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Hitler’s Reichstag speech

LAURENCE REES: To what extent then can we see Hitler’s famous speech in the Reichstag, where he’s talking about what’s going to happen to the Jews if World War comes again, as a statement of future intention?

CHRISTOPHER BROWNING: Yes, in January of 1939 he makes this two hour speech in the middle of which he has two paragraphs devoted to the Jews. He decries the Western powers for not taking them off Germany’s hands, because of course there are emigration barriers against Jews getting into other countries. He also says that Germans are happy to let them go but other countries are not taking them by 1938. Then the second paragraph is the one that has the so called ‘prophecy’; that if the world Jewish conspiracy plunges Germany into another world war, it will not mean the destruction of Germany but the destruction of the Jewish race in Europe. The question then is whether this is to be read again through the hindsight of Auschwitz, or if it this to be understood by looking at what actually happens in the next two years. What does this speech trigger?

In my opinion what Hitler is doing is sending the message, and he does this often through prophecies or exhortations, to all of his followers, he knowing in fact that the world war he is referring to he is going to precipitate, that from now on the Jewish question is a European-wide question, not just a German question, and just as they solved the Jewish question in Germany or tried to, by removal of the Jews altogether, now you’re going to have to get them all out of Europe, and the destruction of the Jewish race in Europe means that there will be no more Jews there.  Now what is the evidence for this? The evidence for this, in my opinion, is what policies are now brought to Hitler. If you want to know what Hitler is thinking, one should look at what Himmler is doing. Himmler anticipates and understands what Hitler wants and has accumulated power, because of his ability to anticipate and do what Hitler wants.