Wannsee Conference

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 attended 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 confi rmation that the SS had won the 1941 dispute between authorities regarding the responsibility for the “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 Protocol of the Conference

Adolf Eichmann, the Head of the section for “Jewish affairs” within the Gestapo, summed up the results of the meeting in a protocol. According to this document, Heydrich told those present that the deportation of all European Jews to Eastern Europe had begun on the basis of “prior authorisation” given by Hitler. He stressed that he alone had “overall control for organising the Final Solution of the Jewish Question”, irrespective of geographical boundaries. There was disagreement on whether to include so-called Mischlinge (persons with Christian and Jewish parents or grandparents) and Jewish partners in “mixed marriages” in the deportations. Heydrich’s fervent attempt to extend the deportation order to these persons was an assault on the competences of the Interior Ministry, which was represented by State Secretary Wilhelm Stuckart at the conference. As Heydrich did not reach an agreement on this matter and the decision had to be postponed to later meetings, Eichmann had to dedicate a disproportionately large amount of the protocol to these proposals.

Whilst the final protocol of the conference only comprises 15 typed pages – including one and a half sides listing the participants and one side of statistics – four pages deal exclusively with these proposals on the deportation of Mischlinge and Jewish spouses. These radical proposals were therefore to remain on the agenda in the expectation that they could be implemented at a later date.