The unconditional surrender of Germany has just been announced. At midnight tonight, the war is over. Tomorrow you’ll begin the process of looking for survivors of your families. In most cases, you won’t find them. After six long years of murder, victims are being mourned throughout the world. We’ve survived. Many of you have come up to me and thanked me. Thank yourselves. Thank your fearless Stern and others among you who worried about you and faced death at every moment. I am a member of the Nazi Party. I’m a munitions manufacturer. I’m a profiteer of slave labor. I am a criminal. At midnight, you’ll be free and I’ll be hunted. I shall remain with you until five minutes after midnight, after which time, and I hope you’ll forgive me, I have to flee.
My father was fond of saying you need three things in life. A good doctor, a forgiving priest, and a clever accountant. The first two, I’ve never had much use for.[to Stern]
In every business I tried, I can see now, it wasn’t me that failed. Something was missing. Even if I’d known what it was, there’s nothing I could have done about it, because you can’t create this thing. And it makes all the difference in the world between success and failure. War.
I know you have received orders from our commandant, which he has received from his superiors, to dispose of the population of this camp. Now would be the time to do it. Here they are, they’re all here. This is your opportunity. Or, you could leave, and return to your families as men instead of murderers.[to the factory’s SS guards]
Today is history. Today will be remembered. Years from now, the young will ask with wonder about this day. Today is history, and you are part of it. Six hundred years ago, when elsewhere they were footing the blame for the Black Death, Casimir the Great – so called – told the Jews they could come to Krakow. They came. They trundled their belongings into the city. They settled. They took hold. They prospered in business, science, education, the arts. They came here with nothing. Nothing. And they flourished. For six centuries there has been a Jewish Krakow. Think about that. By this evening, those six centuries are a rumor. They never happened. Today is history.