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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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10. HITLER AND THE MASS MURDERS IN POLAND 1939/40

10.1When Germany invaded and conquered Poland in September 1939, the Nazi Regime radicalised its anti-Jewish Policy significantly. During the war in Poland and in the months thereafter, German SS and police units shot many tens of thousands of people, members of the Polish elite, including thousands of Jews.   These shootings were a part of the policy of the German leadership of rendering Poland leaderless and destroying it as a nation.88 This policy of mass murder was in accord with Hitler's ideas and orders.
10.2When on 12 September 1939, the head of Military Intelligence, Admiral Canaris, drew the attention of General Keitel (Chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht) to the existing plans for far-reaching executions in Poland, Keitel answered that "these things have already been decided by the Führer"; Hitler had made clear that "if the Wehrmacht doesn't want to have anything to do with this then it must also accept that the SS and the Gestapo act separately".89 On 2 October Hitler stated that whatever happens, it should be noted that "Polish masters should not exist, where Polish masters exist they should be killed, as tough as this may sound".90
10.3The very fact that Hitler at this time played a central role in all of these questions related to the persecution of the Jews is made clear in a note of 6 December 1939 issued from the Office ";f Hess, Hitler's Deputy (in party affairs). At the beginning of December, 1939, proposals had been made by the Office of the Führer's Deputy to approach Himmler so as to be able to confiscate telephones still in Jewish hands and to decree a general identifying mark for Jews. Bormann, Chief of Staff of the Office and close personal co-worker of Hitler, let it be known "that the Reichsführer SS will discuss all measures against the Jews directly with the Führer".91
10.4At the end of May 1940 at a meeting of leading representatives of the police, Hans Frank, the "Generalgouverneur" in Poland (i.e. the Head of the German occupation administration) explained the intended plan for "extraordinary   pacification" (Ausserordentliches Befriedungsprogramm), a further chapter in the murder of Polish citizens which was to be discharged while the world was distracted by the War in the West. Frank said:
I admit openly that the planned pacificaton program will cost the lives of thousands of Poles, especially of those from the intellectual leadership of Poland. [...] The Führer told me: The treatment and security of German policy in the Generalgouvernement is the business of those men responsible for the Generalgouvernement alone. He expressed himself in the following way: Whatever leadership we have now identified in Poland, that is what is to be liquidated.92

Notes

88. Jansen/Weckbecker, Selbstschutz: the main objectives of the German occupational policy in Poland are explained in: Broszat, Polenpolitik, Stuttgart and more recently in Majer, Fremdvölkische.
89. 'diese Sache bereits vom Führer entschieden sei'; 'wenn die Wehrmacht hiermit nichts zu tun haben wolle, sie es auch hinnehmen müsse, daß SS und Gestapo neben ihr in Erscheinung treten'. Memorandum Oberstleutnant Lahousen, printed in: Krausnick/Deutsch (eds.), Groscurth, Tagebücher, pp. 357ff.
90. 'keine polnischen Herren geben dürfte, wo polnische Herren vorhanden seien, sollten sie, so hart das klingen möge, umgebracht werden'. IMT XXXIX, pp. 425ff, 172-USSR, 2.12.39.
91. 'daß der Reichsführer SS alle Maßnahmen gegen die Juden direkt mit dem Führer besprechen werde." Bormanns letter, 12 December 1939, replying to two notes from the Office of the Deputy of the Führer, 5 and 6 December 1939 (BAB, NS 18alt/842 [NA, RG 242, T 81, 5594ff]).
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