The Wannsee Conference and the Genocide of the European Jews
The main focus of the site is the Wannsee Conference of 20 January 1942 and its significance for the process of planning the genocide of European Jews, as well as the involvement of the conference participants and the authorities they represented in the persecution and murder of the Jews.
Four rooms are dedicated to these themes (rooms 7 to 10). Following an overview of the historical background to anti-Semitism and racism (room 2), the exhibition shows both the integration of Jews into German society achieved during the Weimar Republic and the rise of anti-Semitism at the time (room 3). It goes on to describe the propagandist concept of the Volksgemeinschaft (“national community”) after 1933, the exclusion and persecution of the German Jews but also their attempts towards self-assertion (room 4).
The former guest house of the SS Security Service (SD) is a site of perpetrators. For this reason, several theme-based rooms focus on a number of perpetrator groups, including the Ordnungspolizei (uniformed police) and Wehrmacht (rooms 5 and 6) as well as the civil administration in the occupied territories (room 12). There is also information about collaboration, a topic which has generated increased research since the 1990s (rooms 5, 6 and 11). The exhibition also deals with the frequently raised question as to how much the Germans knew about the genocide (for example in room 7).
The process of deporting Jews to the ghettos and extermination camps, which has been reconstructed through regional history projects and memorial books, is outlined using three Länder (German states) as examples. The exhibition shows the establishment of the ghettos and the role they played in concentrating Jews prior to their murder.
It illustrates how forced labour was organised in the ghettos, how day-to-day existence was dominated by hunger, sickness and death, the contrasting strategies adopted by the ghetto residents, and finally the liquidation of the ghettos (room 12). The continued process of persecution through the transit, concentration and death camps is also detailed. Conditions in the camps are described using documents produced by the perpetrators and from the perspective of the victims (rooms 11, 13 and 14).
Rooms of the exhibit:
- Introduction to the exhibition
- Racism and anti-Judaism
- Integration and anti-Semitism in the Weimar Republic
- Racist Policy and the persecution of Jews in Germany 1933-1939
- War and Genocide in Eastern and South-eastern Europe
- Scope for action under German occupation
- Preparing the mass murder of the Jews of Europe
- Authorities participating in the Conference
- The Wannsee Conference
- Conference participants and protocol after 1945
- The ghettos
- Concentration camps and death camps
- Forced labour and death in concentration camps
- The presence of the past
An AudioGuide in the languages German, English, French and Hebrew can be borrowed at the reception for 3,00 EUR.