Activity: How did the Final Solution develop?

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Learning outcomes 

This Reflective Learning Activity is aimed at helping you develop a clearer understanding of the events that led up to the Wannsee conference and the carrying out of the Final Solution.

By the end of this activity:

  • All students will be able to list some of the events that led up to the Final Solution.


  • Most students should be able to explain the different events that led to the Final Solution.


  • Some students may be able to explain in detail the events that led to the Final Solution. These students may also be able to evaluate which of these events were the most crucial to the development of the Nazis’ plan for the Final Solution.



In order to carry out this activity you will need to use the following sections of The Holocaust Explained:

The Final Solution


Nazi antisemitism 1933 - 1939 timeline

Nazi antisemitism 1939 - 1945 timeline


You may also wish to access the KS4 pages about the development of the final solution.

How did the Final Solution develop?

Between January 1939 and the summer of 1941 the Nazis sought to deal with ‘the Jewish question’ “by means of emigration or evacuation in the most convenient way possible”.

However, by 1941 the result of Nazi successes across Europe had led to a marked change to this policy.


Stage 1:

Read through the suggested sections and resources from The Holocaust Explained.

Now answer the following questions:

  1. During March 1938 which country did the German army invade?
  2. What was the result of this invasion?
  3. On 30 January 1939 Hitler made a speech to the German Parliament. What was his threat to the world?
  4. On 1 September 1939 the Germany invaded Poland; what happened to the number of Jews in German occupied territory as the German army marched into Poland and other countries in the East?
  5. How did the Nazis deal with these people?
  6. At the end of June 1941 Hitler ordered the German army to invade a German ally. Which country was this?
  7. As the German army invaded this country the Einsatzgruppen followed. What was the Einsatzgruppen’s role? How did it carry this out?
  8. On 31 July 1941 Hermann Goering sent an order to Reinhard Heydrich. What did this order entail? How did this order differ to the one that Heydrich had received in January 1939?
  9. During the summer of 1941 Heinrich Himmler went to watch the work of the Einsatzgruppen, what was his reaction?
  10. During the summer of 1941 what orders did Rudolf Höss, the commandant of Auschwitz, receive from Heinrich Himmler?
  11. What happened at Auschwitz on 3 September 1941?
  12. During the autumn of 1939 what did the Nazis begin to build?
  13. What was the purpose of the Wannsee Conference of 20 January 1942?
  14. What decisions were made at the conference?

Stage 2: Processing your information. 

Now you have answers to all of the questions, you will need to collate your answers.

You should then make a date card for each of the events. You could make these on a word document or on pieces of card. For each separate piece of information, write the date and the summary of the event. Once you have made all of your cards cut them out and save them in an envelope.

Stage 3: Developing your understanding

You could carry out a number of follow-up activities. For example:

  • Get a friend or member of your family to ask you a question about the event. Answer by giving as much information as possible.
  • You could sort the cards into chronological (date) order. Try to see how the earlier events build up to the later ones.
  • You could rank the cards into policies, instructions or orders and the results of policies. Try to explain the links between these.

Your teacher may be able to suggest more activities