Edited by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld


Edited by Gavriel D. Rosenfeld

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What If the Jews Really Defeated Hitler?

For readers interested in the counterfactual aspects of World War II, I've just published a review of Benjamin Ginsberg's new book, How the Jews Defeated Hitler: Exploding the Myth of Jewish Passivity in the Face of Nazism in The Forward.  

One counterfactual claim made by Ginsberg I didn't have a chance to comment on in the piece, but I thought it was worth highlighting, was this one:

Writing about the atomic bomb, he notes

"It is always dangerous to speculate about what might have been, but...it seems that if the Germans had not been so blinded by Nazism that they felt compelled to drive their best scientists into exile, Germany might have come into the possession of the atom bomb and changed the war's outcome.  Of course...if the Germans had not been blinded by Nazism they might not have launched the war in the first place.

A second bit of speculation, though, seems to leave us on firmer footing.  Hitler declared many times that the war...would be a war of annihilation, or Vernichtung.  He presumably meant to imply that Germany would exterminate the Jews and Hitler's other enemies.  Yet...if Germany had managed to fight a few months longer, or the Jewish scientists of the Manhattan Project had completed their work a few months sooner, World War II could well have led to Vernichtung -- for the Germans."

Ginsberg's second point is well worth noting, for we all too often forget that the bomb was originally developed in order to be used in the European theater.  Had it, in fact, been used there and not in the Pacific, we might remember the war very differently today.  When one considers how right-wing Germans attempt to counterbalance the killing of Jews at Auschwitz with the Allies' killing of German civilians in Dresden, imagine what propaganda they would have made out of the nuclear destruction of Berlin?

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