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Wannsee Conference

View of the Wannsee villa. On January 20, 1942, the villa was the site of the Wannsee Conference, at which the decision to proceed with the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” was announced.

View of the Wannsee villa. On January 20, 1942, the villa was the site of the Wannsee Conference, at which the decision to proceed with the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" was announced. —US Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Gedenkstaette Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz

January 20, 1942

Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), convenes the Wannsee Conference in a villa outside Berlin. At this conference, he presents plans to coordinate a European-wide “Final Solution of the Jewish Question” to key officials from the German State and the Nazi Party.

The "Final Solution" was the code name for the systematic, deliberate, physical annihilation of the European Jews. At some still undetermined time in 1941, Hitler authorized this European-wide scheme for mass murder. Heydrich convened the Wannsee Conference

  • to inform and secure support from government ministries and other interested agencies relevant to the implementation of the “Final Solution,” and
  • to disclose to the participants that Hitler himself had tasked Heydrich and the RSHA with coordinating the operation.

The attendees did not deliberate whether such a plan should be undertaken, but instead discussed the implementation of a policy decision that had already been made at the highest level of the Nazi regime.

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