Now available to the public: A letter written by Adolf Hitler back in 1919 outlining his “solution” to the Jewish question: Pogroms and the “irrevocable removal” of the Jews. The letter was found at the end of World War II by an American soldier, who later sold it to a private collector. The SimonWiesenthalCenterlooked into buying it in 1988, but had doubts as to the letter’s authenticity. By the time Hitler’s signature had been verified and that he had in fact typed it on an army typewriter – an expensive commodity at that time – the letter had been sold to another buyer. Finally, earlier this year, the Center received a second chance, and shelled out $150,000 to buy the letter.
Wiesenthal Center Director Rabbi Marvin Hier said the money came from the center’s trustees in the form of private donations, and not from its regular budget.
The document is known as the Gemlich Letter, because it was written in response to a German soldier named Adolph Gemlich who raised the issue of the “Jewish question” in the new, freshly-defeated German republic. Hitler himself had recently completed a German Army- sponsored course on political education for veterans, featuring German nationalism, anti-Semitism, and anti-socialism – and he was selected to respond to Gemlich, in what became Hitler’s Gemlich Letter.
Excerpts from the letter (as translated on the Jewish Virtual Library site):
“The danger posed by Jewry for our people today finds expression in the undeniable aversion of wide sections of our people… Everything men strive after as a higher goal, be it religion, socialism, democracy, is to the Jew only means to an end, the way to satisfy his lust for gold and domination. In his effects and consequences he is like a racial tuberculosis of the nations.“The deduction from all this is the following: an anti-Semitism based on purely emotional grounds will find its ultimate expression in the form of the pogrom. An anti-Semitism based on reason, however, must lead to systematic legal combating and elimination of the privileges of the Jews, that which distinguishes the Jews from the other aliens who live among us (an Aliens Law). The ultimate objective [of such legislation] must, however, be the irrevocable removal of the Jews in general.
“For both these ends a government of national strength, not of national weakness, is necessary…
“Thus, a great portion of our people recognizes that a changed state-form cannot in itself change our situation. For that it will take a rebirth of the moral and spiritual powers of the nation. And this rebirth cannot be initiated by a state leadership of irresponsible majorities, influenced by certain party dogmas, an irresponsible press, or internationalist phrases and slogans. [It requires] instead the ruthless installation of nationally minded leadership personalities with an inner sense of responsibility…”
Explaining the Center’s decision to purchase the document, Hier said it “does not belong in private hands. It has too much to say to history. It belongs in public hands, and it has found its home at the Museumof Tolerance,” where it will be on permanent display.
“This is the first document of its kind that deals with the Jews exclusively and postulates the solution,” Hier said. “We have 50,000 archives, and this is the most important archive I’ve ever seen.”