Consequently, Heydrich's statement was almost certainly not true by the time the article was published.
I think the above a very sweeping statement unjustified by the evidence.
Heydrich said that the "final solution" had been almost achieved in Germany itself through making the Jews emigrate. There is no reason to believe that he himself did not consider that to be a true statement.
It is clear that what he meant by "final solution" when he wrote the article was the removal of the Jewish population of a country; in Germany that had been almost achieved through forced emigration. He may have exaggerated the degree of success, since about half the Jewish population of Germany still remained, but he clearly regarded emigration as a measure for achieving the "final solution".
It follows that the term "final solution" simply meant the reduction of the Jewish population by any means, and did not necessarily imply physical extermination.
The post-war testimony of Brack is not conclusive. He may well have been mistaken about the date. or he may have extrapolated it back in time, or he may have been deliberately misleading in order to provide some sort of cover for his own involvement in the euthanasia program.
I would think a statement actually published by Heydrich in May 1941 is to be preferred to a statement made by Brack in 1945 purporting to represent the situation in 1941.
Nor do I think Heydrich's negotiations with the Wehrmacht in March 1941 over the role of the Einsatzgruppen in the coming invasion of the Soviet Union invalidate what he said about the "final solution" a few months later.
To understand what the role of the Einsatzgruppen was that Heydrich negotiated with the Wehrmacht, we need to look at the orders he actually issued to the Einsatzgruppen when they started their mission. Among other security and intelligence-related tasks, the Einsatzgruppen were given the task of summary execution of certain groups of personnel considered dangerous enemies. Those groups to be summarily executed included to categories of Jews:
1. Jews in high State and Party positions; and
2. Jews in the Red Army.
It is clear that the Einsatzgruppen were not at the outset given the task of reducing the Jewish population in the conquered areas by massacring it en masse; their role was to neutralise specific target groups of enemies.
When the Einsatzgruppen, and before them police task forces under the command of the HSSPFs, did eventually go over to carrying out large-scale massacres, wiping out entire Jewish populations of particular localities, that was a new development resulting from the situation on the ground.
The actual course of events on the Russian Front does not support the notion that an order for a general massacre of the Jewish population in the Soviet Union had been issued. (If you read the book I was quoting from, you will see that the most recent research indicates that the extermination of the Jewish population had not been ordered at the time of the german invasion). Therefore, there was nothing misleading or false in Heydrich's statement in May 1940 that the "final solution" was then being achieved through emigration.
As for the banning of Jewish emigration from France and Belgium in May 1941, it should be noted that such emigration from all of German-occupied Europe was not banned until October of that year. In other words, Jewish emigration from Germany itself was able to continue after May of that year. The most likely reason for banning Jewish emigration from France and belgium while still permitting it from Germany was to reserve the few remaining opportunities for such emigration for Jews from Germany; after all, from the point of view of the German Government the imperative was to reduce the number of Jews in Germany, rather to reduce the number of Jews in France and Belgium.
As I said, Heydrich's published statement indicates that "final solution" meant reducing the number of Jews in an area, preferably to zero, and forcing them to emigrate was one means of achieving that end. But it was not the only means. Once the invasion of the Soviet Union had been decided on, the possibility opened up of dumping the remaining Jews of Germany and of other countries under German occupation into the territories expected to be conquered from the Soviet Union. That is most probably what Schellenberg meant; given that the actual course of events attendant on the invasion of the Soviet Union indicates the unlikelihood that a general extermination order had been given as of May 1941, it is unlikely that Schellenberg's reference to the "undoubtedly imminent final solution of the Jewish question" meant general extermination.
Finally, I do not think that my conclusion is at all misleading, if it is read with an open mind without trying to put some preconceived spin on it.
I concluded that the formula "final solution" is not in itself indicative of a prior German Government plan to exterminate all the jews in its power. Let me illustrate that point.
There are those who contend that the phrase "final solution" was a code-word for mass murder. Therefore, they claim that wherever that phrase turns up in German documents it indicates the existence of an extermination plan, and that if the phrase appears in documents of 1940 or 1939, it must mean that the German Government had such a plan dating from those years.
However, since Heydrich stated that forced emigration was a means of achieving the "final solution", it is obvious that the phrase cannot be interpreted as a simple code-word for killing, and must always be interpreted in context.
Rob-WSSOB asks me
why you are attempting to buttress an argument that "denies" the term implied any murderous, criminal and permanent intent.
I am trying to determine the historical truth about what the term "final solution" meant in general terms on the basis of contemporary documents, rather than on the basis of what people like Brack and Hoeß claimed in self-serving post-war testimony. Such a document shows that for Heydrich, as at may 1941, forced emigration was one means of achieving the "final solution", and that the "final solution" had been almost achieved in Germany by that means.
History shows that mass-killing was eventually resorted to as one way of achieving the aim of making Germany and German-controlled Europe "Jew-free". But the term "final solution" did not necessarily mean mass-killing, and was not a code-word for it.
And I consider the attempt to smear me by linking me with Zundel to be rather sleazy, and indicative of a lack of cogent arguments. Did Zundel base his conclusion, whatever it was, on a contemporary German document, as I have done?
I note that those who claim a general German Government intent and plan to physically exterminate the Jewish population of Europe like to explain away any German documentary evidence running counter to that claim on the basis that it was camouflage, or that Hitler/Himmler/Heydrich was lying. I think it better historiographical practice to accept the documentary evidence on its face value, and try to determine what that evidence tells us about German Government intentions and plans at particular points in time and at particular locations.