Thursday, August 14, 2008

Himmler's Posen Speeches

A favourite tactic of deniers is to attempt to neutralize the word "ausrotten" [or "ausrottung"] when it appears in a Nazi document. They usually ignore the analyses of the term written by native German experts, such as those that appear in Klemperer's LTI and Longerich's submission to the Lipstadt trial. On the rare occasions when they do acknowledge these analyses, they deliberately misrepresent them, as I showed here.

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The stupidity of this tactic is best illustrated by an article by Carlos Porter that was published by CODOH in 1996, which can be viewed at this link. Porter attempts to spin Himmler's first Posen speech of 4th October, 1943 into a more benign form. In place of the Nuremberg translation of 'ausrotten' as 'extermination', Porter insists upon 'extirpation'. This in itself is no big deal because 'extirpation' can still mean extermination if used in a particular context. Indeed, Longerich translates 'ausrotten' as 'extirpation', and states that:
I have not yet found a single example of Hitler or Himmler using the term "ausrotten" during the Second World War with respect to human beings or a group of human beings other than in the sense of "to kill in large numbers or to kill all as far as possible".
However, Porter's schoolboy error was to insist that Himmler was speaking 'figuratively' when he used the term, but to then print long extracts from the speech which showed that Himmler was, indeed, referring literally to mass genocidal killing of women and children. Porter thus debunked his own case. For example, in Porter's own translation, the word 'extirpation' follows the phrase 'elimination of the Jews'. Later in the same paragraph, Himmler describes the typical scene of mass murder:
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.
In the following paragraph, Himmler makes his meaning even clearer by referring directly to a genocide of "this people":
We had the moral right, we had the duty to our own people, to kill this people which wanted to kill us.
In the next paragraph he admits that "we eradicated a bacillus". Later in the speech, Himmler says:
Whether other races live well or die of hunger is only of interest to me insofar as we need them as slaves for our culture; otherwise that doesn't interest me. Whether 10,000 Russian women fall down from exhaustion in building a tank ditch is of interest to me only insofar as the tank ditches are finished for Germany.
If this is not enough 'context' to prove the correct meaning of 'ausrotten' in Himmler's first Posen speech, we have further context from a follow-up speech made two days later at the same venue. I am grateful to David Woolfe for drawing my attention to this extract:
Es trat an uns die Frage heran: Wie ist es mit den Frauen und Kindern? Ich habe mich entschlossen, auch hier eine ganz klare Lösung zu finden. Ich hielt mich nämlich nicht für berechtigt, die Männer auszurotten- sprich also, umzubringen oder umbringen zu lassen - und die Rächer in Gestalt der Kinder für unsere Söhne und Enkel groß werden zu lassen. Es mußte der schwere Entschluß gefaßt werden, dieses Volk von der Erde verschwinden zu lassen.

We came to the question: How is it with the women and children? I decided to find a clear solution here as well. I did not consider myself justified to exterminate the men - that is, to kill them or have them killed - and allow the avengers of our sons and grandsons in the form of their children to grow up. The difficult decision had to be taken to make this people disappear from the earth.
Himmler thus helpfully defined his precise meaning when he used 'auszurotten' in the second Posen speech. He then reiterated this meaning in a further speech at Sonthofen on May 24, 1944:
As to the Jewish women and children, I did not believe I had a right to let these children grow up to become avengers who would kill our fathers [sic] and grandchildren. That, I thought, would be cowardly. Thus the problem was solved without half-measures.
Himmler did not approve of 'half-measures'. Only a 'half-wit' would use Himmler's first Posen speech to try to fool us into believing otherwise.


  1. "100 bodies lie together, when 500 lie there, or if 1,000 lie there."

    "Bodies" is a more ambiguous term than the speech actually infers. The correct translation is "corpses". "Leichen" can only mean "corpses", bodies can mean also alive people (although it's hard to see a reason why 1000 alive bodies would lie there, but deniers will try anything).

  2. Himmler is also admitting to at least three mass killings in that very speech, why else would they know what it means when 100, 500 or 1000 corpses lie there. It is also between the lines inferred that a lot more of these mass killings had already taken place when that speech was made.


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