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Defense Documents

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

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7.1The course of the November pogrom of 1938 also clearly demonstrates Hitler`s personal initiative. It is inconceivable that Hitler was taken by surprise during the party meeting commemorating the 9th of November, 1923 by the news of the death of the German diplomat vom Rath - the event which the Nazis used as an excuse for launching the pogrom. Rath died in the late afternoon (17.30 German time); Hitler had expressly sent his personal physician Brandt to Paris "for consultation and for direct reportage", according to the Völkische Beobachter.64 He must therefore have already been informed at first hand in the afternoon, before the party meeting had begun, along with Goebbels65, Gauleiter (i.e. one of the regional chiefs of the Nazi Party) Jordan66 and the Foreign Office.67
7.2Before Goebbels held his speech that evening, in which he incited the assembled party leadership to the pogrom, he had already received clear instructions from Hitler, as he noted in his diary: "I am going to the party reception in the old City Hall. Huge crowd. I explain the matter to the Führer. He decides: allow the demonstrations to continue, Pull back the police. The Jews shall for once come to feel the anger of the people. That is correct".68
7.3Eyewitness reports69 according to which Hitler seemed surprised and annoyed about the pogrom in the late evening, if they are credible at all, can only be related to the extent of the damages in Munich and elsewhere, not however to the fact that the party had organised an anti-Jewish "action" that night. The concept of an unsuspecting Hitler is misleading if only because already on 7 November, the day of Rath's assassination, party activists had provoked violent anti-Jewish excesses in different parts of the Reich which were heralded by the Nazi press as a spontaneous reaction showing the anger of the German population.70


64. Völkischer Beobachter, 9.11.38.
65. Reuth (ed, Goebbels: 'In the afternoon the death of the German diplomat vom Rath is reported.' (Nachmittags wird der Tod des deutschen Diplomaten vom Rath gemeldet.)
66. Jorden, Erlebt, p. 180.
67. In the study by Dröscher ("Reichskristallnacht"), which is based on the files of the German Foreign Office, it becomes clear (pp. 79f) that the news of the death must have reached Hitler via Ribbentrop before 8 pm and that the Foreign Office was informed in the course of the afternoon that it was expected that he would die on the same day.
68. 'Ich gehe zum Parteiempfang im alten Rathaus. Riesenbetrieb. Ich trage dem Führer die Angelegenheit vor. Er bestimmt: Demonstrationen wieterlaufen lassen. Polizei zurückziehen. Die Juden sollen einmal den Volkszorn zu verspüren bekommen. Das is richtig." Fröhlich (ed.), Tagebücher, 10.11.38.
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