1919 signed letter contains Hitler's first known stance on Jewish 'removal'
June 7th, 2011
06:35 PM ET

1919 signed letter contains Hitler's first known stance on Jewish 'removal'

By Dana Garrett, CNN

New York (CNN) - A signed letter by Adolf Hitler, which contains what is believed to be the earliest written expression of his views on Jews and anti-Semitism, was unveiled at a press conference in New York on Tuesday by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

Rabbi Marvin Hier said the letter, written in 1919, is "one of the most important documents in the entire history of the Third Reich."

Wearing white gloves to protect the fragile, yellowing document, Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center, pointed out what he considered to be the most significant phrase in the four-page, typed letter - the words "Entfernung der Juden," German for "removal of Jews" - which Hitler wrote must be the government's "final goal."

"In 1919 he wrote this. Twenty-two years later he implemented it as Chancellor of the Third Reich," Hier said. "He removed the Jews altogether."

The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organization, purchased the letter from a private dealer for $150,000 and will put it on permanent display in July at the center's Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.

Hitler was a 30-year-old veteran of World War I when he wrote the letter on September 16, 1919. At the time, he was working for the propaganda unit of the German army, Hier said. It was Hitler's supervisor, Capt. Karl Mayr, who assigned him the task of articulating the army's position on the Jews for Adolf Gemlich, who was an army spy. (At about the time he wrote the letter, he also attended a meeting of the German Workers' Party to find out more about them, at Mayr's request. Later, it would be the National Socialist Workers' Party, and Hitler would be its chairman.)

The letter, which was written on a German army typewriter, is addressed to Gemlich. It was authenticated in 1988, according to the Wiesenthal Center.

In the letter's English translation provided by the Wiesenthal Center, Hitler identifies Judaism as a race, not a religion, that has been preserved "through a thousands years of inbreeding" and is only concerned with "the pursuit of money and power."

"The result of which is that a non-German race lives among us with its feelings, thoughts and aspirations, while having all the same rights as we do," Hitler wrote.

He warned against anti-Semitism "born of purely emotional ground," which he wrote would only lead to pogroms - referencing the organized mob attacks that targeted Jews in Russia and, later, Germany. Hitler's letter makes clear he had a larger objective in mind. "The final goal must be the removal of Jews," he wrote. "To accomplish these goals, only a government of national power is capable and never a government of national weakness."

Hier said the letter was found in 1945 in the Nazi Archives near Nuremberg by an American soldier, William F. Ziegler, and sold to an historical documents dealer.

It has remained in private hands since then. Hier said a dealer offered him the letter in 1988, but then sold it to another collector before the Wiesenthal Center could verify its authenticity.

When it was offered a second time, Hier said there was no hesitation.

"We knew immediately that the Gemlich letter is absolutely historic. There is nothing like it in the world," he said.

Hier said an unsigned "office copy" of the letter exists in Munich, which scholars have known about, but that the copy now in the hands of the Wiesenthal Center is the only signed copy. It has never been publicly displayed.

Hier said the letter is significant in large part is because there is no known signed order by Hitler for the extermination of the Jews. Instead, it was the No.2 man in the Reich, Hermann Goering, who gave the order in July 1941 to Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the Nazis' security apparatus, to carry out "the final solution of the Jewish question."

"This is the first document and only document of its kind that deals with the Jews exclusively and postulates the solution," Hier said of the Hitler letter.

Whether Hitler had in mind concentration camps and mass extermination at the time is not a question that can be answered by this document, Hier said. "But I can tell you that Hitler in 1919 said we don't want any Jews in the country that I live, and I don't want them removed by corner pogroms. I need them removed by a legal system where the government legally removes them," Hier said. "That is unprecedented." he added.

Hier said he hopes the letter, which will be part of an interactive display in Los Angeles, will be used to teach students young and old about demagogues and the consequences of taking them lightly.

He said if people had taken bets in 1919," they all would have bet this is a lot of nonsense, nothing would happen like this. And 22 years later, it happened exactly as he wrote it.," he said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Europe • Germany • Holocaust • Judaism • New York • United States

soundoff (931 Responses)
  1. FairGarden

    Evil must be eradicated when it's still small. Measures of early detection necessary...

    June 8, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • Henry Miller

      Define "evil."

      Was Christopher Columbus "evil?" After all, his actions led directly to a number of deaths that makes Hitler look like an amateur.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:50 am |
  2. Marie Kidman


    June 8, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  3. August Lehe

    Racial 'theory' is just as silly as most forms of creationism. Read a little Albert Einstein. He was a progressive German-Jew (pssst.... don't tell Glenn Beck). Arguing over "September" Typical...

    June 8, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • FairGarden

      Einstein believed in God. He was more honest than the present British and American atheists. Both Britain and America are following the follies of the pre-war Germany of the last century. Two great world wars weren't enough for the West to understand what they really are...

      June 8, 2011 at 8:40 am |
  4. Shamrock6

    I've never understood why anyone cares about the jews. Whatever happens to them happens...just like everyone else. I'm not concerned one way or the other with what they say, do, think, feel. Whatever.

    June 8, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • why2

      you should be concerned. What happened could happen again, but if it does, it could be another group targeted for extermination. We, as human, need to be concerned about others, not just worry about whether or not their religion matches yours. Learn history or be a victim of it.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • Matthew

      Signature looks fake. (Too dark, new)

      June 8, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • Shamrock6

      It has happened. Many times since then. The former Yugoslavia, Cambodia, Darfur, Rwanda etc. America does not care unless there is oil beneath the ground. THEN we take an interest. I'm sure it will happen again and again and we will sit idly by as we have with all of the others.....unless somehow it is profitable for American corporations. If that's the case then it will all of a sudden become an important patriotic mission to save lives and restore order.

      June 8, 2011 at 9:02 am |
  5. Mike

    At least this never happened in USA. Wait, it did: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Missouri_Executive_Order_44

    Eerily similar.

    June 8, 2011 at 8:20 am |
    • WDW

      Oh, but it gets worse! None other than Ulysses S. Grant ordered the removal of all Jews from the state of Tennessee during the War of Northern Aggression, and further ordered that any Jew headed South be murdered. Lincoln even allowed it to happen! I'm surprised his image is allowed on U.S. currency!

      June 8, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  6. Frank

    Hitler is no different in many ways then many of the programs to get rid of the Jews from many countries over the centuries; he was just more successful, charismatic, and evil. Will the Jews become unwelcome in other countries in the future? It all depends whether they integrate, and keep from antagonizing the majority; otherwise, they may be again, seen as a successful (at the expense of the majority) minority that is racist (the Chosen People) parasite. How to break this pattern? Yet, how does one remain Jewish and still integrate? Israel is not the solution; it's too small for mass settling and stealing even more Palestine land. Other groups have integrated but lost their ethnic identify, very sad. It is quite a sacrifice, say, to move to American and give up much of the past. Yet, if you don't, Americans resent you. Look at all the antagonism against those who will not learn English, or fly certain flags other than old Betsy Ross. Add to this antagonism a perceived sense that a minority is doing well at the expense of the majority, and you have the potential, again, for disaster. Yes, even in our so-called advanced civilization: America.

    June 8, 2011 at 8:08 am |
    • Casual Observer

      Aside from from sharing some disjointed comments – what is your point? It is obvious that you have no grasp of history – at least not one that is based on fact. Your bias is only out done by our ignorance.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:31 am |
  7. JustTheFacts

    "To say: “religion has caused more suffering, wars and violence than any other cause; is like saying: a gun has caused more suffering, wars and violence than any other cause.” It depends on how a person uses it; and, does its instruction manual direct its user to use it to cause suffering, violence and war."

    @Fidei Coticula Crux

    Well in the last 100 years I know of no other single weapon that has caused more man-made deaths than a bullet, tank round or artillery shell (all from guns). Spears....no, Bow and Arrows.....no, Slingshot....not even close. How else is a person supposed to use a weapon of war used exactly? To hunt for food maybe?

    Look at most (but not all) wars, conflicts, genocides, massacres in the last 2000 years and tell me that man-made Organized Religion or religious beliefs (on either side but maybe not both sides) played zero part in it. You cant even if you tried. Even Wikipedia can't even help you on this one.

    June 8, 2011 at 8:08 am |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      History is full of uncounted massacres by armies carrying a religious banner, though most such episodes were in ancient times with much less efficient killing technology and microscopically smaller populations. The number of religious exterminations of entire villages throughout history is innumerable, though most had body counts only in the hundreds or thousands. Alexander the Great is estimated to have executed a million. 11th century Crusades killed half a million Jews and Muslims. Genghis Khan's massacres of entire populations of cities probably totaled a million. The Aztecs once slaughtered 100,000 prisoners over four days. An unknown number, probably in the millions, died in the Devil's Wind action in Colonial India. Up to four million Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims died in post-Colonial India. The Ottoman Empire massacred two million Armenians over the years. Franco's Spanish Civil War killed a hundred thousand. A million have died in Rwanda, half a million in Darfur. And Muslims vs. non-Muslims violence has obviously dominated our headlines for a decade, totaling somewhere in seven figures.

      However, in the comprehensive list of the history of human warfare, in the Encyclopedia of Wars records 1763 wars, of which 123 (7%) have been classified to involve a religious conflict. Of these 123, 66 wars involved Islam. So based on this data, 93% of wars are fought over non-religious ideology differences. For example: Adolf Hitler and his ideology killed est. 20 million; Stalin and his ideology killed between 10-20 million; Mao Zedong and his ideology killed between 10-40 million; and Pol Pot killed as much as 20% of Cambodians’ population (est. 2 million killed).

      So what has caused more suffering, wars and violence than any other cause? I would have to say MAN.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • Chris

      People dont Unite under guns....people dont go to war because of guns, people go to war because they disagree.....so in order for something to cause war it has to be an idea or concept.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      @Fidei Coticula Crux
      History is full of uncounted massacres by armies carrying a religious banner, though most such episodes were in ancient times with much less efficient killing technology and microscopically smaller populations."
      - Tell that to the victims of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
      - You conclude that "So what has caused more suffering, wars and violence than any other cause? I would have to say MAN.". But by the use of your moniker, (and it's apparent appeal to a faith based belief system), one would have to assume you conclude that the cause of evil is something other than "man". Is this not inconsistent ?

      June 8, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  8. Christopher

    Ironic considering the policy of the israli government is the same regarding Palestinians. They aren't advocating killing them. Just stealing their property and forcing them to move so they can create an ethnic state. I guess it;s OK to do this in the name of your race and religion as long as you practice the kinder and gentler more modern method of ethnic cleansing and property theivery minus the murder.

    June 8, 2011 at 8:06 am |
  9. Fidei Coticula Crux

    "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." – Edmund Burke

    June 8, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • Casual Observer

      The statement that "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" is often attributed to Burke. Burke never said this but, in 1770, he wrote in Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents that "when bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:39 am |
  10. tautiešlops

    The best explanation about Hitler that I've ever found is in "The legend of Atlantis" made in early nineties. Just google it, it's on youtube.
    Otherwise it's really been unexplained where such an evil guy came from and turned the world around in such a short time. Nothing really gives an answer – not economy, political conditions, war machine, propoganda – all too weak, even taken together create such a powerful figure.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:58 am |
  11. Scotty

    Isn't this the way that Muslims feel about Americans?????????????????????????????????

    June 8, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • Nadir

      You must live in the Bible Belt and only get Fox on Cable or you r just an idiot.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  12. Newsjoke

    Well, it's a nice artefact, but it only proves what we all knew already. Hitler was one very sick dude, and he seems to have been that way from an early age. Not really a surprise. The real question is: How was he planning to implement his final solution when he wrote the letter, was he already planning mass extermination, or did he just imagine mass deportations?

    June 8, 2011 at 7:51 am |
  13. James

    I have found this dialogue quite fascinating, I am a Heathen of Icelandic descent, and I have always found it curious that the word "ARYAN" or term "Aryan Race" are associated with the Nazi's and white supremists, yet I understood the term to originate as Indo-Aryan. And doesn't the term commonly accepted for 'white people' being Caucasian originate from a region once known as Caucassis or something like that. Also just an interesting note for those that like to distort the Nordic Culture, to promote seperatism or supremacy on a racial viewpoint, there is some interesting literature out there on the Heathen Norse perspective of Innengard and Utengard, check it out it's educational. Also the word Aesir ( a branch of the Norse pantheon of Gods) is as I understand it old Norse for Asian. It has been interesting following this dialogue, it makes me understand why Heathenism and Atheism are on the rise.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • cisto

      I think this shows that Hitler thought the jewish people were political enemies and feared them for their control of the banking system. It proves the Holocaust was initially a political police action, not originally a hate crime, although it eventually ended up that way.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  14. Marie Kidman


    June 8, 2011 at 7:36 am |
  15. johanna

    it never occured to hitler that by killing off the jews, he was getting rid of the best brains, talents, innovative thinkers, scientists, and artists of the german population. the jews had money and power because it was easy for them to acquire it...

    June 8, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • assad

      well said

      June 8, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • JennaGen

      I think that statement is nearly as contradictory as Hitler's goal itself....No "one" race or religion is better than the next. We are equally intelligent and have the ability to acquire what we want.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • WorldGoneMad

      Thats just a racist comment in itself. Thats like saying white people have all the advantage in the U.S. because they are simply smarter and it comes naturally. You are a racist.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  16. hitler-zionist-friend

    why hate hitler the friend of zionism, his plans are working jews are deported from the west and deployed in middle east. if you hate him defeat his plan make Germany a jewish country, don't encourage jewish migration from Germany.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:28 am |
    • nepawoods

      The nation of Israel was not what Hitler intended when he built concentration camps with gas chambers.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • Dwayne


      Actually, Hitler's friend was Haj Amin al-Husseini, leader of the Palestinian Arabs at the time. al-Husseini lobbied Hitler for the "Final Solution" and was the first non-Nazi to hear about it. His heirs have imported Nazi ideology into the Middle East and are trying to continue Hitler's policies there.

      June 16, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  17. Scotty

    Now people will understand the way Muslims feel about Christian Americans.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:28 am |
  18. Had It

    Can we require intelligence tests before people are allowed to purchase computers? I haven't seen this much idiocy in one place since the last Republican National Convention.

    June 8, 2011 at 7:24 am |
    • livinfree

      That is because people freak when Jews are the topic of discussion.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:31 am |
    • WorldGoneMad

      How are republicans dumb?? Because some are against abortion they are dumb? Because they tend to be the heads of businesses? Because they are against free handouts to everyone? Show me what democrat policy has done so well. If republicans are so dumb why do so many vote for them? Typical liberal swine...all criticism and no real answers.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:38 am |
  19. MHM

    I'm a Jew and proud of it!! Who wants a piece?

    Although I'm not very religious, I stand proud. As well, I'm all for anyone following any religion. Why should anyone dictate to others what beliefs should be followed. Unfortunately for all of you anti-Jews, we're here to stay. Nothing you say or do will ever change that. Time to get on with your pitiful lives, see what's truly important in life, and have fun. Try it, you might like it!!

    June 8, 2011 at 7:22 am |
    • everyone

      Proud? What's your name and address?

      June 8, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • unowhoitsme

      I'm sorry for what Hitler did to your people. A horrific tragedy that hopefully never repeats itself. My father helped free the Jews in one of Hitler's concentration camps. The Jewish people have always suffered for centuries. May you heal, and learn to have peace in your heart, so that you can enjoy life.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:29 am |
    • MHM

      Jason Miller and I live in South Kingstown, RI. Come by some time and I'll set you straight.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:36 am |
    • jkoppel

      What I'd like to know is, what exactly is the world so afraid of? There are 1.3 billion Christians, 1.8 billion Muslims. I don't even know how many Buddists and Hindu's.

      There are 16 milliion Jews. That's not a typo, 16 Million...why are the Jews such a threat?

      Noone seems able to provide an intelligent, non-bigotted answer to that question.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:49 am |
    • Actually

      That is great – that you are actually proud of being Jewish. You are proud of your heritage and not wallowing in it. Unfortunately, some Jewish by birth give off a vibe of being "victims" – for having suffered for all of time from all the heathens that would do you harm. So instead of forgive and forget it is us against them. "How could they ever know the suffering we've endured..." Move on already.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:08 am |
    • myles

      MHN is an idiot! just be a person.....don’t cover yourself in a blanket of words. "I’m a Jew and proud of it, come get some." what a moron!

      June 8, 2011 at 8:18 am |
    • Shamrock6

      Wow. You're an idiot. Why would you ever taunt someone on the internet and then put your name and location out there? I take it you're not one of the smarter jews.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • Nadir

      Jason Miller and MHM, they should do an episode on South Park for you two. "two dumb Jews", for telling people bring it and location. You two make Eric Cartman look like a genius.

      June 8, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • Miracle Manna

      If this Jason Miller happened to be the Jason "Mayhem" Miller, MHM for Mayhem?, then trust me he would have no problem setting any of you guys straight. Google it.

      June 8, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
  20. Rob Spaz

    Why is the word "September" on the letter in English? Seems fishy to me!

    June 8, 2011 at 7:15 am |
    • johanna

      september is september in german. google it.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:25 am |
    • David

      Because the German word for September is September.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:25 am |
    • Ghost of Lincoln

      Right, none of the experts who authenticated this letter noticed that word. Maybe its the same because it is not really an English word, but English and Gernam both got it from Latin? You are a genius, Rob Spaz.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:29 am |
    • Andy

      September is spelled the same in German and English

      June 8, 2011 at 7:36 am |
    • Rob Spaz

      LOL! 😉

      June 8, 2011 at 7:36 am |
    • tautiešlops

      Dude, you made me laugh :). WInter also has the same spelling in both languages 🙂 as you might have heard English is a germanic language and thus comes from Old German.

      June 8, 2011 at 7:48 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.