I look also upon what the bureaucratic destruction process – for this is what it was – as a series of minute steps taken in logical order, and relying above all as much as possible on experience, past experience. And this goes not only, incidentally, for the administrative steps that were taken, but also psychological arguments – even the propaganda. Amazingly little was newly invented until, of course, the moment came when one had to go beyond that which had already been established by precedent, and one had to gas these people or in some sense annihilate them on a large scale. Then, these bureaucrats became inventors. But like all inventors of institutions they did not copyright or patent their achievements, and the prefer obscurity.
They invented very little. And they did not invent the portrait of the Jew, which also was taken over love, stock and barrel from writings going back to the 16th century. So even the propaganda, the realm of the imagination and invention, even these – they were remarkably in the footsteps of those who preceeded them, from Martin Luther to the 19th century. And here again they were not inventive. They had to becom inventive with the “final Solution.” That was their great invention, and that is what made this entire process different from all others that had preceded that event. And, in this respect, what transpired when the “final Solution” was adopted, or to be more precise, when the bureaucracy moved into it, was a turning point in history.
Even here, I would suggest a logical progression, one which came to fruition in what might be called “closure.” Because from the earliest days, from the 4th century, 5th century, 6th century, the missionaries of Christianity had said, in effect, to the Jews, “You may not live among us as Jews.” The secular rulers who followed them from the late Middle Ages had then decided “You may not live among us.” And the Nazis finally decreed, “You may not live.”
General wording—the very wording “final solution” or “total solution” or “territorial solution” leaves something to the bureaucrat that he must infer. He cannot read that document. One cannot even read Goring’s famous letter to Heydrich at the end of July 1941 charging him in two paragraphs to proceed with the final solution,” and examining that document, consider that everything is clarified. Far from it.
[…] It was an authorization to invent. It was an authorization to begin something that was not as yet capable to being put into words.