The Posen Conference was a meeting attended by Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler, high-ranking German Nazi Party officials and Gauleiters on October 6, 1943 in the city of Posen in Reichsgau Posen (Poznań, Poland). Similar to his speech of two days earlier, Himmler clearly explained in the final speech of the day the nature of the Final Solution, its implications for those present, and its long-term significance for Germany.
The conference had been called by Martin Bormann to bring together the Reichleiters and Gauleiters to discuss wartime strategy, including that of Total War. In probable agreement with Hitler, Himmler had decided to disclose in frank and brutal terms the details of the 'Final Solution' and other war crimes being committed by the SS and other agencies of the Nazi Party in Occupied Europe. This was done in order to motivate everyone present to fight harder for victory, as they would not be able to claim ignorance of war crimes and Nazi atrocities should Germany be defeated. The Allies had already announced their intention to place the leaders of the regime on trial.
This conference is the strongest evidence implicating Albert Speer with having knowledge of the Final Solution, something he had denied at the Nuremberg Trials. Speer was certainly at the conference, and addressed the attendees in a speech on armaments production in the morning. Himmler's speech came in the afternoon, and at one point, he addressed Speer directly in the context of his speech. Confronted with this accusation in 1971 by the historian Erich Goldhagen, who had discovered the text of the speech in the Federal German archives, Speer recollected that he had left the conference before Himmler's speech began. Erhard Milch and Walter Rohland both confirmed this, the latter declaring so under oath.
Nonetheless, most historians feel that even if Speer had not attended the speech, he would have been made aware of its content by his good friends that had been there, such as the Gauleiters Karl Hanke and Baldur von Schirach.
In 2007, however, correspondence between Speer and a Belgian resistance widow Hélène Jeanty, made it clear that Speer had indeed been present for Himmler's presentation. In the letter to Jeanty, written on December 23, 1971, Speer wrote: "There is no doubt - I was present as Himmler announced on October 6, 1943 that all Jews would be killed...Who would believe me that I suppressed this, that it would have been easier to have written all of this in my memoirs?"
- Joachim Fest, Speer: the Final Verdict, p. 184
- van der Vat, Dan (1997). The Good Nazi : The Life and Lies of Albert Speer. Houghton Mifflin. p. 168. 039565243X.
- Joachim Fest, Speer: the Final Verdict, p. 186 ff.
- "Nazi Hunters. Albert Speer: The "Good Nazi?:"" Yesterday TV channel, UK, 17.00, 18 December 2013
- The Guardian, Letter proves Speer knew of Holocaust plan, Kate Connolly, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/mar/13/secondworldwar.kateconnolly