Who knew about 'final solution'?; The Terrible Secret, by Walter Lacqueur. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. $12.95.
Other than for the course of communism, no other phenomenon of the 20th century has so caught the attention of thoughtful individuals as has Nazism. Hitler, his philosophy, and his works have raised innumerable intellectual, moral, social, psychological, historical, and even racial questions. As has been said, Nazism has provided a full century's work for all those who deal with the aberrations of the human mind.
Walter Lacqueur, a distinguished and competent professor of and writer on international affairs, has chosen one particular and perplexing aspect of Nazism: How much did the German people, the outside world, and the potential victims themselves know of Hitler's campaign to systematically wipe out the Jewish population of Europe?
This question has been asked, studied, and debated many times before. The answers depend upon many factors. Those who would excuse widespread ignorance claim that (a) the Gestapo-closed society of Germany kept information on genocide from widely circulating, or (b) since Hitler's "Final Solution" so far surpassed all other modern horrors, it was impossible for most human beings to believe that such activities were going on. On the other hand, there are those who believe that at least partial knowledge of the extent of Hitler's programs was widespread but that this was pushed aside because (a) to have acknowledged it fully would have interfered with the Allied War effort, (b) to have sought to do anything about it would, given Hitler's mentality, only have increased the tempo of genocide (the so-called Vatican attitude), or (c) endemic anti-Semitism in both Europe and America played its part in reducing condemnation.