How the seeds of Hitler's 'final solution' were sown in 1919

Letter bought by Simon Wiesenthal Centre

With the white gloves of a very cautious curator, an official of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre yesterday laid before journalists in New York the flimsy pages of a letter allegedly typed and signed by Adolf Hitler in 1919 revealing his early vision of Germany achieving a "final goal" – the "removal of Jews".

The document is "absolutely historic", said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder and director of the Wiesenthal Centre, a Jewish human-rights group that works to expose and confront anti-Semitism. "There is nothing like it in the world."

The organisation bought the four-page letter, the authenticity of which may yet be disputed, from a dealer for $150,000 (£90,000) and will display it at its Tolerance Museum in Los Angeles.

Hitler, as a young soldier in 1919, already stood out among the ranks because of his anti-Semitic oratory. When his superior officer, Karl Mayr, received a request from another office in the city of Ulm, Adolf Gemlich, asking for clarification of the German Army's position on Jews, he had Hitler write the letter by way of response.

Known among Nazi historians as the "Gemlich Letter", it was retrieved by a United States Army officer at the end of the war from a Nazi archive near Nuremberg and brought to the US, where it changed hands until its recent sale to the Wiesenthal Centre by a company that deals in historic memorabilia called Profiles in History.

Rabbi Hier said nothing among his organisation's archive of 50,000 documents pertaining to Nazism and the Holocaust comes close to the Gemlich Letter in importance because it shows Hitler dabbling with ending Jewry so early. "He implemented it as the Chancellor of the Third Reich – the removal of Jews altogether," he noted. What is "novel" about the letter, Rabbi Hier added, was the contention made by the author that random attacks on Jews would not be enough. According to a translation provided to reporters, Hitler said: "Anti-Semitism – born of purely emotional grounds – will find initial expression in the form of pogroms.

"The final goal must be the removal of Jews. To accomplish these goals, only a government of national power is capable and never a government of national weakness."

The letter was first offered to the Wiesenthal Centre in 1988. It was not purchased because of doubts about how Hitler had access to a typewriter. It has since become clear that he was assigned at the time to a propaganda unit of the Germany army – where typewriters were readily available.

Rabbi Hier is convinced the letter is authentic. Other experts say the jury is still out. Another document with the same words is held by the Bavarian state archives in Munich. But the pages in Munich are not signed.

Othmar Plöckinger, an expert on early Hitler documents, told The New York Times that "there are a lot of points that make me believe it could be the original", implying that the Munich version is the copy. He indicated that more work needed to be done, including a chemical analysis of the paper the letter is on.

Others are more dubious. "It has to have very good provenance," said Klaus Lankheit, deputy director of the archive at the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich. "From my experience, I would be very sceptical."

Rabbi Hier said it will become a vital teaching tool as a museum exhibit.

'The final goal must be the removal of the jews': Extracts from the letter

* "Through a thousand years of inbreeding, frequently in cramped conditions, the Jew preserved his race and peculiarity better than the more numerous people among whom he lived. The result of which is that a non-German race lives among us with its own feeling, thoughts and aspirations, while having all the same rights as we do.

* "Jews are pure materialists in thoughts and aspirations [...] The result is that thoughts are geared to the pursuit of money and power to protect it, in which the Jews ruthlessly involve themselves. He grovels in order to obtain the favour of princes, only to abuse it like a leech."

* "His effect is racial tuberculosis on the nation."

* "From that, the following results: Antisemitism – born of purely emotional grounds – will find initial expression in the form of pogroms. The antisemitism of reason must lead to a struggle for the legal battle to abrogate laws giving them favoured positions, differentiating the Jew from other foreigners. The final goal must be the removal of the Jews. To accomplish these goals, only a government of national power is capable and never a government of national weakness."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Stiller as Derek Zoolander in the leaked trailer for Zoolander 2
film
Sport
footballArsenal take the Community Shield thanks to a sensational strike from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arts and Entertainment
Gemma Chan as synth Anita in Humans
film
News
Keeping it friendly: Tom Cruise on ‘The Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart
people
Arts and Entertainment
Ensemble cast: Jamie McCartney with ‘The Great Wall of Vagina’
artBritish artist Jamie McCartney explains a work that is designed to put women's minds at rest
News
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen