The Nazi thinking on Germans & Jews
Heydrich needs unanimity, & the Jewish question may be the only subject on which this is possible. The SS, the Chancery, & the Party are fighting over who decides. SS victory is a necessary consequence of Nazism. The other Nazis call the SS power-grubbing bullies even as they acquiesce; Heydrich admits this ugly truth – he uses the reputation of the SS to get his way. His private speeches, as opposed to his public, are threats whenever they address anyone outside the SS. That is the truth about the SS.
Nazism implies that Germany must act in order to survive, to conquer, & therefore to exist. If action is essentially military, then the world as such is at war. War is not something you declare, but something you learn. Therefore foreign policy & domestic policy are identical. Therefore, Heydrich ignores economic necessity & the urgency of problems in Poland. He insists that war against Jews must start in Germany, the smallest demographic problem facing his 1000 year Reich…
Heydrich’s death in the East, of course, points out his limited understanding of war. Though Goering had grounded him, we see him flying his plane, suggesting recklessness. Heydrich represents hard Nazism, the Fuehrerprinzip. Eichmann represents soft Nazism, the logistic & administrative side. This distinction between soft & hard men is suggested by, but more serious than, the distinction between military & civilians (some civilians are less cowardly than the SS, which anyway includes people like Eichmann). The distinction between those boasting of committing murder & those reluctant to talk about murder is not the same as the distinction between those willing to commit murder & those reluctant to commit murder. The Nazi regime is bent around murder, but is not ruled or administered necessarily by murderers.
Heydrich distinguishes soldiering from politics, as obeying & giving orders, where obedience implies competence, & command implies the attainment of power. He shows he has risen to command, but he implies that everyone obeys one command, the extermination of the Jews. This is necessary because the ultimate goal of Nazism is a Nazi peace: The Nazi vision is apolitical. Indeed, tyrants are men who want peace; if it is not given them, they will do anything to get it. Heydrich is, additionally, convinced than no one will fight back. Nazi ideology leaps from struggle to victory; this is not self-evident.
The Nazis are trying to exterminate a race. They acknowledge that nature is their enemy. The existence of Jews already proves that Nazism is bound to fail. Whether the Nazis think the Jews are ‘sublimely clever’ corrupters; or moral corrupters likened to a disease; or vermin – Jews point to the fact that most human beings are not Aryan, i.e., manly. Nazi success would require the extermination of the human race.
Only Stuckart intuits this problem: He says that race & species must be distinguished. He implies Nazism should be limited to extinguishing one race among many. Heydrich cannot accept that limitation: The Jews are a test case, he jokes: Maybe they were ‘chosen’ to face Nazism. Kritzinger supports Stuckart’s limited racism, not because he also fears Jewish cleverness, but because he wants a limited solution that would not make murderers of all Germans. These two are real lawyers; they instinctively reject the Fuehrerprinzip, but dare not oppose it openly. They end up asking that the ugliness be concealed behind laws. Heydrich sees the problem clearly: They want to limit Nazi power over Germany, implicitly limiting SS power over the Nazi regime.
The Gestapo Chief voices the SS version of the vulgar opinion: Germans themselves, if associating with Jews, must be murdered. The SS decides who is German, for it decides who will live, starting in Germany. This is the effectual truth of Nazism. The SS is the self-assertion of the German man. It follows that the SS should remake the German people: Men assert themselves, decide who they are & for what they stand.
Heydrich’s proposition supposes erroneously that Nazis are gods – whence the 1000 year plan. He thinks erroneously that doing the unthinkable, the irreversible will make the regime immortal. The extinction of all Jews would no more guarantee Nazi victory in WWII than would that victory guarantee the 1000 years above-mentioned. Heydrich ignores the power of chance, as if living dangerously (his quote from Nietzsche) were the same as living forever: The truth about dangerous living is that it is a philosophical point about making decisions in the absence of fear of death. That can get you killed.
One of the men in the General Government in the Eastern territories points out bitterly the mortality even of SS men. He specifically mentions that disease – the foul, the disgusting – can kill them. The irony is that the imprisoned Jews are the source of diseases killing anyone, including SS men, near their ghettos. I apologize for drawing attention to this; it is in bad taste; but this is the joke about the only sense in which Jews are corrupting Germans…