Joachim Hoffmann (December 1, 1930 – February 8, 2002) was a German historian and scientific director of the German Armed Forces Military History Research Office.
Joachim Hoffmann was born in Königsberg, East Prussia, in 1930. In the latter stages of World War II Hoffmann's family fled to western Germany to avoid the advancing Red Army. There the family settled in Berlin.
From 1951 Hoffmann studied modern history, eastern European history and comparative ethnology at the Free University of Berlin and University of Hamburg. In 1959 he received his PhD in history for his study Die Berliner Mission des Grafen Prokesch-Osten 1849-1852. From 1960 until 1995 Hoffmann was working in the German Armed Forces Military History Research Office, where his field of expertise was the “Armed Forces of the Soviet Union”. In his later years he held the post of scientific director. In these years he was also awarded prizes for his work, such as the “Dr. Walter-Eckhardt” Award (1991) and the “General Andrej Andrejewitsch Wlassow” Cultural Prize (1992). After Hoffmann had retired in 1995, he continued to work as an independent author.
Hoffmann published a number of books and articles mainly on the German-Soviet war (1941-1945). Most of his works were based on little-known topics like Deutsche und Kalmyken 1942 bis 1945 (Germans and the Kalmyk people) (1977), Die Ostlegionen 1941 bis 1943 (1981) and Kaukasien 1942/43 - Das deutsche Heer und die Orientvölker der Sowjetunion (Caucasus 1942/43 - The German army and the eastern peoples of the Soviet Union) (1991). Also in 1984 he published the book Die Geschichte der Wlassow-Armee (History of the Vlasov Army) (1984). This work became very popular. With the support of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn it was also introduced in Russia in 1990, where it caused great controversy.
In 1983 the Military History Research Office published the volume 4 of its Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg (The German Reich and the Second World War), which covered the prelude and opening phase of the German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941. Hoffmann contributed critical articles to this volume, which were almost entirely based on Soviet sources.
Hofmann's research led to a conflict with Wilhelm Deist in the following year. Deist, by this time executive scientific director of the Military History Research Office, sued Hoffmann, because in a letter to the director of the office (dating from September, 7th 1983) Hoffmann had accused him of suppressing of the truth about invasion of the Soviet Union for ideological reasons. Deist considered this to be offensive. However, the judge decided against Deist, because Hoffmann had only made use of his right of free speech.
From the middle of the 1980s, Hoffmann, as well as critical Russian historians such as Alexander Nekrich and Dmitri Volkogonov, was deeply involved in the emerging debate about possible Soviet preparations for an attack on Germany since the summer of 1940. In 1995, right after he had retired, he published his work Stalins Vernichtungskrieg 1941-1945 (Stalin's War of Extermination). This book caused great controversy, because of some of its thesis. Even the German Bundestag had to pay some attention, because the foreword was written by Manfred Kehrig, who was by this time still employed by the Military History Research Office. This gave Hoffmann's book the look of an official work by the office. In later versions of the book, Kehrig was only allowed to sign this foreword as a private person and without his occupation written under his name.
Hoffmann has been criticised by historians for his uncritical attitude to the Nazi regime, and its war in the Soviet Union. Most critics concentrate on his last book „Stalins Vernichtungskrieg 1941-1945“ (1995).
Stalin's war plans against Nazi Germany
One of the main theses of Hoffmann book (Chapter 1 and 2) was that Stalin had planned a war against Nazi Germany in 1941. He mostly referred to newer research done by Russian historians such as Danilov, Gorkov or Viktor Suvorov. According to this thesis, Stalin would have waged war on Nazi Germany in the late summer of 1941, if Hitler had not struck first. According to Hoffmann there was no evidence that Hitler had any knowledge of these plans, which means that even if Stalin had planned a war, the German attack could not be considered a defensive action.
Total number of Holocaust victims
In one part of the book Hoffmann also wrote about the absolute number of victims of the Holocaust. He criticised the evidence for the accepted number of about 6 million victims, claiming that it was a propaganda figure of the Soviet leadership for which there were no evidence. Hoffmann stated that according to papers now lying in Russian archives only 74.000 victims could be identified by name. However, he added that these figures would naturally make up only a small part of the absolute number. In view of the lack of archive material, Hoffmann then raised the question of the basis for the estimation of about 5 to 6 million victims. He came to the conclusion that the Soviet commission examining the concentration camp Auschwitz (which did not find any of the German paperwork) had made the best estimate the number of victims. From interviews with former prisoners, the Soviet officers learned that it had been theoretically possible to burn about 5 million corpses. Through they also estimated that 20% of the prisoners were occupied by forced labor, they reported a total number of 4 million victims to Moscow. This report was published later in the Communist party newspaper Pravda (May 8, 1945). Hoffmann added, that some former Nazis had also reported a similar figure. SS-Organiser Adolf Eichmann had spoken of about 4 to 5 million victims, for which he had no suitable explanation. Last Hoffmann referred to other historians, such as Dr. Franciszek Piper, the director of the Auschwitz museum, and Jean Claude Pressac, who had both been writing of about only 800,000 to 1.2 million (Piper) or even 631,000 to 711,000 (Cressac) victims of Auschwitz. Because of this argumentation, some critics accused Hoffmann of getting close to Holocaust denial.
Hoffmann and the extreme right
Shortly after he had retired Hoffmann took part as an expert in a trial against the extremist Grabert-Publishing-company. In the process he granted some degree of respectability to the book "Dissecting the Holocaust", which had been published by the Holocaust denier Germar Rudolf. Still, the court found that phrases such as "supposed", "presumed", "victim of the Jews", "imputed forethought", "furious phantasies", denied the Holocaust and therefore qualified as the crime of race persecution. On June 15, 1996, judge Burkhardt Stein from Tübingen County Court ordered the confiscation and incineration of all books Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte and the destruction of all means for manufacturing them. Later the certificate written by Hoffmann was published in Rudolf's magazine Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung.
- Die Ostlegionen 1941 - 1943. Turkotartaren, Kaukasier, Wolgafinnen im deutschen Heer, 1976
- Deutsche und Kalmyken 1942 - 1945, 3. Auflage 1977
- Der Angriff auf die Sowjetunion, in: Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, mit Jürgen Förster; Horst Boog, 1987
- Kaukasien 1942/43. Das deutsche Heer und die Orientvölker der Sowjetunion, 1991
- Die Angriffsvorbereitungen der Sowjetunion 1941 ,in: Zwei Wege nach Moskau. Vom Hitler-Stalin-Pakt bis zum "Unternehmen Barbarossa" , München und Zürich 1991
- Stalins Vernichtungskrieg 1941-1945, Herbig Verlag, [3rd edition] 1999 ISBN 3-7766-2079-X
- Berlin Friedrichsfelde. Ein deutscher Nationalfriedhof, 2001
- Die Tragödie der 'Russischen Befreiungsarmee' 1944/45. Wlassow gegen Stalin, Herbig Verlag, 2003 ISBN 3-7766-2330-6
- Joachim Hoffmann: Verstörende Geschichte - Zum Tod des Militärhistorikers Joachim Hoffmann, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (February 27, 2002)
- Wehler, Hans-Ulrich; Review author Georg G. Iggers (October 1989). "Entsorgung der deutschen Vergangenheit? Ein polemischer Essay zum "Historikersteit."". The American Historical Review (American Historical Association) 94 (4): 1127–1128. doi:10.2307/1906698. JSTOR 1906698.|url=|format=|accessdate=
- Answer of the Federal Government on the request of the delegates Annelie Buntenbach, Volker Beck (Cologne), Winfried Nachtwei and the parliamentary group ALLIANCE 90/GREEN - Bundestag archives print 13/5559 "Deutscher Bundestag: Drucksache 13/5773 vom 11.10.1996" (in German). 11 October 1996. Retrieved 2007-03-01.
- Michael G. Hillinger in The American Historical Review, Volume 81, Issue 5 (Dec., 1976), S. 1155 Review of Hoffmann: Die Ostlegionen, 1941-1943. Turkotataren, Kaukasier und Wolgafinnen im deutschen Heer.
- R.J. Overy in The English Historical Review, Volume 102, Issue 404 (Jul., 1987), S. 759 Review of Hoffmann: Die Geschichte der Wlassow-Armee.
- G.C. Field in The American Historical Review, Volume 80, Issue 4 (Oct., 1975), S. 964-5 Review of Hoffmann: Deutsche und Kalmyken, 1942 bis 1945.
- Joachim Hoffmann: Stalins Vernichtungskrieg, 1941-1945. Planung, Ausführung und Dokumentation. Herbig, München 2000. 6. Auflage, ISBN 3-7766-2079-X, P. 181
- „Sie machen freilich nur einen Teil der Gesamtopferzahl aus, deren wirkliche Höhe aber im Dunkeln bleibt.“, in: Joachim Hoffmann: Stalins Vernichtungskrieg, 1941-1945. Planung, Ausführung und Dokumentation. Herbig, München 2000. 6. Auflage, ISBN 3-7766-2079-X, S. 182, 327
- Joachim Hoffmann: Stalins Vernichtungskrieg, 1941-1945. Planung, Ausführung und Dokumentation. Herbig, München 2000. 6. Auflage, ISBN 3-7766-2079-X, S.178f
- Joachim Hoffmann: Stalins Vernichtungskrieg, 1941-1945. Planung, Ausführung und Dokumentation. Herbig, München 2000. 6. Auflage, ISBN 3-7766-2079-X, S.182f
- Joachim Hoffmann: Stalins Vernichtungskrieg, 1941-1945. Planung, Ausführung und Dokumentation. Herbig, München 2000. 6. Auflage, ISBN 3-7766-2079-X, S.181f
- Joachim Hoffmann: Grundlagen zur Zeitgeschichte: Gutachterliche Stellungnahme. In: Vierteljahreshefte für freie Geschichtsforschung Jg. 1 (1997) Nr. 3, S. 205-207.
- Hoffmann. "Wartime bombings of neutral Switzerland". Institute for Historical Review. Archived from the original on 2007-03-02.