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“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?" Adolf Hitler 1939
On April 24, 1915, the Armenian genocide began. The Ottoman [Turkish] government embarked upon the
systematic decimation to expel and massacre Armenians living in the Empire. Armenians were turned out of
their homes and sent on death marches through the Mesopotamian desert without food or water. Frequently, the
marchers were stripped naked and forced to walk under the scorching sun until they dropped dead. People who
stopped to rest were shot.
Sources say that by the early 1920s, when the massacres & deportations ended, some 1.5 million Armenians
were dead. Only 388,000 Armenian remained in Turkey.
Today the massacre is referred to as genocide - a premeditated and systematic campaign to exterminate an
entire people. However, the Turkish government has denied that any genocide took place. But this denial started
in the 1920s when the massacre was largely ignored by the rest of the world which struggled with economic
depressions. By the 1930s – governments were focused on rebuilding and continued to ignore the fact that 1 ½
million Armenians were massacred. So Hitler – in a speech to his generals announced his invasion of Poland.
The ignoring of the Armenian genocide gave Hitler the motive to think he could get away with murder too.
August 22, 1939
In preparation for the impending invasion of Poland, Adolf Hitler to Reichmarshal Hermann Goering
& his generals at Obersalzberg:
"My decision to attack Poland was arrived at last spring. Originally, I feared that the political constellation
would compel me to strike simultaneously at England, Russia, France, and Poland. Even this risk would have
had to be taken.
Ever since the autumn of 1938, and because I realized that Japan would not join us unconditionally and that
Mussolini is threatened by that nit-wit of a king and the treasonable scoundrel of a crown prince, I decided to go
with Stalin.
Our strength consists in our speed and in our brutality. Genghis Khan led millions of women and children to
slaughter — with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees in him solely the founder of a state. It's a matter
of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me.
I have issued the command — and I'll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing
squad — that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the
enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head [SS] formations in readiness — for the present only in the
East — with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of
Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space (Lebensraum) which we need. Who,
after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"
The text above is the English version of the German document handed to Louis P. Lochner in Berlin. It first appeared in Lochner's What About
Germany? (NY: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1942). The Nuremberg Tribunal later identified the document as L-3 during the war crime trials against Nazis.
Read and dissect the speech by Adolf Hitler gave to his generals before he ordered the invasion of Poland.
Answer the questions. 1. What did Hitler want to do in the beginning? 2. Why did he change his plans?
3. Does he condone brutality – explain. 4. How did he view the history around Genghis Khan – how did it help him come
to his decision to invade Poland? 5. Who is the enemy? 6. What is the order the German army will be given upon the
invasion? 7. Did the Armenian Genocide Inspire Hitler?