The Wannsee Conference

The Wannsee Conference

On 20 January 1942, 15 Nazi Party and German government officials met at a villa in Wannsee to plan the ‘Final Solution’ - a campaign to annihilate the Jewish population of Europe. The Wannsee Conference would pave the way for the Holocaust - Reinhard Heydrich chaired the infamous meeting while Adolf Eichmann took minutes.

Below is a list of people who were in attendance at the meeting:

Wannsee Villa
Wannsee Villa
Secretary of State Neumann Plenipotentiary for the 4 year plan
SS-Oberführer Klopfer Party Chancellery
SS-Obersturmbannführer Eichmann Reich Main Security Office
SS Obergruppenführer Heydrich Chief of the Security Police and SD
SS-Oberführer Dr Schoengarth Security Police and SD
SS-Gruppenführer Mueller Reich Main Security Office
SS-Gruppenführer Hofmann Race and Settlement Office
SS-Sturmbannführer Dr Lange Security Police and SD
Secretary of State Dr Freisler Reich Ministry for the Interior
Ministerialdirektor Kritzinger Reich Chancellery
Secretary of State Dr Buehler Office of the Government General
Reichsamtleiter Dr Leibbrandt Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories
Gauleiter Dr Meyer Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories
Under Secretary of State Dr Luther Foreign Office

Although many of the notes from the meeting were destroyed one of the 30 copies survived. The protocol of the conference was recorded by Eichmann, who disguised the planned genocide with a series of euphemisms. Despite the somewhat vague language used, the protocol provides evidence of the “final solution” pursued by the Nazis.

The phrase "the final solution of the Jewish question" can be found throughout the document. Here are some key passages from the minutes taken by Eichmann.

In the third paragraph it reads:

"Another possible solution of the problem (of the Jews) has now taken the place of emigration, ie the evacuation of the Jews to the east, provided that the Führer gives the appropriate approval in advance. These actions are, however, only to be considered provisional, but practical experience is already being collected which is of the greatest importance in relation to the future final solution of the Jewish question. Approximately 11 million Jews will be involved in the final solution of the European Jewish question." 

It is the phrase "treated accordingly" that most historians say links the meeting with the development of concentration camps - including Treblinka, Sobibor and Auschwitz-Birkenau - that were used to murder Jews, gypsies and the handicapped.

The notes from the Wannsee Conference - otherwise known as The Protocol also detail how many Jews Eichmann thought lived in Europe. He said: Albania, 200; the Netherlands, 69,600; Latvia, 3,500; Belgium, 43,000; and Russia, 5 million. In total, it was estimated that there were 11 million Jews living across Europe.

The conference did not set out who exactly was and was not to be considered a Jew. For example, if someone was married to a Jew etc. But it did say that those Jews who had been wounded fighting for Germany in World War One would be spent to special old age ghettos, rather than the death camps.

The protocol was discovered in Berlin in 1947 by Robert Kempner, assistant U.S. chief counsel in the Nuremberg Trials. A year later, it was used as important piece of evidence in the trial against the leading officials of the ministries.

See also: Action Reinhard

MLA Citation/Reference

"The Wannsee Conference". HistoryLearning.com. 2015. Web.