Can we classify the Holocaust as one of Hitler's war time strategic mistake?
The German and Austrian Jewish population was about 750,000, of which three quarters were exterminated. Whereas the total German population was about 70 million. But 1941, when the extermination program began the number of Jewish forced labourers in German was 60,000, compared to the 2,000,000 foreign labourers (Fremdarbeiter) [source]. The Nazis decided that this was not an economic impediment to the Holocaust. Furthermore, in regions where the sudden absence of Jewish Labour would have been a problem they delayed the process to allow for their replacement.
It seems logical that the movement from forced labour to Extermination through Labour and the Holocaust of the Jewish population would have lead to costs (from the inefficiency of moving skilled workers to hard labour, to the expenses of diverting effort to commit to commit these awful crimes). These must have been the disruptions the Nazis had in mind and saw as no economic reason not to proceed. I will say the Jews brought from conquered lands for forced labour probably would have been an overall benefit to the German war effort, but I'm not including that as the "holocaust" as I'm assuming the alternative the questioner has in mind is assigning these foreign Jews to the Fremdarbeiter system anyway.
So no, it wasn't a massive strategic mistake. I've not considered other angles, like it's effect on their nuclear program, but in raw economic terms the Nazi's don't seem to have been punished for their terrible crimes. So, to conclude, Holocaust, whilst being one of the most horrendous crimes against humanity in history, just wasn't that big of a deal.
DISCLAIMER - the answer is written from the point of view of Reich's rulers
Invading the USSR was not a strategic blunder, the timing however was unfortunate.
If the thrust of the question is, did Hitler lose World War II because of the way he treated the Jews and other people he didn't like, that is a very interesting question.
There are actually TWO issues here. 1) Did the cost of resources expended in the Holocaust help defeat the war effort, and 2) Did the "opportunity cost" of the Holocaust help the defeat the war effort.
The answer to 1) is probably not. Others have answered better than yours truly, that when you net out Germany's gains from "forced labor" and the cost of running the "program," the net result was probably close to zero.
The more interesting question is, did Hitler miss an opportunity to win World War II by treating the Jews (and others) BETTER than he did?
One of the big "what ifs" of World War II, was "Suppose Hitler had declared war on "Russia" instead of the Soviet Union, and posed as a "liberator" to the people of the Baltic, Belarus, Ukraine, etc., enlisting their young men in his army (and depriving Russia of them). What would have happened?"
In fact, many "Soviet" people initially welcomed the Germans as such, until the effect of Nazi policies became apparent. Without going into the question of whether Hitler would have actually won the war, it is safe to say that he would have gotten "closer" to winning if he had treated Jews, Poles, and non-Russian Soviets better. (Fewer partisan attacks in Russia and revolts in Warsaw, for one.) Not doing so was a major strategic mistake.
Regarding what he considered a "lost opportunity," a former Luftwaffe pilot (aged 77 when I met him in 1991) opined, "If we had hung on to people like Einstein (the Jewish atomic scientists), they could have won the war for us. I don't love those people, but I don't hate them, either." He was perhaps a minority among Germans is thinking in terms of "whatever we needed to do to win," but considering who he had been, that was a very interesting observation.
In Hitler's ideology exterminating Jews was the purpose and the goal of the war.
The large-scale extermination started in 1942 when Germany's victory became uncertain. At that time Hitler had no longer possibility to postpone the extermination until the victory.
Hitler's campaign to SSCB is not a blunder but its is a bet. He know that he have to remove some enemies from the game to win. He know that if it would be too late, all enemies will attack him together in the end like WW1. Usa would attack in 1-2 year to Germany when he feels ready and USA will not work hard to find a cause to attack Germany. Hitler could not finish Brits, they managed to be in game and continue to consume German resources. If Hitler wait for one more year to attack , SSCB would be much more stronger and ready to fight. Most important resources to fight with a future opponent(USA) are controlled by Russian(Turkish oil in Baku). Hitler must get those resources to win. Biggest trouble is time, Germany prepared himself to fight war in 1945 not in 1939. Hitler did not think he could break a war when he attacked to Poland. Same thing happened when he was not ready to fight aganist SSCB , he was not ready to fight in winter , so biggest problem was the time. I dont think Germany's acts aganist the Jews hampered German War efforts. Actually I think it helps him to build strong war industry. In WW1 , Jews which heads worker unions hampered German war efforts, because workers boycotted factory conditions and reduced factory output. Jews wanted to lose Ottoman side because they want land from Turks where todays' Israel.
protected by Community♦ Oct 20 '15 at 0:11
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