The Ideologue as Genocidaire: Alfred Rosenberg and the Murder of the Jews in the Soviet Union

  • Jürgen MatthäusEmail author
Part of the The Holocaust and its Contexts book series (HOLC)


‘There was no silence’ writes David Cesarani in the introduction to his 2012 book on postwar Jewish Holocaust responses. This chapter addresses a related myth; that of Jews failing during World War Two to comprehend the deadly dynamics of German Judenpolitik. It does so by focusing on wartime reports from the office of Richard Lichtheim, the Jewish Agency representative in Geneva during World War II. The assumption of a centrally devised and systematically executed annihilation project taking shape in the summer of 1942 became a compelling and enduring conceptual frame of reference to explain Nazi genocide, leaving little room for interpretations that—like Lichtheim’s pre-1942 reports and later accounts by functionalist historians—highlight the radicalizing force of improvisation and local initiative. This chapter examines the collecting, mental processing, and transfer of information on the unfolding ‘final solution’ in order to reassess prevailing patterns of understanding Holocaust violence.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.United States Holocaust Memorial MuseumWashington, DCUSA

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