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The ‘Final Solution’ approaches

Nazi poster for the week beginning 7th September 1941

The Nazi party published a weekly series of political statements – usually quotations from Hitler – as posters in elaborate calligraphy. They were displayed in Party offices, community halls and other public places. For this week the statement was :

If the International Jewish Financiers again succeed in plunging the nations into a world war, the result will not be Jewish victory but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.

This was from a speech made by Hitler in January 1939 in which he made his most explicit public statement threatening the Jewish population in Europe. An intensification of anti-semitic measures adopted by the regime dates from the period August-September 1941. The poster reflected a significant hardening in the attitude of the regime.

Some have argued that Hitler was incensed by the Atlantic Charter – in his eyes this was confirmation that there was an ‘international Jewish conspiracy’ against him. There is little evidence that this led directly to even more violent measures – but then Hitler only recorded as speaking in generalities about the ‘final solution’ and apparently just encouraged his subordinates, especially Himmler, to organise active measures. But from the diary entries of those around it is evident that the ‘Jewish question’ was on his mind more than usual during this period.

In the East around 50,000 Jews had been shot by the end of August, ten times that number would be shot by the end of the year. This was not necessarily a direct change of policy – more an evolution of procedures as the Einsatzgruppen became accustomed to to their task and more proficient at it. Elsewhere the Nazi’s were now actively experimenting with more ‘efficient’ methods of killing. The first ‘experiments’ – on Russian prisoners of war – with the use of Zyklon B took place in the first week of September 1941 in Auschwitz.

See Ian Kershaw: Hitler.

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