Primary Evidence about Hitler

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
verdonsky
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Primary Evidence about Hitler

Post by verdonsky » 23 Jan 2005 06:04

Could anyone tell me about this statement from David Irving, found on page xxvii of Hitler's War is about, and if it is true, please...

For the want of hard evidence – and in 1977 I offered a thousand pounds
to any person who could produce even one wartime document showing
explicitly that Hitler knew, for example, of Auschwitz


Surely there is primary evidence that Hitler knew of the death camps!
Is Irving really kooky, or is he right?

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Post by David Thompson » 23 Jan 2005 06:24

Surely there is primary evidence that Hitler knew of the death camps!

Irving asked for "even one wartime document showing explicitly that Hitler knew, for example, of Auschwitz". Hitler was a mass murderer, but he wasn't a moron. Why would Hitler have any interest in receiving incriminating documents about methodological details, as long as he knew that the Jews were being killed? Irving's request doesn't show either his intelligence or his sincerity in the best light.

When you use the term "primary evidence" in your post, are you asking for something different than Irving?

If the question is meant to suggest that Hitler was unaware of the mass murders generally, that contention is easily refuted. There's no shortage of evidence on the subject of Hitler's knowledge of the extermination of the Jews. There are numerous statements by Himmler and Heydrich during the course of the war, to the effect that the extermination was ordered by Hitler. Most of these are collected at:

Himmler, Heydrich and the Fuehrer Order
viewtopic.php?p=210256#210256

and there's more from Himmler on the thread "Himmler's 'Special Mission from the Fuehrer'" at:
viewtopic.php?t=61802

and then there's this memorandum from Alfred Rosenberg:

From Document 1517-PS in Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Volume IV: US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1947. pp. 55-58.
viewtopic.php?p=552853#552853

TOP SECRET

MEMORANDUM About Discussions [of Rosenberg] with the Fuehrer on 14 December 1941

To begin with, I [Rosenberg] asked the Fuehrer about my speech in the Sportpalast and referred to several points which seemed to call for further discussion. The Fuehrer was of the opinion that the speech was given prior to the declaration of war by Japan and therefore under different suppositions, but in view of this, still desires to think over several points. It probably would not be appropriate if I were to officially say that the provinces in the East were to remain under Germany. I said thereupon that I, too, had considered this point, that one can probably only say that the Eastern Provinces [Ostland] will remain under German protection. The Fuehrer was of the opinion, only to go so far that the provinces never would come under communism now from the German side appear as secured.

I remarked on the Jewish question that the comments about the New York Jews must perhaps be changed somewhat after the conclusion (of matters in the East). I took the standpoint, not to speak of the extermination [Ausrottung] of the Jews. The Fuehrer affirmed this and said that they had burdened the war upon us and that they had brought the destruction; it is no wonder if the results would strike them first.

The Fuehrer further said that he did not deem it necessary to order forth the other nations to contribute as yet, since they can produce therein a legal claim for later. He does that from time to time in single negotiations. I told him that I, too, had written that down as a question. I would comply with these instructions to edit more carefully the corresponding paragraphs in my speech. The Fuehrer agreed throughout that I had touched upon the Asiatic conflict.


There are also a number of other statements from persons who asked Hitler about the extermination of the Jews, where Hitler refused to discuss the subject and said that he had given Himmler exclusive responsibility in that area.

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Post by Erik » 23 Jan 2005 19:04

Irving asked for "even one wartime document showing explicitly that Hitler knew, for example, of Auschwitz". Hitler was a mass murderer, but he wasn't a moron. Why would Hitler have any interest in receiving incriminating documents about methodological details, as long as he knew that the Jews were being killed? Irving's request doesn't show either his intelligence or his sincerity in the best light.


How would Hitler know ”that the Jews were being killed”, in accordance with his will, without ”receiving incriminating documents”? Mind-reading?

His lack of interest in methodological details and non-request for such documentation put his sincerity concerning the mass murder in the ”best light” to those receiving the oral order? His sincerity of trust in their loyalty to his disinterested will?

Did he expect to be free from responsibility for the effects of his oral orders? The afterworld or history would say : he was not a mass murderer, but a moron, expecting that his oral orders would be neglected!

When you use the term "primary evidence" in your post, are you asking for something different than Irving?

If the question is meant to suggest that Hitler was unaware of the mass murders generally, that contention is easily refuted. There's no shortage of evidence on the subject of Hitler's knowledge of the extermination of the Jews.


Then what was Hitler’s point in having no ”interest in receiving incriminating documents about methodological details”, when his knowledge of the extermination would be evident anyhow?

Without documents incriminating his awareness, he trusted that the verdict of history would be : "not guilty"?

There are numerous statements by Himmler and Heydrich during the course of the war, to the effect that the extermination was ordered by Hitler.


The receivers of his oral orders could incriminate him without documents? Their honesty cannot be doubted?

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Post by David Thompson » 23 Jan 2005 19:42

Erik -- You said:
Did he expect to be free from responsibility for the effects of his oral orders? The afterworld or history would say : he was not a mass murderer, but a moron, expecting that his oral orders would be neglected!

Your formulation requires Hitler to have been a moron, since it assumes he didn't know what was going on under his nose, and the numerous statements by Himmler (including speeches to Gauleiters and Generals) attributing the extermination to his personal orders somehow failed to reach Hitler's ears.

Furthermore, the "moron hypothesis" is refuted by Rosenberg's memorandum and the statements from persons who asked Hitler about the extermination of the Jews, only to have Hitler refuse to discuss the subject and say that he had given Himmler exclusive responsibility in that area.

Also, your skepticism on this issue was not shared by a number of Nazi leaders, who had no difficulty in seeing the obvious and blaming Hitler for issuing the extermination order. See the thread "Nazi leaders and holocaust denial" at:
viewtopic.php?p=299882#299882

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Post by JariL » 25 Jan 2005 09:02

Hi all,

Lets drop the question about what Hitler knew and did not know about extermination of Jews for a moment and concentrate on how decision making worked in the Third Reich. If we look at other fields than extermination, did Hitler always give written orders on everything? Did he for example give written order to develop Ferdinand? 251/22? Jagdpanzer IV L/70? All these are known to be built because Hitler wanted them to be built but was the order signed by Hitler personally? Did Hitler sign the order for showing degenerated art before the war in an exhibition? He did personally inspect the exhibition before it was openned to the public and approved it. Did Hitler give written orders for burning books?

"Die Führerprinzip" was the core of administration in the Third Reich. How well were things documented in the first place and how much of what we actually accept as historical truth is also derived from second hand sources, like memorandums where some one is quoting what Hitler said/ordered in this or that meeting? What I have read about Hitlers personality he was not able to concentrate on reading documents for any length of time. His whole leadership style was very much concentrated in verbal communication and letting people compete with each other in fullfilling his wishes. Notes were certainly kept and protocols made but did Hitler as a rule ever sign them afterwards?

Regards,

JariL

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Post by David Thompson » 25 Jan 2005 17:46

JariL -- Excellent point.

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Post by Topspeed » 25 Jan 2005 18:40

Well his speeches could give a hint. How about his sentence: " ALLE JUDEN MUSS STERBEN ! " if you have a leader who talks this way..do you really have to ask a gaulaiter with a written order to pull the trigger or turn the valve ?

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Post by David Thompson » 25 Jan 2005 19:01

Hitlers speeches and early writings on this subject (and there are a lot of them) clearly show intent and motive, but not knowledge.

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Post by Erik » 25 Jan 2005 19:22

Hi all,

Lets drop the question about what Hitler knew and did not know about extermination of Jews for a moment and concentrate on how decision making worked in the Third Reich. If we look at other fields than extermination, did Hitler always give written orders on everything? Did he for example give written order to develop Ferdinand? 251/22? Jagdpanzer IV L/70? All these are known to be built because Hitler wanted them to be built but was the order signed by Hitler personally? Did Hitler sign the order for showing degenerated art before the war in an exhibition? He did personally inspect the exhibition before it was openned to the public and approved it. Did Hitler give written orders for burning books?

"Die Führerprinzip" was the core of administration in the Third Reich. How well were things documented in the first place and how much of what we actually accept as historical truth is also derived from second hand sources, like memorandums where some one is quoting what Hitler said/ordered in this or that meeting? What I have read about Hitlers personality he was not able to concentrate on reading documents for any length of time. His whole leadership style was very much concentrated in verbal communication and letting people compete with each other in fullfilling his wishes. Notes were certainly kept and protocols made but did Hitler as a rule ever sign them afterwards?

Regards,

JariL


Once upon a time great controversy surrounded the principle of God’s ”decision making”, His "core principle".

Was He a Theist or a Deist?

Theism:
View that all observable phenomena are dependent on but distinct from one supreme being.
The view usually entails the idea that God is beyond human comprehension, perfect and self-sustained, but also peculiarly involved in the world and its events.

http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article?t ... theism&ct=

[…]Like deists, they believe that God created the universe and transcends it; unlike the deists, they hold that God involves himself in human affairs

http://www.bartleby.com/65/th/theism.html

Deism:
The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?r=67&q=deism

In practice there are a range of beliefs encompassed by both Theism and Deism; however, Theism can include faith or revelation as a basis for belief while Deism can include only belief which can be substantiated through reason.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism

”In practice”, there is polytheism?

Most ancient religions were polytheistic, holding to pantheons of traditional deities, often accumulated over centuries of cultural interchange and experience. The belief in many gods does not preclude the belief in an all- powerful all-knowing supreme being.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polytheism

Revisionists like to quote the doyen of Holocaust studies, Raul Hilberg:

But what began in 1941 was a process of destruction not planned in advance, not organized centrally by any agency. There was no blueprint and there was no budget for destructive measures. They [these measures] were taken step by step, one step at a time. Thus came about not so much a plan being carried out, but an incredible meeting of minds, a consensus -- mind reading by a far-flung bureaucracy.
[Quoted in: George De Wan, "The Holocaust in Perspective," Newsday (Long Island, New York), Feb. 23, 1983, p. II/3. Also quoted in the Summer 1985 Journal, pp. 170-171.]


In the final analysis, the destruction of the Jews was not so much a product of laws and commands as it was a matter of spirit, of shared comprehension, of consonance and synchronization.
[Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1985, 3 vols.), p. 55]


Faurisson makes a résumé:
He also wrote of "countless decision makers in a far-flung bureaucratic machine" without "a basic plan." He mentioned "written directives not published," "oral directives and authorizations," and "basic understandings of officials resulting in decisions not requiring orders or explanations." There had been "no one agency," he wrote, and "no single organization directed or coordinated the entire process." The destruction of the Jews, he concluded, was "the work of a far-flung administrative machine," and "no special agency was created and no special budget was devised to destroy the Jews of Europe. Each organization was to play a specific role in the process, and each was to find the means to carry out its task."
[R. Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (1985), pp. 53-55, 62.]

http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v18/v18n1p15_Faurisson.html

Hilberg is a practical historian. The "pantheon" of destruction gave each organization and agency ”a specific role in the process, and each was to find the means to carry out its task”. Hitler looks more like Zeus of the Olympus than the Caretaker of Theism, or the Watchmaker of Deism.

The problem with the ”Olympic” approach to the Hitler regime is the same as the problem confronting a polytheistic religion. It makes its world into a sort of Cartoon Strip narrative:

A […] narrative sequence of cartoon panels[…]A series or serialization of such narrative sequences, usually featuring a regular cast of characters: a sequence of drawings telling a story in a newspaper or comic book

http://dictionary.reference.com/search? ... ic%20strip

It’s too ”ad-hoc”.

JariL repeat:

"Die Führerprinzip" was the core of administration in the Third Reich. How well were things documented in the first place and how much of what we actually accept as historical truth is also derived from second hand sources, like memorandums where some one is quoting what Hitler said/ordered in this or that meeting? What I have read about Hitlers personality he was not able to concentrate on reading documents for any length of time. His whole leadership style was very much concentrated in verbal communication and letting people compete with each other in fullfilling his wishes. Notes were certainly kept and protocols made but did Hitler as a rule ever sign them afterwards?


It’s a long time since philosophers explained the world from a core ”Prinzip” like that. It may look hum-drum like that to us, when we ”read” it, but the questions will inevitably follow: ”How does it work”? ”Does ANYTHING work like that?”

Like God?

[…]Pierre Proudhon wrote in his book Philosophy of Misery “Come Satan, slandered by the small and by kings. God is stupidity and cowardice; God is hypocrisy and falsehood; God is tyranny and poverty; God is Evil. … I swear, God, with my hand starched out towards the heavens, that you are nothing more than the executioner of my reason, the scepter of my conscience… God is essentially anticivilized, antiliberal, and antihuman.”

http://www.plim.org/demonleaders.htm

Did Hitler rule like the anarchist’s God? That is, like Satan, according to his slanderers?

It ALWAYS work like that?

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Post by David Thompson » 25 Jan 2005 19:38

Erik -- The subject is "Primary evidence about Hitler." Please stay on it.

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Post by JariL » 26 Jan 2005 11:18

Hi Erik,

I think you missed the point. I was not trying to explain everything with the Führer Prinzip. However, I am asking can Hitler be analysed in the traditional way that historians use with priority given to primary documents like personally sigend protocols, signed orders, letters etc? If the man did not work according to the standard bureaucratic principles what is the information then that is sufficient to prove anything? In Roman law, if my memroy serves me correctly, evidence was accepted at some point only if 10 people gave the same testimony. How many and it what form is sufficient here?

I just read the new book Stalin -the court of the red tzar. Contrary to Hitler, Stalin mostly followed the normal administrative procedures and he left behind him thousands of letters. The same applies to the othe rmain characters around him. For example Stalin often meticuously read through lists of people who were arrested and killed. A marker from his pen in teh margin of the list was the difference between life and death.

Regards,

JariL

Erik
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Post by Erik » 26 Jan 2005 17:44

Hi Erik,

I think you missed the point. I was not trying to explain everything with the Führer Prinzip. However, I am asking can Hitler be analysed in the traditional way that historians use with priority given to primary documents like personally sigend protocols, signed orders, letters etc? If the man did not work according to the standard bureaucratic principles what is the information then that is sufficient to prove anything? In Roman law, if my memroy serves me correctly, evidence was accepted at some point only if 10 people gave the same testimony. How many and it what form is sufficient here?


Hi JariL,

you were not trying to explain everything with the Führer Prinzip, which principle made it possible to rule without "the standard bureaucratic principles".

This principle cannot be analyzed in the traditional way that historians give priority to.

Then you ask:

If the man did not work according to the standard bureaucratic principles what is the information then that is sufficient to prove anything?


My point is :

If the man did not work according to the standard bureaucratic principles , is that sufficient to prove...whatever?

Hitler’s point in not signing protocols etc was that he didn’t want to be an accomplice in the criminal policies that he accentuated and prophesized in his public speeches, where he documented "intent" and "motive".

Mr. Thompson wrote:
Hitler was a mass murderer, but he wasn't a moron. Why would Hitler have any interest in receiving incriminating documents about methodological details, as long as he knew that the Jews were being killed?


Even less did he want to sign such incriminating documents. He wanted to be able to say: ”I had no idea my words would be taken literally!” if he lost the war, or, alternatively, make his historians able to say it (like David Irving does).

He solved this problem like any Mafioso would – the Führer Prinzip made it possible. And like any Mafioso is likely to find out in the end, sufficient testimony will incriminate him, when the "Duce principo" (?) no longer works.

In Roman law, if my memroy serves me correctly, evidence was accepted at some point only if 10 people gave the same testimony. How many and it what form is sufficient here?


But historians still have to find out : how does it work, this principle/Prinzip?

Believers in God still have to face the Theism/Deism dualism.

The Net is sprawling with Google catches on the subject:
http://www.newdualism.org/webtheism.htm

Can Theism be validated with the help of the Roman Law? Will testimonies from 10 people be enough to prove that God is actively participating in Her/His Creation?

Personal Relevation is enough to persuade the individual that S/He is, but the Deist demands Reason:

The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?r=67&q=deism

Did Hitler’s Führer Prinzip work according to the Theist agenda, or the Deist? Or is this a false dualism?

If it is a false dilemma, what does the Führer Prinzip mean? How does it work? What does it explain?

I just read the new book Stalin -the court of the red tzar. Contrary to Hitler, Stalin mostly followed the normal administrative procedures and he left behind him thousands of letters. The same applies to the othe rmain characters around him. For example Stalin often meticuously read through lists of people who were arrested and killed. A marker from his pen in teh margin of the list was the difference between life and death.


That’s the Red Tzar principle, according to the theist agenda. Stalin was moronic enough to both receive incriminating documents and ”murder” with his pen, giving ”details” to the mass murder methodology. He didn’t trust the Class Struggle to arrive at the desired end, nor did he trust the Hitler method of ”letting people compete with each other in fullfilling his wishes”. (see JariL’s first posting on the ”core of administration in the Third Reich”).

Hitler, on the other hand, could trust the Race Struggle, and that ”people would compete with each other in fullfilling his wishes”. He was no ”moron” (Mr. Thompson), but his ”personality” was such that ”he was not able to concentrate on reading documents for any length of time” (JariL).

The documents didn’t interest him, as long as he knew that the Jews were being killed:

Why would Hitler have any interest in receiving incriminating documents about methodological details, as long as he knew that the Jews were being killed?


He was a Führer along the ”Deist lines”.

Raul Hilberg:
Thus came about not so much a plan being carried out, but an incredible meeting of minds, a consensus -- mind reading by a far-flung bureaucracy.


A reading of minds, not of documents or written plans.

Raul Hilberg again:
[…]not so much a product of laws and commands as it was a matter of spirit, of shared comprehension, of consonance and synchronization.


Prof. Browning:

B- My position is that in some essential way the Holocaust is unique. If one looks at the ideological drive behind it in the sense that here was a regime committed to killing every last Jewish man, woman, and child over an entire continent, that is not a common historical phenomenon. And if you look at the fact that this regime was able to harness virtually every organized aspect of German life, and especially the bureaucratic, administrative, and technological efficiencies of one of the modern nations of the world to this purpose, that, too, is a unique feature of the Holocaust.

www1.yadvashem.org/odot_pdf

A regime with the Führer Prinzip at ”the core of administration” (JariL).

How did he do it?

Repeat JariL:
I think you missed the point. I was not trying to explain everything with the Führer Prinzip. However, I am asking can Hitler be analysed in the traditional way that historians use with priority given to primary documents like personally sigend protocols, signed orders, letters etc?


Must Hitler be analysed in a theological way?

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Post by David Thompson » 26 Jan 2005 19:23

For an enlightening discourse on the Fuehrer Principle by an intelligent man, see:

NMT Einsatzgruppe Testimony of Otto Ohlendorf
viewtopic.php?t=59983

Erik
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Post by Erik » 27 Jan 2005 00:05

Mr. Thompson admonished above:

Erik -- The subject is "Primary evidence about Hitler." Please stay on it.


Nobody doubts that Hitler existed, I guess – but how about his Führer Prinzip (JariL)? What is the primary evidence of his ”deism”?

The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.


http://dictionary.reference.com/search?r=67&q=deism

Or is it a "theism"?

Is the Führer Prinzip the ”supernatural revelation” that made Otto Ohlendorf – the ”intelligent man” apostrophed by Mr. Thompson above – feel Hitler’s influence in the following manner:

DR. ASCHENAUER: Is, in your opinion, the man who receives these orders obliged to examine them when they are given to him?

DEFENDANT OHLENDORF: This is not possible, legally or actually. According to the general legal interpretation in Germany, not even a judge had the possibility of examining the legality of a law or an order, as little as an administrative official could examine the administrative edict of a supreme authority. But even actually it would have been presumptuous because in the position in which every one of the defendants found themselves, we did not have the possibility of actually judging the situation. It also corresponds to the moral concept which I have learned as a European tradition, that no subordinate can take it upon himself to examine the authority of the supreme commander and chief of state. He only faces his God and history.

Q. Didn't Article 47 of the Military Penal Code give you an occasion to interpret this execution order differently?

A. It is impossible for me to imagine that an article which was created to prevent excesses by individual officers or men leaves open the possibility to consider the supreme order of the supreme commander a crime. Apart from this, again according to continental concept, the chief of state cannot commit a crime.
[…]
Q. Could you not have refused to support the execution of this order?

A. For that I would have had to have the feeling of the illegality and the possibility of appealing to a higher authority, but I had neither of them.

Q. Could you not have, after a certain period of time, tried to evade this order by sickness?

A. As long as I thought in political terms, I no longer considered myself as an individual person who only could think and act responsibly for himself.
[…]

Q.[…]Did you ever have any responsibility of your own about these missions, including the executions, which went higher in responsibility than that of the Supreme Army Commander, as the executor of supreme command and which would have excluded the responsibility of the army commander in chief over life and death?

A. No. This activity was carried out under the responsibility of the Supreme Commander. He alone had the executive power of command, and therefore he disposed over life and death. This responsibility was never limited.

Q. Then do I understand you correctly if you say that your responsibility refers to the manner and type of the execution of the order?

A. Yes, that is right.

DR. ASCHENAUER: I have no further questions.
(emphasis added)

”No further questions”?

Does Ohlendorf ’s explanation of the limits of his responsibility reflect the illusions of the authoritarian personality?

Or the hoary and hackneyed principle of submission obligatory towards the Führer Prinzip of any Supreme Being? Demanded by its ”theism”?

Theism can be defended with as much intelligence as was offered by Ohlendorff in his trial. He actually uses its logic when he ”defended” himself above.

Modern theism -- un-theological, ”logical” or philosophical, theism (he seeks no confirmation in the Bible, it seems)-- has a defender in Prof. Swinburne.

Prof. Swinburne defends the following suppositions of theism in one of his books:
God is supposed to be a personal being, omnipresent, perfectly free and creator of the universe, omnipotent, omniscient, perfectly good, a source of moral obligation, and eternal.

http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/oso/pu ... 8/toc.html

Here is an evaluation of his non-theological formulation of theism:
Professor Swinburne formulates theism as a theory to explain facts. This sharply contrasts with the view that theology deals with revealed truths. This fact alone deserves respect and interest. Theism can now be examined as a theory. It wouldn't make sense to evaluate revealed truth.


Ohlendorff didn’t defend his ”limited” responsibility by quoting Hitler’s Mein Kampf , or his anti-Semitic speeches. The postulation of an hearsay(?) ”Supreme Command”, giving his actions meaning and legitimity, was enough.
……………..
The advantages and disadvantages of theism:

The advantage of theism is that it gives our existence a meaning. The disadvantage is that it tends to give everything a meaning, including things that don't have a meaning (accidents, coincidences, rainbows, solar eclipses, Siamese twins, Down syndrome, cancer, death). Theism has not been able to separate meaningful and meaningless events. Furthermore: explaining the world and giving everything a meaning are quite different activities. However in theology they seem intimately linked.


Here below is a difference between Swinburne’s God and Ohlendorf’s Hitler described – the latter seems to have created a ”self-sustaining matter” (compare Hilberg’s description above) when he created the Holocaust – but it differentiates Swinburne’s theism from deism, at least:

A remarkable 'explanation' of something not in need of explanation is Swinburne's claim that God is sustaining matter and the laws of nature from moment to moment. Is this matter-sustaining activity really the most simple hypothesis to explain matter? Why did God fail to create self-sustaining matter? The claim is in conflict with the basics of the natural sciences and with his Swinburne's statement that the universe is a machine. It would be a bad Watchmaker who needs to adjust his watch from moment to moment. If there is something in need of sustaining on this planet it is health, peace, justice.


Hitler had no such sustaining needs, since he was bad. He is consequently not to be ”falsified” by ”the atrocities of the Second World War”:

If theism is a testable theory about reality, and that is the point of view Professor Swinburne adopted in his book, what would falsify theism? If the atrocities of the Second World War are not enough, what on earth would induce Professor Swinburne to abandon his God-theory?


But that was a review of Prof. Swinburne’s book : ”Is there a God?”

http://home.wxs.nl/~gkorthof/kortho24.htm

He has a shorter paper available on line:

Richard G. Swinburne, The Justification of Theism


The following are extacts (see link below):

[…]Some phenomenon E, which we can all observe, is considered. It is claimed that E is puzzling, strange, not to be expected in the ordinary course of things; but that E is to be expected if there is a God; for God has the power to bring about E and He might well choose to do so. Hence the occurrence of E is reason for supposing that there is a God. E may be a large phenomenon, such as the existence of the Universe, or something a lot smaller, such as our own individual religious experiences.
The pattern of argument is one much used in science, history, and all other fields of human inquiry.[…]


Read: E=Holocaust, God=Hitler’s Führer Prinzip, for argument's sake!

Let us call arguments of this kind arguments to a good explanation. Scientists use this pattern of argument to argue to the existence of unobservable entities as causes of the phenomena which they observe.
[…]
To be good arguments (that is, to provide evidence for their hypothesis), arguments of this kind must satisfy three criteria.

First, the phenomena which they cite as evidence must not be very likely to occur in the normal course of things.[…]


Compare Prof. Browning’s assessment of the Holocaust in my posting above!

Secondly, the phenomena must be much more to be expected if the hypothesis is true.
[…]

Thirdly, the hypothesis must be simple. That is, it must postulate the existence and operation of few entities, few kinds of entities, with few easily describable properties behaving in mathematically simple kinds of way. We could always postulate many new entities with complicated properties to explain anything which we find. But our hypothesis will only be supported by the evidence if it postulates few entities, which lead us to expect the diverse phenomena which form the evidence.
[…]
Scientists always postulate as few new entities (for example, subatomic particles) as are needed to lead us to expect to find the phenomena which we observe; and they postulate that those entities do not behave erratically (behave one way one day, and a different way the next day) but that they behave in accordance with as simple and smooth a mathematical law as is compatible with what is observed. There is an old Latin saying, simplex sigillum veri, "The simple is the sign of the true." To be rendered probable by evidence, hypotheses must be simple.
[…]
My first phenomenon which provides evidence for the existence of God is the existence of the universe for so long as it has existed (whether a finite time or, if it has no beginning, an infinite time). This is something evidently inexplicable by science.


The universal phenomenon of anti-Semitism has existed as long as history can account, it is inexplicable by science, but provides evidence for the power of ”theism” of any order. Hitler wasn’t the first.

[…]
But what science by its very nature cannot explain is why there are any states of affairs at all.
[…]
My next phenomenon is the operation of the most general laws of nature, that is, the orderliness of nature in conforming to very general laws.
[…]
But what science by its very nature cannot explain is why there are the most general laws of nature that there are; for, ex hypothesi, no wider law can explain their operation.


No ”wider law” of science can explain the history of anti-Semitism that Benjamin Disraeli describes here ( and his ”inexorable law of nature” can’t explain it, either!) :
http://www.gwb.com.au/2000/myers/100300.htm

…but a ”theism” can!

[…]because of what a scientific explanation is, these things will ever be beyond its capacity to explain. For scientific explanations by their very nature terminate with some ultimate natural law and ultimate arrangement of physical things, and the questions which I am raising are why there are natural laws and physical things at all.
However, there is another kind of explanation of phenomena which we use all the time and which we see as a proper way of explaining phenomena. This is what I call personal explanation.

[…]this is a different way of explaining things from the scientific. Scientific explanation involves laws of nature and previous states of affairs. Personal explanation involves persons and purposes. If we cannot give a scientific explanation of the existence and orderliness of the Universe, perhaps we can give a personal explanation
[…]
Since there cannot be a scientific explanation of the existence of the Universe, either there is a personal explanation or there is no explanation at all. The hypothesis that there is a God is the hypothesis of the existence of the simplest kind of person which there could be. A person is a being with power to bring about effects, knowledge of how to do so, and freedom to make choices of which effects to bring about. God is by definition an omnipotent (that is, infinitely powerful), omniscient (that is, all-knowing), and perfectly free person; He is a person of infinite power, knowledge, and freedom; a person to whose power, knowledge, and freedom there are no limits except those of logic. The hypothesis that there exists a being with infinite degrees of the qualities essential to a being of that kind is the postulation of a very simple being. The hypothesis that there is such a God is a much simpler hypothesis than the hypothesis that there is a god who has such and such a limited power. It is simpler in just the same way that the hypothesis that some particle has zero mass or infinite velocity, is simpler than the hypothesis that it has of 0.32147 of some unit of mass or a velocity of 221,000 km/sec. A finite limitation cries out for an explanation of why there is just that particular limit, in a way that limitlessness does not.
That there should exist anything at all, let alone a universe as complex and as orderly as ours, is exceedingly strange. But if there is a God, it is not vastly unlikely that he should create such a universe.[…]
So the hypothesis that there is a God makes the existence of the Universe much more to be expected than it would otherwise be, and it is a very simple hypothesis. Hence the arguments from the existence of the Universe and its conformity to simple natural laws are good arguments to an explanation of the phenomena, and provide substantial evidence for the existence of God.
[…]
Theism is able to explain the most general phenomena of science and more particular historical facts, but it is also able to explain our own individual religious experiences. To so many men it has seemed at different moments of their lives that they were aware of God and His guidance. It is a basic principle of knowledge, which I have called the principle of credulity, that we ought to believe that things are as they seem to be, until we have evidence that we are mistaken.
[…]It is basic to human knowledge of the world that we believe things are as they seem to be in the absence of positive evidence to the contrary. Someone who seems to have an experience of God should believe that he does, unless evidence can be produced that he is mistaken. And it is another basic principle of knowledge that those who do not have an experience of a certain type ought to believe many others when they say that they do- again, in the absence of evidence of mass delusion.


Ohlendorf would have vidimated the credulity.

Swinburne meets some objections:

The most famous argument against theism is the argument from evil-does not the occurrence of pain and wickedness show that there is not a good God in control of the Universe?


This makes no hay against a Hitler ”theism”, obviously. The theist could reason like Proudhon:

[…]Pierre Proudhon wrote in his book Philosophy of Misery “Come Satan, slandered by the small and by kings. God is stupidity and cowardice; God is hypocrisy and falsehood; God is tyranny and poverty; God is Evil. … I swear, God, with my hand starched out towards the heavens, that you are nothing more than the executioner of my reason, the scepter of my conscience… God is essentially anticivilized, antiliberal, and antihuman.”
http://www.plim.org/demonleaders.htm


J. L. Mackie reasons against theism like Faurisson does against Hilberg’s ”reading-of-minds” -- or would do against JariL’s ”Führer Prinzip”, probably:

The key power involved in Swinburne's use of 'personal explanation' is that of fulfilling intentions directly, without any physical or causal mediation, without materials or instruments. There is nothing in our background knowledge that makes it comprehensible, let alone likely, that anything should have such a power. All our knowledge of intention-fulfillment is of embodied intentions being fulfilled indirectly by way of bodily changes and movements which are causally related to the intended result, and where the ability thus to fulfill intentions itself has a causal history, either of evolutionary development or of learning or of both. Only by ignoring such key features do we get an analogue of the supposed divine action.


Swinburne retorts:

Mackie is right to draw our attention to the fact that humans normally execute their purposes indirectly.[…]
If that were not so, humans would never through their purposes make any difference to the world; events and actions would never be explicable by the purposes humans were seeking to achieve-which is absurd.
Certainly the purposes of humans are focused not on their brain states, but on the effects of their brain states-that is, they execute their purposes indirectly. But nothing of importance turns on this.
[…]Contrary to Mackie, there is plenty "in our background knowledge which makes it comprehensible," indeed "likely that anything should have such a power."
[…]and so, the answer to Mackie's questions

Has God somehow brought it about that material structures do now generate consciousness? But then is this not almost as hard to understand as that material structures should do this of themselves?[7]


are "Yes" and "No" respectively.


The ”Führer Prinzip” works via mind-reading, the consonance of ”brain states” (indoctrination?), shared and synchronized ”matter of spirit”:

In the final analysis, the destruction of the Jews was not so much a product of laws and commands as it was a matter of spirit, of shared comprehension, of consonance and synchronization.
[Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1985, 3 vols.), p. 55]


Compare Ohlendorf ’s description of the Führer’s responsibility above with the following ”theodicy” of theism:

A perfectly free, omnipotent and omniscient being can only do what is best to do (or do one among many equally best actions). In so far as an agent believes that some action is the best action (that is, what there is most reason to do), he will do it-unless he is subject to irrational inclinations, or desires, which make it hard for him to do what he believes best. God, being perfectly free, is subject to no such inclinations. Further, being omniscient, God will know what is best (that is, what there is most reason to do); He will not have false value-beliefs. Hence, unlike us humans, he will always act for the best. So His freedom is a freedom to choose among the very many equal best actions open to Him. Now we humans are often ignorant and morally insensitive, and in consequence our judgments about which actions are for the best must be tentative. But we can see that it is a good thing that God should make a universe containing men, and (once we have thought about it-as I argued in The Existence of God) we can see that it is good that God should allow men to suffer to a limited extent for a short finite period for the sake of the greater goods which that makes possible -that is, the opportunity for free choice between good and evil, and the opportunity to show patience, courage and compassion. But there are surely certain evils, for example, undeserved suffering of infinite intensity or duration, which God would not be justified in bringing about for the sake of some greater good. Hence the hypothesis of God's existence has the consequence that there will not be such evils. This is not an additional "particularity" which we attribute to God, but follows from His essential nature.


Finis.

The paper is found in extenso here:
http://www.origins.org/articles/swinbur ... heism.html
..or here:
http://www.leaderu.com/truth/3truth09.html

PS!

A skeptic’s comment on an earlier book by Swinburne:

[…]First note how modest Swinburne's claim is. He does not claim that he has proven God's existence as being more probable than his non-existence. He simply claims that the existence of the universe increases the probability of God's existence.

http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/swinburne.html

The existence of the Holocaust increases the probability of an existent ”Führer Prinzip”. Ohlendorf couldn’t explain his responsibility in any other way, at least.

Henrik1961
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Location: Sweden

It is well known...

Post by Henrik1961 » 28 Jan 2005 18:20

... and beyond serious dispute, that Hitler expressed his wishes in a non-transparent way. On the other hand, I don't think that had anything to do with posterity, it had more to do with the old maxim: divide et impera.

Hitlers genius, albeit evil, was not only that he could turn a mass audience to raving lunatics, it was also his way of controlling his henchmen. Very seldom did he give an outright order, so his subordinates had to guess exactly what Hitler wanted.

He also never really defined lines of command, or the command structures of the different buraeucracies, for exactly the same reason.

If his subordinates never knew quite what Hitler wanted, or exactly the formal boundaries of competence, they would always compete for Hitler's judgement, which was exactly what Hitler wanted. That way they couldn't gang up on him. A constant power struggle within and between all centers of power, was what happened.

The decreased level of efficiency in the administration of the Third Reich was evidently a price Hitler was willing to pay for increasing his on security.

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