Excerpts from the stenographic minutes of the conference about the Jewish question, chaired by Hermann Göring (Bio Göring) at the Reichsluftfahrtministerium on November 12, 1938 at 11:00 a.m.
Present: Göring, Goebbels (Bio Goebbels), Funk (Department of Economic Affairs), Wörmann (Department of Foreign Affairs), Hilgard (Insurance companies), Heydrich (SD and Sipo), Dalüge (Police), Schmer, Kerrl, Von Krosigk (Department of Financial Affairs), Gürtner, Stuckart, Fischböck (Bio Fischböck, Austrian Department of Economic Affairs). Frick (Department of the Interior) Bürckl, Brinkmann, Blessing.
Part 1Göring: Gentlemen! Today’s meeting is of a decisive nature. I have received a letter. written, on the Führer’s orders by the Stabsleiter of the Führer’s deputy Bormann (Bio Bormann), requesting that the Jewish question be now coordinated and solved one way or the other once and for all. And yesterday once again did the Führer request me by phone to take coordinated action in the matter.
As the problem is of a mainly economic nature, it is from an economic angle that it shall have to be tackled. Naturally, a number of legal measures in the sphere of the Secretary of Justice and that of the Secretary of the Interior shall have to be taken, certain measures of propaganda have to be taken care of by the office of the Secretary of Propaganda. The Secretaries of Finance and Economics shall have to deal with the problems within their respective spheres.
This meeting – during which we initially discussed the problem and came to the decision to Arianize the German economy, to take the Jew out of it and put him into our debit ledger, was one in which to our shame, we only made pretty plans which were executed very slowly. We then had a demonstration, right here in Berlin, we told the people something decisive would be done but again, nothing happened. Now we have had this affair in Paris, more demonstrations followed and this time, something decisive should be done.
Because gentlemen, I’ve had enough of these demonstrations. The Jews don’t suffer from them but I do, as I am responsible for the economic situation.
If today, a Jewish shop is destroyed and the merchandise is thrown out on the street, the insurance company covers the loss to the Jew; he suffers no loss at all. Moreover, the goods that are destroyed are consumer goods, the goods of the people. In case we consider it necessary to hold demonstrations again in the future, I urge you to see to it they are carried out in such a way as not to inflict any damage on us.
It is lunacy to plunder Jewish warehouses, set them on fire and subsequently have a German insurance company pay for the damages; it is lunacy to burn goods, whole bales of clothing and who knows what else, that I urgently need elsewhere.
In that case I can just as well burn raw material before it arrives. Of course, the population does not understand that and therefore we have to issue laws that make clear once and for all that something will be done.
I would highly appreciate it when our propaganda machinery would make it clear for once that unfortunately not the Jews suffer from all of this but the German insurance companies.
I will not tolerate a situation any longer, in which the insurance companies are on the loosing end. On my authority, I shall issue a decree but of course I will request the co-operation of the competent government agencies so everything will be funneled through the correct channels and the insurance companies will no longer be victimized.
It may well be that insurance companies possibly have open reinsurance policies abroad. If that is the case, I do not want to lose the foreign currency they are bringing in. This will have to be looked into. To this end, I have invited Herr Hilgard to be present here on behalf of the insurance companies in order to give us the best information as to what extent the companies are insured against this kind of damage. I do not wish to give this up under any circumstance.
I will not let any doubt remain about the aim of today’s meeting. It has not been called to just talk again but to make decisions and I demand of the competent agencies to take all measures required for the exclusion of all Jews from German economy and discuss them with me whenever necessary.
Now as to the foreign Jews. Distinction must be made between Jews who have always been foreigners and who must be treated pursuant to the laws we have agreed upon with their home countries. As to the Jews who were Germans, those who have always lived in Germany and who acquired foreign nationality in the past year only because they wish to play it safe, I do not ask you for your benevolence towards those. We shall get rid of them. Or do you foster fearful premonitions? We shall try, by light and subsequently heavier pressure and by suitable measures, to convince them to have themselves expelled voluntarily.
Wörmann: I would kindly request Foreign Affairs be involved in individual cases, as it is very difficult to decide on those in a general way.
Göring: We cannot consult you in every individual case but in general we will of course.
Part II (Missing in official document)
Goebbels: (..) in almost all German cities, synagogues have burned down. New and various possibilities have arisen to fill up the spaces where synagogues once stood. Some cities will lay out parks in these places, other will want to erect new buildings.
Göring: How many synagogues have been burned down by the way?
Heydrich: (Bio Heydrich) all told, 101 synagogues have been destroyed by fire, 76 have been torn down and 7,500 shops have been demolished in the Reich.
Göring: What do you mean by demolished by fire
Heydrich: They have partly been razed to the ground and partly burnt out.
Goebbels: I am of the opinion that this is our chance to dispose of all synagogues. Those still intact should be torn down completely by the Jews themselves. The Jews will have to pay for it. In Berlin they are already doing just that. The remains of the synagogues that have been burned down are being disposed of by the Jews themselves. In these locations we shall lay out new parking lots or construct new buildings. That should be the norm for the entire country; the Jews shall have to remove the remains of damaged or burnt out synagogues and make the cleared space available to us.
I think it is necessary that a decree be issued banning Jews from entering German theatres, cinemas and circuses. I have already issued such a decree based on the Kulturkammergesetz. I think we can afford this, based on the present situation of our theatres. They are overcrowded anyway. We hardly have any room to spare. I am of the opinion though that it should not be possible to have Jews sit next to Germans in circuses, cinemas and theatres. We may decide later to put 1 or 2 cinemas in Berlin at the disposal of the Jews where they can play Jewish movies. But they have no business anymore in German theatres.
Moreover I consider it necessary that Jews be excluded from all those public facilities where they might evoke provocation. A Jew is still able to share a sleeping carriage with a German. Therefore, the Ministry of Transport should issue a decree stipulating that Jews shall have a separate compartment. In case these compartments are full, Jews may not claim a seat. They only will have separate compartments after all Germans have found a seat. They may not mingle with Germans: if there are no vacant seats, they must remain in the corridor.
Göring: I that case I think it would be wiser to give them separate compartments.
Goebbels: Not if the train is overcrowded.
Göring: Just a moment. There shall be one compartment for Jews. If that is full, the other Jews shall have to return home.
Goebbels: But let’s assume there are only a few Jewish passengers on the express train to Munich. Let’s say there are two Jews on the train and the other compartments are overcrowded. Those two Jews would have the entire compartment to themselves. Therefore the decree must stipulate that Jews can only claim a seat after all Germans have found a seat.
Göring: I would give the Jews one carriage or one compartment. Should the situation occur as you describe it and the train is indeed overcrowded, believe me, we do not need a law at all. The Jew will be kicked out and will have to spend the rest of the journey alone in the lavatory.
Goebbels: I do not agree. I do not believe in it. There ought to be a law. Further more, there must be a decree banning all Jews from beaches and vacation resorts. Last summer …
Göring: In particular here in the Admiralspalast (a theatre in Berlin)) really repugnant situations have arisen.
Goebbels: Likewise on the Wannsee beach. A law that irrevocably bans Jews from all recreational areas in Germany.
Göring: We can give them their own recreational areas.
Goebbels: It must be looked into whether we have to give them their own recreational areas or put some German bathing resorts at their disposal; but not the best so we can not say the Jews go there for recreation. We must also decide whether it is necessary to ban the Jews from German forests. Today, whole crowds of Jews are running through the Grünewald. That is a continuous provocation, incidents will occur regularly. What the Jews are doing is provocative.
Göring: Then we must give the Jews a certain part of the forest and forest rangers will have to see to it that various animals that look very much like Jews – elk have a crooked nose as well – go to the Jewish section to settle there.
Goebbels: I think this conduct is irritating. To continue .. Jews will no longer be allowed to sit in German parks. I am thinking of the gossip campaign by Jewish women in Fehlbelliner Park. There are Jews that look quite unlike Jews. They sit next to German mothers with children and start chattering and gossiping.
Göring: They don’t even say they are Jewish.
Goebbels: I see an especially grave danger here. I think it is necessary to reserve certain places for Jews – not the most beautiful – and say: Jews may sit on these benches. They will be clearly marked. It will say: Jews only. For the rest, they have no business in German parks.
Finally I’d like to propose this: the situation still exists today that Jewish children attend German schools. I find that outrageous. I think it is out of the question that my son sits next to a Jew in a German gymnasium taking lessons in German history. I think it is absolutely necessary to exclude Jews from German schools and tell them to continue their education within their own cultural communities.
Göring: I would now like to call in Herrn Hilgard of the insurance branch. He is waiting outside. When he is finished he can go and we can continue our discussion. At the death of Von Gustloff, a compensation for damages was prepared which was promised to Germany. I think however, we are not going to do this now with a certain tax raise but with a once-only contribution. That would serve me better.
Mister Hilgard, it concerns the following. During the justified anger of the population against the Jews, damage has been inflicted all over the Reich. Windows have been smashed, goods and people have suffered damage, synagogues burned down and so on. I assume that a number of Jews – probably the majority – is insured against damages caused by revolt or so.
Göring: The following situation now arises: The people have wanted to inflict damage to the Jews in justified defense and the Reich has suffered certain losses. Windows were smashed, goods damaged and people injured, synagogues were burned down and so on. I presume many of the Jews were also insured against damage caused by public uprising and that this damage is actually covered by German insurance companies. The problem would be relatively easy when I issue a decree to the effect that the damage, caused by this uprising will not be covered by the insurance companies.
However, the question that interests me most – that is why I invited you – is this: in case these damages caused by vandalism are reinsured abroad, I’d rather not abstain from those but discuss with you in what way we could use them, possibly bringing in foreign currency, not to the benefit of the Jews but to the German economy.
I’d like to hear from you – and that is my first question to you – in your opinion, are Jews generally insured against this kind of damage?
Hilgard: I can answer right away. The point is, we are talking about three kinds of insurances here, not about insurance against revolt of vandalism but the regular fire insurance, the regular glass insurance and the regular simple theft insurance. The insured, those who can lay claim based on these policies, are partly Jewish and partly Arian. As to fire insurances, which make up the majority, the insured are Jewish on the whole. As to department stores the victim, the Jew is identical to the owner, as to the synagogues, apart from collateral damage caused by the spreading fire. According to my calculations I did last night, those damages are comparatively light.
As to the glass insurance, which plays a very important role, the situation is quite different. The far largest part of the victims are Arians. Ownership of the building mainly lies in Arian hands while generally speaking, the Jew is just the tenant – a process you can see for yourself on Kurfürstendamm for instance.
Göring?: We already said so.
Goebbels: In these cases the Jews shall have pay for the damages.
Göring: That is useless, we have no raw materials. It is all foreign glass; that is all going to cost foreign currency. We could go crazy.
Hilgard: May I say something. This glass for shop windows is not being produced in the Bohemian glass works but is exclusively in the hands of Belgian glass industry. In my estimate, we have to take the following into account: damage to the glass will amount to 6 million RM, that is for the glass we have to deliver in exchange to the mainly Arian victims pursuant to their insurance policy. Herr Generalfeldmarschall, I have to make all kinds of restrictions here though as I had only one day for these estimates.
If you take into account – I cannot tell you exactly, the industry will provide better information – that about half of this 6 million will remain within the trade, I still would like to reckon with having to import Belgian glass up to a value of 3 million. In addition, this will represent about half of the yearly output of the entire Belgian glass industry. We are of the opinion, the industry will need about six months to deliver the glass necessary to repair these damages.
Göring: We will have to inform the public about this.
Goebbels: We cannot do this right now.
Göring: We cannot go on like this. We will not hold out. Impossible! Let’s continue! In your opinion, the Arian suffers the loss, right?
Hilgard: Yes, the glass insurance for the largest part.
Göring: Meaning you should replace that glass
Hilgard: It will of course occur that the victim, the shop owner and the owner of the house are identical which is the case with all shop owners. In the Israel department store, it will of course be the Jew who is also the victim.
Göring: Now we come to the third category.
Hilgard: Those are the simple theft insurances.
Göring: I have a question for you. When goods of all kinds are taken out of the shops and burned on the street outside, is that covered by theft insurance as well?
Hilgard: I don’t think so.
Göring: Is that covered by uprising insurance?
Hilgard: That is precisely the question we are unable to answer at this moment: are we talking about simple theft when following a forced entry into a house, goods are taken away or from a container?
Göring: We are talking about a riot.
Hilgard: In this case, a riot is out of the question as we no longer offer insurance against riots any more. We abandoned those long ago.
Göring: We are talking about riots here. That is the juridical concept. Nothing has been stolen, no breaking and entering, but the mass barges in quite openly and demolishes everything. Or turmoil?
Hilgard: Turmoil. It isn’t a riot.
Göring: Are they insured against disturbance of public order?
Hilgard: No, not any more. I may explain it with a practical example. The largest case we have in this context is the Margraf case, Unter den Linden. The Margraf jewelry store is insured by us on a so-called combined insurance policy. This more or less covers any kind of damage regardless of cause. The damage reported to us amounts to 1,7 million as the shop has been gutted completely.
Göring: Dalüge and Heydrich you will have to get me these jewels back by means of extensive searches.
Dalüge: We already have given orders accordingly. The people are being checked continuously. Following the report of yesterday afternoon, 150 have already been arrested.
Göring: The goods will otherwise be moved around. When someone enters a jewelry store with jewels and says I bought them, they will have to be taken away from him ruthlessly without further ado. He has stolen or bought them somewhere.
Heydrich: Anyway, in some 800 cases, looting has taken place in the Reich, against our expectation but we already have arrested hundreds of looters and we are also busy getting the stolen goods back.
Göring: And the jewels?
Heydrich: Difficult to say. Those were thrown out on the street at the time and picked up. Something similar has happened in fur stores, for instance at the Friedrichstraße in suburb C. The masses of course have grabbed the opportunity and have taken away skins of minks, skunks and so on. It is very hard to get those back. At the time, children have also been filling their pockets just for fun. We should encourage that the Hitler Jugend must not be deployed and participate in these things without the Party knowing about it. Those things are destroyed very quickly.
Dalüge: In any case, it is necessary for the Party to issue an order to the effect that the police must be informed immediately when the woman next door – after all, one knows one’s neighbors very well – has a mink coat adjusted or people come up with new rings or bracelets; we need the help of the Party.
Hilgard: Those damages are not covered by the policy however but I must make a condition here. May I say something about our liability and submit a request by the insurance companies? Herr Generalfeldmarschall, we place great emphasis on not being thwarted in the execution of our legal obligations.
Göring: I have to. I think it is important.
Hilgard: May I give a reason for this request? We carry out a large number of international transactions, some of them large. We have a sound base for our business and in the interest of the German foreign currency balance we must make sure that confidence in German insurance is not betrayed. If today we would refuse to meet obligations imposed on us by law, it would tarnish the reputation of the German insurance branch.
Göring: But no longer when I intervene by issuing a decree, a law sanctioned by the state.
Hilgard: I was coming to that.
Heydrich: The insurance can of course be granted but afterwards, when it comes to paying, it will be confiscated. Formally that is no loss of face.
Hilgard: I would also consider the correct manner what Obergruppenführer Heydrich just said, first use the methods of the insurance companies, assess and pay for the damages and then give the insurance companies the opportunity to use some fund ..
Göring: Just a moment! You will have to pay up anyway, as Germans have suffered losses. You will get a legal ban however to pay the Jews directly. The losses of the Jews you have to compensate will not be paid to the Jews but to the Minister of Finance.
What he does with it is his own business.
Dalüge: Another question must still be answered. Most of the goods in the stores did not belong to the shop owners but to the firms that delivered them. Then those deliveries belonging to other firms which cannot all be Jewish but Arian also will remain unpaid.
Hilgard: We shall have to pay for those as well.
Göring: I wish you would have killed 200 Jews instead of destroying that kind of valuables.
Heydrich: 35 have been killed.
Part IV (Missing in original official document)Part V
Göring: As to the losses Jews have suffered. At Margraf's. jewels and so on have disappeared. Well, they have all disappeared and he will not be compensated. He is the one who shall have to suffer the loss. Whenever those jewels are brought back to the police, they belong to the state. Now as to the consumer goods that have been thrown out onto the streets stolen or burnt, whatever. In this case also, it shall be the Jews who suffer losses. If these goods were in their possession on basis of provision, the Jews shall have to pay for the damage.
Part VI (Missing in original official document)Part VII
Göring:Of course I am also of the opinion that these economic measures be reinforced by a series of actions by the police, measures of propaganda and cultural shows and a message be sent to the outside world that everything has been solved and Jewry has been slapped in the face this week.
Heydrich: Despite the elimination of Jews from economic life, the main problem: kicking Jews out of Germany remains. May I make a few suggestions to achieve that? On a suggestion by the Reichskommissar, we have set up an emigration agency for Jews in Vienna. Through that agency we have already expelled 50,000 Jews from Austria while during the same period, only 19,000 Jews have been expelled from the old Reich. We were so successful thanks to the cooperation of the capable Ministry of Economic Affairs and foreign charities.
Göring: This story has circulated through the entire world press. In the first night, these Jews were driven to Czechoslovakia. The next morning they were arrested by the Czech police and chased to Hungary. From Hungary they returned to Germany and then back to Czechoslovakia. They kept traveling in circles this way. They eventually ended up on a barge on the Danube. They lived there and when they tried to get ashore, they were prevented from doing so.
Heydrich: That was according to the report. There were not even 100 Jews.
Göring: Jews left at midnight everyday for two weeks. That was in Burgenland.
Heydrich: At least 45,000 have been urged to leave in a legal manner.
Göring: How was that possible?
Heydrich: Through Jewish communities we have demanded a certain amount of money from rich Jews willing to emigrate. Thanks to this money, plus an additional amount of foreign currency, a few poor Jews could also leave. The problem was not how to make the rich Jews leave but to get rid of the Jewish scum.
Göring: But guys, did you ever think of this? It will not help us getting rid of hundreds of thousands of that Jewish scum. Did you ever think of this procedure costing us so much foreign currency that we will eventually not be able to survive ourselves?
Heydrich: It has cost us only what the Jew possessed in foreign currency.
I would like to propose to start the same procedure for the Reich, with the help of the government authorities to find a solution for the Reich, based on our experiences after we corrected our mistakes to which the Reichsmarshall has rightly drawn our attention.
this way, the emigration measures in the rest of the Reich will continue for the next 8 to 10 years. The highest number of Jews we can expel amounts to 8 to 10,000. A large number of Jews will therefore stay behind. Through Arianization and other measures, Jews will become jobless. The remaining Jews will become proletariats. Therefore I shall have to take measures to isolate the Jews so they cannot participate in normal German life. On the one hand I shall have to limit the Jews to a small circle of consumers but I shall have to permit them to continue to pursue certain professions: lawyers, physicians, barbers and so on. This question shall also have to be dealt with.
Regarding isolation, I would like to make a number of proposals for political measures which are important, also because of the psychological effect they will have on public opinion. Whoever is a Jew according to the Nuremberger Laws shall have to wear some sort of insignia for example. That is an option making many other measures easier. I see no danger whatsoever in this and it will ease our relationships with foreign Jews.
Göring: A uniform.
Heydrich: An insignia. In this way we can also put a stop to foreign Jews, who look not very different from ours, from being molested.
Göring: My dear Heydrich, you will not be able then to stop the establishment of large scale ghetto's in all cities. Those shall have to be established.
Heydrich: As to the issue of ghettos, I would like to make my point clear now. Seen from the perspective of the police, I do not think that the establishment of a ghetto in the form of a completely separated district where only Jews will live, can be realized. We cannot maintain control over a ghetto containing only Jews. It will become a permanent hide out for criminals and a breeding ground for epidemics and such.
We will not allow Jews to live under the same roof as Germans but at the moment German citizens see to it that Jews behave themselves in their apartment blocks. Control over Jews by the entire population is far better than housing them in a district where I cannot have sufficient control over their daily life by uniformed police.
Göring: We only have to prohibit long distance calls.
Heydrich: Even then I cannot prevent Jews from communicating outside their districts.
Göring: And in cities all to themselves.
Heydrich: I could indeed house them in cities especially for them, yes. But those cities will become a haven for criminals of all sorts to such an extent that they pose a serious problem. I prefer other measures. I would like to limit the freedom of mobility for Jews. In Munich, the government district and the district of ….
Göring: Wait a second. I don't care overmuch about Jews not appearing in places where I don't want them. My point is this: when a Jew becomes unemployed, he shall have to live frugally. He will not get very far in restaurants and so on. He shall have to find work. That will lead to a concentration of Jews which will make controlling them much easier. You shall see: in a private home, only Jews will live. But we will also have concentrated Jewish barbers, butchers, grocers and so on. The question of course is, will we be willing to continue tolerating this. If not, the Jews shall have to buy from Arians.
Heydrich: No, I should say that the Germans should not be of service to Jews for their daily needs.
Göring: Now wait. You cannot let them starve. But here comes the next problem right away. If you say, Jews may own so and so many shops, they will be in business again and will continue selling goods from the wholesalers.
Schmer: This will not work at all in a small town.
Göring: It will only work when you reserve entire districts or entire cities for the Jews. Otherwise you shall have to allow only Germans to do business and the Jews shall have to buy from them. You can not open a barbershop only, the Jew will have to able to buy food and other stuff.
Heydrich: We shall have to decide whether we want this or not.
As an additional measure I should like to revoke all personal papers of Jews like permits, driver license etc. A Jew shall no longer be permitted to own a car, neither shall he be permitted to drive one because in this way he poses a danger to German society.
But although he is not forced to live in certain districts, he shall be bound to restrictions so he cannot move around freely. I should say that Jews living within a certain range, be banned from entering the Königsplatz in Munich and the Reichsweihestätte.
Moreover, as Minister Dr. Goebbels said earlier, exclusion of Jews from public theatres, cinemas and so on. As to cultural activities, I should like say the following: cultural activities can be considered a form of luxury, no absolute necessity for each individual. Numerous Volksgenossen do not have the opportunity to improve their health by staying in a holiday resort. I do not see why Jews should be allowed to visit that kind of places anyway.
Göring: For their health, for recreation no.
Heydrich: Then I would suggest the same for hospitals. A Jew may not be in a hospital along with Arians.
Göring: We shall have to introduce that gradually.
Heydrich: The same applies to other public facilities.
Göring: Are there no Jewish sanatoriums and hospitals (Interruption: Yes). We shall have to arrange this. This things will have to be arranged one after the other right away.
Heydrich: I just wanted your permission on certain issues so we can deal with them immediately.
Göring: Just one more question, gentlemen. What would you say when I would announce today that a fine of 1 billion RM will be imposed on the Jews as some sort of contribution?
Bürckl: The Viennese citizens will agree to this whole-heartedly.
Goebbels: I wonder if the Jews will see a way to evade this.
Göring: I will decide to formulate it as follows: the entire German Jewry shall make a contribution of 1 billion RM in punishment for the horrendous crimes etc. That should be sufficient. The swine will not commit a second murder soon. As to the rest, I would say I would rather not be a Jew in Germany at this moment.
Von Krosigk: Therefore I should like to emphasize what mister Heydrich has said in the beginning: we must make every attempt possible with the help of additional experts to chase the Jews to foreign countries. The decisive point is: we do not want the social proletariat here. They will always pose an enormous burden for us. (Frick: And a danger). I do not believe the prospect of a ghetto is gratifying. The idea of a ghetto is therefore not very pleasing. Hence, the goal must be, as Heydrich said, to expel as many as we can.
Göring: The second point is as follows: the German Reich will enter into conflict with foreign powers; there is no doubt that we have to face a confrontation with the Jews in Germany first. Apart from that, the Führer will now attempt to solve the Madagascar problem with those foreign powers that have brought up the Jewish question. He has explained everything to me on November 9. There is no other way. He shall ask the other countries: "why are you speaking about the Jews? take them!. Another proposal can be made. The Jews we have expelled, will be able to buy land for heir "colonists" in North America, Canada or elsewhere.
I would like to summarize: the Minister of Economic Affairs shall head the committee and shall have to take the necessary steps in the coming days one way or the other.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the police shall have to think about the measures to be taken as well. I thank you.
(Meeting closed at 14:40 hours)