From the WSJ in 2017: A new batch of books by Laurence Rees, Peter Hayes and David Cesarani tries to crack the puzzle: Why the Jews? And why the Germans? Josef Joffe reviews…
Why did the Germans invest ever more precious resources in mass slaughter while they were already losing the war? Why finish off the Jews rather than save the Reich?
Opportunity costs are a legend, Mr. Hayes argues, for mega-murder hardly put a dent into the war effort. He marshals astounding numbers in making this compelling case. In 1942-44, the regime used just two trains per day on average to move three million people to the camps. Compare that to the 30,000 trains per day the Reichsbahn ran overall in 1941-42. In 1944, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union were closing in, extinction still came cheap: three trains per day to deport 440,000 Hungarian Jews in eight weeks.
The annihilation of the Jews was “low-overhead, low-tech and self-financing.” The victims had to pay for their railroad tickets to extinction, while the SS made a fortune on renting out their doomed slaves to industry.