Source: Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Vol. IV. USGPO, Washington, 1946, pp.572-578

Speech of the Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich  Himmler
at Kharkow April 1943

My SS-Fuehrer,

It is perhaps very strange, that we should meet in a university of the Russian State, here at Kharkow,-at this Kharkow, which has played so great a part, and really will play a still bigger part in the history of the war. Until last year it was of no very great significance. This year it has become, like Stalingrad, but in the reverse sense, a city of destiny in German war history, in German history. I have asked you, the Commanding Officers of the three SS-Divisions, who took part in this campaign from the Dnieper to Kharkow and carried out this campaign practically alone and forced a decision, to come together here in order, as has been the custom for many many years, as long as there has been an SS, to meet each other again, and in order once more to establish a few facts about the past and the future.

I would like, in a few words, to outline the whole position and situation with regard to the war.

Today, Germany is on the borders of Europe everywhere. These European frontiers stretch up as far as the North Cape, down the Norwegian coast, through Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium and France and jump over to Africa, continue to Tunis to form a bridgehead, run across as far as the frontiers formed by the sea, then from Greece and Crete up to the borders of the neutral states of Turkey and Bulgaria, to join hands again here in the East. I would like to give it a name: it is the great fortress of Europe.

It will undoubtedly happen, that the enemy will make the attempt, today, tomorrow or the next day, at some time, to break into this fortress of Europe at one point or another. That will undoubtedly be the case. Possibly he will be able to force an entry for a shorter or longer period at one point or another in places which we do not have in our personal and responsible control, or which we are not defending with our arms [p. 2.] One thing is certain: wherever the enemy lands, if once we can get to grips with him on the Continent, where we are not dependent on supplies from overseas, that ought to be, and will be, all right with us. On the whole, however, it is here in the East that the decision lies. The fortress of Europe with its frontiers must be held and will be held too, as long as is necessary. The decision, therefore, lies here in the East; here must the Russian enemy, this people numbering two hundred million Russians, be destroyed on the battle field and person by person, and made to bleed to death .

It is myopinion-and here, I believe, I am speaking to men [p. 3] who already understand this-that we must conduct the war and our campaign on these lines:-how can we take the most men from the Russians-dead or alive? We shall do it by killing them or taking them prisoner and [p. 4] really putting them to work, by endeavoring to gain as much control as possible over any territory we occupy, and by leaving empty of people any territory we dispose of, any areas we make over to the enemy. Either they must be deported and will be used as labour in Germany for Germany, or they will just die in battle. To hand people back again, giving the enemy workers once more and enabling him to recruit again,-that I think, taking the broad view, would be absolutely wrong. That could not be advocated * * *

On the other side, one thing goes on the same as ever, the U-boat war, this dreadful stranglehold on the throat of the enemy. I have good reason to be convinced that this stranglehold will never be relaxed, but will tighten. I cannot help feeling that things are beginning to go worse with England these last few months in matters of supply. That by no means indicates that England will collapse today, tomorrow or the next day, but it does mean that we will just be approaching the time when one or other of our opponents, once Russia is conquered and eliminated as a factor, will come to the conclusion that it is not worth carrying on the war. The result-and I am convinced of this, I believe it and I know it-the result, the end of this war, regardless of however many months or even years it lasts, will be this : that the Reich, the German Reich or the Germanic Reich of the German nation, will with just title find confirmation of its evolution, that we have an outlet and a way open to us in the East, and that then centuries later, a politically Germany-a Germanic World Empire will be formed. That will be the result, that will be the fruit of all the many, many sacrifices, which have been made and which must still be made.

We have,-I would say, as very consistent National Socialists, [p. 7] taken thequestion of blood as our starting point. We were the first really to solve the problem of blood by action, and in this connection, by problem of blood, we of course do not mean anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is exactly the same as delousing. Getting rid of lice is not a question of ideology. It is a matter of cleanliness. In just the same way, antisemitism, for us, has not been a question of ideology, 'but a matter of cleanliness, which now will soon have been dealt with. We shall soon be deloused. We have only 20,000 lice left, and then the matter is finished within the whole of Germany. But for us the question of blood was a reminder of our own worth, a reminder of what is actually the basis holding this German people together. Just as is the case in the years between 1938 and 1943, in exactly the same way as now, the same ill-founded reproaches were made then: well, if you bring the Nordic man so much to the fore, you're creating a new split, a new class-distinction,-it's a new class hatred. We're overcoming the social barriers, so I've been told by important party members, and now you're setting up racial ones. My reply to these people has always been: If you want to look at things in a negative way, there is nothing in the world which you cannot see in a negative way. From the negative angle, of course, you can argue that way. I see it differently, for I see it on this plane: What is the binding factor which holds the man in East Prussia and the man in the Black Forest together, the man in Schleswig-Holstein and in Hamburg and the man in Munich, in Graz, in Pomerania, in Berlin [p. 8] and in the Rhineland? What is then the factor or the element which contains all that is dear and precious and valuable to us? It is in fact what we Germans call inherent Kultur, it is this Germanic, this Nordic component of our blood.

In one operation those peoples must and will be incorporated . in the Germanic Reich which, at one time, were part of Germany, part of the German Empire (the Roman Empire and the German nation) and belonged to us up to 1806 or only till 1648, -that is Flanders, Wallonia, and the Netherlands. They were a part of the Reich [p. 10] Over and above this, we must have the power to bring into the fold, and make a part of our community in a second operation, those Germanic peoples and states too, which have never been part and parcel of the German Reich, -I mean Denmark and Norway, the Danish and Norwegian people.

I very soon formed a Germanic SS in the various countries. We very soon got Germanic volunteers from them [p. 11]. It has not always been liked and is still not liked today by many of the political leaders in these countries. From the beginning, I have said to them, "You can do what you like and leave what you like. I leave everything entirely to you, but you may be sure, that an SS will be set up in your country, and there is but one SS in Europe, and that is the Germanic SS, led by the Reichsfuehrer- SS. You can resist, or you can offer no resistance, it's all the same to me. We shall do it in any case !" We have told them that curtly and plainly and clearly from the beginning.

I have said to the SS-men' from the beginning too: We do not expect you to renounce your nation, or do anything which a proud and self-respecting fellow who loves his nation cannot do. We do not expect you to become German out of opportunism. But we do expect you to subordinate your national ideal to the greater racial and historical ideal, to the Germanic Reich.

In addition, one thing is quite obvious. All of us, who are members of the Germanic peoples, can be happy and thankful that once in thousands of years fate has given us, from among the Germanic peoples, such a genius, a leader, our Fuehrer Adolf Hitler, and you should be happy to be allowed to work with us.

Although I do not wish to discuss any individual official matters here, I would still like to mention in a slightly official way, in my capacity as a military man, what I said before about racial Germans, I beg you never to commit the psychological error of speaking of Germans who came from Roumania or Hungary or Croatia, as Croats, Roumanians or Hungarians. I also beg you never to make the 'mistake of letting a man who speaks [p. 12] German badly or cannot speak and read German, sense this, or let him sense the thought: "You are a second-rate German, for you can't read or write German properly." I beg you rather, (and here too I am stating a very sober opinion), to think in this case of these Germans in the whole of the Balkans, still more of those overseas, in America, when one day we must fetch over here in millions,-andwe shall succeed in doing so-who have held out for centuries. I am certainly of the opinion that if a mighty German Reich with an incredible upward urge in its very being and a great German Fuehrer had not now come into being at this time and in the last few decades, it would have been the end of these Germans. A person with a very strong character can personally rise above his surroundings for years and perhaps for decades. A race, if it is in small groups, cannot in the long run hold out against its surroundings. And we must never for-get this: these Germans do not usually live together in hundreds of thousands, but a thousand here in a few villages, and two thousand there, and 20 thousand at the most somewhere else. But they do not live together in large numbers. So they are always encircled by a foreign nation [Volkstum], and surrounded by its influence, but are above all surrounded by the in-fluence of the people of the country. They are not the people of the country, those are the others. They are subjects of a state of foreign nationality, which, in any moment of doubt, is their enemy, or at the very best, as, shall we say, Roumania, a tolerably neutral and impartial observer. But on the whole these Germans have lived, throughout the centuries of German weakness, from the Thirty Years' War up till now, in surroundings calculated not to strengthen their consciousness of German race [Deut-schtum] but to destroy it.

There was something else besides this. If one of these Germans wanted to get anywhere he could only do so by entering the state system of the foreign people as an official or an officer. It is no mere chance-[ p. 13]. I am not making spiteful assertions now but merely stating the facts-that, for instance, among Hungarian generals there is such a considerable percentage of men of German origin, who of course had, in most cases, to alter their names if they wanted to get anywhere. In many cases, if they did not do so, and remained obdurate about it, they were subsequently removed from office. I quote here as an example the present Chief of the Hungarian General Staff, General Som-backe, who in his youth at the Austrian Military Academy still had the thoroughly good German name of Knaus. May I remind you of Feldmarschall or Feldmarschall-Lieutnant Raab, who as we all know, has now retired. Both are of German descent, and one could name countless hundreds of leading men in these South-Eastern States who are all of German origin, had to become part of the alien nation, and were then drained [eine Auslaugung bildeten] of their own most valuable national characteristics.

If, then, we get sons of these racial Germans [Volksdeutschtum] who have still survived there-(some are genuine volunteers, and others come as a result of a levy, for we have organized the racial groups from within the Reich through the SS, so that without possessing political power we have in fact, morally such strength and power among these people that we can compel a man, compel him morally, to serve with us in Germany, due entirely to the power of the whole German national community)-if we therefore get these men, you must not make it difficult for them to enter our community by calling him by the name which you judge he will not wish to hear. A Saxon from Siebenburg will never let it be said that he is a Roumanian. It's just against that that he and his fathers have fought for 700 years. And a German from Hungary will never let it be said that he is a Hungarian. If you know how he has been thrashed by many a Hungarian gendarme, before he came to us, how his mother was thrashed, and his parents driven from hearth and home, you can imagine how bitter it is for him if he now joins German service-men and they say: here comes a Hungarian. Or you can imagine how bitter it is for him when he is reproached for something which he cannot help. If we had not been to a German school we should 'not be able to read and write German either. If we had been forced, shall we say, to go to a Polish school, we should write Polish too, although we profess to be Germans. And that is often the case with these men. 1 must therefore expect of you understanding and human sympathy in this matter, and must expect that the leaders, in addi-tion to their many other duties, will undertake to see that addi-tional German instruction in reading, speaking and writing, be given to these men at every opportunity that is offered. I lay special emphasis on this matter, because by negotiations, we have now managed to make an arrangement enabling us in fu-ture to enlist even those Germans who up to now have been serving in the Roumanian army. So we can expect a great influx from the Germans of the South-East.

We know that these clashes with Asia and Jewry are necessary [p. 16] for evolution. They give the cue [Auftakt] for the European Continent to unite. These clashes are the only evolu-tionary possibility which will enable us one day, now that Fate has given us the Fuehrer Adolf Hitler, to create the Germanic Reich. They are the necessary condition, for our race, and our blood to create for itself and put under cultivation, in the years of peace, (during which we must live and work austerely, frugally and like Spartans), that settlement area in which new blood can breed, as in a botanical garden so to speak. Only by this means can the Continent become a Germanic Continent, capable of daring to embark, in one or [p. 17] two or three or five or ten generations, on the conflict with this Continent of Asia which spews out hordes of humanity. Perhaps we shall also have to hold in check other coloured peoples who will soon be in their certain prime, and thus preserve the world, which is the world of our blood, of our children and of our grandchildren. Now it is just this world we like the best, the Germanic world, the world of Nordic life. We know that this conflict with the advancing pressure from Asia, with the 200 million Russians, is necessary. And we shall win as sure as I am speaking here in the University of Kharkow. We shall have to pass through many a valley, many a narrow defile. Many will grow tired on the way. Of course they will mostly be those who have no reason to do so. To put it vulgarly, many will do something in their trousers. Many people will get shaky at the knees. The only thing that matters is that we stand firm. This is what is important for us as SS-men, for our province of duty and our mission (it is a task additional to those of the whole German Armed Forces and the whole German people) : That is what I would like to impress upon you, this is what I beg you, as Commanding Officers, as Chiefs, and as leaders to teach the young men again and again in their ideological instruction. That is what I demand and exact of you,-that you really concern yourselves with the man, the young fellow of 17 to 18 who comes to us, and with many who are in our ranks not as volunteers but as conscripts. I ask you to look after them, and guide them, and not let them go before they are really saturated with, our spirit and are fighting as the old guard fought before us-that is what I request and demand of you.

We have only one task, to stand firm and carry on the racial struggle without mercy. I will now say again something which I have already today said to the men elsewhere: we will never let that excellent weapon, the dread and terrible reputation which preceded us in the battles [p. 18] for Kharkow fade, but will constantly add new meaning to it. They can call us what they like in the world, the main thing is that we are the eternally loyal, obedient, steadfast and unconquerable fighting men of the Germanic people and of theFuehrer, the SS of the Germanic Recih.

Document compiled by Dr S D Stein
Last update 08/01/99
ęS D Stein

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