October 4

This Day in History

World War II

Oct 4, 1943:

Heinrich Himmler encourages his SS group leaders

On this day in 1943, the Reichsfuhrer-SS, Heinrich Himmler, addresses the squad leaders of his Nazi secret police, attempting to fill them with pride for the work they've accomplished-the murder of more than 1 million Jews in German-occupied Russia during a one-and-a-half-year period. "Most of you know what it means to see a hundred corpses lying together, five hundred, or a thousand," claimed Himmler. "To have stuck it out and at the same time... to have remained decent fellows, that is what has made us hard. This is a page of glory in our history which has never been written and shall never be written."

It was Himmler who oversaw the establishment of the Auschwitz concentration camp cluster, as well as the Warsaw ghetto massacre. The organizing of some prisoners for slave labor and the inflicting of gruesome medical experimentation on others can also be attributed to him. Consequently, it is little wonder that he could so blithely say, "Whether or not 10,000 Russian women collapse from exhaustion while digging a tank ditch interests me only in so far as the tank ditch is completed for Germany."

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