Thursday, 25 October 2012

On This Day in the Third Reich 1941

Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich, Head of the RSHA and Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia as from 21st September, dine with Adolf Hitler at his Head Quarters. Hitler reminded his two guests of his prophecy regarding the Jews
'This criminal race has the 2 million dead of the World War on its conscience'[i]

His words make it clear that Hitler was very much aware of the SS cavalry attempts at genocide in the Pripet marshes earlier in the year, making an oblique reference
‘Let nobody say to me ‘We can’t send them in to the swamps!’ Who’s worrying about our people?’’[ii]

Given that his two guests were in charge of the genocide, Hitler scarcely needed to say more. He was able to be relatively open about the Holocaust as Himmler and Heydrich were his only guests. Hitler also made it obvious that he was aware that there were rumours to the effect that the Nazis were intent on the destruction of the Jews.
‘A good thing if people are scared by talk that we are exterminating the Jews……The attempt to create a Jewish state will end in failure'[iii]

Hitler claimed the mantle of a cunning politician, who had to wait until the time was right to attack the Jews. He maintained that he had been inactive against the Jews for a long time; a claim that can only refer to their destruction as the Nazis had long been active in reducing the Jews, under their control, to a people without rights.
Huber, Nebe, Himmler, Heydrich & Muller
On 1st August Gruppenfuhrer Heinrich Muller, head of the Gestapo, ordered that all Einsatzgruppen reports on the massacres of Jews and Communists in Russia be sent to the Fuhrer as well as to many other senior Party and government officials.

The planned rout of Russian forces was already way behind schedule and Hitler’s plans had recently been amended to include a drive on Moscow. These plans had been stymied by the change in the weather. The Russian winter was closing in and preparations for the troops had not been made; with the lone exception of the Waffen SS, for whom Himmler had arranged for Jewish furs to be re-tailored for his troops, who also had the advantage of field ovens unavailable to the Wehrmacht troops.

Only two days earlier Himmler had ordered the cessation of any Jewish emigration from the Reich or occupied territories. An official in the Ostministerium[iv] was already recommending the use of T4[v] personnel to construct gas installations to murder Jews.

Ribbentrop and Ciano
 Himmler left Wolfschanze to join Joachim von Ribbentrop on a hunting break at the Foreign Minister’s hunting lodge near Salzburg. One of the other guests was Count Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister, a keen hunter and, like Himmler, no friend to von Ribbentrop. There is evidence that Himmler only attended the house party at the insistence of his Fuhrer.

Architect of Genocide – Richard Breitman, Pimlico 1991

Hitler & Stalin – Parallel Lives – Alan Bullock, Harper Collins 1991
The Third Reich at War – Richard J Evans, Allen Lane 2008

Hitler’s Willing Executioners – Daniel Goldhagen, Little Brown & Co 1996
Hitler 1936-1945 Nemesis - Ian Kershaw, Penguin 2001

The Terrible Secret – Walter Laqueur, Little Brown & Co 1980
Heinrich Himmler – Peter Longerich, Oxford University Press 2012

Reichsfuhrer SS – Peter Padfield
The Villa, the Lake, the Meeting – Mark Roseman, Penguin 2003

Hitler’s Table Talk – ed Hugh Trevor-Roper, Phoenix 2003

[i] Heinrich Himmler - Longerich
[ii] Ibid
[iii] Ibid
[iv] Ministry for the East
[v] The code name for the department tasked with the euthanasia of the mentally and physically unfit, based on the address Tiergartenstrasse 4.

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