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#1
Old 10-10-2015, 05:23 PM
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Himmler's Posen speech - what was his thinking?

In the first week of October 1943, Heinrich Himmler gave two speeches in the Polish city of Posen in which he acknowledged explicitly "the extermination of the Jewish people". What I find most remarkable about them is not so much that he discussed such a sensitive subject 'publicly', but that he permitted the speeches to be transcribed and an audio recording made.

The Nazis went to great pains to keep their implementation of the Final Solution secret; from using euphemisms ("resettlement") to exhuming and then burning Jews exterminated in the first half of the war under the so-called Aktion 1005 (there is even a claim, supposedly made by Seyss-Inquart that Himmler was strongly admonished after he was overheard by telephone operators telling Bormann about the "extermination" of the Jews and had not used the term "resettlement").

My question, then, is why - why did he violate Nazi and state protocol in openly discussing the killing of the Jews? Does anyone have ideas as to what led Himmler to allow his speech to be recorded by phonograph (part of which can be heard here)?


(Apologies if this is felt to be better suited for a forum other than GQ. I wasn't sure where it belonged.)
#2
Old 10-10-2015, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by KarlGauss View Post
(Apologies if this is felt to be better suited for a forum other than GQ. I wasn't sure where it belonged.)
Since there may be different opinions on the subject, let's move this to Great Debates.

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#3
Old 10-10-2015, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by KarlGauss View Post
What I find most remarkable about them is not so much that he discussed such a sensitive subject 'publicly', but that he permitted the speeches to be transcribed and an audio recording made.
I'm guessing he never expected the speeches to be made public, even if transcribed and recorded. After all they were secret speeches delivered at closed events for SS insiders.
#4
Old 10-10-2015, 05:49 PM
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Maybe he was thinking about history? You know, that it was something that couldn't be talked about now, but sometime in the future, in his kids' time, or his grandkids' time, there'd at least be a record of it.
#5
Old 10-10-2015, 05:54 PM
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There is possibly the aspect that at that stage of the war he was aware that they were going to lose and that the actions of the Nazi's were going to become public knowledge anyway so he wanted to spread the blame.
#6
Old 10-10-2015, 05:54 PM
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Maybe Himmler was struggling with the brutal reality of the Holocaust. He goes into some detail on the horrors involved in mass extermination, and one gets the impression this is him convincing himself that the endeavor is still worthy.

Why the Nazis allowed him to give the speech...it's odd and (obviously) quite out of character.
#7
Old 10-10-2015, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Stringbean View Post

Why the Nazis allowed him to give the speech...it's odd and (obviously) quite out of character.
He was the Nazi; save Hitler. He controlled the security apparatus. No one would have been able to stop him.
#8
Old 10-10-2015, 06:24 PM
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Further to my post above, I believe the Posen speech is referenced in the book, "The Villa, the Lake, the Meeting: Wannsee and the Final Solution" by Mark Roseman where the author states that the reason for the speech was so that when all was done and dusted and accounts were being settled other senior Nazi's couldn't say they didn't know what was really going on.

I don't have the book at hand to confirm that though.
#9
Old 10-10-2015, 06:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Disposable Hero View Post
Further to my post above, I believe the Posen speech is referenced in the book, "The Villa, the Lake, the Meeting: Wannsee and the Final Solution" by Mark Roseman where the author states that the reason for the speech was so that when all was done and dusted and accounts were being settled other senior Nazi's couldn't say they didn't know what was really going on.
Disposable Hero and everyone else: Thanks, I appreciate your input.

It seems reasonable to presume that the reason he said what he said was to have a record for (a Nazi) posterity and also, as you say, to spread the blame around. That all makes sense.

I still don't understand why he allowed it to be recorded. In the absence of a voice recording, if he (or anyone/everyone else) was confronted by the transcript at some point in the future, it could always be insisted that the transcript was a forgery. OTOH, there could be no denying that was his voice on the record.

Maybe he simply forgot that the red light was on (so to speak). But, even if he did, you'd think that the moment he realized it, he'd have made sure the master recording and any copies were destroyed.

Last edited by KarlGauss; 10-10-2015 at 06:46 PM.
#10
Old 10-10-2015, 06:54 PM
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You know, this sort of revisionist history bewilders me beyond all bewildering. The Nazis thought that they were doing right. They thought that history would applaud them for their actions. Himmler wasn't worried that a record of his speech would prove his guilt; he was worried that a lack of a record of his speech would prevent him receiving the plaudits that he would so richly deserve.

Good heavens.
#11
Old 10-10-2015, 07:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Frank View Post
You know, this sort of revisionist history bewilders me beyond all bewildering. The Nazis thought that they were doing right. They thought that history would applaud them for their actions. Himmler wasn't worried that a record of his speech would prove his guilt; he was worried that a lack of a record of his speech would prevent him receiving the plaudits that he would so richly deserve.
Except that it is counter to everything they were doing to suppress ALL real time discussion of their extermination efforts.

If you believe his intent was to leave a legacy, then why the dressing down by Bormann? Why go through the huge hassle of exhuming a million or so rotting corpses in order to burn them?

And, if it's a legacy he was after, why just the one speech? To ensure a legacy, he would have given it over and over again at different sites, to different (SS) groups, and at different times. No, the Posen speech is totally anomalous. It is at odds with everything else the Nazis were doing (or not).
#12
Old 10-10-2015, 07:35 PM
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I think some of the nuance of the German culture at that time has been lost.

Himmler wasnt actively trying to exterminate the Jews. He was ordered to by Hitler. I read somewhere last week researching another thread that Himmler was seen diur and depressed and complaining that he had been ordered to carry out the Final Solution.

The culture at that time required good Germans to carry out their orders whatever the personal cost for the good of the country and the Fuhrer. Remember Brownings book on Police Battalian 101. They were from Hamburg and tended to be left leaning. They were not Nazis. But they were compelled by their orders and peer pressure to kill.

IMO and only MO that even in 1943 as the Soviets were closing in on the killing fields that the SS men were trying to come to terms with their consciences. Very few were flat out psychopathic murderers.

Its almost impossible for people of our age and modern generations to understand the mindset of both Nazi and Soviet murderers.
#13
Old 10-11-2015, 03:20 AM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Himmler wasnt actively trying to exterminate the Jews. He was ordered to by Hitler.
Was he?
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Old 10-11-2015, 03:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Steken View Post
Was he?
Yes he was...butressed by statements from secretaries who saw Himmler directly after the meeting where Hitler ordered the Holocaust.
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Old 10-11-2015, 05:48 AM
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Himmler's Posen speech - what was his thinking?

I believe his thinking was "Goddamn, but I really hate them Jews !"
#16
Old 10-11-2015, 09:09 AM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Yes he was...butressed by statements from secretaries who saw Himmler directly after the meeting where Hitler ordered the Holocaust.
Which meeting would that be? A cite would be great. Thanks in advance.
#17
Old 10-11-2015, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Steken View Post
Which meeting would that be? A cite would be great. Thanks in advance.
As to whether Hitler ordered the Holocaust check this out:

http://ww2history.com/experts/Sir_Ia..._the_Holocaust

Quote:

LAURENCE REES: But since there is no written order linking Hitler with the Holocaust, is it possible to argue that all of this might possibly have been originated at the Himmler, Heydrich level? Originated by them in the hope of pleasing Hitler? How certain can we be that Hitler is ultimately responsible for the Holocaust?

SIR IAN KERSHAW: Well, he’s the head of that state so could be regarded as having overall responsibility for what happens in that state. In particular in that type of leadership state where the leader’s word is actually taken more or less as law. But actually it goes beyond that, because it’s not just a matter of Hitler’s rhetoric and the fact that, as the death camps are involved in their grisly business in slaughtering millions of Jews in 1942 and ’43, Hitler actually repeats his so-called prophecy, publicly, on several occasions. But even that then is a rhetorical statement you could say. But beneath that then there are things which everybody from Himmler downwards says – he speaks about a commission, he’s following up a commission, he speaks about – as always people do – about following the wishes of the Fuehrer and so on.

This is a regime that doesn’t write down things – Hitler is a very un-bureaucratic type of leader so what you will not expect from this is a set of cabinet minutes where Hitler has said ‘right, now I’m taking the decision here and now to exterminate the Jews.’ It just simply didn’t work like that, but Hitler’s fingerprints are all over all the main steps in that. And also when it comes to all the crucial steps, such as deporting the Jews from Germany to the East into the Lodz Ghetto for example, the deportation of the Reich Jews could not be taken without Hitler’s authorisation. The imposition of the yellow star on the sleeve of German Jews in September 1940 couldn’t happen unless Hitler approved of it.

So all these steps also needed Hitler’s authorisation and approval, so it is actually just stretching credulity too far to believe that in this absolutely critical development of moving to all out genocide, where Hitler’s been speaking throughout his entire career about the need to destroy the Jews, that this somehow happens without him approving of it, authorising it and just not even knowing about it, just is not believable.

LAURENCE REES: Could we put it the other way round then, and say that this simply couldn’t have happened, if it hadn’t been for Hitler?

SIR IAN KERSHAW: Again I think you say that if you put the proposition that way: ‘no Hitler no Holocaust’, I would agree with that. By the time we’re speaking about, now in 1941 and ’42, of course you’ve got a momentum we’ve been talking about that’s built up of, in particular, the police apparatus which has its own momentum, but that momentum itself has come from a whole number of steps prior to that which Hitler has backed and approved of and ok’d at every stage and given his imprimatur to, given his authorisation to, has legitimised.

So, as the head of the state he’s actually represented these policies which have been carried in that way, so in this sense you can, I think, truly say that Hitler was absolutely essential to the carrying out of the Holocaust. So Hitler is a necessary but not sufficient cause of the overall explanation but still you’d say or I would say ‘no Hitler no Holocaust.’

#18
Old 10-11-2015, 10:20 AM
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This page of glory in our history has never been written and will never be written
This quote from the Posnan speech indicates that no one save the listeners was to ever hear of it.
#19
Old 10-11-2015, 10:23 AM
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Here we go...

http://holocaust-history.org/hitler-final-solution/

Quote:
itler's secretary remembers a private meeting between Himmler and Hitler in the early spring of 1941, after which Himmler sat at her desk with a very troubled look on his face, put his head in his hands and said: "My God, my God, what I am expected to do". [3] She is convinced that that was the day Hitler ordered him to murder the Jews.
#20
Old 10-11-2015, 10:55 AM
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That doesn't mean he wasn't in favor of it. Most people who get a big project dumped on their desk have as their first reaction, "Holy crap, how the hell am I going to get this done?", and being told you're in charge of killing nine and a half million people is a pretty big project.
#21
Old 10-11-2015, 11:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Captain Amazing View Post
That doesn't mean he wasn't in favor of it. Most people who get a big project dumped on their desk have as their first reaction, "Holy crap, how the hell am I going to get this done?", and being told you're in charge of killing nine and a half million people is a pretty big project.
Fair point. IMO he and the SS were neutral as far as the wanting the Holocaust (I have never seen evidence that anyone was lobbying for it) but, once ordered. their concerns about it werent the innocent lives of their victims but the effect the killing would have on the killers.
#22
Old 10-11-2015, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
IMO he and the SS were neutral as far as the wanting the Holocaust (I have never seen evidence that anyone was lobbying for it) but, once ordered. their concerns about it werent the innocent lives of their victims but the effect the killing would have on the killers.
Are you serious? Quite a few Jews and other undesirables were killed prior to the Final Solution quite zealously by the SS. The Einsatzkommandos were organized in 1938 under SS-Gruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich. Prior to killing over a million Jews, communists and other by shooting in the wake of Barbarossa in 1941, the Einsatzkommandos had murdered 61,000 in Poland following the invasion in 1939. Heydrich was also behind Kristallnacht which was carried out by the SA and the SS. The 30,000 Jews arrested on Kristallnacht were sent to concentration camps run by the SS, where more than 2,000 were killed prior to the remainder being released three months later on the condition that they leave Germany.
#23
Old 10-11-2015, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Dissonance View Post
Are you serious? Quite a few Jews and other undesirables were killed prior to the Final Solution quite zealously by the SS. The Einsatzkommandos were organized in 1938 under SS-Gruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich. Prior to killing over a million Jews, communists and other by shooting in the wake of Barbarossa in 1941, the Einsatzkommandos had murdered 61,000 in Poland following the invasion in 1939. Heydrich was also behind Kristallnacht which was carried out by the SA and the SS. The 30,000 Jews arrested on Kristallnacht were sent to concentration camps run by the SS, where more than 2,000 were killed prior to the remainder being released three months later on the condition that they leave Germany.
And? The Kristalnacht action was taken at the behest of Goebbels and was not a part of the Holocaust. The Einsatzgruppen were sent to murder the Jews at the specific order of Hitler. Please provide any evidence that anyone in the government or the SS other than Hitler was lobbying for the wholesale physical extermination of the Jews. Also, Hitler was sure that the world wouldnt notice and specifically mentioned the Armenian Holocaust. No one cared or remembered it.
#24
Old 10-11-2015, 01:35 PM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Fair point. IMO he and the SS were neutral as far as the wanting the Holocaust (I have never seen evidence that anyone was lobbying for it) but, once ordered. their concerns about it werent the innocent lives of their victims but the effect the killing would have on the killers.
I had quoted this in a previous thread, but here are parts of the lyrics of two SS marching songs.

Quote:
Sharpen the knives on the paving stones
so they cut into Jewish flesh and blood better!
When the hour of vengeance comes
we're ready to start the massacre!
and

Quote:
When the stormtrooper enters the fire, he keeps his courage,
and when Jewish blood spurts from the knife, everything is twice as good.
Throw out the whole bunch of Jews!
Throw them out of the Fatherland!
Send them back to Jerusalem and cut their throats,
or they might come back.
So, "neutral on the Holocaust" isn't exactly the term I'd use to refer to the SS.
#25
Old 10-11-2015, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by Captain Amazing View Post
I had quoted this in a previous thread, but here are parts of the lyrics of two SS marching songs.



and



So, "neutral on the Holocaust" isn't exactly the term I'd use to refer to the SS.
I meant neutral in relation to a complete annihilation of the Jewish people. The lyrics you quoted mention expulsion. Until the war started that is what the government was trying to do. The British wouldnt let em go to Palestine; we wouldnt let em into the USA. Like so much in Hitlers Germany the Holocaust was an unplanned reaction to events on the ground driven by the murderous will of one man.
#26
Old 10-11-2015, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
I meant neutral in relation to a complete annihilation of the Jewish people. The lyrics you quoted mention expulsion. Until the war started that is what the government was trying to do. The British wouldnt let em go to Palestine; we wouldnt let em into the USA. Like so much in Hitlers Germany the Holocaust was an unplanned reaction to events on the ground driven by the murderous will of one man.
It's not believable that one of the greatest mass murders and genocides ever perpetrated on earth can be pinned on pretty much just one man. It's ludicrous to suggest that the SS and senior Nazi leaders weren't totally onboard with exterminating Europe's Jews.
#27
Old 10-11-2015, 02:14 PM
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Read the Kershaw link I posted and try to wrap your head around the culture of Germany in the early 20th century. The Fuhrer spoke and people obeyed. No Hitler; no Holocaust.

Also read Brownings Ordinary Men: Police Battalion 101 to learn how non Nazis participated in Genocide.
#28
Old 10-11-2015, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by iiandyiiii View Post
It's not believable that one of the greatest mass murders and genocides ever perpetrated on earth can be pinned on pretty much just one man. It's ludicrous to suggest that the SS and senior Nazi leaders weren't totally onboard with exterminating Europe's Jews.
There must have been a whole lot of Germans who got the word and said "What! Are you freakin kidding? How the hell are we supposed to do that?" If you weren't a psychopath that would be your first reaction even as an anti-semite. Way up on the chain it would seem like a bizarre quest, way down it would seem completely grim and thankless. Many non-psychos wound up on that bandwagon.
#29
Old 10-11-2015, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Read the Kershaw link I posted and try to wrap your head around the culture of Germany in the early 20th century. The Fuhrer spoke and people obeyed. No Hitler; no Holocaust.

Also read Brownings Ordinary Men: Police Battalion 101 to learn how non Nazis participated in Genocide.
I've read several books on the Holocaust, though not those in particular. The notion that the German people were culturally helpless to resist orders from above is easily demonstrated to be false -- the German people as a whole rejected Action T4, euthanasia for disabled people, and due to mass protests the Nazi government stopped it in 1941. During the occupation, more than a third of Germans responded to polling that extermination of the Jews was necessary for the security of Germany.

So no, it wasn't just "the Fuhrer spoke and the people obeyed". When they disapproved of something strongly enough, the people protested. That they didn't protest the extermination of Jews, for the most part, tells us something about the German people at the time.
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Old 10-11-2015, 03:23 PM
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The actual Holocaust was a state secret and was carried out far from German territory. There were hints but not much else. Germany was an extreme police state and public opinion didn't matter. Officially the T4 program stopped but not in reality. Check out Liftons Nazi Doctors.

And; yes it was Hitler spoke and people obeyed. Again this is difficult to understand to people who don't value oaths.


Name me the other times the German people protested.
#31
Old 10-11-2015, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
The actual Holocaust was a state secret and was carried out far from German territory.
Guess it depends on what you mean by "actual Holocaust" since

Belsen
Dachau
Sachsenhausen
Buchenwald
Dora-Mittelbau
Ravensbruck
Mauthausen
and more,

were all located in "German territory" (and, in fact, within the borders of pre-WWII Germany and Austria).

You may respond by stating that none of the above were 'extermination camps'. I would respond in turn, that extermination through forced labour and disease is still extermination.

Last edited by KarlGauss; 10-11-2015 at 03:38 PM.
#32
Old 10-11-2015, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Like so much in Hitlers Germany the Holocaust was an unplanned reaction to events on the ground driven by the murderous will of one man.
Unplanned?

http://ushmm.org/wlc/en/article....uleId=10005477

AFAIK the reality was that even if resources and materials were needed more than ever for the war effort, the extermination of the Jews on many occasions got priority like with the use of transport trains. It was indeed a plan that took place regardless of the events on the ground. And that was another reason why the Holocaust is seen as worse than other genocides because instead of reacting to what was going on the Nazis just continued with the schedule.
#33
Old 10-11-2015, 06:01 PM
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It's also possible that, as a matter of internal politics, Himmler was worried about keeping up SS morale and discipline. I've no evidence on that, but he does talk about "strain" and the difficulty of the task, also specifically warns against his people wanting exceptions for this or that individual. There's a curious item in the "Topography of Terror" exhibition in Berlin (or was when I last saw it) - a letter from an SS officer to a colleague in charge of deportations from Berlin complaining about the behaviour of the men collecting together the people and asking for "some humanity" in the process, which makes you wonder whether SS people would have been fed the same lies as the civilian population, and would be shocked at the reality, despite all their years of anti-Semitic indoctrination.

One other footnote on Hitler's own responsibility/initiative. If you read the Wannsee Protocol, it's quite clear that it's meant to be read by others rather than those present at the meeting, to show that, at Goering's request (he was nominally in charge of economic planning) the SS had undertaken to produce a plan for the "Final Solution", and all the relevant ministries had agreed that the SS would be in charge of the whole process, including the economic exploitation of slave labour. And who would they need to confirm this to, if not Hitler?
#34
Old 10-11-2015, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by KarlGauss View Post
Guess it depends on what you mean by "actual Holocaust" since

Belsen
Dachau
Sachsenhausen
Buchenwald
Dora-Mittelbau
Ravensbruck
Mauthausen
and more,

were all located in "German territory" (and, in fact, within the borders of pre-WWII Germany and Austria).

You may respond by stating that none of the above were 'extermination camps'. I would respond in turn, that extermination through forced labour and disease is still extermination.
None of which were death camps
#35
Old 10-11-2015, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
None of which were death camps
Not that the Nazis did not make an effort to make them so (specially when the allies were getting close, many prisoners were killed by the Nazis that did not want them to go free), in Buchenwald it is estimated that more than 50,000 died because of illness, harsh camp conditions, starvation, literally "worked to death", human experimentation or fell victim to the SS guards.

Also many of those camps in Germany were collection points to sent people to the death camps in the east outside of Germany proper.
#36
Old 10-11-2015, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
None of which were death camps
Auschwitz-Birkenau was in Upper Silesia, which was annexed to Germany after the invasion of Poland. And, regarding other big protests, the other big protest was the Rosenstrasse protest, where the non-Jewish families of Jewish Berliners arrested in preparation for deportation got them released.

Look, Nazi Germany was a police state, and protest against the regime's actions was dangerous. I agree with you there. I also agree that probably the vast majority of Germans, on their own, wouldn't have come up with genocide. But to say that Hitler was the only one who was pro-Holocaust is just not true. To say that Himmler was like, "Eh, kill the Jews or don't kill the Jews, whatever, doesn't matter to me." doesn't match up with the record of the stuff he said and wrote.

And when you said "The lyrics you quoted mention expulsion", that's true, they do. But they follow "Throw them out of the Fatherland!" with "Send them back to Jerusalem and cut their throats, or they might come back"
#37
Old 10-11-2015, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by KarlGauss
You may respond by stating that none of the above were 'extermination camps'. I would respond in turn, that extermination through forced labour and disease is still extermination.
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
None of which were death camps
Just as I predicted.

Please don't try to say that a "death camp" is different than an "extermination camp".

Last edited by KarlGauss; 10-11-2015 at 10:28 PM.
#38
Old 10-12-2015, 02:24 AM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Yes he was...butressed by statements from secretaries who saw Himmler directly after the meeting where Hitler ordered the Holocaust.
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Originally Posted by Steken View Post
Which meeting would that be? A cite would be great. Thanks in advance.
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Just so we're clear:

That a single secretary is convinced that Hitler ordered Himmler to execute the Holocaust at that specific meeting doesn't mean that that's what happened. We don't know if there was ever any such meeting, let alone when and where. We also don't know Himmler's immediate reaction.

Last edited by Steken; 10-12-2015 at 02:25 AM.
#39
Old 10-12-2015, 03:02 AM
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Originally Posted by Steken View Post
Just so we're clear:

That a single secretary is convinced that Hitler ordered Himmler to execute the Holocaust at that specific meeting doesn't mean that that's what happened. We don't know if there was ever any such meeting, let alone when and where. We also don't know Himmler's immediate reaction.
True. But in the memoirs of George Clare (an Austrian who got away at the Anschluss and ended up an intelligence officer with the British Army in Berlin in 1945), he has details of one of Himmler's appointments diaries from the winter of 1939-40 which note that he got verbal approval from Hitler of reprisal shootings in Poland of small numbers of Jews and prominent Polish citizens. Someone who does that is not, barely a year later on his own authority and without telling his boss, going to create a system paying hundreds of men for killing thousands of people in the wake of the invasion of the Soviet Union, and within a year after that, suborning the entire government machine to put himself and his organisation in charge of everything to do with the enslavement and murder of every Jew they can lay their hands on right across Europe. Plus, of course, we also know that Hitler's last "political testament" more or less says "The Germans let me down, but at least I killed as many Jews as I could".
#40
Old 10-12-2015, 03:08 AM
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Originally Posted by KarlGauss View Post
Just as I predicted.

Please don't try to say that a "death camp" is different than an "extermination camp".
A death camp is different than an extermination camp.
#41
Old 10-12-2015, 04:29 AM
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Aaah, the semantic pedantry of genocide.
#42
Old 10-12-2015, 08:18 AM
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Rudolf Hoess, commandant of Auschwitz, clearly believed the order for the final solution came from Hitler, and remembers Himmler telling him that he (Himmler) was ordered by Hitler to effectuate it. (Goldensohn:"the Nuremburg interviews")

That said, by the time of this order there was already widespread killing of Jews and others. The treatment of Jews and other "undesirables" until this point was already appalling, and even without the decision to engage in industrial and complete annihilation could only have ended in mass murder anyway.

The work camps, for most of the inhabitants, and even early in the war, were designed to kill those inhabitants with work, malnutrition and abuse. That is no less dead than gassed - just slower.

The notion that without Hitler ordering it there would not have been the final solution I find hard to swallow. It was ordered by Hitler because stuff needed to be ordered by Hitler to maintain proper protocol and order - but it was ordering something that was already going to happen, and was in fact already happening.

The T4 program did not originate with Hitler, by the time it became official (if secret) policy, many handicapped had already been murdered. Similar with the large scale killing of Jews. The first experiments in mass scale killings were by enterprising underlings (Hoess' second in command at Auschwitz comes to mind - experimenting with Zyklon-B while the boss is out). All this an inevitable consequence of believing that certain lives not only have zero value, but represent a threat to your "culture", life and home.

Last edited by Isosleepy; 10-12-2015 at 08:20 AM.
#43
Old 10-12-2015, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by handsomeharry View Post
A death camp is different than an extermination camp.
This distinction warms my heart. Thank God we have people who can tell the difference. Humanity is not lost.
#44
Old 10-12-2015, 01:12 PM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
Read the Kershaw link I posted and try to wrap your head around the culture of Germany in the early 20th century. The Fuhrer spoke and people obeyed. No Hitler; no Holocaust.
Nonsense. The Nazis were a product of their zeitgeist among an entire population (which, BTW, was mirrored in other European countries and in the US, though not with quite the same enthusiasm and gusto), not some magnificent Triumph of Hitler's Own Will.
Shoot Hitler in 33, or 38, or 44, some other Nazi takes his place, events proceed more or less exactly the same, give or take the odd military strategic blunder actually directly attributable to Hitler (of which there are actually fewer than most people reckon).

As isosleepy says, it's not like Hitler ordered the extermination out of the blue.

Quote:
itler's secretary remembers a private meeting between Himmler and Hitler in the early spring of 1941, after which Himmler sat at her desk with a very troubled look on his face, put his head in his hands and said: "My God, my God, what I am expected to do". [3] She is convinced that that was the day Hitler ordered him to murder the Jews.
First of all that's just the secretary's own guess, which is worth sweet fuck all.

Second of all, even if we do accept that it was the day in question, Himmler's distress is not an indication that he was troubled by the concept of exterminating the Jews - he could have been just as bothered by the scale of it and the timetable expected of him, i.e. the logistical nightmare, the problems with maintaining secrecy (compounding the logistics aspect - how are people supposed to keep track of and direct such a massive undertaking without paperwork, or involving their own staff ?), the burden of having to come up with the means and methods etc...
#45
Old 10-12-2015, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
This quote from the Posnan speech indicates that no one save the listeners was to ever hear of it.
In the second speech, he also specifically addresses 'this most secret circle' and stresses how the things he is saying must never be repeated outside of this group.
#46
Old 10-12-2015, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Mikeisskeptical View Post
In the second speech, he also specifically addresses 'this most secret circle' and stresses how the things he is saying must never be repeated outside of this group.
I get that, I really do. I understand that he wants it kept secret - demands that it's kept secret - and unknown to anyone outside the SS and the 'highest-ups'.

What I still don't understand, though, especially given Himmler's emphasis on keeping things within that group (precisely as you note above), is why he'd allow a phonograph recording to be made of it. Doing so removes all hope of deniability should the recording ever get out (which, of course, it did!).

After reading the comments in this thread so far, the best I can come up with is that he didn't appreciate the risk of his speech's dissemination - that transcribing and recording it made it more likely to get out of the group and that once it did get out, it would then not only be impossible for him to deny saying such things but, by extension, the things he spoke about must have actually occurred). Perhaps what I now take for granted about never recording/transcribing stuff you want kept private is a result of the Internet - all of us (I would think) have come to appreciate that nothing is secret once it's been put online.
#47
Old 10-12-2015, 03:19 PM
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Originally Posted by KarlGauss View Post
I get that, I really do. I understand that he wants it kept secret - demands that it's kept secret - and unknown to anyone outside the SS and the 'highest-ups'.

What I still don't understand, though, especially given Himmler's emphasis on keeping things within that group (precisely as you note above), is why he'd allow a phonograph recording to be made of it. Doing so removes all hope of deniability should the recording ever get out (which, of course, it did!).

After reading the comments in this thread so far, the best I can come up with is that he didn't appreciate the risk of his speech's dissemination - that transcribing and recording it made it more likely to get out of the group and that once it did get out, it would then not only be impossible for him to deny saying such things but, by extension, the things he spoke about must have actually occurred). Perhaps what I now take for granted about never recording/transcribing stuff you want kept private is a result of the Internet - all of us (I would think) have come to appreciate that nothing is secret once it's been put online.
Yep, this is always the dilemma for corrupt powers though. If you want things to be organised and efficient, you have to have things written down. The more people are involved in a conspiracy and the more closely they have to be coordinated, the more evidence they leave behind. There doesn't seem to be a way around it.
#48
Old 10-12-2015, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Mikeisskeptical View Post
Yep, this is always the dilemma for corrupt powers though. If you want things to be organised and efficient, you have to have things written down. The more people are involved in a conspiracy and the more closely they have to be coordinated, the more evidence they leave behind. There doesn't seem to be a way around it.
But they're working on it at Microsoft.
#49
Old 10-12-2015, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by KarlGauss View Post
I get that, I really do. I understand that he wants it kept secret - demands that it's kept secret - and unknown to anyone outside the SS and the 'highest-ups'.

What I still don't understand, though, especially given Himmler's emphasis on keeping things within that group (precisely as you note above), is why he'd allow a phonograph recording to be made of it. Doing so removes all hope of deniability should the recording ever get out (which, of course, it did!).
Other simple explanation : to keep the trust of the underlings. If the higher-up tells you to do Something Questionable but doesn't want any record of the order kept, that means he's planning on letting you hang to dry if/when things go pear-shaped. He can always say he wasn't informed and y'alls did it behind his back.

If you're ever involved in a nefarious conspiracy, always ask for your eeeevil orders to be notarized in triplicate.
#50
Old 10-12-2015, 06:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Kobal2 View Post
Other simple explanation : to keep the trust of the underlings. If the higher-up tells you to do Something Questionable but doesn't want any record of the order kept, that means he's planning on letting you hang to dry if/when things go pear-shaped. He can always say he wasn't informed and y'alls did it behind his back.

If you're ever involved in a nefarious conspiracy, always ask for your eeeevil orders to be notarized in triplicate.
That's a very astute point. It makes a lot of sense and is the type of insight I had hoped to get by opening this thread in the first place. Thanks.
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