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The SS (Schutzstaffel): The Nature and Tasks of the SS and Police

(January 1937)

Lecture by Heinrich Himmler to the Wehrmacht.

…I am now reaching the main issue: internal security and the tasks of the police during war. In a future war the battle fields will not be only the land for the army, in the sea for the navy and in the skies for the air force, but we will have a fourth front: inside Germany. This is the base we have to keep healthy to the core because otherwise the fighting forces on the three other fronts will once again be stabbed in the back.

We have to know that the enemy during war is not only the enemy in the military sense, but also the ideological enemy. When I speak of enemies, I of course mean our natural enemy -- Bolshevism lead by international Jewry and Free Masons. The bastion of Bolshevism is in Russia. This however does not mean that the dangers of a Bolshevist attack are only coming from Russia. The danger exists from any place where this Jewish Bolshevism gained a substantial foothold. Therefore all the states and peoples who are ruled or are under strong Jewish-free mason influence will eventually be hostile to Germany and create a danger for us.

We therefore have to ask ourselves constantly who might be a possible enemy in a case of war, who is our ideological enemy, i.e. who is under Jewish – Free Mason – Bolshevist influence. We have to be in the clear: Bolshevism is an organization of sub-humans, it is the absolute foundation of Jewish rule, it is the exact opposite of all which the Aryan people loves, cherishes and values. It is a diabolic outlook, because it appeals to the lowest and meanest instincts of humanity and turns those instincts into a religion. One should not be deluded: Bolshevism with its Lenin buried in the Kremlin will need only several more decades to plant its diabolic religion of destruction in Asia, this religion that is aimed at the destruction of the whole world. One should further remember that this Bolshevism is working according to schedule at the Bolshevisation of other people. This destruction is aimed at the White Man….

We are more valuable than the others who may now and always outnumber us. We are more valuable because our blood enables us to be more inventive than the others, to lead our people better than the others, because we have better soldiers, better statesmen, a higher culture, a better character. We have better quality, if I now turn to your area, because the German soldier is more devoted to his duty, more decent and intelligent than the soldier of the other people. We will maintain this quality as long as we keep our blood and our people healthy, as long as this people sanctions and upholds the old rules that National Socialism thanks to Adolf Hitler has restored to sustain the nation. We will be healthy and resistant as long as we do not slip back into democracy, into an empire with an inherited or legitimized Emperor who did not grow from the people….

The concentration camps are being guarded by members of these death head units…the camps are fenced with electrified barbed wire. It is evident: if someone steps into a forbidden area or takes a forbidden road, he is shot. If someone makes the slightest attempt to flee…he is shot. If someone is impertinent or defiant – and this happens here and there…he is being put in solitary confinement, in a dungeon with bread and water, or – I ask you not to be shocked – I have taken the old prison regulations of Prussia of the years 1914-1918 – in the most serious cases he will be flogged 25 times. Cruelty, Sadism that are often described by the press abroad are totally impossible. First, only the inspector of all the camps and not even the camp commander can decide on this punishment. Second, the punishment is given in front of a whole company, that is always in the presence of 20-24 people. Last, a doctor and a person who documents the punishment are always present. It can not be more precise.

Here I want to say: these things are indispensable, otherwise we would never be able to keep these criminals under control. In case of war we have to be clear about the need to take in a large number of unreliable people, if we do not want to create a source for the highly unpleasant developments during war.

The people who guard the inmates were at the beginning people of the general SS. We have meanwhile grouped them into the death head formations. They are not in companies, but in units of one hundred and naturally have machine guns. We have two to three towers in every camp manned by guards with machine guns day and night in order to put down any attempt of resistance – an option one always has to count with these kind of inmates. The whole camp can be covered from above by three watch towers.

Sources: Yad Vashem; W. Michalka (Hg.), "Deutsche Geschichte 1933-1945," Frankfurt, 1993, pp. 97-99.