In modern history, the Holocaust ranks among the worst atrocities committed against a group of people by another. The systematic segregation and later extermination of over 6 million Jews throughout Europe brought shame, anger and retribution upon Germany. Today the Holocaust is a distant memory and survivors of the crime are now in their advance years with the number of living survivors declining each year. Recently, Elie Wiesel, the best-selling author of the classic ‘Night’ died at the age of 87. His story, and that of Kitty Hart-Moxon, the star of the 2015 documentary ‘A Day in Auschwitz‘ are just two of the many stories written and told by survivors of the many concentrations camps erected by the Third Reich.
One of the burning questions has always been, how did the decision to murder the Jews come about? To this day, debate continues about how much Adolf Hitler either knew about the camps or how much influence he had in their construction and operation. While no notes have survived to shed light on Hitler’s thoughts or decisions, the notes of some of his underlings did survived shedding light on how the Final Solution became a reality. At the helm of the plan to eradicate Europe of its Jewish citizenry was a former chicken farmer from Munich, Heinrich Himmler. The feared former chief of the notorious SS, is considered by many to be the mastermind behind Hitler’s plan to rid Germany and the conquered territories in Europe of all Jewish people or in Hitler’s words, judenfrei.
In this close look at the development of the Final Solution, Richard Breitman has carefully reconstructed the plans of Hitler and his administration, revealing how and why the Final Solution came to be a reality. Drawing upon diaries and other correspondence that survived the war, Breitman does a masterful job of exposing Himmler for the psychotic murderer that he truly was. Blinded by his belief in Aryan supremacy and his devotion to the Führer, the fanatical Himmler takes on the role of a menace in his own right and the ease at which he and other members of the Third Reich causally planned their actions are sure to leave the reader in shock and asking even more questions that can be answered. In spite of the overwhelming evidence against Himmler, there just isn’t enough credible evidence to prove that Hitler gave the final order for murder as Breitman points out. But the reality is, he didn’t have to. The evil genius Himmler and his henchmen, most notably Reinhard Heydrich, carried out the wishes of their leader with unquestionable loyalty displaying a devotion that bordered on the insane.
A chilling aspect of the Holocaust is that while Himmler and the many perpetrators of the crime planned these heinous acts, they were also husbands and fathers. And this is one of the most disturbing parts of the book. Murders against men, women and even children occurred with not only the knowledge, but with also the blessing of the supreme architect of murder himself. And while Himmler himself was far from the image of aryan supremacy he like to project, his devious and cunning ways, struck fear in his enemies and his closeness to Hitler earned him the protection, encouragement and loyalty of the Führer. And with this trust, he carried out the extermination of millions of innocent men, women and children. His murderous rampage is unparalleled in modern history and his name continues to live in infamy. He is without a doubt, the architect of genocide.