Wannsee Conference Memorial
I visited this memorial last year. The Wannsee Conference (German: Wannsee konferenz) was a meeting of senior government officials of Nazi Germany and Schutzstaffel (SS) leaders, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference, called by the director of the Reich Main Security Office SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, was to ensure the co-operation of administrative leaders of various government departments in the implementation of the Final solution to the Jewish question (German: Endlösung der Judenfrage), whereby most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe would be deported to occupied Poland and murdered. Conference participants included representatives from several government ministries, including state secretaries from the Foreign Office, the justice, interior, and state ministries, and representatives from the SS. In the course of the meeting, Heydrich outlined how European Jews would be rounded up and sent to extermination camps in the General Government (the occupied part of Poland), where they would be killed.
At noon of 20 January 1942, a meeting of approximately 90 minutes took place in the dining room of the SD guesthouse. Representatives of the SS, the NSDAP and various Reich ministries attented this meeting, which was convened by Reinhard Heydrich, Head of the Security Police and SD. The subject of the meeting was the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question". Heydrich's aim was to emphasise his leading role in the deportations and to involve important ministries and party departments in the preparations for the murder of the European Jews.
The meeting was also designed to resolve conflicts between the German civil administration in the occupied territories in Poland and Ostland and the SS leaders in these territories. The conference was a confirmation that the SS had won the 1941 dispute between authorities regarding the responsibility for hte "Solution of the Jewish Question". The participants presented proposals and raised objections depending on the interests of the authorities they were representing, but overall they showed that they were willing to cooperate. In the process, the leading officials in the German state administration became accessories to and perpetrators of the crime.
The rank of the participants and the institutions that they represented can be seen on the chart located in the historical conference room. This shows that a document produced after the Wannsee Conference, which referred to a "meeting of State Secretaries", correctly defined the nature of the conference. The State Secretaries implemented what had already been decided at a higher political level. It would therefore be incorrect to say that the murder of European Jews was decided at the Wannsee Conference. Nonetheless, the conference is of major historical significance as it provided the coordination necessary to extend the genocide to almost the whole of Europe. The conference represents the involvement of the entire German state administration in the genocide, which was implemented by range of authorities.
The Memorial and Educational Site offers online exhibitions about various topics. By going digital we can present our content everywhere around the world. So far, our online exhibitions are available in German, English and Polish – soon also in Russian.
Text from: Wikipedia and Gedenk- und Bildungsstätte Haus der Wannsee Konferenz