Wannsee Conference

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Villa of the Wannsee Conference, Am Großen Wannsee 56/58 (2014)

At the Wannsee Conference came on January 20, 1942 in a villa on the Wannsee in Berlin fifteen high-ranking representatives of the Nazi Reich government and SS authorities together under the chairmanship of SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich in his capacity as head of the Security Police and the SD to to organize the started Holocaust against the Jews in detail and to coordinate the cooperation of the authorities involved.

Commissioned by Hermann Göring to Reinhard Heydrich on July 31, 1941
A document from the Wannsee Conference; here is the prepared list of the Jewish population in Europe.

Contrary to popular opinion, the main purpose of the conference was not to end the Holocaust - this decision had in fact already been taken with the mass murders that had taken place in areas occupied by the German Reich since the attack on the Soviet Union (June 22, 1941) - but in the main the To organize the deportation of the entire Jewish population of Europe for extermination to the East and to ensure the necessary coordination. The participants set the timing for the further mass killings, narrowed down the groups of victims intended for this more precisely and agreed on a cooperation under the direction of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), which Heydrich led.

This was the main concern of Heydrich, whom Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring had entrusted on July 31, 1941 with the overall organization of the “ final solution to the Jewish question ”. Heydrich then invited to the top secret conference in December 1941, in which State Secretaries from various Reich Ministries and the General Government , a ministerial director of the Reich Chancellery and senior officials of the Security Police (SiPo), the Security Service (SD) and the Party Chancellery took part. The recorder was SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann , Heydrich's advisor for “Jewish affairs” .

The term “Wannsee Conference”, which was first coined after the Second World War , arose from the venue, the guest house of the security police and the security service , Am Großen Wannsee 56/58. The former Villa Marlier in Berlin-Wannsee was built in 1914/1915 according to plans by Paul Otto August Baumgarten . Today the house is a memorial for the Holocaust .

prehistory

National Socialist "Jewish Policy"

The anti-Semitism was one of the central components of the Nazi ideology of the Nazi policies specific. Already in his work Mein Kampf , Adolf Hitler propagated ideas aimed at the extermination of the Jews.

In a speech in the Reichstag on January 30, 1939, Hitler announced for the first time "the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe" in case of war. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels referred to this in an article for Das Reich on December 16, 1941:

“We are currently experiencing the fulfillment of this prophecy and a fate is being fulfilled in Judaism that is hard, but more than deserved. Compassion or even regret is completely inappropriate. "

In 1942, Hitler spoke publicly about his threat and its implementation five times, the last time on November 8, 1942:

“You will still remember the session of the Reichstag in which I said: If Judaism imagines it can bring about an international world war to exterminate the European races, then the result will not be the extermination of the European races, but the extermination of Judaism in Be Europe. They always laughed at me as a prophet. Of those who laughed back then, innumerable people no longer laugh today, and those who laugh now may not in some time either. "

The intended goals and results of the National Socialist policy towards the Jews were thus obvious. Nevertheless, details of the decision-making process that ultimately led to the Holocaust are inadequately documented. How exactly this process took place within the Nazi regime is so far unclear in many details and is still being discussed intensively in Holocaust research.

The decision to go to the Holocaust

The documents received include Göring's order to Heydrich to work out an “overall draft” with regard to costs, organization and implementation for the “final solution to the Jewish question”. It was issued on July 31, 1941, five weeks after the beginning of the war against the Soviet Union on June 22, which brought millions of Jews within the reach of the National Socialist regime.

For the period after the German attack on the Soviet Union, statements by leading functionaries of the Nazi regime that point to the planned genocide can be ascertained . This is seen as an indication that the final decisions that led to the Holocaust must have been made in the fall of 1941. On December 12, 1941, for example, Hitler gathered the Reich and Gauleiter of the NSDAP in his private rooms in the Reich Chancellery. Goebbels noted about this in his diary:

“With regard to the Jewish question, the Fiihrer is determined to clean things up. [...] The world war is here, the annihilation of Judaism must be the necessary consequence. "

Four days later he published the above-cited article in Das Reich .

Some historians see Hitler's Gauleiter meeting on December 12th as the latest date on which the decision to systematically exterminate the Jews was made. Others doubt that there was even a specific point in time at which such a decision was made and a corresponding Fuehrer's order was issued. They lead u. a. a quote from the minutes of the Wannsee Conference: Instead of being forced to emigrate, "with the prior approval of the Führer, the evacuation of the Jews to the East" was a possible solution. A formal decision on genocide, the murder of all Jews, was not given; Hitler was reluctant to commit himself and was only "legitimizing authority" in a process of radicalization that was progressing step by step, which accumulated through local initiatives, self-imposed, supposed constraints and eliminatory anti-Semitism.

Most historians, however, conclude from the sources that in late autumn 1941 a crucial step in the genocide decision-making process was taken. At that time the failure of the war against the Soviet Union, which had started as a blitzkrieg , became apparent . This broke the last immature plans to be able to deport the Jews far to the east, after the resettlement projects to Nisko and Madagascar had previously been filed as impracticable.

A clear written order from Hitler to murder all Jews in the German sphere of influence has not yet been found. There was probably no such formal order. Letters and orders from high Nazi leaders, however, refer to verbal orders from the Führer to annihilate the Jews. These orders were evidently mostly heavily claused; just like Heydrich's orders for specific mass murder actions. What was actually ordered only became apparent when the measures were implemented. However, these could only be initiated and carried out with Hitler's express consent. On this point, all specialist historians agree with all otherwise different interpretations. Because of the public statements made by Hitler, Goebbels, Himmler and other high-ranking Nazi functionaries, every commander - such as the SD-Einsatzkommandos - could require this consent for murder operations against Jews.

Deportations and mass murders until the end of 1941

The National Socialist action against the Jews became radicalized from 1933 onwards through marginalization, disenfranchisement, forced emigration, physical persecution and expropriation. Since the beginning of the war, ghettoization, deportations and mass murders have been added in militarily occupied areas of Eastern and Southeastern Europe. However, these steps were not always carried out chronologically and planned one after the other, but sometimes in constant change and sometimes chaotically next to one another.

With the attack on Poland in 1939, mass murders of civilians began in Poland. A task force formed “for special disposal” under Udo von Woyrsch shot about 7,000 Jews by the end of the year, but was strongly criticized by some army commanders, such as B. of the Commander-in-Chief in the Generalgouvernement, Johannes Blaskowitz . The historian Hans Mommsen interprets these murders as individual initiatives that are still haphazard.

Since June 22, 1941, four Einsatzgruppen set up in May systematically and on a large scale shot state officials, partisans and - preferably Jewish - " hostages " behind the entire eastern front of the German Wehrmacht . Partly with them, partly without them, units of the Ordnungspolizei and the Waffen-SS under Hans-Adolf Prützmann , Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski and Friedrich Jeckeln murdered Jews in large numbers. With the Kamenets-Podolsk massacre of Hungarian and Ukrainian Jews at the end of August 1941, mass shootings affected tens of thousands for the first time and thus reached a new dimension. The Babyn Yar massacre in September / early October 1941, which killed more than 33,000 Jewish residents in Kiev , is the most famous of such mass shootings. The mass murders tended towards the indiscriminate murder of all Jews.

In the overcrowded ghettos set up by the Nazis, Jews died every day of malnutrition, infectious diseases and the arbitrary violence of their guards. The " extermination through forced labor ", which the conference minutes named as the method of the "final solution", has already taken place: for example during the construction of an important " thoroughfare IV " from Lviv to Ukraine .

In October, mass deportations of German Jews from the Reich began. By order of Himmler on September 18, signed by Kurt Daluege , 20,000 Jews and 5,000 " gypsies " were deported to Łódź by November 4 . On October 23, 1941, Himmler forbade all Jews in the German sphere of influence to emigrate.

At the request of the Führer, another large concentration camp was to be built near Riga . On November 8, 1941, Hinrich Lohse , Reich Commissioner for the Occupied Baltic States , learned that 25,000 " Reich and Protectorate Jews " were to be deported to Minsk and Riga. To accommodate the latter, Jeckeln had a total of 27,800 residents of the Riga ghetto shot on Himmler's personal orders from November 29 to December 1 and on December 8 and 9, 1941. Among the victims were the first transport of 1,053 Berlin Jews who were shot on November 30 immediately after their arrival. Himmler's veto on the same day came too late. The historian Raul Hilberg suspects that it was only intended to appease expected protests from Lohse anyway. According to Dieter Pohl's interpretation, Himmler feared that the lack of news from the deportees would quickly lead to rumors in Germany about their liquidation. On November 25 and 29, Jews from the Reich and the Protectorate who were actually destined for Riga were shot at Kaunas 5000.

The Belzec extermination camp had been under construction since November 1941; its first gas chambers of small capacity were intended for the murder of disabled Jews. Construction preparations also began for the Sobibor extermination camp and the Majdanek concentration camp in the Lublin district . From the beginning of December 1941, gas vans were used to kill Jews in Kulmhof (Chelmno) . All four Einsatzgruppen now had this at their disposal.

By the time the Wannsee Conference was called, the murderers had murdered around 900,000 Jews from Germany, Poland and Russia in the areas occupied by the Wehrmacht, with Hitler's consent . The systematic murder of all Jews in the German sphere of influence was now to be organized as the last escalation stage.

Conference preparations

On January 8, 1942,
Heydrich invites Undersecretary Luther to attend January 20, 1942.

The Wannsee Conference was originally scheduled for December 9, 1941 at 12 noon in the office of the International Criminal Police Commission (IKPK), Am Kleine Wannsee No. 16. From August 1940 Heydrich acted as chairman of the IKPK. A few days later Heydrich's office corrected the meeting place for the guest house of the Security Police and the SD, Am Großen Wannsee 56-58. Heydrich's invitation to a "meeting followed by breakfast" was sent by Adolf Eichmann on November 29th. He emphasized the "extraordinary importance" of an overall solution to the Jewish question and enclosed Göring's letter of authorization to Heydrich of July 31. He also confirmed that Jews had been "evacuated" from the Reich, Bohemia and Moravia since October 15, 1941, meaning that the deportations had long been underway. As head of Gestapo IV B 4, Eichmann was responsible, among other things, for "Jewish and eviction matters" and later organized most of the deportations of Jews from Germany, France, the Netherlands, Hungary and other occupied areas to labor and extermination camps. He also provided Heydrich with templates and figures for his introductory presentation and prepared the minutes of the conference.

Other Nazi ministries also prepared the meeting. On December 8, Undersecretary Martin Luther received a compilation of the “wishes and ideas of the Foreign Office on the proposed overall solution to the Jewish question in Europe”. This recommended the deportation of all Jews of German citizenship residing in the German Reich as well as those of Serbian , stateless Jews and Jews handed over by Hungarians . The governments in Romania , Croatia , Bulgaria , Hungary and Slovakia should be offered the deportation of the Jews resident in their countries to the east. Furthermore, pressure should be exerted on all European governments to enact Jewish laws based on the model of the Nuremberg Laws .

After Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Hitler invited the Reichstag for December 9 to announce the declaration of war against the USA . Some of those invited to the Wannsee Conference were members of the Reichstag, including Heydrich; therefore he had the conference canceled at short notice. A conversation note that spoke of a postponement "because of the Reichstag session" confirms his reason for rejection. On January 8, 1942, he had new invitations sent out for January 20, 1942.

By then, important preliminary decisions had been made on individual points discussed at the conference. Hinrich Lohse had asked in a letter "Subject: Jewish executions" on November 15, 1941 in Berlin:

"Should this be done regardless of age and gender and economic interests (e.g. the Wehrmacht in skilled workers in armaments factories)? It goes without saying that the purification of Jews from the East is an urgent task; but their solution must be brought into harmony with the needs of the war economy . Neither from the orders on the Jewish question in the ' brown folder ' nor from other decrees have I been able to take such an instruction. "

The Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories replied on December 18, 1941 that in the meantime, oral discussions had clarified and that economic concerns should be "fundamentally disregarded in the settlement of the problem". At a government meeting on December 16, 1941, Hans Frank spoke of the intention to make the General Government “ free of Jews ” and referred to the upcoming “big meeting in Berlin” at Heydrich's.

It is not clear why the conference was postponed by about six weeks. The historian Christian Gerlach interprets Hitler's declaration of December 12, 1941, that the extermination of the Jews must be a necessary consequence of the world war that has now begun, as a decision on the Holocaust. This resulted in a new situation that required fundamental changes to the plans proposed by Heydrich. Only a few specialist historians share this interpretation.

The conference

Attendees

Wannsee Protocol: The first sheet of the list of participants

The following officials and officials from National Socialist organizations and ministries took part in the conference:

In addition, other representatives from Reich ministries and so-called Supreme Reich Authorities were invited. However, some of them had canceled their participation, e.g. B. Leopold Gutterer , State Secretary in the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda . He gave reasons for his cancellation, but asked to be informed of all subsequent appointments.

Content

At the conference, the responsibilities for the deportation and extermination campaigns that have been started should be clarified, the measures for their implementation coordinated and their spatial and temporal sequence determined. Finally, the groups of those Jews who were destined for deportation and thus for extermination were defined here. This required the cooperation of many institutions that had not previously been informed about the “final solution”.

The following contents were recorded in the minutes of the Wannsee Conference: Heydrich announced that he had been appointed by Göring as “Commissioner for the preparation of the final solution to the European Jewish question” and that the “Reichsführer SS and Chief of the German Police”, i.e. Himmler, was responsible . At this meeting, he wanted to coordinate with the central authorities directly involved.

Heydrich reported on the emigration of around 537,000 Jews from the " Altreich ", Austria as well as Bohemia and Moravia, which should be replaced by "the evacuation of the Jews to the East" after "prior approval by the Führer". Around eleven million Jews would be considered for the “final solution to the European Jewish question”. This number also included "religious Jews" from the unoccupied part of France, England, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and other neutral or opposing states outside the German sphere of influence. The protocol also said:

“In large labor columns, with separation of the sexes, the able-bodied Jews are being led into these areas to build roads, although a large part will undoubtedly be lost through natural reduction. Any remaining stock will have to be treated accordingly, since this is undoubtedly the most resilient part, since this, representing a natural selection, is to be addressed as the nucleus of a new Jewish structure when released. "

In the process, "Europe from west to east" would be combed through; this should begin because of “socio-political necessities” and to free up living space in the Reich territory. First, the German Jews were to be transported to transit ghettos and from there to the east. Jews over the age of 65 and Jews with war invalidity or bearers of the Iron Cross I would come to the Theresienstadt ghetto . This would "turn off the many interventions in one fell swoop".

After possible difficulties in the “evacuation operation” in the “occupied or influenced European territories” had been addressed and discussed, the question of how to deal with “ Jewish mixed race ” and “ mixed marriages ” was addressed . The protocol states that the Nuremberg Laws should "to a certain extent" form the basis. In fact, Heydrich's suggestions went far beyond that:

  • As a rule, "mixed race 1st degree" (" half-Jews ") should be treated like "full Jews" regardless of their religious affiliation. Exceptions were only made for those “half-breeds” who were married to a “ German-blooded ” partner and who had not remained childless. Other exemptions can only be granted by the highest party authorities.
  • Every "1st degree hybrid" who was allowed to remain in the German Reich should be sterilized .
  • "Mixed race 2nd degree" (" quarter Jews ") should as a rule be put on an equal footing with the "German-blooded", unless they were classified as Jews due to their conspicuous Jewish appearance or poor police and political judgment.
  • In the case of existing “mixed marriages” between “full Jews” and “German-blooded people”, the Jewish part should either be “evacuated” or sent to Theresienstadt if resistance from German relatives is expected.
  • Further regulations were addressed for “mixed marriages” in which one or both spouses were “mixed race”.

These detailed proposals were rejected as impractical by State Secretary Stuckart, who had been involved in drafting the Nuremberg Laws in 1935. He suggested that the compulsory divorce of "mixed marriages" be made mandatory and that all "first-degree mixed race" be sterilized. Since no agreement could be reached on these points, these detailed questions were postponed to the follow-up conferences.

Josef Bühler, Hans Frank's State Secretary in the office of the Governor General, urged Heydrich at the conference to begin the measures on Polish territory in the so-called "General Government" because he saw no transport problems here and "to solve the Jewish question in this area as quickly as possible" wish. In any case, the majority of these Jews are unable to work and "as carriers of the disease are an eminent danger".

Follow-up conferences

Invitation to the follow-up conference on March 6, 1942
List of participants in the meeting on the final solution of the Jewish question in the Reich Security Main Office on March 6, 1942

The first Wannsee conference at state secretary level was followed by two conferences at speaker level to clarify further questions. These follow-up conferences took place on March 6 and October 27, 1942 in Adolf Eichmann's Section IV B 4 at Kurfürstenstrasse 115/116 in Berlin .

According to a recording made by the " Judenreferenten " in the Reich Foreign Ministry, Franz Rademacher , Stuckart's proposal was discussed at the March meeting. He had pleaded for the compulsory sterilization of all "first-degree Jewish mixed race" and for the compulsory divorce of all "mixed marriages". Since the hospitals could not be additionally burdened with the sterilization, this measure should be postponed until the end of the war. General legal objections as well as “propagandistic” reasons were brought up against a compulsory divorce. This meant the foreseeable resistance, particularly from the Catholic Church and an intervention by the Vatican . It was also difficult to gauge the reactions of the “ Jewish-infused ” spouses. As it turned out in 1943 on the occasion of the factory action at the Rosenstrasse protest , the allegedly threatened deportation of Jewish spouses actually led to public expressions of solidarity by the “German-blooded” relatives.

In the follow-up conference of October 27, 1942, the demand for the forced divorce of "mixed marriages" was dealt with again. Apparently, however, there were indications from the Reich Chancellery that the “Führer” did not want to make a decision during the war. In October 1943 Otto Thierack from the Ministry of Justice agreed with Himmler not to deport the Jewish “mixed race” for the time being. Such considerations of the mood of the population were not required of the SS in the occupied eastern territories: Jewish spouses from “mixed marriages” and the “first degree Jewish mixed race” were included in the genocide.

The assessment of the role that Stuckart played with his proposals remained controversial. According to his subordinates Bernhard Lösener and Hans Globke , Stuckart made the compromise proposal for mass sterilization with the background knowledge that this would not be feasible, at least during the war. In doing so, he had prevented the deportation and murder of the German "first degree half-breeds". On the other hand, his proposal for a forced divorce for "mixed marriages", which would have resulted in the death of the Jewish partner, could have been implemented quickly.

Heydrich's intention, mentioned in the minutes, to prepare a “draft on the organizational, factual and material issues with regard to the final solution of the European Jewish question” and to forward it to Göring, was not realized.

Historical processing

Find history

The minutes of the meeting drawn up by Eichmann based on shorthand was revised several times by Müller and Heydrich. A total of 30 copies of the final version were issued, stamped as “ Secret Reichssache ” and then sent to the participants or their offices. Only the 16th copy, that of conference participant Martin Luther, has been found to date. Apparently it only escaped the destruction of the files because Luther had been imprisoned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp for an attempted coup against Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop , which is why his department had been dissolved and the files had been relocated. Parts of the archive were initially taken to Marburg Castle by Americans, then viewed further in the Telefunken factory in Berlin-Lichterfelde in February 1946 and the Wannsee documents were also microfilmed for the first time. In the summer of 1948 the entire collection was brought to safety in Whaddon Hall / Buckinghamshire , filmed there again and returned to the Political Archives of the Foreign Office in Bonn at the end of the 1950s ; the document has been in Berlin since the Political Archives moved.

Robert Kempner (deputy of the American chief prosecutor Robert H. Jackson ) states that the discovery of the minutes of the Wannsee Conference was reported to him in March 1947 during the preparations for the " Wilhelmstrasse Trial ". The invitation letter for Otto Hofmann had already been found in August 1945 and therefore knew that a conference on the “final solution to the Jewish question” was planned.

The protocol as a source

The minutes of the Wannsee Conference were used in the opening speech in the trial against the Race and Settlement Main Office and quoted a few weeks later in the indictment for the Wilhelmstrasse trial .

Although there was not yet an implementable overall plan for the “final solution”, the protocol is considered to be the key document for the organization of the genocide. Holocaust deniers therefore claim it is fake. To do this, they often fall back on a book by Robert Kempner in which he mixed facsimiles with copies in a vulnerable way , but nevertheless correctly reproduced the text itself. The historians Norbert Kampe and Christian Mentel have refuted these falsification allegations.

On August 7th and 13th, 1941, Eichmann requested the Reich Association of Jews in Germany to provide statistical information on Jews in Europe. His Unit IV B 4 compared these figures with information from the occupation authorities and already subtracted the victims of the Holocaust in Lithuania , Latvia and Estonia , which is described as "Jew-free". The obviously excessive figure for the unoccupied part of France, which led to speculation about the inclusion of the Jews of North Africa in the extermination plans, is explained by Dan Michman as a typo; Ahlrich Meyer attributes it to an estimate by Theodor Dannecker .

According to Eichmann in his trial in Jerusalem in 1961, the minutes of the conference are "an accurate reproduction of the content of the conference". Heydrich made it important that all the essential details were recorded so that the participants can later attach them to them. Only the also shorthand discussion after the conference had not been recorded. Eichmann contradicted the protocol on some points at the time, especially with regard to the importance of his own person at the conference. The total duration of this conference recorded in the minutes of about one and a half hours, as stated by him, is, however, undisputed.

classification

The text of the protocol received documents the intention to murder all European Jews, the agreement in principle and the effective participation of the National Socialist state apparatus in the genocide. The phrase “treated accordingly” in Eichmann's rendering of Heydrich's introductory speech is seen by some historians as a typical cloak for the murder of Jews who survived forced labor, since the context does not allow any other conclusion (cf. special treatment ). Hans Mommsen contradicts this : It was by no means a blank phrase; Rather, Heydrich actually planned to exterminate a large part of the Jews through labor, but the final solution to the Jewish question was only a long-term goal, before which the surviving Jews would still be transported further east. Here the settlement or reservation solution was renewed, as it was shown in the years 1939 to 1941 in the Nisko and Madagascar plans, among others , which "can hardly be viewed as a more humane alternative".

According to Eichmann's testimony in his trial, the actual language was unmistakable: "They spoke of killing and eliminating and exterminating."

Which killing variants were discussed is controversial among specialist historians. Most of them deduce from the extermination campaigns that had already started and the minutes of the conference itself that it had previously been decided by the highest authorities to expand the murder campaigns into a systematic genocide, to which all European Jews without distinction should fall victim. The figures for the overall planning included the Jews from England and Spain: Their inclusion was unrealistic in view of the unfavorable development of the war for the National Socialists at the time.

The historian Peter Longerich comes to the conclusion that even after the conference there was no fixed plan as to the time frame and the means by which the genocide should be carried out. However, it can be proven that afterwards “the deportations were extended to the entire German area” and a “comprehensive forced labor program” began to take effect.

Thomas Sandkühler points out that the decisive effect was that up to the conference in Eastern Galicia , Jews classified as “unable to work” were murdered. Only then did the murder order apply to all Jews except for the very few Jews who had been declared indispensable in the oil industry.

The Wannsee Conference was a bureaucratic clarification of the responsibilities of the agencies involved and the group of people to be murdered: This already presupposed some sort of resolution on the “final solution to the Jewish question”. Such a decision could in no case be made by subordinate persons, but only at the very highest level. Only then should the leadership of the Reich Security Main Office be established and cooperation and coordination between the agencies involved ensured.

The memorial and educational center "House of the Wannsee Conference" describes the widespread assumption that Europe-wide genocide had been decided here as an "almost irreversible error in historiography and journalism". Nevertheless, the conference is of great historical importance: Here the ongoing genocide was coordinated and brought to the attention of the highest officials of all important ministries, in which numerous people subsequently provided organizational support as “ desk perpetrators ”.

Prosecution after 1945

A third of the conference participants did not survive the war. Heydrich died on June 4, 1942 as a result of an assassination attempt in Prague , Roland Freisler was killed in a bomb attack , Rudolf Lange and Alfred Meyer committed suicide . Martin Luther died in the spring of 1945 as a result of his imprisonment in Sachsenhausen concentration camp. Heinrich Müller was considered lost .

Before the minutes of the Wannsee Conference were discovered, two participants were executed for war crimes committed . Eberhard Schöngarth was sentenced to death by the British military tribunal in 1946 and executed for personally ordering the shooting of a prisoner of war . Josef Bühler was sentenced to death in Kraków in 1946 . Wilhelm Kritzinger died in 1947 before the opening of the Wilhelmstrasse Trial; Erich Neumann died in 1948.

If there were any convictions at all, then other facts than the conference attendance were mentioned in the judgment. The proceedings were discontinued by Georg Leibbrandt (1950) and Gerhard Klopfer (1962). Both were released from custody in 1949. Otto Hofmann was sentenced to 25 years in prison in the follow-up trial of the SS Race and Settlement Main Office in Nuremberg in 1948 , but was released from Landsberg correctional facility in 1954 . Wilhelm Stuckart was sentenced to a sentence of three years and ten months in the Wilhelmstrasse trial, but was released in 1949 as internment detention was taken into account.

After the war, Adolf Eichmann fled to Argentina , but was kidnapped there by a command of the Israeli secret service Mossad , brought to Israel and executed in Jerusalem in 1962 after a sensational trial .

The conference building as a memorial

The Berlin architect Paul Baumgarten planned and built the upper-class villa, at that time Grosse Seestraße 19a, 1914–1915 for the manufacturer Ernst Marlier . The building was considered to be his most luxurious building and at that time it belonged to the Wannsee community , now part of the Steglitz-Zehlendorf district . In 1921, Marlier sold the property to Friedrich Minoux , then general director of the Stinnes Group (hence the name "Minoux-Villa"). In 1929, when the street was renumbered, it was given number 56/58. Since April 8, 1933, the street has been called Am Großen Wannsee . Minoux was arrested in May 1940 for fraud. While in custody, he sold the villa and property at the then market price of 1.95 million Reichsmarks to the Nordhav Foundation , which handled property transactions for the SS Security Service (SD).

From 1940 the SS had the grounds of the villa tended by forced laborers in “ closed Jewish labor ” or later by Eastern European forced laborers. Used as a guest house for the security police, high-ranking SS officers, leaders of the task force or foreign intelligence chiefs who were friends of them stayed here. In October 1944, the Inlands-SD under Otto Ohlendorf and, towards the end of the war, Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller, moved its headquarters to the villa.

After the end of the war, the Red Army and later the US Army used the property. At times it was empty, so the facility has not been preserved. From 1947 the Berlin SPD and the Neukölln district moved in and used the house as a school camp .

In 1966 the historian Joseph Wulf , who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp , founded an association for research into National Socialism. The building was to be rededicated as a documentation center and used by the association. The plan remained controversial for a long time; It was not until 1988 that the villa and garden were reconstructed according to monument conservation criteria and for use as a memorial. In 1992, the House of the Wannsee Conference memorial and educational center was opened in the rooms of the villa; it bears the name of Joseph Wulf. On the ground floor of the house, the permanent exhibition “The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of European Jews” provides information about the process of exclusion, persecution, expulsion, ghettoization and extermination of Jews in the German sphere of influence between 1933 and 1945. After renovation and revision, in January In 2006 a new permanent exhibition opened. In 2020 the permanent exhibition was revised again. It now bears the heading “The meeting at Wannsee and the murder of European Jews”.

Artistic processing

Novels

In Fever, Leslie Kaplan describes the importance of the conference for Eichmann's rise in fictional form. Accordingly, Eichmann had imagined that sitting together with Heydrich was a career leap for him. In the novel, the hoped-for professional advancement is an important reason that Eichmann participated in the mass crimes of the Holocaust. So these were murders with no actual motive.

In his novel Vaterland, Robert Harris draws the vision that Germany won the Second World War and rules over all of Europe. The Jews have disappeared from all areas of influence and their existence is a fading, unspoken memory in the population. A few days before Hitler's 75th “ Führer birthday ” begins a series of murders against former Nazi giants. Little by little the investigating police officer reveals that the murder victims are the surviving confidants of the hushed disappearance of the Jews. The novel particularly highlights the secrecy of the conference and the few remaining evidence.

play

Paul Mommertz wrote the play The Wannsee Conference in 1984 . He used the Eichmann protocol, statements by Eichmann in his trial and documents in letters for the most realistic possible dialogues. Like the conference, the play lasts 90 minutes and draws its effect from the technocratic coldness with which those involved negotiate the planned mass murder of 11 million people as a purely logistical problem.

The play was premiered in the Volkstheater Vienna ; further performances z. B. directed by Peter Sodann in Halle (Saale) . In September and October 2003 the play was staged by Isolde Christine Wabra as part of the state exhibition “The Value of Life” and performed ten times in the learning and memorial site Schloss Hartheim .

The play also served as the script for the film of the same name.

Movies

The Wannsee Conference is the subject of two feature films. In 1984 a television version of the play by Paul Mommertz, directed by Heinz Schirk, was released : The Wannsee Conference . Dietrich Mattausch played Heydrich in it, Gerd Böckmann played Eichmann. The film has won numerous international prizes, including the Adolf Grimme Prize . In 1987 the cinema version followed.

Frank Pierson was the director of the English language film Conspiracy (USA / GB, 2001, in German as The Wannsee Conference ). Like the historical meeting, this feature film also lasts 85 minutes and is based on the minutes. However, since this does not reproduce a literal speech, the dialogues are reconstructed and therefore not historically documented. The documentary character originally intended by Pierson's production was not achieved because the implementation was dramatically revised. References from the memorial, to which the script was available before shooting began, to unoccupied details were not processed. In the film adaptation, which was filmed at the conference venue, Kritzinger is portrayed as a skeptic: This does not correspond to the historical facts that have been handed down.

In addition to these film adaptations, the Wannsee Conference was shown in a scene of the four-part TV series Holocaust - The History of the White Family , but only with the participants Heydrich and Eichmann.

Phoenix shone on January 27, 2018, 8:15 pm - 9:00 pm under the title Mysterious Places. At the Wannsee. made a film about the history of the villas at Wannsee. This film deals with the house of the Wannsee Conference.

literature

  • Hans-Christian Jasch, Christoph Kreutzmüller: The participants. The men of the Wannsee Conference , Metropol-Verlag, Berlin 2017, ISBN 978-3-86331-306-7 .
  • Memorial and Educational Center House of the Wannsee Conference (Ed.): The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of the European Jews. Permanent exhibition catalog. Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-9808517-4-5 ; (Facsimile of all exhibits and comments). English version, ibid. The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of the European Jews . ISBN 3-9808517-5-3 .
  • Christian Gerlach : The Wannsee Conference, the fate of the German Jews and Hitler's fundamental political decision to murder all Jews in Europe. In: the same: war, food, genocide. German extermination policy in World War II . Pendo, Zurich / Munich 2001, ISBN 3-85842-404-8 , pp. 79–152 (first in Werkstatt Geschichte H. 18, 6th year, November 1997), review by Götz Aly.
  • Michael Haupt: The House of the Wannsee Conference. From the industrialist mansion to the memorial. Bonifatius, Paderborn 2009, ISBN 978-3-9813119-1-4 , 200 pages with 131 - partly in color - photos / documents.
  • Wolf Kaiser: The Wannsee Conference. SS leaders and ministerial officials in agreement on the murder of European Jews. In: Heiner Lichtenstein, Otto R. Romberg (Ed.): Perpetrator - victim - consequences. The Holocaust Past and Present. 2nd edition, Bonn 1997, ISBN 3-89331-257-9 , pp. 24-37.
  • Norbert Kampe, Peter Klein (both as editors): The Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942. Documents, research status, controversies. Böhlau-V., Cologne 2013, ISBN 978-3-412-21070-0 , 481 pages (anthology, table of contents (PDF; 24 kB) from the publisher).
  • Gerd Kühling: School camp or research facility? The discussion about a documentation center in the house of the Wannsee Conference (1966/67) , in: Zeithistorische Forschungen / Studies in Contemporary History 5 (2008), pp. 211–235.
  • Peter Longerich : The Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942. Planning and beginning of the genocide against European Jews. Edition Hentrich, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-89468-250-7 .
  • Peter Longerich: Wannsee Conference. The way to the "final solution" . Pantheon-Verlag, Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-570-55344-2 .
  • Kurt Pätzold , Erika Schwarz : Agenda for the murder of Jews. The Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 . Metropol, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-926893-12-5 .
  • Mark Roseman: The Wannsee Conference. How the Nazi bureaucracy organized the Holocaust. Ullstein, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-548-36403-9 .
  • Johannes Tuchel : Am Großer Wannsee 56–58. From the Villa Minoux to the House of the Wannsee Conference (Series: Publications of the “House of the Wannsee Conference” Memorial, Vol. 1), Edition Hentrich, Berlin 1992, ISBN 3-89468-026-1 .
  • Peter Klein: The Wannsee Conference at Zeitgeschichte-online.

Web links

Commons : Wannsee Conference  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Documents

Historical representations

Movies

Educational material

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Eberhard Jäckel : The conference at Wannsee. "Where Heydrich announced his authorization" - The Holocaust had long been underway. In: Die Zeit from January 17, 1992, p. 33.
  2. quoted from Ralf Georg Reuth: Goebbels . Munich / Zurich 1990, ISBN 3-492-03183-8 , p. 491.
  3. Max Domarus: Hitler - Speeches and Proclamations. Volume 2, Würzburg 1963, p. 1937.
  4. ^ Letter from Göring to Heydrich: Order for the final solution (PDF; 210 kB).
  5. Guido Knopp : Holocaust . Goldmann 2001, ISBN 3-442-15152-X , p. 139.
  6. Christian Gerlach: The Wannsee Conference, the fate of the German Jews and Hitler's fundamental political decision to murder all Jews in Europe . In: Christian Gerlach: War, nutrition, genocide. German extermination policy in World War II . Zurich / Munich 2001, ISBN 3-85842-404-8 .
  7. Hans Mommsen: Auschwitz, July 17, 1942. The road to the European “final solution to the Jewish question” . Munich 2002, ISBN 3-423-30605-X , p. 163 - Cf. Peter Longerich: Politics of Destruction. An overall presentation of the National Socialist persecution of the Jews , chapter "The four stages of escalation ...". Munich 1998, ISBN 3-492-03755-0 .
  8. Christopher Browning : The Unleashing of the "Final Solution" - National Socialist Jewish Policy 1939–1942 . Munich 2003, ISBN 3-549-07187-6 , pp. 536f; Götz Aly : "Final Solution". Peoples' displacement and the murder of European Jews . Frankfurt am Main 2005, pp. 358f; in summary: Michael Kißener : "The Third Reich", in: Controversies about history . Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 3-534-14726-X , p. 30 ff.
  9. Michael Kißener: Das Third Reich , in: Controversies about history . Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 3-534-14726-X , p. 29.
  10. Ruth Bettina Birn : The higher SS and police leaders . Düsseldorf 1986, ISBN 3-7700-0710-7 , p. 168 ff.
  11. Dieter Pohl: The murder of the Jews in the Generalgouvernement , in: Ulrich Herbert (Hrsg.): National Socialist Destruction Policy 1939–1945 . 4th edition, Frankfurt am Main 2001, ISBN 3-596-13772-1 , pp. 98-122.
  12. Hans Mommsen : Auschwitz, July 17, 1942. The road to the European “final solution to the Jewish question” . Munich 2002, ISBN 3-423-30605-X , pp. 113 and 150.
  13. ^ Raul Hilberg : The Destruction of European Jews , 9th edition 1999, ISBN 3-596-24417-X , p. 310 ff.
  14. ^ Hermann Kaienburg : Jewish labor camps in the "Strasse der SS" . In: Journal for Social History of the 20th and 21st Centuries , 11, 1996, pp. 13–39.
  15. ^ Raul Hilberg: The Destruction of the European Jews , 9th edition 1999, ISBN 3-596-24417-X , p. 222 ff.
  16. ^ Raul Hilberg: The Destruction of European Jews , 9th edition 1999, ISBN 3-596-24417-X , p. 368.
  17. Ruth Bettina Birn: The higher SS and police leaders . Düsseldorf 1986, ISBN 3-7700-0710-7 , p. 175.
  18. ^ A b Raul Hilberg: The Destruction of European Jews , 9th edition 1999, ISBN 3-596-24417-X , p. 370.
  19. ^ Dieter Pohl: Persecution and mass murder in the Nazi era 1933-1945 . ISBN 3-534-15158-5 , p. 86.
  20. ^ Raul Hilberg: The Destruction of European Jews , 9th edition 1999, ISBN 3-596-24417-X , p. 371.
  21. ^ Dieter Pohl: Persecution and mass murder in the Nazi era 1933-1945 . ISBN 3-534-15158-5 , p. 83.
  22. ^ Peter Longerich: Wannsee Conference. The way to the "final solution" . Pantheon, Munich 2016, p. 18 f .; 1. Heydrich's invitation to Hofmann (misspelled with a double F) (PDF).
  23. ^ Memorial and Educational Center House of the Wannsee Conference (ed.): The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of European Jews. Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-9808517-4-5 , p. 94.
  24. Christian Gerlach: War, Food, Genocide ... German Extermination Policy in the Second World War ... , Zurich / Munich 2001, p. 116.
  25. 2. Heydrich's invitation to Hofmann (this time spelled correctly) (PDF).
  26. Document VEJ 7/213 in: Bert Hoppe, Hiltrud Glass (edit.): The persecution and murder of European Jews by National Socialist Germany 1933–1945 (source collection) Volume 7: Soviet Union with annexed areas I - Occupied Soviet areas under German military administration , Baltic States and Transnistria. Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-486-58911-5 , pp. 578-579.
  27. ^ Memorial and Educational Center House of the Wannsee Conference (ed.): The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of European Jews. Berlin 2006, p. 90 / Document VEJ 7/221 in: Bert Hoppe, Hiltrud Glass (edit.): The persecution and murder of European Jews by National Socialist Germany 1933–1945 (source collection) Volume 7: Soviet Union with annexed areas I - Occupied Soviet territories under German military administration, the Baltic States and Transnistria. Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-486-58911-5 , p. 586.
  28. Speech printed in: Werner Präg, Wolfgang Jacobmeyer (Ed.): The service diary of the German Governor General in Poland 1939–1945. Stuttgart 1975, pp. 457 f .; Excerpt from: Norbert Kampe, Peter Klein (ed.): The Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 - documents, research status, controversies . Cologne 2013, ISBN 978-3-412-21070-0 , p. 28 f.
  29. ^ Christian Gerlach: War, nutrition, genocide ... Hamburg 1998, p. 116 f.
  30. Organization chart of the conference participants: rank, function, photos ; PDF.
  31. ^ Heinz-Jürgen Priamus: Meyer. Between loyalty to the emperor and Nazi perpetration. Biographical contours of a German citizen . Klartext Verlag, Essen 2011, ISBN 978-3-8375-0592-4 , p. 377 ff.
  32. Mark Roseman : The Wannsee Conference. How the bureaucracy organized the Holocaust. Munich / Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-548-36403-9 , p. 95.
  33. ^ Memorial and Educational Center House of the Wannsee Conference (ed.): The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of European Jews. Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-9808517-4-5 , p. 84.
  34. Analysis of the numbers in Götz Aly: “Final solution”. 3rd edition, Frankfurt am Main 2005, p. 299ff.
  35. Document VEJ 6/84 in: Susanne Heim (edit.): The persecution and murder of European Jews by National Socialist Germany 1933–1945. (Source collection) Volume 6: German Reich and Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia October 1941 – March 1943. Berlin 2019, ISBN 978-3-11-036496-5 , p. 300.
  36. see document VEJ 6/87 in: Susanne Heim (edit.): The persecution and murder of European Jews ... Volume 6: German Reich and Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia October 1941 – March 1943. Berlin 2019, ISBN 978-3- 11-036496-5 , pp. 307-310.
  37. Document VEJ 6/182 in: Susanne Heim (edit.): The persecution and murder of European Jews by National Socialist Germany 1933–1945 (source collection) Volume 6: German Reich and Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia October 1941 – March 1943. Berlin 2019 , ISBN 978-3-11-036496-5 , pp. 504-508.
  38. Mark Roseman: The Wannsee Conference. How the bureaucracy organized the Holocaust. Munich / Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-548-36403-9 , p. 144.
  39. Beate Meyer: “Jüdische Mischlinge”, race policy and experience of persecution 1933–1945 . Hamburg 1999, ISBN 3-933374-22-7 , p. 12.
  40. Ursula Büttner : The persecution of the Christian-Jewish “mixed families” . In: Ursula Büttner: Sharing the plight of the Jews . Hamburg 1988, ISBN 3-7672-1055-X , p. 63.
  41. Mark Roseman: The Wannsee Conference. How the bureaucracy organized the Holocaust. Munich / Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-548-36403-9 , p. 139 ff.
  42. Hans Mommsen: Auschwitz, July 17, 1942. The road to the European “final solution to the Jewish question”. Munich 2002, ISBN 3-423-30605-X , p. 163.
  43. A distribution list based on Eichmann's information is printed in: Norbert Kampe, Peter Klein (Ed.): The Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 - documents, research status, controversies . Cologne 2013, ISBN 978-3-412-21070-0 , pp. 113–115.
  44. Martin Kröger, Roland Thimme: The Political Archive of the Foreign Office in the Second World War. Securing escape loss, repatriation. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte , 47, 1999, H. 2, S. 255 f. PDF.
  45. Christian Mentel: The protocol of the Wannsee conference. Transmission, publication and revisionist questioning. In: Norbert Kampe, Peter Klein (ed.): The Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 - documents, research status, controversies . Cologne 2013, ISBN 978-3-412-21070-0 , p. 122 / With the first filming number stamp lower right.
  46. ^ Scientific edition of the Wannsee documents in: Files on German Foreign Policy 1918–1945, Series E: 1941–1945, Volume I: December 12 to February 28, 1942, Göttingen 1969, pp. 267–275.
  47. Martin Sabrow and Christian Mentel (eds.): The Foreign Office and its controversial past. A German debate . Fischer Taschenbuch, Frankfurt am Main 2014, ISBN 978-3-596-19602-9 ; P. 128.
  48. ^ Robert MW Kempner: Accuser of an Era - Memoirs. Ullstein book no.44076, Frankfurt am Main 1986, ISBN 3-548-33076-2 , p. 310 f. That employee was Kenneth Duke s. SPIEGEL No. 7/2002 of February 9, 2002: "I was immediately alarmed".
  49. ^ Norbert Kampe, Peter Klein (ed.): The Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 - documents, research status, controversies . Cologne 2013, ISBN 978-3-412-21070-0 , p. 124.
  50. Christian Mentel: The protocol of the Wannsee conference. Transmission, publication and revisionist questioning. In: Norbert Kampe, Peter Klein (ed.): The Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 - documents, research status, controversies . Cologne 2013, ISBN 978-3-412-21070-0 , p. 124.
  51. ^ Robert MW Kempner: Eichmann and accomplices. Zurich u. a. 1961.
  52. Norbert Kampe: Tradition history and forgery allegation ... , in: Mark Roseman: The Wannsee Conference. How the bureaucracy organized the Holocaust. Munich / Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-548-36403-9 , p. 157 f; Facsimiles also at Wikisource; Christian Mentel: Just a “scrap of paper”? The minutes of the Wannsee Conference as an object of revisionist historical falsification (PDF; 536 kB), in: Memorial and Educational Site House of the Wannsee Conference (Ed.): Newsletter 26, July 2011; Christian Mentel: Between the “ falsification of the century” and the National Socialist vision of a “Jewish revival” - the minutes of the Wannsee conference in revisionist journalism (PDF; 163 kB), in: Gideon Botsch / Christoph Kopke / Lars Rensmann / Julius H. Schoeps (eds .): Politics of hatred. Anti-Semitism and radical rights in Europe , Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim / Zurich / New York 2010, ISBN 978-3-487-14438-2 , pp. 195-210.
  53. ^ Norbert Kampe, Peter Klein (ed.): The Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 - documents, research status, controversies . Cologne 2013, ISBN 978-3-412-21070-0 , pp. 20–24.
  54. z. B. Götz Aly : "Final Solution". 3rd edition, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-596-14067-6 , p. 300 f / first time 1995.
  55. Dan Michman: The Jews of North Africa in the sights of the planners of the "Final Solution"? In: Norbert Kampe, Peter Klein (eds.): The Wannsee Conference on January 20, 1942 ... , Cologne 2013, ISBN 978-3-412-21070-0 , p. 396.
  56. ^ Ahlrich Meyer: Perpetrators in interrogation - The "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" in France 1940-1944 . Darmstadt 2005, ISBN 3-534-17564-6 , p. 87.
  57. ^ Hans Mommsen: The escalation of the National Socialist extermination of the Jews . In: Klaus Michael Mallmann and Jürgen Matthäus (eds.): Germans, Jews, genocide. The Holocaust as Past and Present . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 2006, p. 65 f.
  58. ^ Peter Longerich: Politics of Destruction. An overall presentation of the National Socialist persecution of the Jews . Munich 1998, ISBN 3-492-03755-0 , p. 712, note 238; YouTube video of the Eichmann interrogation in 1961 ( Memento from May 19, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  59. ^ Memorial and Educational Center House of the Wannsee Conference (ed.): The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of European Jews. Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-9808517-4-5 , p. 99.
  60. ^ Peter Longerich: The Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942. Planning and beginning of the genocide against European Jews . Edition Hentrich, Berlin 1998, ISBN 3-89468-250-7 , p. 32.
  61. Thomas Sandkühler: "Final Solution" in Galicia. The murder of Jews in Eastern Poland and the rescue initiatives of Berthold Beitz 1941–1944 . Dietz Verlag, Bonn 1996, ISBN 3-8012-5022-9 , p. 421.
  62. ^ Memorial and Educational Center House of the Wannsee Conference (ed.): The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of European Jews. Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-9808517-4-5 , p. 100.
  63. Friedrich Minoux. Tabular curriculum vitae in the LeMO ( DHM and HdG )
  64. Jeremy Adler : No Review. A command output! In: Die Welt , January 20, 2020.
  65. Infafilm: The Wannsee Conference (1984). ( Memento from July 19, 2011 on WebCite )
  66. Audio video of the film on YouTube.
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on March 3, 2007 in this version .

Coordinates: 52 ° 25 ′ 58.5 ″  N , 13 ° 9 ′ 55.9 ″  E