Contrary to popular belief, Germany’s Foreign Ministry did not oppose Hitler, but rather acted to further anti-Semitism in the world. A new report by an international commission of inquiry debunks a long-standing myth of German Foreign Ministry “fairness” during the Hitler era.
"As time goes by, the Germans are learning that there was no area in Germany at the time that was not tainted with and involved in the plan to destroy the Jews."
The report reveals for the first time that Foreign Ministry officials on all levels were actively involved in planning and carrying out the Final Solution. Even before World War II, they advanced extreme proposals for what they called at the time a “German or pan-European problem” - namely, the Jews.
Fischer Appointed the Committee After Ministry Honored Nazis
The committee was appointed by former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer back in 2005, after he discovered that a Ministry publication included obituaries for Ministry officials who were former Nazis. He decided to establish an international committee to investigate the history of the Ministry’s involvement in the Holocaust crimes of the Third Reich and in pursuing post-war justice.
The nearly 900-page document will be presented today to Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is planning to include it in the syllabus for diplomatic training.
Four historians were on the committee: Prof. Moshe Zimmerman of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Professors Norbert Frei and Eckart Conze of Germany, and Dr. Peter Hayes of Northwestern University in the U.S. “For many years,” Zimmerman explained, “the Foreign Ministry in Germany attempted to create an image amidst the German public that it played ‘fairly’ vis-à-vis the Jews during World War II.”
In fact, however, the report shows that not only did the officials defend the Nazis’ anti-Semitism around the world, but they even viewed the Ministry’s job as one of dissemination of anti-Semitism around the world. “Diplomats stationed throughout Europe and even in eastern Asia,” according to Zimmerman, “became organizers, perpetrators and partners in the campaign to destroy the Jews.”
One document uncovered by the committee unabashedly explained the purpose of an official trip by a Foreign Ministry official to Belgrade as follows: “Liquidation of Jews in Belgrade and talks with Hungarian envoys in Budapest,” in the words of the official himself.
Other documents show the great involvement of then-Foreign Ministry Director, Ernst von Weizsacker – father of recent German President Richard von Weizsacker– in the Final Solution. Contrary to his reputation as a strong opponent of Hitler, the committee found documents with his signature authorizing the deportation of Jews from France to the Auschwitz death camp.
Another finding: After World War II, many Nazi diplomats remained in the Foreign Ministry, and many were stationed in Arab countries or in Latin America, where their presence would arouse little opposition.
Even Before Hitler
The report also reveals that the Ministry had “Jewish affairs experts” whose anti-Jewish schemes pre-dated even those of the Reich Security office. One Ministry official formulated a plan in January 1939 to persecute Jews around the world. This was even before Hitler’s famous Reichstag speech of that month, in which he threatened clearly: “Europe will not have peace until the Jewish question has been disposed of… If the international-finance Jewry inside and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations into a world war yet again, then the outcome will not be the victory of Jewry, but rather the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!”
“As time goes by,” Zimmerman summed up, “the Germans are learning that there was no area in Germany at the time that was not tainted with and involved in the plan to destroy the Jews. Even people thought to be very fair, such as in the Foreign Ministry, are now seen to have been involved in the execution of the Final Solution.”