Gedenkstaette Dachau USHMM # 79522
SS chief Heinrich Himmler
Wannsee Conference and the "Final Solution"
January 20, 1942, fifteen high-ranking
party and German government leaders gathered for an
important meeting. They met in a wealthy section of Berlin
at a villa by a lake known as Wannsee. Reinhard Heydrich,
SS chief Heinrich Himmler's
head deputy, held the meeting for the purpose of discussing
the "final solution to the Jewish question in Europe" with
key non-SS government leaders, including the secretaries of
the Foreign Ministry and Justice, whose cooperation was
solution" was the Nazis' code name for the deliberate,
carefully planned destruction, or genocide, of all European
Jews. The Nazis used the vague term "final solution" to hide
their policy of mass murder from the rest of the world. In
fact, the men at Wannsee talked about methods of killing,
about liquidation, about "extermination."
Conference, as it became known to history, did not mark the
beginning of the "Final Solution." The mobile killing squads
were already slaughtering Jews in the occupied Soviet Union.
Rather, the Wannsee Conference was the place where the
"final solution" was formally revealed to non-Nazi leaders
who would help arrange for Jews to be transported from all
over German-occupied Europe to SS-operated "extermination"
camps in Poland. Not one of the men present at Wannsee
objected to the announced policy. Never before had a modern
state committed itself to the murder of an entire people.