Is murder ever okay

National Socialism and World War II

Michael Wildt

Michael Wildt is a trained bookseller and worked for Rowohlt Verlag from 1976 to 1979. He then studied history, sociology, cultural studies and theology at the University of Hamburg from 1979 to 1985. In 1991 he completed his doctorate on the subject of "On the way to the 'consumer society". Studies on Consumption and Eating in West Germany 1949-1963 ”and then worked as a research assistant at the Research Center for the History of National Socialism in Hamburg. From 1997 to 2009 he worked as a research assistant at the Hamburg Institute for Social Research and completed his habilitation in 2001 with a study on the leadership corps of the Reich Security Main Office. Since 2009 he has been Professor of German History in the 20th Century with a focus on the Nazi era at the Humboldt University in Berlin.

His main research interests are National Socialism, the Holocaust, the history of violence in the 20th century and notions of social and political order in modern times.

Contact: mailto: [email protected] «

Peter Krumeich, Employee at the chair of Professor Wildt, contributed to the development of the content of the magazine and, in particular, in coordination with the editorial team, was responsible for the image research for this magazine.

With the outbreak of war, the violence becomes more radical. Thousands of sick and disabled people are murdered, and the deportation and killing of the Jews of Europe is coordinated at the Wannsee Conference. Millions of people fell victim to Nazi terror in "actions" by the SS, SD and police forces, as well as in the concentration and extermination camps.

Trains from all of the countries in Europe occupied by the National Socialists and from the German Reich roll into the extermination camps. (& copy Federal Archives, Image 183-68431-0005)


The decision to murder so-called life unworthy of life had already been made at the beginning of the war with the killing of sick and disabled people. Demands for the introduction of hereditary biology records, for a ban on marriage for unwanted couples to the asylum of epileptics, mentally ill and criminals as well as for the sterilization of "inferior" people had already been loud in the eugenic discussion of the Weimar Republic. In 1920 the criminal lawyer Karl Binding and the psychiatrist Alfred Hoche had published an influential brochure entitled "The release of the destruction of life unworthy of life" in which the Judeo-Christian respect for the inviolability of life was attacked with references to ancient societies such as Sparta. Right at the beginning of the Nazi regime, the Hitler government passed a "Law for the Prevention of Hereditary Offspring" in July 1933, which for the first time allowed forced sterilization in Germany. Now the voices were getting louder and louder, calling for the killing of disabled and mentally ill people.

The "Chancellery of the Führer of the NSDAP", a rather marginal institution that regulated Hitler's private affairs and personal submissions to him, received requests asking for permission to assist in dying. Among them was a letter in 1939 in which a father asked to have his disabled child killed. Hitler, who had always publicly mocked the "modern humanitarianism" in favor of the sick and weak, took on the case and authorized the head of the "Führerkanzlei", Philipp Bouhler, and his personal doctor, Dr. Karl Brandt to kill the child and to proceed analogously in similar cases. When the two asked for written authorization in the course of the organizational preparations for the "euthanasia" murders, Hitler issued the murder order in October 1939, significantly backdated to September 1, in order to make the connection with the war clear.

In a small group, the functionaries of the "Führerkanzlei" prepared the murders of the sick and disabled together with doctors and founded a "Reich Committee for the Scientific Assessment of Hereditary and Constitutional Serious Ailments" to camouflage the company, which is based in Berlin, Tiergarten 4, had, which is why the "euthanasia" murders were planned under the code "T4". As early as August 18, 1939, the Reich Ministry of the Interior issued a strictly confidential circular to all state governments that midwives and doctors had to report malformed and disabled newborns immediately to the medical officers, who in turn had to check the reports and forward them to the "Reich Committee". Later, the management of hospitals and psychiatric clinics in particular were asked to report adult patients as well.

In Berlin, the registration forms were checked by three medical experts. Those people who were supposed to be murdered were given a "+" sign on the arch. The victims were then transferred to special hospitals in Bernburg, Brandenburg, Grafeneck, Hadamar, Hartheim and Sonnenstein using inconspicuous buses painted gray to kill them there.

Since the perpetrators needed poison for their murders, they turned to Himmler, who referred them to the Forensic Institute of the Reich Criminal Police Office. The responsible speaker, Dr. Albert Widmann, came up with the idea of ​​killing the sick with carbon monoxide. While Widmann was thinking of channeling the gas into the dormitories at night when the sick were sleeping, those responsible for the T4 campaign decided differently. The patients should be killed in specially set up gas chambers. The first attempt with humans took place in December 1939 or January 1940 in the old prison in Brandenburg. As an observer, in addition to Hitler's "euthanasia" commissioner, Dr. Karl Brandt and Philipp Bouhler, the State Secretary responsible for health issues in the Reich Ministry of the Interior, Leonardo Conti, several bureaucrats and doctors including Albert Widmann, who instructed the doctors how to lead the gas into the chamber. The assembled participants watched the agonized suffocation of the victims through a peephole in the door. In the period that followed, Widmann procured the carbon monoxide gas required for the "euthanasia" murders from the IG Farben plant in Ludwigshafen, now known as BASF. By the end of the war, around 275,000 sick and disabled people had been murdered in Germany and the occupied territories.

The perpetrators could not keep these murders secret. Relatives asked where their sick family members had been taken and received only evasive, flimsy answers, and finally formal letters with the death notice. In the locations of the killing centers, such as Grafeneck in the Münsingen district on the Swabian Alb, it quickly became known that there were an unusually large number of deaths in the hospitals. Many of the patients themselves suspected the fate that lay ahead of them, resisted and shouted for help with the removal. At church offices, reports from parish priests about the unexpected death of the sick and the immediate cremation of their corpses increased. In July 1940, the guardianship judge Dr. Lothar Kreyssig from Brandenburg / Havel outraged the Reich Ministry of Justice and demanded clarification about the fate of the people entrusted to him. Justice Minister Franz Gürtner also received reports of disturbing rumors circulating in other places. The Protestant regional bishop of Württemberg, Theophil Wurm, wrote personally to Reich Minister of the Interior Frick on July 19, 1940 to protest against the "annihilation of life". In August the Catholic Bishops' Conference also took a position internally and called for an end to the killings. The courageous magistrate Kreyssig had meanwhile filed charges of murder. When the news about the "euthanasia" murders spread more and more within the population, family members even turned to the police for help and finally the Münster bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen publicly preached against the murders at the beginning of August 1941, the regime leadership made one Backed out. On Hitler's instructions, the "euthanasia" of adults in the German Reich was officially stopped - and continued secretly on children, in the concentration camps and in the occupied territories. Several "murder experts" from the killing centers such as Christian Wirth, Irmfried Eberl or Franz Stangl found employment again after a few months in the extermination camps in Germany-occupied Poland, where their knowledge of killing people with gas was used again.

After the attack on Poland, SS units also killed sick and disabled people there, not least in order to use the homes in which these people were housed as accommodation for themselves and for ethnic German settlers. The SS-Kommando Lange, which excelled in these murders, developed a new method: The victims were crammed into a van and suffocated there with CO from gas bottles. In 1941, the Reich Security Main Office had 30 such cars converted so that the engine exhaust gases could be fed in through a hose, so that people died in terrible agony. The SS used these gas vans in the Kulmhof / Chełmno extermination site near Łódz´, in the Sajmište camp near Belgrade and in Maly Trostenez near Minsk and delivered them to the Einsatzgruppen as mobile killing instruments.

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The fate of Emilie R.

Emilie R., born in Alsfeld in 1891, married the police secretary Christian R. in 1912. She had four children and was sane until confusion and depression emerged in 1931. At the time, her husband was on sick leave due to a hip problem - which led to great fears for her job and her family's reputation. On November 30, 1931, her husband took her to the Frankfurt University Nervous Clinic for the first time, where the diagnosis “anxious relationship psychosis” was recorded. In December she was released at her husband's request, but was not considered cured. In April 1936 Emilie R. was again admitted to the Frankfurt mental hospital and this time diagnosed with "paranoid dementia" - Emilie R. suffered from "delusions". The clinic immediately applied for sterilization, although the family was not aware of any similar illnesses and all the children were in excellent health. On May 12, 1936, Emilie R. was released as unhealed to the Hadamar State Hospital, where she only stayed for five months. Her husband applied to have her transferred to the denominational St. Valentinushaus in Kiedrich. In one of the last entries in her medical history in Hadamar it said: “7/8/36. Still under the influence of her hallucinations. Can't be moved to work. ”This also explains why the institution had no objection to a transfer, because Emilie R. could no longer be used for work. In the denominational nursing home, her relatives were usually denied visits, and the husband also had to make intensive efforts to obtain permission to visit. They were forbidden to walk to Eltville on the day of their silver wedding anniversary, as Emilie R. fell under the “Law for the Prevention of Hereditary Children” and was not sterilized. In August 1939 she was transferred from the St. Valentinushaus to the Eichberg asylum and on February 21, 1941 she was transported to the Hadamar euthanasia facility on a collective transport. She was murdered there on the same day. Her medical records were then sent to the Sonnenstein T4 facility near Pirna and her death was recorded on March 1, 1941 in Sonnenstein.

Landeswohlfahrtsverband Hessen (ed.), Bettina Winter (edit.), “Relocated to Hadamar”. On the history of a Nazi "euthanasia" institution. Accompanying volume for an exhibition of the State Welfare Association Hessen. Historical series of publications by the State Welfare Association of Hessen, catalogs, vol. 2. Kassel 1991, p. 103



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A sermon against killing

Sermon of the Bishop of Münster Clemens August von Galen on August 3, 1941:

“Devout Christians! In the joint pastoral letter of the German bishops of June 26, 1941, which was read out on July 6 of this year in all Catholic churches in Germany, it says among other things: 'Certainly there are positive commandments according to the Catholic moral doctrine which no longer oblige if their fulfillment with too much would be very difficult. But there are also sacred conscience obligations from which no one can free us, which we have to fulfill, no matter what the cost, no matter what our life. Never, under no circumstances should a person kill an innocent person outside of war and righteous self-defense. ‘On July 6th, I already had reason to add the following explanation to these words of the common pastoral letter:
'For several months now we have been hearing reports that Berliners who have been ill for a long time and who may appear incurable are forcibly removed from sanatoriums and nursing homes for the mentally ill. After a short time, the relatives regularly receive notification that the patient has died, the corpse has been burned and the ashes can be delivered. There is a general suspicion, bordering on certainty, that these numerous unexpected deaths of the mentally ill do not occur of their own accord, but are brought about on purpose, that one follows the doctrine that claims that one can destroy so-called life unworthy of life, that is, kill innocent people, if one does thinks her life is no longer worth anything for the people and the state. A terrible doctrine that wants to justify the murder of innocent people, which basically allows the violent killing of disabled people, cripples, incurably sick and the elderly who are no longer able to work. ‘
As I have reliably learned, lists are now being drawn up in the sanatoriums and nursing homes of the Province of Westphalia of those foster people who, as so-called unproductive national comrades, are to be transported away and killed in a short time. The first transport left the Marienthal facility near Münster this week. [...] I did not receive any news of intervention by the public prosecutor or the police. On July 26th, I had already raised a very serious written objection to the Provincial Administration of the Province of Westphalia, which is responsible for the institutions to which the sick are entrusted for care and healing. It didn't do any good. The first transport of those who were innocently sentenced to death left Marienthal. And, as I hear, 800 patients have already been transported from the Warstein sanatorium. So we have to expect that the poor, defenseless sick will be killed sooner or later.
Why? Not because they committed a death-worthy crime! Not because they attacked their caretaker or nurse so that they had no choice but to use force to defend themselves against the attacker in just self-defense. These are cases in which, in addition to killing the armed enemy of the country in a just war, the use of force up to and including killing is permitted and not infrequently required.
No, those unfortunate sick people do not have to die for such reasons, but because they have become unworthy of life after the judgment of some office, after the opinion of some commission, because according to this opinion they belong to the unproductive national comrades. [...]
If one establishes and applies the principle that one may kill unproductive fellow human beings, then woe to us all when we grow old and decrepit! If one is allowed to kill the unproductive fellow human beings, then woe to the invalids who have used, sacrificed and forfeited their strength and healthy bones in the production process! If one can forcibly eliminate the unproductive fellow human beings, then woe to our good soldiers who return home as seriously injured in the war, as cripples, as invalids.
If it is once admitted that people have the right to kill unproductive fellow human beings, and if it only affects poor, defenseless mentally ill people at first, then it is fundamentally the murder of all unproductive people, i.e. the incurably sick, the cripples unable to work Invalids of work and war, the murder of all of us is released when we become old and decrepit and thus unproductive. [...]
Woe to people, woe to our German people, if the holy commandment of God: You shall not kill !, which the Lord proclaimed under thunder and lightning on Sinai, which God our Creator wrote in people's consciences from the beginning, do not just transgress will, but if this transgression is even tolerated and carried out with impunity! "

Bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen. Files, letters and sermons 1933-1946, Volume II, arr. v. Peter Löffler (Publications of the Commission for Contemporary History, Series A, Sources; Vol. 42), 2., exp. Ed., Schöningh Verlag Paderborn 1996, p. 875 ff.




In the German Reich, when the war began, the Jews were subjected to intensified harassment. On September 10, 1939, Himmler ordered that the Jewish communities provide for their own protection from bombing and that they should build their own air raid shelters. Local party groups and municipal offices had already begun for their part to ban Jews from going out or to confiscate radio sets. Although the Nazi leadership forbade such initiatives from below, Himmler for his part also issued a ban on Jews going out from 10 p.m. on September 10th. A few days later, this was followed by an ordinance prohibiting Jews from owning a radio. On September 23, the Gestapo was supposed to "suddenly" pull in radio sets from Jews throughout the Reich. From January 1940 onwards, food ration cards for Jews were generally marked with a "J", rations were increasingly restricted and allowances were canceled.

Consistent in their efforts to completely isolate the Jews socially, the National Socialists set out in 1939 to "ghettoise" the Jewish population in Germany as well. This meant that the existing tenancies were dissolved and "Jewish houses" were set up in which the Jewish Germans had to live from now on, often in a confined space with several families in one apartment. In addition, the Nazi leadership pushed plans to use Jews still living in the Reich for forced labor after unemployed Jews had previously been obliged to work. Now men and women who were classified as fit for work - that was around 59,000 people in the summer of 1941 - were used to harvest crops in agriculture, in industrial plants, to clear damage caused by bombing or to build roads and railroad tracks, often without wages or insurance cover. In addition, there was a special labor law for Jews who were not supposed to receive any allowances or other benefits to which non-Jewish workers were entitled. The Ministry of Labor attached great importance to "maintaining the social distance" between the national comrades and the Jewish and Polish workers.

In 1940 an old anti-Semitic plan was revived: the deportation of European Jews to Africa. Anti-Semites like the German cultural philosopher Paul de Lagarde had spread this idea since the end of the 19th century. Other European countries such as Poland and France also seriously considered the deportation of their Jewish citizens to Madagascar in the 1930s. The Polish government even sent a commission there in 1937 to examine the conditions for a deportation of Polish Jews.

In August 1940 Heydrich had three copies of a fourteen-page brochure with a map, lexicon excerpts and an organizational chart for the "Madagascar Project" sent to the Foreign Office. This RSHA plan developed in detail how four million European Jews were to be deported to Madagascar and vegetated there in a police state under the direction of the chief of the security police and the SD. With 120 ships - according to the brochure - around 3,000 Jews could be shipped daily, so that, according to the RSHA, the "Jewish problem" should be solved within four years. Heydrich himself spoke in June in a letter to Reich Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop of a "final territorial solution" that was now necessary. The Foreign Office was also working on a Madagascar plan.

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Survive in Vienna from 1941 to 1943

Lotte Freiberger was born in Vienna in 1923. Her Jewish father was a wholesale merchant in the yarn industry. Her mother was born Catholic but converted to Judaism when she married. In order to protect the family, the mother converted to Catholicism again during the Nazi era.

The text was collected as part of an "oral history" project that began in 1982.

[...] “Around this time [1941] the Nazis sent young girls to Stendal in Northern Germany to pick asparagus. We rightly suspected nothing good. Through an 'Aryan' business friend of my father's we got the address of a Ms. Ostermann, who had a tailor's workshop and was allowed to take in Jewish workers. She was a very good, decent woman. The workshop was on Alserstrasse. I entered there on May 26, 1941 and stayed until the end of the war. The company delivered to the 'Altreich', as Germany was called at the time, that was more or less an 'export', and I was thus protected from asparagus picking in Stendal. I would like to mention that none of my friends, Stendal, survived. I never heard from them again. It was later learned that after their work they were sent straight to the extermination camps.
An 'Aryan' company like Ostermann was allowed to employ Jewish workers - for ridiculous payment - if the following conditions were met: strict isolation from the 'Aryan' employees in the workshop, extra toilet, no use of the kitchen. We put our reindles [cans] on the windowsill, there was no room anywhere else. The workers in the 'Aryan' workshop spat on it. [...]
It was already the time of the deportations. When I came to the workshop, one or the other was missing every day. They never came back, they had been deported. We got fewer and fewer, sometimes four or five of us were missing, you hardly dared to go into the company anymore - for fear of who would be missing tomorrow. So it happened that one day I was there alone. All of them had already been 'dug up', as the collection by the SS was called, and deported to Poland. None of the women survived.
At the beginning of the deportations the SS came alone, later with 'evacuators', that is, Jewish men who were forced - in some cases perhaps also voluntarily - to do this service. They were very uncomfortable and brutal, out of self-preservation instinct, they thought they could save their lives with them. But this was not so. With the last transport to Poland, all of the “excavators” went with their families.
After the first 'evacuation', when my aunt was fetched, they came to see us three more times, day and night. Always the same situation. After seeing our documents, they said to my father: 'You can stay, the daughter is packing. We'll have the papers checked in the camp and come back. ‘The first time I ran to the open window, my father pulled me back by my feet, the SS man yelled: 'Let her jump!' Then I packed up. My mother said, 'You don't go alone. Either all of us or none. So we packed three suitcases, sewed money into coats and waited. After hours the SS man came with my papers and said: 'She can stay.' A few days later there was another knock on our door. An angry SS man stood in front of the door. Everything was repeated: packing, documents, waiting - and after hours the message that I could stay. This scene was repeated a third time, then I ran to the gas tap, and again my father turned off at the last moment.
At the end of 1942, the transports went almost daily. It was also the turn of the old and the sick from the hospital, everyone who had previously been put on hold. It sometimes happened that a car was not fully occupied, so you simply fetched Jews from the street, they all wore the star and were recognizable as Jews. They were loaded onto the trucks - as they were - and taken straight to the train station. So if I went to work in the morning, I never knew if I would come home in the evening. [...]
The few Jewish youths left in Vienna met for the weekend at the Jewish cemetery at the fourth gate. There was a large area with no tombstones where vegetables and potatoes were grown for the Jewish hospital. There we played ball and other games and were able to forget our worries a little. Unfortunately, this group also got smaller and smaller from Sunday to Sunday, and someone was always missing because he was already on the transport. [...] Vienna was almost 'Jew-free' in 1943/44. "[...]

Documentation archive of the Austrian resistance (ed.), Jüdische Schicksale. Reports from persecuted people, Vienna 1992, pp. 199 ff.

Quoted from Steffens / Lange (see Lit.), Vol. 2, p. 174 ff.



In fact, the Madagascar project had already failed at the outset, because German deportation ships could only sail the oceans to Africa when the sea power Great Britain was defeated. Despite its more than questionable feasibility, the plan was seriously considered within the Nazi leadership. In mid-August, when the aerial warfare against England was still in full swing, Goebbels noted after a conversation with Hitler that the Jews "were to be shipped to Madagascar later".

And the Madagascar Plan made something else clear. It was clear to everyone involved, whether in the Reich Security Main Office or in the Foreign Office, that on this island, which was only partially used for agricultural purposes, under no circumstances would millions of people be able to survive. The Madagascar Plan already had a genocidal dimension, even if there was talk of a "final territorial solution".

In fact, another group was deported from Germany in the spring of 1940: Roma and Sinti. "Gypsies", as they were disparagingly called, had been victims of police harassment and social prejudice as early as the 19th century. Communes had forbidden them to stay there, suspected thieves and spies and expelled them. The Nazi regime systematized the persecution of Roma and Sinti and set up a separate "Reich Office for Combating Gypsy Insurrection" with the criminal police. The criminal police also supported the so-called Racial Hygiene Research Center under Dr. Robert Ritter, who racially recorded the "Gypsies" living in Germany in a large-scale project. Thousands of people had to be measured and provide information about their families. In 1936 the internment of Roma and Sinti began in their own camps on the outskirts and their use as forced labor.

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Persecution of Sinti and Roma

Jakob Müller, born in 1928, today in Kaiserslautern.

“When we were picked up from Worms, we were given no reason for this. We lived in a large area where many Sinti lived. They then surrounded the area and arrived in our apartment in Kleine Fischerweide 50, right next to the Nibelungen School. They shouted 'Out, out, out' and we could only take what was absolutely necessary. Then we took the trucks from Worms directly to Frankfurt. My father was no longer at home, he was with the German Air Force.
He was then dishonorably discharged from the army in 1941 'for racial reasons' and was then sent to the Frankfurt camp. We got into the camp on Dieselstrasse in Frankfurt on September 10, 1940 and stayed there until March 13, 1943, when we were deported to Auschwitz. From there we went to the concentration camp in Auschwitz and then on to various camps.
The warehouse in Frankfurt on Dieselstrasse was around 80 meters long and around 20 meters wide. We had no apartments, but had to live in discarded furniture trucks. There were about 25 moving vehicles in there, and at the beginning about 150 to 180 people. Some families, with eight to twelve people, had to live in a room about seven meters long and two meters wide. So they had to live on around 14 square meters and were crammed together in a very small space.
In the morning there was always 'roll call', because we were counted - we were fenced in, at the front at the exit there was a guard room, there was always a police officer there on a rotating basis. There were four in all. [...]
We were allowed to go to school for a year, namely to the Riederwald School, then the population made fun of it, and in the end we all had to sit in the back of a block. Then the Frankfurt decree came and we children were no longer allowed to go to school.
The families were among themselves. They could cook and bought their own food. The children didn't go out at all later, the women could at least go shopping in the morning. We couldn't leave the camp as we wanted. Only the able-bodied people who worked in the armaments industry went to work in the morning and there was another roll call in the evening. [...]
Fifty percent of the camp was then dissolved in March 1943, half of us came to Auschwitz, the other half stayed in the Frankfurt camp. [...]
My father died in 1943 in the Auschwitz concentration camp, what was called dying there. In 1944 we came from Auschwitz to a camp in Ravensbrück. It was only there that we got to do with the sterilization. We were there with 191 men and 34 children, the youngest was five and a half. There it was said that if you allowed yourself to be sterilized, your relatives would be released. Then you had to fill out questionnaires for which relatives you would have this done, the mother, the brother or something. Only two boys, including myself, were not sterilized. But instead of the promised freedom we went to the next camp, to Oranienburg. There it was said: Your family members will be free if you report to the Waffen SS. In fact, quite a few volunteered, but none of the relatives was released. "

Eva von Hase-Mihalik / Doris Kreuzkamp, ​​“You also get a nice caravan”. Forced camp for Sinti and Roma, during National Socialism in Frankfurt am Main, Brandes & Apsel Verlag Frankfurt 1990, p. 23 ff.



At the end of April 1940, Himmler ordered the deportation of a total of 2,500 "Gypsies" from Northern Germany and the Rhineland as well as from Frankfurt and Stuttgart to the General Government. In May the criminal police arrested hundreds of Roma and Sinti in the Reich, interned them in temporary camps and deported them to occupied Poland. There they had to do heavy forced labor and were only housed makeshift. During the winter of 1940/41 the Roma and Sinti were largely left to their own devices; many died of the cold, malnutrition, and disease. Quite a few tried to find their way back to their families in Germany, few stayed behind in Poland in order to survive underground in some way.

In the meantime, numerous instances of the Nazi regime pushed for the Jews to be disposed of. After Reinhard Heydrich had apparently been entrusted with a plan for the "final solution to the Jewish question" for a long time, the details of which have not been handed down, he received from Göring on July 31, 1941 the authorization to "make all the necessary organizational, factual and material preparations meet for an overall solution to the Jewish question in the German sphere of influence in Europe. "

In April 1941 Heydrich's former deputy, Werner Best, who was now head of administration for the German occupation in Paris, had formulated the general maxim that the German interest "in a progressive relief of all countries of Europe from Judaism with the aim of the complete de-Jewification of Europe ", which marked the dimension of the planning within the SS leadership. The "Judenreferent" in the German Embassy in Paris made various proposals to Ambassador Otto Abetz, including the compulsory sterilization of all French Jews, which Abetz wanted to discuss with Ribbentrop and Göring at the next opportunity.

The NSDAP Gauleiter in Germany also urged the rapid deportation of Jews, especially from the cities, so that the apartments that would become vacant could be made available to bombed-out "Volksgenossen". "On the Jewish question," wrote Goebbels about a conversation with Hitler on August 19, 1941, "I can completely assert myself with the Fiihrer. He agrees that we should introduce a large, visible Jewish badge for all Jews in the Reich Jews must be carried in public ... The Fuehrer also promises me that the Berlin Jews will be deported from Berlin to the East as soon as possible as soon as the first possibility of transport arises taken care of. " At the same time, Albert Speer's authority as General Building Inspector for Berlin assumed that thousands of Jewish apartments would soon be vacated in order to provide the "Volksgenossen" with apartments, and compiled corresponding lists from his overall file and handed them over to the Berlin Gestapo were.

In September the threat became a reality: from now on, German Jews had to wear a star in public. The police ordinance of September 1, 1941 stipulated in great detail: "The Jewish star consists of a palm-sized, black six-pointed star made of yellow fabric with the black inscription 'Jew'.It is to be worn visibly sewn on the left breast side of the garment. "

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Victor Klemperer describes the introduction of the "Jewish star" ...

Victor Klemperer (1881-1960), Romanist, university professor, came from a Jewish family and converted to Protestantism in 1912. Nevertheless, the National Socialists persecuted him as a "racial Jew". In 1935 he was dismissed as a professor at the Technical University of Dresden and was only able to survive because of his marriage to his non-Jewish wife Eva. After 1945 he was again a professor at the universities of Halle, Greifswald and
Active in Berlin.
Diary entry on September 8, 1941: “This morning Frau Kreidl (the widow) brought the news, dissolved and pale, that the Reichsverordnungsblatt was about to introduce the yellow Jewish bandage. For us this means upheaval and catastrophe. Eva still hopes the measure will be stopped, and so I don't want to write any more about it yet. "
Diary entry on September 15th: “The Jewish bandage, which came true as the Star of David, occurs on September 19th. in force. In addition, the ban on leaving the cityscape, Ms. Kreidl sen. was in tears, Frau Voss had a heart attack. Friedheim said this was the worst blow so far, worse than the property levy. I feel bruised myself, cannot find my composure. Eva, now walking well, wants to do all the errands for me, I only want to leave the house for a few minutes when it's dark. "
Diary entry on September 19: “Today the Jewish star. Frau Voss has already sewn it on and wants to turn the coat back over it. Allowed? I accuse myself of cowardice. Eva overtired her foot on the cobblestone path yesterday and is now supposed to cook while shopping in town and afterwards. Why? Because I am ashamed. Of what? I want to go shopping again from Monday. You will have already heard how it works. "
Diary entry on September 20th: “Yesterday, when Eva sewed on the Star of David, I had a furious fit of desperation. Eva's nerves also run out. "

Victor Klemperer. I want to bear witness to the last. Diaries 1933-1945, 2 volumes edited by Walter Nowojski with the assistance of Hadwig Klemperer © Aufbau Verlag GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin 1995, Vol. I: 1933-1941, pp. 663, 671

... and experiences the deportation of his friends

Diary entry on October 25, 1941: “Again and again shocking news about the deportation of Jews to Poland. You almost literally have to get out naked and bare. Thousands from Berlin to Lodz ('Litzmannstadt'). "
Diary entry on October 27th: “On Saturday evening Ida and Paul Kreidl with us. They have a daughter and sister in Prague who is registered for Poland. They were more composed on Saturday than the days before. There was relatively good news from Lodz: clean barracks, good heating and food, decent treatment in the ammunition factories ”.
Diary entry November 9th: “The deportations to Poland are continuing, deepest depression everywhere among the Jews. At the teachers' seminar on Teplitzer Strasse I met Neumanns, the otherwise bravely optimistic people were completely down and were considering suicide. They had just had the opportunity to come to Cuba when the absolute emigration ban came into effect. In Berlin, Frau Neumann's uncle, Atchen Fink's older brother, in his deep sixties, committed suicide with his wife when they were about to be transported. He would rather be dead and have his wife dead, Neumann told me, before he saw her "lousy while building Minsk". Frau Neumann, in tears: 'We were just discussing where to get veronal' ... I rattled them with such beautiful words that I was completely delighted by them myself. Five minutes to twelve ... our particular bravery ... building Minsk could not be uninteresting, etc. "
Diary entry January 13: "Paul Kreidl tells - rumor, but communicated very credibly from various quarters - that evacuated Jews near Riga were shot in rows as they left the train."
Diary entry January 20: “Yesterday until midnight at Kreidls downstairs. Eva helped sew belts for Paul Kreidl by which he lugs his suitcase on his back. Then a bed sack was stuffed, which you give up (and shouldn't see again and again). Paul Kreidl drove him today on a handcart to the prescribed freight forwarder. "
Diary entry January 21: “Before the deportee leaves, the Gestapo sealed all of his legacy. Everything decays. Paul Kreidl brought me a pair of shoes yesterday evening that fit me exactly and, given the terrible condition of mine, are most welcome. Also a little tobacco, which Eva mixes with blackberry tea and stuffs into cigarettes. I've been drinking pure blackberry tea for many weeks. - This morning a kind of condolence visit to the mother. "
[Paul Kreidl left Germany on January 21, 1942 with the transport to Riga and was probably shot there on the day of his arrival - editor's note. Red.].

In: Ders., Vol. I, pp. 681 f., 685, Vol. II: 1942-1945, pp. 9, 14



On September 14, 1941, Alfred Rosenberg, Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories, sent Hitler a memorandum that, as a retaliatory measure, if the Soviet Union carried out its announcement to relocate 400,000 Volga Germans, the German Reich in turn would attack the deportation of all Jews from Central Europe to the East should take. Two days later, Ambassador Abetz arrived at Hitler's headquarters with the suggestions of his "Jewish advisor" from Paris. On the same day he had a conversation with Hitler, who, according to Abetz's notes, was filled with "extermination fantasies" against "Bolsheviks and Asians". Finally, on September 17, Foreign Minister Ribbentrop personally presented his position on Rosenberg's proposal to Hitler.

In those days of September, Hitler made the decision to begin the deportation of all German, Austrian and Czech Jews before the war was over. On September 18, Himmler informed the Gauleiter of the Wartheland, Arthur Greiser, that the "Führer" wanted "the Old Reich and the Protectorate from west to east to be emptied and liberated of Jews as soon as possible". As early as 1941 if possible, the Jews of the Old Reich and the Protectorate were to be temporarily deported to the Litzmannstadt ghetto in order to then "deport them further to the East" in the spring of 1942. On October 15, 16 and 18, the first deportation trains left Vienna, Prague and Berlin in the direction of Łódz´, and later also to Riga, Minsk and Kaunas.

In the ghettos there, which were built immediately after the attack on the Soviet Union, there were not enough rooms for the newcomers. The SS shot thousands of local Jews to make room for the German Jews.

Source text

From the memory report of Chaim Baram

(Heinz Behrendt), born in 1919, who was deported with his wife on November 14, 1941 from Berlin to Minsk:
“We are assigned our dwelling. There are seven people in our room, which has a floor area of ​​5 x 5 mtr. [...] The cold is particularly cruel this winter. The tea boiled in the evening in a pot has completely frozen to ice in the morning. [...] In the ghetto we were given a daily ration of 200 grams of bread and a ladle, about ½ l of water soup. The sanitary conditions defied description. There was no latrine yet. The first job in the Berlin ghetto was therefore digging out small pits. [...] So it was inevitable that unnamed epidemics broke out in the ghetto. Deaths were now the order of the day. [...] During the cold months the dead could not be buried, the earth was frozen too hard. Our shed next door served as a collection point for the dead, which, piled up one above the other, filled the room. "

Unprinted source from the Yad Vashem archives



Although this did not end her murder, a decisive limit had been crossed. Until now, Hitler's political line had been to concentrate all means on achieving victory and to "solve" the "Jewish question" after the end of the war against the Soviet Union. The fact that in these days of September he pushed aside the previous objections and agreed to the demands for the deportation of German and Western European Jews to the East, even though the war against the Soviet Union had not yet been won, broke through the last immanent barrier in the radicalization of politics. From that point on, all steps were possible - including systematic destruction.

Murder of the Polish Jews