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All his life Adolf Hitler was seized by an obsession with the Jews and he had always been straightforward about his plans. His dream of a racially "pure" empire would tolerate no Jews and he announced at many occasions the "annihilation of the Jews" living in the territory under his control.

In Hitler's mind, murdering millions of Jews could only be accomplished under the confusion of war - from the beginning he was planning a war that would engulf Europe .. 

Hitler's very first political statement, his letter to Adolf Gemlich on 16 September 1919, already includes a clear declaration of his anti-Semitic position: "Rational anti-Semitism on the other hand, must lead to a systematic legal opposition and elimination of the special privileges that Jews hold, in contrast to the other aliens living among us (alien's legislation). Its final objective must unswervingly be the removal of the Jews altogether."

In those early days he often spoke of how he would deal with the Jews. His favourite words were Ausrottung (extirpation), Vernichtung (annihilation), Entfernung (removal), Aufräumung (cleaning up). Thus according to a police report of a NSDAP meeting on 6 April 1920 he declared:

".. we have no intention of being emotional anti-Semites who want to create the atmosphere of a pogrom. Instead, our hearts are filled with an inexorable determination to attack the evil at its roots and to extirpate it root and branch. In order to reach our goal every means will be justified, even if we have to make a pact with the devil."

In another speech on 12 April 1922 he said, referring to the Jewish Question: "Here, too, there can be no compromise - there are only two possibilities: either victory of the Aryan or annihilation of the Aryan and the victory of the Jew."

Hitler wrote Mein Kampf in Landsberg prison in 1924 and the destruction of the Jews is advocated time and again:

"It is the inexorable Jew who struggles for his domination over the nations. No nation can remove this hand from its throat except by the sword ... Such a process is and remains a bloody one."

On 21 January 1939 Adolf Hitler told the Czech Foreign Minister Chvalkovsky: "We are going to destroy the Jews ... The day of reckoning has come."

Hitler avoided giving a clear written order to exterminate Jewish civilians and he avoided speaking openly about killing in his entourage. On 29 April 1937 he told his Nazi leaders: "Everything that can be discussed should never be put in writing, never!" However, there is clear evidence that he was deeply involved in the anti-Jewish policy before and during the war, particularly when it reached a murderous stage.

Hitler was fully responsible for the order for the mass executions in Poland in 1939 and 1940. He was also actively engaged in setting up plans for a Jewish reservation in Poland and he backed the Madagascar plan. He was continually preoccupied with further deportations and deportation plans.

In 1941 Hitler ordered the extermination of the "Jewish-Bolshevist intelligentsia" and the elimination of every potential enemy in the occupied Eastern territories. He was fully aware of mass executions of Jewish civilians in these territories.

In mid September 1941 Hitler ordered the beginning of mass deportations from Germany to ghettos in Eastern Europe. During autumn 1941 and the following winter, when preparation for the Final Solution in Europe were in full swing, Hitler spoke at various occasions openly about the annihilation of the Jews in Europe.

From a number of letters and speeches of SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler it becomes clear, that he referred to the Holocaust as a task which he had to carry out on the behalf of the highest authority in the Third Reich - Adolf Hitler. In 1941, Himmler summoned Rudolf Hoess, SS Kommandant of the largest killing center ever created, the death camp Auschwitz. He told him that "the Fuhrer had given the order for a Final Solution of the Jewish Question" and that "we, the SS, must carry out that order."

In December 1942, Himmler sent a note to Heinrich Müller, head of the Gestapo, in which he stated:

"The Fuhrer gave orders that the Jews and other enemies in France should be arrested and deported. This should take place, however, only once he has spoken with Laval about it. It is a matter of 6-700.000 Jews."

Private diaries of Nazi propaganda maestro Joseph Goebbels and Himmler unearthed from the secret Soviet archives show that Adolf Hitler personally ordered the mass extermination of Jews on December 12, 1941, during a meeting of Nazi German regional governors in the chancellery.

As Goebbels wrote: "With regards to the Jewish Question, the Fuhrer decided to make a clean sweep ..."

At the Klessheim conference on the 17 and 18 April 1943, according to the protocol, Hitler noted, in regard to the Jews in Poland: "If the Jews there don't want to work they will be shot. If they cannot work, they must rot. They should be treated like tubercular bacillus which could attack healthy bodies. That is not cruel - if one keeps in mind that even innocent natural beings like hares and deer must be killed so that no damage occurs."

In Germany concentration camps were set up after 1933 to detain without legal procedure Jews, Communists, Gypsies, homosexuals, and others. During world war II extermination, or death, camps were established for the sole purpose of killing men, women, and children.

In the most notorious camps - Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor and Majdanek in Poland, Buchenwald and Dachau in Germany - more than 6 million people, mostly Jews and Poles, were killed in gas chambers. Millions of others were also interned during the war, and a large proportion died of gross mistreatment, malnutrition, and disease.

Holocaust Deaths

Country/Region

Estimate

Germany (1938 Borders)

130,000

Austria

65,000

Belgium & Luxembourg

29,000

Bulgaria

7,000

Czechoslovakia

277,000

France

83,000

Greece

65,000

Hungary & Ukraine

402,000

Italy

8,000

Netherlands

106,000

Norway

760

Poland & USSR

4,565,000

Romania

220,000

Yugoslavia

60,000

TOTAL

6,017,760


Source:
Nizkor Project statistics derived from Yad Vashem and Fleming, Hitler and the Final Solution.

 

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