Journal Article

A Final Hitler Decision for the “Final Solution”? The Riegner Telegram Reconsidered

Christopher R. Browning

in Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Published on behalf of United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Volume 10, issue 1, pages 3-10
Published in print January 1996 | ISSN: 8756-6583
e-ISSN: 1476-7937 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hgs/10.1.3
A Final Hitler Decision for the “Final Solution”? The Riegner Telegram Reconsidered

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The Riegner telegram relayed information of a plan under consideration at Hitler's headquaters to kill all the Jews of Europe in one blow in the autumn of 1942. Given What We know about Hitler's decision-making in 1941, the Riegner telegram has had the appearance of a garbled message that contained a kernel of truth about Nazi intentions but was incorrect in virtually all other details. I argue that the Riegner telegram must be seen in its particular historical context to be fully appreciated as an astonishingly accurate piece of wartime intelligence. Hitler and Himmler did in fact make a vital decision in mid-July 1942 to intensify the mass murder of European Jewry, and Eduard Sahulte relayed to Riegner precisely what Himmler would have been speaking about immediately thereafter during his visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau on July 17–18.

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Subjects: Military History ; Regional and National History ; Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing

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