70 anos da Conferência de Wannsee. Naquele encontro de altos ofciais nazistas, decidiu-se pela Solução Final do “problema judaico”. Naquele fatídico 20 de janeiro, a conclusão em Wannsee foi de que não se poderia enviar os judeus para Madagascar ou coisa parecida. O mais “razoável” seria exterminá-los.
Bom lembrar que Wannsee ocorreu em um momento em que a guerra ainda não estava definida nem a Alemanha derrotada. Muito pelo contrário, havia pouco mais de um mês que os EUA haviam entrado no conflito e a campanha contra a União Soviética ia bem, obrigado. Ou seja, a guerra não poderia ser justificativa.
Este quem me enviou foi meu amigo Alexandre Rocha. O artigo está muito bem escrito por alguém que conhece o assunto. recomendo.
Para um link com informações sobre a Conferência, clique aqui.
The First Killings of the Holocaust
By TIMOTHY W. RYBACK
On the brisk winter Tuesday of Jan. 20, 1942, 15 Nazi officials assembled at a lakeside villa on the Wannsee near Berlin to deliberate on the “final solution.” This month, the world marks the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, one of the pivotal moments in Holocaust history. It provides an appropriate occasion not only for reflecting on the origins and implications of this horrific event, but also on one particular moment when it could have been prevented and, I would posit, almost was.
The extermination of European Jews may have been formally outlined seven decades ago this month, but it began nearly nine years earlier, during Easter Week 1933, a few minutes after five o’clock in the afternoon on Wednesday, April 12, when four Jews — Arthur Kahn, Ernst Goldmann, Rudolf Benario and Erwin Kahn — were executed in precisely that order at a Nazi camp in the obscure Bavarian hamlet of Prittlbach.
These four killings framed the constituent parts of the genocidal process formalized at the Wannsee Conference: intentionality, chain-of-command, selection, execution. In the years to come, the process was refined, the numbers expanded monstrously, but the essential elements remained.
Even Prittlbach retained its central role. The hamlet was so small that the Nazis named their camp after the neighboring town of Dachau, which had access to a rail line. The boxcars rolled into Dachau, but the victims were marched to Prittlbach.
The Konzentrationslager Dachau in Prittlbach became the prototype for Nazi atrocity. It boasted the first crematory oven, the first gas chamber, and, on that sun-splashed spring day in April 1933, the first Jewish victims.
A Holocaust survivor once told me, and repeated to many others with equal conviction, that the trail of blood that began in Dachau ultimately led to Auschwitz. But it also almost ended there before it barely began.
On that same April evening in 1933, Joseph Hartinger received a call that four men had been shot attempting to flee the recently erected detention facility. As a local prosecutor, it was Hartinger’s job to establish a commission to investigate all deaths resulting from “unnatural causes.”
The blood was still damp on the ground when Hartinger arrived. He sensed immediately that something was horrifically wrong. “My reasons were based not only on the physical circumstances but in particular on my assessment of the personalities I encountered in the camp and especially on my evaluation of the nature of the camp commandant Wäckerle, who made a devastating impression on me,” Hartinger recalled. “I also had to include in my deliberations the fact that those who had been shot were all Jews.”
When Hartinger reported that a serial killing of Jews had taken place, his superior responded unequivocally: not even the Nazis would do that. The investigation was terminated.
But as killings continued to mount, Hartinger persisted. On June 1, 1933, he issued indictments against the camp commandant and three other SS men. It was a brazen act of legal defiance to the regime. Hartinger was not naïve. He knew the Nazi capacity for violence. That evening, he told his wife, “I just signed my own death sentence.”
The murder indictments had a surprising impact. The commandant was removed. The killings stopped. Hartinger had hurled a legal wrench into the Nazi bureaucracy and singlehandedly paralyzed its homicidal impulse.
For several weeks in the summer of 1933, the killings stalled as Nazi officials attempted to understand the implications of the Hartinger indictments. Solutions were found. The killing was renewed. Miraculously, Hartinger survived. The Nazis had deliberated on murdering him. Instead, he was transferred to another jurisdiction.
Recently, I came across the 40-page unpublished memoirs that Hartinger wrote in 1984 shortly before his death at age 91. Along with many technical details already familiar to scholars, Hartinger outlined an extraordinary plan for dismantling the emerging system in the Dachau Concentration Camp.
He understood that the Nazi regime, just a few months in power, was still sensitive to international opinion. It was his intention to use the murder indictments to expose publicly the atrocities in Dachau, force the government to evict the SS guards and replace them with trained police or military units familiar with the laws governing the proper detention and treatment of prisoners. It was a seemingly quixotic plan, but Hartinger understood the key decision makers within the government and sought to play them against one another.
He almost succeeded. “These were not fantasies,” Hartinger recalls in his memoirs. “As I later learned, there were conversations in exactly this direction except that the ‘good spirits’ did not prevail.”
But his indictments confounded the Nazi legal bureaucracy. In the end, the only recourse was to lose them. They were locked in a desk and forgotten.
After the war, the abandoned indictments were discovered by a U.S. intelligence unit and returned to German prosecutors who used them to convict the surviving perpetrators.
The Hartinger memoirs show us in nuanced detail the political, legal and emotional dynamics that led to the first serial killing of Jews in Nazi Germany. Equally important, they show us that tenuous phase of an emerging genocidal process when intercession could have disrupted and derailed the horrific and now seemingly inevitable outcome.
Clearly, no single man could have prevented the Holocaust, except Hitler himself, but had there been more Germans like Hartinger to hold individual Nazis personally accountable for their excesses, including President Paul von Hindenburg, who possessed the constitutional authority to dissolve the Nazi government at will and dismiss Hitler as chancellor, the course of history could have taken a very different turn.
The Hartinger memoirs make this fact abundantly clear, preserving for us that ineffable substance of the human soul — faith, hope, fear and courage — that shapes individual decisions and ultimately determines the course of actions, both large and small, that constitute the chain of events we know as history.
Hartinger may have lacked the aristocratic bearing of Raul Wallenberg. He certainly possessed neither the charm nor wiles of Oskar Schindler. He was little more than a middle-aged civil servant with a wife and five-year-old child at home. But like these two legendary figures of Holocaust rescue, Joseph Hartinger demonstrated the potential of personal courage, intelligence and determination in a time of collective human failure. He also provides further proof of the transcendent and enduring power of justice.
Timothy W. Ryback is author of “The Last Survivor: Legacies of Dachau” and “Hitler’s Private Library: The Books That Shaped His Life.”