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WHEN DID HITLER DECIDE ON THE FINAL SOLUTION Introduction One of the most interesting and hotly debated aspects of the Holocaust is when Hitler ordered it to begin The thinking to now has been that the decision was made in early to mid 1941 and that it got into full gear in early 1942 That thinking is now challenged by the recent discovery of hitherto unavailable documents recently uncovered by German historian Christian Gerlach 1 The new documents include a diary entry by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels of December 12 1941 and a portion of Reichsfhrer-SS Heinrich Himmlers diary entry of December 18 1941 Current Thinking Before getting to these recent discoveries and what they mean it is in order to briefly recapitulate the current state of thinking on the matter It is generally accepted that the decision was made to physically exterminate the Jews in early to mid 1941 2 Hitlers secretary remembers a private meeting between Himmler and Hitler in the early spring of 1941 after which Himmler sat at her desk with a very troubled look on his face put his head in his hands and said My God my God what I am expected to do 3 She is convinced that that was the day Hitler ordered him to murder the Jews Other accounts suppose that the decision was made roughly around the time between March 1941 and the invasion of the Soviet Union Research in this area is hampered by the fact that no written Hitler-Order launching the Final Solution has ever been found and that if there ever was one it most likely was destroyed Rudolf Hoess commandant of Auschwitz 4 and Adolf Eichmann head of Amt IVB4 Jewish Affairs 5 both speak of having been told of a Hitler-Order in early summer of 1941 Historians have generally thought that the Final Solution unfolded like this First
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