Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseOn 31 Jul 1941, Hermann Göring gave a written authorization to Reinhard Heydrich to "make all necessary preparations" for a "total solution of the Jewish question" in all German territories. In that capacity, Heydrich sent out invitations on 29 Nov for a planned meeting on 9 Dec at the headquarters of the International Criminal Police Commission in Wannsee, a western suburb of Berlin, Germany, to discuss the implementation of methods to remove Jews from areas under German influence. Russian counter-offensive in Moscow and the United States' entry into WW2 pushed back the meeting. In early Jan 1942, new invitations were sent out, and the meeting took place at noon on 20 Jan.
ww2dbaseHeydrich began the meeting by briefing the attendees the history of anti-Jew efforts in Germany since the 1930s, and noted the current efforts to forcefully emigrate Jews to ghettos and camps in occupied territories in the east such Poland. He also defined, in German Proper, who would be considered Jews based on the number of Jewish parents and grandparents, whether they had married non-Jews, whether the mixed couple raised their children as Jews, etc. (in some occupied territories, all Jews, even those who live in Jewish neighborhoods, were rounded up without question). In the last portion of the meeting where cognac was served, according to Adolf Eichmann who acted as the recording secretary of the meeting and took the minutes, the attendees talked about methods to liquidate Jews openly. Eichmann noted that after the meeting Heydrich gave instructions that Eichmann should exercise the liberty of editing the language in the meeting minutes, especially in regards to the final 20 minutes of the meeting, so that no direct references to anything explicit, for example any possible usage of the words "extermination", would not appear in any written record.
ww2dbaseHeydrich had little wish to open the table for discussion at the conference, as Nazi leadership had already decided that Jews were to be removed from German occupied territories. While he did his most to make the conference appear to be a working-meeting, his true intention was likely simply to assert his authority as the chief executor of the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question".
ww2dbaseThe Wannsee House, where the Wannsee conference took place in 1942, is now a Holocaust memorial.
Last Major Update: Jan 2010
Wannsee Conference Interactive Map
Wannsee Conference Timeline
|20 Jan 1942||SS-Gruppenführer Heydrich hosted the Wannsee Conference at a villa in the suburbs of Berlin, Germany to discuss the Final Solution.|
|26 Feb 1942||Reinhard Heydrich wrote a letter to Martin Luther of the German Foreign Office, enclosing the meeting minutes of the Wannsee Conference and requesting the Foreign Office to engage in discussions on carrying out the Final Solution to the Jewish Question.|
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Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 16 Mar 1945