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Himmler’s Secret Speech to High Officials of the Reich Security Main Office [Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA] (January 30, 1943)

In the end, the enormous SS-apparatus that evolved under Himmler’s leadership had little in common with the relatively unimportant guard units he had taken over in 1929. Over the course of time, the SS established roots in all entities of party and state. It was given tremendous autonomy in combating both internal and external enemies of the regime and in developing and implementing Nazi racial and population policies – so much so that it became something of a “state within the state.” Nonetheless, the organization remained loyal in its service to Hitler and regarded itself proudly as the most important “instrument in carrying out his will.”

Himmler’s close collaboration with his most important deputy, the former naval lieutenant Reinhard Heydrich (1904-1942), played a decisive role in the development of the SS. Heydrich first joined the organization in June 1931, having been discharged from the navy a few months earlier on account of “dishonorable conduct” in the context of a romantic affair. He rose quickly through the ranks, eventually becoming head of the Reich Security Main Office [Reichssicherheitshauptamt or RSHA], under whose umbrella he coordinated all divisions of the Security Police [Sicherheitspolizei or Sipo] and the Security Service [Sicherheitsdienst or SD]. In July 1941, Hermann Göring gave him the task of devising “an overall solution to the Jewish question,” and Heydrich thus became the bureaucratic and logistical organizer of the Holocaust. Two months later, he was also named “Deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia” in occupied Czechoslovakia, were he died in June 1942 as a result of injuries sustained during an attack by Czech resistance fighters. In an act of “retaliation,” the National Socialists destroyed the Czech village of Lidice and massacred its population.

Ernst Kaltenbrunner (1903-1946) succeeded Heydrich as head of the Reich Security Main Office. On January 30, 1943, Himmler delivered the following secret speech to a group of RSHA officials who had come together to mark Kaltenbrunner’s official appointment to the post.

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Berlin, January 30, 1943

The Reichsführer SS at the installation of SS Group Leader Dr. Kaltenbrunner, Berlin

My SS Leaders! Comrade Kaltenbrunner! I have ordered and summoned you, the closest personnel of the Reich Security Main Office, you who hold the higher positions of responsibility, to this room, just as in June of last year, 1942, when your commander had been killed. I gathered the department heads in this room and held the first meeting here, with the full and clear awareness that the creator of the Reich Security Main Office, the Security Service, and the Security Policy, Obergruppenführer Heydrich, created this tasteful and beautiful room as one of his last accomplishments in life, which spoke for him and his nature, and which should always speak for the nature of this Aryan security service of the Germanic nation. In the same way, the entire security service and the entire security police bore his stamp, were of his nature, of his character.

For ten years now we have been a National Socialist state. In an hour or two it will be ten years since we marched through the Brandenburg Gate. I believe Heydrich was also part of that march back then. Let me look back one more time, so that we may then look toward the future.

In 1930, it was necessary for the party to set up an intelligence service in order to get a picture of the communist, Jewish, masonic, and reactionary opponents. At the recommendation of then-Group Leader von Eberstein, I acquired the retired navy lieutenant Reinhardt Heydrich. Getting him was actually based on a misunderstanding, which is something very few people know about. It was said that Heydrich was an information officer. Back then, in 1930, I didn't pay much attention; I thought an information officer was a man who procures information. Heydrich was an information officer in the sense of an information devices officer; he was a radio officer who used communication devices as his trade. He came to see me in the small house in Waldtrudering at the time and explained to me: "Well, Reichsführer, I am not at all the person you are looking for; I was a radio officer." I looked him over: tall and blond with decent, keen, and kind eyes. I said to him: "Look here, that doesn't matter, it doesn't bother me at all; sit down in the room, I'll be back in fifteen minutes, and write down how you picture an intelligence service of the NSDAP." In those fifteen minutes he wrote down what he had in mind. I said: "Yes, I agree; alright, I'll take you." Then the salary was set for this head of the security service, as we called him. The 4th Regiment in Schleswig-Holstein undertook to pay 80 Reichsmark a month; that was the first part. From the rest of the budget I took, I believe, another 40 Reichsmark. In the initial period he also got something from the navy. I told myself, you'll be able to help him out in the immediate future; at any rate, we'll give it a try. Untersturmführer Heydrich began with the 120 borrowed marks after he had joined the SS in Hamburg, had hung around the port with the Hamburg boys who were jobless, had done his service honestly, and had settled down splendidly as a former lieutenant.

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