Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of
Wannsee on 20 January 1942.
The villa at 56–58 Am Grossen Wannsee,
where the Wannsee Conference was held, now a memorial and
The purpose of the
conference was to inform administrative leaders of Departments
responsible for various policies relating to Jews, that Reinhard Heydrich
had been appointed as
the chief executor of the "Final solution to the
". In the course of the meeting, Heydrich
presented a plan, presumably approved by Adolf Hitler
, for the deportation of the Jewish
population of Europe and French North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, and
Tunisia) to German-occupied areas in eastern Europe, and the use of
the Jews fit for labour on road-building projects, in the course of
which they would eventually die, the surviving remnant to be
annihilated after completion of the projects. Instead, as Soviet
forces gradually pushed back the German lines, most of the Jews of
German-occupied Europe were sent to extermination or concentration
camps, or killed where they lived. As a result of the efforts of
historian Joseph Wulf
, the Wannsee
House, where the conference was held, is now a Holocaust
German advances in the opening weeks of the invasion of the
Barbarossa, induced a mood of euphoria among the Nazi
leadership, which began to take an increasingly radical view of the
"solution" of the "Jewish question"—a question that seemed to
become more urgent with the growing likelihood that the four
million Jews of the western Soviet Union would fall under German
On 16 July 1941, Hitler addressed a meeting of
ministers, including Reichsmarschall
, at which the
administration of the occupied Soviet territories was discussed.
that Soviet territories west of the Urals were to
become a "German Garden of Eden", and
that "naturally this vast area must be pacified as quickly as
possible; this will happen best by shooting anyone who even looks
sideways at us."
chief lieutenants, Göring and the SS chief
Heinrich Himmler, took this and
other comments by Hitler at this time (most of which were not
recorded, but were attested to at postwar trials) as authority to
proceed with a more radical "final solution of the Jewish question"
(Die Endlösung der Judenfrage), involving the complete
removal of the Jews from the German-occupied territories.
On 31 July
1941 Göring gave a written authorisation to SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, Chief of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) to "make all necessary preparations" for a
"total solution of the Jewish question" in all the territories
under German influence, to co-ordinate the participation of all
government organisations whose co-operation was required, and to
submit a "comprehensive draft" of a plan for the "final solution of
the Jewish question".
Göring was at this time the second most powerful figure in the Nazi
regime, having been given the special rank of Reichsmarschall
and designated as Hitler's
successor. Therefore, Heydrich would have understood that any
instruction coming from Göring carried the authority of Hitler.
also knew that his immediate superior, Himmler, was in favour of
exterminating the Jews, and Heydrich was at that moment directing
the Einsatzgruppen to do just that in the newly conquered Soviet
territories. Rudolf Lange,
commander of Einsatzkommando 2 in Latvia, wrote that
his orders were "a radical solution of the Jewish problem through
the execution of all Jews".
In October the deportation of
the Jews of Germany, Austria and the Czech lands to the east began.
trainloads of German Jews arrived at Riga in Latvia,
Lange simply had them shot.
But this was clearly not a
feasible method of dealing with millions of people: the cost of
ammunition alone was unacceptable, and it was observed that even SS
troops were uncomfortable about shooting assimilated German Jews as
opposed to Ostjuden
("Eastern Jews"). The head of the German
civil administration in Belarus, generalkommisar Wilhelm Kube, who among other crimes personally
murdered Jewish children, objected to German Jews deported to the
Minsk Ghetto, "who come from our own cultural circle",
being casually killed by German soldiers.
During the second half of 1941, therefore, Heydrich and his staff
worked on proposals to "evacuate" all Jews from Germany and the
occupied countries to labour camps, either in occupied Poland or
further east in the Soviet Union, which it was assumed would soon
be completely conquered. Those who were unable to work would be
killed, while the remainder would soon be worked to death.
German defeat in
front of Moscow in November–December led to a sharp change of
Euphoria was replaced by the prospect of a long
war, and also by a realisation that food stocks were not sufficient
to feed the entire population of German-occupied Europe. It was at
this time the decision to proceed from "evacuation" to
extermination was made. Speaking with Himmler and Heydrich on 25
October, Hitler said: "Let no one say to me: we cannot send them
into the swamp. Who then cares about our own people? It is good
when terror precedes us that we are exterminating the Jews. We are
writing history anew, from the racial standpoint."
Planning the conference
Letter from Reinhard Heydrich to
Martin Luther, Undersecretary at the Foreign Office, inviting him
to the Wannsee Conference (Wannsee Conference House Memorial,
By November 1941, it was becoming known in the upper reaches of the
Nazi leadership and government offices that Hitler intended all the
Jews of Europe to be deported to the eastern territories and, by
some means, to have their lives extinguished there. To carry out
such a massive enterprise, involving the registration, assembly and
transportation of millions of people, at a time when the necessary
material and human resources were already severely stretched, would
be a formidable logistical challenge. It was also one that at least
some elements of the German state apparatus might be expected to
obstruct or fail to co-operate with. It thus seemed advisable to
bring together representatives of all affected departments to
explain what was intended and how it was to be carried out, and to
make it clear that the project had been undertaken on the highest
authority of the Reich.
November, Heydrich sent invitations for a meeting to be held on 9
December at the headquarters of the International Criminal Police
Commission (the forerunner of Interpol, of which Heydrich at the time served as President)
at 16 Am Kleinen Wannsee (in the comfortable lakeside suburb of
Wannsee on the western edge of Berlin).
He enclosed a copy
of Göring's letter of 31 July to indicate his authority in the
matter. As this was to be a meeting of administrators to discuss
implementation of a policy already decided at the executive level,
those invited were mostly State Secretaries, i.e., chief
administrative (subministerial) officers of government ministries.
The ministries to be represented were Interior, Justice, the Four
Year Plan and Occupied Eastern Territories. The Foreign Office was
to be represented by an undersecretary, as Heydrich suspected that
State Secretary Weizsäcker
was not fully aligned with the objectives of the regime.
invited were representatives of the Reich Chancellery, the Nazi
Party Chancellery and the Race and Resettlement Main Office of the
RSHA, and the head of the Gestapo, Müller.
, head of the General
in occupied Poland, heard of the meeting, he
demanded to be represented, and Heydrich quickly agreed.
SS-Sturmbannführer Lange was invited for his experience in
executing German Jews in Latvia. Heydrich's right-hand man Eichmann
was to take the minutes.
Developments in early December, 1941, disrupted the original
meeting plans. On 5 December, the Soviet Army began a
counter-offensive in front of Moscow, ending the prospect of a
rapid conquest of the Soviet Union. On 7 December, the Japanese attacked the
United States at Pearl
Harbor, causing the US to declare war on Japan the next
To fulfill its obligations under its Tripartite Pact
with Italy and Japan, the
Reich government immediately began preparing to issue a declaration
of war on the US on 11 December. Some meeting invitees were
involved in these preparations, and Heydrich postponed the meeting,
with no rescheduled time, on 8 December. In early January 1942
Heydrich sent new invitations to a meeting to be held on 20
January. The German historian Christian Gerlach
sees in Heydrich's
postponement the exploitation of an opportunity to broaden the
original objective. Götz Aly
"The postponement followed, one could assert, the political
confusion that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had caused. But
Gerlach substantiates with convincing details that the originally
planned Wannsee Conference had an entirely different theme than
that which actually took place six weeks later. It had only been
anticipated to discuss problems that occurred with the deportations
of the (Greater) German Jews... Only after Hitler's speech of 12
December was Heydrich able, as Gerlach shows, to broaden the theme
and fix a conference on the 'Final Solution of the European Jewish
The venue for the rescheduled conference was changed to a villa at
56–58 Am Grossen Wannsee, a quiet residential street across the
from the popular Wannsee beach. The
villa, built in 1914, had been purchased from Friedrich Minoux
in 1940 by the SS for use
as a conference centre.
List of attendees
When the conference finally assembled at midday on 20 January those
In preparation for the conference, Eichmann drafted a list of the
numbers of Jews in the various European countries (pictured below).
Countries were listed in two groups "A" and "B". "A" countries were
those under direct Reich control or occupation (or partially
occupied and quiescent, in the case of France); "B" countries were
allied or client states, neutral, or at war with Germany. The
numbers reflect actions already completed by Nazi forces; for
example, Estonia is listed as judenfrei
("free of Jews"),
as the thousand Jews who remained in Estonia after the German
occupation had been virtually exterminated by the end of 1941.
- Old Reich [Germany proper]:
- Ostmark [region of
the former Austria, incorporated in the Reich]: 43,700
- Eastern Territories [Polish
areas annexed by the Reich]: 420,000
- General Government [occupied
Polish lands]: 2,284,000
- Bialystok [district in eastern
Poland, under German civil administration]: 400,000
- Protectorate of
Bohemia and Moravia: 74,200
- Estonia: free of Jews
- Lithuania: 34,000
- Belgium: 43,000
- Denmark: 5,600
- Netherlands: 160,800
- Bulgaria: 48,000
- England [i.e. United Kingdom]: 330,000
- Finland: 2,300
- Ireland: 4,000
- Italy including
- Albania: 200
- Croatia: 40,000
- Portugal: 3,000
- Romania including Bessarabia: 342,000
- Switzerland: 18,000
- Slovakia: 88,000
- Turkey (European
- Hungary: 742,800
- USSR: 5,000,000
[including subtotals for:]
"Total: over 11,000,000"
For comparison see "Jewish Lists" of the Korherr Report
of January 18, 1943.
The conference room at the Wannsee
Conference House as it appears today.
Heydrich opened the conference with an account of the anti-Jewish
measures taken in Germany since the Nazi seizure of power in 1933.
He said that between 1933 and 1941, 530,000 German and Austrian
Jews had emigrated. This information was taken from a briefing
paper prepared for him the previous week by Eichmann who, after his
experience in organizing the forced emigration of the Viennese Jews
in 1938, had become the leading expert on the practicalities of
solving the "Jewish question".
Heydrich reported that there were approximately eleven million Jews
in the whole of Europe, of whom half a million were in countries
not under German control. He explained that since further
emigration of European Jews had been prohibited by the authorities,
"another possible solution of the problem has now taken the place
of emigration, i.e. the evacuation of the Jews to the East"; this
would be a "provisional" solution, but "practical experience" was
already being collected for the "future final solution of the
It has been claimed that the Wannsee Conference decided on no more
than the "evacuation" of the Jewish population of Europe to the
east, with no reference to killing them. In fact, Heydrich made the
ultimate fate intended for the evacuees clear:
- "Under proper guidance, in the course of the final solution the
Jews are to be allocated for appropriate labor in the East.
Able-bodied Jews, separated according to sex, will be taken in
large work columns to these areas for work on roads, in the course
of which action doubtless a large portion will be eliminated by
natural causes. The possible final remnant will, since it will
undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be
treated accordingly, because it is the product of natural selection
and would, if released, act as the seed of a new Jewish
No one at the meeting can have misunderstood Heydrich's meaning.
The historian Christopher
observes: "No less than eight of the fifteen
participants held the doctorate. Thus it was not a dimwitted crowd
unable to grasp what was going to be said to them. Nor were they
going to be overcome with surprise or shock, for Heydrich was not
talking to the uninitiated or squeamish."
Heydrich went on to say that in the course of the "practical
execution of the final solution", Europe would be "combed through
from west to east", but that Germany, Austria and the Protectorate of Bohemia and
would have priority "due to the housing problem and
additional social and political necessities". This was a reference
to increasing pressure from the regional Nazi Party leaders in
Germany, the Gauleiters, for the Jews to be removed from their
areas to allow accommodation for Germans made homeless by Allied
bombing, as well as for labourers being imported from occupied
countries. The "evacuated" Jews, he said, would first be sent to
"transit ghettos" in the General Government, from which they would
be transported to the East.Heydrich said that to avoid legal and
political difficulties, it was important to define who was a Jew
for the purposes of "evacuation". He outlined categories of people
who would be exempted. Jews over 65 years old, and Jewish World War I veterans alike, who had been
severely wounded or who had won the Iron
Cross, would be sent to the "model" concentration camp at
"With this expedient solution," he said,
"in one fell swoop many interventions will be prevented."
The situation of people who were in a "racial" sense half or
quarter Jews, and of Jews who were married to non-Jews, was more
complex. Under the Nuremberg Laws
1935, their status had been left deliberately ambiguous. Heydrich
announced that "mischlings
" (a Nazi
pejorative for mixed-"race" persons) of the first degree (persons
with two Jewish grandparents), would be treated as Jews. This would
not apply if they were married to a non-Jew and had children by
that marriage. It would also not apply if they had been granted
written exemption by "the highest offices of the Party and State."
Such persons would instead be sterilised.
"Mischlings of the second degree" (persons with one Jewish
grandparent) would be treated as Germans unless they were married
to Jews or mischlings of the first degree, or had a "racially
especially undesirable appearance that marks him outwardly as a
Jew", or had a "political record that shows that he feels and
behaves like a Jew". Persons in these latter categories would be
deported even if married to non-Jews.
Facsimiles of the minutes of the
Wannsee Conference and Eichmann's list, presented under glass at
the Wannsee Conference House Memorial.
In the case of mixed marriages
Heydrich advocated a policy of caution, "with regard to the effects
on the German relatives". If such a marriage had produced children
who were being raised as Germans, the Jewish partner would not be
deported. If they were being raised as Jews, they might be
deported, or sent to Theresienstadt, depending on the
It is important to note that these exemptions applied only to
German and Austrian Jews (and were not always observed even in
regard to them). In most of the occupied countries, Jews were
rounded up and deported en masse
, and anyone who lived in
or identified with the Jewish community in a given place was
regarded as a Jew. One of the few exceptions to this was
France, where the
Vichy French regime, in exchange for
ready co-operation, was able to apply its own rules, affecting
mainly refugees and recent immigrants rather than French-born
Heydrich commented: "In occupied and unoccupied
France, the registration of Jews for evacuation will in all
probability proceed without great difficulty", but in fact the
great majority of French-born Jews survived. In Denmark, relatively few Jews were ultimately exterminated,
due to strong opposition by the King and the populace.
difficulty was anticipated with Germany's allies, Romania and Hungary.
"In Romania the government has [now]
appointed a commissioner for Jewish affairs", Heydrich said, but in
fact the deportation of Romanian Jews was slow and inefficient
despite the high degree of popular anti-Semitism. "In order to
settle the question in Hungary," Heydrich said, "it will soon be
necessary to force an adviser for Jewish questions onto the
Hungarian government". The Hungarian regime of Miklós Horthy
continued to resist German
interference in its Jewish policy until 1944, when Horthy was
overthrown (by Nazi intervention) and 500,000 Hungarian Jews sent
to their deaths by Eichmann.
Heydrich spoke for nearly an hour. Then followed about thirty
minutes of questions and comments, followed by some less formal
conversation. Luther from the Foreign Office urged caution in
Scandinavia, "Nordic" countries where public opinion was not
hostile to the small Jewish populations and would react badly to
unpleasant scenes. Hofmann and Stuckart pointed out the legalistic
and administrative difficulties over mixed marriages, arguing for
compulsory dissolution of marriages to prevent legal disputes and
for the wider use of sterilisation as an alternative to
deportation. Neumann from the Four Year Plan argued for the
exemption of Jews who were working in industries vital to the war
effort and for whom no replacements are available. Heydrich (keen
not to offend Neumann's boss Hermann Göring) assured him that these
Jews would not be "evacuated". There were questions about the
mischlings and those in mixed marriages: the details of these
complex questions were put off until a later meeting.
Finally Bühler of the General Government in occupied Poland stated
- "the General Government would welcome it if the final solution
of this problem could be begun in the General Government, since on
the one hand transportation does not play such a large role here
nor would problems of labor supply hamper this action. Jews must be
removed from the territory of the General Government as quickly as
possible, since it is especially here that the Jew as an epidemic
carrier represents an extreme danger and on the other hand he is
causing permanent chaos in the economic structure of the country
through continued black market dealings.".
View of the Großer Wannsee lake from
the villa at 56–58 Am Grossen Wannsee, where the conference was
The above account is based on the minutes taken by Eichmann, copies
of which were sent by Eichmann to all the participants after the
meeting. Most of these copies were destroyed at the end of the war
as participants and other officials sought to cover their tracks.
It was not until 1947 that a copy of the minutes (known from the
German word for "minutes" as the "Wannsee Protocol") was found by
in the papers of
Undersecretary Martin Luther, who had died in May 1945. By this
time the more important participants in the meeting were dead or
missing (Heydrich, Müller, Eichmann), and most of the others denied
knowledge of the meeting or claimed that they could not remember
what had occurred there. Only Kritzinger ever showed any genuine
remorse for his role in preparing the Final Solution.
There were, however, significant omissions in the minutes.
were not fully elucidated until the interrogation and trial of
Eichmann in Israel in
Eichmann told his questioners that towards the end of
the meeting cognac was served, and that after that the conversation
became less restrained. "The gentlemen were standing together, or
sitting together", he said, "and were discussing the subject quite
bluntly, quite differently from the language which I had to use
later in the record. During the conversation they minced no words
about it at all...they spoke about methods of killing, about
liquidation, about extermination".
Eichmann recorded that Heydrich was pleased with the course of the
meeting. He "gave expression to his great satisfaction", and
allowed himself a glass of cognac, although he rarely drank. He
"had expected considerable stumbling blocks and difficulties",
Eichmann recalled, but instead he had found "an atmosphere not only
of agreement on the part of the participants, but more than that,
one could feel an agreement which had assumed a form which had not
been expected". At the conclusion of the meeting Heydrich gave
Eichmann firm instructions about what was to appear in the minutes.
They were not to be verbatim: Eichmann would "clean them up" so
that nothing too explicit appeared in them. He said at his trial:
"How shall I put it—certain over-plain talk and jargon expressions
had to be rendered into office language by me". As a result, the
last twenty minutes of the meeting, in which, as Eichmann recalled,
words like "liquidation" and "extermination" were freely used, were
summed up in one bland sentence: "In conclusion the different types
of possible solutions were discussed". Thus the minutes must be
read in conjunction with Eichmann's testimony to get as near as is
possible to a full account of what took place.
The Wannsee Conference only lasted about ninety minutes, and for
most of its participants it was one meeting among many in a busy
week. The enormous importance which has been attached to the
conference by postwar writers was not evident to most of its
participants at the time. Heydrich did not call the meeting to make
fundamental new decisions on the Jewish question. Massive killings of
Jews in the conquered territories in the Soviet Union and Poland;
at Chelmno were ongoing and new extermination camps were in
preparation at the time of the conference.
decisions about the extermination of the Jews, as everybody at the
meeting understood, were made by Hitler, in consultation, if he
chose, with senior colleagues such as Himmler and Göring, and not
by officials. They knew that in this case the decision had already
been made, and that Heydrich was there as Himmler's emissary to
tell them about it. Nor did the conference engage in detailed
logistical planning. It could hardly do so in the absence of a
representative of the Transport Ministry or the German Railways
What, then, was the purpose of the meeting? Eichmann's biographer
says that Heydrich's
main purpose was to impose his own authority on the various
ministries and agencies involved in Jewish policy matters, to avoid
any repetition of the disputes that had arisen over the killing of
the German Jews at Riga in October. "The simplest, most decisive
way that Heydrich could ensure the smooth flow of deportations", he
writes, "was by asserting his total control over fate of the Jews
in the Reich and the east, and [by] cow[ing] other interested
parties into toeing the line of the RSHA". This would explain why
most of the meeting was taken up with a long speech by Heydrich,
the contents of which would not have been news to most of those
present, and why so little time was spent discussing practical
questions. It was also important to obtain the consent of the
Foreign Ministry and the Four Year Plan, the ministries most likely
to object (on diplomatic and economic grounds) to the mass killing
of the Jews.
The leading German historian Peter
agrees, but suggests a second motive: to make all the
leading ministries accomplices in Heydrich's plan.
- "From Heydrich’s point of view," he writes, "the main purposes
of the conference were, firstly, to establish the overall control
of the deportation programme by the RSHA over a number of important
Reich authorities and thereby, secondly, to make the top
representatives of the ministerial bureaucracy into accomplices and
accessories to, and co-responsible for, the plan he was pursuing.
To reiterate: the plan was to exile all Jews in the present and
future areas under German rule to Eastern Europe, where they were
to be exposed to extraordinarily harsh living conditions and
fatally exhausted or murdered. Heydrich had pursued this
deportation plan since the beginning of 1941; in July 1941, Göring
had given him the authority to execute it; and with the first
deportation of Jews from central Europe in October, the first stage
in that pan-European design had been realized. With his first
invitation to the conference, Heydrich had waited until the second
wave of deportations to Riga, Minsk and Kovno had already begun. He
clearly wanted to present the representatives of the supreme Reich
authorities with a fait accompli".
Fates of the attendees
In order of death
Heydrich died in Prague on 4 June 1942 as a result of injuries
sustained during a May 27 attack by Czech and Slovak resistance fighters parachuted in from
Freisler was killed in a USAAF air-raid in Berlin in February
- Rudolf Lange was
killed in action in Poland in February
- Alfred Meyer killed himself in
- Heinrich Müller was last seen
in Berlin on 29 April
1945. His fate is unknown, but he probably died in Berlin in
the next few days.
- Martin Luther finished
the war in a German concentration
camp after falling out with Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop in 1943. After
being freed by the Soviets, Luther died in Berlin in May 1945.
- Karl Eberhard
Schöngarth was executed for war crimes (killing British
prisoners of war) in May 1946.
- Friedrich Wilhelm
Kritzinger was acquitted of war crimes and died in October
Bühler was tried in Poland for war crimes and executed in
Kraków in July
- Erich Neumann was
briefly imprisoned and died in mid-1948.
- Wilhelm Stuckart was imprisoned
for four years before being released for lack of evidence in 1949.
He was killed in a car accident in November, 1953.
- Adolf Eichmann
managed to escape to Argentina where he lived under a false identity.
he was kidnapped there by Israeli agents, imprisoned in Israel, sentenced
to death after a regular trial, and finally executed in May
- Georg Leibbrandt was charged
with war crimes but the case against him was dismissed in 1950. He
died in June 1982.
- Otto Hofmann was sentenced to 25
years in prison for war crimes, but was pardoned in 1954. He died
in December 1982.
- Gerhard Klopfer was charged with
war crimes but was released for lack of evidence. He became a tax
advisor, later dying in January 1987.
Wannsee House Holocaust Memorial
In 1965, historian Joseph Wulf
have the Wannsee House made into a Holocaust memorial and document
center. But the Berlin Senate did not want Holocaust Memorials and
spurned Joseph Wulf. In his last letter to his son David, 2 August
1974, Wulf wrote, "I have published 18 books about the Third Reich
and they have had no effect. You can document everything to death
for the Germans. There is a democratic regime in Bonn. Yet the mass
murderers walk around free, live in their little houses, and grow
flowers." Deeply despondent over the death of his wife and the
collapse of his plans for a document center, Wulf committed
suicide, age 61, by jumping from the fifth floor window of his
Berlin apartment, Giesebrechtstraße 12, Charlottenburg. In 1992 the
Wannsee House became a Holocaust memorial. The Joseph Wulf
Bibliothek/Mediothek on the second floor holds thousands of books
on Nazism, anti-Semitism, and the Jewish genocide, along with many
videos, microfilm texts, and original Nazi era documents. Wulf’s
last letter is on display in Berlin’s Jewish Museum.
The events of the Conference have been dramatized in two films.
- The 1984 German television film Wannseekonferenz (The
Wannsee Conference) runs 85 minutes—exactly the length of the
conference itself, with a script derived from the minutes of the
- In 2001 the BBC/HBO film Conspiracy starred Kenneth Branagh as Heydrich and Stanley Tucci as Eichmann and was also
scripted according to the exact timeframe and minutes of the
The Wannsee conference is central to the plot of the alternate-historical
by Robert Harris
- The minutes of the Wannsee Conference estimate the Jewish
population of the Soviet Union as five million, including nearly
three million in the Ukraine and 900,000 in Byelorussia.
- Christopher R. Browning, The
Origins of the Final Solution (University of Nebraska Press
2004), 309. The quotations are from Martin Bormann's minutes of the meeting,
which were presented in evidence at the Nuremberg
- Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution, 315.
- Ian Kershaw,
Hitler Volume II (W. W. Norton 2000), 396.
- Richard Breitman, The Architect of
Genocide: Himmler and the Final Solution (Pimlico 2004),
- Breitman, Architect of Genocide, 220, discusses
Himmler's concerns about the effect on his men's morale of the mass
killings of German Jews at Riga and elsewhere.
Cesarani, Eichmann: His Life and Crimes (Vintage
- Adam Tooze,
The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi
Economy (Allen Lane 2006), 538–549, discusses the economic
imperatives that lay behind the extermination of the Jews. During
1941 an acute labour shortage in the German armaments industry
developed, requiring the importation of millions of workers from
the occupied territories. If these workers, as well as the German
people and the people of the more privileged western occupied
countries such as France and the Netherlands, were to be adequately
fed, there had to a sharp reduction in the number of "useless
mouths", of whom the millions of Jews under German rule were, in
the light of Nazi ideology, the most obvious example.
- Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution, 370. For
this quotation Browning cites Werner Jochmann (ed), Monologe in
Führerhauptquartier (Hamburg 1980), 96–99. These stenographic
records of Hitler's mealtime monologs at his headquarters were
published in English translation as Hitler's Table Talk
1941–1944 (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1953). Although the
accuracy of the translation has been criticised, the gist of the
statements by Hitler has been known since the English
- The German historian Christian Gerlach has claimed that Hitler
made his approval of a policy of extermination clear in a speech to
senior officials in Berlin on 12 December (Christian Gerlach, "The
Wannsee Conference, the Fate of German Jews, and Hitler's Decision
in Principle to Exterminate All European Jews", Journal of
Modern History, December 1998, 759–812. This is not
universally accepted, but it seems likely that a decision was made
at around this time. On December 18, Himmler met with Hitler and
noted in his appointment book "Jewish question - to be exterminated
as partisans". (Browning, The Origins of the Final
Solution, 410). On 19 December, Wilhelm Stuckert, State
Secretary at the Interior Ministry, told one of his officials: "The
proceedings against the evacuated Jews are based on a decision from
the highest authority. You must come to terms with it." (Browning,
The Origins of the Final Solution, 405).
- Ernst von Weizsäcker is known to
have initiated contacts with certain figures later associated with
the German Resistance.
- Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution, 406.
- Götz Aly, "December 21, 1941", originally published in
Berliner Zeitung, 13 December 1997,
available in English at the Holocaust History website.
- The history and description of the villa are given in the
pamphlet "House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial Berlin"
(Stadtvandel Verlag), available at the Memorial.
- Conclusions of the Estonian International
Commission for the Investigation of Crimes Against
- The Minutes of the Wannsee conference are available
online. All direct quotations of Wannsee Conference proceedings are
taken from this translation. The reliability of the minutes as an
accurate record of the meeting is discussed below in this
- Cesarani, Eichmann, 112.
- This figure includes, however, the entire estimated five
million Soviet Jews. In fact a large number of these either lived
in areas not under German control or had been evacuated already. It
is likely that about three million Soviet Jews were actually in
German-occupied areas in 1942, although many had already been
killed by the Einsatzgruppen. The figure of 700,000 Jews in
"unoccupied France" included Jews living in the French territories
of Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
- Picture of 5th page of Wannsee Protokoll in
- For example, see the Holocaust denialist website The Zundelseit.
- Picture of 7th page of Wannsee Protokoll in
- Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution, 411.
- Picture of page 8. of Wannsee Protokoll
- In the event the exemption for Jews over 65 was only
sporadically observed. In any case the food situation at
Theresienstadt was such that many people sent there rapidly died.
Later many people were shipped from Theresienstadt to their deaths
- Picture of 11th page of Wannsee Protokoll in
- In practice these rules were enforced in a haphazard and
capricious way according to the decisions of local Nazi leaders. In
some places even "full Jews" with non-Jewish spouses were not
deported (the Dresden writer Victor Klemperer was an example). In other
places everybody with Jewish connections was deported regardless of
official exemptions. Conflict over the fate of Jews in mixed
marriages eventually led to the Rosenstrasse protest of 1943.
- Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution, 414.
- For this see Michael R. Marrus and Robert O. Paxton,
Vichy France and the Jews (Stanford University Press
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- On Romania, see Cesarani, Eichmann, 151–55. On
Hungary, see Cesarani, 159–95.
- Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution, 413.
- Göring and his subordinates made persistent efforts to prevent
skilled Jewish workers, whose labour was an important part of the
war effort, being deported and killed. But by 1943 Himmler was a
much more powerful figure in the regime than Göring, and eventually
all categories of skilled Jews lost their exemptions. This is
discussed by Tooze, The Wages of Destruction, 522–29.
- A meeting of 17 ministerial representatives was held at the
Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories on 29 January. It
decided that in the eastern territories all mischlings were to be
classed as Jews, while in western Europe the German standard would
be applied. (Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution,
- Picture of 15th page of Wannsee protokoll in
- Cesarani, Eichmann, 117–118.
- The minutes are headed "Besprechungsprotokoll", translated as
- Cesarani, Eichmann, 113.
- Cesarani, Eichmann, 114.
- Dr. Richard Breitman The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and
The Final Solution (Alfred A. Knopf, 1991) pp.229-233
- Cesarani, Eichmann, 111. The sentence is ungrammatical
in the original.
- Peter Longerich, "The Wannsee Conference in the Development of
the 'Final Solution'", available online at the House of the
Wannsee Conference: Memorial and Educational Site website.
- Lehrer, Steven. Wannsee House and the Holocaust. McFarland.
Jefferson, North Carolina. 2000 p 134