1942: When a “Total Solution” to the Jewish Problem Was Being Planned
Martin Luther’s memorandum of 21 August 1942
by Hadding Scott
GERMANY’S UNDERSECRETARY of State Martin Luther was in charge of Section D III, which dealt with foreign states in regard to the Jewish question and racial policy, and provided information about events in Germany to representatives of foreign governments.
In a memorandum that later became Nuremberg document NG-2586-J, Luther gives a report on what had been accomplished diplomatically as of August 1942 in terms of the “total solution” of the Jewish problem. It was Luther’s job to persuade governments to cooperate in this project. At the time, the project was encountering less than complete cooperation from Hungary and Italy, some resistance due to the influence of Jewish money, and some interference from Catholic clergy in Slovakia. In Italy’s case, perhaps despairing at the lack of cooperation, Luther suggests the compromise of asking Italy to keep its Jewish citizens within its own borders. The memorandum concludes with a request for permission to continue negotiations.
The “total solution” of the Jewish Problem in this document means getting the Jews out of the heart of Europe, and eventually out of Europe altogether. This is consistent with statements attributed to Hitler in the Tischgespräche.
Luther narrates how the policy changed in response to circumstances, but at its core remained essentially the same. At first, it was a matter of encouraging Jews to leave Germany:
The principle of the German Jewish policy after the seizure of power consisted in promoting with all means the Jewish emigration. For this purpose in 1939 Marshal General Goering in his capacity as Commissioner for the Four Year Plan established a Reich Control Office for the Jewish emigration and the direction was given to Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich in his capacity as Chief of the Security Police.
In June 1940 when Germany suddenly achieved continental hegemony, the continent as a whole became Germany’s concern. Instead of Jewish emigration from Germany, Jewish emigration from Europe was now sought:
The fact that the Fuehrer intends to evacuate all Jews from Europe was communicated to us as early as August 1940 by Ambassador Abetz after an interview with the Fuehrer…. Hence the basic instruction of the Reich Foreign Minister to promote the evacuation of the Jews in closest cooperation with the agencies of the Reichsfuehrer-SS, is still in force and will therefore be observed by D III.
It was always a matter of “evacuation.” The only thing that changed was the destination. In 1940, Madagascar seemed an opportune location for a Jewish homeland, because it was among the prospective sites mentioned by the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, and it just happened to belong to France. Since France was under Germany’s thumb at this point, it was a fait accompli, if only Britain, which controlled the sea between Europe and Madagascar, could be persuaded to make peace.
In a letter of 24 June 1941, two days after the commencement of Operation Barbarossa, Heydrich informs the Reich Foreign Ministry that a “territorial final solution” has superseded the Madagascar Plan. If Barbarossa had succeeded, as seemed unquestionable in the first weeks, it would have placed large expanses of sparsely populated land at Germany’s disposal. On 31 July 1941 (a time when Germany’s forces were advancing rapidly into Russia) Goering tells Heydrich to make preparations for the deportation of the Jews in that direction. Thereafter Heydrich arranges the Wannsee Conference (20 January 1942) for the coordination of all agencies involved in the project.
In the conference Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich explained that Reichsmarschall Goering’s assignment to him had been made on the Fuehrer’s instructions and that the Fuehrer instead of emigration has now authorized the evacuation of the Jews to the East as the solution….
The Wannsee Conference was called because there was now the imminent expectation of a simpler alternative to the Madagascar Plan for separating Jews from European society. Luther gives more detail about the new plan in the penultimate paragraph:
The deportation to the Government General is a provisionary measure. The Jews will be moved on further to the occupied Eastern territories as soon as the technical conditions for it are given.
Although Luther eight months earlier had attended the Wannsee Conference, where, it has been alleged, the destruction of all European Jews was planned, killing is neither mentioned nor implied anywhere in this document.
The so-called Wannsee Protocol, a very questionable document for reasons detailed by Professor Robert Faurisson1, also does not mention any active measures to be taken to kill Jews, but it contains some sinister passages. This document, the Luther Memorandum, has the very great merit that there is no obvious reason to doubt its authenticity.
The only important source of confusion that I find in this document — one that certainly could be exploited by Holocaustians — is the fact that “emigration” (Auswanderung) is used with several different meanings. Initially it means emigration from Germany to any other country; then, after the fall of France, it means emigration from Europe to Madagascar. At this point “emigration” becomes shorthand for emigration to Madagascar. (It seems likely that the connotation of Auswanderung was influenced by the history of German emigration in the preceding century, which generally involved boarding a ship and crossing an ocean.) Deportation of the Jews to the East therefore is not called emigration. In a sense it really is not emigration if the Jews are relocated within Europe or within the German sphere of influence, which the General Government (the provisional holding area for Jewish deportees, pending resettlement farther east) certainly was. How far east the Jews would be sent after that (i.e. whether they would leave Europe instead of being confined to the fringe of Europe under the “territorial solution”) is not specified in this 1942 memorandum, perhaps because it was unknown at the time what the options would be.
The Luther Memorandum, although it is occasionally named by Holocaustian sophomores as documentation of their faith, neither says nor implies anything about killing anybody: rather the opposite. Read it for yourself!
Introductory essay by Hadding Scott, 2009.
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If you don’t mind straining your eyes you can read the U.S. Government’s own photostats of its official translation online, courtesy of the Truman Library. For your convenience however, I have transcribed the text below, with footnotes added.
TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENT No. NG-2586-(J)
OFFICE OF CHIEF OD COUNSEL FOR WAR CRIMES
Berlin M E M O R A N D U M 21 August 1942
Reference: #954 of 19 August
1.) The principle of the German Jewish policy after the seizure of power consisted in promoting with all means the Jewish emigration. For this purpose in 1939 Marshal General Goering in his capacity as Commissioner for the Four Year Plan established a Reich Control Office for the Jewish emigration and the direction was given to Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich in his capacity as Chief of the Security Police. The Foreign Office is represented in the committee of the Reich Central Office, the draft of a letter to this effect to the Chief of the Security Police was approved by the Reich Foreign Minister as 83/24B in February, 1939.
2.) The present war gives Germany the opportunity and also the duty of solving the Jewish problem in Europe. In consideration of the favorable course of the war against France, D III proposed in July, 1940, as a solution: the removal of all Jews from Europe and the demanding of the Island of Madagascar from France as a territory for the reception of the Jews. The Reich Foreign Minister has basically agreed to the beginning of the preliminary work for the deportation of the Jews from Europe. This should be done in close cooperation with the offices of the Reichsfuehrer-SS (Compare D III 200/40).
The Madagascar Plan was enthusiastically accepted by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reichs Security Office) which in the opinion of the Foreign Office is the agency which alone is in the position technically and by experience to carry on a Jewish evacuation on a large scale and to guarantee the supervision of the people evacuated. The competent agency of the Reichsicherheitshauptamtes (Reich Security Office) thereupon worked out a plan going into detail for the evacuation of the Jews to Madagascar and for their resettlement there. This plan was approved by the Reichsfuehrer-SS. Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich submitted this plan directly to the Reich Foreign Minister in August 1940 (compare D III 2171). The Madagascar Plan in fact has been outdated as the result of the political development. [This comment is a non sequitur. It does not fit the flow of the composition and it was clearly added later, although when and by whom is not apparent.]
The fact that the Fuehrer intends to evacuate all Jews from Europe was communicated to us as early as August 1940 by Ambassador Abetz after an interview with the Fuehrer (compare D III 2298)
Hence the basic instruction of the Reich Foreign Minister to promote the evacuation of the Jews in closest cooperation with the agencies of the Reichsfuehrer-SS, is still in force and will therefore be observed by D III.
3.) The administration of the occupied territories brought with it the problem of the treatment of Jews living in these territories. First, the military commander in France saw that he ought to issue on 27 September 1940 a decree on the treatment of the Jews in occupied France. The decree was issued with the agreement of the German Embassy in Paris. The pertinent instruction was issued directly by the Reich Foreign Minister to Ambassador Abetz on the occasion of a verbal report. After the pattern of the Paris decree like decrees have been issued in the Netherlands and Belgium. As these decrees, in the same way as German laws concerning citizenship, formally embraced all Jews independent of their citizenship, objections were made by foreign powers, among others protest notes by the Embassy of the United States of America, although the military commander in France through internal regulation had ordered that the Jewish measures should not be applied to the citizens of neutral countries.
The Reich Foreign Minister has decided in the case of the American protests that he does not consider it right to have military regulations issued for making exception of the American Jews. It would be a mistake to reject objections of friendly states (Spain, Bulgary), on the other hand to show weakness towards the Americans. The Reich Foreign Minister considers it necessary to make those instructions to the field commandants retroactive (compare D III 5449).
In accordance with this direction the Jewish measures have been given general application.
4.) In his letter of 24 June 19402 — Pol. XII 138 — Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich informed the Reich Foreign Minister that the whole problem of the approximately 3¼ million Jews in the areas under German control3 can no longer be solved by emigration; a territorial final solution would be necessary. [The word translated as “emigration” here is crucial. Evidently, “emigration” means emigration from Europe, whereas “territorial final solution” means creation of a Jewish homeland in Europe.]
In recognition of this Reichsmarschall Goering on 31 July 1941 commissioned Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich to make, in conjunction with the proper German agencies, all necessary preparations for a total solution of the Jewish problem in the German sphere of influence in Europe. (Compare D III 709 Secret). On the basis of this instruction Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich arranged a session of all the interested German agencies for 20 January 1942 [the Wannsee Conference], at which the State Secretaries were present from the other ministries and I myself from the Foreign Office. In the conference Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich explained that Reichsmarschall Goering’s assignment to him had been made on the Fuehrer’s instructions and that the Fuehrer instead of emigration has now authorized the evacuation of the Jews to the East as the solution (compare page 5 of the attachment to D III 29/42 Secret). State Secretary Weizsaecker has been informed on the conference; for the time being the Reich Foreign Minister had not been informed on the conference, whereas Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich approved holding a new conference in the near future in which many details of the total solution should be discussed. This conference has never taken place due to Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich’s appointment as acting Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia and due to his death.
In the conference on 20 January 1942 I demanded that all questions concerned with countries outside Germany must first have the agreement of the Foreign Office, a demand to which Gruppenfuehrer Heydrich agreed and also has faithfully complied with, for the office of the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Office) handling Jewish matters has from the beginning carried out all measures in a frictionless cooperation with the Foreign Office. The Reichssicherheitshauptamt has in this matter proceeded indeed almost over-cautiously.
5.) On the basis of the Fuehrer instruction mentioned under 4.), the evacuation of the Jews from Germany was begun. It was urged that at the same time these Jews should also be taken who were nationals of the countries which had also undertaken Jewish measures. The Reichssicherheitshauptamt accordingly made an inquiry of the Foreign Office. For reasons of courtesy inquiry was made by way of the German legations in Pressburg4, Zagreb, and Bucharest to the governments there as to whether they wanted to recall their Jews from Germany in due time or to agree to their deportation to the ghettos in the East. To the issuance of this instruction agreement was given before dispatch by the State Secretary, the Under State Secretary in charge of the Political Division, the Director of the Division for Economic Policy and the Director of the Legal Division (Compare D III 336 Secret).
The German Legation in Bucharest reports with reference to D III 602 Secret, that the Rumanian government would leave it to the Reich government to deport their Jews along with the German Jews to the ghettos in the East. They are not interested in having the Rumanian Jews return to Rumania.
The Legation in Zagreb has informed us that the Croat government expresses gratitude for the gesture of the German government; but it would appreciate the deportation of its Jews to the East (Compare D III 624 Secret).
The Legation in Pressburg reported with reference to D III 561 Secret that the Slovak government is fundamentally in agreement with the deportation to the Eastern ghettos. But the Slovak claims to the property of these Jews should not be endangered.
The wire reports have also been submitted, as customary, to the Reich Foreign Minister’s Bureau.
On the basis of the reports of the Ministers I have informed the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Office) with reference to D III 661 Secret that the Jews of Rumanian, Croat and Slovak nationality could also be deported; their fortune should be blocked. The Director of the Political Division, Section IV of the Political Division, Section IX of the Legal Division and Section IV of the Division for the Economic Policy have co-signed the dispatcher. Accordingly, the deportations of the Jews from the occupied territories was undertaken.
6.) The number of the Jews deported in this way to the East did not suffice to cover the labor needs there.5 The Reichssicherheitshauptamt therefore, acting on the instruction of the Reichsfuehrer-SS, approached the Foreign Office to ask the Slovak Government to make 20,000 young, strong Slovak Jews from Slovakia available for deportation to the East. The German Legation in Pressburg was provided by D III 874, with proper instruction. The instruction was signed by the State Secretary, the Under State Secretary in charge of the Political Division, and Section IV of the Political Division.
The Legation in Pressburg reported ad D III 1002 that the Slovak Government has taken up the suggestion eagerly; the preparatory work could be begun. Following up this pleased concurrence of the Slovak Government, the Reichsfuehrer-SS proposed that the rest of the Slovak Jews also be deported to the East and Slovakia thereby be made free of Jews. The Legation was, ad [D III 1559 Ang. II], provided with proper instruction. The draft of the instruction was signed by the State Secretary; after its dispatch it was submitted for their information to the bureau of the Reich Foreign Minister and the Under State Secretary in charge of the Political Division.
As the Slovak Episcopacy meanwhile raised objections to the deportation of the Jews before the Slovak Government, the instruction carries the express statement that in no case must there develop internal political difficulties on account of the evacuation of the Jews in Slovakia. By the telegraphic report, ad D III 2006, the Legation reported that the Slovak Government, without any German pressure, has declared itself agreeable to the deportation of all Jews and that the State President agreed personally to the deportation. The telegraphic report was submitted to the Bureau of the Reich Foreign Minister. The Slovak Government has furthermore agreed that it will pay as a contribution to the costs entailed RM 500.– for every evacuated Jew.
In the meantime 52,000 Jews have been removed from Slovakia. Due to church influences and the corruption of individual officials, 35,000 Jews have received a special legitimation. However, Minister President Tuka wants to Jewish removal continued and therefore has asked for support through diplomatic pressure by the Reich (Compare D III 3865). The Ambassador is authorized to give this diplomatic help in that he may state to State President Dr. Tiso that the exclusion of the 35,000 Jews is a surprise in Germany, the more so since the cooperation of Slovakia up to now in the Jewish problem has been highly appreciated here. This instruction has been co-signed by the Under-State Secretary in charge of the Political Division, and the State Secretary.
7.) The Croat Government is likewise fundamentally agreeable to the removal of the Jews from Croatia. It especially considers the deportation of the 4 to 5,000 Jews from the Italian-occupied Second Zone (centered around Dubrovnik and Mostar) to be important, as they represent a political burden and their elimination would serve the general pacification. The removal can of course take place only with German aid, as difficulties are to be expected from the Italian side. There have been practical examples of resistance against the Croat measures by Italian officials on behalf of well-to-do Jews. Furthermore, the Italian Chief of Staff in Mostar has stated that he cannot approve the removal since all the people living in Mostar have been assured of the same treatment. Since meanwhile according to a telephone communication from Zagreb, the Croat Government has given its written approval of the proposed measure, Minister Kasche thinks it right to begin with the removal, and in fact to begin for the whole country. One could therefore take the risk of having difficulties develop in the course of the action, so far as concerns the zone occupied by Italians.
A report for the Reich Foreign Minister to this effect (D III 562 Secret) has been held up by State Secretary von Weizsaecker since he considered an inquiry should first be made at the embassy in Rome. The answer has not been received.
The problem of Italian Jews has come up in the same way in connection with the evacuation of the Jews in France.
Ambassador Abetz points out in connection with the deportation in preparation from the occupied French territory that there was an urgent political interest to take the foreign Jews first in the evacuation measures. Since these Jews were regarded as foreign bodies they were already especially hated and passing them over and giving them thereby a quasi privileging would cause bad feeling, the more so since among them were to be found responsible instigators of terror and sabotage acts. It was regrettable that exactly the Axis appeared in this point to pursue no uniform policy.
If the evacuation of the foreign Jews were not immediately possible, the Italian Government should be for the time being asked to repatriate their Jews from France.
On the Italian side economic interests appear to play a decisive role. The safe-guarding of these interests however is entirely possible, so that on this point there needs to be no obstacle to the planned solution.
On this question of the Italian Jews in France a conference record of 24 July, ad D III 562 Secret, has been submitted to the Reich Foreign Minister.
8. On the occasion of a reception by the Reich Foreign Minister on 23 November 1941 the Bulgarian Foreign Minister Popoff touched on the problem of according like treatment to the Jews of European nationalities and pointed out the difficulties that the Bulgarians had in the application of their Jewish laws to Jews of foreign nationality.
The Reich Foreign Minister answered that he thought this question brought up by Herr Popoff not uninteresting. Even now he could say one thing to him, that at the end of this war all Jews would have to leave Europe. This was an unalterable decision of the Fuehrer and also the only way to master this problem, as only a global and comprehensive solution could be applied and individual measures would not help very much. Furthermore, one should not attribute too much worth to the protests on behalf of the Jews of foreign nationality. At any rate, we would not let ourselves be taken in any further by such protests from the American side. He — the Reich Foreign Minister — would have the problem described by Herr Popoff investigated by the Foreign Office.
The Reich Foreign Minister commissioned me to undertake the investigation promised (Compare D III [660g] Secret).
I should like to make reference to my basic conference memorandum of 4 December 1941, ad D III 680 Secret, which I am dispatching, together with the proper files. This conference memorandum was held up by the State Secretary, because he considered a further examination by the Legal Division first necessary. In their opinion the German-Bulgarian trade and shipping pact was not in agreement with the German-Bulgarian arrangements proposed by me. I therefore notified the German Legation in Sofia, ad D III 497 Secret, under date of 19 June, in reference to the suggestion of the Bulgarian Foreign Minister Popoff at his reception to contact the Bulgarian Government and find out whether it was prepared to come to an agreement in the Jewish problem that there should be no rights from the trade and shipping not given effect in favor of the Jews in the promise of reciprocality.
If the question is put from the Bulgarian side as to whether Germany is ready to deport Jews from Bulgaria to the East, the question should be answered in the affirmative, but in respect to the time of the deporting should be answered evasively. This decree was co-signed by the State Secretary, the Under-State Secretary, the Director of the Political Division, the Director of the Division for Economic Policy, Section IV of the Political Division, Section IV of the Division for Economic Policy, and also by R. (Tr. Note: Ribbentrop). The Legation exchanged notes with the Bulgarian Government and reported that the Bulgarian Government is fundamentally prepared tin the problem of the evacuation to sign an agreement with us. Thereby the basis is given to include the Bulgarian Jews in the Jewish measures. (D III 559 Secret and 569 Secret).
9.) The Hungarian Government has not yet been approached on account of the Jewish removal, because the status of the Hungarian legislation up to the present does not promise a sufficient success.
10.) In accordance with the agreement of the Rumanian Government mentioned under 8.) the evacuation of the Rumanian Jews from Germany and the occupied territories was begun, whereupon various Rumanian consulates and the Rumanian Minister in Berlin, who had no instructions from their Government, intervened. Ambassador von Billinger was therefore asked for clarification. The Legation seems to have made use of the Jewish adviser assigned to it, Richter, for this purpose. He is a person to whom the Rumanian Government confirmed its earlier agreement to the inclusion of the Rumanian Jews in the German measures and to whom the Deputy Ministry President Mihai Antonescu informed of the request of the Marshal that the German agencies should also carry out the removal from Rumania itself and should be then immediately with the transport of the Jews from the areas Arad, Timisoara and Turda.
For details may I refer to my conference memorandum of 17 August ad D III 649.
11.) At the request of the governments concerned, the legations in Bratislava, Zagreb and Bucharest have been assigned advisors for Jewish affairs. They have been made available at the request of the Foreign Office by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Office). Their assignment is for a limited time. It ends as soon as the Jewish problem in the country concerned can be retarded as solved in the German sense. Originally it was regarded as solved as soon as the country concerned has issued Jewish laws similar to the German ones.
Accordingly Richter was recalled from Rumania last year by the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Office).
At the urgent request of the legation in Bucharest, Richter was again assigned to the legation despite the objection of the RSHA. This was done with the express intention of having him remain there until the actual final solution in Rumania (D II 1703 Secret and 1893 Secret).
Since all negotiations with the Rumanian Government went through the Foreign Office, the report of Obersturmfuehrer Richter submitted by the Reichsfuehrer-SS should be considered only as an internal work report to the RSHA (Reich Main Security Office). The unusual procedure of having the confirmation of a final conference in the [handwriting] of the Deputy Minister President was sharply [objected to] immediately through the directive of the 17th of this month; the official handling of the affair must be carried out immediately. The files have been submitted there already under D III 659 Secret.
The projected deportations are a further stop forward on the way of the total solution and are in respect to other countries (Hungary) very important. The deportation to the Government General6 is a provisionary measure. The Jews will be moved on further to the occupied Eastern territories as soon as the technical conditions for it are given.
I therefore request approval for the continuation of the negotiations and measures under those terms and according to the arrangement made.
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1. “I observe that, for some time, it has been realised that these strange minutes (for the word “Protocol” is a misnomer) are full of oddities and that they lack any guarantee of genuineness. They were typed on ordinary paper, with no indication of place or date of issue, no indication of point of origin, no official letterhead, no reference, no signature.” From Faurisson’s letter to Le Monde dated 26 February 1979.
2. According to Professor Arthur Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, “In section 4 the date of June 24, 1940, for document Pol XII 136 appears, from the context, to be in error; it should be 1941.” In the context of Luther’s memorandum “emigration” (to Madagascar) and “territorial solution” are presented as antitheses. In section 2 of Luther’s memorandum we read that Heydrich submitted the Madagascar Plan “directly to the Reich Foreign Minister in August 1940….” If the date “June 24, 1940” is accepted, it produces the unlikely result that Heydrich submitted the Madagascar Plan after he had proposed that a “territorial solution” would be better. To have Heydrich propose the “territorial solution” immediately after the commencement of Barbarossa, when the prospective of an alternative to Madagascar had just become apparent, makes much more sense.
3. The total number of Jews that ever came within Germany’s sphere of influence is a hotly debated point. Heydrich’s estimate of 3¼ million Jews within German control came just two days after the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. The claim that the number of Jews under German control ever exceeded 6 million (and the number of Jews under German control would have to be greatly in excess of 6 million to account for the very large number of “Holocaust survivors”) depends on the big, fat assumption that Jews in eastern Poland and the USSR remained stationary as German forces advanced. Walter Sanning, in The Dissolution of Eastern European Jewry, provides evidence that many of them did not.
4. Pressburg is the German name for Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. Many European cities where German minorities live have alternate, German names.
5. There was a great shortage of manpower in the Third Reich during the war.
6. The Government General was an area in the south of Poland that was conquered by Germany but never annexed. It was inhabited mainly by Poles and Jews. Regions like southern Poland, and Bohemia and Moravia, that were of strategic importance for Germany’s territorial defense but contained no large German population, were made into “protectorates” instead of being annexed to Großdeutschland. The term “protectorate” is a little ironic, since Germany was really protecting herself by occupying those regions.
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Source: National-Socialist Worldview