A lot has been said already about Pat Buchanan's bizarre effort to shift the blame for World War II and the Holocaust away from Hitler. But one of the most offensive parts of Buchanan's screed is his attempt to minimize Hitler's crimes against Jews before 1942. Buchanan writes:
If Hitler wanted the world, why did he not build strategic bombers, instead of two-engine Dorniers and Heinkels that could not even reach Britain from Germany?
Why did he let the British army go at Dunkirk?
Why did he offer the British peace, twice, after Poland fell, and again after France fell?
Why, when Paris fell, did Hitler not demand the French fleet, as the Allies demanded and got the Kaiser's fleet? Why did he not demand bases in French-controlled Syria to attack Suez? Why did he beg Benito Mussolini not to attack Greece?
Because Hitler wanted to end the war in 1940, almost two years before the trains began to roll to the camps.
This isn't the first time Buchanan has made this argument; he previously wrote:
That Hitler was a rabid anti-Semite is undeniable. "Mein Kampf" is saturated in anti-Semitism. The Nuremberg Laws confirm it. But for the six years before Britain declared war, there was no Holocaust, and for two years after the war began, there was no Holocaust.
Not until midwinter 1942 was the Wannsee Conference held, where the Final Solution was on the table.
That conference was not convened until Hitler had been halted in Russia, was at war with America and sensed doom was inevitable. Then the trains began to roll.
The Holocaust was not a cause of the war, but a consequence of the war. No war, no Holocaust.
Hitler began systematically murdering Poland's and the Soviet Union's Jewish populations in June 1941, but as Yad Vashem, Israel's official "Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority," notes, "From the beginning of the war in 1939, until the summer of 1941, tens of thousands of Jews were murdered due to the effects of the German occupation policy." And as noted by Yad Vashem, Nazi proposals for genocide against Jews existed even before the war began:
Nazi leadership mentioned the possibility of exterminating European Jewry, even before the outbreak of the war. The most famous of these articulations was made by Hitler on January 30th 1939 in a speech at the Reichstag. Following the occupation of Poland in 1939, various proposals for segregating the Jews were raised including: concentrating European Jewry in a special "reservation" near Nisko, in the Lublin district, or, alternatively, deporting them en masse to the island of Madagascar in East Africa. The state of war made such large scale plans impossible to implement and therefore Jews were confined to ghettos, but these were always thought of as a temporary measure. The decision to kill all the Jews of Europe was formulated in late 1941 and a setting was created for the start of the mass murder, which eventually became more systematic. This included the deportation of the Jews from the German Reich to the East (beginning in October 1941), the initial construction of the Belzec Death Camp (November 1941), the beginning of the murder of Jews in Chelmno (December 1941), and coordinating the apparatus of mass murder at the Wannsee Conference (January 1942).
Buchanan, moreover, is downplaying nearly a decade of persecution and violence that preceded the death camps:
From its formation the Nazi regime persecuted the Jews. From April 1933, nationwide boycotts were carried out against the Jews and Antisemitic legislation began. The Nazis strove systematically to remove the Jews from all centers of influence in German society and to separate them from the "Aryan Race." Along with their governmental and legal activities, the Nazis attempted to segregate the Jews from the rest of German society. The Nazis realized that they were able to generate extensive support for these steps, or at least tacit acceptance of them, among the German people. The Nuremberg Laws, enacted in 1935, stripped the German Jews of their citizenship and brought about sharper racial separation between Jews and "Aryans."
The Antisemitic policy implemented by the Nazi regime was intensified in the late 1930s, when the Jews began to be systematically dispossessed of their property and were subjected to increased pressure to emigrate. In March 1938 Germany annexed Austria, where this policy was applied through brutal means. The anti-Jewish policy escalated further in a series of violent acts beginning in the summer of 1938, culminating in the Kristallnacht pogrom in November 1938 and the events that followed. At this point, most of the Jewish organizations and the internal infrastructure of the communities in Germany were paralyzed.
Here's more on 1938, the Anschluss, and Kristallnacht:
The year 1938 saw a horrific radicalization of the anti-Jewish policy of the Nazi regime. The change began with the events surrounding the annexation of Austria to Germany (the Anschluss), which was accompanied by unprecedented attacks on the Jews of Vienna. This was followed by an exacerbation of the forcible confiscation of Jewish property ("Aryanization"). In October 1938, about 17,000 Jews of Polish origin were deported from Germany. This chain of events culminated in an outburst of violence against Jews throughout the Reich in November 1938. This became know as the Kristallnacht Pogrom, in the course of which 99 Jews were murdered. Following Kristallnacht, approximately 30,000 Jews were arrested and held in concentration camps - the first time that such arrests were made en masse. The incidents and the regulations that ensued were a heavy blow to Jewish life in Germany.
- Pat Buchanan