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Excerpt from Himmler’s Speech to the SS-Gruppenführer at Posen (October 4, 1943)

Himmler’s three-hour speech to high-ranking SS functionaries is notorious for its elaborations on the necessity of merciless brutality towards non-German peoples, above all the Slavs. Driven by ideological fanaticism and a fundamental contempt for humanity, Himmler sketches out his vision for the future rule of the “Germanic race” under the leadership of the SS, its political, ideological, and racial-biological elite.

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The 1941 Attack

In 1941 the Führer attacked Russia. That was, as we know now, shortly – perhaps 3 to 6 months – before Stalin prepared to embark on his great penetration into Central and Western Europe. I can give you a picture of this first year in a few words. The attacking forces cut their way through. The Russian Army was herded together in great pockets, ground down, taken prisoner. At the time, we did not value the mass of humanity as we value it today: as raw material, as labor. The fact that prisoners died of exhaustion and hunger in tens and hundreds of thousands is by no means regrettable from the standpoint of lost generations but is deplorable now for reasons of lost labor.

[ . . . ]

It is basically wrong for us to infuse all our inoffensive soul and spirit, our good nature, and our idealism into foreign peoples. This has been true since the time of Herder, who clearly wrote “Voices of the Nations” [“Stimmen der Völker”], in a state of drunkenness, thereby bringing upon us, who came after him, such immeasurable sorrow and misery. This is true for instance, of the Czechs and the Slovenes to whom we gave their consciousness of nationality. They were just not capable of it themselves; we had to discover it for them.

One basic principle must be the absolute rule for the SS man: we must be honest, decent, loyal and comradely to members of our own blood and to nobody else. What happens to a Russian, to a Czech does not interest me in the slightest. What the nations can offer in the way of good blood of our type, we will take, if necessary by kidnapping their children and raising them here with us. Whether nations live in prosperity or starve to death* interests me only in so far as we need them as slaves for our Kultur; otherwise, it is of no interest to me. Whether 10,000 Russian females fall down from exhaustion while digging an anti-tank ditch interests me only in so far as the anti-tank ditch for Germany is finished. We shall never be rough and heartless when it is not necessary, that is clear. We Germans, who are the only people in the world who have a decent attitude towards animals, will also assume a decent attitude towards these human animals. But it is a crime against our own blood to worry about them and give them ideals, thus causing our sons and grandsons to have a more difficult time with them. When somebody comes to me and says, “I cannot dig the anti-tank ditch with women and children, it is inhuman, for it would kill them,” then I have to say, “You are a murderer of your own blood because if the anti-tank ditch is not dug, German soldiers will die, and they are sons of German mothers. They are our own blood.” That is what I want to instill into the SS and what I believe have instilled into them as one of the most sacred laws of the future. Our concern, our duty is our people and our blood. It is for them that we must provide and plan, work and fight, nothing else. We can be indifferent to everything else. I wish the SS to adopt this attitude to the problem of all foreign, non-Germanic peoples, especially Russians. All else is vain, fraud against our own nation and an obstacle to the early winning of the war.

[ . . . ]

* In the original German, Himmler uses the verb verrecken, which means "to die." It should be noted, however, that this verb is typically used to describe the death of cattle – ed.

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