Reich Chancellery meeting of 12 December 1941

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The Reich Chancellery meeting of 12 December 1941 was a meeting between Adolf Hitler and the highest-ranking officials of the Nazi party. Almost all important party leaders were present to hear Hitler declare the imminent destruction of the Jewish race, yet it remains less known than the later Wannsee Conference.

Background[edit]

The announcement Hitler made on 12 December to the Reichsleiter and Gauleiter refers to an earlier statement he had made on 30 January 1939:

If the world of international financial Jewry, both in and outside of Europe, should succeed in plunging the Nations into another world war, the result will not be the Bolshevization of the world and thus a victory for Judaism. The result will be the extermination of the Jewish race in Europe.[1]

With the entry of Japan and the United States into the Second World War on 7 December 1941 and the resulting declaration of war on the US by Nazi Germany on 11 December, the war, especially in regard to the above statement, had become truly a World War.[1] Hitler announced this declaration of war on 11 December in the German Reichstag, a speech also broadcast on radio. The next day, in the afternoon of 12 December 1941, he had a meeting with the most important Nazi leaders.

The meeting[edit]

On the afternoon of 12 December 1941, Hitler ordered the leading members of the Nazi party to a meeting in his private rooms at the Reich Chancellery.[2] Because the meeting took place in private rooms rather than Hitler's office, no official record of it exists. However, entries in the diaries of Goebbels and Frank confirm it.[3]

Joseph Goebbels made the following entry in his diary for the 12th December:

Bezüglich der Judenfrage ist der Führer entschlossen, reinen Tisch zu machen. Er hat den Juden prophezeit, daß, wenn sie noch einmal einen Weltkrieg herbeiführen würden, sie dabei ihre Vernichtung erleben würden. Das ist keine Phrase gewesen. Der Weltkrieg ist da, die Vernichtung des Judentums muß die notwendige Folge sein.

With respect of the Jewish Question, the Führer has decided to make a clean sweep. He prophesied to the Jews that if they again brought about a world war, they would live to see their annihilation in it. That wasn't just a catch-word. The world war is here, and the annihilation of the Jews must be the necessary consequence.[4]

Apart from the fact that the European war had turned into a world war, another reason for this shift must be seen in the fact that the entry of the United States into the war meant that the Jewish population had lost its value for Hitler as hostages against this war entry and he was finally free to act according to his long-term plans.[5]

The much more well-known Wannsee Conference in January 1942, marked the next step in the Nazis' plans to exterminate the Jews. However, unlike this meeting, it was mostly attended by senior bureaucrats. It also undermines claims that Hitler was ignorant of the Holocaust and that it was carried out by subordinates without his knowledge.[2]

The meeting marked a turning point in the Nazi regime's attitude towards the Jewish people. It was part of a shift from propaganda, intimidation and attacks to outright and planned extermination. The latter step had already been taken in some parts of Eastern Europe as early as August 1941.[6]

Attendance[edit]

Attendance in this meeting was obligatory for Nazis in high party offices. No official list of the people who attended this meeting exists, but the following leaders of Nazi Germany, out of the about 50 present, are known to have been there:[2][7]

Known to have been absent from this meeting were Hermann Göring, who held no party office, and Reinhard Heydrich.

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Rubenstein, Richard L; Roth, John K (2003). Approaches to Auschwitz: The Holocaust and Its Legacy. Westminster: John Knox Press. 

External links[edit]