the lingering why


But another secret of a movement like National Socialism is that its appeal is eclectic. Not everyone who admired Hitler bought the whole package. The regime was able to appeal to patriotism, a hunger for leadership, a generalized xenophobia, a distrust of parliamentary democracy, populist disdain for elites and high culture, and, as the war progressed, fear and hatred of Russia and Bolshevism. Indeed, there was among some Germans a tendency to absolve Hitler from responsibility for the horrors committed in his name – “If only the Führer knew . . .”. The stubborn defence that German forces put up on the Eastern Front, even when the war was manifestly lost, prolonged the time in which the Final Solution could be pursued, but that was not the primary reason for this resistance. For the fanatics, the Red Army did indeed represent the military arm of “Judæo-Bolshevism”; for the rest, whether civilian or in uniform, it consisted of “Asiatic hordes” or “inhuman Orientals”, a stereotype reinforced by the experience of Occupation in 1945.

That the ideological driving force behind Hitler and his hard-core entourage was “redemptive anti-Semitism” is a proposition we can accept. No other explanation can tell us why the Holocaust was pursued with such relentless, escalating and ultimately counterproductive thoroughness, or why the Nazi leadership appeared to be convinced that Jews commanded the agenda of both Soviet Bolshevism and British and American capitalism.

more from the TLS here.