation of concentration camps in history. He may be reminding us that even if they are not as destructive or as synonymous with a ruling ideology as the Nazi camps, concentration camps can still exist elsewhere. And he might be telling us that bracketing off the Nazi experience – even if done for valid and justifiable reasons – might have the opposite effect to the one intended and might allow evil to flourish. Indeed, it is quite clear that the camps discussed in this chapter are all quite different. I have stressed the camps of World War I not because they were physically more like the Nazi camps than were others but because they help us to understand the ways in which camps became indispensable tools of the twentieth-century state. That it is nevertheless possible to speak of them using the same designation – concentration camps – does not mean that they are the same either empirically or morally. The question is how we historicize the camps.

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Notes 1 Zygmunt Bauman, ‘A Century of Camps?’, in Peter Beilharz (ed.), The Bauman Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), 274–275. 2 Klaus Mühlhahn, ‘The Concentration Camp in Global Historical Perspective’, History Compass, 8:6 (2010), 544. 3 Vinay Lal, ‘The Concentration Camp and Development: The Pasts and Future of Genocide’, Patterns of Prejudice, 39:2 (2005), 220–243. 4 Mühlhahn, ‘Concentration Camp’, 547. 5 Jonas Kreienbaum, ‘Deadly Learning? Concentration Camps in Colonial Wars around 1900’, in Volker Barth and Roland Cvetkovski (eds.), Imperial Co-operation and Transfer, 1870–1930: Empires and Encounters (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 228; Kreienbaum, ‘Ein trauriges Fiasko’: Koloniale Konzentrationslager im südlichen Afrika 1900–1908 (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2015), 310–311. 6 Mühlhahn, ‘Concentration Camp’, 555. 7 Heather Jones, ‘Discipline and Punish? Forms of Violent Punishment in Prisoner of War Camps in the First World War: A Comparative Analysis’, in Christoph Jahr and Jens Thiel (eds.), Lager vor Auschwitz: Gewalt und Integration im 20. Jahrhundert (Berlin: Metropol, 2013), 100. 8 Alan Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction: Culture and Mass Killing in the First World War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 59–60. 9 Peter Gatrell, A Whole Empire Walking: Refugees in Russia during World War I (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), 63. 10 Peter Gatrell, ‘Refugees and Forced Migrants during the First World War’, in Matthew Stibbe (ed.), Captivity, Forced Labour and Forced Migration in Europe during the First World War (London: Routledge, 2009), 90; Gatrell, A Whole Empire Walking, 200. 11 Gatrell, ‘Refugees and Forced Migrants’, 91–92. 12 Mühlhahn, ‘Concentration Camp’, 549. 13 Cited in Hilmar Kaiser, At the Crossroads of Der Zor: Death, Survival, and Humanitarian Resistance in Aleppo, 1915–1917 (Princeton/London: Gomidas Institute, 2002), 21–22. 14 Kaiser, Crossroads, 66. 15 Ronald Grigor Suny, ‘They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else’: A History of the Armenian Genocide (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2015), 314; Taner Akçam, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility (London: Constable, 2007), 198. 16 Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, rev. edn (San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace, 1979), 448. 17 Kiran Klaus Patel, Soldiers of Labor: Labor Service in Nazi Germany and New Deal America, 1933–1945 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 1. 18 Kiran Klaus Patel, ‘Volksgenossen und Gemeinschaftsfremde: Über den Doppelcharakter der nationalsozialistischen Lager’, in Jahr and Thiel (eds.), Lager vor Auschwitz, 327–328. 19 David J. Nordlander, ‘Origins of a Gulag Capital: Magadan and Stalinist Control in the Early 1930s’, Slavic Review, 57:4 (1998), 793. 20 Alan Barenberg, Gulag Town, Company Town: Forced Labor and Its Legacy in Vorkuta (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2014), 29. 21 Barenberg, Gulag Town, 35. 22 Wilson Bell, ‘Was the Gulag an Archipelago? De-convoyed Prisoners and Porous Borders in the Camps of Western Siberia’, Russian Review, 72 (2013), 124. 23 Arendt, Origins of Totalitarianism, 438. 24 Wolfgang Wippermann, Konzentrationslager: Geschichte, Nachgeschichte, Gedenken (Berlin: Elefanten Press, 1999), 24. 25 Javier Rodrigo, ‘Exploitation, Fascist Violence and Social Cleansing: A Study of Franco’s Concentration Camps from a Comparative Perspective’, European Review of History, 19:4 (2012), 557.

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26 Nikolaus Wachsmann, ‘The Nazi Concentration Camps in International Context: Comparisons and Connections’, in Jan Rüger and Nikolaus Wachsmann (eds.), Rewriting German History: New Perspectives on Modern Germany (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 319. 27 Michael R. Ebner, Ordinary Violence in Mussolini’s Italy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 104; Luigi Reale, Mussolini’s Concentration Camps for Civilians: An Insight into the Nature of Fascist Racism (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2011), 1. 28 Adriano Dal Pont, I Lager di Mussolini: L’altra faccia del confine nei documenti della polizia fascista (Milan: La Pietra, 1975), 133–136. 29 David Anderson, Histories of the Hanged: Britain’s Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2004), 313. 30 Caroline Elkins, Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya (London: Jonathan Cape, 2004), 121. 31 Elkins, Britain’s Gulag, 153, 188 (Aguthi). 32 Moritz Feichtinger, ‘ “Concentration Camps in All but Name”? Zwangsumsiedlung und Counterinsurgency, 1950–1970’, in Bettina Greiner and Alan Kramer (eds.), Welt der Lager: Zur “Erfolgsgeschichte” einer Institution (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2013), 310–311. 33 Christian Gerlach, Extremely Violent Societies: Mass Violence in the Twentieth-Century World (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 191. 34 Roger Daniels, Concentration Camps USA: Japanese Americans and World War II (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971), 45–46. 35 Daniels, Concentration Camps USA, 72. 36 Tetsuden Kashima, Judgment without Trial: Japanese American Imprisonment during World War II (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003), 8. 37 Roger Daniels, ‘The Decision for Mass Evacuation’, in Alice Yang Murray (ed.), What Did the Internment of Japanese Americans Mean? (Boston, MA: Bedford/St Martin’s, 2000), 58. 38 Daniels, Concentration Camps USA, 142–143. 39 François Lafitte, The Internment of Aliens (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1940), 27. 40 Philip F. Williams and Yenna Wu, The Great Wall of Confinement: The Chinese Prison Camp through Contemporary Fiction and Reportage (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004), 2, 5. 41 Harry Wu and Carolyn Wakeman, Bitter Winds: A Memoir of My Years in China’s Gulag (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1994), 283. 42 Hongda Harry Wu, Laogai – The Chinese Gulag (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992), 5. 43 Wu, Laogai, 15. 44 Wu, Laogai, 34. 45 Isaac Rosenfeld, ‘The Meaning of Terror’ (1949), in Mark Shechner (ed.), Preserving the Hunger: An Isaac Rosenfeld Reader (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1988), 133. 46 Cited in Galina Mikhailovna Ivanova, Labor Camp Socialism: The Gulag in the Soviet Totalitarian System (London: Routledge, 2015), 191. 47 Rodrigo, ‘Exploitation, Fascist Violence’, 562, 563. 48 Richard Overy, ‘The Concentration Camp: An International Perspective’, Eurozine (2011), online at: www.eurozine.com/articles/2011-08-25-overy-en.html 49 Percy Knauth, Germany in Defeat (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1946), 62–63.

12 THE COURSE OF HISTORY Arno J. Mayer, Gerhard L. Weinberg and David Cesarani on the Holocaust and World War II

How does change happen in historiography? This chapter examines three scholars’ writings on the Holocaust in order to shed light on this question. I argue that both internal (methodological) and external (socio-political) factors account for the changes in the questions asked by historians and the research agendas they pursue, as well for the different receptions works with similar arguments enjoy at different points in time. But I stress that whilst much in work in theory of history examines methodological trends and problems, socio-political factors tend to be given short shrift; they are often acknowledged but rarely analysed in any detail. By taking together three scholars who have provided an apparently similar framework for understanding the Holocaust as my starting point, the chapter shows how their different receptions owes as much, if not more, to external factors than to internal ones. This claim is not to neglect the fundamentals of historiography: source critique, use of evidence, contextualization, engagement with fellow historians’ writings and so on. The works discussed here can be and have been criticized on these terms. Nor is it to overlook the works’ differences. But methodological factors alone do not account for the very different ways in which these works have been received by historians and by a wider readership. Specifically, Arno J. Mayer, Gerhard L. Weinberg and David Cesarani have all argued that the Holocaust needs to be understood in relation to the changing circumstances of World War II. This chapter, whilst noting the different emphases of each author’s position, observes that their fundamentally similar argument has been received very differently over a space of thirty years. I show that this different reception history tells us something about the course of Holocaust historiography since the end of the Cold War, on the one hand, and something about how the changing world in which historians operate has altered the ways in which their works have been received, on the other. With its emphasis today on Nazi ideology, transnational collaboration, the experiences of the victims and approaches

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which bring new insights to the field (e.g. the ‘spatial turn’ or the ‘forensic turn’), Holocaust historiography has moved a long way from the ‘functionalist’ consensus of the 1980s, in which the murder of the Jews was seen less as a result of ideology than as the desperate endpoint of a ‘cumulative radicalisation’ driven by military failure, and which was dominated by historical reconstruction of the Nazis’ decisionmaking process for the ‘Final Solution’.1 The widespread rejection of a book (Mayer’s) making an argument for the connection between the Holocaust and the war in the late 1980s marked a historiographical turning point, working as a catalyst for the ‘return of ideology’ in historical scholarship. Widespread sympathy for a similar argument put forward thirty years later (Cesarani’s, drawing on Weinberg’s work) needs to be understood in the context of a totally changed historiographical climate, in which even ‘functionalist’ arguments  – which stress the reactive or ad hoc nature of Nazi decision-making – take it as read that at the core of Nazism was an antisemitic consensus. In the last thirty years too, the adoption of transnational Holocaust commemoration and research means that an argument perceived as threatening in the context of the rise of nationalism at the end of the Cold War could now be regarded with equanimity, even in circumstances in which the success of right-wing nationalist parties, such as the Alternative für Deutschland or the Austrian Freedom Party, is far more marked than in the late 1980s or early 1990s. When it appeared in 2016, David Cesarani’s Final Solution was just the latest in a long line of major synthetic histories of the Holocaust. By contrast with Saul Friedländer’s The Years of Extermination (2007) or Peter Longerich’s Holocaust: The Nazi Persecution and Murder of the Jews (2010), Cesarani’s huge work explains the unfolding of the ‘Final Solution’ in relation to Nazi Germany’s war effort. The relative de-emphasis on antisemitism, perpetrator motivation, Nazi race theories and Nazi ideology in general is striking from a historian who spent much of his career trying to make historians and the wider public understand the significance of the persecution of the Jews for the Nazis themselves and for postwar European selfunderstanding. Indeed, on a cursory glance, Cesarani’s book resembles nothing so much as Arno J. Mayer’s controversial work, Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? (1988), which regarded the ‘Judeocide’ (Mayer’s preferred term) as a by-product of the war and, in his estimation, impossible to understand outside of the context of military and strategic history. In less controversial vein, Gerhard Weinberg has argued for many years that the Holocaust is inseparable from the military context of World War II. How does Cesarani’s book differ, if at all, from these positions? In this chapter, I trace the development of Cesarani’s argument and explain why, through a discussion of how change occurs in historiography, the intertwining of the war and the Holocaust has become a consensus position in a way that would have surprised historians, not least Cesarani himself, a decade or two ago.

How change happens in historiography It has become common currency that the Holocaust needs to be understood in relation to the course of the war. But that does not mean that the Holocaust was

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determined by the course of the war; rather, it was determined, if we have to use that word which is so inimical to historical thinking (because it suggests that things had to turn out the way they did), primarily by the desires and fears of the Nazi leadership, whose actions were facilitated and constrained by the war. The war explains immediate possibilities, options and decisions, not the Nazis’ long-term aspirations, desires or fantasies. Nor does the linkage explain why one interpretation prevails over another or why change occurs in historiography so that a view that might seem obscure or objectionable at one point in time can become mainstream at another. Historical interpretation is undertaken in the context of shared disciplinary rules, including source critique and, primarily, dialogue between historians. This practice is perhaps best summed up by the term ‘rational constructivism’, put forward by the Finnish theorist of history Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen. He notes that history is a rational practice sanctioned by shared rules and that this rational practice prevents an ‘anything goes’ situation: The availability of rational standards of evaluation explains why any fears that ‘anything goes’ are baseless. A historian’s construct can be seen as epistemically authoritative if it is seen to be fit with respect to all dimensions of cognitive justification: the rhetorical, the epistemic and the discursive. That is, the text is a persuasive manifestation of reasoning for a thesis; it is an exemplary employment of epistemic values, including references to actual historical objects with regard to non-colligatory expressions; and it is a successful argumentative intervention in the relevant argumentative context. In this kind of case, a historiographical text has a rational warrant that gives it the epistemic authority for what is stated. Further, any text is an argumentative speech act and, in the ideal case, readers feel rationally compelled to accept the reasoning of the historian and the historian’s conclusion.2 The argument is persuasive insofar as it describes what Paul Ricoeur calls the ‘historiographical operation’ but less so when it comes to explaining why one interpretation prevails over another. Ricoeur writes that there is interpretation at all levels of the historiographical operation; for example, at the documentary level with the selection of sources, at the explanation/understanding level with the choice among competing explanatory models, and, in a more spectacular fashion, with variations in scale.3 In this discussion, which is internal to historiography, one cannot see how and why these different choices are made. In cases where competing interpretations may be considered valid – that is, there is no wilful misreading or ignoring of sources, or where the discursive context is understood and entered into by the historian – one needs to look outside of the ‘historiographical operation’ itself to find reasons for historians’ or their readers’ preferences.4 After all, one cannot judge competing

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interpretations of the past by reference to ‘the past’ when in fact the past is only accessible through the artefacts (textual or otherwise) that remain of it and the representations that we construct as substitutes for it. As Hayden White observes, The belief in the commensurability of different representations of any aspect of the past hinges on the prior belief in a past to which all representations of it can be referred and differentially assessed as to their validity and their status as contributions to our knowledge of it. But the real past is not, of course, accessible except by way of its representations – indexical, iconic, or symbolic, as the case may be.5 History is unavoidably a poetic act and, as White says, ‘irredeemably tropological’.6 It follows that historians should investigate and experiment with many different ways of constructing the past, for there is no single ‘right’ way to do so. With specific reference to the Holocaust, White has explained that ‘when it comes to an important historical event like the Holocaust, there is no “original” structure of happenings to which any given account can be likened or considered to be a contribution.’7 According to Gabrielle Spiegel, following Michel de Certeau’s identification of the strange relationship between presence and absence that characterizes all historiography, the key factors that shape historical interpretation and account for revisions in interpretation over time are place (the social world from which historians are recruited), procedures (the discipline of professional history and its changing conceptual resources) and text (the revisions to historical objectivism effected by postmodernism and poststructuralism). She focuses on the contexts in which a history is written in order to explain convincingly why it is different from what has been written before.8 These factors do not, however, explain why any particular interpretation wins support at a given moment. They are descriptions of the historian’s specific approach, not explanations of the text’s reception, successful or otherwise. Spiegel’s three factors of place, procedures and text correlate quite neatly with Aviezer Tucker’s consideration of historical revision. Tucker identifies three drivers of change: evidence (when new evidence changes an accepted interpretation), significance (when there are changes in what historians find significant) and values (when a new system of values prevails in society and historians reinterpret the past accordingly).9 Tucker’s general view of historiography is markedly different from Spiegel’s; he presents a ‘commonsense’ understanding of history that is closer to Richard Evans’ in In Defence of History than to the sort of ‘postmodern’ sensibility for absences and the nuances of culture that one finds in Spiegel. His argument about revision is set out in the context of a book on historical revisionism in the former communist countries of Central Europe (especially the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary) and is meant as a way of distinguishing revision – which is the normal process of historical reinterpretation – from revisionism – which is what the French call negationism, especially in the context of Holocaust denial.

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Like Kuukkanen, Tucker argues that consensus amongst historians – ‘a uniquely heterogeneous, large and uncoerced group’ – is ‘a likely indicator of knowledge because shared knowledge rather than any complex set of biases is a more probable explanation of such a uniquely heterogeneous consensus.’10 Again, like Kuukkanen, Tucker’s claim is persuasive insofar as it describes the ‘historiographical operation’; it does not explain the competing interpretations that exist within the broad consensus. His analysis accounts for the difference between revision and revisionism and provides a compelling explanation as to why Holocaust denial cannot be considered as history. But it does not account for the differences between historians who all agree, say, that the Holocaust and the war need to be understood in relation to one another. Once again, the broader context external to the discipline – what Tucker calls ‘value-driven revision’ – needs to be brought into the discussion. Tucker writes: ‘Historiographic interpretations are affected by moral and aesthetic values, by affiliations, political biases and perspectives of the historians who write them. This is the main reason for the differences between historiographic interpretations of similar historical processes and events.’11 Arno Mayer, Gerhard Weinberg, and David Cesarani all share the fundamental principles of historical inquiry in the way Tucker sets out – with cognitive values prevailing over other values  – but that explains their shared framework, not the different stances they take within it, nor the markedly different reception of their work. In what follows, I will show how the different receptions their works have enjoyed – despite the superficial similarities between them – derive primarily from changes in the broad socio-political framework within which they operated, and not only from changes internal to the discipline, important though the latter are. This may seem obvious but analyses of historiography and how history operates tend to focus far more on internal, methodological issues than on external, sociopolitical, value-driven factors. The following analysis of the differing receptions of these three scholars’ works (but particularly Mayer’s and Cesarani’s) provides an intellectual history of the course of Holocaust historiography in particular and an explanation of change in historiography more generally.

The historians Three quotations suggest that, superficially at least, historical interpretation hardly changes but that a particular view is, for one reason or another (we will return to those reasons later), more or less dominant at any given moment in time. The first comes from Arno J. Mayer. In Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? he set out the view that the war and the Holocaust were interlinked: As of the winter of 1941–42, the unique torment of the Jews was correlated with and facilitated by the savageries and miseries of war which increasingly scourged most of Europe. . . . The murderous persecution of the Jews was not so much a separate policy as part of the desperate political hubris of political leaders who more than half-realized that their dreams of power

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were unrealizable but were incapable of surrendering them. These blighted dreams led the Nazi regime to violate most traditional political, moral, and religious norms and, more importantly, the notions of humanity defined by them, so that naked power now normalized brutality as its response to its own irreversible loss of control. There were, of course, momentary and local remissions in this spiral of general and anti-Jewish ferocity. But these were due, essentially, to the intermittently neutralizing contradictions in the parallel but discordant exercise of functional and nihilistic violence. All in all, the ‘Final Solution’ may be said to have been forged and consummated in the crucible of the abortive crusading war against Soviet Russia and ‘Judeobolshevism’, which in eastern Europe created the context of extreme cruelty and destruction apart from which the Judeocide would have been unthinkable and impracticable.12 The second comes from Gerhard Weinberg, making a similar point but placing less emphasis on anti-communism and more on the timing of the war as it affected the Nazis’ policy of exterminating the Jews: As World War II differed from all previous conflicts not only in dimension but also in its very nature and aims, so the Holocaust was not some incidental if terrible aspect of World War II but rather an integral part of it. It has to be seen in the context of the fighting that took place. Those who study the military and economic history of the war do not have to analyse the details of ghetto administration, and those who study the Holocaust have no need to familiarise themselves with the comparative details of Axis and Allied tanks. They must both, however, always keep in mind that the two fields are not merely related in time but are integral parts of the same process, and that each must be examined in its inter-relationship with the other.13 Finally, in his last major work, Final Solution, David Cesarani argued that the war and the Holocaust were inseparable. Writing that ‘military exigencies drove antiJewish policy, not the other way round’, that Hitler’s perception of himself as a warrior was even more important to the fate of the Jews than antisemitism and that ‘[t]he Jews paid the price for German military failure.’ Cesarani also equated Hitler’s war against Bolshevism with the war against world Jewry and argued that the prolonging of the war thanks to the Allies’ failure to provide a knock-out blow had disastrous consequences for the Jews still alive in 1944.14 In short, The fate of the Jews between 1933 and 1949 was rooted in antisemitism but it was shaped by war. . . . Hitler believed that Germany was at war with international Jewry, a contest on which hinged the fate of all mankind.15 What we see in these three quotations is that all three historians, Mayer, Weinberg and Cesarani, not only see the Holocaust and the war as inseparable in the

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minds of the Nazis but argue that the course of the Holocaust was to a large degree determined by military circumstances. We need to consider how this interconnection functioned.

The intertwining of the War and the Holocaust This connection had not always been obvious. Until quite recently, it was possible to write a military history of World War II without mentioning the murder of the Jews, or with only a passing mention as if the matter were only tangentially related to the war. Weinberg gives the example of H. P. Willmott’s 1989 book The Great Crusade: A New Complete History of World War II (1989), a book he praises for its detailed reconstruction of operational matters but condemns for having ‘not the slightest clue as to what it was all about.’16 One could easily add similar examples (although more recent surveys of the war tend not to make the same mistake, at least not to the same extent as Willmott).17 This should not be surprising; after all, it was equally possible for historians to write surveys of twentieth-century European history without mentioning the Holocaust too, just as historians of the Holocaust often had little to say about the military context, as Michael Marrus pointed out some years ago in one of the few books which grapple directly with this problem.18 Nevertheless, by now there remain few historians who would not agree with pioneering military historians such as Christian Streit and Jürgen Förster that in order to understand the war, one needs to know something about the genocide of the Jews, and vice versa.19 What we are talking about then is not a question of the Wehrmacht’s involvement in Nazi crimes – something that was definitively proven already by the end of the Cold War and reconfirmed by the so-called Wehrmacht Exhibition of the mid-1990s20 – but of the precise relationship between the war, especially the war in Eastern Europe, and the Final Solution. Military historians, especially ‘new military historians’ who are interested in military culture and the social context of war as much as in strategy, now take it as read that the Wehrmacht was involved in war crimes. This includes the genocide of the Jews, which one such historian, Jeff Rutherford, considers ‘the vilest stain on its mantle’, even if the treatment of Soviet civilians (presumably non-Jews is meant) ‘constituted the largest war crime in terms of scale that it committed during the war.’21 Most historians now understand the murder of the Jews in terms of Hans Mommsen’s notion of ‘cumulative radicalisation’, whereby policy gradually (or not so gradually) widened as German military brutality increased and as the expected victory over the Soviet Union did not materialize. Kay, Rutherford and Stahel, for example, write that the Holocaust emerged out of initial plans for doing away with presumed enemies in the Soviet Union: The circle of those targeted for removal in their entirety during the course of the war of annihilation in the east was constantly widened, both in the weeks and months prior to the military campaign being launched and in the aftermath of the invasion; the ‘Jewish-Bolshevik’ intelligentsia, all Communist

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Party functionaries, everyone who demonstrated any form of passive or active resistance, all Jewish prisoners of war, Soviet Jewry root and branch. Radicalizing impulses emanated not only from above, from the center in Berlin, but also from below, on the ground in the killing fields of the east, as the incorporation of the Soviet politruks among the targeted victims of the notorious Commissar Order demonstrates, to cite just one example. Hundreds of thousands of Jews, as well as countless other Soviet civilians, fell victim to actions either carried out or incited by the occupying forces, especially during antipartisan raids that commenced mere days after the opening of hostilities, as well as to those led by local civilians who exploited the shift in the balance of power. This approach was soon applied to the entire Jewish population of the Soviet Union and paved the way for the Continental-wide annihilation of European Jewry.22 As they go on to say, The extensive research carried out on Nazi decision making and the origins of the ‘Final Solution’ has established beyond doubt that the Nazi Vernichtungskrieg against the Soviet Union coincided with the physical extermination of all Soviet Jews and other so-called undesirables, and that we can no longer study the military history of the eastern campaigns and occupation policies without their genocidal components.23 Indeed, the inseparability of the war and the Holocaust makes sense when we consider that the two wars that co-existed in Hitler’s mind – the conventional military kind and the racial war between the Aryans and the Jews – were the driving forces for the radical nature of the war in the east.24 What is at stake, then, is the nature of the link. Only by focusing on what Mayer, Weinberg and Cesarani consider to be the precise connection between the two Nazi wars can one differentiate between them and show how their views can be understood in terms of historiographical change. For they are in fact not identical, even if they operate in a shared framework. The first thing to note about Mayer’s argument was that it was very widely criticized by his peers. The most compelling critique came from Christopher Browning, who, as Omer Bartov noted, ‘questions most of the major arguments presented by Mayer’: He shows that mass killing of Jews began long before there were any signs of a slowdown in the Blitzkrieg campaign; he disproves Mayer’s curious idea that more Jews died of ‘so-called “natural causes” ’ than by direct killing; he corrects Mayer’s inaccurate description of the emergence of death camps, showing that they were anything but the result of an afterthought sometime in the winter of 1941–42 and that in fact they were already in preparation the previous fall. Finally, he criticizes Mayer for failing to take Hitler’s racism,

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and Nazism’s ‘biological politics’, seriously, arguing that they were essential to National Socialism.25 Indeed, as Browning himself wrote, Mayer understood the Holocaust ‘as a byproduct of Nazi Germany’s anticommunist crusade on the one hand and its hyperexploitation of impressed labour on the other’, an interpretation that Browning found ‘quite mistaken’.26 Indeed, Mayer’s contention that had Nazi Germany’s Blitzkrieg in the east succeeded, the Jews might have been spared the worst horrors, irks Browning, for it suggests that, for Mayer, the Holocaust was ‘grafted’ on to the war and was not a goal in its own right. For Mayer, the war against Bolshevism was the decisive factor, the murder of the Jews a by-product of its failure.27 Thus, Browning is most offended by Mayer’s failure to consider plans for population rearrangement that were already in place before the war against the Soviet Union (when Germany and the USSR were allies), plans that Browning calls ‘racism gone berserk’ and which he claims that Mayer misses ‘because he does not take Hitler’s racism seriously’.28 One reason why many Holocaust historians were so infuriated by Mayer’s claims was that they came hard on the heels of the Historikerstreit, the ‘historians’ debate’ in West Germany of the mid- to late 1980s which saw the longstanding consensus that West German political culture could not question the uniqueness of the Holocaust seriously challenged for the first time. In particular, the writings of right-wing historians such as Ernst Nolte and Michael Stürmer caused a storm for suggesting that Nazism copied Stalin’s Soviet communism and that the time had come to de-emphasize the Third Reich in favour of a long-term understanding of German history. Indeed, Peter Baldwin noted that Mayer’s arguments resembled Nolte’s, in the latter’s Der europäische Bürgerkrieg. Baldwin notes that the authors’ politics are diametrically opposed and that where Nolte sees the Soviet Union as a precedent, Mayer regards the crusade against Judeo-Bolshevism as unprecedented. Nevertheless, he also observes, ‘For both [Mayer and Nolte], the emphasis has shifted away from the Jews to the Soviets. For both, Hitler’s enemy was ultimately the modern world, for which the Jews stood in as convenient scapegoats.’29 Most recently, Wendy Lower has summarized these earlier criticisms: Mayer argued that Hitler’s defeatist attitude in December 1941 incited his decision for a final solution and that Nazi anti-bolshevism was a more significant ideological force than antisemitism. Some of his points have been elaborated on by others, but Mayer’s overall thesis has not held up against the evidence of an earlier decision to annihilate the Jews in the Soviet Union and Europe.30 It seems then that whilst Mayer advocated seeing the Holocaust as inseparable from the war in the east – a point which made him one of the few historians at the time to follow the lead of specialists such as Gerhard Weinberg and Jürgen Förster – his emphasis on anti-Bolshevism rather than antisemitism confused the issue.

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Mayer, in short, placed the primary emphasis on the military destruction of Bolshevism, making communism rather than ‘the international Jew’ the main target of Nazi fear and hatred. In this reading, the murder of the Jews is not exactly accidental, for Mayer knows that communism was equated with Judaism in the Nazi leadership’s eyes, but it was a secondary product of the military war’s failure. For Weinberg, the two wars are related in a more practical way. He offers numerous examples of moments when changes in military circumstances affected the Germans’ room for manoeuvre with respect to the Jews. World War II, according to Weinberg, was started by the Nazi leadership ‘to initiate a demographic revolution of global dimensions’. As a consequence, as Weinberg has been arguing for many years now, ‘those who study the war and the demographic revolution – of which the Holocaust was a central part – need to see the two as the two sides of the same coin, not as separate fields of study only connected by chronological overlap.’31 The course of the war and the course of the Holocaust were inseparably interconnected. The places that were accessible to the Nazis changed over time, and the Allies’ decisions, losses and victories all affected which groups of Jews did and did not fall into the Nazis’ hands. Most important, Weinberg shows that the Nazi leadership’s goal of world domination – and with it, the annihilation of Jews everywhere in the world  – remained a real ambition throughout the life of the Third Reich, and thus only the military defeat of the Nazis prevented Jews from outside of Nazi-occupied lands from being murdered.32 In places ranging from the inaccessible Middle East and North Africa (following El Alamein), Sweden and Switzerland (neutral but with German plans for future invasion) and Finland and Bulgaria (allies unwilling to deport ‘their’ Jews), the Jews’ murder was temporarily postponed until circumstances became, from the Nazi point of view, more auspicious. Likewise, the course of the war also made some groups of Jews more accessible to the Nazis, such as those in the Italian sphere of interest (in Italy proper and in Italian-occupied France, Albania and Greece, including the islands of Rhodes and Corfu). The year 1943, as Weinberg shows, was a crucial one in that respect, since the military situation in that year determined which groups of Jews would remain outside of the Nazis’ grasp and which they would redouble their efforts to exterminate before they lost the war.33 In other words, Weinberg, unlike Mayer, is very much an intentionalist: When it became obvious that these [Einsatzgruppen] massacres ran into little resistance from the military, and were in fact often assisted and even urged on by them, the heady days of victory of July seemed to provide the opportunity to extend this process both to the rest of the territory that would be occupied by the German army and to the whole of German-occupied and controlled Europe. Here was, or at least seemed to be, the opportunity to kill all Jews German power might reach.34 Cesarani superficially resembles both of his predecessors. In some ways, he sounds very much like Mayer in stressing that the course of the Holocaust was shaped by

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the war. But he does not place the same emphasis on anti-communism as Mayer does. Recognizing that the attack on ‘Judeo-Bolshevism’ meant a war against the Soviet Union from a military and ideological perspective, Cesarani sees that this meant an attack on the Jews from the start (clear, for example, in the very rapid widening of the orders to the Einsatzgruppen, the four killing squads which followed in the wake of the Wehrmacht, shooting Jews in or near the towns in which they lived). He also sounds like Weinberg – indeed, it is clear that Weinberg is one of Cesarani’s main sources of inspiration – in showing how military events changed the course of the Holocaust. But in some key respects, he takes the argument much further than does either Mayer or Weinberg. Where Cesarani’s book departs most from his predecessors’ is in his insistence that the Holocaust was driven less by ideology than by venality: apart from the Nazi leadership stratum, most perpetrators across Europe were motivated less by antisemitism, though this may have been part of their cultural background, than by greed and opportunism. The killing process itself was chaotic and disorganized and unfolded on an ad hoc basis. The Nazi leaders were by no means as single-minded as they claimed and as historians have often painted them; rather, they were quite willing to allow ideological tenets to take a back seat, at least temporarily, if military or economic necessity required. The surprise of Cesarani’s book is that a historian who had contributed to advancing the ‘return of ideology’ in the interpretation of Nazism and the Holocaust in the 1990s was now arguing, in the culminating book of his career, that the Holocaust owed little to ideology; there is, for example, no sustained discussion of Nazi thinking about ‘race’ in the book.35 Some years ago, Omer Bartov wrote of Götz Aly – another historian whom one would never have imagined one could place side-by-side with Cesarani: [T]o argue that one can explain the origins of the Holocaust without any attempt to analyse the impact of traditional antisemitism, the regime’s antiJewish propaganda and indoctrination, and the attitudes of the men who were actually organizing the genocide, is to misunderstand much of what the Holocaust was about.36 Not all of these criticisms apply to Final Solution, but some of them do. Cesarani’s work is not the same as Mayer’s or Weinberg’s, but it clearly comes from a tradition of quite long standing that puts the greatest stress on the war, devotes relatively little attention to Nazi ideology (or takes it for granted) and regards the military situation as the primary factor in understanding the emergence of the genocide of the Jews. Clearly, the three historians’ works have different emphases. Nevertheless, they are more than superficially alike and share an overall interpretive framework, which is that the Holocaust needs to be seen in relation to the course of the war. This shared framework means that the fates of their works, especially those of Mayer and Cesarani, are more different than their interpretive similarities would suggest.

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The course of Holocaust history The contexts of the Historikerstreit, the end of the Cold War and the rise of nationalism in Eastern Europe and Germany generated a fear amongst historians of granting too much credence to the view that Nazism was focused on communism. The worry was that the focus on the specific Nazi animus against the Jews would be side-lined and thus the memory of the Holocaust which had been so crucial to postwar West German memory politics since the 1960s would start to wane. This process was already observable, according to some historians, in the wake of German unification and the articulation of a new German nationalism in the works of scholars such as Rainer Zitelmann.37 Mayer was roundly criticized as a result of these fears as much as because of the substance of his argument. Weinberg’s career trajectory sets him slightly apart from most Holocaust historians so that in his case the wider social/political context seems to have impinged less on the reception of his work. For Weinberg, his own biography allowed him to develop an account in which it seemed obvious that to be a military historian of World War II, one had also to understand what happened to the Jews – and vice versa. But Weinberg’s career has been as a military and diplomatic historian, and thus although he has contributed a great deal to Holocaust studies, his work has not been appraised in the context of Holocaust historiography in quite the same way as Mayer’s or Cesarani’s. When one looks at Cesarani’s career path, there seems on the face of it to have been a considerable personal change in his interpretation. The almost universal praise for Final Solution is rather surprising when one considers the de-emphasis on ideology. One suspects that many reviewers in the popular press simply do not know enough about the historiography to see the extent to which Final Solution marks a departure not only from Cesarani’s own previous work but from the work of other leading Holocaust historians. Even Browning, who considers himself a ‘moderate functionalist’, does not downplay Nazi ideology to the extent that Cesarani does in Final Solution. It is thus worth considering the development of Cesarani’s thinking on this issue. For although the argument put forward in Final Solution surprised his colleagues, in fact one can see how over the previous twenty years an interest in military history, especially a strong awareness of the ‘new military history’, was informing Cesarani’s thinking. In the 1990s, Cesarani edited two books which strongly shaped his ideas: The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation (1994) and Genocide and Rescue: The Holocaust in Hungary 1944 (1997). Along with several related projects, such as working on the book accompanying the documentary The Last Days (1999), these volumes indicate how an incorporation of military history into his history of the Holocaust was changing Cesarani’s interpretation. In the latter, for example, the course of Hungarian-German relations and the effect these had on Hungary’s Jews were closely correlated with the state of the war, especially on the eastern front. Cesarani also here noted that the German occupation of Hungary (19 March 1944) was undertaken primarily to prevent the country from defecting to the Allies, a

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claim he repeated in Final Solution, now in a context where it made far more sense given that it was embedded in a much wider survey of the whole course of the war: Although the eradication of Jewish influence in Hungary was fundamental to Hitler’s decision to occupy the country, antisemitism alone did not drive the invasion and the Jewish tragedy that ensued from it. The occupation of Hungary and the destruction of the Hungarian Jews had a compelling, if perverted, logic. The primary aim was to keep Hungary in the Axis coalition and ensure that Hungarian armies remained in the field.38 But is Cesarani’s own changing understanding of Holocaust history sufficient for explaining the interpretation he took in Final Solution? That might not be the case; after all, his work needs to be seen in the context of the post–Cold War period, of the ‘memory wars’ that have characterized Europe, especially Eastern Europe, where the memory of communism and Nazism are concerned, and rising nationalism in the West, especially in the immediate context of the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ shortly before his death in 2015.39 These conditions did not pertain when Mayer and Weinberg were writing their major works, and it is a truism that the questions historians ask are shaped to some extent by their situation in the ever-changing present. Whatever the case, Cesarani produced a book that in many ways echoes the previous work of Mayer and Weinberg. Yet, for all their similarities (and, of course differences), Mayer’s, Weinberg’s and Cesarani’s approaches have had markedly different receptions. Mayer’s was widely condemned for paying insufficient attention to Nazi ideology, making the Holocaust a ‘by-product’ of the war and insufficiently important in its own right; Weinberg’s well-respected and informative analyses remain largely confined to the historical profession in terms of their appreciation (with the partial exception of A World at Arms); and Cesarani’s has been widely appreciated in the popular as well as scholarly press. To be fair, some reviewers did express reservations about the extent to which Cesarani downplayed Nazi ideology. For example, the reviewer in The Guardian wrote: Killings followed the rhythm of war, and Cesarani is correct in his conclusion that fewer would have died if the war had finished earlier. But I think he underestimates the significance of the 1942 rampage in Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia and Estonia. . . . Surely there was among Nazis (and their Latvian, Estonian and Ukrainian proxies) a desire ultimately to dispose of Jews.40 In The Spectator, Jonathan Steinberg argued that orderliness and painstaking bureaucracy rather than chaos were the chief characteristics of the Holocaust.41 Most, however, were much more unequivocal in their praise, even if they had some points of criticism. Neil Gregor, for example, noted (not as a criticism) the ways in which Cesarani’s position recalled older arguments put forward by the likes of Karl Schleunes or Hans Mommsen.42 Nicholas Stargardt accepted Cesarani’s claim that

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the Holocaust was ‘low-cost and low-tech’, although he also worried about what this meant for ‘how we understand Hitler’s overall aims’.43 Perhaps most enthusiastic was Richard Overy, himself one of the world’s leading historians of World War II.44 What accounts for this – by comparison with Mayer’s, at least – remarkably favourable reception? The answer is not only that change has happened in historiography – although that is also the case – but that the framework in which historiography is understood has changed. There is always an internal dimension to historians’ disputes; new sources, new approaches, methods borrowed or adapted from cognate disciplines – these all shape the ways in which historians pose their research question and mould their research strategies. In this case, major historiographical shifts have occurred since Mayer published his book. Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? acted as a spur to further research, as did Daniel Goldhagen’s equally disputed Hitler’s Willing Executioners of 1996. Both inspired more detailed and rigorous research into perpetrator motivation and the role of ideology at all levels in the Third Reich and, in light of Goldhagen’s insistence only on Germans (without the definite article) as perpetrators, into the role of collaborators at all levels too, from individuals to institutions to states. The discovery of an ‘antisemitic consensus’ at the heart of the Third Reich has dominated the historiography ever since.45 Biographies of leading Nazi perpetrators, studies of SS, Nazi Party and non-Party organizations, of universities, scientific research institutions and the arts have all shown the extent to which the Third Reich was suffused with a shared framework of anti-Jewish ideology.46 Perhaps equally important, the turn to transnational approaches in historiography has also left its mark on the history of the Holocaust. Nazism was more than a form of ultra-nationalism, appealing to all those, across Europe, who believed in the need for a demographic reshaping of the continent (under German hegemony, to be sure) so that internal enemies, primarily Jews and Bolsheviks, but also Roma and other ethnic minorities would be eliminated and so that a peace based on racial hierarchy (with ‘Aryans’ at the top) could prevail. Hence the transnational nature of the Waffen-SS, or the ease with which nation-building agendas in countries from France and Norway in the West to Romania and Hungary in the East could find common cause with the Nazis’ war for Lebensraum and racial annihilation.47 The transnational turn shifts the focus somewhat from purely German affairs to continent-wide ones, with the investment of the other Axis countries in the war effort falling more sharply into view. At the same time, it speaks to the ‘return of ideology’ insofar as we can see – much to the chagrin of post–Cold War nationalists across Europe, the extent to which certain groups in all countries of Europe sympathized with the Nazis’ goals. Transnationalism thus might assist us in understanding a renewed focus on the military situation, but it by no means explains why a historian might choose to downplay ideology. But change is not only internal. The wider context is always crucial to the reception of a historian’s work, both within the discipline and beyond it. In this case, the external context is of greater significance than the internal, as the ways in which ‘Holocaust consciousness’ have developed since the 1980s mean that a given

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interpretation will be understood differently now than would have been the case thirty years ago. This may seem an obvious point, but discussions of historiography pay insufficient attention to the frameworks pertaining outside the discipline. Histories of eighteenth- or nineteenth-century history writing might note the occurrence of revolutions, the growth of imperialism or the influence of the industrial revolution on shaping the questions asked by historians in those periods – and the answers to them that they gave. But contemporary guides to historiography tend to focus only on internal debates concerning methodology. Exceptions, as in the work of Martin L. Davies or Keith Jenkins, often lead in the direction of a rejection of history as such, or at least to ‘putting it in its place’ by denying it any epistemic privilege.48 Cesarani argued – and this was one of the drivers for his de-emphasis on Nazi ideology – that Holocaust commemoration had become instrumentalized and formalized and thus tended to neglect its primary purpose: to remember. In one of the last pieces he wrote before his death, Cesarani wondered ‘whether it is not better to let history remain in the past, whether the utilisation of history for whatever purpose inexorably degrades it.’49 This is perhaps an odd view for a historian; one cannot be a historian and let history remain in the past. As Jacques Rancière nicely puts it: There is history because there is a past and a specific passion for the past. And there is history because there is an absence of things in words, of the denominated in names. The status of history depends on the treatment of this twofold absence of the ‘thing itself ’ that is no longer there – that is the past; and that never was – because it never was such as it was told.50 Nevertheless, one can understand Cesarani’s frustration and where it came from. Cesarani was to some extent the author of his own misfortunes; after all, he received his OBE for services to Holocaust education, including promoting Holocaust Memorial Day in the UK.51 Yet he can hardly be held solely or even primarily responsible for the tendency towards platitudinous commemoration or the use of Holocaust education to promote unrelated aims, such as anti-bullying in schools. Indeed, his highly critical review of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas suggests that these problems had been plaguing him for some time.52 His views in the 2015 chapter, and his arguments in Final Solution which aimed to complicate the prevailing simplistic narrative of the Holocaust in the public sphere, could only be espoused following twenty years’ worth of public, state-sponsored Holocaust commemoration in the UK and elsewhere.53 They were not positions that were available to Mayer in 1988 or Weinberg in the 1990s. Cesarani’s criticisms of Holocaust commemoration took for granted the understanding of the Holocaust as an ideologically driven, state-sponsored, multi-agency, continent-wide crime, and which therefore was able to draw on that knowledge as a means of drawing back a little.54 There was no danger now that placing the emphasis on greed instead of ideology would lead to accusations of downplaying

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the uniqueness of the Holocaust. To the contrary, in a context of post–Cold War national commissions of inquiry into local collaboration in the Holocaust across former communist Eastern Europe (and beyond, in countries such as Switzerland), the opposite was true: an emphasis on greed would help to explain the current difficulties that many countries across Europe seem to be having in accepting that Nazism was not just a foreign invention which led to the occupation of their countries but that states and individuals, from the highest to the lowest levels of society, in different combinations depending on the country concerned, were intimately involved in the commission of the crime against the Jews. Even though Cesarani’s book is in some ways even more radical than Mayer’s – the latter at least has a lot to say about Nazi ideology, even if he gets it topsy-turvy, instating anti-communism as the priority over antisemitism  – the argument is less offensive in today’s climate than it was immediately after the Historikerstreit when fears of German right-wing revanchism and revivified Eastern European nationalism abounded. Indeed, it has become a consensus position that there is a link between the war and the Holocaust, even if the precise nature of that link remains contested. Many historians can write in a way that would be regarded as unproblematic, as in Adam Tooze’s claim that, where the Holocaust is concerned, ‘ideological imperatives were clearly paramount, but subject to pragmatic compromise as circumstances demanded.’55 No one thinks Cesarani is channelling Ernst Nolte, though the fact that one can write such a thing is in itself noteworthy. Nevertheless, Cesarani sounds, rather remarkably, like no one so much as the arch-functionalist Hans Mommsen, who argued that the final solution was a result of the Nazi leadership having manoeuvred itself into a situation in which ‘internal antagonisms within the system gradually blocked all alternative options, so that the physical liquidation of the Jews ultimately appeared to be the only way out.’56 Yet Cesarani was of course not rerunning Mommsen’s arguments, at least not in quite the same way. Rather, he was responding to Holocaust historiography and, perhaps more importantly, Holocaust commemoration as they had developed in the thirty years since Mommsen put forward his arguments. This shift acts as a reminder that there are always more questions than answers in historiography and that historical revisionism, and an openness to the plurality of pasts, is the norm when thinking and writing about the past. As philosopher of history Paul A. Roth says, ‘tolerating a pluralism of worlds does not sanction sacrificing rigour’57; it would be strangely ahistorical for historians to imagine that their writings are the last word on any subject, for their texts, like everything else in the world, are historicizable. These texts by Mayer, Weinberg, and Cesarani are histories which are very much of the present, in the sense that the historian understands the present-day concerns which motivate his or her research question and in the sense that they are problems which not only shed light on the past but, as in Allan Megill’s formulation, grapple self-consciously with the present use of the past in order to offer ‘a critical perspective on the past, on the present, and on our present use of the past.’ Subjecting them to historiographical analysis and criticism means, as Megill

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goes on to explain, ‘the revealing of fissures and contradictions – in the past, in historians’ representations of the past, in historians’ assumptions as they seek to represent the past, and in dominant and perhaps also nondominant assumptions in the present concerning the future, the present, and the past.’58 This is not to say that the past can act as a guide to present or future action but rather that it can help us to understand how and why things turned out the way they did. Or, as Zoltán Boldizsár Simon puts it, ‘historical writing – by providing essentially contested knowledge of the past – is the best tool we have for negatively indicating the contours of the future community that is presently taking place.’59 There is, in other words, nothing but the course of history.

Notes 1 See Michael R. Marrus, The Holocaust in History (London: Penguin, 1989); Tom Lawson, Debates on the Holocaust (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010); Dan Stone, Histories of the Holocaust (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), esp. ch2. 2 Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen, Postnarrativst Philosophy of Historiography (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 199. 3 Paul Ricoeur, Memory, History, Forgetting (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 235. See also the section on ‘Interpretation in History’, 333–342. 4 Although Kuukkanen has discussed ‘conceptual change’ – see ‘Making Sense of Conceptual Change’, History and Theory, 47 (2008), 351–372  – that article concerns the difference between the history of concepts and the history of linguistic entities, and the notion of continuity or discontinuity that prevails in their respective analyses; it is an analysis of what ‘change’ means in the context of history of ideas rather than, as here, an explanation of what drives change in historiography. For further discussion of ‘rational constructivism’, see Dan Stone, ‘Excommunicating the Past? Narrativism and Rational Constructivism in the Historiography of the Holocaust’, Rethinking History, 21:4 (2017), 549–566. 5 Hayden White, ‘History as Fulfillment’, in Robert Doran (ed.), Philosophy of History after Hayden White (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), 40. 6 White, ‘History as Fulfillment’, 45. 7 Hayden White, ‘Coda: Reading Witness Discourse’, in Nicholas Chare and Dominic Williams (eds.), Representing Auschwitz: At the Margins of Testimony (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 225–226. 8 Gabrielle M. Spiegel, ‘Revising the Past/Revisiting the Present: How Change Happens in Historiography’, History and Theory, 46:4 (2007), 1–19, esp. 18. Spiegel follows Michel de Certeau, The Writing of History (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988). 9 Aviezer Tucker, ‘Historiographic Revision and Revisionism: The Evidential Difference’, in Michal Kopeček (ed.), Past in the Making: Historical Revisionism in Central Europe after 1989 (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2008), 1–15. 10 Tucker, ‘Historiographic Revision and Revisionism’, 4. 11 Tucker, ‘Historiographic Revision and Revisionism’, 8. 12 Arno J. Mayer, Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? The ‘Final Solution’ in History (London: Verso, 1990 [1st edn 1988]), 313–314. Mayer was born in Luxemburg in 1926 and is Emeritus Professor of History at Princeton University. 13 Gerhard L. Weinberg, ‘Two Separate Issues? Historiography of World War II and the Holocaust’, in David Bankier and Dan Michman (eds.), Holocaust Historiography in Context: Emergence, Challenges, Polemics and Achievements (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2008), 401. Weinberg was born in Hannover in 1928 and is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.

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14 David Cesarani, Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933–49 (London: Pan Macmillan, 2016), xxv, xxvii, 700, 737. Cesarani was born in 1956 and died in October 2015. At the time of his death, he was Research Professor in History at Royal Holloway, University of London, and was one of the UK’s most noted public intellectuals. 15 Cesarani, Final Solution, 792. 16 Weinberg, ‘Two Separate Issues?’, 380. 17 See, for example, Rolf-Dieter Müller and Gerd R. Ueberschär, Hitler’s War in the East: A Critical Assessment (New York: Berghahn Books, 2002), Part C. 18 Michael R. Marrus, ‘The Shoah and the Second World War: Some Comments on Recent Historiography’, in Asher Cohen, Yehoyakim Cochavi, and Yoav Gelber (eds.), The Shoah and the War (New York: Peter Lang, 1992), 1–19. 19 See, for example, Jürgen Förster, ‘The Relation between Operation Barbarossa as an Ideological War of Extermination and the Final Solution’, and Christian Streit, ‘Wehrmacht, Einsatzgruppen, Soviet POWs and Anti-Bolshevism in the Emergence of the Final Solution’, both in David Cesarani (ed.), The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation (London: Routledge, 1994), 85–102 and 103–118 and also Cesarani’s introduction to this book, 11–14. 20 For recent statements of this consensus, see Wolfram Wette, The Wehrmacht: History, Myth, Reality (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006); Dieter Pohl, Die Herrschaft der Wehrmacht: Deutsche Militärbesatzung und einheimische Bevölkerung in der Sowjetunion 1941–1944, 2nd edn (Munich: Oldenbourg, 2009), ch9; Christian Hartmann, Operation Barbarossa: Nazi Germany’s War in the East, 1941–1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), ch6. On the Wehrmacht Exhibition, see Hannes Heer and Klaus Naumann (eds.), Vernichtungskrieg: Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941–1944 (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 1995); Hannes Heer and Klaus Naumann (ed.), War of Extermination: The German Military in World War II 1941–1944 (New York: Berghahn Books, 2000) – this latter somewhat different from the German original on which it is based, and the exhibition catalogue prepared by the Hamburg Institute for Social Research, Verbrechen der Wehrmacht: Dimensionen des Vernichtungskrieges 1941–1944 (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2002). See also the chapters by Saul Friedländer and Omer Bartov in Omer Bartov, Atina Grossmann and Mary Nolan (eds.), Crimes of War: Guilt and Denial in the Twentieth Century (New York: New Press, 2002) and Omer Bartov, ‘German Soldiers and the Holocaust: Historiography, Research and Implications’, History & Memory, 9:1–2 (1997), 162–188. 21 Jeff Rutherford, Combat and Genocide on the Eastern Front: The German Infantry’s War, 1941–1944 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 100. See also Wette, The Wehrmacht, ch3. 22 Alex J. Kay, Jeff Rutherford and David Stahel, ‘Introduction’, in Kay, Rutherford and Stahel (eds.), Nazi Policy on the Eastern Front, 1941: Total War, Genocide, and Radicalization (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2012), 3. 23 Kay, Rutherford, and Stahel, ‘Introduction’, 10–11. For an earlier statement along these lines, see Tobias Jersak, ‘Die Interaktion von Kriegsverlauf und Judenvernichtung: Ein Blick auf Hitlers Strategie im Spätsommer 1941’, Historische Zeitschrift, 268:2 (1999), 311–374. 24 David Stahel, Operation Barbarossa and Germany’s Defeat in the East (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 400–401. 25 Omer Bartov, Murder in Our Midst: The Holocaust, Industrial Killing, and Representation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 91–92. 26 Christopher R. Browning, The Path to Genocide: Essays on Launching the Final Solution (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 77. 27 Browning, The Path to Genocide, 80–81, citing Mayer, Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? 28 Browning, The Path to Genocide, 85. For Browning’s own analysis of the link between the decision-making process for the ‘Final Solution’ and the war, see ‘The Emergence of the Final Solution and the War, 1939–41’, in Cohen, Cochavi and Gelber (eds.), The Shoah and the War, 35–52.

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29 Peter Baldwin, ‘The Historikerstreit in Context’, in Baldwin (ed.), Reworking the Past: Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Historians’ Debate (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 1990), 26. 30 Wendy Lower, ‘Axis Collaboration, Operation Barbarossa, and the Holocaust in Ukraine’, in Kay, Rutherford and Stahel (eds.), Nazi Policy on the Eastern Front, 1941, 211 n3. 31 Weinberg, ‘Two Separate Issues?’, 382. 32 See also Jochen Thies, Hitler’s Plans for Global Domination: Nazi Architecture and Ultimate War Aims (New York: Berghahn Books, 2012 [orig. 1976]). 33 Gerhard L. Weinberg, ‘The “Final Solution” and the War in 1943’, in Weinberg (ed.), Germany, Hitler and World War II: Essays in Modern German and World History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 217–244. 34 Gerhard L. Weinberg, A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II, 2nd edn (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 301. See also the chapter by Weinberg’s former student Doris L. Bergen, ‘Holocaust und Besatzungsgeschichte’, in Frank Bajohr and Andrea Löw (eds.), Der Holocaust: Ergebnisse und neue Fragen der Forschung (Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2015), 299–320. Here Bergen expands the discussion so that the Holocaust is considered not just in terms of the military situation but in terms of the nature of the different occupation regimes in place throughout Europe. 35 By contrast, see the essays which accept the analytical value of but also question the limits of the ‘race’ paradigm in Devin O. Pendas, Mark Roseman and Richard F. Wetzell (eds.), Beyond the Racial State: Rethinking Nazi Germany (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2017). 36 Omer Bartov, Germany’s War and the Holocaust: Disputed Histories (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003), 92. 37 See for example, Karl-Heinz Roth, ‘Revisionist Tendencies in Historical Research into German Fascism’, International Review of Social History, 39 (1994), 429–455. 38 David Cesarani, ‘Introduction’, in Steven Spielberg and Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, The Last Days (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1999), 28; Cesarani, Final Solution, 702. These claims are more decisive than the comments in Cesarani’s introduction to Genocide and Rescue. 39 See Dan Stone, ‘Memory Wars in the “New Europe” ’, in Stone (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 714–731. 40 Nick Fraser, ‘Review of David Cesarani, Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933–1949’, The Guardian, 7 February 2016, online at: www.theguardian.com/books/2016/feb/07/ final-solution-fate-jews-david-cesarani-review (accessed 16 July 2018). 41 Jonathan Steinberg, ‘David Cesarani’s Final, Fascinating, Wrong-headed Book’, The Spectator, 6 February  2016, online at: www.spectator.co.uk/2016/02/david-cesaranisfinal-fascinating-wrong-headed-book/ (accessed 16 July 2018). 42 Karl A. Schleunes, The Twisted Road to Auschwitz: Nazi Policy toward German Jews 1933– 1939, 2nd edn (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990 [1970]); Hans Mommsen, ‘The Realization of the Unthinkable: The “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” in the Third Reich’, in Gerhard Hirschfeld (ed.), The Policies of Genocide: Jews and Soviet Prisoners of War in Nazi Germany (London: Allen & Unwin, 1986), 97–144. 43 Neil Gregor, ‘Review of David Cesarani, Final Solution: The Fate of the Jews 1933–1949’, Times Higher, 27 January  2016, online at: www.timeshighereducation.com/books/ review-final-solution-the-fate-of-the-jews-1933-1949-david-cesarani-pan-macmillan (accessed 16 July 2018). Nicholas Stargardt, ‘Two New Books Look at the Holocaust in Civic and Military Terms’, New York Times, 3 January 2017, online at: www.nytimes. com/2017/01/03/books/review/final-solution-david-cesarini-why-explaining-holo caust-peter-hayes.html (accessed 16 July 2018); Stargardt also refers to Weinberg as an important predecessor of Cesarani. He concludes that Cesarani ‘reveals a central will to destroy’, but this is something more taken for granted than demonstrated in Final Solution. See also Daniel Snowman’s review in History Today, 66:5 (2016), online at: www.

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historytoday.com/reviews/final-solution-fate-jews-1933-49 (accessed 16 July  2018), which also references Mommsen and Martin Broszat. 44 Richard Overy, ‘Last Words’, Literary Review, 440 (March  2016), online at: https:// literaryreview.co.uk/last-words (accessed 16 July 2018). 45 See, for example, Jürgen Matthäus, ‘Anti-Semitism as an Offer: The Function of Ideological Indoctrination in the SS and Police Corps during the Holocaust’, in Dagmar Herzog (ed.), Lessons and Legacies, Vol. VII: The Holocaust in International Perspective (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2006), 116–128. 46 The literature is very large. For representative examples, see Ulrich Herbert, Best: Biographische Studien über Radikalismus, Weltanschauung und Vernunft (Bonn: Dietz, 1996); Isabel Heinemann, ‘Rasse, Siedlung, deutsches Blut’: Das Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt der SS und die rassenpolitische Neuordnung Europas (Göttingen: Wallstein, 2003); Wolfgang Bialas and Anson Rabinbach (eds.), Nazi Germany and the Humanities: How German Academics Embraced Nazism (London: Oneworld, 2007); Michael Wildt, An Uncompromising Generation: The Nazi Leadership of the Reich Security Main Office (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2009); Catherine Epstein, Model Nazi: Arthur Greiser and the Occupation of Western Poland (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010); Susanne Heim, Carola Sachse and Mark Walker (eds.), The Kaiser Wilhelm Society under National Socialism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009); Dirk Rupnow, Judenforschung im Dritten Reich: Wissenschaft zwischen Politik, Propaganda und Ideologie (Baden-Baden: Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft, 2011); David B. Dennis, Inhumanities: Nazi Interpretations of Western Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012); Julien Reitzenstein, Himmlers Forscher: Wehrwissenschaft und Medizinverbrechen im ‘Ahnenerbe’ der SS (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2014); Hans-Christian Harten, Himmlers Lehrer: Die weltanschauliche Schulung in der SS 1933–1945 (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2014); Johann Chapoutot, The Law of Blood: Thinking and Acting as a Nazi (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018). 47 See, for example, Jochen Böhler and Robert Gerwarth (eds.), The Waffen-SS: A European History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017); Raz Segal, Genocide in the Carpathians: War, Social Breakdown, and Mass Violence 1914–1945 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016); Alexander Korb, Im Schatten des Weltkriegs: Massengewalt der Ustaša gegen Serben, Juden und Roma in Kroatien, 1941–1945 (Hamburg: Hamburger Edition, 2013); Vladimir Solonari, Purifying the Nation: Population Exchange and Ethnic Cleansing in NaziAllied Romania (Washington, DC: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2010). 48 Martin L. Davies, Historics: Why History Dominates Contemporary Society (Abingdon: Routledge, 2006); Davies, Imprisoned by History: Aspects of Historicized Life (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010); Keith Jenkins, On ‘What Is History?’ From Carr and Elton to Rorty and White (London: Routledge, 1995); Jenkins, Refiguring History: New Thoughts on an Old Discipline (London: Routledge, 2003). 49 David Cesarani, ‘Autobiographical Reflections on Writing History, the Holocaust and Hairdressing’, in Christopher R. Browning, Susannah Heschel, Michael R. Marrus and Milton Shain (eds.), Holocaust Scholarship: Personal Trajectories and Professional Interpretations (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 83. 50 Jacques Rancière, The Names of History: On the Poetics of Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994), 63. 51 See David Cesarani, ‘Seizing the Day: Why Britain Will Benefit from Holocaust Memorial Day’, Patterns of Prejudice, 34:4 (2000), 61–66, a response to Dan Stone, ‘Day of Remembrance or Day of Forgetting? Or, Why Britain Does Not Need a Holocaust Memorial Day’, Patterns of Prejudice, 34:4 (2000), 53–59. 52 David Cesarani, ‘Striped Pyjamas’, Literary Review, 359 (October  2008), online at: http://holocaustcentre.com/cms_content/upload/PDFs/Cesarani%20Review%20 Striped%20Pyjamas.pdf (accessed 14 March 2018). Cesarani claims here that the film of Boyne’s book turns the Holocaust into a ‘bizarre health and safety incident’ and argues that it shows that ‘a heavy price is being paid for the popularization and instrumentalization of the Holocaust.’

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53 For critical discussions of HMD in Britain, see Donald Bloxham, ‘Britain’s Holocaust Memorial Day: Reshaping the Past in the Service of the Present’, Immigrants and Minorities, 21:1–2 (2002), 41–62; Tony Kushner, ‘Reflections on Britain’s Holocaust Memorial Day’, Journal of Israeli History: Politics, Society, Culture, 23:1 (2004), 116–129. For a corrective that emphasizes the counter-narratives promoted at local HMD events, see John Richardson, ‘Making Memory Makers: Interpellation, Norm Circles, and Holocaust Memorial Day Trust Workshops’, Memory Studies (online first 31 July 2017), DOI: 10.1177/1750698017720259. And for recent analyses of the state of Holocaust education in Britain, see Andy Pearce, ‘The Holocaust in the National Curriculum after 25 Years’, Holocaust Studies, 23:3 (2017), 231–262, and Tom Lawson, ‘Britain’s Promise to Forget? Some Historiographical Reflections on What Do Students Know and Understand about the Holocaust?’, Holocaust Studies, 23:3 (2017), 345–363. 54 For a survey of the scholarly literature that constituted this background, see, for example, Dan Stone, ‘Beyond the “Auschwitz Syndrome”: Holocaust Historiography after the Cold War’, Patterns of Prejudice, 44:5 (2010), 454–468. 55 Adam Tooze, The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (London: Allen Lane, 2007), 528. 56 Mommsen, ‘The Realization of the Unthinkable’, 114. 57 Paul A. Roth, ‘Ways of Pastmaking’, History of the Human Sciences, 15:4 (2002), 125. 58 Allan Megill, Historical Knowledge, Historical Error: A Contemporary Guide to Practice (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 208. 59 Zoltán Boldizsár Simon, ‘We Are History: The Outlines of a Quasi-Substantive Philosophy of History’, Rethinking History, 20:2 (2016), 263.


We are entering a new age of irrationalism. People have never been motivated solely by rational choice, and it is clear that, as Eelco Runia says, ‘[p]eople start to make history not despite the fact that it is at odds with – yes, destroys – the stories they live by, but because it destroys the stories they live by.’1 We see that happening now, as Western Europeans are more and more drawn to destroying the stories that have characterized their societies since the end of World War II, that is, stories of the success of liberal democracy, of intra-European and international cooperation and security, of the welfare state, of the free market (or, in most countries, of welfare capitalism) and of tolerance and multiculturalism. These stories are being destroyed at such a rate that the phenomenon must today be considered a pressing concern. In spite of the serious problems facing the world – climate change, overpopulation, feeding ten billion people, the threat of nuclear war – in Europe whole countries are consumed by problems that on a global level look like local squabbles. Fear of refugees, a small percentage of whom have actually made it to Europe, dominates the headlines across the continent. Debates about whether Muslim women can swim in burkinis take the place of serious discussion about racism and exclusion; a distrust of experts of all sorts means that opinion can be taken as truth. And in Britain, the Brexit vote means that politicians and journalists are outbidding each other in the race to see who can back the most self-inflicting damage to the country, and to the rest of Europe, as decades of Eurosceptic misinformation finally take their toll. We are familiar with the psephologist’s proposition that people don’t always vote in their own interest; but this mass vote against national interest, economically and culturally speaking, in the name of slogans such as ‘taking our borders back’ bespeaks a new level of vulnerability to demagoguery. What is happening? In this chapter, I  do two things. First, I  defend the argument that the term ‘fascism’ retains its value for understanding contemporary political life in Europe.

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And second, I provide a historical reading of post–Cold War Europe in order to explain why we need to start using the term ‘fascism’ again. With respect to the first point, it is important to be clear: I do not argue that people who voted to leave the European Union in Britain, for the Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) in the Netherlands, the Front National (FN, now the Rassemblement National) in France or Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in Germany are fascists. Nor do I think that fascists are threatening to come to power in any European countries, although anti-liberal authoritarians have already done so in Poland, Hungary and Austria. Rather I want to say that the forces that drove fascism in the 1930s are in some measure visible again today and that the parties and movements which are usually referred to as ‘populist’ share an intellectual space with ‘classic’ fascism. The argument is not meant to be alarmist but does argue that those who reject the use of the term are not, as they think, contributing to conceptual clarification but making a confusing situation even more confused. Drawing rigid distinctions between fascism and populism ends by downplaying the dangers of the current situation, in which Europeans seem to be sliding away from democracy without realizing it, and sometimes, as in the case of Geert Wilders or Marine Le Pen, with the express aim of defending ‘European values’. We should not be surprised: since the 1970s, and increasingly so since the 1990s, scholars such as Roger Eatwell and Richard J. Golsan have been warning about ‘fascism’s return’ and since so much effort has been expended on analysing the conditions that permitted the rise of fascism in the 1930s, historians ought to be well placed to point to similarities and differences today.2 With respect to the second aim of this chapter, I offer an explanation of how we arrived at this situation, one that would have shocked Europeans a generation ago. I draw on arguments I have set out elsewhere, especially in my book Goodbye to All That? (2014), where I claim that the end of the Cold War accelerated the abandonment of the postwar consensus, which had already been in demise since the 1970s. In the early 1990s it seemed important to expose and to argue against what Vladimir Tismaneanu called Fantasies of Salvation, the revived radical ideologies which promised Eastern Europeans ways of making sense of the post-communist world by drawing on the region’s fascistic pre-war past.3 It was thus pleasing to see Eastern Europe develop a seemingly secure democratic system, in which, by the 2000s, the most noteworthy characteristic of the system was its stability. But now, almost a decade after the financial crash of 2007–2008, Tismaneanu’s diagnosis is taking on new relevance, in both Western and Eastern Europe. As Eleni Braat and Pepijn Corduwener note, the focus of most post–Cold War studies has been on Eastern Europe.4 But events in recent years mean we can now see that from the point of view of European security, democracy and neoliberal capitalism, the effects of the end of the Cold War have been no less profound in Western Europe. This chapter shows how Braat and Corduwener’s perception that these three characteristics have been tested by the fallout from 1989 is just as significant for understanding the ‘former West’ as it is for the ‘former East’.5

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Fascism Critics of the applicability of the ‘fascism’ concept to contemporary Western Europe are right that the current situation is different from that of the interwar period. But I would argue – apart from the historian’s point that of course no two moments in time can possibly be the same – that what we now see is an adaptation of fascism so that it both draws on a store of ideas from the past and takes new energy from current-day issues. As George Mosse claimed many years ago: Those ideals of mass politics upon which fascism built its political style are very much alive, ready to absorb and exploit the appropriate myths. The danger of some kind of authoritarianism is always present, however changed from earlier forms or from its present worldwide manifestations.6 There is a need to connect Europe’s history of fascist ideas and heritage with the very current concerns that are breathing new life into that heritage. The question is not: does the present look like the 1930s? The answer to that is of course no in most respects. The question is: can the circumstances in which we currently live crystallize in such a way that fascist-like phenomena can emerge? The answer to that question is much less clear-cut. In terms of Western European security, democracy and capitalism, the threat of something like fascism is growing as each of those factors is being tested and, in many respects, found wanting. For over twenty years, scholars have been worrying about the rise of far-right populism in Western Europe. Roger Eatwell, for example, predicted in 1994 that a newly emergent far right would succeed through populist appeals to nationalism and ideas such as ‘fortress Europe’.7 Today, a slew of books and articles examining the meaning of populism – of both left and right – is appearing in bookshops at a rapid rate. Arguments not just over what populism means but whether it is compatible with fascism or if right-wing populism is a euphemism when what we really mean is precisely ‘fascism’ are currently and unsurprisingly in vogue. There are several reasons why fascism and populism should be considered incompatible. The most obvious is that populists contest elections and claim to represent ‘true’ democracy, whereas fascism is anti-democratic. Unlike fascists, for whom political violence was a necessity, populists have also, at least in Western Europe, not created militias which would match their violent rhetoric with violent organizations or actions.8 Populism can therefore be considered a democratic force, albeit a non-liberal one (as in Victor Orbán’s notion of the ‘illiberal state’), since it reasons that democracy has been ‘stolen’ by self-serving elites and contends that it wants to ‘return’ democracy to ‘the people’. Fascism claims to speak in the name of the people but does not – historically speaking, at least – provide the people with an option to exercise any democratic mandate to confirm their claim. Populism is a style or discourse and not an ideology. On the basis of this fundamental difference, some political scientists proclaim fascism and populism to be entirely different, a view echoed, of course, by populists themselves: Marine Le Pen, for example, has

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tried to ban journalists and other commentators from referring to the FN as fascist, as has Nigel Farage of UKIP. Le Pen’s decision to change the FN’s name to the Rassemblement National (National Rally) in March 2018 is also motivated by this same desire to de-demonize the party, dissociating it from its extremist image. The position is clearly summed up by Jérôme Jamin: Populism mobilizes a discourse glorifying the honest people against the corrupt elite, the extreme right postulates racial and cultural inequalities between peoples and nations and advocates extreme nationalism as a form of political organization that can protect the people from their enemies. In the name of democracy, populism rejects the elite and the institutions they represent while the extreme right rejects the principles, values and foundations of democracy.9 Or, as Cas Mudde and Cristóbal Kaltwasser put it: [Populism is] a thin-centered ideology that considers society to be ultimately separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic camps, ‘the pure people’ versus ‘the corrupt elite’, and which argues that politics should be an expression of the volonté generale (general will) of the people.10 These definitions – to which could be added more by Ernesto Laclau, Jan-Werner Müller, Paul Taggart, Francisco Panizza, Hanspeter Kriese and others – suggest that there is a clear division between populism and the extreme right, or fascism (ignoring for the moment political science debates about the differences between far right, extreme right, fascism, neo-fascism and so on). But the neat distinctions provided by political science do not always match what is going on around us. As Federico Finchelstein notes, populism has a history and theoretical perspectives which do not attend to this history are likely to be short-changing the reader.11 Jamin himself, after pressing the difference between populism as a style and the extreme right as an ideology, concludes by noting that the current climate in Europe makes the distinction less clear-cut. He notes that parties traditionally associated with fascism or neo-fascism have toned down their openly racist rhetoric in order ‘to embrace an ambiguous progressive and secular speech against “totalitarian Islam” ’ and that both ‘populist and extreme-right leaders have embraced today a new struggle against Muslims in the name of democracy.’ This is nowhere clearer than in the Netherlands, where Geert Wilders’ PVV condemns Islam in the strongest terms, not (ostensibly) as a racist position but in order to defend secular European liberties. Jamin concludes, rather ambiguously, saying that this change ‘makes it more difficult to dispel the confusion between nevertheless two very different kinds of speech.’12 This ‘nevertheless’ is not, in my opinion, very convincing. Might it be that referring to currently-thriving right-wing ‘populist’ parties as ‘democratic’ by contrast to fascists who are ‘undemocratic’ is to take the ‘populists’ and the fascists too readily at their own word?

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Indeed, precisely a confusion between populism and fascism seems to characterize the current scene in Europe. This is not a failing of the disciplines of political science or history but simply a recognition of a very febrile and fast-changing set of circumstances, whereby established certainties are being called into question. We remain as unsure now as in 2016 where Trump stands with respect to NATO, European security and Russia, though it is clear that he detests the mainstream media, regards Twitter as a means of communicating with the public in a search for ‘ratings’, cannot abide criticism and favours the break-up of the EU. In the UK, a prime minister who voted to remain in the EU led the charge towards a ‘hard Brexit’ with Britain leaving not just the EU but, probably, the single market and the customs union, whilst trying to tell us that ‘the British people’ voted not for isolationism and protectionism but for a new openness to the wider world (although whether this is why voters in Stoke or Boston chose to leave the EU is highly questionable). The threats Brexit poses to the future of both the United Kingdom and the EU are being brushed aside as alarmism. Meanwhile, although UKIP has slipped back into the dysfunctional lunatic fringe, its former leader Nigel Farage poses as a UK-US go-between claims to have the ear of President Trump, and openly supports Wilders, Petry and Le Pen (to whom he gifted a thoroughly unchallenging interview). UKIP’s achievement has been a shot in the arm for eurosceptics across Europe, with many European movements now speaking an antiBrussels language that used to be the speciality of the British tabloids. In Warsaw in November  2017, some 60,000 marchers took part in Poland’s independence rally, which has become a magnet for the far right; some carried slogans such as ‘Pray for Islamic Holocaust’ and ‘pure Poland, white Poland’, yet the march was praised by Poland’s interior minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, as ‘a beautiful sight’. In the United States, President Trump has had among his advisers some who come from extreme-right milieus; although Steve Bannon is no longer formally an adviser to President Trump, he continues to praise him in his attempts to foment nationalism across the world. At a speech at the FN’s party conference in Lille in March 2018, for example, he celebrated nationalist movements, especially the FN, saying, ‘You are part of a movement that is bigger than that in Italy, bigger than in Poland, bigger than in Hungary’, and urged the delegates: ‘Let them call you racists, xenophobes or whatever else, wear these like a medal.’13 It is clear what Finchelstein means when he says we must attend to history and describes populism as ‘an authoritarian form of democracy’ and as ‘a reformulation of fascism.’14 This leads us towards a discussion of fascism. According to Robert Paxton, fascism is ‘a system of political authority and social order intended to reinforce the unity, energy, and purity of communities in which liberal democracy stands accused of producing division and decline.’15 In this definition, playing by parliamentary rules is not crucial: how one achieves the end of rebuilding the (supposed) community is of secondary importance. We should be wary of pressing the distinction between populists – who use elections as a means to attain power – and fascists – who talk in terms of storming the bastions of power – for several reasons. One is historical: we know that both the Nazis and

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the Italian Fascists, for all their talk of the Machtergreifung (‘seizure of power’) or the March on Rome, were appointed to power through quasi-legitimate means, that is, through the actions of established elites who felt that bringing the fascists into power would tame them, bolster their own positions and see off putative threats from the left. Furthermore, the Nazis’ and Fascists’ talk of das Volk or Il popolo suggests that their anti-democratic rule, which needed only occasional plebiscites and no recourse to parliament, drew legitimacy from its appeal to the notion of unity amongst the people, however they chose to define ‘the people’. Fascism, like populism, claims to speak for the people as a ‘higher form of democracy’. As Mussolini wrote, Fascism was opposed to democracy ‘which equates the nation to the majority’, but Fascism ‘is the purest form of Democracy’ where the nation is conceived qualitatively as the ‘most powerful idea’ of a few becoming the conscience of all. In that case, Fascism ‘could be defined as an “organised, centralised, authoritarian Democracy.” ’16 The second reason to beware the tidy distinction between populism and fascism is contemporary: it is hard to believe that far-right populists, should they win power through a parliamentary election, would be willing to concede that power after a period of four or five years; rather, voting against a populist government would be portrayed as treasonous and a proof of one’s not truly belonging to the people. This fear is why commentators such as Aristotle Kallis and Nigel Copsey warn that the problem is less with ‘fascism’ than with the ‘mainstream’: the real danger of far-right movements – whether populist or fascist – is not that they are likely to win elections (yet) but that they are able to change the political discourse so that their ideas and policies are taken on board by the ‘mainstream’ as a means of keeping the far right out of power. In fact, this is clearly the far right’s strategy. Geert Wilders may have been kept out of government by Mark Rutte on 15 March 2017, but this was in no small measure because the latter adopted some of the former’s ‘tough talk’ on Muslims and immigration. In another example, when Björn Hoecke, the AfD’s leader in Thuringia, said that Germany’s ‘laughable policy of coming to terms with the past is crippling us’,17 the statement was rejected by many in the party, but the aim of getting the message out into the public sphere had already been achieved. Indeed, the rejection of the message was part of the strategy so that the populist claim that the elite prevents ‘the people’ from speaking their mind was subliminally established. In extremis, the biggest danger is that a perception of crisis is sufficiently strong to persuade established parties of the ‘mainstream’ to invite previously pariah parties into power, as in Austria, or to begin to cooperate with them having previously agreed to a cordon sanitaire to isolate them, as in Germany, albeit tentatively thus far. And the problem is not just on the right; supposedly centre-left parties such as the Dutch Labour Party and the British Labour Party have been suffering huge losses precisely because they have not offered a genuine alternative but have accepted the narrative of austerity set by the right and have posed for so long as light versions of the mainstream centre right that voters opt instead for the stronger position. The point is being made by journalists as well as academics alarmed at the

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current state of affairs. Natalie Nougayrède, for example, in an article on Marine Le Pen, argued recently that ‘[x]enophobic populists were allowed to thrive in Britain and the US because mainstream parties (the Tories, the Republicans) provided them with a sufficient amount of complacency, if not buoyancy. The French far right is buoyed by similar factors.’18 Such an outcome in which political establishments turn to the far right as a way of saving themselves is surely one historical analogy that is to be avoided by Europe’s leaders. But the fact that it is possible to conceive of such a thing happening suggests that fascism is not an aberration of Western European democracy but a permanent fixture that can tempt ‘liberals’ if they fear that there is no other way to defend their interests against some putative threat. The results of the 4 March 2018 Italian elections, in which the far-right Lega (formerly the Lega Nord) and the Five Star Movement took the largest share of the vote, clearly indicate this trend. Of course, there are very few parties which openly claim to be fascist and those that do are tiny. Even Golden Dawn, whose fascist style and aesthetics are unmistakeable, claims to have Hellenic roots and no connection with modern fascism. Roger Eatwell notes that for all the similarities of style and discourse between populism and fascism, populists ‘cannot hold that an authoritarian new elite is required to foster a “new man” in order to achieve radical change.’19 I am not so sure. Do not the authoritarian leadership style of a Trump, a Modi or a Bolsonaro, the one-man show of a Wilders, the FN’s and Fidesz’s desire to strengthen the presidency (like Erdogan’s, Putin’s or Xi Jinping’s) combine the language of ‘populist democracy’ – the leader speaking for the people  – with a desire to reshape society so that a sense of rebirth gives ‘the people’ new hope? The ‘people’ might be central to populism, but it is not clear that current right-wing populists want to hand control over decision-making to ‘the people’ or whether they prefer to claim to speak for them.

Europe after the Cold War What then are the changes that have taken place that have made the return of fascism a possibility? When I wrote of the ‘antifascist consensus’ as the primary shaping force of postwar politics, this was a shorthand for all the forms of organization that were put in place in Western and Eastern Europe after 1945. In the east, this meant an enforced communist one-party rule which brutally eliminated oppositions real or imagined and painted any resistance as a reincarnation of fascism, as in Hungary in 1956. Here anti-fascism, which began as a legitimizing force, gradually lost its potency as it came to be little more than a slogan, instrumentalized as a way of maintaining the ‘new class’ in its position of power and increasingly regarded as a pro forma, empty signifier by most of the population.20 In Western Europe, it meant welfare capitalism, corporatist labour arrangements, Keynesian economics and the more-or-less universal advocacy of parliamentary democracy, even among parties of the right that had previously regarded democracy with suspicion.

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The concept of anti-fascism may be regarded as too simplistic a tool for making sense of the complexities of divided postwar Europe, which also encompassed decolonization, European integration, Atlanticism and NATO, anti-communism, civil rights and the new consumerism. That is correct, but I would stress that ‘antifascism’, in my reading, did not mean only a political position espoused by elites but was a way of describing the whole socio-political culture of postwar Western Europe, in which the aftereffects of World War II necessitated a rethinking of the arrangements that had brought war to Europe twice in a generation. In my analysis, anti-fascism was not just a means of keeping extreme ideologies at bay but a description of an economic and cultural reshaping of Western Europe. This arrangement – and the story that sustained it – has been steadily dismantled since the 1970s. Beginning with Thatcherism in the UK, the neoliberal reforms of the 1980s, even where socialists were in power such as in Italy, have eroded almost to the point of their disappearance the sense of common values and shared tradition that built the postwar world, helped along by the fortuitous economic circumstances of full employment and the redistribution of wealth. In other words, the story that built the postwar world no longer seems sustainable to many Europeans. This story suggested that the forces which drove fascism – unemployment, nationalism, mass politics and war – could be kept at bay by engineering more equal societies in which high levels of taxation would provide a welfare state and generate a sense of inclusion. This did not need to be a leftist narrative; indeed, throughout the postwar period, centre-right, Christian Democratic governments in most of Europe drove this narrative in the context of European integration and anti-communism, giving rise to a form of welfare capitalism that claimed to have found a way of binding European citizens together whilst offering a viable alternative to the authoritarian politics and statist economics of the communist bloc.21 Under these circumstances, the far right had little chance of success, either electorally or culturally. Although the Cold War nurtured the far right – fascists made good anti-communists, whether at the level of states such as Spain or groups and individuals – and the Eastern Bloc also incorporated many former fascists into its ranks (most notably in Romania where, by the 1970s and 1980s, ‘national communism’ was the order of the day), any fascist narratives or ‘memories’ of the interwar and wartime periods could only be harboured in delimited and clandestine circles. Yet a fascist memory of fascism – something which scholars have so far hardly analysed – did survive precisely because of these incorporations and amnesties, including the United States’s promotion of secret service anti-communist operations and the funding of liberal anti-communist cultural productions.22 It was kept alive in small groups and radical movements and, from the 1970s onwards, in the attempts of the nouvelle droite to update fascist thought. This drive to adapt and to contemporize means that we can understand the contemporary far right in terms of a process of negotiation with the fascist past, gradually revising the stories that sustained the postwar world, pushing at them in order to muddy the waters, slowly suggesting, for example, that Vichy France, Mussolini’s Italy or Franco’s Spain were not all

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that bad, that they represented forces of authenticity and order against the threat of what can today be portrayed as national disintegration in the face of globalization, European federalism and liberal-encouraged multiculturalism. This renegotiation is consciously designed to promote the re-emergence of the forces that drove fascism. And whilst we cannot yet say that right-wing populism is fascist or that fascists are threatening to take power, these counter-narratives which ‘belong to a cosmology harking back to the blackshirt years’ – involving notions of crisis and national decline, suspicion of ‘democratic hypocrisy’, nationalism and xenophobia  – are clearly taking their toll on established postwar narratives.23 Given that the latter are losing their force anyway in the light of thirty years of neoliberal reforms with all their attendant inequalities and socio-political challenges – not least the politics of austerity in the context of climate change – a revival of alternative stories derived from the pre-war period seems increasingly to be gaining traction. This is a deliberate policy to change the meaning of ‘consensus’ so that what appeared to be the norm in the 1950s and 1960s no longer applies. What has replaced the postwar settlement in Western Europe? In general, we see a downgrading of narratives of equality and an increase in nineteenth-century-style liberalism which stresses individualism, a small state, self-improvement, distaste for poverty and the free market. The latter has appeared even in areas where notions of the ‘common good’ had prevailed since the end of the war, such as the provision of essential resources such as water and fuel, and the introduction of market forces into nationalized industries such as health provision and social housing. Even with respect to welfare systems, there was a ‘clear break with the tendency towards greater equality that characterised the Western European welfare states until the 1980s’ with even the social democratic parties failing to protest, as Ido De Haan has observed.24 The benefit to the Western European population is that a majority – but not an overwhelming one – grew richer and became accustomed to an embarrassment of choice where consumer goods, from food to luxury goods, are concerned, thanks to the availability of easy credit and the expansion of service/consumer economies. The 1970s seem distinctly ‘postwar’ when seen in these terms by comparison with the changed nature of Western European societies in the 1980s and 1990s. This enormous shift in Western European social-economic conditions was facilitated and catalysed by the end of the Cold War. The triumphalist narratives that accompanied that moment highlighted not just liberal democracy as a ‘better’ system but suggested that the power of consumerism – symbolized by black market Levi’s on the streets of Moscow – had undermined communism far more than the highfalutin rhetoric of Charter 77 or even Solidarity had done.25 In fact, the single biggest cause of the end of the Cold War was Gorbachev’s decision not to use military force to intervene in the affairs of the Eastern European satellite countries as had been done on previous occasions, and as the apparat in those countries expected. The Cold War was thus over by the end of 1989, and the collapse of communist regimes followed swiftly, including in the USSR itself by the end of 1991. Yet the notion that the West ‘won’ the Cold War by force of its superior

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political system, the appeal of consumerism and its role in the arms race, defeating the ‘evil empire’, remains ubiquitous. There is of course some truth in it: East Berliners, crossing into the West in November 1989, charged to the department stores and sex shops of the Kurfürstendamm. Anatoly Chernyaev, Gorbachev’s adviser, wrote in his diary on 10 November 1989, ‘The Berlin Wall has collapsed. This entire era in the history of the socialist system is over. . . . This is the end of Yalta . . . the Stalinist legacy and the “defeat of Hitlerite Germany” ’;26 in other words, the anti-fascist slogans were dead. In the East, that meant the revival of anti-communist heroes, including sometimes fascists, as a curious system combining democratic structures without democratic experience took root. In the ‘former West’, the fascination of Eastern Europeans for Western consumerism gave a new lease of life to that focus, as the economies were increasingly geared around growth fuelled by consumer spending and borrowing. The result was what Yannis Stavrakakis calls a ‘second spirit of capitalism’, which coincided with and encouraged the entrenchment of ‘postdemocracy’ or ‘managed democracy’, in which consumption became the primary marker of participation in social life. As Stavrakakis writes, the legitimization of ‘post-democratic mutation of liberal democracy’ was thus based on the (relative) democratization of consumption and luxury that, mainly through borrowing, now became accessible to large sections of the population, which could (partially) enjoy it, accepting the collapse in the regulation of labour relations, the reduction of their rights, exploding inequality, and so on. The price to be paid for this galloping individualistic eudemonism was none other than the de-democratization of modern democracy. . . . In short, neoliberalism attempted to establish a ‘democracy without the demos’, a regime that is ‘acting autonomously from the people.’27 Stavrakakis’ analysis is clearly focused on the Greek case. Here, a whole country’s exclusion from neoliberal prosperity and subjection to strict austerity – the other face of neoliberal economics, here driven by the strictures of the euro – explains Stavrakakis’ insistence that populism is a legitimate response to the elitist ‘antipopulism’ of those who represent the EU status quo. I am not sure that the same analysis applies with equal vigour to Western Europe (excluding Greece from ‘Western Europe’ for the moment). Is it the sense of a lack of participation in the political process that is fuelling the rejection of established parties in Western Europe? There is certainly a disconnect between ‘elites’ and ‘the people’ (or some of them) that, all commentators agree, fans the flames of populism. But although when asked, people will often say that politicians are too distant and arrogant or have no connection with how ‘real people’ live, their concerns are very much about their life chances, economic circumstances and (lack of) opportunities. A ‘democracy without a demos’ is only a partial – though important – explanation for the rise in populism. The exclusion of ordinary people from the functioning of democracy could just as readily be a description of postwar Western European

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representative democracies as of their early-twenty-first-century ‘post-democratic’ versions  – only it did not matter in the first three decades after the war when people felt their life chances were improving.28 Besides, outside of Greece, where Syriza remains more popular than Golden Dawn, ‘populist’ movements have been of the right – with the partial exception of the Five Star Movement in Italy and Podemos in Spain, which evade being easily located on the political spectrum even if the former increasingly looks like a party of the right. Again, we are faced with a problem: why do people, when they have genuine grievances, find explanations coming from right-wing demagogues – especially the claim that all society’s ills are down to immigration – so much more appealing than social democratic arguments concerning the current incarnation of Western European market economies and the huge disparities of wealth they generate? History matters here. The end of the Cold War certainly meant, as Braat and Corduwener set out, a deepening of existing notions of European ‘security’, an emphasis on the technocratic nature of European ‘democracy’ and a strengthening of the liberal market economy. I would add that together with these phenomena, we also see a revival of what might broadly be called ‘anti-anti-fascist forces’. This is not a coincidence: the overturning of the postwar economic settlement also facilitated the overturning of the postwar socio-cultural consensus. The Tendenzwende promoted by Chancellor Kohl drove through market reforms in Germany and opened up space for nationalist interpretations of German history that had existed only in fringe spaces since 1945, such as the broad discussion of ‘Germans as victims’ (of bombing raids, of Red Army rape, of expulsion, as POWs, and so on). The ‘refounding of the Republic’ in Italy in 1994 brought the country firmly into the neoliberal sphere and permitted the flourishing of the ‘post-fascist’ narrative. In France and the Netherlands, wartime narratives of resistance, long exposed as quasi-mythical, now competed with apologetic versions of history in which collaboration was seen as morally explicable. In Denmark and Norway, exposés of local varieties of Nazism have appeared as the electorates in those countries have shifted radically rightwards. None of this should surprise us. World War II was a series of mini-civil wars in which those who were seduced by the notion of European union under a racially reordered German hegemony fought those who retained their faith in parliamentary democracy, socialism or communism (and the latter also fought each other). The scholarly emphasis in discussions of the end of the Cold War, as Braat and Corduwener note, has been on Eastern Europe, where the explosion of nationalism after 1989 was most evident and where the extent of local collaboration with Nazism has been crucial to historiography and has engendered emotionally charged political debates. But the change in Western Europe has been perhaps more momentous: without even seeming to realize it, Western Europe, whilst continuing to mark Holocaust Memorial Day and to commemorate VE Day, is sliding into a form of right-wing hegemony which maintains those commemorations but refigures them as part of a defence of nationalist ideas in which Europe and the ‘European way of life’ are

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under threat from outsiders. It has long been the case, especially in the UK, that commemoration of World War II has been used to bolster a sense of national belonging (Britain’s ‘standing alone in 1940’ narrative), but now that memory is being put to the service of anti-internationalism in a way that is markedly more threatening. A narrative that attacks immigration as ‘not what this country fought for’ is a curious inversion of the postwar pride in defeating fascism. The long-term wait of the ‘neo-fascists’ is coming to an end as activists and thinkers who remained largely in the shadows after 1945, even in the context of the Strategy of Tension or CIA-funded anti-communist outfits, are emboldened to speak. The Cold War kept fascism alive, thanks to its welcome for radical anti-communism; the end of the Cold War, with the demise of social democracy and the entrenchment of neoliberalism, is permitting it to flourish.29 Where it does flourish, we might, echoing Copsey’s term ‘fascism . . . but with an open mind’, call it ‘narrow-minded fascism’. That is to say, in contrast to classic fascism with its expansionist warrior agenda, what we see now is a xenophobic, protectionist ideology which combines notions of national rebirth with a desire to isolate the nation from outside forces.

Conclusion Aristotle Kallis notes that the economic crisis of the 1930s was a catalyst rather than a primary cause of fascism, ‘revealing and legitimising strong pre-existing concerns and resentments, both among the elites and public opinion.’30 The same is true today. The current and ongoing economic crisis, in which parents are concerned that their children will have fewer chances in life than they enjoyed, and in which incomes are being squeezed for all except the rich, is the fuel for rather than the primary cause of the rise of the far right. Fascism has shown itself to be a malleable and adaptable shape-shifter; the precise problems that Europe faces today are not the same as in the 1930s – how could they be? – but they are also not entirely different. In Europe today we have welfare states (though much subjected to ‘rationalization’), national health services and the structures put in place by the EU which prevent national disintegration and provide a sense of interconnectedness – from Erasmus exchange schemes to gas pipelines to international law – that is hard to break. But also not impossible, as Brexit shows: despite the complications of the negotiations, especially over the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU, and the bill to be paid by the UK for exiting, a determination to break free of EU structures (or what Le Pen calls the ‘EU prison’) can succeed – or so it looks at present. According to research polls, even if they do not support leaving, a majority of EU citizens favour a referendum in their country, on the Brexit model, on membership in the EU.31 Today, however, we do not have some of the main drivers of classic fascism: the demand to create a totalitarian state, a desire to fashion a ‘new man’, visceral fear of communism, aggressive and expansionist foreign policy, intra-European rivalries, political violence. Still, in broad terms, the rejectionist message is similar: xenophobia, especially directed at Muslims; fear and hatred of immigrants; racial

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prejudice; hatred of multiculturalism and attempts to promote the social success of ethnic minorities; scoffing at ‘political correctness’; violent misogyny; conspiracy theories concerning remote, venal elites, the media and coded claims about Jews; extreme nationalism with its psychoanalytically suggestive defence of borders and fear of movement; and economic protectionism  – these are all familiar refrains, especially online.32 What seems to confirm Kallis’ claim so strikingly is the fact that even if the circumstances are different, the vocabulary and ideas on which the rejectionist movements and parties draw come from a readily available and culturally familiar stock. As Andrea Mammone argues, the ‘new’ right-wing movements ‘represent a sort of adaptation of some traditional “old” political streams as well as a modernization of some classic fascist ideas. This could be conceptualized as a contemporarization of neofascism within a post-materialist and global society.’33 And far-right memory – a topic which is almost entirely unstudied – suggests that historical revisionism is indeed promoting such a contemporization of classic fascist ideas.34 It seems that both Western and Eastern Europeans slip into the language and style of fascism all too easily. Let me sum up my argument by considering why it is the case that people seem so easily to draw their tools from a fascist arsenal when times are hard. I said in my introduction that the destruction of the stories by which Western Europeans have lived since 1945 signalled a new age of irrationalism. The immediate objection is that those who distrust and/or no longer believe in those stories are not in fact behaving irrationally, but that they have good grounds to reject them. This is indeed a crucial point, since it is clear, given all the commentary about those who have been ‘left behind’ by globalization or who are ‘losers’ in the modern world, that large sections of the population have much to complain about. But the soul-searching commentary which self-reflexively criticizes the ‘liberal elite’ of politicians, journalists and academics is too hasty; it suggests that we should sympathize with people who vote for the populist far right in a way which is actually more condescending towards ‘ordinary people’ than is maintaining the status quo against their wishes. For it suggests that it is natural, when people feel excluded, that they vote for the far right. Yet there are other choices on offer among the new parties. Are we really happy to say that people vote like sheep for Marine Le Pen or Matteo Salvini when they say that all of their problems are caused by immigrants, simply because they are ‘left behind’? Do we really think that people believe they will be economically better off with a policy of ‘national preference’ and preventing immigration? Do we think these people have not thought about who will care for them when they need to go to hospital or move to an old age home? Far-right voters are by no means all angry young unemployed white men  – indeed, the vote is more about the provinces rejecting the metropolis or the lower middle classes trying to protect what they have – and nor are they ethnically homogeneous, at least not entirely. It seems that for all the developments in right-wing thinking since the end of World War II  – with the nouvelle droite, identity politics, postmodern racism, designer fascism or what has been called ‘the ruthlessly

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effective rebranding of Europe’s far right’35 – the tendency to support the far right comes from somewhere visceral and emotional rather than from a considered philosophical stance, let alone from any evidence-based logic. It is legitimate for commentators to say so rather than beat themselves up for not recognizing that parts of society feel ‘left behind’. My point is not that people don’t have legitimate grievances; the claim that the ‘left behind’ are voting against established parties is clearly right, although talking to voters one senses that they often feel not so much left behind as a sense of regret for what has been left behind, that is, some quasi-fantasy notion of the nation as it used to be. Rather, my point is that there is no contradiction between a rational anger at being excluded and ‘thinking with the blood’; the latter is evident in that people who vote for the far right do so despite all the indicators showing that these are the people who have most to lose, economically speaking, from a closing of borders, loss of European funding and the putting in place of ‘national preference’. In other words, when people vote for such ideas it is precisely as Runia says, because it destroys the familiar stories by which they have lived. It is a conscious choice to take the bet that they will prefer a situation in which they may be poorer but there will be fewer people who do not look like them. This means that those who still defend notions of international cooperation, social democracy and decency towards other human beings need to speak out and criticize. Responding by saying, ‘we are to blame for not noticing the plight of the “left behind” ’ is insufficient; instead, we need to call out the far right at every opportunity, to show that their message is destructive, not only of the peace that has prevailed in most of Europe for seventy years but of national economic prosperity, even if they claim the exact opposite. And it especially means taking on the increasingly ubiquitous and extraordinarily mendacious narrative which claims that the last thirty years have been dominated by a liberal social democracy which has deliberately set out to destroy people’s communities (the role of the coded ‘hidden hand’ here is not hard to hear). Anyone who has studied postwar Western European history to even the barest extent will know that if social democracy ever characterized the region, it was in the first thirty years after 1945, three decades of anti-fascism and welfare capitalism which increasingly seem aberrant in European history.36 Even that notion of a ‘social democratic moment’ is questionable, apart perhaps from in Scandinavia and the UK, for the majority of ruling parties in Western Europe after 1945 were Christian Democrats who, after the carnage of World War II, had now resigned themselves to accepting the welfare state and thus instituted systems of welfare capitalism which would keep the most violent forms of rejectionism, especially communism, at bay. After the oil crises of the 1970s, Western European economies and societies, at different rates, came to be dominated by a neoliberal consensus in which an extension of individuals’ social and cultural freedoms (such as gay marriage or the legalization of abortion) went hand in hand with the rule of the (supposedly) free market. This momentous shift from the ‘anti-fascist consensus’ to the ‘neoliberal

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consensus’ has brought about the vast inequalities we see in Western Europe (and the United States) today, not ‘social democracy’, which has been more-or-less extinguished in the last thirty years. Indeed, a renewal of social democracy, emphasizing its fundamental ideas of fairness, relative equality and a tempered market, is the most pressing desideratum, if people who vote for the far right are to have their grievances directed in a constructive rather than destructive direction. Immigration has not brought about the decline in living standards experienced by those who vote for populists, but without a social democratic critique of globalization, protectionist and anti-immigrant narratives go unchallenged. Kallis notes that ‘democracy imploded in the 1930s not so much because fascists and their radical fellow travellers across the continent waged such a formidable challenge to its institutions but because it never possessed sufficient supplies of legitimacy among the public and the elites that were supposed to defend it.’37 The same, I would suggest, is threatening to become true now, even in a situation of far deeper-entrenched democratic structures and mindsets than before the war. A majority of the Western European public does not actively want fascism; the question is whether they care enough about democracy to defend it. It is worth recalling that there is also a European tradition of anti-liberalism and anti-democratic thinking.38 In Goodbye to All That?, I ended the book with the following words, which at the time I hesitated to use for fear they might seem alarmist: A mere thirty years after the most destructive war in world history, fuelled by Nazism, a movement whose inner dynamic leads first to the annihilation of others and then to self-destruction, Europeans faced a revision of the past, which gradually eroded the strength of the antifascist settlement. The Cold War and its demise confused the issue, making people think that the discrediting of communism necessarily led to the rejection of antifascism. If this trend is not halted, then by the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, a Europe of protectionist, nationalist micro-states led by populists demanding ‘national preference’ but without the means to pay for it and unwilling to admit the foreign labour necessary to sustain, will once again march the continent into the abyss.39 My fear now is that I  was too optimistic. It is time to think less about the fine distinctions between ‘populism’ and ‘fascism’ and to recognize the threat that now hangs over Western Europe. Precisely because ‘fascism’ still, after the horrors of World War II, dare not openly speak its name; fascism in the twenty-first century begins with populism. In 2013, Federico Finchelstein and Fabián Bosoer could title an article with the question ‘Is fascism returning to Europe?’40 Now it is clear that it has returned; the question is how to contain and defeat it. Several countries in Eastern Europe have already been accused of drifting into authoritarianism. If no serious opposition develops, the same will happen in Western Europe and, whatever we call it, we will have destroyed the stories we have lived by for seventy years.

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Notes 1 Eelco Runia, ‘Burying the Dead – Creating the Past’, History and Theory, 46:3 (2007), 319. 2 Luciano Cheles, Ronnie Ferguson and Michalina Vaughan (eds.), Neo-Fascism in Europe (London: Longman, 1991); Roger Eatwell, ‘Why Are Fascism and Racism Reviving in Western Europe?’, Political Quarterly, 65:3 (1994), 313–325; Richard J. Golsan (ed.), Fascism’s Return: Scandal, Revision, and Ideology since 1980 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998). 3 Vladimir Tismaneanu, Fantasies of Salvation: Democracy, Nationalism, and Myth in PostCommunist Europe (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998). 4 Eleni Braat and Pepijn Corduwener, ‘Introduction. 1989 and the West: Revisiting the Cold War Victory Narratives’, in Braat and Corduwener (eds.), 1989 and the West: Western Europe since the End of the Cold War (London: Routledge, 2020), 1–14. 5 Maria Hlavajova and Simon Sheikh (eds.), Former West: Art and the Contemporary after 1989 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017). 6 George L. Mosse, ‘Toward a General Theory of Fascism’ (1979), in Masses and Man: Nationalist and Fascist Perceptions of Reality (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1987), 196. 7 Eatwell, ‘Why Are Fascism and Racism Reviving’. 8 In Ukraine, as in the United States, the situation is different. On political violence, see Donald Bloxham and Robert Gerwarth (eds.), Political Violence in Twentieth-Century Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); Robert Gerwarth and John Horne (eds.), War in Peace: Paramilitary Violence in Europe after the Great War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). 9 Jérôme Jamin, ‘Two Different Realities: Notes on Populism and the Extreme Right’, in Andrea Mammone, Emmanuel Godin and Brian Jenkins (eds.), Varieties of Right-Wing Extremism in Europe (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013), 47–48. 10 Cas Mudde and Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, Populism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 6. 11 Federico Finchelstein, ‘Returning Populism to History’, Constellations, 21:4 (2014), 467–482. 12 Jamin, ‘Two Different Realities’, 49. 13 Kim Willsher, ‘ “History’s on Our Side” – Bannon Is Star Turn for Le Pen’s Big rally’, The Observer, 11 March 2018. 14 Finchelstein, ‘Returning Populism to History’, 469. See also Finchelstein, From Fascism to Populism in History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017). 15 Robert O. Paxton, ‘The Five Stages of Fascism’, Journal of Modern History, 70:1 (1998), 11. 16 Benito Mussolini and Giovanni Gentile, ‘The Doctrine of Fascism’ (1932), in Adrian Lyttleton (ed.), Italian Fascisms from Pareto to Gentile (London: Jonathan Cape, 1973), 42, 50. 17 ‘German AfD Rightist Triggers Fury with Holocaust Memorial Comments’, Reuters, 18 January 2017, online at: www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-afd-idUSKBN1521H3. 18 Natalie Nougayrède, ‘Don’t Be Complacent about the Risk of President Le Pen’, The Guardian, 8 March 2017, 27. 19 Roger Eatwell, ‘Populism and Fascism’, in Paul Taggart, Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, Paulina Ochoa Espejo and Pierre Ostiguy (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Populism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), Oxford Handbooks Online. See also Holly Case, ‘The New Authoritarians’, Aeon, 7 March  2017, online at: https://aeon.co/ essays/the-new-dictators-speak-for-the-complainer-not-the-idealist 20 See Alexei Yurchak, Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006). The ‘new class’ is a reference to Milovan Djilas, The New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System (London: Thames and Hudson, 1957).

232  The return of fascism in Europe?

21 On Christian Democracy, see Wolfram Kaiser, Christian Democracy and the Origins of the European Union (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007); Michael Gehler and Wolfram Kaiser (eds.), Christian Democracy in Europe since 1945 (Abingdon: Routledge, 2004). 22 Andrea Mammone, Transnational Neo-Fascism in France and Italy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), 32; Daniele Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe (London: Frank Cass, 2005). 23 Mammone, Transnational Neo-Fascism in France and Italy, 16. 24 Ido De Haan, ‘The Western European Welfare State beyond Christian and Social Democratic Ideology’, in Dan Stone (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 517. 25 See, for example, Peter G. Boyle, ‘The Cold War Revisited’, Journal of Contemporary History, 35:3 (2000), 479–489. 26 ‘Diary of Anatoly Chernyaev Regarding the Fall of the Berlin Wall’ (10 November 1989), in Svetlana Savranskaya, Thomas Blanton and Valdislav Zubok (eds.), Masterpieces of History: The Peaceful End of the Cold War in Europe, 1989 (Budapest: CEU Press, 2011), 586. 27 Yannis Stavrakakis, ‘The Return of “The People”: Populism and Anti-Populism in the Shadow of the European Crisis’, Constellations, 21:4 (2014), 507, citing J. G. Feinberg, Democracy without a Demos? 28 See here Martin Conway’s studies: ‘Democracy in Postwar Western Europe: The Triumph of a Political Model’, European History Quarterly, 32:1 (2002), 59–84; ‘The Rise and Fall of Western Europe’s Democratic Age, 1945–1973’, Contemporary European History, 13:1 (2004), 67–88. 29 See also Anna Cento Bull, ‘Neo-Fascism’, in R. J. B. Bosworth (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Fascism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 586–606. 30 Aristotle Kallis, ‘When Fascism Became Mainstream: The Challenge of Extremism in Times of Crisis’, Fascism, 4 (2015), 1. See also Nigel Copsey, ‘ “Fascism . . . but with an Open Mind”: Reflections on the Contemporary Far Right in (Western) Europe’, Fascism, 2 (2013), 1–17. 31 Bruce Stokes, Richard Wike and Dorothy Manevich, ‘Post-Brexit, Europeans More Favorable toward EU’, Pew Research Center website, online at: www.pewglobal. org/2017/06/15/post-brexit-europeans-more-favorable-toward-eu/ (accessed 12 March 2018). 32 See Patrik Hermansson, David Lawrence, Joe Mulhall and Simon Murdoch, The International Alt-Right: Fascism for the 21st Century? (London: Routledge, 2020). 33 Andrea Mammone, ‘The Eternal Return? Faux Populism and Contemporarization of Neo-Fascism across Britain, France and Italy’, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 17:2 (2009), 187. See also Mammone, Transnational Neo-Fascism in France and Italy, 16–20 on ‘adaptation and contemporarization’. 34 Andrea Pető, ‘Revisionist Histories, “Future Memories”: Far-Right Memorialization Practices in Hungary’, European Politics and Society (2016), DOI: 10.1080/23745118.2016.1269442. See also the articles by Madeleine Hurd and Steffen Werther, ‘Go East, Old Man: The Ritual Spaces of SS Veterans’ Memory Work’, Culture Unbound, 6:2 (2014), 327–359; ‘Retelling the Past, Inspiring the Future: Waffen-SS Commemorations and the Creation of a “European” Far-Right Counter-Narrative’, Patterns of Prejudice, 50:4–5 (2016), 420–444; ‘Waffen-SS Veterans and Their Sites of Memory Today’, in Jochen Böhler and Robert Gerwarth (eds.), The Waffen-SS: A European History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), 331–355. 35 Sasha Polakow-Suransky, ‘The Ruthlessly Effective Rebranding of Europe’s New Far Right’, The Guardian, 1 November 2016. 36 Geoff Eley, ‘When Europe Was New: Liberation and the Making of the Post-War Era’, in Monica Riera and Gavin Schaffer (eds.), The Lasting War: Society and Identity in Britain, France and Germany after 1945 (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), 17–43;

The return of fascism in Europe?  233

Eley, ‘Corporatism and the Social Democratic Moment: The Postwar Settlement, 1945– 1973’, in Stone (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Postwar European History, 37–59, esp. 58: ‘By the 1990s, little remained of either the practices or the principles, let along the material structures and institutional architecture, that organized the political common sense of the three decades after 1945.’ 37 Kallis, ‘When Fascism Became Mainstream’, 15. 38 Dieter Gosewinkel (ed.), Anti-liberal Europe: A Neglected Story of Europeanization (New York: Berghahn Books, 2015). 39 Dan Stone, Goodbye to All That? The Story of Europe since 1945 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 294. 40 Federico Finchelstein and Fabián Bosoer, ‘Is Fascism Returning to Europe?’, New York Times, 18 December 2013, online at: www.nytimes.com/2013/12/19/opinion/is-fascismreturning-to-europe.html.


Abromeit, Franz 95 Agamben, Giorgio 179 Aguthi 187 – 188 Akçam, Taner 183 Albania 204 Aleppo 183 Algeria 180, 182, 187 Algerian War 188 Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) 196, 217, 221 Aly, Götz 49, 205 American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) 127, 129, 170 Ancel, Jean 168 Anderson, David 187 Ankersmit, F. R. 6 Annales School 99 Antifascist Fighters’ Union (Czechoslovakia) 109 Antonescu, Ion 11, 143, 144, 149, 150, 153, 155, 158 – 159, 162 – 163, 164, 168, 170 Arendt, Hannah 136, 178, 179, 180, 183, 184, 186 Argentina 17, 21, 150, 186, 192 Armenian genocide 9, 59, 100, 183 Asche, Kurt 95 Auschwitz 10, 53, 65, 72, 84, 85, 86, 107, 109, 111 – 112, 113, 116, 117, 120, 121, 133, 136, 174 Australia 180 Austria 143, 147, 181, 217, 221 Austrian Freedom Party (ÖFP) 196 Austro-Hungarian Empire 182

Bach-Zelewski, Erich von dem 95 Baldwin, Peter 203 Bannon, Steve 220 Banse, Ewald 76 Bardgett, Suzanne 160 Bartlett, Vernon 41 Bartov, Omer 94, 202, 205 Bataille, Georges 104 Bauerkämper, Arnd 18 Bauman, Zygmunt 49, 102, 178, 179 Bäumler, Alfred 67, 76 Bavaria 84, 150 Bax, Mart 103 BBC 138, 159 BBC Monitoring Service 11, 159 – 174 Belgium 181 Belloc, Hilaire 34 Bełżec 86 Bergdolt, Ernst 50 Bergen-Belsen 10, 86, 112, 116 – 117, 120 – 139; Central Registration Office 129; trial 122, 133 Berger, Walter 81 Berkenbrück 143, 150, 153 Berlin 10, 20, 97, 108, 144, 182 Best, Werner 95 Beyerchen, Alan 50 Bialas, Wolfgang 69 Bielefeld School 99 Bimko, Ada 133 Birkenau see Auschwitz Birkin, Edith 115 Błaszczak, Mariusz 220 Bloxham, Donald 6

Index  235

Boer War 179, 186 Bogdanovka 163, 166 – 167 Bolsonaro, Jair 222 Bonn 147 Borkenau, Franz 33, 35, 36, 37, 41 Bormann, Martin 59 Borubaru, Traian 144 Bosoer, Fabián 230 Bosnia 57 Boßhammer, Fritz 95, 96 Braat, Eleni 217, 226 Brandt, Karl 65 Brătianu, Ion Constantin 162 Brazil 143 Bremen 83 Britain 17, 33, 216, 227; Empire 40, 172, 179, 182, 187 – 188; fascism in 17, 26 British Union of Fascists (BUF) 26 Broszat, Martin 66 Browder, George 97 Browning, Christopher R. 5, 96, 97, 109, 137, 202 – 203 Brunner, Alois 95 Brünnlitz 107 Bucharest pogrom (1941) 143, 150, 158 Buchenwald 83, 85, 86, 134, 143, 144, 150, 153, 192 Buggeln, Marc 113 Bulgaria 168, 204 Bund Deutscher Mädel (BDM) 185 Burger, Anton 95 Burleigh, Michael 77, 78 – 79, 84 Cambodia 57, 186; see also Khmer Rouge Cameroon 182 Carol II (Romania) 143, 158, 162 – 163, 164 Carson, Edward 17 Cârsteanu, George V. 152 – 153 Cassirer, Ernst 98 Celle 112 Central Tracing Bureau (UNRRA) 134 Centre Party (Germany) 72 Cernăuţi (Czernowitz) 146, 150 Cesarani, David 5, 6, 12, 195 – 211 Chamberlain, Houston Stewart 47, 68 – 69, 70 Chamberlain, Neville 28, 36 Charter 77 224 Cheb 112 Chełmno 85, 86, 133 Chernyaev, Anatoly 225 Chile 186 China 82, 186, 187, 189 – 190 Christianstadt 10, 107 – 117 Churchill, Winston 34, 187

CIA 159, 227 Cieslik, Walter 146 Clauss, Ludwig Ferdinand 76, 81 Cluj 55, 150, 167 COBSRA 125, 126 – 127 Codreanu, Corneliu 143, 144, 146, 150 Cohn, Norman 77 Cole, G. D. H. 42 Collingwood, R. G. 33, 36 Collis, Robert 127 Comecon 173 Confino, Alon 17 Copsey, Nigel 221, 227 Corduwener, Pepijn 217, 226 Criminal Police (Kripo) 85 Croatia 54, 95 Cuba 180 Cyprus 179 Czechoslovakia 169 Czech Republic 199 Dachau 65, 85, 86, 134, 146, 148, 150, 153, 154, 180, 189 Dahomey 182 Daluege, Kurt 83, 96 Daniels, Roger 188 – 189 Dannecker, Theodor 95 Darfur 99 Darré, Richard Walther 21, 22, 24 Darwinism 49, 50, 52, 54, 68, 75, 78, 81 Davies, Martin L. 209 de Certeau, Michel 198 de Cocatrix, Albert 151, 154 – 155 de Gaulle, Charles 188 De Haan, Ido 224 Deletant, Dennis 159 Dell, Robert 41 Demjanjuk, John 146 Denmark 226 Dennis, David 68 Deutsche Erd-und Steinwerke 107 De Witt, John L. 188 Dodd, William 70 Domegała, Jan 146 Dorian, Emil 162 Dresden 116 Dynamit AG 108, 113 Eatwell, Roger 217, 218, 222 Ehrenburg, Ilya 174 Ehrenreich, Eric 52 Eichmann, Adolf 64, 70, 95, 97 Eicke, Theodor 187 Einsatzgruppen 85, 96, 97, 103, 204, 205 El Alamein 204

236 Index

English Array 22 – 23 Erdogan, Recep Tayyip 222 European Union (EU) 16, 225, 227 Evans, Richard 90n30, 198 Făcăoaru, Iordache 55 Faktor, Jan 108 Falkenhausen, Alexander von 187 Fantlova, Zdenka 123, 127 Farage, Nigel 219, 220 Fichtenhain 144 Fidesz 222 Filderman, Wilhelm 170 Finchelstein, Federico 17, 94, 219, 220, 230 Finland 204 Fischer, Eugen 52, 67, 79, 81 Five Star Movement (Italy) 222, 226 Flossenbürg 83, 86 Footitt, Hilary 160 Förster, Jürgen 201, 203 France 181, 182 – 183, 188, 204, 208, 222, 223, 226 Franco, Francisco 42, 186, 187, 223 François-Poncet, H. 127 – 130, 136 Frank, Anne 137 Frankfurt am Main 79, 109, 145 Frankfurt-an-der-Oder 28 Friedländer, Saul 5, 6, 137, 184, 196 Friedman, Hildegard 109, 114 – 115 Fritzsche, Peter 66, 72, 79 Front National (France) 217, 219, 220, 222 Fuchs, Rosalia 111 Gardiner, Rolf 17 – 29 Gârneaţă, Ilie 150 – 151 Gasr Bu Hadi 187 Gaza 180 Gellately, Robert 66 George, Stefan 35 Georgescu, Corneliu 150 Gercke, Achim 64 Gerlach, Christian 5, 6 German Christians 80 German Southwest Africa 180 Gestapo 82, 95, 97, 144 Ghatma see Katma Gheorghe, Ion 154 Gheorghiu-Dej, Gheorghe 172 Gigliotti, Simone 94 Gigurtu, Ion 163 Glasenbach 147 Globocnik, Odilo 95, 96 Glyn Hughes, Hugh Llewelyn 122, 125, 127 Gobineau, Arthur de 64

Goebbels, Joseph 27, 70 Goga, Octavian 162, 163 Golden Dawn 222, 226 Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah 99, 208 Goldschmidt, Fanny 116 Gollancz, Victor 33 – 34, 40, 41, 43 Golsan, Richard J. 217 Gorbachev, Mikhail 224, 225 Götsch, Georg 17 – 29 Grant, Irene 34 – 35 Greece 204, 222, 225 – 226 Gregor, Neil 207 Greiser, Arthur 95 Griffith, Arthur 17 Gross, Raphael 50 Gross, Walter 51, 52, 64, 67, 68 – 70, 79 Grossman, Vasily 174 Gross-Rosen 10, 71 – 72, 86, 107 – 109 Groza, Dumitru 150, 152 Groza, Petru 159 Guantánamo Bay 180, 189 Guardian 207 Gulag 179, 184, 185 – 186, 187 Günther, Hans F. K. 51, 52, 67, 68 – 69, 76, 81 Gutterman, Bella 108 Gypsy Family Camp (Birkenau) 85 Hacker, Erica 116 Haffner, Sebastian 33, 41 Hájková-Duxová, Věra 113, 116 Hamburg 83 Hammen, Oscar J. 67 Hannington, Wal 42 Harms, Emmie 111, 113 Hashude 83 Hayek, Friedrich 43 Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) 127 Hegel, G. W. F. 5 Heidegger, Martin 80 Heiden, Konrad 39 Heim, Susanne 49 Herbert, Ulrich 96 Herzberg, Abel 120 Hesse, Hermann 93 Heydrich, Reinhard 53, 83 HICOG 145 Hierl, Konstantin 185 Hilberg, Raul 6 Hillman-Noy, Joli 113, 116 – 117 Himmler, Heinrich 53, 65, 71, 83, 95, 96, 137, 187 Hirt, August 65, 66 Historikerstreit 55, 203, 206, 210

Index  237

Hitler, Adolf 17, 19, 34, 40, 41, 47, 49, 55, 59, 64, 65, 69, 70, 71, 72, 95, 96, 143, 144, 153, 155, 159, 163, 165, 186, 192, 200, 202, 203; Mein Kampf 76 Hitler Youth 185 Hoecke, Björn 221 Hoess, Rudolf 70 Hofmeyr, Isabel 19 Hohne (Belsen) DP camp 126, 129 Hoppe, Paul Werner 95 Horthy, Miklós 159 Howkins, Alun 18 Hungary 107, 108, 136, 158 – 159, 167, 168, 198, 206 – 207, 208, 217, 220, 222 Hunsche, Otto 95 Hurvich, Marvin 101 Hutton, Christopher 50, 52, 78 Hyndraková, Anna 109, 112 – 113 Iaşi 150 Iasinschi, Vasile 146 – 149, 150 IG Farben 108 Imperial War Museums 160 India 102 Institut zur Erforschung der Judenfrage 79 International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) 126, 145 International Criminal Court 59 International Information Office (Dachau) 146 International Refugee Organization (IRO) 126, 145 – 146, 150, 153 International Tracing Service (ITS) 10, 107, 109 – 113, 121, 127, 133, 143 – 156 Iordachi, Constantin 143 Ireland 17 Iron Guard 11, 20, 143 – 156, 158, 165, 169 Irving, David 5 Israel 6, 160, 172 – 173, 179 Italy 17, 28, 144, 186, 204, 220, 221, 222, 226 Jamin, Jérôme 219 Japanese-Americans, internment of 179, 188 – 189 Jaspers, Karl 191 Jeckeln, Friedrich 95 Jefferies, Matthew 21 Jenkins, Keith 209 Jerrold, Douglas 17 Jewish Agency for Palestine 127 Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad (JCRA) 126 Jewish Relief Unit (JRU) 129 Jockusch, Laura 137

Johnson, Laura 160 Jones, Elwyn 65 Jones, Heather 181 Jung, Miriam 113 Kaiser, Hilmar 183 Kallis, Aristotle 221, 227 – 228, 230 Kaltwasser, Cristóbal 219 Kárný, Miroslav 104n7 Kassel 28 Katma 183 Kay, Alex J. 201 Kazakhstan 185 Kellner, Hans 2, 3 Kenya 179, 187 – 188; see also Mau Mau Kershaw, Ian 91n30 Kharkov 182 Khmer Rouge 57 Khrushchev, Nikita 159 Kierkegaard, Søren 68 King, Joseph 40 Klages, Ludwig 21, 35, 67 Klüger, Ruth 108, 113, 115, 116 Knauth, Percy 192 Koch, Erich 95 Kogon, Eugen 154 Kohl, Helmut 226 Kolb, Eberhard 133 Kolnai, Aurel 8, 33 – 43, 68, 75, 87 Konieczny, Alfred 108 Koonz, Claudia 51, 70, 71 Krakow 107 Kramer, Charles 154 Kramer, Josef 125 Krieck, Ernst 47, 67, 70, 71, 76 Kriese, Hanspeter 219 Kristallnacht 86 Krüger, Friedrich-Wilhelm 95 Krumey, Hermann 95 Kuci, Ali 146 Kühne, Thomas 72, 82, 83 Kulka, Otto Dov 40 Kushner, Tony 139 Küstermeier, Rudolf 122 Kuukkanen, Jouni-Matti 4 – 5, 7, 12, 197, 199 Labour Party (Netherlands) 221 Labour Party (UK) 34, 42, 221 LaCapra, Dominick 103 Laclau, Ernesto 219 Lagarde, Paul de 68 Langbehn, Julius 68 Langfus, Anna 93 Lasker-Wallfisch, Anita 127

238 Index

Laski, Harold 34 La Stampa 163 Lavsky, Hagit 112 Law against Dangerous Habitual Criminals (1933) 84 Le Druillenec, Harold 138 Left Book Club 33 – 34, 36, 42 Lega (Italy) 222 Lenz, Fritz 67, 70, 81 Le Pen, Marine 217, 218 – 219, 220, 222, 227, 228 Levy, Robert 172 Levy-Hass, Hanna 138 Lewis, J. T. 127 Libertatea 148, 164 Libya 187 Licht, Alice 108 – 109 Lille 220 Lindenfeld, David 50 Lithuania 9 Łódź Ghetto 10, 72, 108, 111, 136 Longerich, Peter 5, 196 Lorimer, E. O. 33, 40 Loužecká, Hana 109 Lower, Wendy 203 Luca, Vasile 167 Ludovici, Anthony Mario 23 – 24 Luther, Martin 80 Lwów (Lemberg) 107 Lymington, Viscount 21, 23, 24 Lyttleton, Oliver 187 Madrid 144, 148, 165 Magadan 185 Majdanek 86, 133, 174 Malaya 179, 187 Maly Trostinec 133 Mammone, Andrea 228 Manchester Guardian 34 Manzanar 189 Mao Zedong 82 Marin, Vasile 143 Marrus, Michael 201 Marshall Plan 173 Maschmann, Melita 48 Matless, David 29 Mau Mau 187 – 188 Mauthausen 83, 86 Mayer, Arno J. 12, 195 – 211 Megill, Allan 1, 2, 210 – 211 Mengele, Josef 52, 67 Mihai (King of Romania) 144, 146, 154, 158, 159, 164 – 166 Minidoka 189 Miranda de Ebro 187

Mittelbau-Dora 134 Modi, Narendra 222 Moldovan, Iuliu 55 Mommsen, Hans 66, 201, 207, 210 Morocco 182 Mosley, Oswald 26 Mosse, George L. 77, 218 Moţa, Ion 143 Mrugowsky, Hans 67 Mudde, Cas 219 Mueller, John 57 – 58 Muhajir Qaumi Movement 103 Mühlhahn, Klaus 178, 180 – 181, 183 Mulisch, Harry 64 Müller, Jan-Werner 219 Munich 28, 36, 150, 152 Mussolini, Benito 17, 19, 221, 223 Naimark, Norman 100 Nairobi 187 Namibia 180; see also German Southwest Africa NATO 220, 223 Netherlands 9, 95, 219, 226 Neuengamme 71, 83, 86 Neues Volk 69 Niemöller, Martin 150 Nietzsche, Friedrich 35, 68, 80, 93 Nolte, Ernst 186, 203, 210 North Korea 186 Norway 95, 208, 226 Nougayrède, Natalie 222 Nouvelle droite 223, 228 Novick, Peter 58 Nuremberg Laws 52 Nuremberg Trials 65 – 66, 147 – 148, 166 – 167 Odessa 56, 163 Ohlendorf, Otto 65, 95 Operation Anvil (Kenya) 187 Orbán, Victor 218 Order Police (Orpo) 83, 96, 97 Organisation for Rehabilitation and Training (ORT) 127, 170 Orth, Karin 96 Orwell, George 34, 37 Ottoman Empire 9, 99, 100 Ouzounian, Naomie 183 Overy, Richard 191, 208 Pakistan 102, 103 Palestine 160, 171 – 173, 179 Panizza, Francisco 219 Papanace, Constantin 143, 153 – 154

Index  239

Pares, Andrew 123, 136 Partij voor de Vrijheid (PVV) 217, 219 Partner, Nancy 2 Pătrăşcanu, Lucreţiu 169 – 170 Pauker, Ana 172 Paxton, Robert 220 Pearl Harbor 188 Petresco, Constantin 164 Petry, Frauke 220 Peukert, Detlev 49 Pfeiffer, Ehrenfried 21 Pfirter, Anny 126 Philippines 180 Pius XII 80 Płaszów 107 Plowman, Max 21 Podemos 226 Pohl, Lina 111 Poland 10, 52, 80, 85, 86, 107, 133, 136, 169, 217, 220 Pol Pot 57 Popescu, Teodosie 150 Popper, Karl 5 Portsmouth, Earl of see Lymington, Viscount Portugal 154 POW camps 181, 186 Prague coup (1948) 173 Primorac, Zdravko 103 Probst, Christopher 68 Proctor, Robert 53, 67 Puiu, Visarion 154 Putin, Vladimir 222 Rădescu, Nicolae 159 Ragnarok 95 Rancière, Jacques 2, 209 Rassemblement National 219 Rauschning, Hermann 34, 39 Rauter, Fritz 95 Ravensbrück 85, 86, 144 Reich Criminal Code 84 Reich Genealogical Office (Reichssippenamt) 85 Rhodesia 188 Ribbentrop, Joachim von 154 Richter, Gustav 95 Ricoeur, Paul 197 Riese camps 107 Ritter, Robert 85 Rodrigo, Javier 191 Roma 53, 54, 77, 79, 84 – 85, 162, 187; see also Gypsy Family Camp (Birkenau) Romania 8, 11, 20, 55 – 56, 143 – 156, 158 – 174, 208, 223; see also Iron Guard; Transnistria

România Liberă 172 Romanian Workers’ Party 159 Rome 144, 221 Roosevelt, Franklin D. 188 Roseman, Mark 50, 51 Rosen, Moses 154 Rosenberg, Alfred 64, 67, 68, 71, 76, 79 Rosenberg, Arthur 67 Rosenfeld, Isaac 190 – 191 Rosensaft, Josef 127 Rosenstock-Huessy, Eugen 21 Rostock 143, 144 Roth, Paul A. 13, 210 Röthke, Heinz 95 Rudorff, Andrea 108 Ruhleben 182 Rumänisch-Deutsche Studiengruppe 150, 152 Runia, Eelco 216 Russell of Liverpool, Lord 137 Rutherford, Jeff 201 Rutte, Mark 221 Rwanda 57, 99, 101 SA (Sturmabteilung) 8 Sachsenhausen 83, 86, 144, 187 Salvini, Matteo 228 Samara 182 Sănătescu, Constantin 159, 166 Sanderson, William 22 – 23 San Nicola 187 Schattenfroh, Franz 20 Schemann, Ludwig 76 Schindler, Oskar 107 Schleunes, Karl 207 Schmelt Organization 107, 134 Schwarze Korps 69, 84 Schwarzschild, Leopold 41 SD (Sicherheitsdienst) 71, 72 Sellon, Hugh 41 Semelin, Jacques 103 Semerádová, Vlasta 109 Serbia 54, 85, 168 Shafir, Michael 167 Sharp, Cecil 23 Sharp, Charles Phillip 125 Shephard, Ben 125 Siebel, Heinrich 109 Sievers, Wolfram 65 – 66 Silone, Ignazio 28 Sima, Horia 144, 146, 154, 165 Simon, Zoltán Boldizsár 2, 3, 4, 5, 211 Sington, Derrick 134 – 136 Six, Alfred 95 Slovakia 198

240 Index

Smultea, Ilie 152 – 153 Sobibór 86, 134 Social Democratic Party (Romania) 159 Sofsky, Wolfgang 179 Solidarity (Poland) 224 South Africa 179, 180, 188 Soviet Union 47, 52, 82, 86, 100, 144, 158, 165, 169, 173, 174, 184, 185 – 186, 190, 203, 205, 224; see also Gulag Spain 11, 42, 143, 148, 186, 187, 223, 226 Spandau 150 Spanish Civil War 143 SPD (German Social Democratic Party) 72 Spectator 207 Spengler, Oswald 21, 35 Spiegel, Gabrielle 198 Sprenger, Isabell 108 SS (Schutzstaffel) 47, 65, 66, 70, 72, 78, 80, 84, 85, 86, 95 – 97, 107, 122, 126, 133 – 134, 184, 208 Stahel, David 201 Stalin, Joseph 82, 158 – 159, 173, 185, 225 Starachowice 109 Stargardt, Nicholas 207, 213n43 Stark, Johannes 69 Stavrakakis, Yannis 225 Steinberg. Jonathan 207 Steinerová, Anna 112, 116 Steinert, Dieter 126 Steinklamm 182 sterilization law (Germany) 52, 80 Steur, Claudia 95, 96 Strachey, John 34, 42 Strasbourg 65, 66 Streicher, Julius 68 Streit, Christian 201 Stürmer, Michael 203 Sunday Times (London) 34 Suny, Ronald 183 Sweden 204 Switzerland 204, 210 Syriza 226 Taggart, Paul 219 Tal, Uriel 77 Talmon, Jacob 77 Tanforan 188 Tanganyika 187 Taylor, R. I. G. 121 – 122 Tel Aviv 187 Thalerhof 182 Theresienstadt 108 Thessaloniki 10 Thuringia 221 Thyssen, Fritz 34

Times (London) 182 Tismaneanu, Vladimir 217 Tito, Josip Broz 168 TLS (Times Literary Supplement) 34 Todt Organization 134 Togo 182 Tooze, Adam 210 Transnistria 10, 55 – 56, 85, 103, 154, 163, 168 – 169, 171 Transylvania 159, 163, 169 Treblinka 85, 86, 120, 121, 134, 136 Trifa, Viorel 154 Tripoli 187 Trotha, Lothar von 187 Truman Doctrine 173 Trump, Donald 220, 222 Tucker, Aviezer 198 – 199 Turda, Marius 56 Uganda 187 UKIP 219 Ukraine 95, 146 Ulm DP camp 117 United Nations 16 United Nations Genocide Convention (1948) 58, 99 – 100 United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) 150 – 151, 153 United Nations Refugee Convention (1951) 181 United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) 126 – 127, 129, 134, 145 – 146 United States of America 6, 58, 146, 153, 154, 222, 223, 230 Vaivara 133 Vaterstetten 150 Ventotene 187 Verkaaik, Oskar 103 Versailles 145 Verschuer, Otmar von 52, 67, 79 Vienna 34, 144, 146, 154, 165 Viereck, Peter 67 Vietnam 188 Voegelin, Eric 75 – 76 Volk im Werden 71 Völkischer Beobachter 68 – 69 Vorkuta 185 – 186 Wachsmann, Nikolaus 137, 184 Wallen, Jeffrey 109 Warburg, Gustav 40 Warsaw 107

Index  241

Warsaw Ghetto 85 Wartheland 80 Weber, Eugen 143 Wegner, Bernd 59 Weidt, Otto 108 Weikart, Richard 60 – 61n8 Weinberg, Gerhard L. 195 – 211 Weindling, Paul 66, 72, 87 Wennberg, Rebecca 95 Westermann, Edward 96 White, Hayden 3, 4, 198 Wiesel, Elie 109 Wiesenthal, Simon 154 – 155 Wilckens, Heinrich 19, 20 Wilders, Geert 217, 219, 220, 222 Willmott, H. P. 201

Wippermann, Wolfgang 77, 78 – 79, 84 Wirth, Christian 95 Wisliceny, Dieter 95 Wittgenstein, Ludwig 21 Wolf, Gerhard 80 Wrocław 107 Wu, Harry 190 Xi Jinping 222 Yahil, Leni 6, 66 Yalta 146, 225 Zander, Patrick Glenn 30n12 Zitelmann, Rainer 206 Zoepf, Wilhelm 95