crystalnachtStenographic Report of the Meeting on the Jewish Question held under the Chairmanship of Field Marshal Goering in the Reich Air Ministry at 11 A.M. on November 12, 1938

Goering- Gentlemen! Today’s meeting is of decisive importance. I have received a letter on the Fuehrer’s orders by the Head of Staff of the Fuehrer’s deputy, Bormann, with instructions that the Jewish Question is to be summed up and coordinated once and for all and solved one way or another. A phone call from the Fuehrer to me yesterday again gave me instructions that decisive coordinated steps must now be outlined.

As the problem is in the main a large-scale economic matter, it is from this angle that it will have to be tackled. This will, of course, produce a number of legal measures, in the jurisdiction of the Justice Minister as well as the Minister of Interior; and then the resultant propaganda measures which fall into the area of the Propaganda Minister; and of course also measures by the Finance Minister and Economics Minister.

At the meeting at which this question was discussed for the first time and it was decided to Aryanize the German economy, to get the Jew out of the economy, to make them debtors on a pension, we unfortunately only made very fine plans, but then dragged our feet in following them up….

Heydrich- After all the elimination of the Jew from economic life, in the end there is still always the basic problem of getting the Jew out of Germany. May I make a few suggestions in this connection?
Following a suggestion made by the Reichskommissar we have set up a Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration in Vienna* with the aid of which we have taken at least 50,000 Jews away from Austria, while only 19,000 Jews were taken out of the Reich during the same period. It was made possible by coordination between the Ministry of Economics, which was responsible, and the foreign aid organizations.

Goering- First of all you cooperated with the local leader of the “green border” [clandestine border crossing]. That is the main thing.

Heydrich- That involved only very small numbers, Mr. Field Marshal. The illegal—

Goering- The story has gone through the entire world press. In the first night the Jews were expelled to Czechoslovakia. Next morning the Czechs caught them and pushed them across into Hungary. From Hungary they were returned to Germany and then to Czechoslovakia. That way they traveled around and around. In the end they finished up on an old barge on the Danube. They stayed there and wherever they tried to land they were turned away again.

Heydrich- That’s what was reported. There were not even as many as 100 Jews.

Goering- For two weeks, in effect, a number of Jews emigrated every midnight. That was in Burgenland.

Heydrich- At least 45,000 Jews got away by legal means.

Goering- How was that possible?

Heydrich- Through the Jewish Community Council we took a certain sum off the rich Jews who wanted to emigrate. That was how it was done. With this money and some additional foreign currency it was then possible to get out a number of poor Jews. After all, the problem is not to get the rich Jews out, but the Jewish mob.

Goering- But, fellows, have you ever thought about this properly? It doesn’t really help us even if we get a few hundred thousand of the Jewish mob away from Germany. Have you ever considered whether this procedure may not, in the long run, cost so much foreign currency that we cannot continue with it permanently?

Heydrich- Only the foreign currency that every Jew received.

(Goering- agrees.)

This way, may I suggest that we set up a similar bureau in the Reich, with the cooperation of the government agencies concerned, and that we make use of this experience [Austria] in order to find a solution for the Reich, at the same time avoiding the mistakes which the Field Marshal has so rightly pointed out to us?

(Goering- agrees.)

A second way of getting the Jews out would be an emigration operation for the Jews in the rest of the Reich, spread over at least 8 to 10 years. We cannot get out more than the maximum of 8,000 to 10,000 Jews a year. That would leave a great many Jews here. Because of Aryanization and other restrictions Jewry will be unemployed. We will see the remaining Jews becoming proletarians. I would have to take measures in Germany to isolate the Jews, on the one hand, so that they will not enter into the normal life of the Germans. On the other hand, I must create possibilities of permitting the Jews certain activities, in the matter of lawyers, doctors, barbers, etc., while yet limiting them to the smallest possible circle of customers. This question will have to be studied.
As far as isolation is concerned, I should like to put forward a few suggestions, purely police matters, which are important in part for their psychological effect on public opinion. For instance, the identification of the Jews, saying- Every person who is a Jew in accordance with the Nuremberg Laws must wear a certain distinguishing mark. This is a possibility which would simplify many other matters – I don’t see any danger of excesses against the Jews – and it would make our relationship with foreign Jews easier.

Goering- A uniform!

Heydrich- Badge. This would also prevent the foreign Jews whose external appearance is no different from that of the local Jews, from suffering the same disadvantages.

Goering- But my dear Heydrich, you will not be able to avoid having ghettos in the cities on a really big scale. They will have to be established.

Heydrich- As for the matter of ghettos, I would like to make my position clear right away. From a police point of view I think that a ghetto, in the form of a completely segregated district with only Jews, is not possible. We would have no control over a ghetto where the Jew gets together with the whole of his Jewish tribe. It would be a permanent hideout for criminals and first of all [a source] of epidemics and the like. The situation today is that the German population…[which lives together with the Jews] forces the Jews to behave more carefully in the streets and the houses. The control of the Jews by the watchful eyes of the whole population is better than putting thousands upon thousands of Jews together in a single district of a city where uniformed officials will be unable to check on their daily activities.

Goering- We only have to cut off the telephone link with the outside.

Heydrich- I could not stop the movements of Jewry out from this district completely.

Goering- And in cities really all their own?

Heydrich- Yes, if I put them into cities entirely their own. But then this city would become such a center for criminal elements that it would be very dangerous. I would try a different way….
Goering- I shall choose the definition that the German Jews as a whole, as a punishment for their abominable crimes, etc., etc., will have to pay a Kontribution (fine) of one billion. That will do it. The swine won’t hurry to commit another murder. In general I must say once again- I should not like to be a Jew in Germany.

v. Krosigk- That is why I would like to emphasize what Mr. Heydrich said at the beginning- we must try everything in the way of more export, of getting the Jews out abroad. It will always be the decisive point that we do not have to keep this whole proletarian company here. It will always be a terrible burden to deal with them.

(Frick- and a danger.)

I also do not imagine that if we are forced to have ghettos it would be very pleasant. The likelihood of having to have ghettos is not pleasant. Therefore the aim must be what Heydrich said- out with whoever can be got out!

Goering- The second point is the following. If the German Reich should in the near future become involved in conflict abroad then it is obvious that we in Germany will first of all make sure of settling accounts with the Jews. Apart from that the Fuehrer is now at last to make a major move abroad, starting with the Powers which have brought up the Jewish question, in order really to get around to the Madagascar solution. He explained this to me in detail on November9. There is no longer any other way. He is also going to say to the other nations- “Why do you keep talking about the Jews? – Take them!…”

Funk- The decisive question is whether the Jewish stores will have to be reopened or not?
Goering- That depends on the extent to which these Jewish stores have a relatively large turnover. If that is the case it is a sign that the German people are simply forced to buy there although it is a Jewish store, because there is a need. If all the Jewish stores that are shut now were to be shut before Christmas many would go empty-handed.

Fischboeck- We already have a precise plan for this in Austria, Mr. Field Marshal General. In Vienna there are 12,000 Jewish artisans’ businesses and 5,000 Jewish retail stores. Even before the Umbruch** there was a plan for all the tradesmen involved in these 17,000 open businesses; of the 12,000 artisans’ shops almost 10,000 were to be closed for good, and 2,000 kept going. Of the 5,000 retail stores, 1,000 were to be kept going, that is they were to be Aryanized, and 4,000 were to be shut. According to this plan, then, 3,000 to 3,500 of the total of 17,000 businesses would remain open, and all the others would be closed. This is calculated on the basis of investigation for each separate branch and in accordance with local requirements. It has been settled with all the competent authorities and could start tomorrow, as soon as we get the Law which we requested in September, which would authorize us to withdraw trade licenses generally, without any connection with the Jewish Question. It would be quite a short Law.

Goering- I will issue the regulation today.

Fischboeck- We have been promised this for Austria within the framework of our general economic plan. I think that it was not settled only because of ongoing negotiations between the Reich Ministry of Economics and [the Ministry of] Nutrition. There was agreement on principle. As soon as we have it we can close these 10,000 businesses officially. That’s just paperwork. In order to carry it out it will be then still be necessary for somebody to see what is to be done with the goods in these businesses. Up to last week we had had the intention of leaving the liquidation of stores more or less to the Jews themselves. That will now no longer be possible. We plan to create an economic agency for all these businesses together, which will see to it that use is made of these goods. In general this will be done best by handing them over to the branch concerned, which can then divide them up among the Aryan businesses, who can either take them on commission or pay for them.

If this is carried out along the proposed lines we will be left with only about another 3,000 businesses slated for Aryanization in accordance with the plans for the various branches. There are already firm buyers for about half these stores, and their purchase contracts have been checked sufficiently for immediate authorization. In many cases the authorization has not been finalized only because we were waiting for the definitive decision on the planning issue. Negotiations have also proceeded quite far for the other 15,000 businesses. We are of the opinion that we should set ourselves a deadline, which might be the end of this year. If no definite buyer has been found by the end of the year for the retail stores that are to be Aryanized we will check again whether they should not be liquidated after all. That should usually be possible- artisans’ shops are very individual businesses. As far as retail stores are concerned the matter would never be so urgent that it could be said that the economic damage was too great. That would leave us with just a very few stores that have been judged necessary but for which there are no buyers- They would have to be taken on by the Public Trustee’s Office. I don’t think that it would come to as many as 100 businesses, probably fewer. In this way we could have eliminated all publicly visible Jewish businesses by the end of the year.

Goering- That would be excellent!

Fischboeck- Then 12,000 or 14,000 of 17,000 businesses would be closed and the rest Aryanized or transferred to the State Trustee.

Goering- I must say that this proposal is marvelous. Then the whole business would really be cleared out by Christmas or the end of the year in Vienna, one of the chief Jewish cities, so to say.
Funk- We can do it here [in Germany] too. I have prepared a Regulation for this matter which states that from January 1, 1939, Jews are forbidden to operate retail stores and commission agencies, or to operate independent artisans’ businesses. They are also forbidden to hire employees for this purpose, to offer such services, to advertise them or to accept orders. Where any Jewish trade is carried out it will be closed by the Police. From January 1, 1939, a Jew can no longer be the manager of a business, in accordance with the Law for the Organization of National Labor, of January 20, 1934. Where a Jew is in a leading position in an economic enterprise without being the official manager his employment can be terminated by the manager with six weeks’ notice. At the end of the period of notice all claims of the employee deriving from the terminated contract will be void, including pension rights where these existed. That is always very unpleasant and a great danger. A Jew cannot be a member of a cooperative. Jewish membership in cooperatives is terminated on December 31, 1938. No special authorization is required. The Reich Ministers concerned are being authorized to issue the Regulations necessary for the implementation of the Law….


* See Establishment of the Central Office For Jewish Emigration in Vienna

** Austrian expression for Anschluss.

Source- Yad Vashem

Jewish Virtual Library- Discussions by the Authorities Following Kristallnacht