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

Jan. 11 2022

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.

Read more at National Review

More about: Holocaust, Nazism

When It Comes to Peace with Israel, Many Saudis Have Religious Concerns

Sept. 22 2023

While roughly a third of Saudis are willing to cooperate with the Jewish state in matters of technology and commerce, far fewer are willing to allow Israeli teams to compete within the kingdom—let alone support diplomatic normalization. These are just a few results of a recent, detailed, and professional opinion survey—a rarity in Saudi Arabia—that has much bearing on current negotiations involving Washington, Jerusalem, and Riyadh. David Pollock notes some others:

When asked about possible factors “in considering whether or not Saudi Arabia should establish official relations with Israel,” the Saudi public opts first for an Islamic—rather than a specifically Saudi—agenda: almost half (46 percent) say it would be “important” to obtain “new Israeli guarantees of Muslim rights at al-Aqsa Mosque and al-Haram al-Sharif [i.e., the Temple Mount] in Jerusalem.” Prioritizing this issue is significantly more popular than any other option offered. . . .

This popular focus on religion is in line with responses to other controversial questions in the survey. Exactly the same percentage, for example, feel “strongly” that “our country should cut off all relations with any other country where anybody hurts the Quran.”

By comparison, Palestinian aspirations come in second place in Saudi popular perceptions of a deal with Israel. Thirty-six percent of the Saudi public say it would be “important” to obtain “new steps toward political rights and better economic opportunities for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.” Far behind these drivers in popular attitudes, surprisingly, are hypothetical American contributions to a Saudi-Israel deal—even though these have reportedly been under heavy discussion at the official level in recent months.

Therefore, based on this analysis of these new survey findings, all three governments involved in a possible trilateral U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal would be well advised to pay at least as much attention to its religious dimension as to its political, security, and economic ones.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Islam, Israel-Arab relations, Saudi Arabia, Temple Mount