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Balancing the scales of death: if German soldiers
are sacrificing their lives, Jews too must die

In Hitler’s mind, we have observed, what was significant about the First World War was that the best men had died, whereas the worst men had survived. Hitler was deeply disturbed by what he perceived as a profound injustice.

Scroll down for data on German military deaths, 1940-1947.

Ronald Hayman (1998) reports an encounter between Hitler and his friend Henny von Schirach—who had returned to Germany in April 1943 after visiting occupied Amsterdam—and became aware that helpless women were being taken away and transported to camps.

After dinner, Hitler turned to his friend and said “You’ve come from Holland?” She replied, “Yes, that’s why I’m here, I wanted to talk to you. I’ve seen frightful things. I can’t believe that’s what you want.”

“You’re sentimental, Frau von Schirach,” Hitler replied. Then he jumped to his feet and formed with his hands two bowls, which he moved up and down like scales as he said loudly and insistently:

Look—every day ten thousand of my most valuable men are killed, men who are irreplaceable, the best. The balance is wrong; the equilibrium in Europe has been upset. Because the others aren’t being killed: they survive, the ones in camps, the inferior ones. So what’s it going to look like in Europe in a hundred years? In a thousand?

The Holocaust was initiated and undertaken by Hitler in order to balance the scales of death.

According to the Table below, at the time of this conversation in April 1943, 1,352,000 German soldiers had already died. Since German soldiers were dying, Jews too had to die. The Holocaust was a subset of war.

Hitler understood that warfare revolves around sending soldiers to die. He glorified the sacrificial death of his own young men. But why only German soldiers? Why should the best die, while the worst survived?

The Final Solution was undertaken to assure that Jews—like German soldiers—also would be required to die at the hands of Germany.

In linking the pathetic death of a Jew in the camps with the “glorious” death of a German soldier on the field of battle, Hitler was performing a critique of warfare: “Look, it is not sweet and beautiful to die for a country.”

German Military Deaths

Year Jan-Apr May-Aug Sep-Dec TOTAL
1940 10,000 61,000 12,033 83,000
1941 19,000 160,198 177,330 357,000
1942 175,462 198,462 198,056 572,000
1943 339,904 197,594 274,551 812,000
1944 377,947 824,646 598,993 1,802,000
1945 1,312,804 154,693 72,231 1,540,000
1946 40,099 22,066 14,033 76,000
1947 13,041 13,066 7,000 33,000
Total All Years       5,293,000