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The Final Solution

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  • 1. The Wannsee Conference Nathan Vassey The Final Solution of the "Jewish Question"
  • 2. The Jewish Question and the Solution
    • Question- What should the Germans do with the Jews in their newly conquered areas?
    • Who is considered a Jew?
    • Solutions- A) put Jews into labor camps
    • B) exterminate all the Jews
    • 1) gas chambers
    • a. 1940- psychiatric institutions
    • 2) firing squads
    • a. Einsatzgruppen- mobile firing squads
  • 3. The History of the Solution
    • Not known exactly when the decision was made
    • Because of the magnitude of the decision, must have come from Hitler
    • Either verbally or written statement but probably destroyed during the war
    • Hints to the time
    • A) secret meeting between Hitler and Himmler in early spring 1941
    • 1) Himmler- “My God, my God, what I am expected to do”
    • 2) pre-final solution- Einsatzgruppen shootings in the Soviet Union
    • B)Himmler’s Journal- “Jewish question/ to be exterminated like the partisans” Dec. 18, 1941
    • C) Hitler’s character is hesitant
  • 4. The Final Solution
    • Probably not finally made until Oct. 1941
      • Well known that Hitler planned to exterminate all undesirables
      • Meeting with Himmler and Heydrich on Oct. 25 and gave authorization
    • Three things that convinced Hitler to make the final decision
      • Nazis get first reversal of fortunes in war at Moscow
      • The number of Jews needed to be killed is brought to Hitler
        • Four million extra Jews come from the newly conquered Soviet Union land
  • 5. Wannsee Conference (Von-say)
    • Reasons-
    • 1) Germany’s infrastructure was under severe strain
    • 2) Elements of Germany were expected to oppose and fail to co- operate
    • Therefore it was necessary to inform all the representatives of the plans for the Jewish question and show that it could not be resisted because the overall decision was made by Hitler.
    • Heydrich’s purposes:
      • to impose his authority on the ministries and agencies regarding the Jewish question
      • To make all the secretaries his accomplices and therefore co-responsible for the outcomes
  • 6. Wannsee Conference (Von-say) Details
    • Invitations mailed out on Nov. 29, 1941
    • Where:
      • A villa in the residential district of Wannsee near Berlin
      • Located on a beautiful piece of property with the Wannsee Lake in the view
      • Most of the actual conference was held in the dining room
    • When: Jan. 20, 1942
    • Why: a) political reasons as seen above
    • b) to explain what was intended and plan how to achieve their goal
    • Who:
      • See next slide
      • Head of the meeting: Obergruppenfuher Reinhard Heydrich (Chief of RHSA)
      • Minutes taken by Adolf Eichmann
  • 7. The front of the Wannsee villa where the conference was held
  • 8. This is the dining room where a majority of the conference would have taken place.
  • 9. This is the back of the villa which overlooks the Wannsee Lake. As one can see, it is surrounded by beautiful scenery.
  • 10. The Party List
    • SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich (Chief of the RSHA and Reichsprotektor of Bohemia-Moravia), presiding
    • Dr Josef Bühler (Government of the General Government )
    • Dr Roland Freisler (Reich Ministry of Justice)
    • SS-Gruppenführer Otto Hofmann (Race and Resettlement Main Office, RuSHA)
    • SA-Oberführer Dr Gerhard Klopfer (NSDAP Chancellery)
    • Ministerialdirektor Friedrich Wilhelm Kritzinger (Reich Chancellery)
    • SS-Sturmbannführer Dr Rudolf Lange (Commander of the SD for Latvia )
    • Reichsamtleiter Dr Georg Leibbrandt (Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern territories)
    • Martin Luther (Foreign Office)
    • Gauleiter Dr Alfred Meyer (Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern territories)
    • SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller (Chief of Amt IV ( Gestapo ), Reich Security Main Office (RSHA))
    • Erich Neumann (Director, Office of the Four Year Plan)
    • SS-Oberführer Dr Karl Eberhard Schöngarth (SD, assigned to the General Government)
    • Dr Wilhelm Stuckart (Reich Ministry for the Interior)
    • SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann (Head of Referat IV B4 of the Gestapo ), minutes secretary
    • All men in their prime, young, and long standing Nazi members
    • Highly educated and several law degrees
    • Martin Luther – the only undersecretary
  • 11. Original Conference
    • Date: December 9, 1941
    • Headquarters of the International Criminal Police Commission at 16 AM Klein Wannsee on the western edge of Berlin
    • Reasons for postponement
    • 1)Dec. 5- Soviet Army began counter- offense at Moscow
    • 2) Dec. 7- Pearl Harbor and US declared war (political confusion)
    • 3) Dec. 11- Germany declared war on the US
    • Original theme was focused only on the German and Austrian Jews but Hitler’s speech on Dec. 12 allowed Heydrich to broaden the theme
  • 12. At the Conference
    • Lasted only about 90 minutes
    • To many of the officials, it seemed like a perfunctory conference, but in reality, it had enormous importance.
    • Most of time spent in the dining room
    • Discussion included:
      • The definition of a Jew
      • Many euphemisms such as:
        • Transportation to the east
        • Evacuation to the east
        • Special treatment (abbreviated SB) for the Jews not fit for labor
        • Special lodging
        • All synonymous with the Nazi killing machine
    • Later cognac was served, minutes ceased, the men break off into small groups, so conversation was less strained
  • 13. Minutes and Evidence
    • Taken by Eichmann
    • In his trial, he said he cleaned them up so nothing explicit appeared
      • Last 20 minutes when the cognac was served is summed up into one sentence because the conversation mainly included liquidation and execution of the Jews.
    • Minutes sent to each member who attended the conference
    • Only evidence for the conference was found in the files of Martin Luther because all other copies were burned
  • 14. Bibliography
    • http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/euphemism.html
    • http://history.sandiego.edu/gen/ww2timeline/Final_Solution.html
    • http://www.holocaust-history.org/hitler-final-solution/
    • http://www.scrapbookpages.com/EasternGermany/Wannsee/
    • www. Wikipedia.com