Internal Assessments Relating to the Nazis

“Could the allies have been able to bomb Auschwitz?”

Plan of Investigation

“Could the allies have been able to bomb Auschwitz?” To begin, an analysis will be made on John J. McCloy’s argument, leading to the decline of a bombing proposal offered by the Jewish Agency on July 6th 1944. Later we will configure Wyman’s summarized “four possible solutions” to attack the Auschwitz concentration camp. By contrasting these two authorities we can analyze the chances of the allies realistically and effectively being able to bomb Auschwitz to a point of its incapability to continue its murderous actions. This investigation will look into the action and orders of the two main allied powers, Britain and America, and analyze this information to see if it was logical military protocol or a hierarchy miscommunication or even mistreatment. 

More broadly, consideration of the stances presented by several different authorities on this topic will be made, particularly those of John J. McCloy, the Assistant Secretary of War between 1941-1945 who made major decisions concerning the bombing of Auschwitz, and David A. Wyman, a Jewish historian and the Chairman for the Institute for Holocaust Studies.  Furthermore, the CIA photo-analysts Dino Brugioni who served for the CIA in the 1970’s and WW2 historian and official Churchill biographer, Martin Gilbert, will both reinforce each of the stances towards this question.

Word count: 213

Summary of evidence:

Auschwitz, located 160 miles southwest of Warsaw, initially created as a Polish army barracks, was captured after the defeat of Poland in 1940. In July 1941 Heinrich Himmler toured the areas of Poland to search for potential places to conduct “The Final Solution”. [1]  In September 1941 the camp was converted into a multi-use work, concentration and extermination camp divide into three sections: Auschwitz I (original concentration camp), Auschwitz II (concentration/extermination) and Auschwitz III-Monowitz (a labour camp to staff the IG Farben chemical factory).  Through 1941-1945 at least 90% of prisoners in the camp were Jewish and 1 in 6 Jews who died in the Holocaust died at the camp, amounting up to one million Jews. Out of the 7000 SS camp guards in Auschwitz, 15 were put on trial and six condemned. [2]     

The initial in-depth information to the Western Allies on the existence of Auschwitz was the “Pilecki's Report”. Polish Army Captain Witold Pilecki spent a total of 945 days at the concentration camp, escaped and forwarded via the Polish resistance to the British government in London a report of conditions and events occurring at the camp.[3]  On March 1941, ‘The mass extermination of the Jews in German occupied Poland’ was published; details from the report were even published by “The New York Times”. The first report of gas chambers to the worldwide press being used was also described. [4]  An Allied reconnaissance aircraft first overflew Auschwitz on April 4, 1944, in a mission to photograph the synthetic oil plant at Monowitz forced labor camp (Auschwitz III).[5]  

The main Auschwitz complex was photographed accidentally several times during missions aimed at nearby military targets.[6] However, the photo-analysts knew nothing of Auschwitz and the political and military hierarchy didn't know that photos of Auschwitz existed.[7] For this reason, the photos played no part in the decision whether or not to bomb Auschwitz.[8]  On 26 June 1944 71 B17 heavy bombers on another bomb run had flown above or close to three railway lines to Auschwitz.[9]  July 7, the U.S. War Department refused requests from Jewish leaders to bomb the railway lines leading to the camps, a fleet of 452 Fifteenth Air Force bombers flew over the five deportation railway lines on their way to bomb the Blechhammer oil refineries nearby. 

 Buna-Werke, the I.G. Farben industrial complex located adjacent to the Monowitz forced labour camp (Auschwitz III) located 5 kilometres from the Auschwitz I camp was bombed four times, starting at 20 August 1944 until 26 December 1944.[10] On December 26, 1944, the U.S. 455th Bomb Group bombed Monowitz and targets near Birkenau (Auschwitz II). During the attack a SS military hospital was hit and a total of five SS personnel were killed.[11]  

On 11 June 1944, believing that Auschwitz was a labour camp, the Executive of the Jewish Agency along with David Ben Gurion, unanimously opposed the bombing of Auschwitz. Israeli President David Ben Gurion summed up the results of the discussion: "The view of the board is that we should not ask the Allies to bomb places where there are Jews"-. This proposal was reversed after the Jewish Agencies revealed that Auschwitz was indeed a death camp and a bombing proposal was made to FDR.[12]  

On August 24, 1944, U.S. Army Air Forces carried out a bombing operation against a factory next to Buchenwald concentration camp located near Weimar Germany. Despite perfect weather, 315 prisoners were killed, 525 seriously harmed, and 900 lightly wounded.[13]

Word count: 573

Evaluation of sources:

Bird, Kai The Chairman: John J. McCloy, the Making of the American Establishment’, Simon and Shuster 1992

 Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Bird wrote the first official biography relating to McCloy’s legislative engagements while in office during WWII. Bird recounts his role in the Auschwitz bombing debate while serving as Assistant Secretary of War when he made many major decisions regarding civil issues occurring during the war. The ‘Executive Intelligence Review’ has described Kai’s account as “even handed” [14] but as a biography written in 1992 can be seen as having a “20/20”[15] hindsight that uses our morality and values of today while referring back to accounts enacted in the heat of war. Bird occasionally suggests the anti-Semitism and racism of McCloy when quoting McCloy’s colleague and Interior Secretary Harold Ickes, describing him as "more or less inclined to be a fascist."[16] His role in enacting internment camps for U.S. Japanese citizens is a well-known example of one of his enacted policies during the war and adds to McCloy’s suggested racism.  McCloy is a useful source for us to analyse in order to understand the general consensus in terms of the handling of civil matters in wartime Europe. With many of the requests to liberate Auschwitz often times being sent directly or forwarded to him by the Jewish Agency or by Anthony Eden, Minster of British Foreign Affairs.[17]

Wyman, David S.: 

Why Auschwitz was Never Bombed. Commentary Journal. 2.14 1978 Print.

The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941-1945. New York: Pantheon, 1984. Print.

David S. Wyman is the author of several books on the Holocaust and won the National Jewish book Award for his extensive in-depth look into the subject.  In 1978 David Wyman published an article “Why Auschwitz was never bombed”[18] and later in 1984 continued his thesis in his book “The Abandonment of the Jews-1941-1945” in which Wyman offers four different bombing strategies in order to liberate the camp. This thesis supports his main argument in which Wyman suggests that bombing Auschwitz was a possibility and that the decision to not bomb Auschwitz was a mistake. With this in mind Wyman is criticized for his inserted personal moral views in his book, with Peter Novic, author of “The Holocaust in American life”, calling his proposition “a comfortable morality tale”[19] is to be taken into account in which we need to understand that Wyman has no military experience or extensive knowledge into military tactics. Furthermore, being Director of the Jewish institute for Holocaust studies, Wyman can somewhat involve the aspect of morality in his position leading to bias on his part. With this in mind we need to refer to our original question of the feasibility of bombing Auschwitz and this is why Wyman’s argument is valuable for our analysis.

Word count: 358


Wyman argues four clear scenarios supporting the targeting of the Birkenau crematoria or the rail lines leading to them concerning the diversion of U.S. B-17 and B-24 heavy bombers from IG Farben to the crematoria ; the employment of two-engine B-25 medium bombers, which would presumably bomb more accurately from a lower altitude; a dive-bombing raid by two-engine P-38 fighters, such as the U.S. Army Air Forces carried out on the Romanian oil complex of Ploesti on June 10, 1944; and a special mission by Royal Air Force Mosquito two-engine bombers, like the ones executed against Gestapo prisons and headquarters in Western Europe.[20] In 1979, CIA photo-analysts Dino Brugioni and Robert Poirier reinforced Wyman's arguments by presenting to the public dramatic aerial reconnaissance photos of Auschwitz taken by Allied aircraft in 1944 and early 1945, showing prisoners being marched to the gas chambers, albeit through the use of magnification unavailable to Allied photo-interpreters 35 years earlier. [21]Allied intelligence had photos of the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex, but ignored them because no priority was placed on a bombing mission, and because camps were viewed only as places to avoid in an attack.[22] On 29th June 1944, the 32-page Vrba-Wetzler Report was sent to John McCloy. Attached to he report was a note requesting the bombing of vital sections of the rail lines that transported the Jews to Auschwitz. McCloy investigated the request and then told his personal aide, Colonel Al Gerhardt, to "kill"[23] the matter.  While receiving several requests to take military action against the death camps, including Auschwitz, McCloy was documented to send the following letter: "The War Department is of the opinion that the suggested air operation is impracticable. It could be executed only by the diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations and would in any case be of such very doubtful efficacy that it would not amount to a practical project." Furthermore the British PM Winston Churchill reinforced this argument of the diversion of resources for the bombing. Martin Gilbert, Churchill’s personal biographer, writes of how the British coincided with the attitude of McCloy and that the redirection of resources from synthetic oil bombings would slow down the war effort.  Wymann ignores the fact that bombing alone would have achieved little. As Gilbert states, any bombing would, far from save lives, in fact result in more unnecessary loss of life.  To produce any significant benefit Gilbert, who like Wymann is not specifically a military historian, argues that any air attack would have to be followed by a ground invasion to liberate the concentration camps including Auschwitz.[24] This is the argument led by Israeli political leaders in 1944, like David Ben Gurion asking “not to bomb places where there are Jews.”[25]   Further more, as explained in the summary of evidence, only squads of heavy bombers like the U.S. Fifteenth Air force division was capable of reaching such a distance and at such a height that would protect them from flak and anti aircraft guns.[26] Gilbert’s analysis of these possibilities go hand in hand with McCloy’s, referencing again how the U.S. army was concentrating their efforts to destroying the synthetic oil plants and diversion of resources would also slow down the liberation proses. [27]
Word count: 543


Debate continues over the realistic and plausible option of bombing Auschwitz. Varied amounts of arguments can be used to debate the usefulness and benefit that bombing would achieve and if unnecessary casualties and operational failures would result. McCloy’s and Gilbert’s argument both conclude that bombing Auschwitz was an unrealistic logistical operation, which would not have been an option since Auschwitz was located deep in German annexed territory. Taking this into account, a concentrated ground invasion which would liberate the camp and which would avoid more unnecessary loss of life would have been a rational and realistic course of action in order to safely rescue and provide shelter to all the prisoners. Therefore, the argument that Wymann offers that which gives examples of bombings near and on Auschwitz, which would involve allied resources, cannot be taken into account for the reason of limited knowledge of the exact location of Auschwitz, major loss of life caused by heavy bombers and legislative obstacles.

Word Count: 161

List of sources:

Bird, Kai ‘The Chairman: John J. McCloy, the Making of the American Establishment’, Simon and Shuster 1992

Brugioni, Dino and Robert Poirier, ‘The Holocaust revisited: A Retrospective Analysis of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Complex’; CIA report 1978

Brugioni, Dino. ‘Auschwitz and Birkenau: Why the World War II photo interpreters failed to Identify the extermination complex,’ Military Intelligence, vol. 9, no. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 1983.)

Duetch, Guy. ‘Why Did America Not Bomb Auschwitz?’ Why Did America Not Bomb Auschwitz? (2007): 4-20. The Pica Project. Web. Date accessed: 2 Dec. 2014.


Gilbert, Martin. ‘Auschwitz and the Allies’. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1981. Print.

Gutman, Israel and Gidʻon Graif. ‘The Historiography of the Holocaust Period: Proceedings of the Fifth Yad Vashem International Historical Conference, Jerusalem, March 1983.’ Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1988. Print.

Marrus, Michael R. ‘The End of the Holocaust.’ Vol. 9. Munich: K. G. Saur Verlag K. G. Saur VerlagGmbH, 1989. Print.

Novick, Peter. The Holocaust in American Life. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. Print.

Rosenblatt, Stu. "How Mr. Fixit Nearly Wrecked the World." Executive Intelligence Review 25.42 1998  Print

Rubinstein, William D. The Myth of Rescue, London, Routledge 1997, Chapter 4,

“The Myth of Bombing Auschwitz”. Print.

Skolnick, Fred, ed. ‘Auschwitz Bombing Debate.’ Encyclopaedia Judiaca. 2007.

Wyman, David S. ‘The Abandonment of the Jews: America and the Holocaust, 1941-1945.’ New York: Pantheon, 1984. Print.

Wyman, David S. ‘Why Auschwitz was Never Bombed. Commentary Journal. 2.14 1978 Print.

   [1] *Found by painter Chaim Rosenthal, Himmler’s Personal letters to his wife Margareta.  [2]. Marrus, Michael R.  pg 68  [3] Marrus, Michael R.  pg 72  [4] Martin G. pg 98  [5] Marrus, Michael R.  pg. 93  [6] Brugioni Dino pages 50-55  [7] Brugioni Dino, pages 50-55.  [8] Rubinstein William D. pg 57  [9] Marrus, Michael R. pg. 108  [10] Gutman, Israel and Gidʻon Graif p.578. "Late in the morning on Sunday. August 20. 127 Flying Fortresses, escorted by 100 Mustang fighters, dropped 1,336 500-pound high-explosive bombs on the factory areas of Auschwitz, less than five miles east of the gas chambers. The weather was excellent… ideal for accurate visual bombing. Antiaircraft fire and the 19 German fighter planes there were ineffective. Only one U.S. bomber went down; no Mustangs were hit. "  [11]: Gilbert M.  Pg. 134  [12] Gilbert M.  Pg. 135  [13] Skolnick, Fred pg 64  [14] Rosenblatt, Stu. Pg. 51  [15] Rosenblatt, Stu. Pg. 51 [16] Bird, Kai Pg. 161  [17] Novic  Pg . 62.  [18] Wyman, David S. Print. Pg. 74  [19] Novic, Pg. 45  [20] Wyman, David S. Why Auschwitz was Never Bombed 2.14  [21] Brugioni, Dino and Robert Poirier. Pg. 13  [22]  [23] Kai, Bird pg. 216  [24] Gilbert M. pg193  [25] Novic pg. 57  [26] Gilbert M. pg 158  [27] Gilbert M. pg 158

Was housing policy in Germany affected by the change of government in 1933?
A.         Plan of Investigation
Was housing policy in Germany affected by the change of government in 1933?
This will be investigated by examining housing policy from the appointment of Brünning as Chancellor in 1930 to the National Socialist (“NS”) seizure of power in 1933. Specifically the housing policies of the Weimar Republic will be compared to those pursued by the NS in their first three years of power. A key primary source will be the section concerned with housing policy in the “3. Notverordnung”[1], issued in 1931, which will provide information about the policies during the Weimar Republic. The book “Nazionalsozialistischer Siedlungsbau”, by U. Peltz-Dreckman, an expert on NS housing policy, will provide detailed information about the legislation enacted by the NS. In addition this investigation will assess the change in housing policy, through a specific case, namely the “Zahnbrechesiedlung” in Munich, as it was built spanning the change in power, meaning it was affected by the policies of both governments. Information on the economic and political context will be sourced from broader works on the Weimar Republic and the NS government[2].  Specialist monographs and academic papers will provide detail on aspects of late Weimar and NS policy and ideology[3].

B.         Summary of Evidence

Due to Germany’s financial dependence on short-term loans from American banks, it was one of the states most affected by the “Wall Street Crash” on the 24th October 1929.[4]  By February 1932 unemployment in Germany had risen to 6.1 million.[5]  These economic circumstances remained the same until 1934.[6] 

Weimar housing policy from 1931 to 1933
The deflationary policy that chancellor Brünning implemented to counteract the recession was unpopular.[7] Thus he relied on the support of presidential Emergency Decrees (“Notverordnungen”) to reach his goals of reducing government expenditure and making the population less reliant on social welfare.[8]  One measure aimed at dealing with unemployment was contained in the “3. Notverordnung”[9] which provided so-called “Kleinsiedlungen”[10] for the long-term unemployed.[11]  The decree set out three main objectives: (1) to promote permanent settlement in the countryside, (2) to reduce unemployment and (3) to facilitate the means of subsistence for the unemployed. [12]  Built on the outskirts of large towns, “Kleinsiedlungen” comprised cheaply and primitively built houses[13] with large gardens, usually between 800 – 1200m2, so that they could be self-sufficient.[14]  The cost of the houses was low, at a maximum of 3000RM.  Government loans of up to 2500RM were available to support this. The settlers were required to contribute to the building of the houses with their own time.  The decree also dealt specifically with the part of the regional budget available for these building projects, the process by which settlers were to be able to take out loans and the purpose the land should have in making settlers more economically independent.[15]  The new “Kleinsiedlung” policy was very popular with the German public and  take up was high.[16] In the first tranche of building under the programme, from … to ….., 48m.RM were invested. A second tranche was started on …., for which 25m. RM was initially invested.  This was increased by an additional 10m. RM in December 1932, shortly before the NS took power.  One example of a settlement built under this legislation is the Zahnbrechersiedlung[17] in Munich. Permission to build it was applied for on the 10th of December 1932 and granted on the 10th of March 1933.[18] The building started on the 1st of May 1933.[19]

NS housing policy up to 1936
The NSDAP Manifesto said that: 1. The housing shortage would be dealt with by providing housing to “those who deserved it”. 2. They would pass a law to enforce appropriation of land in the national interest.[20]  In 1930 Walther Darré published his book “Neuadel aus Blut und Boden” thereby giving rise to the NS doctrine of “Blood and Soil”[21].  Darré’s views were based upon a “mystical idealisation” of the peasant way of life[22].  Darré proposed the creation of new small and medium sized peasant landholdings in the area of the large “Junker” landholdings in Prussia.  
Hitler incorporated this into the NS peasant programme in March 1930[23].  Based on his advocacy of selected breeding and his views on settlement, Darré was made chief of the SS “Rasse- und Sieldungs- Hauptamt”[24] by Himmler in 1931.[25]  The NS had criticized the Brüning government’s housing policy by disagreeing with the location of the settlements, the inexpensive, simple nature of the houses and the diverse background of the settlers admitted.[26]  Once in power the Nazi Party continued with the building of “Kleinsiedlungen” on the basis of the programme established in the “3. Notverordnung”, constructing three more such establishments in Munich alone.[27] As under the Weimar Republic programme, these were to be built in “urban fringes” and had large, farm-like gardens.  
In February 1933, the new government authorized a third tranche of funding for this programme, worth 40m. RM.  In addition to the unemployed, access was to given to “job-sharers” [28], as well as war cripples and veterans.[29] At the same time, the amount available in government loans was reduced and the requirement for capital from the settlers was increased.[30]  A fourth tranche of 70m. RM was agreed in July 1933.  In addition to the existing categories this was also to be open to SA veterans and fully employed low-income families with four or more minor children.[31]  In September 1933, the NS passed their first piece of legislation relating to housing policy[32] (“Wohnsiedlungsgesetz”).  
Under this law: 
1. The government was given the right to declare and appropriate areas of settlement 
2. A central authority for housing (“Reichssiedlungkomissar”) was to be established, with a local hierarchy in the “Heimstättenamt”[33] 
3. The building style of settlements had to be in line with the “Heimatbild”[34] 
4. There were measures to ensure that new settlements would take place away for existing large cities.  In March 1934 Gottfried Feder was made “Reichsisedlungskommissar"[35].  
In a speech in May he described his objectives as being: 
1. The dissolution of the large cities 
2. To make the population settled again and give them back their roots in the soil, 
3. Deliverance from big-city squalor, 
4. Provision of healthy living conditions for the adolescent generation, 
5. Recreation of the sense of “Heimat”[36]  In October 1934, non-aryans were excluded from access to the settlement programme.  In March 1935, access was restricted to applicants fitting the Nazi ideal[37].

C.         Evaluation of Sources
“Die 3. Notverordnung des Reichspräsidenten zur Sicherung von Wirtschaft und Finanzen und zur Bekämpfung politischer Ausschreitungen vom 6. Oktober 1931”[38] (Focus on the 4. Chapter concerning agricultural settlements, suburban housing settlements and provision of allotments for the unemployed.)

The text of the “3. Notverordnung” originated from discussions in the cabinet of Chancellor Brüning in September 1931[39] and was issued under president Hindenburg,[40] Thus it is the most accurate representation of the new laws the government was aiming to implement. As the decree was developed by Stegerwald, the Labour Minister, Schiele the Minister for Food and Treviranus, the Minister responsible for “Osthilfe”, the promotion of settlement in Eastern areas of Germany bordering Poland for national security purposes[41] the document is an accurate representation of the current consensus on housing policy in the cabinet. Therefore it has value as a synthesis of divergent political views. As the “3. Notverordnung” was issued to define the settlement policy of the late Weimar Republic it is a key document to any historian studying housing during this period. However, as it is only a decree it is limited, as the document does not provide any information about how it was implemented and the extent to which it actually affected housing policy. Part of the purpose of the document was to provide a clear description of the policy on which civil servant could base their work, meaning the source has value as it is written in very unambiguous terms. The aims included in the document provide valuable information on the background to the policy, however as the purpose of the document was also to present it to the public, the document is limited by its need to be persuasive and euphemistic for political ends.

“Nationalsozialischter Siedlungsbau – Versuch einer Analyse der die Siedlungspolitik bestimmender Faktoren am Beispiel des Nazionalsozialismus”[42] by Ute Peltz-Dreckmann
Written in 1978, this book was the first addressing the topic of housing policy under NS Germany.[43] This could be considered a limitation, as there would have been little secondary source material for Dreckmann to base her analysis on. However it has the value that her view would have developed from the primary sources without being influenced by anyone else’s interpretation. The fact that the book is still quoted in contemporary literature on the subject[44] suggest that her work is respected and that the book is valued as an authority on the subject. Her art-historical background could be considered a limitation, however the work is not restricted to architectural aspects but deliberately includes economic and political analysis, meaning it is useful for comparisons with the Weimar Republic housing policy. The book was written in 1978, meaning the author was writing with hindsight, which has value to historians, however it also means that Dreckmann had no direct experience of the events, which can be considered a limitation.  The purpose of the source is to illustrate the political and economic dimensions of housing policy, thus it is valuable beyond for a comparison in policies between the two governments.[45] Because the author chose the National Socialist Governments housing policy for her case study, as she considered them experts at exploiting the immediate connection between the population and their housing in their propaganda and demographic policies, her work could be considered limited by these assumptions. Since Dreckmann specifically aimed at stimulating public interest in and critical thinking about housing policy, she may have sought to make the subject more appealing by exaggerating controversial aspects, which would be a limitation of the text. Finally, as she wanted her work to be accessible to ordinary readers, it has been criticised for its unscientific approach.[46]  One deficit of the book is its lack of a subject index.

D.         Analysis
It seems clear that there was little change between the Weimar Republic and the NS Regime’s policy frameworks. This is the view of Dreckmann and other historians such as German historian Blümenroth and American architectural historian Mullin. The example of the “Zahnbrechersiedlung” here in Munich appears to illustrate this continuity. The creation of this settlement straddled several administrations: it was planned on the basis of the legislation established in the Brüning’s “3. Notverordnung”, permission was applied for during the chancellorship of Von Schleicher and permission was granted after the NS came to power[47]. That the permission was then granted by the NS administration, which subsequently became involved in resolving problems relating to the financing of the settlement[48], would seem to support Dreckmann’s argument that there was significant continuity in housing policy between the Republic and the Reich, at least during the first years.
Although as emphasised by Dreckmann, the NS did also criticise aspects of the Weimar policy, such as the location of the settlements, which were primarily suburban, and the primitive nature of the houses, the popularity of the policy among Nazi voters meant that the new government was forced to maintain its implementation at least up until 1935. In addition Dreckman points out that the economic circumstances, whose consequences the “3. Notverordnung” aimed to address, remained unchanged; the economic crisis would continue until 1934.[49] Thus the housing objectives of the new government were very much in line with the aims stated in the “3. Notverordnung” Agreeing with Dreckmann, Ulrich Blümenroth focuses on economic aspects, namely the Nazi view that such settlements were necessary in raising living standards and increasing German economic independence[50], implying that the intentions guiding Nazi housing policy were in fact not very different from those guiding the Weimar Republic’s.[51] Architectural Historian, J. R. Mullin takes a similar stance to Blümenroth, pointing out that, like the Weimar Republic, the new government concentrated on increasing employment by producing housing, implying that they were continuing the same policies as the Weimar Republic with similar motives.[52]
Dreckmann argues that another reason the NS carried on with the WR housing policy was that they had not yet developed specific policies of their own. However, from the evidence it seems that there is a very clear link between the policy intentions expressed prior to elections and their actions once in power. Thus both the points in the NS manifesto relating to housing were actually enacted into legislation: 1. Conditions for settlers were changed to incorporate for example war wounded, job-sharers and large families 2. The “Wohnsiedlunggestz” gave the government the right to appropriate land for settlement. In addition the settlement programme fulfilled the expectations implicit the “Blood and Soil” doctrine which was clearly defined part of NS policy by 1930.Notwithstanding the similarity in economic aims, it can be argued that the reason the NS continued with the policy was that it presented them with tan opportunity to realise ideological objectives. This is the point made by social historian Karin Bernst who argues that through its housing policies the NS government was able to promote the declared archetype of the “four-children-family”, living in a small house with a garden and discriminate against racially “impure” settlers[53].  This is backed up by the evidence, which shows that with each successive tranche of building, the conditions for applicants were steadily aligned with NS racial ideals.
Another way that ideology shaped housing policy is the anti-urban stance inherent in Darré’s “Blood and Soil” doctrine.  The fact that the WR policy involved moving poor people out of the cities naturally appealed to NS ideologues and fitted with their propaganda.  This would explain why they carried on with the policy.  This view is adopted by both Barbara Miller Lane and Mullin.
An area in which there appears to be a clear discontinuity between the two governments at the level of intentions is the central role of settlement policy in NS expansionist ideology, a characteristic apparently absent from Weimar motives. Robert L. Koehl highlights the NS commitment to the ideal of “Lebensraum” for the German population to explain the motives behind NS housing policy.  The close links between Darré and Himmler, the driving force behind the NS plans for colonisation in the East, illustrates the connection between domestic settlement policy and the Reich’s war time aims.  Koehl refers to this as “Imperialism by demography”.  Thus in addition to the economic aims behind housing policy, for the NS government ideological aims seem to have been of great significance.

E.         Conclusion
In conclusion the continuing difficult economic situation and the popularity of the existing housing policy may be understood as reasons for which the NS government initially persisted to implement the building of “Kleinsiedlungen”. However, that they continued with the building of “Kleinsiedlungen” was due to the possibilities that the policy offered to support and develop their social and political ideals. The real changes in housing policy can therefore be seen in the intentions of the NS government compared with those of the WR. Having started in the tracks of the WR the NS housing policy was gradually steered into an entirely new direction. Whilst the text of the “3. Notverordnung” allows for a clear view of the starting point, the value of Dreckmanns work is in the systematic detailing of the legislative steps on this journey. Whilst housing policy of the WR was concerned with decreasing unemployment and increasing housing, the aims of NS housing policy were those of their notorious ideology regarding the ideal family, “Blood and Soil” and Lebensraum. As S. R Henderson, professor of architectural history at Syracuse University, put it, he NS government built on the existing housing policy but essentially twisted it to suit its ideology.[54]

F. Bibliography
3. Notverordnung: Dritte Notverordnung des Herrn Reichspräsident zur Sicherung von Wirtschaft und Finanzen usw. von 6. Oktober 1931, in Deutsche Archiv für Siedlungswesen, Arbeitslosigkeit und Siedlung (Berlin: Deutsche Buchhandlung, 1932)  Brenst, K., Bevölkerungsdruck und Siedlungstätigkeit in W. Karl, Dörfer auf dem Ziegeland (Munich: Buchendorfer Verlag, 2002)  Blümenroth, U., Deutsche Wohnungspolitik seit der Reichsgründung: Darstellung und kritische Würdung (Münster: Institut für Siedlungs- und Wohnungswesen, 1975)  Büttner, U., WEIMAR, Die überforderte Republik 1918 – 1933 (Stuttgart: Klett – Cota, 2008), p. 795  Evans, R., The Coming of the Third Reich (New York: Penguin Press, 2003)  Ferguson, N., The War of the World (London: Penguin Books, 2006)  Haerendel, Dr U., “Wohnungspolitik im Nazionalsozialismus” Zeitschrift für Sozialreform (Heft 10. 1999: 843 to 879. Print.) p. 855  Henderson, S. R., Self-help Housing in the Weimar Republic: The Work of Ernst May (New York: School of Architecture, Syracuse University, 1975)  Kershaw, I., Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1998)  Koehl, R., RKFDV: German resettlement and population policy, 1939-1945: a history oft he Reich Commission fort he strengthening of Germandom (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1957)  Landeshauptstadt München Direktorium, Stadtchronik 1930 (Web: Portal München Betriebs-GmbH & Co. KG, 2013)  Lommer, H., Letter to Lily Roggenhofer (2014)  Miller Lane, B., “Architecture and politics in Germany, 1918-1945” (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1968)  Mullin, R., The Impact of the National Socialist Policies upon Local City Panning in Pre-war Germany (1933-1939): The Rhetoric and the Reality (University of Massachusetts – Amherst, 1981)  Mullin, R., Ideology, Planning and the German City in the Inter-War Years (Town Planning Review, July 1982, Vol. 53, No 3)  Nerdinger, W., & Blohm, K., Bauen im Nationalsozialismus: Bayern 1933-1945 (Munich: Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1993)  Pelz-Dreckmann, U., Nationalsozialistischer Siedlungsbau – Versuch einer Analyse der die Siedlungspolitik bestimmender Faktoren am Beispiel des Nationalsozialismus (Munich: Minerva Publikation, 1978)  Preller, L., Sozial Politik in der Weimarer Republik (Düsseldorf: Athenäum Verlag GmbH, 1978) 491  Stadtarchiv: Stadtarchiv von München BwR 1495, p.35  Winkler, H-A., Weimar  1918-1933, Die Geschichte der Ersten Deutschen Democratie (Munich: Beck Verlag, 1993)  Zimmermann, C. & Harlander, T.,  Europäische Wohnungspolitik in Vergleichender Perspektive 1900 – 1939 (Stuttgart: Fraunhofer IRB Verlag, 1997)

[1] “3. Notverordnung des Reichspräsidenten zur Sicherung von Wirtschaft und Finanzen und zur Bekänpfung politischer Ausschreitungen vom 6. Oktober 1931” translates to “3rd Emergency decree of the 6. October 1931 by the President for safeguarding of the economy and finances and control of political excesses”  [2] For example “The Rise of the Third Reich” by R. Evans, “Weimar: Die Geschichte der Erste Deutsche Democratie” By H. Winkler or “Hitler” by I. Kershaw  [3] For example K. Bernst on the social aspects affecting housing policy, U. Blumenroth on the ideological factors or R. Koehl on Nazi expansionist policies  [4] Winkler (1993) p 358, Kershaw (1998) p 318  [5] Büttner (2008), p.795  [6] Dreckmann (1978) p. 98  [7]  [8] Stadtarchiv von München BwR 1495, p.35  [9] NotVO 6.10.1931, IV Teil, Kap. II, § 1.  [10] “Little settlements”  [11] Bernst (2002) p. 170-171  [12] NotVO 6.10.1931, IV Teil, Kap. II, § 1.  [13] Zimmermann (1997) p.73  [14] Preller (1978) p. 492.  [15] NotVO 6.10.1931, IV Teil, Kap. III  [16] Harlander, Hater, Meiers, (1988) p. 143  [17] Named after its initiator Dr. Zahnbrecker  [18] interview Lommer  [19] Bernst, (2002) p. 190  [20] Peltz–Dreckmann (1978) p. 112  [21] Miller Lane (1988) p. 155  [22] Miller Lane (1988) p. 154  [23] Miller Lane (1988) p. 153  [24] Race- and Settlement- Main commission   [25] Miller Lane (1988) p. 154  [26] Peltz-Dreckmann (1978) p.110  [27] Nerdinger & Bloem (1993) p.253  [28] Encouraging job-sharing (“Kurzarbeit”) was one of the principle measures introduced by the Nazis to reduce unemployment - see Peltz-Dreckmann (1978) p.112  [29] Peltz–Dreckmann (1978) p. 124  [30] Harlander, Hater, Meiers, (1988) p. 143  [31] Peltz – Dreckmann (1978) p. 124  [32] Peltz-Dreckmann –page?  [33] translates as “Homestead commission”  [34] translates as “homeland norm”  [35] translates as “Reichssettlementcomissar”  [36] Peltz-Dreckmann (1978) p. 127, see also Miller Lane () p. 205  [37] defined as “honourable Germans of reduced means and Aryan descent, nationally and politically relable, racially valuable, healthy and free from hereditary diseases”. Harlander, Hater & Meiers, (1988), p. 145. See also Haerendel (1999) p.856,  [38] translates as “3rd Emergency decree of the 6. October 1931 by the President for safeguarding of the economy and finances and control of political excesses”  [39]  [40]  [41]  [42] translates “National Socialist Housing Policy – An Attempt at an Analysis of the Factors determining Housing Policy illustrated by National Socialism”  [43] marie louise recker  [44] henderson  [45]  [46]  [47] The archivist to the settlement, Hannelore Lommer points out that it was verz important for the settlers of receiving permission under the “3. Notverordnung”, because of the significant associated financial advantages which included access to loans and tax relief. Lommer (2014) p.1  [48] Bernst (2002) p.190  [49] Peltz-Dreckmann p. 98  [50] Blümenroth (1975) p. 264  [51] Blümenroth (1975) p. 263  [52] Mullin, Housing vs. Planning p. 196  [53] Bernst (2002) p.170-171  [54] Henderson (1975) p. 326-327

Did Albert Speer Know About The Holocaust?

Plan of Investigation

This investigation shall look at whether the judgement made during the 1945-46 Nuremberg Trials that Albert Speer did not know of the final solution and therefore was not judged to be guilty of charges of mass murder was correct. This investigation shall compare Speer’s own defence of himself, most notably within Gitta Sereny’s biography, with the accusations made by Dan Van der Vat. Additionally; this investigation shall examine Speer’s own memoirs and book, as well as Himmler’s speech at Posen in the original German so as to further support the claims made by both biographers. Finally, this essay shall look at the opinions of some notable historians in regards to further supporting or criticising the claims made by Speer’s biographers.

Summary Of Evidence

Albert Speer was a German architect and a prominent member within the Nazi party. Having joined the party in 1931, [1] he came to Hitler’s attention due to his plans for the 1934 Nuremberg Rally [2] and quickly rose to prominence both nationally and internationally, not least for his work at the Berlin Olympics. [3] [4] Speer also began to gather political power, becoming head of armaments by 1942 [5] and, by 1943, had sufficient power so as to be considered by many in the Nazi elite as a possible successor to Hitler himself. [6] After the war, during the Nuremberg trials, Speer was among the most willing to co-operate with the investigators and the only one to show signs of regret regarding his actions during the war, as was noted by the famous American journalist William Shirer at the time. [7] Speer’s defence was built on the idea that Speer was an artist thrown into politics, [8] who nevertheless maintained a moral distance from the deepest controversies of the Nazi regime. Most notably, Speer absolutely denied all knowledge of the systematic genocide of the Jewish people, the Holocaust. [9] In his own book, Inside the Third Reich, Speer describes how Gauleiter Hanke advised Speer to avoid all concentration camps in northern Silesia. [10] Speer accepts blame for not investigating further, alluding to a “moral contamination”

from that moment onwards, [11] however he denies all knowledge of the specific motives of the Holocaust. The main source, then, for the controversy of whether or not Speer knew of the Holocaust lies in his attendance of the 1943 Posen conference. [12] At this party conference, Heinrich Himmler, the head of the SS police force, gave a speech effectively announcing the terms of the final solution, stating that the decision had been made to “cause this people [the Jews] to vanish from this earth”. [13] Albert Speer was most certainly at this conference, giving a speech himself the same day, [14] yet he omits any mention of Himmler’s speech in his own memoirs or book. In 1971, the historian Erich Goldhagen published an article arguing that Speer was indeed present for this speech of Himmler’s and thus must have been aware of the terms of the final solution. [15] Central to his evidence was Himmler’s speech itself, which appeared to directly address Speer himself. [16] Other biographers of Speer have examined notes and anecdotes made in his memoirs that seem to indicate that Speer must have been present at Himmler’s speech. [17] Speer himself would later address these accusations, stating that he had left the conference at noon, well before Himmler gave his speech. This has been ‘confirmed’ by eyewitnesses since. [18] The controversy was recently reignited once again in 2007, as the Guardian published letters supposedly written by Speer to a former resistance leader that stated that Speer was, without a doubt, present when Himmler announced the terms of the final solution. [19] When Speer himself was tried at Nuremberg in 1945; he was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for war crimes and crimes against of humanity (due to his usage of slave labour in factories during the war). [20] Nevertheless, the fact that, unlike many of his fellow defendants who were hanged, Speer supposedly repented for his sins on the basis that he had no knowledge of the holocaust lent him the moniker of the ‘Good Nazi’. [21] Hence, this controversy of whether Speer knew about the holocaust lends itself special significance.

Evaluation of Sources

Gitta Sereny’s book, “Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth”, is a biography of the man published in 1996, although Sereny had been working on the book for many years previously. Much of the material is sourced from various interviews with Speer himself, as well as the other interviews that she conducted with friends and family of Speer. Sereny also sourced a large amount of material from Speer’s letters and memoirs that he had written during this time in prison. The result of this is the most comprehensive collection of material detailing Speer’s life in existence, making the book undoubtedly valuable simply due to the level of insight into Speer personally that it can achieve due to these rare interviews and heavy research. The purpose of the book, however, is less clear. In many ways it differs from a traditional objective historical account. The book is not laid out in a chronological fashion, instead jumping about confusingly between different periods. There is also an obvious lack of footnotes, somewhat surprising considering the wealth of archival research that has been poured into the book. Indeed, herein lies the central weakness of Sereny’s book: it reads not like an impartial account, but as an argumentative piece that, due to the emotional connections that it tries to forge, fails to convince entirely regarding the validity of the reasoning and absence of personal bias.

Dan van der Vat’s book, “The Good Nazi: The Life and Lies of Albert Speer”, was written around the same time as Sereny’s own biography of Speer and thus used a similar collection of archival evidence that she used, albeit without the interviews that added such personal depth to Sereny’s work. In that sense, van der Vat’s work is of lesser value, as, due to its origins, it fails to have nearly as much convincing evidence or depth of personal research to back up its claims. On the other hand, unlike Sereny’s attempt at emotionally profiling Albert Speer, van der Vat bases his analysis almost entirely within rational fact. Thus, to some extent, the purpose of his book is primarily to rationally analyse Speer’s guilt, meaning that it is potentially of value as it is less prone to bias. Unfortunately, the title already shows that van der Vat’s view certainly isn’t unbiased, as indeed he himself is trying to prove that Speer’s testimony at Nurnberg regarding his life was a lie. Unfortunately, this merely results in van der Vat regurgitating, albeit in skilful prose and structure, the various arguments already made against Speer and, in conclusion, fails to introduce any new ideas to the overall debate. Thus, in comparison to Sereny, van der Vat’s work is of lesser value, as it fails to compete both in the origins of it’s research and its overall purpose, as unlike Sereny, van der Vat merely reiterates arguments that have previously been made and thus fails to convince further than previously regarding Speer’s knowledge of the holocaust.


Speer’s activities within the Nazi Reich would always be ambiguous, mainly due to the bureaucratic chaos that defined the Nazi state. [22] Many ministers were antagonistic towards to each other in their hunger for power to such an extent that communications between ministries, politicians and departments varied from the manipulated to the untrue to non-existent. [23] The job of unravelling this mess of a communication and information network was always going to be complex and it is this context of complexity that has characterised the debate regarding Speer’s knowledge, both at Nurnberg and in the years since. The issue always has been in verifying the claims Speer has stated, made extremely arduous due to the bureaucratic intricacy within the historical context of research.

The previously analysed biographies by Gitta Sereny and Dan van der Vat particularly characterise this debate. Van der Vat tries to execute a rational analysis of the evidence presented on this case in an attempt to prove Speer’s posthumous guilt, but due to the circuitous nature of this evidence only succeeds in presenting the approximations of guilt that his predecessors (such as Goldhagen) had also reached. Although a lot of his evidence is convincing, his failure to provide a definitive answer is merely representative of the ambiguous nature of the debate itself. Gitta Sereny tries to psychologically profile Speer as an alternative approach. This leads her to a number of interesting conclusions that differ markedly from those of her predecessors, however the debate regarding Speer’s guilt remains as open as previously. Both sources provide alternative approaches, yet they also both fail to comprehensibly cover the debate.

The approach most favoured by the modern historical perspectives is that Speer lied at Nurnberg and had some fair knowledge of the Holocaust. The basis for this argument lies in his attendance of the Posen conference. Van der Vat argues that the fact that Himmler in his speech regarding the Final Solution repeatedly would reference Speer, even apparently addressing him directly would point towards the fact that he was present in the room at the time and thus must have heard Himmler’s plans to exterminate Judaism. [15] Additionally, Speer’s own rather sketchy account of these events point towards the fact that the Posen conference was a weakness in his case that he wished to avoid. Speer would initially omit mentioning Posen, then made a number of excuses of why he hadn’t been there for Himmler’s speech including that he had left over, or that he had been absent altogether and was referencing a different Posen conference. This confusion of defence seems to point towards the fact that Speer was primarily trying to avoid the question altogether, pointing towards his guilt regarding the circumstances. An additional point of contention was, as pointed out by Mattius Schmidt, that Speer frequented the city of Dnepropetrovsk multiple times following a brutal massacre of some 30,000 Jews in 1942. The massacre was widely known throughout the region, so it would seem unlikely that in his frequent visits there, Speer would have not heard about these events. All of throws into question Speer’s assertion at Nurnberg that he had had no knowledge of the holocaust prior to the end of the War. Indeed, this evidence points towards van der Vat’s conclusion that it was nearly impossible for Speer not to have known about the Holocaust and that he had merely lied in his post-war accounts so as to avoid capital punishment. Indeed, the most overwhelming evidence for this, a series of letters made public in 2007, state, in Speer’s writing, the he had undoubtedly been present at Himmler’s speech at Posen, seemingly absolutely confirming Speer’s guilt. [19]

These letters may, however, be misleading. We do not know of the context in which these letters were written, nor whether they are even authentic. It may be that Speer was alluding to some other speech, or that the letters had been changed so as to prove Speer’s guilt. He may even have purposefully lied to the person he had been corresponding with so as to achieve some end or other. It is notable that many great historical minds, including Shirer and Bullock, have bought into Speer’s defence. This may be due to the fact that his defence had been based on psychological foundations. The argument goes that Speer had been blinded by his ambitions as an aspiring technocrat and thus had been blinkered to Hitler’s evils. There is some evidence to back this up. Speer, young, wealthy and intellectual, hardly fits into the mould of his fellow Nazi leaders of embittered war veterans in the shadow of Hitler himself.  Sereny also describes his apparent utter joy at the rate of promotion he was receiving. [24] It isn’t hard to imagine that he may have been willing to turn a blind eye to events around him due to the success he was experiencing. It is of note that all of the evidence presented against him merely imply that he knew of the Holocaust, but never actually shows him acting as a willing agent for it. Following Sereny’s argument, it is very easy to believe that although Speers had some superficial knowledge of the Holocaust, but was never directly involved with it, limiting his knowledge of events to such an extent where he had hugely limited influence. In this sense, Speer is guiltier of non-action than actual perpetration. Thus, a psychological analysis of Speer, as conducted at the Nurnberg trials and by Sereny, lends great weight to Speer’s defence and the notion that he had essentially no knowledge of the Holocaust itself.


In conclusion, we see that there are two distinct views within this debate. An obvious weakness within the view that Speer’s defence was justified is that it fails to definitively address the accusations of Speer’s attendance at Posen and presence in Dnepropetrovsk. Thus, it has hard to form any conclusion other than that Speer must have at least known about the Holocaust, although the extent of this knowledge is much more debatable. Indeed, it seems somewhat unreasonable to portray Speer as a perpetrator, so this essay must conclude that although Speer had lied about his total lack of knowledge regarding the extermination of Judaism, his defence as someone morally removed from the Nazi atrocities remains somewhat justifiable, as his knowledge of the Ginal Solution points more towards an acknowledgement of events he, in Himmler’s words, “can do nothing about” [13] rather than an actual influential knowledge of events at hand.


[1] Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970. 15-17. Print.

[2] Sereny, Gitta. Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth. New York: Knopf, 1995. 100-01. Print.

[3] Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970. 81. Print.

[4] Angolia, John R. For Führer and Fatherland: Political & Civil Awards of the Third Reich. San Jose, CA: R. James Bender Pub., 1978. 194. Print.

[5] Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970. 193-196. Print.

[6] Sereny, Gitta. Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth. New York: Knopf, 1995. 376-77. Print.

[7] Shirer, William L. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1990. 1142-143. Print.

[8] Fest, Joachim C. Albert Speer: Conversations with Hitler's Architect. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2007. 287-88. Print.

[9] Brechtken, Magnus. Life Writing and Political Memoir = Lebenszeugnisse Und Politische Memoiren. Göttingen: V&R Unipress, 2012. 36-37. Print.

[10] Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970. 375-76. Print.

[11] Speer, Albert. Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970. 376. Print.

[12] Vat, Dan Van Der, and Albert Speer. The Good Nazi: The Life and Lies of Albert Speer. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997. 167-68. Print.

[13] Himmler, Heinrich. " Speech to Reichsleiters and Gauleiters." Posen Conference. Poland, Poznan. 6 Oct. 1943. Speech.

[14] Fest, Joachim C. "Translator's Notes." Albert Speer: Conversations with Hitler's Architect. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2007. 209. Print.

[15] Goldhagen, Erich. "Albert Speer, Himmler and the Secrecy of the Final Solution." Midstream (1971): 43-50. Print.

[16] Vat, Dan Van Der, and Albert Speer. The Good Nazi: The Life and Lies of Albert Speer. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997. 168. Print.

[17] Ramen, Fred. Albert Speer: Hitler's Architect. New York: Rosen, 2001. Print.

[18] Fest, Joachim C. Speer: The Final Verdict. New York: Harcourt, 2001. 186. Print.

[19] Connolly, Kate. "Letter Proves Speer Knew of Holocaust Plan." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 13 Mar. 2007. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.

[20] "Nuremberg Day 218 Judgments." YouTube. YouTube, 2 Mar. 2009. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.

[21] Albert Speer: The Nazi Who Said Sorry. Dir. Martin Davidson. Perf. Albert Speer and Andrew Sachs. British Broadcasting Corporation, 1996. Television.

[22] Kershaw, Ian, and Moshe Lewin. "The Contradictions of Continuous Revolution." Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorships in Comparison. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997. 139. Print.

[23] Lee, Stephen J. "How Effective Was the Nazi Political System?" Hitler and Nazi Germany. 2nd ed. Abingdon: Routledge, 2013. 120. Print.

[24] Sereny, Gitta. Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth. New York: Knopf, 1995. 718-19. Print.

Was Rudolf Walter Hess Murdered on the 17th of August 1987?
A.)       Plan of the Investigation (215)

Was Rudolf Walter Hess Murdered on the 17th of August 1987? The scope of this investigation is to discover if Hess was assassinated in Spandau Prison or if he committed suicide. It is his son Wolf Rüdiger Hess who arises the question of his father being murdered and thus striking my attention to this topic as many historians see this as an extremely controversial thought. Through historians such as Desmond Zwar another perspective is gained thus criticizing Wolf Hess’s disputed idea. In order to carry out this investigation primary and secondary sources will be consulted, and a bibliography will be complied and attached.  To answer my research question successfully section C contains sources read and evaluated by Rudolf Hess’s son, Wolf Rüdiger Hess and his current book “Mord an Rudolf Hess?” whilst analysing Desmond Zwar’s thoughts from his book “Talking to Rudolf Hess”. Wolf Hess acts in this case as a primary source giving me a personal related answer as he uses Rudolf’s personal letters throughout his imprisonment in Spandau. Hence, Zwar presents his research through valid government documents such as handwritten medical reports by Abdallah Melaouhi and an interview with Colonel Eugene Bird. German newspaper and magazine articles enhance further contended ideas, suggesting that this is a widespread topic and should be further researched.

B.)         Summary of Evidence (550)  

Walter Rudolf Hess (*April 26, 1894) was an extremely prominent and important figure in Nazi Germany as he acted as Adolf Hitler’s deputy in the Nazi Party. As the war with the Soviet Union started he flew to Scotland in the simple attempt to arbitrate peace with Great Britain. After being arrested he was tried at Nuremberg and sentenced to life imprisonment at Spandau Prison.[1] Rudolf Hess died on the 17th of August 1987 at the age of 93 in a summerhouse. It is stated that he took an extension cord from one of the lamps, wrapped it around the window latch and then hanged himself. ([2])([3]) This suggests that the death of Rudolf Hess occurred by strangulation.[4] One moth later on the 17th of September the Four Powers declared in a statement that Hess died through a suicide.[5]   
There are many different statements and opinions on if Hess was murdered or if he died by suicide. Quite a few judgements engender from historians about his death in correlation to his mysterious flight in 1941. For instance Desmond Zwar states that Hess was walking with a cane because he had suffered a slight stroke and was incapable of a suicide.[6] This is supported by Dr. Seidl, his lawyer, had stated that Hess was too old and frail to have managed to kill himself by asphyxiation.[7] Zwar’s statement was that he was blind in the left eye and could see very little out of the right eye.[8] Next, Wolf Rüdiger Hess repeatedly claimed that the British Special Air Service had murdered his father.[9] In his book “The life and the death of my father, Rudolf Hess” Hess argues his father was murdered, as Britain didn’t want their most favored personage, Winston Churchill to be portrayed in a different light.[10] Furthermore, Rüdiger Hess mentions Abdallah Melaouhi, who served as Hess’s medical orderly from 1982 to 1987 who published a book on a similar theme, validated this similar statement.[11]  
On the other hand, W. Hugh Thomas’s book “The Murder of Rudolf Hess” his outlook on the situation was that Hess was murdered in 1941 and a hoaxer flew to Scotland.[12] The deceiver was the tried at Nuremberg and was imprisoned in Spandau. As Thomas was a British Military surgeon who had been stationed at Spandau, he bases this thesis on surmise that there was no scar from the bullet wound, which Hess had in his chest in the 1917 autopsy record.[13] 
However, the German magazine “Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte” disagrees that it was a “hoaxer” while stating that he was assassinated by the British.[14] This view by the German newspaper “Die Welt” states the opposite whilst arguing that he committed suicide as he had tried this before whilst imprisonment in Great Britain, hence had failed to serve Adolf Hitler in an appropriate manner as to negotiating peace with Britain in 1941.[15] When in contact with the conventional historian David Irving his opinion consists of the simple resolution that one should investigate that the “Negro US solider named Jordan who was on guard duty at Spandau” could have assassinated him.[16]  
Nevertheless, it is suggested that there are different backed up factual verdicts from numerous historians and columnists showing a great breadth in interest through vast types of websites, newspapers, magazines, broadcasts/films and books.

C.)       Evaluation of Sources (600)

Written in 2010 and published by the History Press, Desmond Zwar’s account of Rudolf Hess’s profile in Talking To Rudolf Hess serves as an analytical assessment of his life style but also of his death, which Zwar states as “He was Murdered!”[17] In his 18th Chapter. With reference to hindsight, the Australian journalists aim is to analyze in depth the murder of Rudolf Hess, such as his role as Hitler’s secretary and his political situation during World War 2 toward the Nazi regime. He approaches the issue of either murder or suicide in an objective manner as he tries to make the reader understand why and how he could’ve been murdered whilst stating his clear standpoint of him being assassinated in Chapter 18 thus utilizing appropriate facts. For instance, the preface writes, “That was the official suicide story. But…”[18] which shows he is willing to state on fact whilst arguing against it with his personal opinion and utilization of accurate facts.  Since it is written approximately twenty-three years after the death and its occurring events took place, the writer has the benefit of hindsight, allowing him to analyze with more clarity and objectivity as more historical resources are available. He also has the advantage of having more information available, not only primary sources, but other secondary sources, such as other historian’s views on the event other valuable documents such as a hand written document by Hess’s male nurse Abdallah Melaouhi.[19] However, at times, it is noticeable that the current limitation is that the author has the preference for being convinced that it is murder even though, he only mentions this in chapter 18, the last chapter of the book.  However the author is objective thus uses official records, letters and quotes other historians to give a clear description of the “Murder”. In doing this Zwar is able to establish reasons put forward for the murder of Hess.  

“Rudolf Heß: Ich Bereue Nichts” on the other hand, was published in 1994 in Stuttgart; the author Wolf Rüdiger Hess is as Rudolf’s son a primary source due to the fact that he has memories and written letters included in his book.[20] Next, he is a family member and is able to access information about his father’s death which other historian would not necessarily have making it more valuable than Zwar’s book. However, the book is limited since Hess junior publishes a book, as a result of his father’s death seven years later, which makes it more susceptible to the opinions and emotions and needs to find someone responsible for the death of his father. Next, it reflects the context, which was lived at that time; therefore it is more subjective than the other source. However, since it is a primary document, it also has great value for historians as it reveals the thoughts, worries, emotions and opinions the author has experienced whilst growing up and experienced while during and after his father’s death. Both books focus mainly on that Rudolf Hess was murdered whilst Zwar uses Hess junior as a resource and Hess Junior uses the autopsy report from Dr. Alfred Seidl, Professor Cameron and Professor Spann.[21]  These sources are valuable as historical evidence for different purposes. “Rudolf Heß: Ich Bereue Nichts” is extremely valuable as it dips into Hess’s personal life and it is written in a very personal manner so the audience is drawn into a more focused aspect on Hess’s murder, while “Talking To Rudolf Hess” focuses more on the mysterious flight to Scotland and is more objective to the death of Hess rather then finding the scapegoat.

D.)        Analysis of Sources (470)

The death of Rudolf Hess still baffles historians in our present time, while the allies argue he committed suicide, his son states murder and a German newspaper declares a suicide due to emotional reasons. However, importance in history is gained when evaluating the facts with the benefit of hindsight. Instead of confusion, one should analyse in depth the facts and opinion situated in the historical context of that time thus focusing on Wolf Rüdiger Hess.  The consequences when analysing Rudolf Hess’s death is that as Historians we have come no step closer to one of the most important men in Nazi Germany; Adolf Hitler’s secretary and contiguous companion. When analyzing my wide variety of sources the author Desmond Zwar states that Rudolf Hess was murdered. Zwar uses specific evidence such as using the letters from Hess’s nurse Abdallah Melaouthi, interviews from Wolf Rüdiger Hess and Eugene K. Bird. Bird states that Jordan murdered Hess[22] while Hess Jnr claims, “He was murdered by the SAS”[23]. Moreover, Wolf Rudiger Hess vocalizes in Zwars book that instead of his father seizing an extension cord from one of the lamps and wrapping it around the window latch to hang himself he is “Working even more intensely to prove that my father was strangled in that garden hut, and to prove that the British were behind it”[24].  
As both Wolf Rüdiger Hess and Desmond Zwar mention David Irving it was vital for me to contact him and ask him for further information. He responded to my email thus stating that Rudolf Hess was murdered and one should look “Into the Negro US solider named Jordan who was on guard duty at Spandau close to Hess that fateful afternoon.”[25] However, this was again a totally new argument for me to investigate, which caused difficulties, as there were many different perspectives with very little concrete factual evidence.  
However, the 1996 German Newspaper “Die Welt” states that on the 17th of August 1987 Rudolf Hess committed suicide.[26] This is supported by the four powers, which were responsible for Spandau Prison the USA, Great Britain, USSR, and France declared that Rudolf Hess hanged himself.[27] The author quite clearly agrees and to solace this argument he uses the official document that the Four Powers issued on he 17th of September 1987. This statement is then concluded by “There is no doubt of the accuracy of the statement by the' Four Powers. Hess had tried to commit suicide twice during the war while in Britain and in Spandau in 1987 he succeeded in taking his own life.”[28]  Through widespread of different sources one could analyse successfully that all the sources available utilize their arguments with valid documents, reports or interviews making them all extremely reliable and trustworthy thus having to take into account the benefit of hindsight.

E.)         Conclusion (165)

After having analysed the various interpretation historians have about if Rudolf Hess was murdered or not, I arrived to my own conclusion. I based my work on some books and newspapers/magazines written during or shortly after the events and on others written recently, made this possible for me to argue that Hess was murdered on the 17th of August 1987 in Spandau prison.  Wolf Rüdiger Hess seems like a very reliable resource to use due to the fact that he access to historical plus to his own memories and discussions with his father. It is fact that the British government are releasing the Rudolf Hess file in 2017 as a result of them having secrets or situations that occurred during World War 2 that no one should know of.[29] Rudolf had the knowledge and the mental situation of being to spill the beans, which put Britain in a vulnerable situation thus causing them to send the SAS to kill him at the age of 92.[30]

F.)         Bibliography


1.)           Bird, Colonel Eugene. Interview by Desmond Zwar. Skewed & Reviewed. Print July 27th 2010  2.)           Douglas-Hamilton, James. 1993 Mainstream Publishing Company. The Truth About Rudollf Hess.  3.)           Hess, Wolf Rudiger. The Life and Death of My Father, Rudolf Hess. By Druffel Verlag 1990,  4.)           Hess, Wolf Rudiger.“Mord an Rudolf Hess?” By Druffel Verlag Leonie am Starnberger See. 1990,  5.)           Wolf Rüdiger Heß. “Rudolf Heß: Ich Bereue Nichts”. By Leopold Stocker Verlag. Stuttgart 1994  6.)           Picknett, Lynn and Prince Clive and Prior Stephen. 2001. Double Standards The Rudolf Hess Cover-Up. By Little, Brown and Company. Great Britain  7.)           Thomas, Hugh. Published 1979 Coronet. The Murder Of Rudolf Hess.  8.)           Zwar, Desmond. July 27th 2010. The History Press. Talking to Rudolf Hess. London

Personal Correspondence:

1.)           Irving, David John Cawdell (personal communication, 20th of August 2014)


1.)           Rudolf Heß Der Letzte von Spandau. Directed by Lutz Becker and Guido Knopp. Produced by Werner Rieb. VZ-Handelsgesellschaft, 3 February 2005. Film

  1.) Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess A Courageous Hero For Peace, August 17th 2012. By Mark R. Elsis.  [online] [cited 7.09.2014]>  2.) Report into Rudolf Hess death fails to answer unexplained questions about Nazi prisoner's ‘suicide’. 17th March 2012. By John-Paul Ford Rojas and Murray Wardrop  [online] [cited 8.02.2015]  < >  3.) Rudolf Hess: The Führer’s Deputy, August 13th 2011. By Dr. Ingrid R. Zundel.  [online] [cited 25.08.2014]>  4.) Rudolf Hess German Nazi Leader August 4th 2014. Written by: The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica  [online] [cited 24.12.2014]

[1] [online] [cited 7.09.2014]  [2] The Telegraph [online] [cited 8.02.2015]  [3] Appendix 2  [4] [online] [cited 25.08.2014]  [5] Rudolf Heß Der Letzte von Spandau. Film. Min 55  [6] Zwar, Desmond. (Page 100)  [7] Hess, Wolf Rüdiger. .“Mord an Rudolf Hess?” (Page 191)  [8] Zwar, Desmond. (Page 115)  [9] Hess, Wolf Rüdiger. “Ich Bereue Nichts”. (Page 144)  [10] Hess, Wolf Rüdiger. .“The life and the death of my father, Rudolf Hess”. (Page 146)  [11] Rudolf Heß Der Letzte von Spandau. Film. Min 42  [12] Thomas, Hugh. (Page 155)  [13] Rudolf Heß Der Letzte von Spandau. Film. Min 76  [14] Appendix 3  [15] Appendix 2  [16] Irving, David John Cawdell (personal communication)  [17] Zwar, Desmond. (Page 174)  [18] Zwar, Desmond. (Page 175)  [19] Zwar, Desmond. (Page 178)  [20] Hess, Wolf Rüdiger. “Ich Bereue Nichts”. (Page 163)  [21] Hess, Wolf Rüdiger. “Ich Bereue Nichts”. (Page 169)  [22] Zwar, Desmond. (Page 183)  [23] Hess, Wolf Rüdiger. “Ich Bereue Nichts”. (Page 168)  [24] Zwar, Desmond. (Page 181)  [25] Irving, David John Cawdell (personal communication)  [26] Appendix 2  [27] Appendix 2  [28] Appendix 2  [29] Wolf Rüdiger. “Ich Bereue Nichts”. (Page 153)  [30] Wolf Rüdiger. “Ich Bereue Nichts”. (Page 154)
Was  Operation Barbarossa was a Pre-emptive Strike?

Plan of the Historical Investigation
Was Operation Barbarossa a preemptive strike? This Internal Assessment will analyse whether Operation Barbarossa was a preemptive strike on Germany’s part. The controversial Icebreaker: Who Started the Second World War by Viktor Suvorov will be used as it argues that Operation Barbarossa, contrary to the widely accepted view, was a preemptive strike. A lecture from 2010 by Suvorov will be used to gain an overview of the newest developments on the ‘Icebreaker-Theory’. In addition the article Der Sinn des Kampfes published in the Nazi propaganda magazine Signal will provide Hitler’s reason as to why the USSR was attacked as well as providing an account from the time . The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact will help put the conflict between the two powers into perspective. Furthermore, accounts from other historians such as Klaus Hildebrand’s Das Dritte Reich and Wolfgang Michalka’s Deutsche Geschichte 1933-1945: Dokumente Zur Innen- Und Aussenpolitik, will be used to gain a variety of viewpoints.

Summary of Evidence
Between 3:00 and 3:30 on Sunday, 22 June 1941 Operation Barbarossa was initiated with the bombing of Soviet-occupied cities in Poland. 3.2 million German ground troops invaded the USSR1. There were also 600,000 horses, 2000 aircraft and 3350 tanks 1. With this Operation Barbarossa was the largest military operation of its type in history.
On 23 August 1939 the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed by the USSR and Germany2. According to article 1 of the pact, both nations would refrain from attacking the other country3. Article 2 stated that in the event of a third power attacking either the USSR or Germany the attacked country would not be helped by the other 3. In the ‘Geheimes Protokoll’ it was agreed that if the borders of Poland were to be redrawn, the Germans and the USSR would divide the country among themselves, establishing later, whether Poland was to keep its own government or become part of the invading powers 3. On 1 September 1939 Germany invaded Poland4 starting the Second World War. Days later, on 17 September 1939 the Soviet Union invaded Poland5. Both countries now occupied their territory of Poland according to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.
In Mein Kampf Adolf Hitler stated that he wished to gain ‘Lebensraum’ for the German race6 As early as 1933 Hitler had publicly spoken of wishing to gain ‘Lebensraum’ in the East and freeing Russia of the Jews that had gained control through Bolshevism7. Hitler promised that the USSR would first be invaded and then be turned into the leading state in Asia, guided by the Nazis. With Russia and Europe under national socialist rule the whole of the world would be conquered8. In December of 1940 Hitler created a plan to invade the USSR9. The plan was that the German troops were to attack the Red Army on Russian territory and destroy it before they could retreat and establish a defensible position. On June 31 1940 this plan was created and in the autumn of the same year it was integrated into the ‘Gesamtkriegsplan’10. Hitler reported, on 5 December 1941, to Brauchitsch and Halder that the USSR would be easy to beat11. No military leader, under Hitler’s command raised objections or challenged Hitlers views12. Hitler wished to invade the USSR to carry out his vigorous programme13 and eradicate Bolshevism14.
After signing the the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact Stalin did not believe that Hitler would keep his promise and refrain from attacking the USSR. However, he believed that before Britain was defeated, Hitler would not strike the USSR unless forced to. Stalin believed that the war between Germany and Britain would prevent Hitler from engaging in two conflicts15. During the time leading up to the German invasion Stalin refused to see the signs of Hitler’s upcoming attack16. The USSR chief of state for army, Boris Shaposhnikov, predicted what the attack from Germany might look like. He forecast a ‘three prong assault’, which closely resembled the actual attack17. The Soviets built up a thin line of defence along the border. They were confident that this would prevent a full invasion on Germany‘s part 17. It would also give the USSR time to mobilize its troops, drive Germany back and destroy the German army on its own territory17.

Evaluation of Sources
The article Der Sinn des Kampfes was published on 1 August 1941, in the Signal, a magazine released twice a month. It served as propaganda for the Nazi party. It was mainly published in other languages18 to justify German control over other European nations and gain support from them19. The purpose of this article was to convey to the readers why Stalin had not yet attacked Germany but had signed  the Molotov-Rippentropp Pact. In addition, the intention of the article was to show that Europe was behind the advance on the German enemy. It states that the plan for the USSR to attack the Third Reich had existed for a long time. Overall the source gives an accurate view of the public’s motive and shows the general attitudes expressed towards other nations, especially Russian. The article is limited as it speaks of Stalin’s plans for war, for example: ”Stalin's calculations were wrong”18 without giving any reason as to how the Germans were able to obtain this information. It also states, that “England and the United States are attempting to cut off all of the European continent from oceanic commerce”18. Again, how this information was found out remains unknown and in retrospect it did not come true.
The book Icebreaker: Who Started the Second World War, published in 1987, written by Viktor Suvorov, examines the causes of the Second World War and blames the USSR, who wished to gain control over Europe and then conquer the whole world. He worked as a military leader and for military intelligence in the Soviet government20. He then defected to the United Kingdom, where he then wrote Icebreaker: Who Started the Second World War20. Therefore, the book will be of value for the investigation, as Suvorov has had access to documents that others may never have had the chance to come into contact with. A limitation of his viewpoint is that he goes against the common view that the Nazis started WWII and that throughout the book the Nazi involvement in the starting in the war is largely ignored.

The common belief on the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is that Stalin thought that most Western Powers could not be counted on for support if war arose. This could be seen with the repeated failures of Appeasement. To Stalin it seemed that the West was avoiding a war at all cost and would certainly not help him if Hitler were to attack the USSR. To be able to survive a war, Stalin wanted a non aggression pact. This would postpone a conflict between the USSR and Germany and allow for more time to make preparations21. Suvorov, however believes that the USSR wanted Hitler to start a second World War22. This war would then engulf and weaken all capitalist powers22. Using the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Stalin wished to prevent an immediate war between himself and Hitler22.
According to Suvorov the Soviet Union was instigating a war by destroying the buffer zone between himself and the Nazis by signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact23. As soon as Germany had gained ‘their’ half of Poland, Stalin’s enemy was closer to the USSR. Later, when Stalin invaded Poland, the enemy was on the Soviet border. Thus, Suvorov concludes that the Soviet Union was planning on attacking Germany. However, had Stalin not signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Hitler would have most likely taken all of Poland. According to claims made as early as February 1933, he wished to expand the German Reich in the East24. In Czechoslovakia, Hitler had shown that he was would do anything to carry out this expansionist policy, even ignore western agreements. It also showed that he was not just content with half of a country. Once a nation is attacked and their army virtually destroyed, it would take hardly any effort taking the rest of the country for land and resources. With the potential threat of having Hitler on the actual border to the USSR, it was a clever move to still have a buffer zone between himself and German territory. While this buffer zone was no longer another country, it still was newly gained territory for Stalin.
Suvorov’s statement that the Soviet Union had betrayed Hitler22 by not invading on the same day, is untrue as the ‘Geheimes Protokoll’ of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact only states where Poland would be divided and that it would be decided later whether Poland was to keep its own government or become part of the invading powers25. In addition, one fact that also contradicts Suvorov’s theory was that the full plan for Soviet mobilization was not finished by the start of the German invasion26. During the time leading up to Barbarossa, Stalin refused to recognize the signs that Hitler would attack27. For example, the evacuation of most German citizens out of Soviet territory long before the attack on the USSR was initiated28. Valentin Bereschkow claims that Stalin’s refusal to evacuate any of his citizens in Germany is a clear sign that the USSR was not planning on invading Germany28.
The type of Soviet forces positioned on the border to Germany, according to Suvorov, were for aggressive, not defensive, purposes28. The article, Der Sinn des Kampfes, generally agrees with Suvorov’s theory stating that the Soviets had built up an offensive army along the border to Germany29. This propaganda does its best in portraying Russians as negatively as possible: “the nightmare of Bolshevism” 29. According to the article, there were 70% of all infantry divisions, 60% of all cavalry divisions and 85% of all motorized and tank units of the USSR positioned along the front29. However, according to Anthony Beevor, Hitler was lying in the the official numbers he presented to the public 30. Also Hitler and the other military leaders believed that the USSR would be easy to beat. As early as Mein Kampf, Hitler claimed he wanted to invade and conquer Russia. Hitler’s motive was never to attack the USSR to prevent it from attacking but rather to gain “Lebensraum” and crush Bolshevism31. To Hitler the war on the USSR was a war on Jews, Bolshevism and Slavs 32. He had on numerous occasions claimed that he wished to expand and eradicate Bolshevism 31, to rid Russia of the Jews who had taken power 33. Hans-Ulrich Thamer, in his account of the Second World War, also states that Operation Barbarossa was not initiated by Hitler to prevent a pre-emptive strike but rather to carry out his vigorous policies in the East 34.

Operation Barbarossa was not a preemptive strike. Stalin did not plan to trick Hitler into invading Poland and neither was the USSR provoking a war by having Germany on its border. Stalin saw the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact as an opportunity to postpone a German-Russian war. This would give him more time to to ready his army for the inevitable German attack, for him to regain his land lost in the Great War easily and to take land that Germany would have otherwise occupied. Hitler had long planned to invade and conquer Russia. As early as June 1940, when a strategic plan was integrated into the ‘Gesamtkriegsplan’, Hitler had planned to attack Russia, making Operation Barbarossa an attack planned well in advance rather than a pre-emptive strike. Although Hitler may claim that he was acting to prevent a Soviet attack, he had also stated, ever since the National Socialists came to power, that he wished to attack the USSR. Even if Stalin had planned to attack Germany first as Suvorov claims, to Hitler Operation Barbarossa was never a pre-emptive strike. It was a war of aggression. He had always planned on taking ‘Lebensraum’ from Eastern Europe.

List of Sources
Bedürftig, Friedemann. Lexikon III. Reich. Hamburg: Carlsen, 1994. Print.   Beevor, Anthony. Stalingrad. Munich: C.Bertesmann Verlag, 1999. Print.   Harenberg, Bodo. Chronik Des 20. Jahrhunderts. Dortmund: Chronik-Verl., 1988. 541. Print.   Hildebrand, Klaus. Das Dritte Reich. München: Oldenbourg, 1980. 65. Print.   Kershaw, Ian. Hitler. London: Penguin, 2001. 334. Print.   Knopp, Guido. Der Verdammte Krieg: Stalingrad 1942-43. München: Bertelsmann, 1998. Print.   Müller, Helmut M. Schlaglichter Der Deutschen Geschichte. Bonn: Bundeszentrale Für Politische Bildung, 1986. 283. Print.   Overy, Professor Richard. "BBC - History - World Wars: The Soviet-German War 1941 - 1945." BBC - Homepage. Web. 03 Oct. 2011. .  Overy, R. J. The Dictators: Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2004. Print.  Thamer, Hans-Ulrich. Verführung Und Gewalt: Deutschland 1933-1945. Berlin: Siedler, 1986. Print.  Michalka, Wolfgang. Deutsche Geschichte 1933-1945: Dokumente Zur Innen- Und Aussenpolitik. [Frankfurt Am Main]: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1993. Print.  "The Nazi Invasion of Russia Justified." The Bytwerk Page. Web. 06 Nov. 2011. .  Schreiber, Gerhard. Der Zweite Weltkrieg. München: C.H. Beck, 2002. Print.  Signal Magazine 1940 - 1945. Web. 13 Nov. 2011.  Suvorov, Viktor. Icebreaker: Who Started the Second World War? London: H. Hamilton, 1990. 11. Print.  Suvorov, Victor. "Who Started World War II." United States Naval Academy. 5 Nov. 2011. Lecture.  Valentin, Veit. Geschichte Der Deutschen. München: Knaur, 1984. 782. Print.  "Viktor Suvorov - Reference." ENotes - Literature Study Guides, Lesson Plans, and More. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. 

Was The Soviet Union Planning to Attack Germany in 1941?

Plan of Investigation The conventional view is that Germany invaded an innocent Soviet Union with Operation Barbarossa. This investigation will explore the revisionist theory1 – “Was the Soviet Union planning to attack Germany in 1941?”. Viktor Suvorov’s Icebreaker: Who started the World War, which renewed debate on the question, and his more recent findings will be challenged to evaluate the hypothesis. Contrasting views of western and Russian historians will be investigated to gather perspectives of various sides of the argument. Primary militaristic and propagandistic sources from both Soviet and German authorities are examined in search of evidence regarding Soviet offensive plans, German officials having kept such records throughout the war on their apparent enemy. An article justifying Operation Barbarossa from the Nazi propaganda magazine Signal will also be analyzed as it made use of these records and had a substantial impact on public opinion due to its wide European readership.

Summary of Evidence
Germany attacked the Soviet Union early in the morning of 22 of June, not two years after German and Soviet foreign ministers signed the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact on August 23, 1939. Article I forbade any aggression between the two nations for 10 years.2 The Pact divided Poland between the nations and for the first time in the life of each regime, the USSR and Germany shared a common border. Along a 1800-kilometer front, this was the greatest military operation Germany had ever tackled.3
Hitler issued formal orders on 18 December 1940 stating the Wehrmacht must be prepared to crush the Soviet Union.4 The Nazi propaganda magazine Signal justified the act as a defensive, pre-emptive strike against Soviet invasion.5 Additionally it states that there were from 1 of May 118 Soviet infantry divisions, 20 cavalry divisions, and 40 motorized and tank units mobilized along Germany’s eastern border with offensive intentions. On 17 June 1941 Russian soldiers crept into Germany territory to be quickly stopped by German forces and retreated.6 Since the beginning of 1941, 41 Russian frontier violations were recorded by the Germans.7 A report from the same time showed that Russia had increased the amount of Red Army divisions on the western frontier while other areas decreased in their amount of army divisions.8 As early as the first day of 1941, Germany saw 71% of Russia’s forces on the western front. 9 A week before the attack, Stalin broadcasted on public radio that there was no threat from the Nazi Regime.10 One day before, Stalin ordered a German man, who crossed the border to warn of the impending attack, be shot.11 When Stalin was made aware of the attack, he remarked, “Hitler surely does not know about it”.12
The Soviet Union cleared all defensive weapons, such as mines, which would have sufficiently hindered a German invasion by means of the railway lines, from its eastern border.13 On the same day of Stalin’s radio announcement, orders in secret were sent out to all divisions in the Ural district to mobilize to the western frontier,14 138 divisions in total,15 yet soldiers expected no offensive plans of either side.16 On May 5, Stalin gave a speech proclaiming “ it is necessary to go from defence to offence...The Red Army is a modern army and a modern army is an offensive army.”17 The Chief of the German High Command of Armed Forces Alfred Jodl testified in the Nuremberg Trials that “Russia was fully prepared for war” when they attacked with Barbarossa.18 Hitler proclaimed on the day Operation Barbarossa commenced to the German people that the German Reich possessed evidence which proves that Russia is supplying Serbia with arms for the intention of entering the war against Germany.19
Defence minister Timoshenko proposed to Stalin and Molotov tactical war plans (Plan MP-41) against Germany, which were approved by the Politburo on 14 October 1940 and frequently revised and improved through until May 1941.20 MP-41 would increase military equipment procurement by January 1942; however, projections predicted insufficient supplies by the end of 1941.21 The final plan created in May was more offensive than defensive, as it envisioned a surprise attack led by the Red Army against Nazi-occupied lands.22 A specified date for commencement was not given. The Red Army’s personnel, divisions, guns, mortars, and Combat aircraft were more than doubling in the period between 1939 and the day of Barbarossa; the production of tank units increased much less: only 21%.23
On 15 March 1941, Soviet propaganda posters captioned with “Forward to victory”24; and “The Motherland calls!” called for soldiers for the Red Army.25 A Russian military handbook published on 29 May 1941 translates phrases like “which village is this?” from Russian to German.26

Evaluation of Sources
The Nazi propaganda magazine Signal, released twice monthly, published an article on 1 August 1941 titled Der Sinn des Kampfes.27 The article was intended to justify Operation Barbarossa which had begun a month before by revealing to the readers that Germany was supported by much of Europe because of their common enemy: Russia, who was planning to attack. Because Signal was published for foreign readers in Europe and became highly popular with a maximum circulation of 2.5 million copies per issue28, it is valuable as its message was not only popular under the Nazi flag but was in fact also read widely across Europe. Signal was a publication of the Wehrmacht, independent of Goebbels’ propaganda,29 which allowed for the direct access of militaristic information. As a German source, this provides a valuable perspective on a nation which the German government kept a watchful eye on, as an attack against the USSR was in the making. Because the magazine was intended to promote Nazi ideas, facts could be skewed. However, the data pertaining to the amount of Soviet divisions on the front corresponds with private governmental documents at the time.30 Nonetheless, some statements lack evidence: The author claims to know the plans and intentions of the Bolsheviks in Romania as well as “Stalin’s calculations” when it can only be speculation.
Vladimir Rezun, under the pseudonym Viktor Suvorov, published his book, Icebreaker: Who Started World War II? in 1990 in English. The author is an ex-KGB agent who fled to the UK in 1978 and wrote this book while being pursued by the USSR. The purpose of his book was to counter the common view that Hitler attacked an innocent USSR and express the revisionist view that Stalin was planning his own invasion against the Third Reich.31 This source is valued in that the author had valuable knowledge and access to sources in Russia while western historians didn’t. Because Suvorov’s thesis was published before the Soviet archives were open, Suvorov uniquely used his hands-on knowledge of Soviet Military strategy and the habits of Stalin, stating that he preferred to execute operations on Sundays, both of which would be difficult for a non-Russian historian without Soviet military experience to notice at the time.32 However, there are only minimal footnotes and statistical evidence. Assertions like “at that moment the Soviet Union stopped producing anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns”33 are stated but not proven with evidence. Also, due to his inability to return to the USSR, a large amount of his cited sources were unable to be verified.

Had Stalin also been preparing for war against Germany in 1941, the blame for the outbreak of war would rest not only on German shoulders. This great controversy has led heated debate since the 1980s34, sparked by ex-KGB agent Suvorov (Rezun) who claimed Stalin used the Molotov- Ribbentrop Pact to provide himself with an attacking border.35 The Nazi military magazine Signal states that Russian military divisions at the German border were dangerously increasing. Normally such a potentially partial source would be questioned for its reliability, however, private governmental documents, with no need to fabricate evidence, confirm the high numbers.36 However, if it is agreed the Soviet Union would eventually attack, it is important whether the USSR was planning to execute the offensive in 1941.
Suvorov claims two events as a result of Barbarossa only occurred because the Red Army was preparing offensively: (1) the line-up of troops along the Romanian border prevented the German spearhead of tanks from being any more catastrophic;37 and (2) the placement of Soviet troops in the forest rather than defensive positions in the ground contributed to great losses in the initial onset of Barbarossa.38 In both cases, Suvorov is speculating on subjunctive events which could have turned out a number of ways.
The Wehrmacht decimated the Red Army in the onset of the attack. As Suvorov argues, they were planning for offense which makes defensive maneuvers unachievable and yourself vulnerable.39 Professor Mawdsley illustrates the Soviet military plan MP-41 was offensive and being crafted in the months before Barbarossa and Glantz agrees the plans were offensive40. Meltyuhov shows that the production of more defensive weapons, like tanks, was not increased, while offensive weapon production was.41 Russian military historians V. A. Anfilova, B. N. Petrov, and V. A. Semidetko agree the forces set up were better able to attack than defend.42 Normally, an army preparing to defend itself would dig anti-tank trenches, build cover, or set up barricades. The Red Army did nothing like this, in fact, the Soviet troops were organized in the same type of offensive formation as the Germans were right before the attack.43 V. A. Anfilov claims the Red Army could have taken all the necessary defensive precautions but did not.44 Additionally Ilya Starinov, Colonel during the “Great Patriotic War”, remembers entire defensive installments being abandoned and even dismantled.45
Suvorov in fact calculates an exact date for the planned Soviet offensive attack: 6 July 1941, coinciding with typical habits of Stalin as well as a quote from General Ivanov: “The German troops succeeded in forestalling us by literally two weeks.”46 In this estimate, Suvorov is using something a western historian does not have in his arsenal, knowledge of Soviet military strategy and habits Suvorov has noticed in studying Stalin. However, like most of his other claims, the evidence is circumstantial. MP-41 was also a defensive plan as Mawdsley explains, and the Soviet war generals knew the supplies for the plan would not be sufficient by the end of 1941.47 The Military statistics referenced in Suvorov and Meltyuhov’s works are only statistics from which assumptions are made.
The Soviet war propaganda calls for soldiers, even before the war started, implying the presence of Soviet military preparations. Because all defense installations were being dismantled, these plans must be offensive. The Soviet soldier phrasebook published May 1941 translates phrases like “Which city is this?” into German.48 In defensive war, Soviets would be fighting on Soviet territory and would certainly know their country at least better than a German. Also, phrases like “stop, or I’ll shoot” show the aggression towards Germans. This phrasebook was thus created to prepare soldiers to fight Germans in German lands. “Anti-Suvorov” historians published their rebuttals before Suvorov publicized this evidence.
According to the evidence provided in this investigation, Stalin was planning to attack Germany in 1941. Despite strong criticism of Suvorov, his thesis is correct as it is supported by various other historians and evidence. Since 1939, the Red Army had been more than doubling its offensive forces and creating a plan which both revisionist and orthodox historians agree was offensive towards Germany. Russian historians with valuable access to Soviet documents, statistics and knowledge of military strategy have agreed the military showed it was preparing for offensive war. Stalin did not believe Hitler would attack and thus Soviet war propaganda calling for soldiers shows the offensive preparation of the Red Army. Additionally, Soviet Russo-German phrasebooks for soldiers reveal the intention that Russians would be engaged in German lands. Although it is still debated whether Stalin signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact as a strategy to become closer to Germany, he planned to take advantage of the situation and attacking Germany. Hitler however acted faster and, because Stalin was preparing offensively and not defensively, inflicted great damages to the USSR.
47 Mawdsley, Evan. "Crossing the Rubicon: Soviet Plans for Offensive War in 1940-1941."The International History Review 25.4 (2003): 828. JSTOR. Web. 13 Nov. 2012.
48 Suvorov, Viktor. "Who Started World War II?" United States Naval Academy, Annapolis. 7 Oct. 2009. Lecture. 8

Works Cited

Anfilov, V. A. Nachalo Velicoi Otechestvennoi Voiny. Moscow: Voenizdat, 1962. Print.
"Der Sinn Des Kampfes." Signal 1 Aug. 1941: 4-5. German Propaganda Archive. Web. 11 Nov.
Ferguson, Niall. The War of the World: Twentieth-century Conflict and the Descent of the West.
New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.
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How much did Otto Skorzeny deserve the credit he received for the Unternehmen Eiche?

Section A
This investigation evaluates the question: How much did Otto Skorzeny deserve the credit for the Unternehmen Eiche? It will do so by comparing opinions of different persons who were involved both in the planning and the carrying out of the mission. As it isn’t possible to assess all possible points of view, the main sources will include Skorzenys’ view, Major Mors opinion, who was the leader of the Paratroopers, Karl Students opinion, who was in charge of the planning, and the views expressed by other primary sources. The sources providing the opinion of Otto Skorzeny and the original Newspaper report for that mission will additionally be assessed for the origin, purpose, limitation and the value. This piece of work won’t investigate the reasons as to why Unternehmen Eiche was put in place, but only assess the role Otto Skorzeny played in it.

Section B
The Unternehmen Eiche was launched on the 12th September 1943 with the aim of rescuing Benito Mussolini, the overthrown Italian Dictator, who was held prisoner by the Italian king, Viktor Emanuel III. He had been imprisoned after he being blamed for every failure in the Second World War by the Grand Council of Fascism. Hitler immediately ordered for Mussolini to be freed. 
     This operation with the codename Unternehmen Eiche was planned by General Karl Student and was to be carried out by a unit of paratroopers under Major Harald Mors. Skorzeny was not involved in the operation at this point. Prior to the actual rescue from the Hotel Campo Imperatore the Germans had problems finding the Duce. Their initial thought was that he would be kept in the Kings Palace. After that proved wrong they had a variety of clues most of which lead them to the isles of Ponza. At this point Skorzeny was involved in the mission and was part of a scouting mission which revealed that the Duce was no longer on the Ponza isles. It was only once he was located in Campo Imperatore that the Germans could execute their plan fast enough to rescue him. 
     The operation began with the taking of the base camp, which was the only connection to the Campo. With the base camp secured and the telephone lines cut the Germans had control of the area around the Gran Sasso and could initiate the crucial part of the plan.. The soldiers were to be flown onto the plateau where the Hotel was located with 10 gliders and were to storm the hotel to save the Duce. The soldiers involved were mostly Luftwaffe soldiers, but one battalion was made up of 20 SS-men under Skorzeny. This part went well, and all but one glider landed safely. Skorzeny’s glider crashed which in the end almost jeopardized the operation. 
     After landing the German soldiers stormed the hotel and saved the Duce. After he had been secured he was flown to Rome with a “Fieseler Storch”, a light, 2-person carrier, which in this case was loaded with an extra person, Otto Skorzeny, providing an extra challenge for the pilot. Once in Rome the Duce and Skorzeny transferred to a Heinkel He-111 which flew them to Munich, where Skorzeny reported to Hitler personally and got honored with the Ritterkreuz.

Evaluation of Sources

Otto Skorzeny: Meine Kommandounternehmen: Krieg ohne Fronten
This book is a memoire of Otto Skorzeny in which he describes several Special operations. The chapter of importance for this investigation is chapter two: “Auf der Suche nach dem Duce”, in English: “The search for the Duce”. Skorzeny wrote this book as a personal reflection after the war, although it possesses certain values of a novel. At first glance, this book is the perfect source for this topic. It is the personal reflection of the person in question and therefore the best option to find out Skorzenys view. It shows the reader what Skorzeny would like the whole world to believe, whether or not that might be true. This feature is both a value, because it provides a very distinctive view on the topic, as well as a limitation, since it seems, when compared with other sources, that important facts and other views have been disregarded. That it was published 1975 makes it even more interesting since it shows that this biased and probably false view still persisted well after the war. 


“Spiegel” article
This article was published by Der Spiegel in 1967. A specific author is not stated, which in this case though, is not a problem since knowing the name would not alter the analysis of this source in any way. Its purpose is to inform German readers of the newspaper about how the Duce was saved. It is interesting to read since it doesn’t have a negative tone towards the mission or the people involved. On the contrary, I actually read some pride out of it. This is intriguing because it was published 1967, well after the third Reich. To still see any form of pride of enthusiasm in an article of a well read and renowned German newspaper in that time is what makes this so interesting. That factor is also one of its values. A limitation of the text is that it leaves little to no room to question any of what happened.


At first glance, the situation seems to be clear. Skorzeny is portrayed as the hero of this mission and many sources only mention his name in context with it  .In his own book he keeps emphasizing how crucially he was involved in every aspect of the operation. For example does he over-emphasize his role in the scouting flight, or this importance in the planning of the operation. It is out of question that he did play a part, but his presentations are not representable of what actually happened. He seems to disregard other peoples input in the mission. Evidence of his involvement in the planning is given by the involvement of the Italian General Soleti, who got involved after Skorzeny proposed it. As for his involvement in the active part of the mission, he emphasizes three main things done by him: leading the troops into the hotel, spotting and warning the Duce and his role as personal guard of Mussolini from the moment of rescue on. The question here is once more not whether he did these things, but why they are so important. Usually it would not matter who spotted the Duce first, who lead the charge or who accompanied Mussolini to Hitler. The answer to this question lies in the context of the mission. Rescuing the Duce was not only important because he was a friend of Hitler, but also because with the Duce lost, Italy was believed to drop out of the war. Adding to this strategically dilemma was the thought of propaganda. If they could manage to save Mussolini and put all actions in the right light, the mythos of the strong and heroic SS-Arian would be further solidified. The operation itself could have been done without Skorzeny and his SS-men, but Goebbels knew that a genius like Skorzeny could easily showcase this mission as something even bigger, if he only was involved. And he absolutely did. Even Winston Churchill said this mission to be a “highly bold action.” Seeing such sources as the Encyclopedia of World War II and official newspapers such as Der Spiegel only stating Skorzeny as the mastermind behind the operation further shows the success of Skorzeny in building gain renown for himself.  
Until now there have been very few people claiming that Skorzeny was not as important as he portrayed himself. And all these people appear to be German. In fact, basically all non-German sources unquestionably adopt Skorzeny’s view of things. Examples are again the Biography of Mussolini by R.J.B. Bosworth and the Encyclopedia of World War II by Alan Axelrod. 
According to the anti-Skorzeny views, he never possessed any commanding power in this mission. He, along with his SS men, was only on the mission as a policing force for more authority. They claim he only managed to position himself well in pictures and therefore created the appearance of him being the man in charge. This is noticed when Kurt Students book is read in the context of the other sources.    
 As said earlier, this mission was not simply to rescue the Duce, but also to save the Face of the Axis powers. This means that from the beginning, the propaganda side of it, emphasized by Skorzeny, was always prominent. When looking at the wide range of sources only accrediting Skorzeny one can see that despite having no actual power in the mission, Skorzeny did an amazing job at advertising it as an SS operation and a personal achievement.

To say that Skorzeny was completely uninvolved in the planning and the carrying out of the mission is wrong. He did play a certain role, but never the one he was accredited for so often. The planning of the mission lay with General Student, who then delegated Major Mors to lead the mission in the field. Skorzeny had minor inputs in the planning and helped with hand on work such as the scouting flight. However, he never had the official command of the mission and never was a major authority, neither in the planning, nor in the field. Therefore it is fair to say that Skorzeny does not deserve credit for the mission as a whole. What he indeed deserves credit for are the actions he did while on the mission, but even more so for his amazing skill of turning this mission into an enormous Propaganda success for the Nazis. 


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