Michael -- I don't want to put you at a disadvantage about those statements. Here's what I have on them at the moment, along with my sources:
(a) In early Jun SS-Gruppenfuehrer Bruno Streckenbach, head of RSHA Branch I (SS personnel office), gave a further explanation of the orders to exterminate the Jews to Einsatzgruppe officers assembled at Pretzsch, Germany. According to later testimony by SS-Brigadefuehrer Prof. Otto Ohlendorf, a supplementary special order was given verbally by SS-Gruppenfuehrer Heinrich Mueller, head of the Gestapo, and SS-Gruppenfuehrer Bruno Streckenbach to the Einsatzgruppe commanders and their principal subordinates. This order, issued by Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler and SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich, the chief of the RSHA, Sipo and SD, read as follows: "That in addition to our general task the Security Police [Sipo] and SD, the Einsatzgruppen and the Einsatzkommandos had the mission to protect the rear of the troops by killing the Jews, gypsies, Communist functionaries, active Communists, and all persons who would endanger the security." Ohlendorf then went on to say:
The immediate feeling with me and with the other men was one of general protest. SS-Gruppenfuehrer Streckenbach listened to this protest, and even gave us a few different points which we could not know, but at the same time he told us that even he himself had protested most strenuously against a similar order in the Polish campaign, but that Himmler had rebuked him just as severely by stating that this was a Fuehrer order, which must be carried out, in order to achieve the war aim of destroying communism for all times, therefore this order was to be accepted without hesitation. . . . I did not consider it justified because quite independently from the necessity of taking such measures, these measures would have moral and ethical consequences which would deteriorate the mind. (Trials of War Criminals 244-5)
(b) In the summer of 1941, Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler summoned SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Rudolf Hoess, who served in several Nazi concentration camps, to a private conference, when Himmler said that Adolf Hitler had ordered "the final solution of the Jewish question"; and consequently, "whatever Jews we can reach" were to be executed "without exception" throughout the war. Himmler went on to tell Hoess: "We, the SS, must carry out that order. If it is not carried out now, then the Jews will destroy the German people." Himmler then explained that Hoess was to wait for further instructions from Karl Adolf Eichmann. (Holo Levin 292; Fleming 47)
According to Hoess: "In the summer of 1941, I cannot remember the exact date, I was suddenly summoned to the Reichsminister-SS, directly by his adjutant's office. Contrary to his usual custom, Himmler received me without his adjutant being present and said, in effect: 'The existing extermination centers in the east are not in a position to carry out the large actions that are anticipated. I have therefore designated Auschwitz for this purpose, both because of its good position as regards communications and because the area can easily be isolated and camouflaged.' We discussed the ways and means of effecting the extermination. This could only be done by gassing, since it would have been absolutely impossible to dispose by shooting of the large numbers of people that were expected, and it would have placed too heavy of a burden on the SS men who had to carry it out, especially because of the women and children among the victims." (Hoess 183-4)
(c) In Aug or Sept 1941, Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler witnessed a mass execution of 100-150 Jews outside Minsk, Belorussia, which was later described by SS-Oberstgruppenfuehrer Karl Wolff, then Himmler's liaison officer with Adolf Hitler's headquarters:
An open grave had been dug and they had to jump into this and lie face downwards. And sometimes when one or two rows had already been shot, they had to lie on top of the people who had already been shot and then they were shot from the edge of the grave. And Himmler had never seen dead people before and in his curiosity he stood right up at the edge of this open grave -- a sort of triangular hole -- and was looking in.
While he was looking in, Himmler had the deserved bad luck that from one or other of the people who had been shot in the head he got a splash of brains on his coat, and I think it also splashed into his face, and he went very green and pale; he wasn't actually sick, but he was heaving and turned round and swayed and then I had to jump forward and hold him steady and then I led him away from the grave.
After the shooting was over, Himmler gathered the shooting squad in a semi-circle around him and, standing up in his car, so that he would be a little higher and be able to see the whole unit, he made a speech. He had seen for himself how hard the task which they had to fulfil for Germany in the occupied areas was, but however terrible it all might be, even for him as a mere spectator, and how much worse it must be for them, the people who had to carry it out, he could not see any way round it.
They must be hard and stand firm. He could not relieve them of this duty; he could not spare them. In the interests of the Reich, in this hopefully Thousand Year Reich, in its first decisive great war after the take-over of power, they must do their duty however hard it may seem. He appealed to their sense of patriotism and their readiness to make sacrifices. Well, yes -- and then he drove off. And he left this -- this police unit to sort out the future for themselves, to see if and how far they could come to terms with this -- within themselves, because for some it was a shock which lasted their whole lives. (Gilbert Holo 191)
After Himmler's experience, SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Dr. Otto Bradfisch, head of Einsatzkommando 8 of Einsatzgruppe B, operating in the Minsk area, asked Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler who was taking the responsibility for the mass extermination of the Jews. Himmler told Bradfisch, "These orders . . . come from Hitler as the supreme Fuehrer of the German government and . . . they [have] the force of law." Himmler later said the same thing in a speech to Einsatzkommando 8 and some security police. One of Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler's command staff, Higher SS and Police Judge Horst Bender, also asked Himmler who was responsible for the "final solution" order. According to Bender, "Himmler categorically stated that this measure had been personally ordered by Hitler, out of political and military considerations, and it therefore stood above all jurisdiction, including SS and police jurisdiction." (Fleming xxiv 51; Fleming 51)
(d) On 4-5 Oct 1941, during a visit of Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler to Nikolaev, Ukraine, U.S.S.R., he visited the headquarters of Einsatzgruppe D. SS-Brigadefuehrer Prof. Otto Ohlendorf, the commander of Einsatzgruppe D, described Himmler's inspection tour:
When the Reichsfuehrer-SS arrived at my headquarters, I had assembled all available commanders of my Einsatzgruppe. The Reichsfuehrer addressed these men and repeated the strict order to kill all those groups [Jews, gypsies, communist functionaries and communist activists] which I have designated. He added that he alone would carry the responsibility, as far as accounting to the Fuehrer was concerned. None of the men would bear any responsibility, but he demanded the execution of this order, even though he knew how harsh these measures were.
Nevertheless, after supper, I spoke to the Reichsfuehrer and I pointed out the inhuman burden which was being imposed on the men in killing all these civilians. I didn't even get an answer." (Trials of War Criminals IV, 251)
(e) In early Mar 1942, SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, the Higher SS and Police Leader of Central Russia, suffered a nervous breakdown and had to be taken to the SS hospital in Hohenlychen. SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Ernst Robert Grawitz, the SS chief medical officer and head of the German Red Cross, treated von dem Bach-Zelewski and reported to Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler: "He is suffering particularly from hallucinations connected with the shootings of Jews which he himself carried out and with other grievous experiences in the East." When Dr. Grawitz discussed von dem Bach-Zelewski's nightmares, the patient said: "Thank God, I'm through with it. Don't you know what's happening in Russia? The entire Jewish people . . . is being exterminated there." In a discussion with Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler about the psychological strain of being a mass murderer, von dem Bach-Zelewski asked if the whole "Jewish business" in the East could be brought to an end. Himmler replied, "That is a Fuehrer order. The Jews are the disseminators of Bolshevism . . . . If you don't keep your nose out of the Jewish business, you'll see what'll happen to you!" (Hoehne 411)
(f) Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler sent out a written order of very limited circulation that all Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe were to be exterminated. According to SS-Hauptsturmfuehrer Dieter Wisliceny, who saw it in Apr 1942, , it read: "The Fuehrer has decided that the final solution of the Jewish question is to start immediately. I designate the Chief of the Security Police and the SD [SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich] and the Inspector of Concentration Camps [SS-Brigadefuehrer Richard Gluecks] as responsible for the execution of this order . . . ." (Holo Levin 299-300)
This order was shown to Wisliceny by SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Karl Adolf Eichmann on a subsequent occasion, when Eichmann told Wisliceny that almost all of the Jews Wisliceny had deported to the East from Slovakia were dead. This was the first Wisliceny learned of the systematic extermination he was helping to implement, and Wisliceny later described the order as reading in very euphemistic terms:
Eichmann then said he could show me this order from [Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich] Himmler in writing, if it would put my conscience at rest. He went to his safe, took out a thin file, and showed me a letter from Himmler to the head of the Security Police and the SD [SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich].The gist of this letter was that the Fuehrer had ordered the final solution of the Jewish problem. The head of the Security Police and the SD and the Inspector of Concentration Camps were entrusted with implementation of this final solution. Pending the final solution, all able-bodied concentration-camp inmates of female or male sex should be employed on labor projects." (Eichmann Interr 95)
(g) On 2 Oct 1942, Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler ordered that Jews working in the armaments factories in the Generalgouvernement of Poland were to be "concentrated to capacity in a few Jewish camp-run industrial centers in the eastern parts of the Generalgouvernement . . . . However, one day the Jews there, in conformity with the Fuehrer's wish, are also to disappear." (Fleming 128)
(h) In Nov 1942, According to a November, 1942, conversation between Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler and his friend and physiotherapist, Dr. Felix Kersten, Adolph Hitler ordered Himmler to begin a systematic extermination of the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe. According to Kersten's account, Himmler had proposed that the Jews be "resettled" in Madagascar, but Hitler wasn't interested. Himmler believed that Propaganda Minister Dr. Paul Josef Goebbels had urged Hitler to begin physical extermination of the Jews. Kersten said Himmler stated: "For months and years, Goebbels kept exciting the Fuehrer to exterminate the Jews by radical means. Once the war had begun, he finally gained the upper hand." (Holo Levin 298) This extermination of the Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe was to be accomplished "by degrees." Himmler told Kersten: "[Hitler] gave this task to the SS and to me. I told him [Hitler], 'The SS is ready to fight and die, from myself down to the last man, but don't give us a mission like this.' The Fuehrer became furious and said, 'Himmler, you are being disobedient! . . . This is an order; I take the responsibility for it.'" (Holo Levin 298)
(i) On 26 Jan 1944, In a speech to a number of high-ranking German Army officers, Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler stated:
"When the Fuehrer gave me the order to carry out the total solution of the Jewish question, I at first hesitated, uncertain whether I could demand of my worthy SS men the execution of such a horrid assignment. . . . but this was ultimately a matter of a Fuehrer-order, and therefore I could have no misgivings. In the meantime, the assignment has been carried out, and there is no longer a Jewish question." (Fleming xxxii)
(a) In about Aug 1941 SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the RSHA, Sipo and SD, summoned SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Karl Adolf Eichmann to his Berlin offices and told Eichmann that Adolf Hitler had ordered the physical extermination of the Jews. Eichmann later described the scene and the order Heydrich gave him:
The final solution depends . . . it's mixed up with . . . something that happened after the start of the German-Russian war.
At that time [July 31, 1941] Reich Marshal Goering issued a document conferring a special title on the head of the Security Police and the SD [SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich]. I'm trying to remember the wording. Was it "Deputy Charged with the Final Solution," or was it "with the Solution of the Jewish Question"?
We can only be sure that it relates to the period when emigration had ceased to be possible and the more radical solution was resorted to. The war with the Soviet Union began in June 1941, I think. And I believe it was two months later, or maybe three, that Heydrich sent for me. I reported. He said to me: 'The Fuehrer, well, emigration is . . .' He began with a little speech. And then: 'The Fuehrer has ordered physical extermination.' These were his words. And as though wanting to test their effect on me, he made a long pause, which was not at all his way. I can still remember that. In the first moment, I didn't grasp the implications, because he chose his words so carefully. But then I understood. I didn't say anything, what could I say? Because I'd never thought of a . . . of such a thing, of that sort of violent solution. And then he said to me: 'Eichmann, go and see [SS-Brigadefuehrer Odilo] Globocnik in Lublin.' (Eichmann Interr 74-5)
In the early Autumn of 1941, SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Karl Adolf Eichmann visited SS-Brigadefuehrer Odilo Globocnik, the Higher SS and Police Leader of Lublin, Poland: "[SS-Brigadefuehrer Odilo] Globocnik, the former Gauleiter of Vienna [later promoted to SS-Gruppenfuehrer], was then head of the SS and the police in the Lublin district of the Government General. Anyway, Heydrich said: 'Go and see Globocnik, the Fuehrer has already given him instructions. Take a look and see how he's getting on with his program. I believe he's using Russian anti-tank trenches for exterminating the Jews.' As ordered, I went to Lublin, located the headquarters of SS and Police Commander Globocnik, and reported to the Gruppenfuehrer. I told him Heydrich had sent me, because the Fuehrer had ordered the physical extermination of the Jews."
(Eichmann Interr 74-76)
[This appears to be a description of a single incident, with confused dates].
(b) In Sept 1941 SS-Gruppenfuehrer Bruno Streckenbach, chief of personnel for the RSHA, whose job included selecting Einsatzgruppen personnel, brought up the subject of mass exterminations with Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler and RSHA chief SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich. Heydrich told Streckenbach "that it was pointless to criticize this operation or to oppose it. This was strictly a matter of a Fuehrer-order; for in connection with this war, which represented the final, violent clash of two irreconcilably opposed world views, the Fuehrer had expressed his resolve to find simultaneously a solution to the Jewish problem." (Fleming 52)
(c) In May 1942, during the course of a very heated discussion with several intelligence officers in Prague, including Armed Forces Intelligence Chief Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich stated that the RSHA (Reich Main Security Office) was not behind the extermination of the Jews, but that it was done on a personal order from the Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler. (Fleming xxv 59-60)