The significance of the Wannsee Conference

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The Wannsee Protocol

The Protocol of the Wannsee Conference outlines the discussions and outcomes of the meeting. You will see from the document above, that the Wannsee Protocol outlined the number of Jews in each country of Europe, including 330,000 in England, and also the total number in Europe (11 million).

The minutes of the Protocol stated that because of the war with the Soviet Union:“Emigration has now been replaced by evacuation of Jews to the East... ...with the appropriate prior authorisation by the Fuhrer (Hitler).”

It went on to say that:“Europe will be combed through from East to West in the course of the practical implementation of the Final Solution.”Jews would be“utilised for work in the East” ...during which a large proportion will no doubt drop out through natural reduction. The remnant that eventually remains will require suitable treatment."

The conference is called

Heydrich called leading officials of the various departments of the Nazi government and SS to a meeting on 8 December 1941. However, due to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 7 December, this meeting was postponed until January 1942.

On 20 January 1942, 15 leading officials of the Nazi state met at a villa in Wannsee, a suburb of Berlin for a secret meeting. These officials were highly educated men; two thirds of them were lawyers and many of them had obtained doctorates from leading German universities.

The Final Solution

Heydrich announced to the meeting a programme of organised deportation of Jews to the East. However, every participant at the meeting knew that the ’Final Solution of the Jewish Question’ did not merely mean the deportation of Jews. The ’Final Solution’ was a code name for the murder of all the Jews of Europe. The people present at the Wannsee were there to discuss how to make mass murder happen in an organised and methodical way. In essence, the participants at Wannsee were discussing logistics.

No one present at the meeting objected to the ’Final Solution’ – the debates were on how it should happen. 

Collaborating governments

The Protocol highlighted the fact that in Slovakia, Croatia and Romania local governments were working with the Nazis in their anti-Jewish activities. In Italy the Nazis planned to liaise with the Italian police. Whilst France, the document said, would not prove difficult.

It was noted that there was much opposition to the Nazis’ anti-Jewish policies in the Nordic States, and that the ‘Final Solution’ would be postponed for a while in these countries.

Dr Josef Buhler, the official who represented the General Government, requested that the ‘Final Solution’ begins in his territory, as transport would be no problem. He also stated that the majority of Jews there were unfit for work and carried diseases.

Buhler promised that Heydrich’s work “would have the support of the authorities of the Governor General.” He had only one request: “that the Jewish question in this area be solved as quickly as possible.”