At the Wannsee Conference, Educated and Rational Men Dedicated Themselves to Fulfilling an Irrational and Evil Vision

Although it is sometimes described as the meeting where the leaders of the Third Reich decided upon a “final solution to the Jewish question,” the conference that took place in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on January 20, 1942 was in fact organizational in purpose. Hitler, who did not attend, had already made up his mind about the Jews, and the Shoah was by that time well underway. At Wannsee, Reinhard Heydrich, the number-two man at the SS, simply gathered the heads of various governmental departments and agencies to inform them of the Führer’s plans, and to work out the details. David Pryce-Jones reviews a recent book on the subject by the German historian Peter Longerich:

The fifteen men present were representatives of Nazi institutions such as the Reich Chancellery, the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry for the Occupied Territories, the Propaganda Ministry, and the Office of the Four-Year Plan. All of them were already key figures implementing genocide and were at Wannsee to put the finishing touches to it.

Born around the turn of the century, these men had grown up with the strictly conservative moral values of the Kaiser’s Germany. About half of them had fought in the First World War and as many again were “March violets,” the phrase reserved for careerists who joined the Nazi Party in March 1933 once Hitler had come to power. Four were state secretaries, that is to say senior civil-service officials in one of the ministries of the various states. Ten were university graduates and nine were qualified lawyers of whom all but one had a doctorate.

After the war, the state secretaries and lawyers with their doctorates could hardly remember whether they had been at the conference or what part in it they had played. A single participant said that the regime’s Jewish policy was shameful but he had “simply carried on and waited for the end.” Educated and rational men in their position did not have to make it their life’s task to fulfill Hitler’s uneducated and irrational vision of the world. This scholarly account of a handful of Nazi murderers goes as far as it can in exposing the kind of thing that happens when the moral structure collapses, and in its fine and unstated way it is also a penance.

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Read more at National Review

More about: Holocaust, Nazism

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy