On German soil

In autumn 1942, SS leader Heinrich Himmler demanded that concentration camps on German soil should become “free of Jews”. But in spring 1944, Himmler revoked this order: Germany was now desperate for more slave labour. Over the coming months, many Jewish prisoners were taken to satellite camps near building sites, like Kaufering in Bavaria. Most of them came from Hungary, which had recently been occupied by Nazi Germany (many more Hungarian Jews were murdered in Auschwitz as unfit for work). In a speech to German generals on 24 May 1944, Himmler spoke openly about the Holocaust and the exploitation of Jews as slaves.

084 – Heinrich Himmler on the Holocaust and the concentration camps, spring 1944

Another question that was decisive for the internal security of the Reich, was the Jewish question. It was solved ruthlessly in accordance with orders and a rational assessment of the situation. [Applause] I believe, gentlemen, that you know me well enough to know that I am not a bloodthirsty person or a man who enjoys or takes pleasure in having to do something harsh. On the other hand, my nerves and my sense of duty are strong enough – I think I can claim that for myself – that if I consider something to be necessary then I will carry it out uncompromisingly. I did not consider myself justified – I’m referring here to the Jewish women and children – in allowing avengers to grow up in the shape of the children who will then murder our fathers and grandchildren. I would have considered that a cowardly thing to do. As a result the question was solved uncompromisingly.

However, at the moment – it’s an odd thing about this war – we are transferring initially 100,000, later 150,000, male Jews from Hungary to concentration camps so that we can use them to build underground factories. But none of them will have any contact with the German people.

Source: B. F. Smith, A. Peterson, Heinrich Himmler, Geheimreden 1933 bis 1945 (Frankfurt a. M., 1974), p. 203

Translation: Lesley Sharpe and Jeremy Noakes