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'Final Solution': Nazi Population Policy and the Murder of the European Jews [Paperback]

Gotz Aly
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

29 Jan 1999

How did it come about that a modern European state in the middle of the twentieth century planned and carried out the industrially organized mass murder of six million Jews, male and female, adults and children? Making extensive use of Russian, German, and Polish archives, Aly has provided the most exact and detailed reconstruction of the 'Final Solution' yet achieved. As well as looking at the ideological imperative in the Nazi state to 'solve the Jewish question' and at Hitler's own role, Aly investigates the actions of those running the Reich Security Headquarters in Berlin and of those numerous lesser figures on the ground who were in the eye of the storm, grappling with the planning failures inherent in Nazi resettlement plans and experiencing mounting difficulties in trying to be rid of 'their' Jews. Aly illustrates, through the evidence he builds into an overall mosaic, the lunacy of Nazi race policy, and the variety of agencies that went into the gradual shaping of a policy of all-out genocide.

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'Final Solution': Nazi Population Policy and the Murder of the European Jews + Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust + The Origins Of The Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy September 1939-March 1942
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (29 Jan 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340677589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340677582
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 859,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


This outstanding work - based on detailed research, often into hitherto untapped sources - is the best analysis to date of the complex developments between 1939 and 1941 that produced the Nazi genocide against the Jews.

(Ian Kershaw)

Much of the documentation, insight, and argument of the book are both new and important... a fine book from which no one seriously interested in the subject can fail to profit.

(Neue Politische Literatur)

Aly is one of the most original, prolific, and controversial figures in this new cohort of historians... his arguments cannot be dismissed easily, since he is an indefatigable researcher as well as a powerful writer... his conclusions are always challenging and provocative... Final Solution is an important addition to the literature on the origins of the Holocaust, and it should be read by anyone who wishes to understand the context within which the genocide of the Jews occurred.

(The New Republic)

Aly is among the most original and controversial German writers on the Holocaust.


About the Author

G tz Aly was born in Heidelberg and got his degree from the Otto Suhr Institute of the Free University. He is the author, with Susanne Heim, of Vordenker der Vernichtung: Auschwitz und die Pl ne f r eine neue europ ische Orndung (1991).

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Up until the start of the war, German authorities constantly attempted to increase the 'pressure to emigrate' felt by German and Austrian Jews. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Count down to Genocide. 22 Jun 2010
This work is a clear and concise guide to the chaos which existed within Nazi thinking and policy towards "The Jew" , it describes the conditions from which the policy of Genocide emerged and found its form.

An excellent history of a rather neglected aspect of Nazi policy not only does it guide the reader through options as seen by the Nazis officialdom but it does illustrate how mass murder was as much a war aim as was forcing a military decision.

The authors style of writing is easy to follow , the footnotes and references link well the outcome is helpful in understanding the will and desire which was later translated into the exploitation and murder.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learn from history 19 Jan 2000
By Klaus Madersbacher - Published on Amazon.com
Learning about Nazis will help to understand the intentions behind aggressive war policy. German historian Goetz Aly a few years ago has written most remarkable books about economical and political interests behind Nazi warfare - "Final Solution" is one of them. Taking care of almost negliged documents he shows how well planned and designed German strategical considerations in World War II have been.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How the nazis planned the final solution. 22 May 2000
By John Barry Kenyon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A most excellent insight. The author deals mainly with the period September 1939 to the Wannsee meeting in January 1942, making use of new material which has come to light. He illustrates with meticulous attention to detail how those entrusted with the grisly task - Himmler, Heydrich, Eichmann, Frank etc - moved inexorably to their final position of Jewish extermination. The problems they had to deal with en route, including opposition from those who wanted to keep the Jews alive for indefinite slave labor and the economic expectancy of those Germans recently moved from "liberated" territories back to the Reich, are recounted in all their complex detail. The final chapter gives a selection of pertinent remarks from the murderers themselves. I have never read a more incisive and readable account of the incremental steps leading up to the Final Solution.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Functionalist Shoah Origins, With Unmentioned Implications for GENERALPLAN OST (the "Resettlement"-Genocide of Slavs) 20 Aug 2010
By Jan Peczkis - Published on Amazon.com
This scholarly work makes it obvious, from many cited German documents that, not only was there no intentionalist Nazi strategy for exterminating Europe's Jews, but actual Nazi WWII-era ideas for "solving the Jewish problem" were a mass of contradictions. The Nazis variously proposed the relocation of Jews to the Krakow area, Lublin area, Madagascar, the Pripet marshes, and northern Russia. When systematic killings of Jews were mentioned at all, they were for the liquidation of nonproductive Jews, not all Jews. (e. g., p. 215).

The Einsatzgruppen shootings of Jews, in the wake of Operation Barbarossa, were, with some exceptions, limited to Jewish military-age men for a full eight weeks, claiming 50,000 Jewish victims. After the August 15-16, 1941, visit by Himmler, the killings were vastly expanded in scope and scale, to encompass all Jews, and to claim 500,000 victims within the next four months. (p. 217). [Owing to the long duration of the selectivity of the killings (8 weeks), and huge difference in their scale before and after the 8-week initial period, it is difficult to accept the intentionalists' conjecture that the selectivity of the killings had simply been a trick to fool the Jews.]

Looking at the whole picture, the reader can see that the plans for the actual mass extermination of Jews developed gradually: "...as my results show, one can discern clear leaps in development in March, July, and October 1941...the extermination program was at first experimental, until sometime in May 1942." (pp. 258-259).

It is fallacious to think of the massive gas chambers as ones developed specifically for Jews. In fact, as tabulated by Aly (pp. 70-71), nearly 11,000 mentally ill Germans, Poles, and Jews were gassed in 1939-1940 alone.

Ironic to the recurrent media mendacious remarks about "Polish death camps" (for camps, built and staffed by Germans, in German-occupied Poland), the original idea was for the extermination camps to be built in the German-occupied USSR. Plans, in Fall 1941, called for one such camp to be built in Mogilev (Mogilov), 200 km. east of Minsk, and for it to have the then-unheard-of capability of cremating 2,000 corpses per day. Mass access to the camp owed not primarily to railroads but to the easily-navigable Dnieper River. (pp. 223-225).

According to many cited German officials, the strength of the Red Army had been underestimated. (p. 201). The failure of the USSR to collapse as expected in 1941 put a screeching halt to all of the plans to "settle the Jewish problem" deep in the USSR. Instead, the mass killings of Jews would have to be conducted on German-occupied territories well west of the German-Soviet front. Hence the continued non-selective Einsatzgruppen shootings of Jews and the eventual mass gassings of Jews on Polish soil.

During many Nazi actions, Poles were not treated as severely as Jews owing to fears of inflaming Polish resistance, as noted in a German document. (p. 271). Or, Jews were to be killed directly, and Poles allowed to die a [faked] natural death, as in the case of the Zamosc deportees to Auschwitz. (p. 249).

Now consider the Slavs. There were the mass expulsions of Poles and Jews from Wartheland (Reich-annexed northwest Poland)(e. g., p. 5, 8-9, 146; which the Poles notably resisted: p. 143, 145, 178), the genocidal extermination of the Polish intelligentsia (p. 23), use of mass deportations for forced labor as a tool to weaken the Poles biologically (p. 40), plans for the removal of all Poles (e. g., p. 161) and tentatively all Slavs (p. 4), the planned intentional starvation of 20-30 million Soviet citizens (p. 186, 192), etc.

Gotz Aly doesn't elaborate on GENERALPLAN OST, the eventual German plan to resettle around 100 million Slavs to Siberia. The resettlement would've been a genocidal act, comparable, if not deadlier, to the proposed mass resettlement of Jews to Siberia. Aly writes: "Heydrich's March [1941] plan provided for extermination of the Jews through the `natural' means of hunger, cold, and slave labor--in the northeastern regions to be conquered in the Soviet Union...Heydrich's plan in the spring 1941 was inextricably linked to a successful blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union." (pp. 255--256). Also, Aly cites Zamecnik, who comments: "`Deportation to the northern territories of the USSR would have been the simplest form of genocide. Under the murderous working and climatic conditions, the Jews would have died en masse, just like the millions who were deported under Bolshevik rule. None of the deportees were supposed to survive.'" (p. 184).

Finally, note Aly's own conclusion: "Nazi ideology gained its effectiveness not from isolated, government-controlled hatred of Jews or the mentally ill, Gypsies or Slavs, but from the totalitarian unity of so-called negative and positive population policies." (p. 245).
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The "Final Solution: as last resort 20 April 2002
By Jeffrey L. Thurston - Published on Amazon.com
This excellent book concisely documents the "Final Solution" as the end result of a failed and inept German population policy. Ethnic Germans from many different countries were imported to parts of the occupied East to create a Greater Reich. To make way Poles and other ethnic groups were deported further east. To make way for the Poles, Jews (at the very bottom of German racial categoies) were first deported and then ghettoized and then killed. The Germans' inability to physically remove the Jews out of German territory eventually led them to try to exterminate them literally. Although this books claims not to deny or qualify the "Holocaust" I think it shows that genocide was the result of an unobtainable ethnic cleansing and not an ad hoc master plan. Ironically some of the Germans' former victims have recently found themselves trying to enact similiar (albeit smaller-scale) policies and have found themselves goingdown the same road as the Germans.
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars hidden brilliance 24 Jan 2000
By N. Ravitch - Published on Amazon.com
A brilliant and innovative thesis about the origins of genocide in Nazi Germany, but it is unfortunately presented in a very undigested form and without a captivating narrative. I hope someone will use this material in a more user-friendly manner.
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