|Himmler's "We Will Never Speak of It Publicly" Speech|
Excerpt from a speech given to SS leaders 4 October 1943 in Posen [source: Noakes, J. and Pridham, G. Nazism: A Documentary Reader. Volume III "Foreign Policy, War and Racial Extermination" Exeter, UK: University of Exeter Press, 1984, pages 1199-1200]
". . . I also want to talk to you quite frankly about a very grave matter. We can talk about it quite frankly among ourselves and yet we will never speak of it publicly. Just as we did not hesitate on 30 June 1934 [the Röhm Purge] to do our duty as we were bidden, and to stand comrades who had lapsed up against the wall and shoot them, so we have never spoken about it and will never speak of it. It was that tact which is a matter of course, and which I am glad to say is inherent in us, that made us never discuss it among ourselves, never speak of it. It appalled everyone, and yet every was certain that he would do it the next time if such orders should be issued and it should be necessary.
"I am referring to the Jewish evacuation programme, the extermination of the Jewish people. It is one of those things which are easy to talk about. 'The Jewish people will be exterminated', says every party comrade, 'It's clear, it's in our programme. Elimination of the Jews, extermination and we'll do it.' And then they come along, the worthy eighty million Germans, and each one of them produces his decent Jew. It's clear the others are swine, but this one is a fine Jew. Not one of those who talk like that has watched it happening, not one of them has been through it. Most of you will know what it means when a hundred corpses are lying side by side, or five hundred or a thousand are lying there. To have stuck it out and--apart from a few exceptions due to human weakness--to have remained decent, that is what has made us tough. This is a glorious page in our history, and one that has never been written and can never be written. For we know how difficult we would have made it for ourselves if, on top of the bombing raids, the burdens and deprivations of war, we still had Jews today in every town as secret saboteurs, agitators and troublemakers. We would now probably have reached the 1916- 17 stage when the Jews were still part of the body of the German nation.
"We have taken from them what wealth they had. I have issued a strict order, which SS Obergruppenführer Pohl has carried out, that this wealth should, as a matter of course, be handed over to the Reich without reserve. We have taken none of it for ourselves. Individual men who have lapsed will be punished in accordance with an order I issued at the beginning which gave this warning: Whoever takes so much as a mark of it is a dead man. A number of SS men--there are not very many of them--have fallen short, and they will die, without mercy. We had the moral right, we had the duty to our people, to destroy this people which wanted to destroy us. But we have not the right to enrich ourselves with so much as a fur, a watch, a mark, a cigarette or anything else. We have exterminated a bacterium because we do not want in the end to be infected by the bacterium and die of it. I will not see so much as a small area of sepsis appear here or gain a hold. Wherever it may form, we will cauterize it. All in all, we can say that we fulfilled this most difficult duty for the love of our people. And our spirit, our soul, our character has not suffered injury from it. . . . " [emphasis added]