Heinrich Himmler's Speech at Posen is considered to be one of the most blatant examples of a leader of the Third Reich admitting to the Genocide of Europe's Jews. Holocaust deniers scoff at this, saying that either the bit that Himmler discusses is fake or that the word Himmler uses for "extermination" is mistranslated.
The controversy centers around this phrase:
"Ich meine die "Judenevakuierung": die Ausrottung des jüdischen Volkes.
" I am talking about the "Jewish evacuation": the extermination of the Jewish people."
The key, of course, is the German word "Ausrottung." It's translated as "extermination" but deniers refuse to accept that translation. It's translated as "rooted out" or something similar, never extermination.
I actually think we need to look at additional phrases of the speech to get the context. You can see all of the speech fully translated here:
Now, our resident deniers need not fret, CODOH (Committee for the Open Debate on the Holocaust) is a denier site, the forum is essentially a denier echo chamber (I'm a member, BTW).
Now, Himmler talks about a multitude of subjects and breaks these down into subjects. This makes sense.
For example, this is what he talked about at the very beginning of the speech, entitled "The Situation in the Fifth Year of the War:"
"I have considered it necessary to call you all together, the High Leadership Corps of the SS and Police, now at the beginning of the fifth year of the war, which will be a very difficult year of the war. Hard-headed, as we always were, in a spirit of respect for the truth with regards to ourselves, there are several things which we wish to discuss at this Troop Leadership Conference. Just as I was accustomed to do in long years of peace, I wish to describe the situation as I see it, in as few words as possible, with regards to our responsibilities and that which we have already achieved and accomplished, as well as with regards to that which stands before us to be accomplished in the future."
Fairly standard stuff, Himmler is setting up what he wants to discuss. During the speech Himmler ranges over a wide series of subjects. My point is that Himmler discusses each subject on it's own, he doesn't cross reference partisans with the psychology of the Slavs.
Now, back to what he says about the Jews:
"I want to mention another very difficult matter here before you in all frankness. Among ourselves, it ought to be spoken of quite openly for once; yet we shall never speak of it in public. Just as little as we hesitated to do our duty as ordered on 30 June 1934, and place comrades who had failed against the wall and shoot them, just as little did we ever speak of it, and we shall never speak of it. It was a matter of course, of tact, for us, thank God, never to speak of it, never to talk of it. It made everybody shudder; yet everyone was clear in his mind that he would do it again if ordered to do so, and if it was necessary.
I am thinking now of the evacuation of the Jews, the extirpation (CODOH translation, I find it amusing they used "extirpation, it really means the same as "extermination") of the Jewish people. It is one of those things that's easy to say: "The Jewish people will be extirpated" , says every Party comrade, "that's quite clear, it's in our programme: elimination of the Jews, extirpation ; that's what we're doing." And then they all come along, these 80 million good Germans, and every one of them has his decent Jew. Of course, it's quite clear that the others are pigs, but this one is one first-class Jew. Of all those who speak this way, not one has looked on; not one has lived through it. Most of you know what it means when 100 bodies lie together, when 500 lie there, or if 1,000 lie there. To have gone through this, and at the same time, apart from exceptions caused by human weaknesses, to have remained decent, that has made us hard. This is a chapter of glory in our history which has never been written, and which never shall be written; since we know how hard it would be for us if we still had the Jews, as secret saboteurs, agitators, and slander-mongers, among us now, in every city — during the bombing raids, with the suffering and deprivations of the war. We would probably already be in the same situation as in 1916/17 if we still had the Jews in the body of the German people.
The riches they had, we've taken away from them. I have given a strict order, which SS Group Leader Pohl has carried out, that these riches shall, of course, be diverted to the Reich without exception. We have taken none of it. Individuals who failed were punished according to an order given by me at the beginning, which threatened: he who takes even one mark of it, that's his death. A number of SS men — not very many — have violated that order, and that will be their death, without mercy. We had the moral right, we had the duty to our own people, to kill this people which wanted to kill us . But we don't have the right to enrich ourselves even with one fur, one watch, one mark, one cigarette, or anything else. Just because we eradicated a bacillus, after all, doesn't mean we want to be infected by the bacillus and die. I will never permit even one little spot of corruption to arise or become established here. Wherever it may form, we shall burn it out together. In general, however, we can say that we have carried out this most difficult task out of love for our own people. And we have suffered no harm to our inner self, our soul, our character in so doing."
That entire section is about what happened with the Jews. Now, deniers hem and haw about meanings and translations but to me the key is not the word meaning "extermination" or "evacuation." To me the true keys are this paragraph in the beginning:
"I want to mention another very difficult matter here before you in all frankness. Among ourselves, it ought to be spoken of quite openly for once; yet we shall never speak of it in public."
Remember, Himmler spoke about Jews in this section. Why the secrecy if this was about "expelling" or "deporting?" The Nazis openly deported Jews, it was no secret. In fact, public opinion halted the deportations in Bulgaria and later stopped the deportations in Hungary.
"Just as little as we hesitated to do our duty as ordered on 30 June 1934, and place comrades who had failed against the wall and shoot them, just as little did we ever speak of it, and we shall never speak of it."
Himmler is specifically talking about the "Night of the Long Knives," the purge and murder of the SA leadership, among others. Himmler is specifically linking the murders of June 30th, 1934 as a duty and linking this "duty" to what is happening to the Jews of Europe.
"It was a matter of course, of tact, for us, thank God, never to speak of it, never to talk of it. It made everybody shudder; yet everyone was clear in his mind that he would do it again if ordered to do so, and if it was necessary."
So, this "duty" was unpleasant but if it became necessary they would do it again, linking back to Jews.
Taken from the second paragraph:
"Most of you know what it means when 100 bodies lie together, when 500 lie there, or if 1,000 lie there.
That is self explanatory. Again, Himmler is only talking about Jews.
"To have gone through this, and at the same time, apart from exceptions caused by human weaknesses, to have remained decent, that has made us hard. This is a chapter of glory in our history which has never been written, and which never shall be written"
Again, no mystery here. If this was about expulsion, why can't this be celebrated and written about?
"Just because we eradicated a bacillus, after all, doesn't mean we want to be infected by the bacillus and die."
The paragraph talks about corruption but again, it's an odd turn of phrase. Do you deport or expel a bacillus? No, the body fights a bacillus and kills it. This is simply a different type of war, against an infection that needs to be killed.
So, to me, it isn't about the translation of a single word, it's about the whole context of what Himmler is said. He links a previous episode where the SS killed its opponents and refers to Jews as a "bacillus." How could anyone mistake that as "evacuation" or "deportation?"