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
Voices
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy as ECB finally wield the axe
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
News
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas