The Holocaust Historiography Project

Fact File 3 - Nazi Extermination Testimony

  • Note: The fact file series is intended to present facts of history, free from the polemics and misinformation so often presented in this medium. Hopefully the facts contained herein will serve the cause of truth in history.
  • Note to educators and students: Fact File no. 3 presents the actual words and opinions of various members of the Nazi leadership and Wehrmacht. The purpose of this presentation is to counter the claims that the Nazi leadership fully acknowledged that plans to extermination the Jews of Europe existed. As is evident from this Fact File, most of the top Nazi leadership claimed to have no knowledge of such plans and showed genuine disbelief at such charges. This Fact File is not totally inclusive. Those quoted may have expressed other opinions at other times and of course other individuals made differing comments.

"Really, the Jews should be grateful to me for wanting nothing more than a bit of hard work from them."

Adolf Hitler, regarding an Allied radio broadcast announcement that the Jews were being exterminated. Quoted in: David Irving, Hitler's War (London: Focal Point, 1991), p.427.

"In order to put a stop to the epidemics, we were forced to burn the bodies of incalculable numbers of people who been destroyed by disease. We were therefore forced to build crematoria, and on this account they are knotting a noose for us."

Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler quoted in: Arthur Butz, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century (California: Institute for Historical Review, 1985), p.240. See also: Gerald Reitlinger, The Final Solution (London: Jason Aronson, 1987), p.480.

"Well, I knew they were being transported to the East, and understood that they were being set up in camps with their own administration, and eventually would settle somewhere in the East. — I don't know. — I had no idea that it would lead to extermination in any literal sense. We just wanted to take them out of German political life."

Alfred Rosenberg, leading Nazi theoretician. Quoted in: G.M. Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary (New York: Signet, 1961), p.71.

"I was never so close to Hitler as to have him express himself to me on [Nazi extermination camps] . I always thought that [concentration camps] were places where people were put to useful work. Those pictures that you showed me yesterday [of Dachau] must depict things that happend in the final few days."

Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring quoted in: David Irving, Göring : A Biography (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1989), p.469.

"I don't believe it!"

Deputy of the Führer Rudolf Hess, after being shown films of Buchenwald. Quoted in: Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary, p.47.

"They refuse to believe me when I tell them that I have never even seen a concentration camp. I add that if excesses have been committed they are regrettable and reprehensible, and the real culprits should be punished. I point out that such cruelties have been perpetrated not only by our people, but by all peoples in every age. I remind them of the Boer War. Therefore these excesses must be judged by the same criterion. I cannot imagine that the mounds of corpses depicted in the photographs were taken in concentration camps. I tell them that we have seen such sights, not on film, but in fact, after the air attacks on Dresden and Hamburg and other cities when Allied four-engined bombers deluged them indiscriminately with phosphorus and high explosive bombs and countless women and children were massacred."

Hans Ulrich Rudel, Stuka Pilot (California: Noontide Press, 1990) p.226.

"How can they accuse me of knowing of such things? They ask why I didn't go to Himmler to check on the concentration camps. Why that's preposterous! He would have kicked me out just as I would have kicked him out if he came to investigate the navy! What in God's name did I have to do with these things?"

Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz quoted in: Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary, p.49.

"If I had known it I would have told my son, I'd rather shoot you than let you join the SS. But I didn't know."

Field-Marshal Wilhelm Keitel quoted in: Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary, p.49.

"Hitler couldn't even have looked at such a film [documentary film on Nazi concentration camps as they were found by American troops] himself. I don't understand. I don't even think that Himmler could have ordered such things."

Joachim von Ribbentrop, Foreign Minister quoted in: Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary, pp. 49-50.

"Do you think I had the slightest notion about gas wagons and such horrors?"

Wilhelm Funk, Finance Minister quoted in: Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary, p.73.

"The indictment knocked me on the head. First of all, I had no idea at all about 90 per cent of the accusations in it. The crimes are horrible beyond belief, if they are true ... The guilt for atrocities in the East is suddenly reversed. How can the Russians sit in judgment on us for barbaric measures against Eastern populations?"

General Alfred Jodl quoted in: Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary, p.31-32.

"I never found out anything about any of this ... [It] is because of newspaper propaganda. I told you when I saw the newspaper headline 'Gas Chamber Expert Captured' and an American lieutenant explained it to me, I was pale with amazement. How can they say such things about me? I told you I was only in charge of the Intelligence Service from 1943 on. The British even admitted that they tried to assassinate me because of that- not because of having anything to do with atrocities, you can be sure of that."

Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Chief of Police quoted in: Gilbert, Nuremberg Diary, p.234-235.

"But for millions of non-Germans, the Germans are brutes, capable of anything. That summary judgment, born of invented horrors laid to the Germans in 1914, has remained in the subconscious of the public. Let the occasion arise again, and that mentality is reborn at once, as we saw in 1940-1945. Anything at all will be believed if it is charged to the Germans. Whether it's a question of gas chambers in which, to believe the figures of the accusers, the victims would have to have been crowded together thirty-two persons per square meter twenty-four hours a day; or whether a description is being given to you of the crematory furnaces which, if they had to burn up all the bodies assigned to them by the Jewish propaganda, would still be working at full capacity in the year 2050, or even 2080. When it's a matter of denigrating Germans, nothing need be verified."

General Leon Degrelle, Hitler: Born at Versailles (California: Institute for Historical Review, 1987), p. 141.