Himmler’s Einsatzgruppen and the “Final Solution”: Systematic Extermination in the Warthegau Territory
On October 4, 1943, Heinrich Himmler gave a speech to Schutzstaffel Officers in Posen, Poland, where he spoke about the difficulties associated with the systematic extermination of European Jews demanded by the Nazi programme. While some historians attribute this “Final Solution” to the intentional outcome of early forms of antisemitism, others postulate its genesis was an undirected outcome in the evolution of increasingly radical antisemitic policies during the latter years of the Reich. Similarly, while many historians present Adolf Hitler as the architect of extermination, setting out specific policies, others suggest that a host of political, military, and bureaucratic institutions were responsible for producing a systematized genocide. Historians have even debated whether the “Final Solution” was initiated by an explicit “Führer Order.” Arguably, while Hitler authorized the measures that lead to the extermination of Jews in the east, he deferred responsibility for realizing its outcome to various Nazi officials and Reich institutions. Under these conditions, semi-autonomous entities including Himmler’s Einsatzgruppen contributed to the systematization of extermination in the Warthegau territory.