Nazi knowledge

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While Alan Hinnrichs (Letters, 22 July) is correct that “it’s completely revisionist to start saying people didn’t know what the Nazis were doing”, this does not mean that anyone in the early 1930s could have foreseen mass murder in death camps.

Not only “a lot of people in the aristocracy thought this was the perfect obstacle to the threat of communism”, many others at the time perceived the latter as a much greater threat.

Hardly anyone took seriously the contents of Mein Kampf even if they managed to wade through its turgid prose.

Even German Jews considered Nazi anti-semitism a political device to attract mass support and treated street attacks on Jews as mere “skinhead thuggery” which the movement would suppress when in power.

It was only after Kristalnacht in November 1938 that they took it seriously but, even then, expected nothing worse than the pogroms that had been commonplace in Eastern Europe, certainly not systematic annihilation on an industrial scale.

Lest I be misread as a right-wing revisionist, I should like to make clear that I am the son of German Jews who escaped in the late 1930s, my ancestors having lived in the Rhine valley region as far back as records exist, and probably from Roman times.

My mother’s father, Adolf Driels, was awarded the Iron Cross for his service in the First World War but this did not save him from deportation first to Gurs in 1941 and then to Auschwitz a year later.

It was the shear illogicality of making the killing of Jews a priority over their use to help the war effort that made many refuse to believe it was happening until the camps themselves were discovered in the last days of the Second World War.

Unfortunately, there still exist deluded people who believe that they never existed and the 
whole matter is part of a sinister ‘“Zionist” plot to take over the world.

Martin D Stern

Hanover Gardens

Salford

With regard to the photograph of the Queen and her mother giving the Nazi salute, I am surprised it has not occurred to the editor of the Sun newspaper that they were probably mocking the Nazis rather than sympathising with them.

In my primary school a few years later the boys used to go around saying “Heil Hitler” and shooting their right arm out in the Nazi salute while at the same time putting their left index finger under their nose to represent Hitler’s moustache.

They were doing it to make a fool of Hitler and the Nazis, certainly not because they admired him. Lots of people did it while making jokes about Hitler. No one ever thought the people who did it were Nazi sympathisers.

Christina L Booth

Parkdyke

Stirling