Heydrich and Goering discuss the Jewish question (1938)

At a high-level meeting in November 1938, days after Kristallnacht, Reinhard Heydrich and Hermann Goering discussed what to do about the ‘Jewish question’:

Reinhard Heydrich: “A second way of getting the Jews out would be an emigration operation for all Jews in the rest of the Reich, spread over at least eight to ten 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, the 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.”

Hermann Goering: “A uniform!”

Heydrich: “A 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, a source of epidemics and the like.

The situation today is that the German population 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 centre 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. will have to pay a contribution (fine) of one billion marks. 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.”