A totally random musing… comments welcome, especially from the history-minded:

Was the Holocaust good or bad policy for Hitler, from a purely pragmatic perspective? Was the national rage he stirred up towards the Jews and others intrinsic to his initial success? Or was it a net distraction and energy drain from his war effort? If he had been “merely” a conqueror and not also a monster, would he have gotten farther, or would he never have reached his historical zenith at all?

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  1. There had been a huge anti-semitic sentiment in Central Europe since the fourteenth century. It came to a head after the tragedy of the First World War. The German people needed to vent their anger and humiliation at someone. First, it was the Kaiser and his government, but then Wilhelm I fled to Denmark. Hitler grabbed the reins of the maelstrom and directed it those “stinking jews who kept him out of art school”. It’s what helped him rise to power. The Holocaust came about because it really was his Final Solution. He’d been tryingto drive the Jews out of Germany since 1933. The problem was that no one else would take them. And shooting them was wasting bullets that were desperately needed for the war. As a side note, it’s interesting that none of the Rothchilds or Warburgs went to the camps…

    1. 14th?

      My understanding (admittedly without serious research) is that anti-Semitism didn’t take much longer than Peter O’Toole and the Masada mini-series completion, and the start of the Diaspora.
      Governments leveraging xenophobia is a time-honored(?) pattern.
      To ask whether Hitler was engaging in “good policy” is to ask if the end justifies the means, with the big caveat that long-term economic consequences of his (initially ‘good’ for some) decisions never really had time to mature into full-on disasters.
      I saw NO.

  2. the anti-semitism was a vehicle he used to strengthen his nationalistic drive which vaulted him to power, but i think it was only a small component. The immediate rage was directed at the countries that were keeping Germany under post-WW1 poverty.

    The holocaust was a mixed bag…at first it provided cheap prison-camp labor for the war machine, but it also resulted in sabotaged product. few people seem to have realized the scope of the death camps until it was all over, so I can’t say that fury about the holocaust was a determining factor in the allies resolve.

  3. From what I’ve read, Hitler’s pursuit of the Final Solution actually detracted substantially from his war effort. Trains, guards, and resources had to be diverted to Jewish concentration camps and the disposal of same.

    Malnourished, near-starving workers also produce extremely shoddy quality goods, and don’t produce well. Economically, the Jews would’ve been more helpful to Germany’s war effort if they’d been kept in well-run work camps where they were, perhaps, worked hard, but food was plentiful and resources allocated properly.

    Of course, they’d have probably been even *more* helpful if they’d been left free citizens. True, anti-Jewish sentiment was one way Hitler roused national feelings in the Germans, but it was scarcely the only way such feelings could be lit. As a proud people with centuries of tradition and a reputation for being a nation of artisans, poets, philosophers, and thinkers, only to come to economic chaos and ruin, Hitler’s message would likely have found fertile soil no matter what.

  4. It gave the german people what they needed-someone to blame, and a theoretical light at the end of the tunnel…”if we can just kill all the Jews, we’ll all be healthy, wealthy and happy”…it sounds ridiculous, but when you’ve been eating paint chips and gravel for awhile, any hope is worth killing for

  5. I agree with Shang chi..

    Hitler’s Holocaust was exceptionally bad for the German war effort. While his anti-semitism may have been able to tap into latent fears that existed all over Europe (and everywhere else for that matter), it was not as if the Jews were the only possible person that Hitler could have blamed. For one thing, he clearly could have just blamed democratic elements Germany.. I mean, if you look at the exact history, Ludendorf, who was essentially a military dictator in real charge of Germany in 1918, saw that Germany was going to lose the war, so he skillfully “resigned” before he got blamed. When the Democratic forces saw the faltering of the government, they litterally instigated a “revolution,” overthrew the Kaisership and declared themselves the new government. A lot of this they did under the instigation of President Wilson, whose “14 Points” doctrine promised not to dismember states and to allow for free elections and without evil war reparations, etc etc…

    What happened then? Well, the democratic government basically declared a cease-fire and to agree to negotiations. As the Allies then consolidated their gains and the German situation got even more hopeless, the Allies then basically mentioned.. “um, haha, we were just kidding about those 14 points and now we are going to do whatever we want…”

    So, who gets blamed for selling Germany down the river, why, but of course, the Democratic government of the Weimar Republic…

    All Hitler really needed to have done was to tap into this kind of hatred–hatred of the German democrats who sold the German state down the river–but also easily towards the Allied governments that were–looky here–also democracies that obviously deceived the Germans and then exploited them..

    Obviously, democratic governance must be based on deception and lies–and is anti-German.. so we just need a powerful German Fuhrer, like in the good old days, to lead us to prosperity again…

    Beyond that, economically and scientifically, the anti-semitism of the Nazis was incredibly destructive to German goals. Economically, the holocaust was a complete waste. Slave labor is not nearly as efficient as capitalism–and the Jews in Germany were some of the most Pro-German and most integrated Jews in all of Europe. Their economic power was incredible, but it was completely destroyed by the Nazis..

    Scientifically, the situation is even worse.I mean, if you look at the scientists who were involved with the American atomic bomb project, a majority of them were jewish immigrants from Central Europe (Teller and von Neuman, Einstein, Leo Szilard, and many many others).. and without Hitler’s Anti-semitism, all of these scientists would have stayed in Germany, and it, most likely, would still be the world center of Physics…

    So.. if he is merely a dictator who reunites Germany without the anti-semitism.. then he is far stronger..
    In fact.. now that I think about it.. If he is the RABIDLY ANTI-COMMUNIST dictator who reunites Germany.. then there is even the chance that he will get massive support from other western Nations like Great Britain (and even France, since the Soviets did renege on all those French loans to the Tsar) in a “holy war” against the Communists. With Russia gone.. there would be nothing really to stop him from becoming strong enough to later destroy the French… if he were so inclined..

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