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Architects of Annihilation: Auschwitz and the Logic of Destruction

Jan Paczkis|Friday, October 30, 2009

This eye-opening book, written by a German scholar, goes beyond Nazi anti-Semitism and racism as the sole explanations for German genocidal policies. The Reich had reduced humans to economic commodities.

German economists, as elaborated by Aly, had studied Poland and come to the conclusion that her inefficiencies had been caused by a combination of Polish mismanagement and Jewish economic dominance. (pp. 53-59; see also p. 230). There was "overpopulation" (p. 43, 54, etc.), defined as follows: "Consequently, they would be consuming the theoretically possible surpluses that could otherwise have been invested in increasing the national income or promoting industrialization". (p. 60)


Germany's benefit, the Germans lowered the living standards of the Poles still further through massive exploitation, and removed "surplus" workers by murder or deportation. Millions of "redundant" Polish farmers were sent to the Reich's factories for productive work. This paralleled the earlier forced collectivization and industrialization under Soviet Communism. (pp. 66-69).

In order to increase the productivity of the remaining Poles (pp. 133-134, 138-139, 160-on), Jews were removed: first sent to ghettos, then to would-be Lublin-province or Madagascar, and, failing that, to death. Germans got rich off Jewish properties by keeping the best ones and reselling inferior ones at inflated prices to Aly-described needy [not greedy] Poles. (p. 121).

The Auschwitz complex was not only a concentration camp and death factory. It was also part of the long-term German project to develop Silesia into the "second Ruhr" (p. 102), and was intended to be used for at least 10-20 years. (p. 112).

Holocaust-uniqueness proponents have long contended that, whereas all the non-Jewish genocides in history had been rational acts intended to benefit the perpetrator, the Holocaust was a deeply irrational act that only harmed Germany economically and militarily. Aly soundly debunks this myth. He writes: "To put it another way: the railroad system in the East, already overstretched by the war in the Soviet Union, was placed under increasing strain with every day that the Warsaw Ghetto remained in existence. Even under a policy of total starvation, several hundred wagon-loads of goods had to be shipped in every day to keep the ghetto supplied, whereas the carriage costs involved in transporting those people to their death were much lower--and they were incurred only once." (p. 184). Nor did the extermination of the Jews create a labor shortage and hinder wartime production. Just the opposite: It was part of the 1942-1943 productivity-enhancing elimination/consolidation of 144,100 businesses in just the GG. (pp. 210-213). [Of course, some Jewish laborers, deemed productive throughout, were kept alive, and survived the war.]

To increase productivity further, Germans replaced locals entirely, at ratios of 1:2 to as much as 1:10 (p. 269), in such places as western Poland, the Zamosc area (pp. 275-279), and parts of Russia. This was only the beginning of the planned systematic Germanization of Slavic lands.

German planners spoke of at least 30-50 million "surplus" Slavs. (p. 159). Those who emphasize Poles and Jews as unequal victims like to cite Erhard Wetzel, who had said that obviously Poles couldn't meet the same fate as the Jews. What is left out is Wetzel's next statement: the fact that extermination of the Poles would cause intolerable world-opinion problems for Germany. (pp. 269-270). Friedrich Gollert came to an identical conclusion. (p. 272). Clearly, the different treatment of Jews and Poles owed to tactical reasons, not to Poles having some inherent right to exist.

However, plans did exist for the extermination of the Poles (e. g., pp. 128-129, 353) and other Slavs. (p. 185, 237). In addition, mass-sterilization methods were being developed--ones that could be done efficiently and preferably with the ignorance of the victims. (p. 265, 268-269, 281, 353).

Fortunately, Germany was defeated. Ironically, the Reich's economic advisor, Helmut Meinhold, entertained the notion of the desirability of immediate-postwar widespread German population starvation, all because: "Meinhold now saw in Germany the economic chaos he had previously seen in Poland: severe overpopulation due to the influx of refugees, destruction of production facilities and lack of capital. In his terms, the erosion of manpower due to the war had not kept pace with the erosion of capital, at least not as far as the Germans were concerned. Consequently there were too many people living in Germany in 1945 for their combined labour resources to be exploited to the full with the capital that remained." (p. 183).
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