Planning the Final Solution

The villa at 56–58 Am Großen Wannsee, Germany, where the conference to discuss the 'Final Solution' was held.
© 2012 Yad Vashem The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority.

On 22 June 1941 the German invasion of the Soviet Union brought many more Jews within the German sphere of influence. By the end of the year there were over two million Jews in the overcrowded ghettos of Eastern Europe.

In order to make way for new prisoners, the SS took many thousands of Jews from the ghettos of Kovno, Riga, Minsk, Lodz, Lvov and Lublin to be murdered by the Einsatzgruppen and their local collaborators

Heinrich Himmler (leader of the SS) witnessed the Einsatzgruppen killing process. Even though the SS were the hardened ‘Master Race’, quite a few of them found it ‘difficult’ to murder women and children. In addition, the shooting process was costly.

Himmler decided to develop a more orderly and organised method of murder. The Nazis were already using gas to murder the mentally and physically disabled; this was now to be applied to the Jews. The Nazis were about to create an industry of death.

This section of The Holocaust Explained will help you to understand the steps taken by the Nazis that led to the ordering and carrying out of the Final Solution.