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Hitler's "Nero Decree" - Destroy Germany

Hitler’s Order to Destroy Germany

By early 1945, Germany was about to collapse. Hitler had tried a last, desperate, counteroffensive against the Allies in Western Europe, called the Ardennes Offensive, but it had failed. In Eastern Europe, then, Russia was quickly entering the territory of those countries that Germany had previously conquered in the first years of World War II. With the USA and England to his right and Russia to his left, Hitler acknowledged that the war was lost. However, he was unwilling to accept the terms of unconditional surrender. So, Hitler had to find another solution.

On March 19, 1945, Hitler enacted a decree known as “Nero Decree”. Officially, it was called “Demolitions on Reich Territory Decree”. Thanks to this legislative act, Hitler intended to destroy the German infrastructures to prevent their use by the Allied forces. This decree became known as “Nero Decree” after the Roman Emperor Nero, who organised the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD.

“It is a mistake to think that transport and communication facilities, industrial establishments and supply depots, which have not been destroyed, or have only been temporarily put out of action, can be used again for our own ends when the lost territory has been recovered. The enemy will leave us nothing but scorched earth when he withdraws, without paying the slightest regard to the population.”

In these words, we can see Hitler’s fear of another “Shame of Versailles”. The concept of the “Shame of Versailles” had been one of the main strengths of Hitler’s propaganda when he was about to take power in Germany at the beginning of the 30s. This concept was grounded on the assumption that German leaders had not been able to negotiate a good armistice with the Great War’s winning states. During his rise to power, Hitler had pointed at WWI’s winning states as the responsible of several Germany’s issues such as its decadence and 1923’s hyperinflation. The same ending, another Treaty of Versailles, had to be avoided.

“Therefore, I order:
All military transport and communication facilities, industrial establishments and supply depots, as well as anything else of value within Reich territory, which could in any way be used by the enemy immediately or within the foreseeable future for the prosecution of the war, will be destroyed.”

Analogies with other systematic destructions of infrastructures
Even though this Decree may seem something foolish, the last act of a decadent dictator that has lost his power, there are still some analogies with other states. In particular, this kind of systematic destruction of infrastructures and facilities had already taken place at least twice in Russia. Both Napoleon’s Russian Campaign and Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa, France and Germany attempts to conquer Russia occurred in 1812 and 1941 respectively, had failed. One common reason why these operations had failed was Russia’s ability in systematically destroying its infrastructures, cultivated camps, and any other facility that could be useful for its enemies.
But there’s a difference too. While Russia’s destruction of its infrastructures was too slow to down its enemies’ penetration within Russia, Hitler’s “Nero Decree” did not only have this aim in mind. Some historians argue that Hitler was furious with the entire German citizenship because, according to him, they had betrayed their homeland losing the war. In Hitler’s opinion, the Germans had not fought bravely enough, disrespecting him, the Nation and their ancestors. Also, citizenship should have worn the consequences of losing the war.

The Decree was in vain
The responsibility for carrying the Decree out feel to Albert Speer, Germany’s Minister of Armaments and War Production. Speer decided to disobey the order. Speer had lost his faith in the German dictator and he knew that the “Nero Decree” was just the legislative act of a madman. Hitler was unaware of Speer’s decision, at least until one of his last days. When Speer reached Hitler’s bunker in Berlin, he revealed the Führer the truth. Hitler was angry with him, but he didn’t order his killing.

And that was maybe another evidence about the fact that Hitler had become no more than the shadow of himself.
 
A chilling quote:

“If the war is lost, the people will be lost also. It is not necessary to worry about what the German people will need for elemental survival. On the contrary, it is best for us to destroy even these things. For the nation has proved to be the weaker, and the future belongs solely to the stronger eastern nations. In any case, only those who are inferior will remain after this struggle, for the good have already been killed.” (Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, Orion Publishing Group, 1969)

Albert Speer got on with the truth as a flanel singlet would get on burrs with but on this occasion I don't believe he was lying.
 
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Hitler’s Order to Destroy Germany

By early 1945, Germany was about to collapse. Hitler had tried a last, desperate, counteroffensive against the Allies in Western Europe, called the Ardennes Offensive, but it had failed. In Eastern Europe, then, Russia was quickly entering the territory of those countries that Germany had previously conquered in the first years of World War II. With the USA and England to his right and Russia to his left, Hitler acknowledged that the war was lost. However, he was unwilling to accept the terms of unconditional surrender. So, Hitler had to find another solution.

On March 19, 1945, Hitler enacted a decree known as “Nero Decree”. Officially, it was called “Demolitions on Reich Territory Decree”. Thanks to this legislative act, Hitler intended to destroy the German infrastructures to prevent their use by the Allied forces. This decree became known as “Nero Decree” after the Roman Emperor Nero, who organised the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD.

“It is a mistake to think that transport and communication facilities, industrial establishments and supply depots, which have not been destroyed, or have only been temporarily put out of action, can be used again for our own ends when the lost territory has been recovered. The enemy will leave us nothing but scorched earth when he withdraws, without paying the slightest regard to the population.”

In these words, we can see Hitler’s fear of another “Shame of Versailles”. The concept of the “Shame of Versailles” had been one of the main strengths of Hitler’s propaganda when he was about to take power in Germany at the beginning of the 30s. This concept was grounded on the assumption that German leaders had not been able to negotiate a good armistice with the Great War’s winning states. During his rise to power, Hitler had pointed at WWI’s winning states as the responsible of several Germany’s issues such as its decadence and 1923’s hyperinflation. The same ending, another Treaty of Versailles, had to be avoided.

“Therefore, I order:
All military transport and communication facilities, industrial establishments and supply depots, as well as anything else of value within Reich territory, which could in any way be used by the enemy immediately or within the foreseeable future for the prosecution of the war, will be destroyed.”

Analogies with other systematic destructions of infrastructures
Even though this Decree may seem something foolish, the last act of a decadent dictator that has lost his power, there are still some analogies with other states. In particular, this kind of systematic destruction of infrastructures and facilities had already taken place at least twice in Russia. Both Napoleon’s Russian Campaign and Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa, France and Germany attempts to conquer Russia occurred in 1812 and 1941 respectively, had failed. One common reason why these operations had failed was Russia’s ability in systematically destroying its infrastructures, cultivated camps, and any other facility that could be useful for its enemies.
But there’s a difference too. While Russia’s destruction of its infrastructures was too slow to down its enemies’ penetration within Russia, Hitler’s “Nero Decree” did not only have this aim in mind. Some historians argue that Hitler was furious with the entire German citizenship because, according to him, they had betrayed their homeland losing the war. In Hitler’s opinion, the Germans had not fought bravely enough, disrespecting him, the Nation and their ancestors. Also, citizenship should have worn the consequences of losing the war.

The Decree was in vain
The responsibility for carrying the Decree out feel to Albert Speer, Germany’s Minister of Armaments and War Production. Speer decided to disobey the order. Speer had lost his faith in the German dictator and he knew that the “Nero Decree” was just the legislative act of a madman. Hitler was unaware of Speer’s decision, at least until one of his last days. When Speer reached Hitler’s bunker in Berlin, he revealed the Führer the truth. Hitler was angry with him, but he didn’t order his killing.

And that was maybe another evidence about the fact that Hitler had become no more than the shadow of himself.
Just showed the state of a diseased narcissist, who identified the nation with his own future, which at that point was either the bullet, or the gallows.. In a perverse way, most leaders as they're shuffle off the stage are prone to making very dubious decisions, as a psychological need in reaction to there own declining control.
 
By early 1945, senior officials became far more interested in squirreling away ill-gotten gains in Switzerland or in Upper Bavaria, whilst avoiding the SS punishment squads that were on the look-out for deserters. Many, too, sought new identities in anticipation of an Allied hunt for war criminals. Destroying infrastructure and stocks of supplies was not uppermost in their thoughts at this late stage in the war.

Here's a riveting read: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sou...FjADegQIBBAB&usg=AOvVaw2gTUQSXOkHhazGGp8sgjsO

For anyone who has been on courses at the Oberammergau NATO School, ever wondered why the towns there are dripping in wealth?
 
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She is reading it .
images (12).jpeg
 
Albert Speer. In filmed interviews he appeared as a professional civilian administrator and architect. He came across as more approachable and open than might be expected of someone so prominent in the leadership of Germany. There is no doubt that he had great talent, genius even, coupled with ambition, duty, drive and determination, which enabled Germany to embark on it's war with the world and to stay in it against the odds.

Were those real tears shed by Speer on being shown evidence of slave labour, concentration and death camps? It does not seem credible that he can have had no knowledge of these events. Indeed it seems that he later admitted as much in private correspondence. If the tears were real then the same qualities that made him indispensable to Hitler must have been allied to a pragmatic and dispassionate sense of detachment. Just as he reduced the decision making and bureaucracy to improve efficiency, so he would have reduced the millions of enslaved civilians to expendable resources, numbers, statistics.

Some British officers who met prominent Nazis remarked on how some of them came across as quite personable while others had no redeeming characteristics and disgusted them.

Speer presents something of a dilemma in that there are aspects that seem admirable if the true horror of the methods employed are left out of the discussion. Would he have enabled Germany to become a successful industrial nation in peacetime under a democratic government? How far would he have gone, how ruthless would he have been to achieve those aims? His architecture came to nothing. His talents were wasted. His efforts enabled millions of deaths to continue apace.

The Candor and Lies of Nazi Officer Albert Speer
 
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Albert Speer. In filmed interviews he appeared as a professional civilian administrator and architect. He came across as more approachable and open than might be expected of someone so prominent in the leadership of Germany. There is no doubt that he had great talent, genius even, coupled with ambition, duty, drive and determination, which enabled Germany to embark on it's war with the world and to stay in it against the odds.

Were those real tears shed by Speer on being shown evidence of slave labour, concentration and death camps? It does not seem credible that he can have had no knowledge of these events. Indeed it seems that he later admitted as much in private correspondence. If the tears were real then the same qualities that made him indispensable to Hitler must have been allied to a pragmatic and dispassionate sense of detachment. Just as he reduced the decision making and bureaucracy to improve efficiency, so he would have reduced the millions of enslaved civilians to expendable resources, numbers, statistics.

Some British officers who met prominent Nazis remarked on how some of them came across as quite personable while others had no redeeming characteristics and disgusted them.

Speer presents something of a dilemma in that there are aspects that seem admirable if the true horror of the methods employed are left out of the discussion. Would he have enabled Germany to become a successful industrial nation in peacetime under a democratic government? How far would he have gone, how ruthless would he have been to achieve those aims? His architecture came to nothing. His talents were wasted. His efforts enabled millions of deaths to continue apace.

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/hist...and-lies-of-nazi-officer-albert-speer-324737/
The Candor and Lies of Nazi Officer Albert Speer
Link doesn't work, sadly.
 

Chef

LE
Albert Speer.

Some British officers who met prominent Nazis remarked on how some of them came across as quite personable while others had no redeeming characteristics and disgusted them.

I've just finished Airey Neave's* book 'Nuremburg' He seemed in no doubt about Speer's culpability. Nor does Gitta Sereny in her description of him.

He does come across in descriptions as an urbane clubbable sort of chap. But I can't imagine a man rising as high as he did in the Nazi party by niceness alone nor by being ignorant of what was happening in the name of the party.

*Neave reckoned that some of the death sentences might have been commuted to imprisonment if the trials had been held a year or so later than they were. Jodl and Keitel among others.
 
A chilling quote:

“If the war is lost, the people will be lost also. It is not necessary to worry about what the German people will need for elemental survival. On the contrary, it is best for us to destroy even these things. For the nation has proved to be the weaker, and the future belongs solely to the stronger eastern nations. In any case, only those who are inferior will remain after this struggle, for the good have already been killed.” (Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, Orion Publishing Group, 1969)

Albert Speer got on with the truth as burrs would get on with a flannel singlet but on this occasion I don't believe he was lying.

The Good Nazi was shown to lie numerous times, Its a fairly long quote to remember 24 years after the war.
Speer if I remember correctly later said (at his trial, funnily enough) that he tried to stop/slow the order for destruction.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
The Good Nazi was shown to lie numerous times, Its a fairly long quote to remember 24 years after the war.
Speer if I remember correctly later said (at his trial, funnily enough) that he tried to stop/slow the order for destruction.

Speer was a committed Nazi and did all he could to keep Germany in the war by maximising production. Although it should be remembered that Fritz Todt laid the foundations for the steep rise in armaments before he was killed in a plane crash. And that a lot of the rise in armaments was due to Milch and the massive rises he generated in aircraft production - not a Speer responsibility till very late in the war.

It was only when the scale fells from Speer's eyes at the last minute than he started to actively obstruct Hitler's orders for destruction. And that was at great personal risk - there was a significant chance that Hitler could have ordered his execution when Speer confessed to him he'd circumvented several Fuhrer orders.

As to his knowledge of slave labour and the concentration camps, Speer must have known. He visited factories and saw the state of the emaciated slave labour there and he fought constant battles to prevent the SS shanghaiing labour into the concentration camps for their production there. In addition, many factories were deliberately built close to concentration camps to take advantage of the cheap labour and Speer was well aware that factory managers preferred recalcitrant workers to be taken back to the camps for punishment, clearly implying that they were aware the labourers were due for worse than the floggings and beatings dished out in the factories.

Wordsmith
 
It was only when the scale fells from Speer's eyes at the last minute than he started to actively obstruct Hitler's orders for destruction. And that was at great personal risk - there was a significant chance that Hitler could have ordered his execution when Speer confessed to him he'd circumvented several Fuhrer orders.

Did he really obstruct Adolf orders? Or did he say he did, when it looked liked he was going to be hanged?
 
Worth considering that if this had actually happened, then the Allies would have lost a huge amount of German knowledge and technology, and would likely have set back ballistic missile development, moon landings & aerospace tech for years - very possibly ending up with the Cold War going hot in the 1950’s
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
Did he really obstruct Adolf orders? Or did he say he did, when it looked liked he was going to be hanged?

There is evidence - other than from Speer - that he did obstruct Hitlers orders. For example, instead of destroying factories as Hitler wanted, factory bosses were given orders to take key parts and bury them so the factories couldn't be immediately used but could be put back into production relatively easily after a German surrender.

But it was only in the dying months of the war, when it was definitely lost, that Speer turned against Hitler.

Wordsmith
 

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