Holocaust versus Wehrmacht
How Hitler's "Final Solution" Undermined the German War Effort
In 1941, as Nazi Germany began its disastrous campaign against the Soviet Union, Hitlers other campaign, to exterminate European Jewry, was also commencing in earnest. What began with organized executions carried out by the Einzatsgruppen evolved into systematic genocide, reaching its frenzied final moments just as the Wehrmacht was meeting defeat on the military front. These campaigns—and Germanys failure—were inextricably linked, Yaron Pasher tells us in Holocaust versus Wehrmacht. Pasher argues, in fact, that the major share of the logistical problems faced by the Wehrmacht during World War II stemmed from Hitlers obsession with securing the resources—especially from the Reichsbahn railway—needed to implement the Final Solution. To a degree never fully recognized or understood, Hitlers anti-Semitic ideology was his wars undoing.
Through four major Wehrmacht military campaigns—Moscow, Stalingrad, and Kursk in the east and Normandy in the west—Pasher explores this fatal contradiction in Hitlers efforts to dominate the European continent. As Operation Typhoon, the sequel to the German invasion of the Soviet Union, got underway in November 1941, organized train transports began carrying Jews to the East—with the last trains taking Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz just as the Allies invaded Western Europe and moved inexorably to encircle the Third Reich. In these years, this book shows us, the trains transporting Jews could have carried men, machines, and fuel to depleted and trapped divisions in the Caucasus, and later, to the Western Front. As the Germans moved deeper into Soviet territory, they became increasingly dependent on train transport—which entailed converting Soviet railway line to German specifications; and yet, however successfully this conversion was completed, the trains that might run on these rails were working elsewhere in service of the Final Solution, leaving the Wehrmachts overextended armies without the resources to survive, let alone win, their final battles.
“Manages to successfully integrate the history of the Holocaust in military history of World War II and it is successful, more than previous attempts, in estimating the importance of ideology in the peculiarity of the conflict, especially at the Eastern front.”
—Revista Universitaria de Historia Militar
“Pasher’ls work develops the fertile ground at the intersection of military history and Holocaust studies. Overlooked and understudied, this intersection shows the inseparability of the execution of military operations with the implementation of the Final Solution.”
—Army HistorySee all reviews...
“Pasher’s work is a natural but innovative extension of previous studies that demonstrated the tension between ideology and economics within the Third Reich as SS planning for the implementation of the “Final Solution of the Jewish question” resulted in severe economic consequences for the overall German war effort.”
“A compelling alternative to existing interpretations, one designed to compel interested observers to view the Final Solution as a factor in every military scenario.”
“Pasher’s carefully conceived study covers the critical issues in depth and within their broader wartime context and does so in a clear and convincing fashion. This is a book that should attract considerable favorable attention.”
—Gerhard L. Weinberg, author of A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II
“This is an important book. His impressive and challenging work establishes once and for all the centrality of the Holocaust to German war policy.”
—Robert M. Citino, author of The Wehrmacht Retreats: Fighting a Lost War, 1943
“Pasher’s masterful book makes an extremely important contribution to the study of World War II and the Holocaust.”
—Doris L. Bergen, author of War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust
“Yaron Pasher has written a truly important work. After reading this book, no one will be able to deny that the Germans fought two wars, and the priority that Hitler and his ideological supporters gave to the racial war significantly hampered the German war effort.”
—Michael Berenbaum, Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute, American Jewish UniversitySee fewer reviews...
In the end, what Hitler called the Jewish problem was his downfall. In documenting the distribution of Germanys resources and operational capabilities through four major campaigns, Holocaust versus Wehrmacht offers a clear picture of the Nazis military objectives as inseparable from—and finally, fatally susceptible to—Hitlers and his henchmens other, ideological war to rid Europe of Jews.