Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

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little grey rabbit
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Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by little grey rabbit » 29 Jul 2013 04:22

Do people here know of any post war accounts of being present at Himmler's Posen speech and their reaction to it.

The question arose as I was reading Gitta Sereny's masterly demolition of Albert Speer on the subject (well worth a read, BTW, she slowly and inexorably demolishes his claims like a panzer rolling over a walnut).

On page 400 of Albert Speer: His Battle With Truth she recounts checking up on the affidavits Speer had based his non-attendance on:
But the author of the second affidavit, Harry Siegmund, who had stated that he recalled distinctly Speer leaving in his car "shortly after lunch", was alive and did talk with me, though only on the telephone. I asked how he came to volunteer this helpful statement.
He laughed out loud. "Volunteer?" he asked. "I didn't volunteer anything. Speer pursued me with I don't know how many phone calls, so I finally gave him what he wanted."
I said I was interested in his mention of "ominous rumours" about Himmler's speech. "I have nothing to say about Himmler's speech," he said.
Had Prinz Reuss attended it?
"Certainly not; whatever makes you think so? He was army."
I said I understood that. But if he didn't attend it, how did he know Speer didn't, and how did the subject arise between them? Herr Siegmund hung up on me then.
The only other person I know of is Gottlob Berger who denied the voice of the Posen speech was even Himmler. Speer went out of his way to say he wasn't there. Harry Siegmund (whoever he was) refuses to discuss it.

Still, lots of people were there: surely plenty of people after the war said things along the lines of: "I was there and I was SHOCKED. But what could do?" etc etc.

wingray
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Re: Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by wingray » 29 Jul 2013 11:59

In an entry dated 9 October 1943, Goebbels commented on Himmler's second speech, at which he was present:
Regarding the Jewish question, he [Himmler] gives a very unadorned and frank picture. He is of the conviction that the Jewish question can be solved by the end of this year. He advocates the most radical and most severe solution, namely to exterminate Jewry, bag and baggage. Of course, if brutal, this is a consistent solution. Because we must take on the responsibility of entirely solving this question in our time. Subsequent generations will doubtlessly no longer dare address this problem with the courage and obsession as we are able to do today.
Saul Friedländer: Das Dritte Reich und die Juden Volume 2: Die Jahre der Vernichtung 1939–1945, I.c. p. 572

little grey rabbit
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Re: Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by little grey rabbit » 29 Jul 2013 12:22

Yes, well I should have been more specific.
I am after accounts that are both
a. Post war
b. Can be identified as post war without being called a Holocaust denier or tin foil hat wearing conspiracy theorist (not that it has ever stopped me in the past).

wingray
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Re: Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by wingray » 29 Jul 2013 13:00

little grey rabbit wrote:Yes, well I should have been more specific.
I am after accounts that are both
a. Post war
b. Can be identified as post war without being called a Holocaust denier or tin foil hat wearing conspiracy theorist (not that it has ever stopped me in the past).
Two questions:
1. Do you believe that the Posen speech took place, or are you looking for a new way to deny it?
2. If you find postwar accounts of former Nazis to be reliable, why not consider the accounts of Holocaust survivors to be reliable as well (for example the participants of the Treblinka uprising, which, according to you, didn't happen)?

little grey rabbit
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Re: Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by little grey rabbit » 29 Jul 2013 13:38

One answer:
I am looking for post-war accounts from people present at the Posen speech. I am not doubting the existence of those accounts - at least I think they ought to exist - I am just interested in reading them.

My own opinions of who is reliable and who is not can be of no interest to anyone.

Jonathan Harrison
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Re: Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by Jonathan Harrison » 29 Jul 2013 19:47

The answer appears to be Speer himself, who made a private admission in a letter sent in 1971, according to this source:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/ma ... teconnolly

I haven't seen any plausible denials of the letter's authenticity.

I don't comprehend the OP comment "surely plenty of people after the war said things along the lines of: "I was there and I was SHOCKED. But what could do?" etc etc." There are obvious reasons why Germans would not mention having been there, or would claim (as did Speer in public) that they left early: to avoid incrimination, shame, or responsibility. As Himmler said, "we will never speak about it in public." It would naturally only appear in rare private sources.

kiseli
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Re: Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by kiseli » 29 Jul 2013 20:52

Do we talk here about:

PARTIAL TRANSLATION OF DOCUMENT I9I9-PS PROSECUTION EXHIBIT 2368
EXTRACTS FROM THE SPEECH OF HIMMLER AT A POZNAN MEETING OF SS MAJOR GENERALS, 4 OCTOBER 1943, CONCERNING THE ROLE OF GERMANY AND GERMAN BLOOD IN HISTORY. UTILIZATION OF OTHER NATIONALITIES FOR GERMANY'S PURPOSES, EXTERMINATION OF THE JEWISH RACE, ROLE OF THE SS, AND RELATED MATTERS*
Speech of the Reich Leader SS at the meeting of the SS Major Generals at Poznan, 4 October 1943 ?

Berger on the witness stand:

MR, PETERSEN: I will repeat the question to the witness.
Is this the voice of Heinrich Himmler?
DEFENDANT BERGER: It might be Heinrich Himmler's voice.
MR. PETERSEN: If the Court please, at this point I offer a set of recordings of the Poznan speech of Heinrich Himmler, which I mark for identification as Prosecution Exhibit—I'm sorry, I offer these in evidence at this time as Prosecution Exhibit 3507. This is Document NO-59Q9.1 These are original captured enemy records that were taken from the Germans along with the Rosenberg files. With the Court's permission, I should now like to play a short master record which contains the portions of the speech in question upon which I questioned this witness and upon which I questioned the witness von Woyrsch. This is a master record that was prepared in the Signal Office upstairs, and I have a covering affidavit to the effect that this is an exact transcript of the original record which we have offered in evidence. We also offer the master record in evidence.8 I ask the clerk to play the master record.

Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10 , Volume XIII , "green series",p. 484

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Re: Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by David Thompson » 29 Jul 2013 23:16

little grey rabbit -- You asked:
Do people here know of any post war accounts of being present at Himmler's Posen speech and their reaction to it.
According to NMT proceedings vol. 13, p. 474, Udo von Woyrsch heard Himmler speak at Poznan and testified about it on 20 May 1948 in the "Ministries case," but the volume does not provide any excerpt from that testimony. There is a transcript of the "Ministries" trial with von Woyrsch's testimony, which should be available on microfilm or compact disk, in the US National Archives and Records Agency. According to the footnote in NMT proceedings, vol. 13, p. 474n, von Woyrsch's testimony appears at pp. 5921-5972 of the trial transcript.

little grey rabbit
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Re: Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by little grey rabbit » 30 Jul 2013 01:44

David, thanks - obviously not easy for anyone to check this out, but if the opportunity ever arises I will do so.
There are some interrogations of him online: http://www.ifz-muenchen.de/archiv/zs/zs-1593.pdf
But they don't cover this issue - as far as I could read.

Jonathon - yes I am aware of that, although for me Gitta Sereny has already demolished Speer's claim not to have been there and this letter where he effectively pleads amnesia as to the speech doesn't exactly represent "an account"

Kiseli: I think you will find the passage I elude to was just before the section you helpfully quoted. If you were to direction your attention to the page or so preceding I think you should find.

Gentlemen, I fear you may be over-thinking this. I am not mounting an argument as to the veracity or otherwise of Himmler's Posen speech. Had I done so I would have pointed out the fact that in the original file there appears to be empty pages bookending the most significant passage.
http://nuremberg.law.harvard.edu/imaged ... 791094.jpg
http://nuremberg.law.harvard.edu/imaged ... 791100.jpg
http://nuremberg.law.harvard.edu/php/pf ... _setting=C

In my view the evidence for the Posen speech (including the Ausrottung passage) is overwhelming - at least two paper copies (IIRC - ie a different typescript copy to the one above) and a voice recording. It might be the most-evidenced speech in history (all right, that is pushing it - but let me concede: lots and lots of evidence)

My motivation was nothing more than reading Gitta Sereny and thinking: "By Gum, I can't recall anyone actually remembering or talking about the Posen speech after the war - in spite of the many square kilometers of print regarding the Final Solution. I wonder what are the sort of things they said." Court proceedings are interesting, but also the type of work Gitta Sereny did interviewing former Nazis where legal issues were not at stake.

That is all - that really is all.

Paul Lantos
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Re: Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by Paul Lantos » 30 Jul 2013 10:23

Why do you need "an account" when the entire speech (both of them, from 4 and 6 Oct 1943) were recorded live?

First, as with Wansee speeches like this were primarily intended to make the attendees share guilt by hearing, knowing, and not protesting. So it was decidedly not in their interest to admit having been there.

Second, it is safe to assume that by Oct 1943, when 5 million Jees were already dead, that the extermination program was widely known among Nazi leadership. The entire police apparatus, the chandellery, the Wehrmacht, the foreign office, all the occupation administrations, the office of the four year plan, and the armaments ministry were heavily involved. To greater or lesser degrees in the actual final solution, but as benefifiaries or witnesses they were in it from long before october 1943. Finally Hitler raved about this all the time, usually recalling his 1939 prophecy.

So since Himmler's speeches were not primarily dedicated to Jewish policy and the Jewish policy was so well known, why should it stand out as much for the attendees?

little grey rabbit
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Re: Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by little grey rabbit » 30 Jul 2013 11:40

Why do you need "an account" when the entire speech (both of them, from 4 and 6 Oct 1943) were recorded live?
Just a strange craving.
First, as with Wansee speeches like this were primarily intended to make the attendees share guilt by hearing, knowing, and not protesting.
What is your basis for such a conclusion?
So since Himmler's speeches were not primarily dedicated to Jewish policy and the Jewish policy was so well known, why should it stand out as much for the attendees?
Indeed, this particular speech was so long and tedious that Gottlob Berger began to hallucinate there was material relating to him and his Baltic recruitment drive in it.
Anyway rightly or wrongly the speech became quite notorious and hence I am interested if there were any post-war accounts, reactions or reflections from people who were there.

Dunno how many times I have to repeat this.

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Re: Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by Jonathan Harrison » 30 Jul 2013 11:50

Reitlinger here refers to statements by Pohl, Hildebrandt and Werner Lorenz.

http://books.google.com/books?id=9ziQ9U ... en&f=false

The judgment against Berger states:
The spontaneous corroboration of the contents of the Poznan speech was given by the witness Hildebrandt, who was himself convicted before one of these Tribunals and who received a 25-year sentence. On cross-examination he was asked about a letter written by Himmler in August 1944 in which it was proposed to make him the Higher SS and Police Leader for Transylvania, and which concluded with the comment (Tr. p. 7042):

"In case Hildebrandt is not there, send the most brutal man available to that region."



He admitted receiving the letter, but said (Tr. p. 7060):

"The letter is quite beside the point. It has no practical background and it never had any practical results. Himmler's phraseology is nothing new. I didn't get excited about it and I didn't take it seriously. After this Poznan speech nothing could surprise me any more."
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=62789

little grey rabbit
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Re: Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by little grey rabbit » 30 Jul 2013 14:05

Thank you Jonathan.
I can't help thinking that if Hildebrandt could have been a bit more explicit if he had attended the Poznan speech. It featured heavily in the RuSHA trial. Also I can't help thinking had he given some explicit testimony in this trial, then the Judgement in the Ministries Trial would have quoted this explicit testimony. Surely Hildebrandt was questioned on it? The phrase - " After this Poznan speech nothing could surprise me any more.", the 'this' could be reference to a more contemporaneous reaction.

For example in the Pohl trial the prosecution did ask and receive explicit answers (presumably not available for the Ministries Trial judgement)
http://www.mazal.org/archive/nmt/05/NMT05-T0762.htm
MR. ROBINS : Witness, after you heard Himmler’s speech in Poznan, you had no doubt that the policy of the Reich and the policy of the SS were committed to the extermination of the Jews, did you?

DEFENDANT FRANK: Yes, quite.

JUDGE PHILLIPS: Was that in '42 or '43 ?

MR. ROBBINS: October '43, your Honor. You say you did not have any doubt?

DEFENDANT FRANK: It was in October 1943 when I heard Himmler's speech at Poznan and I heard it as chief of the administration of the police.

Q. And at that time it became clear to you that the policy of the Reich was the extermination of the Jews? I did not quite get your answer?

A. No doubt could be possible anymore after that. As a man of thinking faculties I had to deduce from Himmler's speech what he wanted to say.

Q. Is that the first time you heard about this, his policy?

A. Yes.

Q. Is that the first time that you heard that Jews had been killed in concentration camps?

A. I heard for the first time there, that the German Reich had proclaimed an extermination program against the whole of Jewry, who had associated against Hitler.
And Oswald Pohl himself:
Q. And then with reference to the clearing out of the Jews, did you hear Himmler say, "I want to talk to you about clearing out of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish race. It's one of those things that's easy to talk about — the Jewish race is being exterminated," and so forth.

A. He personally did not discuss that with me. I only heard that in his speech.

Q. You heard it in his speech?

A. The speech at Poznan, yes.
http://www.mazal.org/archive/nmt/05/NMT05-T0675.htm

Just on the subject of Richard Hildebrandt, he gave an affidavit reconstructing a conversation he claimed he had with Himmler on 2 May 1945, just prior to his trial
Ich: Ich bin leider davon ueberzeugt, dass Sie fuer Eisenhower kein Verhandlungspartner mehr sind. Ihre Belastung durch gewisse Konzentrations-Lager und die Art der Judenbehandlung im Osten ist zu gross und schwer.
Himmler: Glauben Sie das ja nicht. Ich habe die ungarischen Juden sehr anstaendig behandelt. Das ist auch auf der Gegenseite bekannt.
Ich: Wer ist eigentlich hauptverantworlich fuer die Bestialitaeten in Auschwitz, von denen ich im uebrigen erst in April 1945 durch SS-Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. Morgen ganz zufaellig erfahren habe?
Ich habe von Innen auch ueber die Judenverfolgungen nie eine praecise Erklaerung bekommen koennen.
Nach dem, was ich jetzt erst von Dr Morgen ueber Auschwitz erfahren habe, kann ich mich heute mit Ihren frueher ueblichen Antworten auf diese Frage: "Kuemmern Sie sich nicht um Dinge, die Sie nichts angehen" nich mehr zufrieden geben.
Himmler:
Alle diese Dinge sind persoenlich von Fuehrer angeordnet. Ich selber habe verschiedene Fuehrerbefehle dieser Art weitgehend abgeschwaecht oder unterbunden.
Ich:
Ich kann nicht glauben, dass Hitler die Vernichtung von Menschen in Gaskammern befohlen hat. Das widerspricht meinen Vorsetllungen, die ich von ihm hatte, ganz und gar.
Himmler:
Was reden wir noch davon? Wenn man mir nicht glaubt, dass der Fuehrer dies alles angeordnet hat. Was soll es denn schon heissen, wenn ich Briefe faelschen lasse mit den Untersschriften von Goebbels und Bormann, dass alle diese Dinge auf persoenlich Befehle Hitlers zurueckgeben?
Goebbels und Bormann leben wahrscheinlich nicht mehr, obwohl ich mir bei Goebbels vorstellin koennte, dass er sich in Berlin Verbergen haelt, um spaeter Mal auf der Gegenseite wieder aufzutauchen
And so on.

Anyway, good. Any more accounts? Legal settings and interviews or memoirs?

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Re: Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by Paul Lantos » 30 Jul 2013 15:37

little grey rabbit wrote:
First, as with Wansee speeches like this were primarily intended to make the attendees share guilt by hearing, knowing, and not protesting.
What is your basis for such a conclusion?
This is a very common interpretation among some of the leading Holocaust historians, including Peter Longerich, Christopher Browning, and Saul Friedlander. Longerich explores it in the most depth, as his book "Holocaust" is primarily devoted to Jewish policy not just as a means to an end but as a manifestation of Nazi politics. This is better documented for Wannsee -- where a LOT of time was devoted to splitting hairs over race definitions, and the specific points by attendees were recorded and then circulated in the conference minutes. The point of this was that all of the attendees discussed details and none of the attendees protested in principle. Heydrich basically got them all on the record participating in the planning of the final solution. Longerich goes into great detail about how Hitler and the members of the foreign office (esp Rademacher) involved other countries as co-conspirators in the same way. The countries that were the most actively participatory in the deportations found it the most difficult to break from their alliance with Hitler towards the end of the war because they were participating in what the world saw as a crime.

So it's pretty reasonable to conclude that Himmler was not trying to inform some naive, uninformed people -- he was trying to draw them in by making it impossible for them to deny foreknowledge. In October 1943, when the Nazis were without a doubt doomed (Italy had been invaded, Kursk was over, the Soviets were on the verge of liberating their entire occupied prewar territory), it was to the regime's advantage to keep people close (i.e. would go down fighting alongside the regime) by virtue of the fact that they could not escape the regime's crimes.

little grey rabbit
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Re: Post war accounts of Himmler's Posen speech.

Post by little grey rabbit » 30 Jul 2013 15:53

So short of reading 3 quite long books - is it just their speculation or do they actually have some evidence - even if it is just hearsay evidence?
I mean it seems to me difficult to plan an extermination program WITHOUT having some kind of conference like Wannsee. So I don't see how Wannsee needs any other motive than it's stated goal: to coordinate the Ministries.

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