On Modernization and the Rationality of Extermination
Bankier also takes issue with Susanne Heim and Goetz Aly’s thesis that the mass annihilation of European Jewry in Nazi-controlled Europe was conceived and planned by German technocrats out of economic considerations, i.e., that it was an attempt to “rationalize” the economy of the Eastern territories. He demonstrates that, whatever their ideas were, the economic experts in Nazi Germany had no influence on the decision-making process and that all of the Nazi elite spoke about the possibility of mass extermination of the Jews as early as the 1930s. Also, German society was prepared for the Final Solution by the euthanasia program, and ideas comparable with the Final Solution were not unusual in other Western countries. Hitler and other Nazi leaders were deaf to economic considerations, basing their antisemitism on racism, and what’s more the Nazis never conceived the total annihilation of Slavs and Karaites. The mass annihilation of the Jews by the Nazis, argues Bankier, was dictated by irrational racist ideology.