Hitler's Role in the Persuection of the Jews by the Nazi Regime: Electronic Version, by Heinz Peter Longerich

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19. EVIDENCE FOR HITLER`S LEADING ROLE IN THE POLICY OF EXTERMINATION AFTER 1942

19.1In the period 1942-1945 we have numerous further statements by Hitler that show that he continuously intervened in "anti-Jewish policy" and tried to push it forward in the sense of a radical "solution". (1) From Goebbels` diary entry of 29 May it emerges that Hitler on Goebbels's insistence, agreed to order Speer to "be sure to see to it, as soon as possible, that Jews presently working in the German armaments industry be replaced by   foreign workers".172 In September 1942 once again speaking at an armaments conference, Hitler was supposed to have insisted that the "pulling out of Jews from armament works in the Reich" was an important priority.173 A few days later, Hitler communicated to Goebbels "once again his firm decision to bring the Jews out of Berlin under all circumstances", according to the Goebbels` diaries. In so far as this group of people were at all active in production, it would not be difficult to replace them by foreign workers.174
19.2(2) At the above-mentioned conference on arms in September 1942, Hitler had expressed agreement with a proposal from Sauckel (his special Commissioner for forced labour) to continue using qualified Jewish skilled workers in the Generalgouvernement, in view of the enormous shortage of workers.175 Himmler then, on 9 October 1942, gave out the order that "so-called armament workers" in the textile firms etc. in Warsaw and Lublin should be collected in concentration camps. The Jews in the "real armament industries" were to be progressively released from these factories, so that there would finally only be "fewer Jewish Kl (=Konzentrationslager, concentration camps, P.L.) large-scale enterprises in the East of the Generalgouvernement if possible": "Nevertheless, the Jews are supposed to disappear from there as well, according to the wishes of the Führer."176
19.3(3) On 28 July 1942 Himmler wrote to Gottlob Berger, one of the senior SS-officials: "The Führer placed on my shoulders the implementation of this very difficult order. The responsibility cannot be taken away from me in any case."177
 
19.4(4) On 29 December 1942, Himmler presented Hitler with the "report to the Führer on fighting against gangs", No. 51.1 This report178, which covered the period from August to November, 1942, and which referred only to a part of the occupied Soviet area (southern Russia, Ukraine and the district of Bialystok); included the following numbers concerning persons imprisoned or executed:
  • 1.Bandits
    • a)established number of deaths after combat 1.337
    • b)prisoners executed immediately 737
    • c)prisoners executed after lengthy thorough interrogation 7.828
  • 2.Gang helpers and suspects
    • a)arrested 16.553
    • b)executed 14.257
    • c)Jews executed 363.211.
19.5According to this, from the altogether 387.370 people killed, more than 90% were Jews. This document shows that according to Hitler's orders to Himmler of 18 December 1942, in fact Jews were exterminated as "Partisans" systematically and on a large scale.
19.6(5) For a report to Hitler on 10 December 1942, Himmler set up a hand-written list of the points which he wanted to bring up. Under "II. SD and police affairs" Himmler specified as point 4 the following key word:
  • Jews in France
  • 6-700 000
  • other enemies.
 
19.7Next to these key words can be found a tick and in Himmler's own handwriting the word "abolish" (abschaffen): Himmler had thus brought up these points with Hitler and received permission from him to "abolish" i.e. to liquidate the estimated 600.000 to 700.000 Jews in France as well as "other enemies".179 After the meeting, Himmler sent a note to Müller, head of the Gestapo, in which he stated:
The Führer gave orders that the Jews and other enemies in Frances should be arrested and deported. This should take place, however, only once he has spoken with Laval about it. It is a matter of 6-700.000 Jews.180
19.8Two months later, in February 1943, Eichmann, on a brief Paris visit submitted a maximum programme for the deportation of all Jews living in France including those with French citizenship.181
19.9At the meeting on 10 December 1942 Himmler presented Hitler with a proposal to set up a work camp for Jewish hostages from France, Hungary and Romania, for altogether 10.000 people. According to a hand-written note by Himmler, Hitler accepted this proposal.182 After the meeting, Himmler sent an order to Müller to concentrate these 10.000 people in a "special camp" (Sonderlager). He stated: "Certainly they should work there, but under conditions whereby they remain healthy and alive."183
19.10Himmlers handwritten notes about this meeting with Hitler and the orders sent to Müller confirm that it was Hitlers will that those French Jews which did not fall   under this rule were not "to be kept alive " (am Leben bleiben) but were to be "abolished", i.e. to be murdered.
19.11(5) On the occasion of an address by Hitler on 19 June 1943, Himmler learned of his decision "that the evacuation of the Jews, despite the disturbances this will cause in the next 3 to 4 months, is to be radically expedited and must be endured".184
19.12(6) By the time of the so-called first Klessheim conference on the 17 and 18 April 1943, according to the protocol, Ribbentrop answered - in Hitler's presence - Horthy`s question "what he then should do with the Jews" ("he [=Horthy, P.l.] can't kill them after all") by stating unambiguously that they must either be exterminated or brought to concentration camps". Hitler thereupon noted, in regard to the Jews in Poland:
If the Jews there don't want to work they will be shot...If they cannot work, they must rot. They should be treated like tubercular bacillus which could attack healthy bodies. That is not cruel - if one keeps in mind that even innocent natural beings like hares and deer must be killed so that no damage occurs.185
19.13In various addresses over the years 1943-1944 Himmler expressed himself very clearly about the murder of the European Jews by his SS and at the same time referred to having received a commission for these mass murders. Also without naming names it was clear to his listeners from whom he had received this commission since as Reichsführer of the SS he was subordinate to only one person, namely Adolf Hitler.
 
19.14On 6 October 1943, Himmler explained to Gau and Reich chiefs of the party in Posen:
I ask of you that that which I say to you in this circle be really only heard and not ever discussed. We were faced with the question: what about the women and children? - I decided to find a very clear solution to this problem - say, to kill or have them killed - and then allow the avenger in the form of the children to grow up for our sons and grandsons. The difficult decision must be made to have this people disappear from the face of this earth. For the organisation which had to execute this task, it was the most difficult which we had ever had.186
19.15It is true that Himmler in this speech gives the impression that the murder of women and children was his responsibility, yet he refers at the end of the paragraph to the most difficult "task which we ever had" and not for instance to a task which he might have assigned to the SS.
19.16In a speech on 5 May 1944 to generals of the Wehrmacht who joined an ideological-political training in Sonthofen, Himmler became even clearer:
The Jewish question has been solved within Germany itself and in general within the countries occupied by Germany. It was solved in an uncompromising fashion in accordance with the life and death struggle of our nation in which the existence of our blood is at stake [..] You can understand how difficult it was for me to carry out this military order which I was given and which I implemented out of a sense of obedience and absolute conviction. If you say:'we can understand as far as the men are concerned but not about the children`, then I must remind you of what I said at the beginning. In this confrontation with Asia we must get used to condemning to oblivion those rules and customs of past wars which we have got used to and prefer. In my view, we as Germans, however deeply we may feel in our hearts, are not entitled to allow a   generation of avengers filled with hatred to grow up with whom our children and grandchildren will have to deal because we, too weak and cowardly, left it to them.187
19.17A few weeks later, on 24 May 1944, he spoke once again in Sonthofen, again to a group of Generals of the Wehrmacht:
Another question which was decisive for the inner security of the Reich and Europe, was the Jewish question. It was uncompromisingly solved after orders and rational recognition. I believe, Gentleman, that you know me well enough to know that I am not a bloodthirsty person; I am not a man who takes pleasure or joy when something rough must be done. However on the other hand, I have such good nerves and such a developed sense of duty - I can say that much for myself - that when I recognise something as necessary I can implement it without compromise. I have not considered myself entitled - this concerns especially the Jewish women and children - to allow the children to grow into the avengers who will then murder our fathers and our grandchildren. That would have been cowardly. Consequently the question was uncompromisingly resolved.188
19.18Himmler is thus speaking here - in the context of the murder of the Jews - unmistakably about an "order" and of a "sense of duty". His way of formulating it - that he considered himself "entitled" to have the women and children killed as well- speaks for the view that this mass murder followed from a Himmler   initiative; it also however shows that Himmler was firmly convinced that this decision was covered by Hitler's authority and was in accordance with his will.
19.19Even more clearly, a few weeks later Himmler spoke on 21 July once again in the context of an ideological-political training for the Generals:189
It was the most terrible assignment and the most terrible task which an organisation can possibly get: the task of solving the Jewish question. I am allowed to say this once again quite openly in this circle a few sentences. It is good that we had the toughness to extirpate the Jews in our area."
19.20Hitler himself stated in a speech addressing high officers of the Wehrmacht on 26 May 1944:
By removing the Jew, I abolished in Germany the possibility to build up a revolutionary core or nucleus. One could, naturally, say to me: Yes, couldn't you have solved this more simply - or not simply, since all other means would have been more complicated - but more humanely? My dear officers, we are engaged in a life and death struggle. If our opponents win in this struggle than the German people would be extirpated.190
19.21Hitler described in the following sentences what sort of gruesome extirpation would take place and then went on to say:
Humanity would mean here as well as in general the worst atrocities against one's own people. If I draw the hate of the Jews upon myself than at least I don't want to miss the advantage of such hate. The advantage consists in that we will have a clean, organised body of the Volk, where no others can ever again meddle in our affairs.191
 
19.22In his testament of 29 April 1945, Hitler once again, in what was literally his last written words, gave vent to his deep antisemitic hatred:
But I have also never left open any doubt about the fact that if the peoples of Europe were once again to be regarded only as packages of shares of these international monetary and financial conspirators, then that people would be held responsible, which is the true culprit behind the murderous struggle: Jewry ! I have also not left anybody in the dark about the fact that this time it would not only be millions of children of Europeans from the Aryan nations who will die of hunger, not only millions of grown men who will suffer death, and not only hundreds of thousands of women and children who will burn to death in the cities and be permitted to be bombarded to death, without holding the true culprit responsible for this crime, even though it may be by more humane methods. Above all I pledge the leadership of the nation and its followers to the scrupulous observation of the racial laws and to an implacable opposition against the universal poisoner of all peoples, international Jewry.192

Notes

169. 'Nach Beendigung des Krieges werde er sich rigoros auf den Standpunkt stellen, daß er Stadt für Stadt zusammenschlage, wenn nicht die Drecksjuden rauskämen und nach Madagaskar oder einen sostigen jüdischen Nationlstaat abwanderten. [...] Wenn ihm berichtet werde, daß heute auch Litauen judenfrei sei, so sei das bezeichnend.' Ritter (ed.), Tischgespräche.
170. Brechtken, Madagaskar, p. 279.
171. Longerich, Politik, pp. 398f.
172. 'so schnell wie möglich dafür zu sorgen, daß in der deutschen Rüstungswirdschaft beschäftigte Juden durch ausländische Arbeiter ersetzt werden.' Fröhlich (ed.), Tagebücher, 30.5.
173. 'Herausziehung der Juden aus den Rüstungsbetrieben im Reich', printed in: Boelcke (ed.), Rüstung, p. 189.
174. 'noch einmal seiner festen Entschlossenheit Ausdruck, die Juden unter allen Umständen aus Berlin herauszubringen'. Fröhlich (ed.), Tagebücher, 30.9.
175. Boelcke (ed.), Rüstung, 20-22 September 1942, p. 189.
176. 'ein paar wenige jüdische Kl-Großbetriebe tunlichst im Osten des Generalgouvernements' hätte: 'Jedoch auch dort sollen eines Tages dem Wunsche des Führers entsprechend die Juden verschwinden.' IfZ, Nuremberg Documents, N0 1611; printed as facsmile in: Grabitz/Scheffler: Letzte Spuren, p. 179.
177. 'Die besetzten Ostgebiete werden judenfrei. Die Durchführung dieses sehr schweren Befehls hat der Führer auf meine Schultern gelegt. Die Verantwortung kann mir ohnedies niemand abnehmen." IfX Nuremberg Documents, NO 626.
178. '1.Banditen a)festgestellte Tote nach Gefechten 1.337 b)Gefanene sofort exekutiert 737 c)Gefangene nch längerer eingehender Vernehmung exekutiert 7.828 2.Bandenhelfer und Bandenverdächtige a)festgenommen 16.553 b)exekutiert 14.257 c)Juden exekutiert. 363.211.' Printed in: Rürup (ed.), Krieg (reference: BDC, SS-HO, 1206-1313)
179. 'II. Angelegenhetien des SD u. Polizei'. 'Juden in Frankreich 6-700.000 sonstige Feinde.' IfX, MA 316 (=NA, RG 242, T 175 Roll 94), 5330.
180. 'Der Führer hat die Anweisung gegeben, daß die Juden und sonstigen Feinde in Frankreich verhaftet und abtransportiert werden. Dies soll jedoch erst erfolgen, wenn er mit Laval darüber gesprochen hat. Es handelt sich um 6-700,000 Juden.' IfZ, MA 466 (=NA, RG 242, T 175 Roll 103), p. 5558.
181. CDJC XXVI-71, Letter from Knochen to Müler, 12 February 1943, printed in Klarsfeld, Vichy, pp. 488f.
182. IfZ, MA 316 (=NA, RG 242, T 175 Roll 94), p. 5330
183. 'Dort sollten sie zwar arbeiten, jedoch unter Bedingungen, daß sie gesund sind un am Leben bleiben." IfZ, MA 466 (=NA, RG 242, T 175, Roll 103), p. 5557.
184. 'daß die Evakuierung der Juden trotz der dadurch in den nächsten 3 bis 4 Monaten noch entstehenden Unruhen radikal durchzuführen sei und durchsgestanden werden müßte". BAB, NS 19/1432.
185. 'was er denn mit den Juden machen solle", 'erschlagen könne er sie doch nicht', 'entweder vernichtet oder in Konzentrationslager gebracht werden'. 'Wenn die Juden dort nicht arbeiten wollten, würden sie erschossen. Wenn sie nicht arbeiten könnten, müßten sie verkommen.Sie wären wie Turbekuluosebazillen zu behandeln, an denen sich ein gesunder Körper anstecken könne. Das wäre nicht grausam, wenn man bedenke, da sogar unschuldie Naturgeschöpfe wie Hasen und Rehe getötet werden müßten, damit kein Schaden entstehe.' IMT XXXV, D-736, pp. 426ff (p. 428).
186. "Ich bitte Sie das, was ich Ihnen in diesem Kreise sage, wirklich nur zu hören un nie darüber zu sprechen. Es trat an uns die Frage heran: Wie ist es mit den Frauen und Kindern? - Ich habe mich entschlossen, auch hier eine ganz klara Lösung zu finden - sprich also, umzubringen oder umbringen zu lassen - und die Rächer in Gestalt der Kinder für unsere Söhne und Enkel groß werden zu lasen. Es mußte der schwere Entschluß gefaßt werden, dieses Volk von der Erde verschwinden zu lassen. Für die Organisation, die den Auftrag durchführen mußte, war es der schwerste, den wir bisher hatten.' IfZ, MA 309 (=NA, T 175, R 85), pp. 0152-0200), printed in: Smith/Peterson (eds.), Himmler, Geheimreden, p. 169.
187. "Die Judenfrage ist in Deutschland und im allgemeinen in den von Deutschland besetzten Ländern gelöst. Sie wurde entsprechend dem Lebenskampf unseres Volkes, der um die die Existenz unseres Blutes geht, kompromißlos gelöst. [...] Sie mögen mir nachfühlen, wie schwer die Erfüllung dieses mir gegebenem soldatischen Befehls war, den ich befolgt und durchgeführt habe aus Gehorsam und wollster ßberzeugung. Wenn Sie sagen: 'Bei den Männern sehen wir das ein, nicht aber bei Kindern', dann darf ich an das erinnern, war ich in meinen ersten Ausführungen sagte. In dieser Auseinandersetzung mit Asien müssen wir uns daran gewöhnen, die Spielregeln und die uns lieb gewonnenen und uns viel näher liegenden Sitten vergangener europäischer Kriege zur Vergessenheit zu verdammen. Wir sind m.E. auch als Deutsche bei allem so tief aus unserer aller Herzen kommenden Gemütsregungen nicht berechtigt, die haßerfüllten Rächer groß werden zu lassen, damit dann unsere Kinder und Enkel sich mit denen auseinanderetzen müssen, weil wir, die Väter oder Großväter, zu schwach und zu feige waren und ihnen das überließen." IfZ, MA 314 (=NA, T 175, R 92), pp. 3449ff (p. 3475).
188. "Eine andere Frage, die maßgeblich für die innere Sicherheit des Reiches und Europas war, ist die Judenfrage gewesen. Sie wurde nach Befehl und verstandesmäßiger Erkentnis kompromißlos gelöst. Ich glaube, meine Herren, daß sie mich so weit kennen, daß ich kein blutrünstiger Mensch bin und kein Mann, der an irgendetwas Hartem, was er tun muá, Freude oder Spaß hat. Ich habe aber anderseits so gute Nerven und ein so großes Pflichtbewußtsein - das darf ich für mich in Anspruch nehmen - daß ich dann, wenn ich eine Sache als notwendig erkenne, sie kompromißlos durchführe. Ich habe mich nicht für berechtigt gehalten, - das betrifft nämlich die jüdischen Frauen und Kinder- in den Kindern die Rächer groß werden zu lassen, die dann unsere Väter und unsere Enkel umbringen. Das hätte ich für feige gehalten. Folglich wurde die Frage kompromißlos gelöst." IfZ, MA 316 (=NA, T 175, R 94), pp. 4609ff (pp. 4639ff).
189. "Es war die furchbarste Aufgabe und der furchtbarste Auftrag, den eine Organisation bekommen konnte: der Auftrag die Judenfrage zu lösen. Ich darf dies auch in diesem Kreis wieder in aller Offenheit mit ein paar Sätzen sagen. Es ist gut, daß wir die Härte hatten, die Juden in unserem Bereich auszurotten.", IfZ, MA 315 (=NA, T 175, R 94), pp. 3945ff (p. 3961).
190. 'Indem ich den Juden entfernte, habe ich in Deutschland die Möglichkeit irgendeiner revolutionären Kernbildung oder Keimzellenbildung beseitigt. Man kann mir natürlich sagen: Ja, hätten Sie das nicht einfacher - oder nicht einfacher, denn alles andere wäre komplizierter gewesen, aber humaner lösen können? Meine Herren Offiziere, wir stehen in einem Kampf auf Leben und auf Tod. Wenn in diesem Kampf unsere Gegner siegen, würde das deutsche Volk ausgerottet werden.' IfZ, MA 316 (=NA, RG 242, T 175, Roll 94), pp. 4971ff (p. 5021).
191. 'Humanität wäre gerade hier wie überhaupt überall höchste Grausamkeit gegen das eigene Volk. Wenn ich mir schon den Haß der Juden zuziehe, dann möchte ich wenigstens nicht die Vorteile eines solchen Hasses vermissen.' Ibid.
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