Himmler's Speech at Posen

October 4, 1943

Selected Extracts

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Posen Rathaus 1943 (Tall Trees Archive)


On October 4, 1943, Heinrich Himmler RFSS, gave a speech to twelve Higher SS and Police Leaders and over one hundred other SS officials in the Rathaus in Posen, which today is Poznan, in Poland. Not only was this very long speech transcribed, but also a partial gramophone recording survives. This speech is infamous because it covers the extermination of the Jews in occupied Europe, among other subjects.

The 1941 Attack

In 1941, the Fuhrer attacked Russia. That was, as we may well say today, shortly, perhaps a quarter or half year before Stalin's enveloping movement prior to his great thrust into Central and Western Europe. I can sketch out this first year with very brief strokes. The attack was effective. The Russian army was driven together into great pockets, destroyed, taken prisoner. We did not then value the mass man as we do now, as raw material, as manpower. Which is not a shame in the end, if one thinks in terms of generations, but it is regrettable today due to the loss of manpower, the prisoners died by the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands from exhaustion and hunger.  

Foreigners in the Reich

We must also be clear in our minds that we have 6 or 7 million foreigners in Germany. There may even be 8 million. We have prisoners in Germany. They are not all dangerous, as long as we strike hard at the smallest minor problem. Its a small matter to shoot 10 Poles today, instead of maybe having to shoot tens of thousands in their place later, and compared to the fact that shooting those tens of thousands would also cost German blood too. Every little blaze must be immediately stamped out, smothered, extinguished, otherwise, just as in a real fire, a veritable prairie fire, politically and psychologically, may break out among the people.

The Communists in the Reich

I don't believe that the Communists will try anything, because their leaders, just like most other criminals in our country, are in concentration camps. Something must be said here: only after the war will it be seen what a blessing it was for Germany - all humanitarian drivel to the contrary notwithstanding - that we locked this whole criminal underclass up in the concentration camps - I'll take care of that myself. If they were running around loose, it would be much harder for us. Particularly since the sub-human would then have their subordinate officers and commanders; they'd have their workers' councils and soldiers' councils. But this way, they're all locked up, and are making grenades, artillery shells, or other important things, and are very useful members of human society.

The SS in Wartime

Now I come to our own development, to the development of the SS over the past few months. The development was, when I look back over the entire war, unprecedented. It has gone ahead at a truly astonishing pace. Let's take a look back at the year 1939. Then we have a couple of regiments, 8,000 to 9,000 men in police units. We were armed, of course, but only received our artillery regiment as the heavy branch of service, to all practical purposes, two months before the start of the war. Let us recapitulate the tasks, duties and missions entrusted to us over the past four-and-a -half years. First I would like to list and once again describe some still further external changes:

Personnel Changes

The following changes have been made in the Main Offices:

The successor to our fallen comrade and friend Heydrich is our comrade SS- Obergruppenführer Kaltenbrunner. He is unfortunately sick today. He has phlebitis, but it is not however, dangerous, thank God. That is why he could not come.

Our old friend Daluege has such a serious heart problem that he is taking a cure, and must withdraw from active service for one and a half to two years. I would like to send a teletype or telegram this evening to our two friends, namely Daleuge and Kaltenbrunner, on behalf of all of us. We hope that Daleuge will be well again and is able to go into action on the front line again in, as I say, approximately two years. On his behalf, SS- Obergruppenführer Wuennenberg, who previously led the Police Division, and was then designated to lead the 4th SS Tank Corps as Commanding General, who is a General in the Waffen-SS and the Police, while heading the Order Police, as Chief of the Order Police.

Gruppenführer Breithaupt, as the Chief of the SS Court, has succeeded our old comrade and friend, Scharfe of the SS.

SS- Obergruppenführer Hofmann has changed posts. He has given up the Race and Settlement Main Office, and has become the Higher SS and Police Leader Southwest.

SS- Gruppenführer Hildebrandt has given up his Upper Section Weichsel and has become Chief of the Race and Settlement Main Office.

SS- Obergruppenführer Schmidt has given up the Personnel Main Office at his own request, and has entered my personal staff for Special Tasks. His successor is SS- Gruppenführer von Herff.

One of my closest and oldest associates, SS- Obergruppenführer Wolff, after a severe illness which seriously endangered his life (operation for kidneystones) has, thank God, gotten well again, and is now - it is the first time that anyone has held this position - the Highest SS and Police Leader for all ofoccupied Italy. He is therefore responsible for a region with 25 to 30 million inhabitants. SS- Gruppenführer Globocnik as the Higher SS and Police Leader for the Littoral, as well as several other SS and Police Leaders, will be subordinate to him. He could not come today.

Higher SS and Police Leaders have since then been assigned as follows: In Croatia, Kammenhofer, who at the request of the Croats, is not called Higher SS and Police Leader there, but rather the Representative of the Reichsführer-SS; this was formerly Meyszner's title in Serbia;it is now Stroop's title in Greece - I would like to say right away that I am re-assigning him to Schimana. You will become the Higher SS and Police Leader in Greece; you will not, therefore, lead the SS Volunteer Division for Galicia. SS- Gruppenführer Hanke, will become Higher SS and Police Leader in Denmark.

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German Police Decode - Globocnik not attending in Posen


The Corps and Brigades

In the Waffen-SS, since we saw each other last, we have progressed to the next stage of organisational development. At that time, one and a half years ago, we were just forming the 1st SS Tank Corps led by SS- Obergruppenführer Hausser, who is now leading operations on the Italian Littoral.

In the meantime, the following corps have been created, or are being formed:

- the 1st SS Tank Corps under SS- Gruppenführer Sepp Dietrich, consisting of the SS Tank Division Liebstandarte SS Adolf Hitler and the SS Tank Division 'Hitler Youth,' which is now being formed.

- the 2nd SS Tank Corps under SS- Obergruppenführer Hausser, consisting of the SS Tank Division 'Das Reich' and the SS Tank Division 'Death's Head.'

- the 3rd SS Tank Corps, the Germanic one, under SS- Gruppenführer Steiner, consisting of the Tank Division 'Viking,' now in the East, and of a new unit now being formed, the SS volunteer Tank Grenadier Division 'Nordland,' and the SS Volunteer Tank Grenadier Brigade 'Nederland.'

- the 4th SS Tank Corps under SS- Gruppenführer Kruger, who previously led the Division 'Das Reich,' consisting of two new divisions, namely the existing SS Tank Division 'Hohenstaufen,' which were recruited by SS- Obergruppenführer Berger from the 9th Division, together with the 10th Division,in February of this year, over a period of 5 to 6 weeks, and trained and formed by SS- Obergruppenführer Juettner.

That was a masterpiece, I can tell you, the greatest piece of daring. It was the most fearful situation that I had seen for several weeks. The old Tank Corps, consisting of the 'Reich, Liebstandarte and the Death's Head,' were taken away from France. In the second half of December came the order from the Fuhrer, on 15 February, two new SS divisions are to be recruited in France, out of the Work Service Camps from youths born in 1925. You could write a book about it later, and tell the whole story about how difficult that was, but it was done nevertheless.

Those recruits were trained with live ammunition from the very first day, since we never knew whether the English were coming. After 8 weeks, they were already considerably better, and now they have become magnificently good divisions. At the moment, we have been ordered to form the 16th and 17th Divisions by January. We are already mutually occupied with this hard work. The 4th Tank Corps will be formed from the SS Tank Division 'Hohenstaufen' (9th Division), and a new division is to be formed to be called the SS Tank Grenadier Division, 'Reichsführer-SS,' which we hope, has succeeded in getting out of Corsica today with the last man.

- the 5th SS Mountain Corps under SS- Gruppenführer Phleps, consisting of the SS Volunteer Mountain Division 'Prinz Eugen' and a Bosnian Mountain Division (Croatia) now being formed.

- the 6th SS Volunteer Corps, the Latvian one, under SS- Gruppenführer Pfeffer-Wildenbruch, consisting of a Latvian Brigade formed in the meantime, and which fought very well on the Volchov (the Latvian SS Volunteer Grenadier Brigade), and a Latvian unit now being formed and soon to be in full strength (the Latvian SS Volunteer Infantry Division), among others.

- the 7th SS Tank Corps, which is now being formed, with an already existing SS Tank Division (10th Division) in France, which has been given the name 'Frundsberg,' and the 17th SS Tank Grenadier Division, which was initially given a next very strange sounding, but, - when correctly understood - very defiant name, 'Goetz von Berlichingen.' Frundsberg and 'Goetz von Berlichingen, these names are a declaration of defiance made by us against our enemies, both domestic and foreign.

In addition, we have formed still more brigades and assault brigades. In the future, when everything squeezed out of the Waffen-SS, and the manner in which the Waffen-SS gave of itself, can finally be described in detail, it will seem a considerable performance.

Chief of the Anti-Partisan Units

In the meantime, I also created the Office of the Chief of the Anti-Partisan Combat Units. The Chief of the Anti-Partisan Combat Units is our comrade SS- Obergruppenführer von dem Bach. I considered it necessary that the Reichsführer-SS should be the commanding officer, in keeping with the authority, for all these combats, since I am convinced that we are in the best position to concern ourselves with the outspokenly political struggle carried on by our enemy. We've been successful insofar as the units available to us, and formed by us, were not repeatedly taken away to plug-up gaps in the front. It should be noted that the creation of these offices, in the order of division, corps, army has led to the next stage, namely that of Supreme Command of an army, or even of a group, if you want to call it that, for the SS.

Regular Uniformed SS and SIPO

Now briefly on the tasks of the Order Police and Security Police. They have remained within the same framework. What was achieved, I can only say, is enormous. We have formed approximately 30 police regiments out of police reservists and former 'police soldiers,' or police officials, as they were formerly called. The average age in our police battalions is no less than in the Security Battalions of the Wehrmacht. The performance is magnificent, surpassing all praise. We have also formed police regiments by combining previously formed police battalions of 'native people.' That is, we no longer left these police battalions by themselves, but we mixed them in a ratio of 1:3. That is why we have achieved much greater stability with them than with any of the other domestic or native units, precisely in the present time of crisis.

The tasks of the Security Police, just like those of the Order Police, have grown together with the expanding geographical territory. It is precisely in this connection that we will only be able to talk about our accomplishments after the war. It will certainly be entertaining to be able to speak to our counterparts in the Secret Service and lay our cards on the table on both sides. Life is not being made easy for us by the other side. At the same time, you should never forget that the fortunate situation in which we now find ourselves, in having occupied many parts of Europe, also involves the disadvantage of having millions of people, and dozens of foreign nationalities, under us, and therefore against us. Everyone who is a convinced Communist is automatically against us; every Freemason, every democrat, every convinced Christian is against us. These are the ideological enemies opposing us all over Europe, all of whom the enemy has for himself. Nationalism, correctly or incorrectly understood - in France, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, or Serbia - is against us. The enemy can therefore exploit this ground, which has been magnificently well prepared for him, for his acts of sabotage and parachute activities at any time.

We don't have these problems until now, except in the Caucasus and in Iran, which is very far away. Our dear English and American adversaries are already on the continent. They have southern Italy, we have northern Italy. Now we'll see some fireworks. I'm glad of it. It will be a wonderful opportunity for us to show what we are capable of in this area. It will be our first chance to meet the English in this field, with the same weapons for once. The only foreign people the English have under them are the Irish. The Irish, however, are so Catholic, and so pre-occupied with religion, that despite their national hostility to England, they are kept calm, neutralised by the Church, so that we cannot use them. An opportunity is now appearing for the first time. You can be sure we will not fail to make use of it.

SS- Industrial Concerns

I'm now coming to a few other great individual areas of responsibility, which you must all know something about. We have gigantic armaments industries in the concentration camps. That is the responsibility of our friend SS Group Leader Pohl. We put in many millions of man-hours on armaments each month. We tackle the most ungrateful problems, and I must admit that whether it's in Pohl's concentration camps, or his economic operations, whether outside among the Higher SS and Police Leaders, or in the factories of the SS Administrative Main Office, one thing is obvious: we are SS men wherever we are. If something is in a bad way, get right down to it. Educate every subordinate in this direction for me. We want to help without being hindered by jurisdiction, since, after all, we want to win the war. Whatever we do, after all, we're doing for Germany. Whether it involves the building of a street or a tunnel that isn't going ahead somewhere; whether it's an invention which cant come into existence due to sheer bureaucracy, or whether it's something else: wherever we can lend a hand, we're going to do it. Whatever, we achieve in our armaments factories will be a considerable accomplishment, one which is worth seeing, even if we can only describe and estimate it at the end of the war.

The Clearing out of the Jews

I want to mention another very difficult matter here before you in all frankness. Among ourselves, it ought to be spoken of quite openly for once; yet we will never speak of it in public. Just as little as we hesitated to do our duty as ordered on 30 June 1934, and place comrades, who had failed, against the wall and shoot them, just as little did we ever speak of it, and we shall never speak of it. It was a matter of course, of tact, for us, thank God, never to speak of it, never to talk of it. It made everybody shudder, yet everyone was clear in his mind that he would do it again if ordered to do so, and if it was necessary.

I am thinking now of the evacuation of the Jews, the extirpation of the Jewish people. It is one of those things that's easy to say: 'The Jewish people will be extirpated,' says every Party comrade, 'that's quite clear, its in our programme, elimination of the Jews, extirpation; that's what we are doing.' And then they all come along, these 80 million good Germans, and every one of them has his decent Jew. Of course, it's quite clear that the others are pigs, but this one is one first class Jew. Of all those who speak this way, not one has looked on; not one has lived through it. Most of you know what it means when 100 bodies lie together, when 500 lie there, or if 1,000 lie there. To have gone through this, and at the same time, apart from exceptions caused by human weaknesses, to have remained decent, that has made us hard. This is a chapter of glory in our history, which has never been written, and which shall never be written; since we know how hard it would be for us, if we still had the Jews, as secret saboteurs, agitators, and slander-mongers, among us now, in every city - during the bombing raids, with the suffering and deprivations of the war. We would probably already be in the same situation as in 1916/17, if we still had the Jews in the body of the German people.

The riches they had, we've taken away from them. I have given a strict order, which SS Group Leader Pohl has carried out, that these riches shall, of course be diverted to the Reich without exception. We have taken none of it. Individuals who failed were punished according to an order given by me at the beginning, which threatened: he who takes even one Mark of it, that's his death. A number of SS men- not very many - have violated that order, and that will be their death, without mercy. We had the moral right, we had the duty to our own people, to kill this people, which wanted to kill us. But we don't have the right to enrich ourselves, even with one fur, one watch, one Mark, one cigarette, or anything else. Just because we eradicated a bacillus, after all, doesn't mean we want to be infected by the bacillus and die. I will never permit even one little spot of corruption to arise or become established here. Wherever, it may form, we shall burn it out together.

In general, however, we can say, that we have carried out this most difficult task out of love for our own people. And we have suffered no harm to our inner self, our soul, our character in so doing.

The Bearing of the SS Men

In describing what we have done in this one year, in a - I would almost like to say - statement of accounts, for all of us, and before us all, there is one thing I must neither overlook nor neglect: the significance of the SS man's attitude. Here I believe, we have endured decently, generally and on the whole, as in all other things as well. The attitude of our brave leaders and men was proper in desperate situations at the front, where they, in the darkest of hours, in the very darkest hours, grew out beyond themselves, in life and in death, in this heroic great death, which has continued over the last ten weeks. The attitude of our men was generally and as a whole, good throughout the partisan war, even in the remotest areas. Their attitude was also good in the homeland.

Because my attitude is more important than what I say, the people, the little man, in the misery of his heart and with fear in the pit of his stomach, is already looking at our attitude in many cases today, asking: 'How does the SS man stand? What's his facial expression? Does he look miserable? Does he let his jaw sag?' Or, 'How does this SS battalion march to the front?' Or, 'How did the police guard act during the scuffles in the Balkans or in Russia?' Or, 'How does the SS man act during an air raid? Does he stick around or does he take to his heels? Is he the one who prevents a panic and helps dig people out?' Or contra wise, 'Is there an SS Leader or SS Man who claims special rights, who travels by car, where he isn't entitled, who lives better than other people, who does no extra duty and takes every Sunday off, whose wife makes endless demands, who gets herself in a twist and wont do this and wont do that, and makes unreasonable demands while others are being bombed?' Or are our wives the hardest-working, the most modest, the bravest, those who never criticise, who hold their heads high at all times?'

In general and as a whole, our attitude was good. There is still room for improvement in our ranks. To say this is part of the duty of a Commander or Group Leader. I would like to head this chapter 'We Ourselves.'

The Principle of Selection

We have arisen through the law of selection. We have selected from the average of our people. Our people arose through the dice game of fate and history. In long primeval times, over generations and centuries. Foreign people swept over this people and left their hereditary material in them. Channels of foreign blood flowed into this people; yet this people has nevertheless, through horrifying misery and frightful blows of fate, still had in their blood vessels, the strength to endure.

Thus, this entire people has been drenched in, and is held together by, Nordic- Faelisch- Germanic blood; so that in the end one could, and still can, continue to speak of a German people. Out of this people, the result of diverse mixtures of hereditary factors, such as was available after the collapse which followed the years of the struggle for freedom, we have now consciously attempted to select the northern Germanic blood, since we could assume that this part of the blood was the bearer of the creative and heroic, of the life-maintaining qualities of our people. We examined the outward appearance on the one hand, and then revised that outward appearance in terms of new requirements on the other hand, through more and more samples, both physical and intellectual, both of character and soul.

We repeatedly sought out and rejected that which was not suitable, that which did not adapt to us. As long as we possess the strength to do so, this Order will remain healthy. The moment we forget the law of the racial foundation of our people, the law of selection and severity with regards to ourselves, then the germ of death will lie within us; in that moment we will perish, just as every human organisation, every prime of life in this world, comes to an end at last. To enable this flourishing and bearing of fruit to continue for as long and as blessedly as possible, and - don't be alarmed - for as many thousands of years as possible, must be our aspiration and our inner law. For that reason, it is our duty, whenever we meet and whatever we do, to remember our principle: blood, selection, severity. The law of nature is precisely this: what is hard is good; what is strong, is good; that which endures out of the struggle for existence, both physically and in terms of will and soul, is good - always viewed from the vantage point of time.

Naturally, somebody can rise to the top for a while - this has often happened in history - through swindling and cheating. For nature, for the fate of the earth, for the fate of the world, that doesn't matter. Reality, that is, nature, fate, purges the swindler after a time - not viewed in the ages of men, but in the ages of the world. Never to deceive ourselves, but rather to remain genuine at all times, that must always be our endeavour, that is what we must advocate and inculcate in ourselves, in every young man, and in every one of our subordinates, over and over again.

The SS After the War

One thing must be clear, one thing I would like to say to you again today: the true forging together of our Order, this Order which we built up over ten long years, the fundamental principles of which we founded ten years before the war, and in which it was educated, will only begin when the war is over. That will still remain to be accomplished by us - if I may say so, we the old fighters - in twenty exhausting years of hard work after the end of the war, to create a tradition of 30,35,45 years, that is, a generation.

This Order will then march into the future, young and strong, revolutionary and effective, to fulfil its task of providing the Germanic people with a superior stock capable of binding this Germanic people and this Europe together and holding them together, producing the intellects that required by the people, in economics, farming, politics, and as soldiers, statesmen, and technicians. In addition, this superior stock must be so strong, so filled with life, that each generation will be capable, without question, of sacrificing two or three sons from each family on the battlefield, yet nevertheless ensure the passing on of the bloodline.

The Virtues of the SS Man

I now wish to speak of the most important virtues which I began to preach and to inculcate in this Order, in the entire Allgemeine-SS - since that is the basis of the Order - years ago, and which are of such decisive meaning and importance now, precisely in the 5th year of the war.

1. Loyalty

So far, thank God, no case has occurred in our ranks in which a reputable SS Man was disloyal. Let one thing be the guideline here: should anyone in your circle of comrades ever be disloyal to the Fuhrer, or the Reich, even if only in thought, you must ensure that he is expelled from the Order, and we will ensure that he is expelled from life. Since everything, I already said this and I'll repeat it once again today, everything can be pardoned in this world, but there is one thing which cannot be pardoned among Germanic people, and that is disloyalty. It would be un-pardonable, and it is un-pardonable.

Cases like the Badoglio affair in Italy should, and never will happen in Germany. The name Badoglio will in the future be a term of abuse for bad dogs, for four-legged mongrel curs, just as in ancient times Thersites was a term of abuse for traitors. We can only say one thing, and say it again and again: let the German people, every one of its men and every one of its women, prove through unprecedented, unconditional loyalty, that this German people is worthy of living in the era of an Adolf Hitler, for which people the Fuhrer arose and dedicated his life, filled with care, filled with responsibility, and filled with work for our Germanic people.

2. Obedience

Obedience is required and given in the soldier's life, morning, noon and night. The little man always obeys, or almost always, if he doesn't, he's locked up. The question of obedience among the bearers of higher honours in the State, Party and Army, and even here and there in the SS, is more difficult. I would like to state something here clearly and unequivocally: that the little man must obey is a matter of course. It is even more a matter of course that all SS high-ranking Leaders, that is, the entire Group Leadership Corps, should be a model of unconditional obedience.

If anybody believes that a command is based on mistaken perceptions on the part of a superior or on mistaken information, it is a matter of course, that he - that is everyone of you - has the duty and the responsibility to speak out, stating his reasons manfully and truthfully, if he is convinced that they mitigate against the command. But once the superior or the Reichsführer-SS is involved - in most cases, the Group Leadership Corp which is concerned - or even the Fuhrer, has decided and has given an order, it must be carried out, not just to the letter and to the text, but in keeping with the intent. Whoever carries out the order must do so as a loyal trustee, as the true representative of the authority giving the order.

If you ever believe that an order is mistaken or even wrong, then there are two possibilities: if you don't believe that you can take responsibility for an order, then you must state honestly: 'I cannot take responsibility for it. I wish to be discharged from carrying out the order.' In most cases, you will be ordered to carry it out anyway. Either that, or your superior will think, 'His nerves are shot, he's weak!!' Then he might say, 'Ok, you can retire from service.'

But orders are holy, if the generals obey, then the army will obey too, as a matter of course. The holiness of an order becomes more and more important with the increasing size of our territory. To enforce an order in our little Germany isn't at all difficult. To carry out an order when we have garrisons on the Urals - as we will have one day , of that I am convinced - that will be a great deal harder. In this case it will not always to be possible to verify that the order has been carried out. Verification, among us, must not and never will consist of enforcement by a Commissar, as in Russia. The only commissar we have must be our own conscience, our faithfulness, to duty, loyalty, obedience. If you set this example, gentlemen, then every subordinate will follow your example. But you will never be able to demand obedience, if you do not first show the same obedience to authority yourselves, unconditionally and without restriction.

3. Bravery

I don't think there is much need for admonitions on bravery among us, since our Fuhrer is brave, and our men are brave. For curiosity's sake, however, I would like to give you a contrasting example: an example of how things are done among the Russians; I would also like to express a few thoughts in this regard. I heard the following story from an Estonian officer who was incorporated into the Red Army with his Estonian company, but who succeeded in escaping: a unit of the Red Army carried out an attack, which was repulsed by the Germans. Afterwards the unit commissar ordered the officers to a conference. The officers had to report to the dugout, in a prescribed manner, that is, at attention. The commissar kept on working quietly and let the officers stand at attention for a long time. When one became restless and began to fidget, the commissar just looked up and said, 'You seem quite tired.' Then he asked, 'Does anyone of the gentlemen have anything to say about the attack?' One officer replied that the German resistance was too strong - that attack at this position was impossible. The commissar drew his pistol, shot the officer, and then simply asked, 'Does anyone else have any comments?' Half an hour later, they carried out another attack. Look that's an example of the kind of bravery we don't want, and that we don't need. The 'commissar' ordering us to attack must be our own bravery, our own loyalty, our own obedience. There is an enormous difference.

In our ranks, we live according to our Germanic laws, one of which, a really beautiful one, says, 'Honour is compulsion enough.' With foreign peoples, we must apply Asiatic laws. We must never lose sight of that. If we have one of our blood before us, a Norwegian or Dutchman of good racial stock, then we can only win his heart over to us, according to our, that means his and our, totally Germanic laws. With a Russian or Slav, from a racial point of view, we should never even try to apply our holy laws to them, but rather the tried and tested laws of the Russian commissar.

I would like to bring up another issue here, which is part of the topic of bravery. I mean civil courage, which is sometimes not quite as it should be. I know really a lot of my best SS leaders, who would storm any bunker, any fort, unconsciously, automatically, without thinking about it, but who, if they had to demote a subordinate, for example - I think I already mentioned this earlier in my remarks - they do this for me to see; but when the time for enforcement comes, they act like astonished Central Europeans and say, 'Quite incomprehensible, my dear fellow. Dreadfully sorry. I'll have to speak to Berlin about it right away. Another piece of piggery from the Main Staff Office. Of course, in Berlin, its all theory....' It would be better to have civil courage beforehand, and say, 'You, you're demoted, get out!' No, gentlemen, it doesn't work like that. In the future - I think I already said this once - I'll have to send all such people back to the commander involved and say, 'Ah, that was your mistake, the demotion was an error. Now you get your valuable employee back again,' This is, in fact, an element of bravery, so-called civil courage. And I would like to educate my leadership corps in it where it is lacking.

Part of bravery also consists of faith, and here, my Group Leaders, we wont be outdone by anyone in the world. Faith wins battles, faith gets victories. We don't want men in our ranks who are pessimistic, who've lost their faith. It doesn't make any difference what his job is, whether he's a member of the General SS, in economic life, in a government position, somewhere in the Waffen-SS, on the front (that doesn't usually happen), or whether he's on the staff at the front, or somewhere else in the communications zone, in the homeland, in the police, or in the Security Police, or Order Police. People who are so weak, that they have lost their faith, will be rejected by us, we don't want them. He who has lost the strength to believe, shall not live among us, in our ranks.

4. Truthfulness

I come now to a fourth virtue, which is very rare in Germany, truthfulness. One of the greatest evils, one which has become widespread in the war, is untruthfulness in communications, reports, and data sent by subordinate positions in civilian life, in the State, Party and Army, to superior positions. The communication, the report, is the basis for every decision. It is really true, that, in the war, one can now assume in many sectors that 95% of all reports are lies, or only half -truths, or are only half -correct.

This begins with troop strength reports. I'll take an everyday example. If somebody is asking for reinforcements, he gives his 'fighting strength' as his 'troops strength.' If he's even more clever, he'll give the 'trench strength.' Of course, that's even less. I have only 200 men left.' Frightful! Only 200 men. If anybody is sly enough to say, 'What's your supply strength?', he'll see that there are 1,300 men, eating in the regiment concerned. I must say these are remarkable ratios. Very odd, 200 men are fighting, while 1,100 men are the huge tail wagging behind this little head. How peculiar.

If somebody wants weapons, on the other hand, he says, 'I have a troop strength of 3,000 men, but not nearly enough weapons. I need vehicles and weapons.' If somebody needs material, mines or anti-tank cannons, for his positions, then the position becomes 25, 30, 35 kilometres long. It stretches out like a rubber band. But if he's supposed to occupy it and somebody says, ' Your division is so strong, you could occupy at least 25 kilometres,' then the division shrinks, and suddenly he says, 'I can only occupy 7 kilometres.'

Then there are the famous communications ' on military grounds.' It used to be that when somebody closed a Jewish company or took away a Jew, a Mr. Paymaster So and So reported, 'What do you want to impair the defensive strength of the German people?' You're sabotaging the war effort.' In reality, the Jew bought off the paymaster with a fur coat. Today, if we take 800 Jewish women away from a company, along comes a gentleman and says - so as not to insult him, let's call him by a title which doesn't even exist - Mr. 'War Advisor,' who's just had a pair of brand new boots made by the company, and he says, 'I must report that you have seriously harmed war production.'

Or sometimes, when I see proposals for promotions and decorations, there's no activity anywhere which isn't decisive to the war effort. It's astonishing. Look here, I believe, if we want to be able to look each other in the eye, we must succeed in obtaining absolute and unrestricted honesty. Otherwise, management becomes impossible. Nothing can be managed if, for example, every Higher SS and Police Leader, and every division and corps commander, conceals 500 or 1,000 men from us. If 17 divisions each have 1,000 men too many today, then the German people are being deprived of a division, if every division has just 300 trucks too many per division, then two divisions could be motorised out of the surplus. These are things we can't be responsible for.

I now come to another matter on the subject of truthfulness. In both war and peace, it must be so - and this will be a particular object of education in peacetime - that we SS men no longer need to make written contracts, but rather, among us, just as in former times, a man's word and handshake must be equivalent to a contract; an SS man's handshake, if necessary, must be of greater value than a surety for one million or more. The handshake or given word of an SS man, if necessary, must be proverbially safer than a mortgage on the most valuable property of another man. It must be so!

If we make contracts, we must keep them. If I make a contract with an agent, even if he is a contemptible character, then I keep the deal. I stand for this attitude without condition. When I decree that anybody in the Generalgouvernement who informs on a Jew concealed in some hideout gets one third of the Jew's fortune. It often later happens that a Secretary Hueber, or an Untersturmführer Hueber, a person who - if he can get away with it - indulges in unauthorised private travel, who orders anything from a new pencil to a new telephone, that is somebody who never saves, suddenly starts to save for the German Reich. He says for example, 'The Jew has 12,000 RM. Why should I give 4,000 RM to the Pole who turned him in? No, I'll save the money for Germany. The Pole gets 400 RM.' In this manner, a subordinate goes off on his own bat and breaks the word of a whole organisation. These are things that must be impossible.

If we give our word, it must be kept. If the Reichsführer-SS promises somebody protection for his organisation - as is often the case in the Balkans - then this promise must be kept. We, precisely, we of the SS, must earn a reputation for contractual loyalty all over the world, such as to gain the greatest value for Germany in so doing, that is faith through trust. Many people will then come to us who wont go to official agencies. There's always a lot of confusion in the Balkans. That's really our big advantage. If they were united, it would be terrible. There's confusion in the Caucasus, there's confusion in Russia. We can only - and that's only part of the lesson - take constant care that the territories occupied by us, and the people's governed by us, never unite, that they remain dis-united at all times: if they united, they would, of course, only be against us. So if we promise protection to a splinter group which comes to us, then it must be out of the question for any member of the SS or the police, that is, the Order as a whole, to go and break our given word. Our word must be holy.

Justice! Gentlemen, it is always very important to me that justice must never be to the letter alone, but unrestricted justice, in terms of intent, not words or form. At the same time, I'm coming to a matter which is not quite right among us. To our sorrow, as you know, many regrettable legal matters come before me in legal cases. I have every judgement against an SS Leader or police officer laid before me, and sometimes I note the manner in which my officers judge each other, time after time. You know the proverb of the crow that tried to cover itself with another bird's feathers.  

It's such a habit for an officer not to hurt another officer. Gentlemen Germany could learn from the old Prussian army in this regard. An organisation remains healthy as long as it feels an unwavering pressure, an irresistible drive, to keep itself clean. A corps must be trained and educated to say to someone who has done something wrong, 'You must turn yourself in.' Or if it is more serious , 'You must be punished for the sake of justice. You don't belong here in our ranks, or at least not in your present position in our ranks. It's wartime; you can go off and clear your name by serving as a common enlisted man and rise up through the ranks again. But you don't belong in our ranks in your present position.'

Now, instead of this impulse - one cannot really call it by any other name - to cleanse one's own ranks, as was still the custom in the old army under Wilhelm I, an impulse to act like a bunch of lawyers has spread throughout all organisations in Germany. There's no more talk of cleansing, expelling, purging anyone; rather everybody is somebody or other else's lawyer; it's like a trade union. Everybody acts on the principle of, 'Well you never know, you might do something wrong yourself one day, so just be careful! If you cover up for him, he'll cover up for you.'

It's a great set up. You can falsify history like that for a while, gentlemen, you can manipulate your way upwards, like a con-man. But one day, when tough times come along and there's pressure from fate, then an organisation like that collapses because of it. So I want you as judges, and you as High Leadership Corps of the SS, to ensure that such things are no longer covered up.

If a little man, and a big man are on trial or involved in some legal matter, I don't want to see the little man get punished and then hear people say of the big man, 'He was only marginally involved.' Of course, the officer is only marginally involved, in a case like that, you should say, 'You have the higher rank, therefore you have the greater insight. Consequently, you must be more strictly and severely punished.' It's the little man who is marginally involved. If he hadn't had his superior's example, he wouldn't have done it.

There's another thing I want. I want clear responsibility. That's another element of truthfulness. I always feel sick when I ask, 'Who decided that? and I get an answer like, 'Oh the So and So Ministry Main Office.' So I say, 'Ok, and who pray tell, is Mr. Ministry?' That's what I want to know. I was born that way. I've got great curiosity. I want to know which Untersturmführer, Obersturmführer, Hauptsturmführer, Sturmbannführer was it? Who was it in the Main Office? Was it Mr. Meyer, or Mr. Huber? Who made the decision?

Of course a lot of people say, 'I've got a great boss, my Main Office boss, or my Higher SS and Police Leader is a real good man. Since he's so decent, he always covers up for his subordinates.' And since all these little wretches look so tremendously brave behind their superior's back, they say, 'The Old Man will look out for us, he'll go off like a big tiger and fight for us before the Reichsführer.' So I no longer want to read that the So and So Main Office has decided,' rather gentlemen, I want to know whether it was Mr. Sturmbannführer Meyer or Lehmann. If the decision was correct, then he can only be proud not to be just a government employee someplace in the background.

 We don't want to see just the big ones covering themselves in glory. The little man should get some glory too. Besides, there's also a really positive side too. You and me, we'll sometimes become alert to someone who never attracted any attention at all, who has never even been noticed for all his hard work and we'll be able to say, 'Damn! That was a really great job! The report is concise, but it means something. That man must have eyes like a hawk. I'll have to take a closer look at him.' We'll discover a lot of good brains in our ranks this way; we'll be glad to have opened the way for somebody with talent, maybe sometimes even a genius.

If a decision is wrong, though, then I don't want the top-ranking commandant to cover up a piece of nonsense out of sheer frivolity and maybe fight a battle to the death with his comrade from another Main Office or Upper Division, just because he says, 'It's our jurisdiction. That the decision is nonsense, makes no difference. It was my Main Office that made the mistake, then it has to be so defended.'

I also want us to act correctly with regards to other offices, gentlemen, I believe that I can say of myself that when I go ahead, I set a good example. If I'm wrong, I say so, I'm wrong. My God, our authority can't be so small minded that we can't admit that. We all have so damn much work to do, that out of one hundred decisions, a certain percentage of wrong, badly thought out, or half-baked decisions must be made. That's human. I'd rather have the work get done, and the decisions be made; rather than one man making five perfectly correct decisions. I'd rather have somebody else make one hundred decisions in the same amount of time, of which five might be wrong; since the other 95 are still correct. Since mistakes may be made, I admit them; I don't defend nonsense 'for the sake of Germany.'  

You say, 'Yes we made a mistake. That will be improved or corrected, without any loss of prestige.' That's how it's got to be with us; and we want to go ahead and set a good example. I have also given orders to this effect in the Ministry. The individual should stand forward by name; we're not a joint-stock company. Because of the Jews, it became a habit with us to do all business in the form of joint-stock companies; but nobody knew who the joint-stock company was, or which Jew was 'Mr. Ltd' or Mr. Inc. I don't want a 'Mr. Ministry,' but I do want administrative advisors, secretaries etc. and among us I want SS Leaders, Untersturmführer's, or Obersturmführer's or maybe even a Standartenführer', if he's clever enough. But I want to know them all by name. So let's all start doing that. We want to eliminate anonymity, and substitute clear responsibility. Whatever I do, I am responsible for it: we must educate even the lowest ranking Unterscharführer to this, but we must start with the higher leadership.

5. Honesty

I now come to the fifth point: sanctity of property, honesty, sincerity. I must say that these things have gotten very murky in Germany; we have become - if I say this now in a closed room, it's because its only intended for this small group of people- a very corrupt people. We should not, and need not, however - I want to mention this - take it so tragically, so pessimistically. Many people say, 'Oh the Finns are an honest people. 'Yes Sir,' do you know why they're so honest?' Not because they've got simply fantastic moral inclinations, but because they had laws for 300 years, that anybody who stole one Finnish mark, should have his hand hacked off. And that was so painful and so distressing that the whole people, as a result of such measures and such education, gradually became honest. We're not going to start doing that here, but gentlemen, we must always take care to begin with ourselves.

We will never succeed in bringing the pestilence called corruption under control, not even within our own ranks - it's not so bad yet - unless we persecute all signs of incipient corruption in our ranks without exception and without restriction, without asking, 'Who is it?' and without saying , 'But, but...'. We must persecute them with barbarous severity, demoting all corrupt men, depriving them of office and decorations and exposing them before their subordinates.

At the same time, that which really deserves the name of corruption is not so bad in our ranks. There are, however, little things that nobody notices anymore and which are now called 'getting something organised.' For example, a family lives in the East. They've got more than enough workers already. They grab this Russian, that Russian, maybe a Russian girl. That's terrific, really magnificent. The 'Frau' doesn't have to do anything, any more, she no longer cooks or beats carpets. What for? We're a master race. Nobody asks who pays for these workers; they'd be better utilised in an armaments factory. For a while before Obergruppenführer Pohl got them - Eicke had already gone into front-line service - this was true even in the concentration camps, due to the confused relationships of authority. A lot of families had a prisoner here, and a prisoner there; other families even got all new furniture and I don't know what else. We've still got old cases pending, and we're going to clear these old cases up, right down to the last detail, without mercy. Because it's stealing to claim workers to which one is not entitled, when the work isn't really a necessity of life. 100 men used solely on the grounds of comfort in such work today, are a loss for German armaments.

In addition to what I've already said however, confusion arises with regard to this question because of the misery in which we have been living since 1936 -1937. Since that time, we no longer have all the necessary consumer goods which the human heart desires, and which we would like to have, such as silk stockings, chocolate or coffee. Hazy conditions are the result. We don't want to be hangmen here. There's a lot of temptation: can you buy it, can't you, maybe you can get it in France, or Belgium, or someplace else, if you pay extra. These are things which makes education difficult, of course. So I'm not concerning myself with all these moot questions which many people take for granted in this epoch of misery. I'm simply saying today that the strictest conceivable standards will be established for the SS, the moment normal conditions are restored after the war. If we do that for 20 years in peacetime, we'll achieve a faultless attitude on all these matters in the future through education.   

I'd like to mention one more thing. To me, it's obvious that the Old Fighters, the longer they have fought for the movement, the greater is their duty to act decently in all things. When somebody comes to me and says, 'But he's an 'Old Fighter.' Then I must answer, 'Mister please excuse me, but did we really fight for the Third Reich just so we could wreck it ourselves, destroying through violence the respect that the people once had for us?' It is precisely the Old Nazi who, when he slips, must be caught and punished: who, in really serious cases, must pay with his life. We can take no account of past service. If we punish him, and the others talk about it, we save 99 others. But if we look the other way, saying, 'He's an Old Nazi. He's an old SS Leader, you can't sentence leaders,' then the next 99 will be guilty in the same case, and the whole organisation will gradually suffocate because of it.

6. Comradeship

The word 'comradeship' is used with great frequency. Comradeship is generally quite good among us, especially among the front-line troops. I would however, since I am speaking of comradeship, like to all one thing: avoid any disputes amongst yourselves. Disputes are unproductive. Differences of opinion are productive, if they are managed factually. Disputes, rancour, anger, and backbiting are unproductive and paralyse the strength which we owe the Fatherland. They cost nervous energy which we need for other things, namely for the fulfilment of our duties.

I must perhaps make another request, that disputes between higher leaders not be carried out at my expense. In many cases, the Reichsführer has to play postman, since the two gentlemen are no longer speaking to each other. So one of them writes a letter to the Reichsführer, then the other one writes a letter too. Then the Reichsführer,has to write to both of them, and so on.It would save stamps, and be much simpler, it would save us all time, if the gentlemen would write to each other, and sit down together for once. In most cases, almost all cases, it turns out that if they speak their mind , if they take the time to discuss it, the matter is settled. If they don't take the time for it, if one says, 'I don't have time. I can't see him this afternoon, besides we can't agree on whether he visits me, or I visit him, let's meet some place neutral, the best thing is to meet by an old oak tree or something like that.' If they can't reach an agreement like that, since there are all matters of prestige - a man has his prestige after all, especially when his person is involved- then they can never even discuss the matter. But then they write letters to each other for weeks, months and years, just to get mad every time and wait for the other man to do something. Then some little wretch comes along and says, 'I've got a real great number with my 'Old Man,' if I tell him the other guy was naughty again, he'll say, 'he's representing my interests, he's a good Untersturmführer, he's in the right. '

I'd like to tell you something: beware of such subordinates, beware of such companions. Let us all beware of men who kindle disputes and don't advise reconciliation between German people. Everybody who decorates himself with cheap laurels in this manner, as especially brave representatives of their Ministry, their section, their division, would best be removed from office immediately for encouraging quarrelsomeness and character defects. These are things - I would like to draw your attention to this - that we want to eradicate from our entire Leadership Corps.

7. Responsibility

I have already briefly spoken on the subject of willingness to take responsibility. Situations will arise in this war requiring tremendous willingness to take responsibility. At this point, I'm not thinking of what I said before, that responsibility must be clearly stated, that the individual must stand up and be counted, instead of remaining anonymous; rather, I am now thinking of another kind of responsibility, namely, a willingness to take responsibility even when, gentlemen, it really has nothing to do with you. I would like to say something here about the famous matter of jurisdiction. Our friend Obergruppenführer Wolff, in Italy, has just introduced something in the local Italian office: he said, 'The man with jurisdiction is the man who can get it done.' That's really true. In particular, there are men who say, 'Of course, I'm responsible for that, but I can't get along with the person I have to deal with, he doesn't like me, he turns me down. So I'd rather see that nothing gets done in this matter.'

Somebody else who isn't competent, of course, could certainly get something done, because he's friends with the man on the other end. But he's not allowed to negotiate. The man with the authority would rather do nothing for the SS, than see something get done by somebody who doesn't have the authority. I think you understand what I mean. Look, we must be generous here, right up to the hilt. The main thing is something's got to be done.

It's the same thing in battle: If an important hill has to be taken, it doesn't matter whether the 995th Division or the 998th has authority to do it. The main thing is, it has to be taken; then afterwards, they can always say, 'Ok, it's in your sector now, of course, we took it, but please be so kind as to occupy and hold it; don't let it be taken away again, or else we'll have to take it again.'

That which must be accomplished for Germany and the SS must be accomplished by the person who is able to do it, whoever can get it done, and that person must possess an uttermost love of responsibility.

8. Hard Work

I would like to say another word about hard work. Let's teach all our men, today during the war and later in peacetime, that no work is undignified. It often happens that, as soon as one becomes, let's say, Unterscharführer, of course, he can't carry suitcases any more, he can't do this and he can't do that any more. He can only stand around and supervise. That's the way it is now.

For example, if a leader goes out with his wife, of course he can't carry a package in uniform, it's better to let his wife do it. It's almost like in the Orient with us. Maybe we should make it a law that the wife with the package should also walk three steps behind. These attitudes have already become really traditional and I don't want to see them adopted by us. I would like us to issue a motto for us, namely this, that for men and women of this Order, this racial community of the SS, the word 'work' will be writ large; that no work done for Germany is shameful, be it with an axe or spade, or with the pen, whether in agriculture, in the home or factory, or whether with the sword or plough.

I am of the heretical opinion that we will be a poor people after the war, thank God. I find that downright encouraging. If we were really rich and well off, we would probably not last long. We would collapse from sheer megalomania. We wouldn't know whether we were coming or going from sheer conceit. Because the war costs a lot of money and because we must finance everything ourselves, I therefore truly believe that we will be a poor people. We will therefore have to work again. Above all, we must keep people from saying, 'Servant girl, oh no, no German girl can do that, that's for foreigners.' We would end up like the ancient Romans, bringing over slave nationalities by whom we would be racially contaminated.  

These are some of the great problems which are already weighing down upon me and which concern me more than a lot of things in this war. The war must be carried on to the end; we'll win it after all, we just don't need to make mistakes. The other questions, however, winning the peace, winning over people's hearts again, letting them relax again after the war, and then getting them back to work immediately, educating them; these questions will be much more difficult at times. I believe, as I said, that the German people, at the end of the war, will be, not pauperised, but poor, that we will have to be very productive and work very hard. I hope we wont be so rich that we can only gobble meat until our teeth fall out, and commit other acts of nutrional stupidity, but rather, that all these things will be regulated by life itself.

I also believe that the evils of the bombing war will lead to a dispersion of the great cities, so that we will be driven out onto the land a bit by our gracious God. Many people will then say, 'It's not so bad on the land at all; I've got a goat, somebody else a pig, we've got a few potatoes.' That would be a very good start. Besides we wont suffer so many hard blows. That's really good for the immediate future. We would never have been willing to spend the money required to tear down the cities. Now they're been torn down by fate, and we will probably re-build them more rationally, with more open spaces.

We must recognise these things in time and apply education correctly from the outset. When you, as commanders, discover childish military vices, such as an Unterscharführer thinking that he doesn't have to work, then you must intervene. Sometimes it goes so far - not, thank God, in our divisions - that soldiers no longer dig in. They seem to think a Master Race doesn't dig in. It allows itself to be killed, but it doesn't dig in. I want these things to be eradicated as radically as possible among us, so that they cease to be a habit.

9. Avoidance of Alcohol

We really need waste no words on the subject of alcohol, we know that.

With the hundreds of thousands of men that we're losing in the war, we can't afford to lose still more men, physically or morally, through addiction to alcohol and self-destruction. Here as well, the best comradeship which you can extend to your subordinates is the greatest, most merciless severity. Crimes committed under the influence of alcohol must be punished twice as severely. Leaders who allow their subordinates to hold drinking parties in their companies will be punished. I must request that this be carried out everywhere.

Practical Tasks