On October 4th, 1943, the Reichsführer-SS, Heinrich Himmler[page not exist], gave a three-hour speech. The audience was an assembly of SS Gruppenführer, officers with rank roughly the equivalent of Lieutenant-General. The speech was given in the city of Posen (or Poznan), in what is now Poland.
Himmler gave a speech to another audience two days later, and several others as well (Posen was a minor hub of the Nazi leadership), but the one of October 4th is so famous that if “Himmler’s Posen speech” is referred to, it is this one.
The speech itself was recorded on red oxide magnetic tape (according to Breitman) or a wax disk (according to Wolfe) or possibly both. That recording, along with Himmler’s notes for the speech, was found after the war by the Western Allies and transcribed for the International Nuremberg Trial. The IMT transcription was entered into evidence as document number PS-1919.
Approximately two hours into the speech, Himmler made some extremely damning and revealing statements regarding the extermination of the Jewish people. Nizkor now has available the following material concerning this section of the speech:
- A RealAudio recording of those statements, approximately five minutes in duration.
- An AIFF recording of the most critical portion of those comments, approximately thirty seconds in duration.
- Nizkor’s transcription of the German text[page not exist]. The official IMT transcription contains numerous minor errors, probably because it was taken from Himmler’s notes rather than the recording. None of those errors affect Himmler’s meaning, but they make it difficult to follow along with the recording, so Nizkor volunteers performed their own transcription.
- Nizkor’s translation into English[page not exist]. Again, the official IMT translation contains minor errors which do not affect the meaning; again, Nizkor has performed its own translation.
- The IMT transcription of the German text[page not exist]. This is provided for reference.
- The IMT translation into English[page not exist]. This is provided for reference.
Earlier in the speech (about 35 minutes in), Himmler also made some horrific statements explaining Nazi views on racial purity. Nizkor has this material available concerning that section of the speech:
- A RealAudio recording of those statements, not quite three minutes in duration.
- An AIFF recording, and a WAV recording, for those without RealAudio players. (The download is ten times larger; the quality is not significantly improved.)
- The IMT translation into English[page not exist].
The speech should be cited as:
Himmler, Heinrich. Speech to SS-Gruppenführer at Posen, Poland, October 4th, 1943. U.S. National Archives document 242.256, reel 2 of 3.
See https://nizkor.org/ftp.cgi/bibliographies/biblio.21 [page not exist] for more information on the National Archives’ Record Group 242.
The revisionist Carlos Porter [page not exist] has translated this speech into English; some excerpts are available [broken link] on the CODOH web site. The usual caveats for Holocaust-denial material apply. (Their translations of ausrotten and other words are erroneous; their claim that the eminent Robert Wolfe supports their translation is misleadingly removed from context; there are other errors less egregious.)
Regarding the speech being recorded on red oxide tape, see Breitman, Richard, The Architect of Genocite, 1991, p. 242:
On at least one occasion Himmler violated his own rule. In October 1943, Himmler delivered a long speech at a meeting of the SS-Gruppenführer at Posen. As usual, he spoke from notes, but he had begun the practice of recording some of his talks on a red oxide tape wider than what is used today.
Regarding the medium being a wax phonograph-style disk, see Wolfe, Robert (Ed.), Captured German and Related Records: A National Archives Conference, National Archive Conferences Vol. 3, 1974, plates 13-14 (pp. 172-173):
Himmler Rationalizes the ‘Extermination of the Jews’ for his Einsatzgruppen Commanders at Posen on October 4, 1943.
Although Himmler’s handwritten notes contain only the word “Judenevakuierung,” above page 9, line 5, in the transcript of the text of the speech right, page 65, paragraph 2, lines 1-2, he defines ‘evacuation’ as a euphemism for Ausrottung (extermination). Both speech notes and large- type reading list are included in Nuremberg document PS-1919; the sound recordings of parts of this and other Himmler Speeches are also held by the National Archives, and a contemporary, typed transcription directly from the wax disk recording of the first quarter of the speech is available on microfilm. (NA RG 238, PS-1919 — text; Record Group 242, 229 — sound recording.)
The italicized words above and right refer to photograph reproductions of two pages of Himmler’s handwritten notes.