|Awareness of the Final Solution among the staff at the Auswärtiges Amt|
It is difficult to ascertain whether the individual members of staff at the Auswärtiges Amt knew that the deportation of Jews to Eastern Europe was, in fact, a death sentence. It is clear, however, that in the Auswärtiges Amt leadership the SS had found a partner with a broad consensus on the rationale behind the ‘final solution’.
Cooperation between the SS and the Auswärtiges Amt on the ‘Jewish question’ was virtually a conflict-free zone. The staff not only followed ‘orders’ from above, they even promoted anti-Jewish measures within their own reach and took initiatives themselves. Even if they were ignorant of the systematic murders in the gas chambers, every employee of the Auswärtiges Amt who was directly or indirectly involved with ‘Jewish affairs’ must have been aware that a horrendous fate awaited the Jews in Eastern Europe. Von Ribbentrop, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, was sentenced to death at the Nuremberg trials for, amongst others things, his role in the implementation of the ‘Final Solution’.
Joachim von Ribbentropp (NIOD 35525)
The determination with which many high-placed officials pursued the persecution of the Jews is clearly evident in various documents in this archive. Interminable discussions took place between different German organisations (Reich Commission, Inland II, RSHA) in response to requests from the Schutzmacht (protective power) to free one Jew or one family or to allow them to emigrate (entry 453). Even an attempt to buy freedom proved in vain. It involved ‘only’ one woman, but Adolf Eichmann personally still had the last word (entry 470).
The reports from Otto Bene leave no room for doubt. Despite the euphemistic language, the tone indicates that people had a fairly good idea of what was going on – and perhaps more importantly – displayed not a shred of sympathy. In May 1943 Bene reported that: “apart from Amsterdam the street scene will be free of Jews as a result of provincial evacuation” (entry 454), and in July 1944: “The Jewish question can be regarded as solved as far as the Netherlands is concerned”. (entry 489)
His use of the name ‘Rauschwitz’ when referring to Auschwitz in a report dated 16 November 1942 is, to put it mildly, remarkable (entry 526).