Hitler Letter Reveals Early Anti-Semitism

A disturbing and rare letter, presented to the public for the first time today, offers the earliest evidence of Adolf Hitler’s hatred of Jews—and his murderous plans. SEE THE DOCUMENT.

06.07.11 6:08 PM ET

Adolf Hitler’s name may now be synonymous with anti-Semitism, but 90 years ago, his extreme hatred of Jews was still relatively unknown. In a disturbing letter revealed to the public for the first time today—written well before the Holocaust and World War II—the future dictator displays the earliest recorded evidence of his prejudiced views, including his desire to “remove” the Jews. The letter, typed on an army typewriter, is “one of the most important documents of the entire history of the Third Reich,” said Rabbi Marvin Hier.

The 1919 document, which historians have drawn on in the past for research, has been acquired for $150,000 by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and was presented this morning at the Center for Tolerance New York. In the letter Hitler writes that the Jews constitute a “racial tuberculosis on the nation” and adds that the “final goal must be the removal of the Jews. To accomplish these goals, only a government of National power is capable and never a government of national weakness.”

The letter was written in response to an assignment that asked the recent veteran to evaluate the "Jewish Question" in Germany. The original document, which the Center refers to as "seminal," will go on display at the Center for Tolerance in Los Angeles. Omer Bartov, a scholar who has written on Hitler and the Third Reich, notes that “it is unlikely that [Hitler] envisioned Auschwitz in 1919. What made the difference between Hitler and all other bigots was that he became the leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world at the time and could thus translate his ideas—which became radicalized over time—into reality.” The man who originally asked Hitler to write the letter, Captain Karl Mayr, split with the Third Reich, escaped to France, and was later captured—and perished in a concentration camp.