On 20 January 1942, Reinhard Heydrich chaired a meeting in Berlin that would become known as the Wannsee Conference. It was at this conference that the ‘Final Solution’ was announced to high-ranking Nazi officials who were given the task of carrying it out.
The conference was attended by 15 men from different departments across the Third Reich. Before the meeting, Adolf Eichmann drafted a list numbering the population of Jews in each country. The list was broken down into two categories; the first listed Jews in the countries in Europe which were under Nazi control and the second referred to those countries which were either Allied or neutral states. The total number of Jews listed was over 11 million.
The ‘Final Solution’ was the mass-deportation of European Jews to extermination camps in German-occupied Poland, where they would then be murdered. To disguise their intent, the Nazis referred to the removal of Jews from ghettos to extermination camps as ‘resettlement in the East’. Jews were rounded up from the ghettos and made to prepare for their ‘resettlement’, taking with them only their most valuable possessions.
Following the Wannsee conference, the first deportations of the ‘Final Solution’ took place to extermination camps already in operation or under construction in Nazi-occupied Poland.
The Wannsee House in Berlin was made a permanent memorial on the 50th anniversary of the conference in 1992, largely as the result of campaigning by the historian Joseph Wulf. Wulf published some of the first comprehensive studies of the Nazi regime, after having survived Auschwitz.
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Image: © Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz