Hitler's Obersalzberg Speech

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The Obersalzberg Speech is a speech given by Adolf Hitler to Wehrmacht commanders at his Obersalzberg home on 22 August 1939, a week before the German invasion of Poland.[1] The speech details, in particular, the pending German invasion of Poland and a planned extermination of Poles. It shows Hitler's intention to carry out this genocide in a planned manner.

Origin of document[edit]

In August 1939, Louis P. Lochner contacted the American diplomat Alexander Comstock Kirk and showed him the text, but Kirk was not interested.[2] Lochner next contacted the British diplomat George Ogilvie-Forbes, who indeed transmitted it back to London on 25 August 1939.[3] [4] The Canadian historian Michael Marrus wrote that Lochner almost certainly obtained the text from Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, the chief of the Abwehr (German intelligence), who was present at the Obersalzberg Conference.[5]

Three documents were grouped together during Nuremberg Trials that contained Hitler's speech on 22 August 1939 (1014-PS,[6] 798-PS,[7] and L-3,[8][9]) and only the document L-3 contained a reference to the Armenian genocide.[10] Documents 1014-PS[8] and 798-PS were captured by the United States forces inside the OKW headquarters[11] but the documents did not contain the Armenian quote. On May 16, 1946, during the Nuremberg War Tribunals, a counsel for one of the defendants, Dr. Walter Siemers requested from the president of the trial to strike out the document 1014-PS,[8] but his request was rejected by the president.[12] Document L-3 was brought to the court by an American journalist, Louis P. Lochner.[11]

According to Louis P. Lochner, he, while stationed in Berlin, received a copy of a speech by Hitler from his informant. Lochner later published the speech (in English translation) in his book What About Germany? (New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1942) as being indicative of Hitler's desire to conquer the world. In 1945, Lochner handed over a transcript of the German document he had received to the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials, and it was labeled L-3. Hence it is known as the L-3 document. The speech is also found in a footnote to notes about a speech that Hitler held in Obersalzberg on 22 August 1939 and were published in the German Foreign Policy documents[8][13] When asked in the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal who his source was, Lochner said this was a German called "Herr Maasz" but gave vague information about him.[14]

The Times of London quoted from Lochner's version in an unsigned article titled The War Route of the Nazi Germany on 24 November 1945. The article stated that it had been brought forward by the prosecutor on 23 November 1945, as evidence. However, according to the Akten zur deutschen auswärtigen Politik (ser. D, vol. 7, 1961), the document was not introduced as evidence before the International Military Tribunal for undisclosed reasons and is not included in the official publication of the documents in evidence. Two other documents containing minutes of Hitler's Obersalzberg speech(es) had been found among the seized German documents and were introduced as evidence, both omitting the Armenian quote.[15]

In Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression (colloquially also known as "the Red Set"), a collection of documents relating to the Nuremberg trials prepared by the prosecutorial team, the editors describe the relation between the documents concerned as follows:[16]

Just one week prior to the launching of the attack on Poland, Hitler made an address to his chief military commanders, at Obersalzberg, on 22 August 1939. [Three reports of this meeting are available: (L-3; 798-PS and 1014-PS). The first of the three documents (L-3) was obtained through an American newspaperman, and purported to be original minutes of the Obersalzberg meeting, transmitted to the newspaperman by some other person. There was no proof of actual delivery to the intermediary by the person who took the notes. That document (L-3) therefore, merely served as an incentive to search for something better. The result was that two other documents (798-PS) and (1014-PS) were discovered in the OKW files at Flensberg [sic]. These two documents indicate that Hitler on that day made two speeches, one apparently in the morning and one in the afternoon. Comparison of those two documents with the first document (L-3) led to the conclusion that the first document was a slightly garbled merger of the two speeches, and therefore was not relied upon.]

German and English wording[edit]

In his book What about Germany?, Lochner offered the following English translation of the third paragraph of the document:

Our strength consists in our speed and in our brutality. Genghis Khan led millions of women and children to slaughter – with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees in him solely the founder of a state. It's a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me. I have issued the command – and I'll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad – that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness – for the present only in the East – with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?[17][a]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ In the original German, the third paragraph reads as follows: Unsere Stärke ist unsere Schnelligkeit und unsere Brutalität. Dschingis Khan hat Millionen Frauen und Kinder in den Tod gejagt, bewußt und fröhlichen Herzens. Die Geschichte sieht in ihm nur den großen Staatengründer. Was die schwache westeuropäische Zivilisation über mich behauptet, ist gleichgültig. Ich habe den Befehl gegeben – und ich lasse jeden füsilieren, der auch nur ein Wort der Kritik äußert – daß das Kriegsziel nicht im Erreichen von bestimmten Linien, sondern in der physischen Vernichtung des Gegners besteht. So habe ich, einstweilen nur im Osten, meine Totenkopfverbände bereitgestellt mit dem Befehl, unbarmherzig und mitleidslos Mann, Weib und Kind polnischer Abstammung und Sprache in den Tod zu schicken. Nur so gewinnen wir den Lebensraum, den wir brauchen. Wer redet heute noch von der Vernichtung der Armenier?[18]


  1. ^ Dadrian, Vahakn (2003). The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus. Berghahn Books. p. 408. ISBN 1-57181-666-6.
  2. ^ von Klemperer, Klemens The German Resistance Against Hitler: The Search for Allies Abroad, 1938-1945, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993 p.133.
  3. ^ British Foreign Office, Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919-1939, Great Britain Foreign Office, p.257.
  4. ^ von Klemperer, Klemens The German Resistance Against Hitler: The Search for Allies Abroad, 1938-1945, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993 p.133.
  5. ^ Marrus, Michael The Holocaust In History, Hanover: Brandeis University Press, 1987 p.20-21.
  6. ^ "Translation of doc 1014-PS"http://library2.lawschool.cornell.edu/donovan/pdf/Batch_2_pdfs/Vol_IV_8_06.pdf
  7. ^ "Translation of doc 780-ps"http://library2.lawschool.cornell.edu/donovan/pdf/Batch_2_pdfs/Vol_IV_8_05.pdf
  8. ^ a b c d "IMG Nürnberg 1014-ps" http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1b/A-Hitler-08-22-1939-at-Obersalzberg-on-planned-attack-on-Poland-and-extermination-of-Poles.pdf
  9. ^ "L-3 is inside the footnote of the document"http://library.fes.de/library/netzquelle/zwangsmigration/32ansprache.html
  10. ^ Albrecht, Richard (2007). Crime/s against mankind, humanity and civilisation (1. Aufl. ed.). München: Grin Verlag. p. 65. ISBN 978-3638888639.
  11. ^ a b "ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-SECOND DAY Friday, 17 May 1946 page 64 " http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/05-17-46.asp
  12. ^ ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FIRST DAY Thursday, 16 May 1946 page 47"http://avalon.law.yale.edu/imt/05-16-46.asp
  13. ^ "Portrayals of Hitler Project" http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/projects/hitler/hitler.htm
  14. ^ Reisman, Arnold, Could the US Holocaust Memorial Museum Have Erred in a Major Exhibit? (31 December 2010). p.18. Available at SSRN: [1]
  15. ^ In his scholarly essay published in 2008, the German researcher Dr. Richard Albrecht discussed all five versions of Hitler's second secret speech delivered to his High Commanders on 22 August 1939, at Obersalzberg and republished the first German version of the fifth which later on was named the Lochner- (or L-3-) version, at first published in the German journal in exile, "Deutsche Blätter. Für ein europäisches Deutschland / Gegen ein deutsches Europa" [Santiago de Chile], 2 (1944) 3, 37–39; see Richard Albrecht, "Wer redet heute noch von der Vernichtung der Armenier?"- Kommentierte Wiederveröffentlichung der Erstpublikation von Adolf Hitlers Geheimrede am 22. August 1939; in: Zeitschrift für Weltgeschichte, 9 (2008) 2: 115–132
  16. ^ Office of the United States Chief of Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality (1946). "Chapter IX – Launching of wars of aggression". Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression. Vol. 1.
  17. ^ Lochner, Louis Paul (1942). What About Germany?. Dodd, Mead & Company. pp. 11–12.
  18. ^ As included in a footnote in the Akten zur deutschen auswärtigen Politik (ser. D, vol. 7, 1961, p. 193).

External links[edit]