“To Be Exterminated as Partisans”

On a Note by Himmler
By Florent Brayard

Most historians now agree that Hitler’s decision to completely wipe out the Jews was made at the end of 1941, probably in December. Yet many questions remain unanswered. We know that Himmler recorded the following words from his meeting with Hitler on December 18: “Jewish question: to be exterminated as partisans.” However, we do not know exactly what that statement meant. Was it an order, a clarification, a justification, or a simple rhetorical statement? What did the two men talk about? Clearly, that single phrase does not sum up the entire meeting. In this paper, Florent Brayard attempts to answer these questions by reviewing the evolution of the “Final Solution,” a highly complex program that resulted in the extermination of millions of human beings.

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