Hitler's weird opinions on Jews and the Ten Commandments, in his own words
Because the angry debate about Whoopi Goldberg's statements is focused on the definition of racism and its role in the Holocaust, perhaps the views of Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) himself will be of interest.
In one of his last statements on Judaism (3 February 1945), Hitler told Martin Bormann (1900–1945), his personal secretary and head of the NSDAP chancellery:
I never held the opinion that the Chinese or the Japanese, for example, were racially inferior. ... I admit that their tradition is superior to ours. ... Our Nordic racial consciousness is aggressive only towards the Jewish race. However, we speak of a Jewish race only for reasons of linguistic convenience, for ... from the genetic point of view, there is no Jewish race. Circumstances make us label in this way a racially and spiritually coherent group, membership in which is claimed by Jews all over the world, no matter which individual citizenship is given by passports. This group of people we call the Jewish race. ... The Jewish race is most of all a spiritual community. ... Spiritual race is tougher and more enduring than natural race. The Jew, wherever he goes, remains a Jew ... and to us he must appear as a piece of evidence for the superiority of "spirit" over flesh. (H. Trevor-Roper, A. Francois-Poncet, eds., Hitlers Politisches Testament. Die Bormann Diktate vom Februar und April 1945, Hamburg: Albrecht Knaus, 1981, pp. 66, 68, 69)
If nothing else, Hitler's ideas have led to confusion and perplexity among scholars. Thus, Yehuda Bauer (*1926), Israel's most experienced Holocaust specialist, laments: "In principle, Hitler can be explained; but this does not mean that he has been explained" (R. Rosenbaum, Die Hitler-Debatte: Auf der Suche nach dem Ursprung des Bösen, München/Wien: Europa-Verlag, 1999, p. 7). Germany's most productive scholar and publicist on Nazi Germany, Joachim Fest (1926–2006), confessed in his last interview: "I do not comprehend it [the annihilation of the Jews —G.H.], and nobody who has ever dealt with it has even come close ... to a convincing interpretation" (J. Fest, "Mitleidlosigkeit bis zum allerletzten Punkt" in: Die Welt, 10 September 2004, p. 3).
What did Hitler mean by "spirit" in relation to his campaign of mass murder? The Nazi killings started inside Germany with "full-blooded Aryans" who had been disabled from birth, and with German soldiers who had been severely wounded during the attack on Poland (1 September 1939). Eugen Stähle (1890–1948), Hitler's deputy in charge of poisoning patients in the Grafeneck home for the handicapped (southwest Germany), defended himself against a senior Church Council member, Reinhold Sautter (1888–1971) from Stuttgart, who had accused him of violating the Fifth Commandment. Stähle replied, "The 5th Commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill,' is not at all a commandment by God, but a Jewish invention" (H.-W. Schmuhl, Rassenhygiene, Nationalsozialismus, Euthanasie. Von der Verhütung zur Vernichtung "lebensunwerten Lebens" 1890–1945, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, p. 152).
As early as 1932, according to the records of Hermann Rauschning (1887–1982), a leading NSDAP man in Danzig/Gdansk, Hitler stated: "This devilish 'Thou shall, thou shall!' And that stupid 'Thou shall not!' We must clean our blood from it, from this curse of Mount Sinai! ... The day will come when against these commandments I will erect the tables of a new law. And history will recognize our movement as the great battle for the liberation of mankind, liberation from the curse of Sinai. ... That is it what we are fighting: this masochistic attitude of self-torturing, this curse of so-called morality, which is made an idol to protect the weak from the strong, given the eternal fight, the great law of divine nature. It is the so-called Ten Commandments that we fight" (H. Rauschning, Gespräche mit Hitler, Wien: Europa-Verlag, 1988, p. 210).
When Germans began exterminating the handicapped at home, and then moved on to murdering the Jews and killing the inhabitants of Slavic territories, no one ever again was to stop them by calling out, "Thou shalt not kill." One might — in the cold language of the computer age — say Hitler had ordered that the hardware of biblical morality, the Jewish people themselves, be eliminated in order to erase the software, the Jewish principles of the sanctity of life. Christians, and all other people who followed this Jewish core, which had become the West's moral code, were persecuted, too.
What Whoopi Goldberg and many others don't realize is that the Nazi extermination of the "Jewish race," the handicapped, and the Slavs went together. The Holocaust was intended to eliminate moral inhibitions, thereby immunizing Germans against any reluctance they might feel about carrying out the rest of Hitler's homicidal plans for Europe and the world.
Gunnar Heinsohn Heinsohn (*1943) established, in 1993, Europe's first institute for comparative genocide research at the University of Bremen. His studies include "Why Auschwitz?" (1995), "Lexikon der Völkermorde" (1998), "What makes the Holocaust a uniquely unique genocide?" (2000), and "Hitler's Motive for the Holocaust" (2014).