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Stenographic Report of a Portion of the Interministerial Meeting at the Reich Aviation Ministry [Reichsluftfahrtministerium] (November 12, 1938)

The terrifying excesses of violence and destruction committed on Kristallnacht drew protest within Germany and abroad and resulted in significant economic damage. Thus the Nazi regime was forced to assess the pogrom largely as a failure. On November 12, 1938, more than one hundred representatives of the economy, the party, and the government came together at a conference chaired by Hermann Göring (1893-1946) at the Reich Aviation Ministry. The conference aimed to devise other ways to continue the isolation, the economic exploitation, and the expulsion of the Jews. As Plenipotentiary for the Four-Year Plan, Göring was already heavily involved in industrial war preparations – especially in the systematic expropriation of German Jews. As the protocol reveals, conference participants laid the organizational foundation for the subsequent wave of laws and decrees that deprived German Jews of every basis for economic and social existence. In a gesture of cynical opportunism, it was also decided that Germany’s Jews would be made to pay for all damage resulting from Kristallnacht.

After the end of the war, the text reproduced here was forwarded to the American military by the stenographer Dr. Fritz Dörr. It was later used as evidence in the Nuremberg Trials. The following report is incomplete, since portions of the protocol were recorded by other stenographers who were also present that day. The missing portions are indicated in brackets.

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Stenographic Report of a Portion of the Meeting on “the Jewish Question” under the Chairmanship of Field Marshall Goering at the Reich Aviation Ministry on November 12, 1938, at 11 o’clock

Goering: Gentlemen! Today’s meeting is of a decisive nature. I have received a letter written on the Fuehrer’s orders by the Stabsleiter of the Fuehrer’s deputy Bormann, requesting that the Jewish question be now, once and for all, coordinated and solved one way or another. And yesterday once again did the Fuehrer request by phone for me to take coordinated action in the matter.

Since the problem is mainly an economic one, it is from the economic angle that it shall have to be tackled. Naturally, a number of legal measures shall have to be taken which fall into the sphere of the Minister for Justice and into that of the Minister of the Interior; and certain propaganda measures shall be taken care of by the office of the Minister for Propaganda. The Minister for Finance and the Minister for Economic Affairs shall take care of the problems falling into their respective resorts.

In the meeting, in which we first talked about this question and came to the decision to aryanize the German economy, to take the Jew out of it, and put him into our debit ledger, was one in which, to our shame, we only made pretty plans, which were executed very slowly. We then had a demonstration, right here in Berlin, we told the people that something decisive would be done, but again nothing happened. We have had this affair in Paris now, more demonstrations followed and this time something decisive must be done!

Because, gentlemen, I have enough of the demonstrations! They don’t harm the Jew but me, who is the last authority for coordinating the German economy. If today, a Jewish shop is destroyed, if goods are thrown into the street, the insurance company will pay for the damages, which the Jew does not even have; and furthermore goods of the consumer, goods belonging to the people, are destroyed. If in the future, demonstrations which are necessary, occur, then, I pray, that they be directed, so as not to hurt us. Because it’s insane, to clean out and burn a Jewish warehouse then have a German insurance company make good the loss. And the goods which I need desperately, whole bales of clothing and what-not, are being burned; and I miss them everywhere. I may as well burn the raw materials before they arrive.

The people of course, do not understand that; therefore we must make laws which will show the people once and for all, that something is being done. I should appreciate it very much if for once, our propaganda could make it clear that it is unfortunately not the Jew who has to suffer in all this, but the German insurance companies.

I am not going to tolerate a situation in which the insurance companies are the ones who suffer. Under the authority invested in me, I shall issue a decree, and I am, of course, requesting the support of the competent Government agencies, so that everything shall be processed through the right channels and the insurance companies will not be the ones who suffer.

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