Lecture: Norman Domeier, “World Domination and Genocide: The ‘Lochner Version’ of Hitler’s Speech on 22 August 1939, a Key Document of National Socialist Ideology”


Attendees at the event received a hard copy of the “Lochner Version” of Hitler’s speech for reference through the lecture:


Hitler’s Speech to the Leading Wehrmacht Generals on the Obersalzberg.
22 August 1939 (“Lochner Version”)

Decision to attack Poland was arrived at in spring. Originally there was fear that because of the political constellation we would have to strike at the same time against England, France, Russia and Poland. This risk too we should have had to take. Göring had demonstrated to us that his Four-Year Plan is a failure and that we are at the end of our strength, if we do not achieve victory in a coming war.

Since the autumn of 1938 and since I have realised that Japan will not go with us unconditionally and that Mussolini is endangered by that nitwit of a King and the treacherous scoundrel of a Crown Prince, I decided to go with Stalin. After all there are only three great statesmen in the world, Stalin, I and Mussolini. Mussolini is the weakest, for he has been able to break the power neither of the crown nor of the Church. Stalin and I are the only ones who visualise the future. So in a few weeks hence I shall stretch out my hand to Stalin at the common German-Russian frontier and with him undertake to re-distribute the world.

Our strength lies in our quickness and in our brutality; Genghis Khan has sent millions of women and children into death knowingly and with a light heart. History sees in him only the great founder of States. As to what the weak Western European civilisation asserts about me, that is of no account. I have given the command and I shall shoot everyone who utters one word of criticism, for the goal to be obtained in the war is not that of reaching certain lines but of physically demolishing the opponent. And so for the present only in the East I have put my death-head formations in place with the command relentlessly and without compassion to send into death many women and children of Polish origin and language. Only thus we can gain the living space that we need. Who after all is today speaking about the destruction of the Armenians?

Colonel-General von Brauchitsch has promised me to bring the war against Poland to a close within a few weeks. Had he reported to me that he needs two years or even only one year, I should not have given the command to march and should have allied myself temporarily with England instead of Russia for we cannot conduct a long war. To be sure a new situation has arisen. I experienced those poor worms Daladier and Chamberlain in Munich. They will be too cowardly to attack. They won’t go beyond a blockade. Against that we have our autarchy and the Russian raw materials.

Poland will be depopulated and settled with Germans. My pact with the Poles was merely conceived of as a gaining of time. As for the rest, gentlemen, the fate of Russia will be exactly the same as I am now going through with in the case of Poland. After Stalin’s death—he is a very sick man—we will break the Soviet Union. Then there will begin the dawn of the German rule of the earth.

The little States cannot scare me. After Kemal’s death Turkey is governed by ‘cretins’ and half idiots. Carol of Roumania is through and through the corrupt slave of his sexual instincts. The King of Belgium and the Nordic kings are soft jumping jacks who are dependent upon the good digestions of their over-eating and tired peoples.

We shall have to take into the bargain the defection of Japan. I gave Japan a full year’s time. The Emperor is a counterpart to the last Czar—weak, cowardly, undecided. May he become a victim of the revolution. My going together with Japan never was popular. We shall continue to create disturbances in the Far East and in Arabia. Let us think as ‘gentlemen’ and let us see in these peoples at best lacquered half maniacs who are anxious to experience the whip.

The opportunity is as favourable as never before. I have but one worry, namely that Chamberlain or some other such pig of a fellow (“Saukerl”) will come at the last moment with proposals or with ratting (“Umfall”). He will fly down the stairs, even if I shall personally have to trample on his belly in the eyes of the photographers.

No, it is too late for this. The attack upon and the destruction of Poland begins Saturday early. I shall let a few companies in Polish uniform attack in Upper Silesia or in the Protectorate. Whether the world believes it is quite indifferent (‘Scheissegal’). The world believes only in success.

For you, gentlemen, fame and honour are beginning as they have not since centuries. Be hard, be without mercy, act more quickly and brutally than the others. The citizens of Western Europe must tremble with horror. That is the most human way of conducting a war. For it scares the others off.

The new method of conducting war corresponds to the new drawing of the frontiers. A war extending from Reval, Lublin, Kaschau to the mouth of the Danube. The rest will be given to the Russians. Ribbentrop has orders to make every offer and to accept every demand. In the West I reserve the right to determine the strategically best line. Here one will be able to work with Protectorate regions, such as Holland, Belgium, and French Lorraine.

And now, on to the enemy, in Warsaw we will celebrate our reunion.


Skye Doney: Thank you all for being here. My name is Skye Doney. I’m the director of the George L. Mosse Program here at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This is Libby Theune’s and I’s third organized event for the Mosse Friends Fellowship. You can find our most recent fellows and their talks up on our blog: David Milne, Donatello Aramini, Stefania Regaù, they’re online.

Formed in 1948, the Friends of UW-Madison Libraries mark their 75th anniversary this year. And they strive to inspire researchers, the campus, and the public to engage with the libraries through visible, thought-provoking activities such as this one. Programs like the Mosse-Friends Fellowship help fulfill the Friends’ mission to build a community that encourages intellectual growth, examines diverse perspectives, and values the distinctive collections, their use and the exemplary services of the UW Libraries. The Friends appreciate all types of support, financial gifts, donated books, and of course your attendance today. We are thrilled to see the sustained interest of these lunch talks, even in the wake of the pandemic. Thank you.

Today we are here to learn from Professor Norman Domeier, who is one of the two 2023-2024 George L. Mosse Program and Friends of the UW Libraries fellows. In fact, Dr. Domeier is the 25th Fellow that we have supported together since this program started in 2002. The goal of our fellowship is to encourage scholars to use the vast archival holdings here in Madison and at the UW Libraries for their research. Professor Domeier comes to us today by way of the Charles University in Prague, where he’s currently the Dodd Guest Professor for German and European History. He has studied under leading scholars of Central Europe, including, notably, Sir Richard J. Evans at Cambridge and Professor Frank Bösch while they were both in Bochum 2:05 And in a truly globetrotting scholarly life, Professor Domeier has held positions in Washington, D.C., Tokyo, New Delhi, Moscow, Vienna, and Toronto. And now, Madison. (cheers from audience) So on behalf of UW-Madison, we hope that you’re time here is equal to these other experiences.

Professor Domeier’s work has appeared in numerous volumes of journals, including recently Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, Totalitarianism and Twentieth Centuries Studies. And one of his recent monographs will soon appear in English as The American Journalists in Nazi Germany.

The title of his current talk is “World Conquest and Genocides: Hitler’s Secret 1939 Speech Transcript and the Wisconsin Historical Society.” Please join me in welcoming him to Madison. (applause)


Domeier Slide 01

Norman Domeier Slide 02Norman Domeier: Thank you. Thank you very for this very kind introduction, for having me. And it’s of course a great opportunity to give this talk while actually being in the archives here. So I’ve started yesterday, I’m still a bit jetlagged, to go again through some very exciting material in the archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society. And this is actually also where I will show you the overview of my talk today, where the document is kept that you have a copy of and which I’m going to talk about today. And I hope that I can show today how important one single document, one primary source, can actually be for historiography. In this case, a so-called Lochner Version of Hitler’s secret speech on twenty-second August, 1939, on the Obersalzberg, his mountain retreat. And I hope that I can show that this longer version is not a fake, not a forgery, but the most authentic version of Hitler’s secret speech. And I hope that I can also show how important that is for the notion, a lot of things, Hitler’s ideology, Nazi ideology, and of course the crimes committed during the Second World War.

So let me start with the first point. The American foreign correspondent Louis Lochner (1887-1975) is head of the Berlin office of Associated Press, was the key figure in securing, spreading and publishing the secret speech by Hitler. You can see him here, together with [Joseph] Goebbels (1897-1945) on a photo from 1933-[19]34. Despite Lochner’s presence throughout the Nuremburg Trial in 1945-[19]46, as a reporter for AP, he was not called as witness to testify on the document which today is usually referred to as the Lochner Version. Later in the course of verifying or rather falsifying this source during the 1960s, early [19]70s, by mainly German historians, his role was likewise unappreciated and even distorted. The fact that historians still today hardly recognize the importance of foreign correspondents like Lochner as political actors, is, I think, one of the reasons why, to this day, the Lochner Version of Hitler’s speech is either unknown, underestimated, or misjudged.

Norman Domeier Slide 03

So to reassess this central source for Hitler’s worldview and the global aspirations of National Socialist ideology, I have reconstructed its historical background and ideological context for the first time. I argue that the Lochner Version is, indeed, the most authentic and reliable version of this Hitler speech available. Only the Lochner Version reflects Hitler’s two ultimate aims: world conquest and genocides of all inferior races. Furthermore, it proves that all leading German generals knew of his planned crimes against humanity already before the Second World War started.

So the first point, “The Disregarded Historical Context: The Intimate Contacts between Politics, Military, and the Foreign Press in the ‘Third Reich’.” In the 1960s and 1970s, respected German historians made considerable efforts to give Hitler’s speech from twenty-second August 1939 a specific interpretation. Especially Winfried Baumgart (b. 1938) and his readings and interpretations in 1968 and 1967 proved influential. The purpose of the interpretation was obvious: To shift the responsibility for the plans of world conquest and war crimes announced in the speech away from the leading figures of the Wehrmacht. The guilt should rest along with the dictator, perhaps including his entourage of [Hermann] Göring (1893-1946), and Goebbels, and [Heinrich] Himmler (1900-1945). To preserve the image of a clean German army and its honorable generals.

The problem was, that the summary of the Hitler speech passed on to Lochner showed the generals apart from the few apprehensive ones, as we’ve just heard, as enthusiastic followers of their supreme commander, Adolf Hitler. And much more important, that they all knew about the crimes planned by Hitler before the war started. That is a very, very important point. Also after 1945.

Consequently Lochner as a historical actor was marginalized and his version depicted as a dramatization, an edited work of manipulation to political ends, as a mix of some fitting, some half-truth, some conjectured remarks, and even branded by German historian Andreas Hillgruber (1925-1989) 9:03 a forged document.

Because of these readings, many historians today still refrain from drawing on the Lochner Version. And it even remained unknown to many researchers, or was even misused in wild historiographical forgeries as proof that Germany was not to blame for the Second World War. The Wikipedia entry on this Hitler speech is still full of errors, and drawing only on the literature claiming the Lochner Version is a fake.

So I think it’s high time to closely examine the historical context in which Lochner was given this summary of Hitler’s speech in August 1939. And this background is characterized by intimate, even symbiotic relations, between politics, military, and the foreign press in the Third Reich. And it’s of crucial importance I will try to show full source verification that has been ignored until now.

Louie Lochner], the chief correspondent in Berlin for Associated Press, still today the largest news agency in the world, was able to draw on shorts from the shady inside of the political and military heart of Nazi Germany for many years. So passing the speech transcript onto him was really part of a long, continuous exchange between the German military leadership and American Berlin correspondents. This tried and tested exchange based on mutual trust continued even after the outbreak of war in 1939 and lasted until the internment of the American journalists on December 10, 1941. And actually even beyond that, as I will mention later.

So that Hitler’s speech ended up in Lochner’s hands was neither a coincidence nor an oversight or a unique kind of treason on the part of German officers. Lochner received a document from Hermann Maas (1877-1970), who acted as messenger on orders from the former head of the German general staff, Ludwig Beck (1880-1944). Beck had been given a handwritten script by Admiral Wilhelm Canaris (1887-1945), the famous chief of German military counterintelligence, who witnessed the speech on twenty-second August on the Obersalzberg. The important thing is that the connection—Beck, Maas, Lochner—ran smoothly for years. And had originated already in the early phase of the Third Reich. Through this channel, for instance, Beck had let Lochner already know about the remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936.

Like the longer Canaris version, which in spite of some word-for-word stenography must have also been just a condensation of this several-hour speech by Hitler, the Lochner Version did not have to be sharpened by a third party, such as Hans Oster (1887-1945), who was a main organizer of German military resistance. And that is what many critics of the Lochner Version maintained, or even still maintain, today. So it’s actually pretty easy. There must have been a longer Canaris version right after the speech. And the Lochner Version is, which was already a condensed version of the several-hour Hitler speech, the Lochner Version is a condensation of this condensation.

How do we know that? A close staff member of Admiral Canaris, Hans Bernd Gisevius (1904-1974) explains this as follows. I quote, “By the next day, after Hitler’s speech, Canaris read the most important parts to us. He was still full of horror. His voice shook. He felt he was a witness of something monstrous. So that was the twenty-third August, 1939. In Canaris’s circle, everyone agreed that this document of a confused period must be preserved for posterity. And the one chosen for this task was a piece, chief Berlin correspondent Louis Lochner.

Winfried Baumgart and the historians following his lead assumed supposing the result must have led to the course, that Lochner had deliberately handed the speech in question to the British on twenty-fifth August, 1939. For Baumgart, it was only conceivable that the military resistance—around Canaris, Oster, and Beck wanted to influence Great Britain in their favor with this disclosure. Therefore, Canaris, Oster, Beck must have dramatized Lochner Version so as to stir the British to military intervention or to at least take diplomatic action. In fact, this was pure speculation on Baumgart’s part, revealing his lack of research on the political actor, Louis Lochner. And it is actually discrediting Baumgart’s entire source criticism.

Because in reality the Lochner Version was not meant for the British at all. It was meant for the Americans. There was simply no need for dramatizing or forgery to attain short-term political goals in August 1939. It seems to have remained unknown to both Baumgart and Hillgruber 15:10 in the 1960s and [19]70s that Louis Lochner actually represented the largest American news agency, AP. If the German military resistance would have wanted to communicate this to London as quickly as possible, it would have given the speech to one of the British Berlin correspondents who were leaving the country due to the threat of war anyway in those late August days, 1939.

Lochner, on the other hand, had no intention whatsoever of a rapid departure and did what the resistance expected of him once he was handed Hitler’s speech: he went to the American embassy with the firm belief that the document itself, or at least its contents, would be transferred to the United States.

Lochner, however, did not take the cravenness of chargé d’affaires Alexander Kirk (1888-1979) into account, who explained to Lochner that it was impossible for him to keep such dynamite in the embassy for even an hour. Kirk also made the pretext that the code in which the US embassy in Berlin sent its messages to the State Department in Washington may have been cracked.

It was not until after being turned down unexpectedly at the American embassy that Lochner tried his luck at the British embassy. Understandably, he does not mention this in his memoirs, What about Germany? published in 1942-[19]43 for security reasons.

At the British embassy, the document was gratefully accepted by the British chargé d’affaires 0or First Secretary George Ogilvie-Forbes (1891-1954) and dispatched to London in an English translation that was the one we heard and that you have as a printout on the very same day, twenty-fifth August 1939. And this translation was published also among official documents on British foreign policy, 1954.

Norman Domeier Slide 06

The second point: “World Domination and Genocide: The Two Key Elements of Hitler’s World View in the Lochner Version.” In the source criticism from the 1960s and [19]70s, Hitler’s worldview is not really taken into account. To do so would have meant at least acknowledging the possibility that the Wehrmacht leadership was confidant of all of Hitler’s crimes. It was probably because of this that historians like Baumgart deplored the quality of language in the Lochner Version. So for instance, the term Saukerl, “pig of a fellow,” replaced in other versions with Schweinehund, swine, was quite seriously used as an argument against the validity of the Lochner version as a historical source. Hitler, Baumgart argued, would have perhaps spoken in such base language before his Party comrades, but not dare to do so before his generals. It seems to have been beyond the imagination of German postwar historians that Hitler could have spoken so bluntly before this audience in which the army ranks, interestingly, had to wear civilian clothes on that day, and which was called together on that twenty-second August, 1939 secretly as if part of a criminal organization to present himself as a supreme commander.

At this time, Hitler had already whipped himself up into a kind of war frenzy, both in terms of rhetoric. This is illustrated by reports from the British ambassador Nevile Henderson (1882-1942) who handed Hitler an official letter from the British government one day after the secret speech to the generals, also the Obersalzberg, which threw the Führer into a fit of anger. I quote Henderson, “His language was violent and exaggerated as regards both England and Poland.” Hitler’s tirades were even registered in the minutes of the German Foreign Office.

Further evidence for the consistency between language and ideology in the Lochner Version comes from someone who also listened to the speech on twenty-second August and to seemed above all criticism in military circles both before and after 1945. And that is perhaps because his evaluation from November 1939 when he took his notes has never been fully cited by German historians of military and diplomatic history.

General Curt Liebmann (1881-1960) commander of the 20:12 Heereskriegsakademie in Berlin, that’s why he was so popular, because several generations of officers went through his school. General Curt Liebmann noted, I quote, “For my feeling, this speech was brim full of illusions and lack of objectivity. Its brash and boastful tone was repulsive. You had the feeling that the man speaking here had lost every clear conception of what even a successful war meant, that he was determined to hurl himself into a dark abyss.”

Liebmann stressed Hitler’s extremism in language and ideology which he and the other generals witnessed on that day. His notes from November 1939 preserved in the archives of the Institute for Contemporary History in Munich indicate that like Admiral Canaris’ record, Hitler’s speech was considered by many generals as an act of violence which should have been opposed in Liebmann’s view by one of the Wehrmacht leaders, namely General von Brauchitsch 21:23, who’s also mentioned in the Lochner Version.

This hint casts light on the eerie atmosphere which must have prevailed at the Obersalzberg in those hours of the twenty-second August, 1939. Besides not only generals were present that day, but also civilians, such as Reich chief press officer Dr. Otto Dietrich (1897-1952). He wondered about the icy atmosphere at lunch, and also at how downcast some of generals appeared. No so 21:55 the declarations of Hitler’s could have led to this state of feeling. But only one such as this represented in the Lochner version with its conditions also described by General Liebmann.

In 1939, however, Liebmann and most of his general colleagues were ready to subordinate the army. Not just to politics, but to ideology. For some, Hitler seemed to be the incarnation of Charlemagne here, because he succeeded in unifying the majority of all Germans in Central Europe into one state by spring 1939 without firing a shot.

In terms of language and ideology, many noteworthy parts of the Lochner Version have parallels in previously unknown or little-regarded statements by Hitler. The sentence, “So in a few weeks’ hence, I shall stretch out my hand to Stalin at the common German/Russian frontier and with him undertake to redistribute the world.” For instance, that’s very similar to a geopolitical scenario Hitler painted in an interview on February the seventh, 1937, for The Cosmopolitan with Karl Henry von Wiegand (1874-1961), chief correspondent of the Hearst press. You can see him here. Weigand also Louis Lochner with Hitler in 1932 at the Obersalzberg.

Norman Domeier Slide 08

In this Cosmopolitan interview with Wiegand in 1937, Hitler says, “But I will not make Napoleon’s mistakes during the Russian campaign.” And Hitler affirms that his aspirations were global. When Wiegand prompted him on the value of the Japanese as faraway allies, Hitler replied again, already it’s beginning of 1937, I quote, “We will shake hands with the Japanese in the Caucasus.” So this shaking hands metaphor is already here in 1937.

The most significant element of Hitler’s worldview reflected in the Lochner Version lies in determining specific war aims. For Hitler this did not mean reaching certain lines or points in a geopolitical or even military sense, but physically demolishing the opponent. This, too, has not been acknowledged in the source criticism by the historians in the [19]60s and [19]70s. Instead, most adventurous arguments were constructed to dodge this fact and to depict the Lochner Version as a product of probably Hans Oster, the intellectual mastermind of German military opposition during the Third Reich.

If Hans Oster had really been the dramaturge of this version, he must have been an Uber-Hitler who knew and articulated as early as August 1939 that for the dictator, Lebensraum, living space, was only desirable as territory cleansed of people. The genocide was a purpose in itself and more important than the mere projection of military power.

It is remarkable that in the Lochner Version, an unusual variant of Weltherrschaft German term for world dominion, world domination, rule of the earth, is used. It is in German Erd-Herrschaft 25:32 This term is so rare in German language that it immediately strikes the eye. But even Hitler did not use this by chance, or even create a new word. Because of the spelling Erd-Herrschaft with a hyphen, I discovered it in Nietzsche’s work Beyond Good and Evil.

Norman Domeier Slide 09

From this volume, Hitler also did not choose it eclectically. For here Nietzsche pronounces a prophecy, the historical instrument of which Hitler apparently saw himself: the reawakening of Europe against Russia, Asia. Nietzsche wrote, here is the German version. I have the English translation here. I quote from Nietzsche, “this is not something I’m hoping for. I would prefer the opposite. I mean the sort of increase in the threat Russia poses that would force Europe into choosing to become equally threatening. And specifically to acquire a single will by means of a new caste that would rule over Europe. A long, terrible will of its own that could give itself millennia-long aims. So that the long spun-out comedy of Europe’s petty provincialism and its dynastic as well as democratic fragmentation of the will could finally come to an end. The time for petty politics is over. The next century will bring the struggle for the rule of the earth,” Erd-Herrschaft, in Nietzsche’s words, “the compulsion to great politics.”

And interestingly, Nietzsche does not only mention a war of Europe and against the East and to thousand-year-long rule of the earth for the Aryans, but also calls on their terrible will to destroy the enemies forever.

About Hitler’s practical support of the Nietzsche cult in Germany, we know quite a lot. And a lot of studies. But this was actually, I was told by Germanistin, 27:32, a literary studies scholar, it’s the only hint so far that we have that Hitler had actually read Nietzsche in some form.

The third point, “The Narrative of the ‘Clean’ German Army: Source Criticism as Politics of Memory after 1945.” The Lochner Version, I argue, was only a shortened but not defused variant of the longer Canaris version with regards to language and content. This assumption is strengthened by a further argument from source criticism that was unknown in the 1960s and [19]70s. It is a reference to Genghis Khan. We’ve heard that in the reading. Genghis Khan, the most famous representative of violent Asian rule, which only appears in the Lochner Version. And this reference clearly stands from Hitler’s, and also Himmler’s worldview as Richard Breitman has demonstrated already in a rather unknown research article with the title “Hitler and Genghis Khan” in 1990.[1] So I can only recommend this article which shows nicely how this historical figure played a role in Hitler’s worldview. In Nazi ideology.

In his source criticism, Baumgart and other historians also neglected to read the expressions of the Lochner Version in the context, the bigger context, of Hitler’s speeches to his officers between 1933 and 1945. And especially those in the year 1939. Had he done so, he would have noticed that the Lochner Version was not an anomaly with respect to the specific historic background and occasion, aim, and audience. Nor even to content or language. Rather it may be woven seamlessly into the other speeches Hitler held before his officers and generals, particularly to the military leadership. Already in his first address as Reichs chancellor before, the heads of the Reichswehr as it was still called then, on February the third, 1933, Hitler stated that he would work towards the conquest of new living space in the East and its ruthless Germanization. Thus the speech of twenty-second August, 1939, fits into Hitler’s speech cycle actually since the 1920s, like a piece in a puzzle.

The last point. The Lochner Version at the Nuremberg trial. Finally I shall attempt to disprove the objection that the Lochner Version was dismissed by the war crimes tribunal at Nuremberg. Louis Lochner had submitted his transcript of Hitler’s speech to the American prosecutors in 1945 in the belief that he had done his duty as an American citizen. In legal terms, however, not the content alone, but also the context which had played this document into Lochner’s hands was essential to be able to use as evidence in the trial. To present document L3, as the Lochner version was called in the Nuremberg trial, 1945-[19]46, as proof in the hearing, the staff evidence analysis of the investigation team listed the following agenda, which you can see here. First, trace Lochner’s informant. Second, obtain original or authenticated copies. Third, complete and verify translation and get affidavit or certificate of correctness of translation for follow-up in interrogation with the accused.

Norman Domeier Slide 10

Others, and the critics of the Lochner Version suggest L3 was not left out of the trial because it was not considered credible, or even a forgery. But it was impossible to fulfill the requirements of this legal agenda in the short space of time available. Especially finding Lochner’s informant, Hermann Maas, I’ve shown you the photo, proved impossible. Because it remained unknown then that he had been killed by the Nazis. As well as obtaining the original of L3.

These legal omissions, which may be explained by the hectic atmosphere of the Nuremberg trial, were replicated by historians like Baumgart in his source criticism. He even based his historical argumentation on these legal points.

The investigators could not reconstruct how the document had been passed on to Lochner. But once they knew through document L3 that there been a secret speech of Hitler on twenty-second August, 1939, they found two other short abstracts of it in the captured files of the German military high command. 32:49 These two versions, much more harmless in terms of language and content, they used for the hearing, as they could not be called into question as non-official by the defense, thanks to their provenance, even if they bore neither date nor signature.

So for reasons of litigation tactics alone, the prosecutors refrained from drawing on L3 as evidence. The Lochner Version did, however, have a significant impact on public opinion. The American prosecutor apologized sardonically for having placed L3 in the document pile for the media. This way, the international press received, and certainly not by chance, 250 copies of the Lochner Version and reported on it widely. For the special correspondent of the London Times, it was clear, I quote, “Here indeed is the real Hitler. These calculated words are so incriminating that it seems almost superfluous to refer to the batch of other documents put in by the prosecuting counsel as evidence of the Nazi intentions to launch a war of aggression.”

The objection on the defendant’s part, that Hitler had never announced such crimes before his generals. Prosecutor Thomas Dodd (1907-1971) countered with the argument, I quote, “I think the actual proof in this case thus far shows that not only were these things said, but they were done.” That Lochner had published Hitler’s speech already as early as 1942-[19]43, placing it at the beginning of his book What about Germany? seems surprisingly not to have been known in Nuremberg in 1945-[19]46, or it was withheld. Presumably, Lochner had requested that his name was not to be mentioned in the indictment, and that he would not be involved in the court sessions. The question is of course why?

As a witness, his reporting from the trial as an AP journalist would have been impossible. You can see Lochner here as an AP reporter during this very Nuremberg trial. This is actually a phenomenon that you have in a lot of sensational trials from the nineteenth century through to the twentieth century. Once you become a witness, you can’t work as a journalist on this case anymore. So Lochner’s professional future, it’s an interesting fact, with AP, was teetering on the brink at precisely this time here in Nuremberg. In later lawsuits, such as the [Erich von] Manstein (1887-1973) trial in 1949, Lochner now, no longer with AP, willingly testified.

Norman Domeier Slide 11

From today’s perspective, it is unfortunate that the Lochner Version was not adequately recognized at Nuremberg. Even at the end of this trial, there still was hardly more convincing evidence than that one speech and that version, the Lochner Version, for Hitler’s plans of worldwide conquers and annihilation. The prosecutors therefore limited themselves to proving criminal wars of aggression. This was also not without effect for the historiography after 1946. For the following years, historians indulged mainly in psychological analysis of the opportunist and nihilist Hitler, as if ideology was not really important for the Nazi leader.

In Nuremberg, some of the former foreign correspondents in Berlin, among them Louis Lochner, must have been immensely relieved that their names did not appear in the trial, and that their confidential collusions, arrangements and deals with some of the accused ended on the gallows. Especially Louis Lochner, who had planned a secret deal between Associated Press and Nazi Germany which lasted from the US entry in the war in December 1941 until spring 1945. So this is a topic in itself. It’s also something that I discovered here from Louis Lochner’s papers in early 2017. We can also talk about that in the discussion. It is basically, short version, a secret deal to exchange news photos via the neutral capitals of Lisbon and Stockholm during the whole war. So probably around forty thousand news photos were exchanged between Nazi Germany and the United States and Great Britain. And that is the explanation why during the Second World War, all American newspapers and journals were actually full of fresh, nice Nazi photos. And the other way around, you will find in all Nazi newspapers, also in the occupied territories, fresh photos from Associated Press. We can come back to that in the discussion if you’re interested in that.

Therefore, Lochner was mastermind behind this secret deal already planned in 1940. Therefore Lochner missed a truly historic opportunity in Nuremberg. Only with his testimony, his version of the Hitler speech, could have been used as valid evidence during the hearings in Nuremberg. All of the others who had ensured the speech would eventually reach him, Admiral Canaris, General Beck, General Oster, and Hermann Maas had been murdered by the National Socialists.

By now, historians can draw on more information on the background and the various contexts of, then both the investigators and judges in [19]45 and [19]46 and also the historians of the 1960s and [19]70s. The narrative of the clean German army, the Wehrmacht, has been deconstructed long ago. I think it is therefore overdue that the Lochner Version of the Hitler speech on twenty-second August, 1939, will be used for further research as well, and that historians recognize it for what it is, a key document of National Socialist ideology, in which Hitler’s two core ideas, his two core concepts, world domination and genocide, finds a crystal clear expression.

Thanks a lot for your attention. There’s more in my book, which will appear hopefully next year in an English version. And I’m looking forward to your questions and the discussion. (applause)

Norman Domeier Slide 12


Doney: Okay. We have fifteen minutes for questions. So, please.

?: Yeah, one of the essential things for journalists in the United States is this ethical position of not getting involved in politics, not participating in anything that might be viewed as partisan. And it sounds like that was part of what was creating obstacles for Lochner. What are your thoughts on this? Because this continues to be an issue to this day. The New York Times has extremely stringent requirements for its journalists. And yet obviously there are ramifications?

Domeier: Should I answer immediately? Or shall we collect?

Doney: Want to take two or three? Yes, is there another question? Go ahead.


Domeier: Yeah, that is a good point. Because it is so fascinating. Because Lochner himself was the author of several AP handbooks in the 1930s on what good journalism actually is. So I was just told last week I shouldn’t be too moralistic or too moralizing about this whole affair. And I always try to say yeah, maybe I should skip some words like “cravenness” for Alexander Kirk. But the interesting thing is, we can really judge them by the contemporary, by their own moral standards. And in Lochner’s case, it’s really easy because he and AP have published all these nice handbooks on, and this deal, especially is certainly, you can’t bring it together with their standards, journalistic and moral standards already the 1920, [19]30, [19]40s.

Regarding Lochner and other foreign correspondents being political, and being political actors, yeah, that is of course also very important up to today. I would say all journalists, most journalists, definitely all foreign correspondents, play this political role, if they want it or not. Here we have clear arrangements and deals. Which doesn’t mean that Lochner was pro-Nazi or doing the Nazi business. Because they all—also his colleagues, also very anti-Nazi colleagues—had their small arrangements and deals with some Nazis to get their work done. So it is a complicated, complex story, which is so interesting because here you don’t have the black and white, but really the gray, a deep gray here.

But in this case here, it is certainly debatable if that wasn’t too much, also for their own standards at that time.

Doney: Yes, please.

?: How is your book different than the book that came out a few years ago called [Andrew Nagorski], Hitlerland: American Eyewitnesses to the Nazi Rise to Power (2012), I think that covered American correspondents during the Third Reich. Are you familiar with that book? I’m interested in your book. But I also read that book. So I’m wondering how this book, what it adds to that.

Domeier: Yeah. I know Andrew Nagorski’s book. Yes, we emailed about that. It is—don’t misjudge me, it is of course more a journalistic book, as we would call it in German academia. So of course he has done some interesting research. This is a German Habilitation 43:22 which is a monster of 800 pages. It will be shorter in the English version. Don’t be afraid. (laughter) No American or British publishing house would publish such a thing. So it will be around 350 to 380 pages. Nagorski’s book, Hitlerland, has of course also some interesting things in it definitely, and there are more books like that. [Erik Larson], In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin (2012) 43:50 it’s a different thing, of course, about the Dodd family at the American embassy 43:55 in Berlin.

But they have a different focus. And here you also have these years of archival research, partly done here at the Wisconsin Historical Society. And I was a bit amazed that I was really the first one who used many of these private papers from the Berlin correspondents. Maybe not Lochner’s papers. Some parts of them have been used before, but not very much, actually. Others I went through a lot of American archives everywhere. Eugene, Oregon, and so on. I was sometimes the first to open the boxes. So even though you have still a pretty good history of media and journalism in the United States, it’s basically dead in Germany. So that is easy to explain. But here, the colleagues are still very good and they’re all still there. And no one was really interested in the foreign correspondents working in Nazi Germany. And I think that is also an explanation why in their private papers you still find a lot of treasures, secrets, new things about that era. And it’s also an interesting fact that I actually wanted to start with war foreign correspondents in Berlin, especially the British. But there’s a huge gap, just to give you that example, between the British and the American Berlin correspondents. The Americans all left the papers in a very neat way, neatly ordered, to their former universities and colleges. And the British correspondents, sometimes you don’t even find the papers anymore. Yeah? They’re gone or destroyed, thrown away. So even for some of the most prominent journalists at that time, you really have to look at the Americans not only for source reasons but also because United States, I also tried to show that in my book, were already before finally establishing itself as a leading world power in military and political terms, was already the leading media power in the world. And you can clearly see that looking at their foreign correspondents.

Doney: Yeah, Maria?

Maria F. P. Saffiotti Dale: So, what is the specific connection between Lochner and UW? Or why are the Lochner papers here?

Domeier: I think in this case it’s easy because he studied here. If I’m not misled. It is not all journalists’ papers here in the Wisconsin Historical Society actually studied in Madison. But I think in his case, he studied here. But he was very active in the 1950s and [19]60s. Also he and his wife, second wife, finally moved to Germany again at a certain point. He was very active also editing some special issues of some magazines then. They are all available in digital format. And he also tried to convince his former colleagues from Berlin, also those who have not studied in Madison or no relations with Madison, to leave their papers to the Wisconsin Historical Society. So that’s why we have all these great treasures here. So, dozens of papers from—


?: This is the second large journalism collection donated to the historical society. The first was H.V. Kaltenborn in that photograph flanking Hitler.

Domeier: Oh, okay.

?: Huge slides.

Domeier: Okay.

?: And then Lochner was given a year or two after Kaltenborn.

Domeier: Kaltenborn, yeah.

?: You’re right. He served as the historical society’s field agent. Recommended that they approach Sigrid Schultz for her papers.

Domeier: Sigrid Schultz is also an interesting case. She plays a prominent role in my book as well. So this is also the time of the first female foreign correspondents. And Sigrid Schultz, her papers are also here, exactly. She is also a very fascinating personality because you mention her. So I normally also talk a lot about her. Very tough foreign correspondent. Some even said the only man amongst the foreign correspondents in Berlin. (laughter) But it is interesting because Sigrid Schulz, if you read her articles, even from today’s perspective, not even using their own contemporary standards, were certainly the most anti-Nazi correspondent in Berlin. But she was not kicked out. And the interesting thing is that she also had a small arrangement, in this case with Hermann Göring, they knew each other already from the 1920s. And that guaranteed that all others who wanted her out, like Goebbels and Himmler, couldn’t really touch her, because she had this agreement with Göring. But it made it possible for her to write all these very harsh, very anti-Nazi articles under her real name, and even under an alias. And yeah, Sigrid Schultz is also a fascinating personality at that time.

Doney: I’m going to interject with a question and just ask if you can say a little bit about what you’re working on while you’re here. Which papers are you—

Domeier: Now, at the moment, or—

Doney: Yeah, currently. Yeah, this week.

Domeier: That is still (laughs) That is of course still kind of no, you can’t, actually. If you ask your colleagues in the archives, they will tell you. I’m going again through some parts. The Lochner papers are a mess. They are, I don’t know how many boxes and so on. Actually, they can compete with Wiegand’s papers, who are at the Hoover Archives in Stanford. Also wonderful material. Also basically, even though it’s more than 100 boxes, wasn’t used for research at all.

And that is so strange, because these foreign correspondents were starts in their time. But forgotten very fast after their active career. So I’m going through some of Lochner’s papers again. Also the papers of Ernest Fischer (1899-1972) here in the archives that are of some interest. And I discovered some things also happened by coincidence. Discovered some days ago that you also even have the papers of Byron Price (1891-1981) here. Byron Price was a journalist and manager of Associated Press and became the first, the only director of the Office of Censorship during the Second World War. And he was a key figure in the secret deal between Associated Press and Nazi Germany. Must have been. I mean, I’m still, I have to look at his papers too because I also want to publish a small book on the secret deal. Only curious to see what I can find in his papers kept here. And there are some other small things that I’m also looking at besides that. Yeah.

Doney: Well, one always needs a reason to come back.

Domeier: Oh, yes.

Doney: Please join me in thanking Dr. Domeier. (applause)

Domeier: Thank you.

51:27 [End lecture]

[1] Richard Breitman, “Hitler and Genghis Khan,” Journal of Contemporary History 25, no. 2/3 (May-June 1990): 337-351.

Norman Domeier Web Farbe-600Norman Domeier, Privatdozent Dr. phil. habil, is the DAAD guest professor of German and European History at Charles University in Prague, 2021-2026. He studied history, political science, and journalism at the University of Göttingen (2000-2003), completed his MPhil at Cambridge in 2004, and defended his PhD thesis at the European University Institute in 2009. His first book, The Eulenburg Affair. A Cultural History of Politics in the German Empire (1906-1909), was awarded the »Geisteswissenschaften International« Prize of the German Booksellers’ Association. The German edition came out in 2010 with Campus, the English edition in 2015 with Camden House. His second book/habilitation Global Public and Dictatorship. The American Foreign Correspondents in the Third Reich was published in autumn 2021 by Wallstein. An English-language version will be published in 2024 by Camden House. In 2017, he discovered the secret cooperation between the Associated Press (AP) and Nazi Germany from 1942-1945, which is an ongoing research project.


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