|Racial policy · Nazi eugenics · Nuremberg Laws · Euthanasia program · Concentration camps (list)|
|Jews in Nazi Germany (1933–1939)|
Concentration and Extermination
Nazi Germany: Adolf Hitler · Heinrich Himmler · Ernst Kaltenbrunner · Theodor Eicke · Reinhard Heydrich · Adolf Eichmann · Rudolf Hoess · Nazi Party · Schutzstaffel (SS) · Gestapo · Sturmabteilung (SA)
|Survivors · Victims · Rescuers|
|The Destruction of the European Jews Functionalism versus intentionalism|
The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference was to inform administrative leaders of Departments responsible for various policies relating to Jews, that Reinhard Heydrich had been appointed as the chief executor of the "Final solution to the Jewish question". In the course of the meeting, Heydrich presented a plan, presumably approved by Adolf Hitler, for the deportation of the Jewish population of Europe and French North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) to German-occupied areas in eastern Europe, and the use of the Jews fit for labour on road-building projects, in the course of which they would eventually die, the surviving remnant to be annihilated after completion of the projects. Instead, as Soviet forces gradually pushed back the German lines, most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe were sent to extermination or concentration camps, or killed where they lived. As a result of the efforts of historian Joseph Wulf, the Wannsee House, where the conference was held, is now a Holocaust Memorial.
The rapid German advances in the opening weeks of the invasion of the Soviet Union, Operation Barbarossa, induced a mood of euphoria among the Nazi leadership, which began to take an increasingly radical view of the "solution" of the "Jewish question"—a question that seemed to become more urgent with the growing likelihood that the four million Jews of the western Soviet Union would fall under German control. On 16 July 1941, Hitler addressed a meeting of ministers, including Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, at which the administration of the occupied Soviet territories was discussed. He said that Soviet territories west of the Urals were to become a "German Garden of Eden", and that "naturally this vast area must be pacified as quickly as possible; this will happen best by shooting anyone who even looks sideways at us."
Hitler's chief lieutenants, Göring and the SS chief Heinrich Himmler, took this and other comments by Hitler at this time (most of which were not recorded, but were attested to at postwar trials) as authority to proceed with a more radical "final solution of the Jewish question" (Die Endlösung der Judenfrage), involving the complete removal of the Jews from the German-occupied territories. On 31 July 1941 Göring gave a written authorisation to SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, Chief of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) to "make all necessary preparations" for a "total solution of the Jewish question" in all the territories under German influence, to co-ordinate the participation of all government organisations whose co-operation was required, and to submit a "comprehensive draft" of a plan for the "final solution of the Jewish question".
Göring was at this time the second most powerful figure in the Nazi regime, having been given the special rank of Reichsmarschall and designated as Hitler's successor. Therefore, Heydrich would have understood that any instruction coming from Göring carried the authority of Hitler. Heydrich also knew that his immediate superior, Himmler, was in favour of exterminating the Jews, and Heydrich was at that moment directing the Einsatzgruppen to do just that in the newly conquered Soviet territories. Rudolf Lange, commander of Einsatzkommando 2 in Latvia, wrote that his orders were "a radical solution of the Jewish problem through the execution of all Jews". In October the deportation of the Jews of Germany, Austria and the Czech lands to the east began. When trainloads of German Jews arrived at Riga in Latvia, Lange simply had them shot. But this was clearly not a feasible method of dealing with millions of people: the cost of ammunition alone was unacceptable, and it was observed that even SS troops were uncomfortable about shooting assimilated German Jews as opposed to Ostjuden ("Eastern Jews"). The head of the German civil administration in Belarus, generalkommisar Wilhelm Kube, who among other crimes personally murdered Jewish children, objected to German Jews deported to the Minsk Ghetto, "who come from our own cultural circle", being casually killed by German soldiers.
During the second half of 1941, therefore, Heydrich and his staff worked on proposals to "evacuate" all Jews from Germany and the occupied countries to labour camps, either in occupied Poland or further east in the Soviet Union, which it was assumed would soon be completely conquered. Those who were unable to work would be killed, while the remainder would soon be worked to death. But the German defeat in front of Moscow in November–December led to a sharp change of emphasis. Euphoria was replaced by the prospect of a long war, and also by a realisation that food stocks were not sufficient to feed the entire population of German-occupied Europe. It was at this time the decision to proceed from "evacuation" to extermination was made. Speaking with Himmler and Heydrich on 25 October, Hitler said: "Let no one say to me: we cannot send them into the swamp. Who then cares about our own people? It is good when terror precedes us that we are exterminating the Jews. We are writing history anew, from the racial standpoint."
By November 1941, it was becoming known in the upper reaches of the Nazi leadership and government offices that Hitler intended all the Jews of Europe to be deported to the eastern territories and, by some means, to have their lives extinguished there. To carry out such a massive enterprise, involving the registration, assembly and transportation of millions of people, at a time when the necessary material and human resources were already severely stretched, would be a formidable logistical challenge. It was also one that at least some elements of the German state apparatus might be expected to obstruct or fail to co-operate with. It thus seemed advisable to bring together representatives of all affected departments to explain what was intended and how it was to be carried out, and to make it clear that the project had been undertaken on the highest authority of the Reich.
On 29 November, Heydrich sent invitations for a meeting to be held on 9 December at the headquarters of the International Criminal Police Commission (the forerunner of Interpol, of which Heydrich at the time served as President) at 16 Am Kleinen Wannsee (in the comfortable lakeside suburb of Wannsee on the western edge of Berlin). He enclosed a copy of Göring's letter of 31 July to indicate his authority in the matter. As this was to be a meeting of administrators to discuss implementation of a policy already decided at the executive level, those invited were mostly State Secretaries, i.e., chief administrative (subministerial) officers of government ministries. The ministries to be represented were Interior, Justice, the Four Year Plan and Occupied Eastern Territories. The Foreign Office was to be represented by an undersecretary, as Heydrich suspected that State Secretary Weizsäcker was not fully aligned with the objectives of the regime. Also invited were representatives of the Reich Chancellery, the Nazi Party Chancellery and the Race and Resettlement Main Office of the RSHA, and the head of the Gestapo, Müller. When Hans Frank, head of the General Government in occupied Poland, heard of the meeting, he demanded to be represented, and Heydrich quickly agreed. SS-Sturmbannführer Lange was invited for his experience in executing German Jews in Latvia. Heydrich's right-hand man Eichmann was to take the minutes.
Developments in early December, 1941, disrupted the original meeting plans. On 5 December, the Soviet Army began a counter-offensive in front of Moscow, ending the prospect of a rapid conquest of the Soviet Union. On 7 December, the Japanese attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, causing the US to declare war on Japan the next day. To fulfill its obligations under its Tripartite Pact with Italy and Japan, the Reich government immediately began preparing to issue a declaration of war on the US on 11 December. Some meeting invitees were involved in these preparations, and Heydrich postponed the meeting, with no rescheduled time, on 8 December. In early January 1942 Heydrich sent new invitations to a meeting to be held on 20 January. The German historian Christian Gerlach sees in Heydrich's postponement the exploitation of an opportunity to broaden the original objective. Götz Aly writes: "The postponement followed, one could assert, the political confusion that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had caused. But Gerlach substantiates with convincing details that the originally planned Wannsee Conference had an entirely different theme than that which actually took place six weeks later. It had only been anticipated to discuss problems that occurred with the deportations of the (Greater) German Jews... Only after Hitler's speech of 12 December was Heydrich able, as Gerlach shows, to broaden the theme and fix a conference on the 'Final Solution of the European Jewish question'."
The venue for the rescheduled conference was changed to a villa at 56–58 Am Grossen Wannsee, a quiet residential street across the Grosser Wannsee from the popular Wannsee beach. The villa, built in 1914, had been purchased from Friedrich Minoux in 1940 by the SS for use as a conference centre.
When the conference finally assembled at midday on 20 January those present were:
|SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich||Chief of the RSHA
Deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia
|Schutzstaffel||Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler|
|Dr Josef Bühler||State Secretary||General Government||Governor-General Dr Hans Frank|
|Dr Roland Freisler||State Secretary||Reich Ministry of Justice||Reich Minister of Justice Dr Franz Schlegelberger|
|SS-Gruppenführer Otto Hofmann||Head of the SS Race- and Settlement Main Office (RuSHA)||Schutzstaffel||Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler|
|SA-Oberführer Dr Gerhard Klopfer||Permanent Secretary||Nazi Party Chancellery||Chief of the Party Chancellery Martin Bormann|
|Friedrich Wilhelm Kritzinger||Permanent Secretary||Reich Chancellery||Reich Minister and head of the Reich Chancellery Dr Hans Lammers|
|SS-Sturmbannführer Dr Rudolf Lange||Commander of the SiPo and the SD for the
Deputy of the Commander of the SiPo and the SD for the Reichskommissariat Ostland.
|SiPo and SD, RSHA, Schutzstaffel||SS-Brigadeführer and Generalmajor der Polize Dr Franz Walter Stahlecker|
|Dr Georg Leibbrandt||Reichsamtleiter||Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories||Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories Dr Alfred Rosenberg|
|Martin Luther||Under Secretary||Reich Foreign Ministry||Reich Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop|
|Dr Alfred Meyer||Gauleiter
State Secretary and Deputy Reich Minister
|Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories||Reich Minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories Dr Alfred Rosenberg|
|SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller||Chief of Amt IV (Gestapo)||Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), Schutzstaffel||Chief of the RSHA SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich|
|Erich Neumann||State Secretary||Office of the Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan||Plenipotentiary of the Four Year Plan Hermann Göring|
|SS-Oberführer Dr Karl Eberhard Schöngarth||Commander of the SiPo and the SD in the General Government||SiPo and SD, RSHA, Schutzstaffel||Chief of the RSHA SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich|
|Dr Wilhelm Stuckart||State Secretary||Reich Interior Ministry||Reich Minister of the Interior Dr Wilhelm Frick|
|SS-Obersturmbannführer Adolf Eichmann||Head of Referat IV B4 of the Gestapo
|Gestapo, RSHA, Schutzstaffel||Chief of Amt IV SS-Gruppenführer Heinrich Müller|
In preparation for the conference, Eichmann drafted a list of the numbers of Jews in the various European countries (pictured below). Countries were listed in two groups "A" and "B". "A" countries were those under direct Reich control or occupation (or partially occupied and quiescent, in the case of France); "B" countries were allied or client states, neutral, or at war with Germany. The numbers reflect actions already completed by Nazi forces; for example, Estonia is listed as judenfrei ("free of Jews"), as the thousand Jews who remained in Estonia after the German occupation had been virtually exterminated by the end of 1941. English translation:
"Total: over 11,000,000"
For comparison see "Jewish Lists" of the Korherr Report of January 18, 1943.
Heydrich opened the conference with an account of the anti-Jewish measures taken in Germany since the Nazi seizure of power in 1933. He said that between 1933 and 1941, 530,000 German and Austrian Jews had emigrated. This information was taken from a briefing paper prepared for him the previous week by Eichmann who, after his experience in organizing the forced emigration of the Viennese Jews in 1938, had become the leading expert on the practicalities of solving the "Jewish question".
Heydrich reported that there were approximately eleven million Jews in the whole of Europe, of whom half a million were in countries not under German control. He explained that since further emigration of European Jews had been prohibited by the authorities, "another possible solution of the problem has now taken the place of emigration, i.e. the evacuation of the Jews to the East"; this would be a "provisional" solution, but "practical experience" was already being collected for the "future final solution of the Jewish question". 
It has been claimed that the Wannsee Conference decided on no more than the "evacuation" of the Jewish population of Europe to the east, with no reference to killing them. In fact, Heydrich made the ultimate fate intended for the evacuees clear:
No one at the meeting can have misunderstood Heydrich's meaning. The historian Christopher Browning observes: "No less than eight of the fifteen participants held the doctorate. Thus it was not a dimwitted crowd unable to grasp what was going to be said to them. Nor were they going to be overcome with surprise or shock, for Heydrich was not talking to the uninitiated or squeamish."
Heydrich went on to say that in the course of the "practical execution of the final solution", Europe would be "combed through from west to east", but that Germany, Austria and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia would have priority "due to the housing problem and additional social and political necessities". This was a reference to increasing pressure from the regional Nazi Party leaders in Germany, the Gauleiters, for the Jews to be removed from their areas to allow accommodation for Germans made homeless by Allied bombing, as well as for labourers being imported from occupied countries. The "evacuated" Jews, he said, would first be sent to "transit ghettos" in the General Government, from which they would be transported to the East. Heydrich said that to avoid legal and political difficulties, it was important to define who was a Jew for the purposes of "evacuation". He outlined categories of people who would be exempted. Jews over 65 years old, and Jewish World War I veterans alike, who had been severely wounded or who had won the Iron Cross, would be sent to the "model" concentration camp at Theresienstadt. "With this expedient solution," he said, "in one fell swoop many interventions will be prevented."
The situation of people who were in a "racial" sense half or quarter Jews, and of Jews who were married to non-Jews, was more complex. Under the Nuremberg Laws of 1935, their status had been left deliberately ambiguous. Heydrich announced that "mischlings" (a Nazi pejorative for mixed-"race" persons) of the first degree (persons with two Jewish grandparents), would be treated as Jews. This would not apply if they were married to a non-Jew and had children by that marriage. It would also not apply if they had been granted written exemption by "the highest offices of the Party and State." Such persons would instead be sterilised.
"Mischlings of the second degree" (persons with one Jewish grandparent) would be treated as Germans unless they were married to Jews or mischlings of the first degree, or had a "racially especially undesirable appearance that marks him outwardly as a Jew", or had a "political record that shows that he feels and behaves like a Jew". Persons in these latter categories would be deported even if married to non-Jews.
In the case of mixed marriages, Heydrich advocated a policy of caution, "with regard to the effects on the German relatives". If such a marriage had produced children who were being raised as Germans, the Jewish partner would not be deported. If they were being raised as Jews, they might be deported, or sent to Theresienstadt, depending on the circumstances.
It is important to note that these exemptions applied only to German and Austrian Jews (and were not always observed even in regard to them). In most of the occupied countries, Jews were rounded up and deported en masse, and anyone who lived in or identified with the Jewish community in a given place was regarded as a Jew. One of the few exceptions to this was France, where the Vichy French regime, in exchange for ready co-operation, was able to apply its own rules, affecting mainly refugees and recent immigrants rather than French-born Jews. Heydrich commented: "In occupied and unoccupied France, the registration of Jews for evacuation will in all probability proceed without great difficulty", but in fact the great majority of French-born Jews survived. In Denmark, relatively few Jews were ultimately exterminated, due to strong opposition by the King and the populace.
More difficulty was anticipated with Germany's allies, Romania and Hungary. "In Romania the government has [now] appointed a commissioner for Jewish affairs", Heydrich said, but in fact the deportation of Romanian Jews was slow and inefficient despite the high degree of popular anti-Semitism. "In order to settle the question in Hungary," Heydrich said, "it will soon be necessary to force an adviser for Jewish questions onto the Hungarian government". The Hungarian regime of Miklós Horthy continued to resist German interference in its Jewish policy until 1944, when Horthy was overthrown (by Nazi intervention) and 500,000 Hungarian Jews sent to their deaths by Eichmann.
Heydrich spoke for nearly an hour. Then followed about thirty minutes of questions and comments, followed by some less formal conversation. Luther from the Foreign Office urged caution in Scandinavia, "Nordic" countries where public opinion was not hostile to the small Jewish populations and would react badly to unpleasant scenes. Hofmann and Stuckart pointed out the legalistic and administrative difficulties over mixed marriages, arguing for compulsory dissolution of marriages to prevent legal disputes and for the wider use of sterilisation as an alternative to deportation. Neumann from the Four Year Plan argued for the exemption of Jews who were working in industries vital to the war effort and for whom no replacements are available. Heydrich (keen not to offend Neumann's boss Hermann Göring) assured him that these Jews would not be "evacuated". There were questions about the mischlings and those in mixed marriages: the details of these complex questions were put off until a later meeting.
Finally Bühler of the General Government in occupied Poland stated that:
The above account is based on the minutes taken by Eichmann, copies of which were sent by Eichmann to all the participants after the meeting. Most of these copies were destroyed at the end of the war as participants and other officials sought to cover their tracks. It was not until 1947 that a copy of the minutes (known from the German word for "minutes" as the "Wannsee Protocol") was found by Robert Kempner in the papers of Undersecretary Martin Luther, who had died in May 1945. By this time the more important participants in the meeting were dead or missing (Heydrich, Müller, Eichmann), and most of the others denied knowledge of the meeting or claimed that they could not remember what had occurred there. Only Kritzinger ever showed any genuine remorse for his role in preparing the Final Solution.
There were, however, significant omissions in the minutes. These were not fully elucidated until the interrogation and trial of Eichmann in Israel in 1962. Eichmann told his questioners that towards the end of the meeting cognac was served, and that after that the conversation became less restrained. "The gentlemen were standing together, or sitting together", he said, "and were discussing the subject quite bluntly, quite differently from the language which I had to use later in the record. During the conversation they minced no words about it at all...they spoke about methods of killing, about liquidation, about extermination".
Eichmann recorded that Heydrich was pleased with the course of the meeting. He "gave expression to his great satisfaction", and allowed himself a glass of cognac, although he rarely drank. He "had expected considerable stumbling blocks and difficulties", Eichmann recalled, but instead he had found "an atmosphere not only of agreement on the part of the participants, but more than that, one could feel an agreement which had assumed a form which had not been expected". At the conclusion of the meeting Heydrich gave Eichmann firm instructions about what was to appear in the minutes. They were not to be verbatim: Eichmann would "clean them up" so that nothing too explicit appeared in them. He said at his trial: "How shall I put it—certain over-plain talk and jargon expressions had to be rendered into office language by me". As a result, the last twenty minutes of the meeting, in which, as Eichmann recalled, words like "liquidation" and "extermination" were freely used, were summed up in one bland sentence: "In conclusion the different types of possible solutions were discussed". Thus the minutes must be read in conjunction with Eichmann's testimony to get as near as is possible to a full account of what took place.
The Wannsee Conference only lasted about ninety minutes, and for most of its participants it was one meeting among many in a busy week. The enormous importance which has been attached to the conference by postwar writers was not evident to most of its participants at the time. Heydrich did not call the meeting to make fundamental new decisions on the Jewish question. Massive killings of Jews in the conquered territories in the Soviet Union and Poland; at Chelmno were ongoing and new extermination camps were in preparation at the time of the conference. Fundamental decisions about the extermination of the Jews, as everybody at the meeting understood, were made by Hitler, in consultation, if he chose, with senior colleagues such as Himmler and Göring, and not by officials. They knew that in this case the decision had already been made, and that Heydrich was there as Himmler's emissary to tell them about it. Nor did the conference engage in detailed logistical planning. It could hardly do so in the absence of a representative of the Transport Ministry or the German Railways.
Eichmann's biographer David Cesarani says that Heydrich's main purpose was to impose his own authority on the various ministries and agencies involved in Jewish policy matters, to avoid any repetition of the disputes that had arisen over the killing of the German Jews at Riga in October. "The simplest, most decisive way that Heydrich could ensure the smooth flow of deportations", he writes, "was by asserting his total control over fate of the Jews in the Reich and the east, and [by] cow[ing] other interested parties into toeing the line of the RSHA". This would explain why most of the meeting was taken up with a long speech by Heydrich, the contents of which would not have been news to most of those present, and why so little time was spent discussing practical questions. It was also important to obtain the consent of the Foreign Ministry and the Four Year Plan, the ministries most likely to object (on diplomatic and economic grounds) to the mass killing of the Jews.
The leading German historian Peter Longerich agrees, but suggests a second motive: to make all the leading ministries accomplices in Heydrich's plan.
In order of death
In 1965, historian Joseph Wulf tried to have the Wannsee House made into a Holocaust memorial and document center. But the Berlin Senate did not want Holocaust Memorials and spurned Joseph Wulf. In his last letter to his son David, 2 August 1974, Wulf wrote, "I have published 18 books about the Third Reich and they have had no effect. You can document everything to death for the Germans. There is a democratic regime in Bonn. Yet the mass murderers walk around free, live in their little houses, and grow flowers." Deeply despondent over the death of his wife and the collapse of his plans for a document center, Wulf committed suicide, age 61, by jumping from the fifth floor window of his Berlin apartment, Giesebrechtstraße 12, Charlottenburg. In 1992 the Wannsee House became a Holocaust memorial. The Joseph Wulf Bibliothek/Mediothek on the second floor holds thousands of books on Nazism, anti-Semitism, and the Jewish genocide, along with many videos, microfilm texts, and original Nazi era documents. Wulf’s last letter is on display in Berlin’s Jewish Museum.
The events of the Conference have been dramatized in two films.
|←Wikisource:Historical documents||Wannsee Protocal (unknown translator)|
|The Wannsee Protocol was the record of the
Nazi Wannsee conference, in which the Final Solution, or the
slaughter of the Jews of Europe, was planned. The "Wannsee
Conference" was not a name its participants would have given to
their meeting; it is simply the most convenient description
available for historians of the Holocaust. At a villa owned by the
SS on the shores of a suburban Berlin lake called the Wannsee,
mid-level bureaucrats from a number of Nazi agencies, all named in
the introduction to the text, assembled at the request of Reinhard
Heydrich, the chief of the Reich Security Main Office and head of
the German secret police apparatus. Heydrich and his boss, Heinrich
Himmler, head of the SS, were in the process of assuming leadership
in the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question," i.e., the murder of
Europe's Jews by the Nazis. This meeting was a part of that
process, as bureaucratic coordination would be required for the
massive efforts to be undertaken throughout Europe to kill the
11,000,000 Jews described in the document. The Nazis ultimately
succeeded in killing between five and six million of Europe's Jews,
with hundreds of thousands, mainly in the Soviet Union, already
dead by the time of this meeting. In the notes "transport to the
East" was used as a euphemism for transport to the extermination
camps, which were built after the Conference as part of Aktion
Translation note: This English text of the original German-language Wannsee protocol is based on the official U.S. government translation prepared for evidence in trials at Nuremberg, as reproduced in John Mendelsohn, ed., The Holocaust: Selected Documents in Eighteen Volumes. Vol. 11: The Wannsee Protocol and a 1944 Report on Auschwitz by the Office of Strategic Services (New York: Garland, 1982), 18-32. Revisions to the Nuremberg text were made for clarification and correction. The revisions were made by Dan Rogers of the University of South Alabama. This document is in the public domain and may be freely reproduced. In the process of being programmed for the World-Wide Web, its appearance (particularly with regard to tabs, spaces, columns and indentations) was forced to deviate from the original.
Stamp: Top Secret
30 copies 16th copy
Minutes of discussion.
I. The following persons took part in the discussion about the final solution of the Jewish question which took place in Berlin, am Grossen Wannsee No. 56/58 on 20 January 1942.
|Gauleiter Dr. Meyer and Reichsamtleiter Dr. Leibbrandt||Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern territories|
|Secretary of State Dr. Stuckart||Reich Ministry for the Interior|
|Secretary of State Neumann||Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan|
|Secretary of State Dr. Freisler||Reich Ministry of Justice|
|Secretary of State Dr. Buehler||Office of the Government General|
|Under Secretary of State Dr. Luther||Foreign Office|
|SS-Oberfuehrer Klopfer||Party Chancellery|
|Ministerialdirektor Kritzinger||Reich Chancellery|
|SS-Gruppenfuehrer Hofmann||Race and Settlement Main Office|
|SS-Gruppenfuehrer Mueller||Reich Main Security Office|
|SS-Oberfuehrer Dr. Schoengarth||Security Police and SD|
|Chief of the Security Police and the SD in the Government General|
|SS-Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. Lange||Security Police and SD|
|Commander of the Security Police and the SD for the
as deputy of the Commander of the Security Police and the SD for the Reich Commissariat "Eastland".
II. At the beginning of the discussion Chief of the Security Police and of the SD, SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich, reported that the Reich Marshal had appointed him delegate for the preparations for the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe and pointed out that this discussion had been called for the purpose of clarifying fundamental questions. The wish of the Reich Marshal to have a draft sent to him concerning organizational, factual and material interests in relation to the final solution of the Jewish question in Europe makes necessary an initial common action of all central offices immediately concerned with these questions in order to bring their general activities into line. The Reichsführer-SS and the Chief of the German Police (Chief of the Security Police and the SD) was entrusted with the official central handling of the final solution of the Jewish question without regard to geographic borders. The Chief of the Security Police and the SD then gave a short report of the struggle which has been carried on thus far against this enemy, the essential points being the following:
In carrying out these efforts, an increased and planned acceleration of the emigration of the Jews from Reich territory was started, as the only possible present solution.
By order of the Reich Marshal, a Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration was set up in January 1939 and the Chief of the Security Police and SD was entrusted with the management. Its most important tasks were
The aim of all this was to cleanse German living space of Jews in a legal manner.
All the offices realized the drawbacks of such enforced accelerated emigration. For the time being they had, however, tolerated it on account of the lack of other possible solutions of the problem.
The work concerned with emigration was, later on, not only a German problem, but also a problem with which the authorities of the countries to which the flow of emigrants was being directed would have to deal. Financial difficulties, such as the demand by various foreign governments for increasing sums of money to be presented at the time of the landing, the lack of shipping space, increasing restriction of entry permits, or the cancelling of such, increased extraordinarily the difficulties of emigration. In spite of these difficulties, 537,000 Jews were sent out of the country between the takeover of power and the deadline of 31 October 1941. Of these
The Jews themselves, or their Jewish political organizations, financed the emigration. In order to avoid impoverished Jews' remaining behind, the principle was followed that wealthy Jews have to finance the emigration of poor Jews; this was arranged by imposing a suitable tax, i.e., an emigration tax, which was used for financial arrangements in connection with the emigration of poor Jews and was imposed according to income.
Apart from the necessary Reichsmark exchange, foreign currency had to presented at the time of landing. In order to save foreign exchange held by Germany, the foreign Jewish financial organizations were - with the help of Jewish organizations in Germany - made responsible for arranging an adequate amount of foreign currency. Up to 30 October 1941, these foreign Jews donated a total of around 9,500,000 dollars.
In the meantime the Reichsführer-SS and Chief of the German Police had prohibited emigration of Jews due to the dangers of an emigration in wartime and due to the possibilities of the East.
III. Another possible solution of the problem has now taken the place of emigration, i.e. the evacuation of the Jews to the East, provided that the Führer gives the appropriate approval in advance.
These actions are, however, only to be considered provisional, but practical experience is already being collected which is of the greatest importance in relation to the future final solution of the Jewish question.
Approximately 11 million Jews will be involved in the final solution of the European Jewish question, distributed as follows among the individual countries:
Country Number A. Germany proper 131,800 Austria 43,700 Eastern territories 420,000 General Government 2,284,000 Bialystok 400,000 Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia 74,200 Estonia - free of Jews - Latvia 3,500 Lithuania 34,000 Belgium 43,000 Denmark 5,600 France / occupied territory 165,000 unoccupied territory 700,000 Greece 69,600 Netherlands 160,800 Norway 1,300 B. Bulgaria 48,000 England 330,000 Finland 2,300 Ireland 4,000 Italy including Sardinia 58,000 Albania 200 Croatia 40,000 Portugal 3,000 Rumania including Bessarabia 342,000 Sweden 8,000 Switzerland 18,000 Serbia 10,000 Slovakia 88,000 Spain 6,000 Turkey (European portion) 55,500 Hungary 742,800 USSR 5,000,000 Ukraine 2,994,684 White Russia excluding Bialystok 446,484 Total over 11,000,000
The number of Jews given here for foreign countries includes, however, only those Jews who still adhere to the Jewish faith, since some countries still do not have a definition of the term "Jew" according to racial principles.
The handling of the problem in the individual countries will meet with difficulties due to the attitude and outlook of the people there, especially in Hungary and Rumania. Thus, for example, even today the Jew can buy documents in Rumania that will officially prove his foreign citizenship.
The influence of the Jews in all walks of life in the USSR is well known. Approximately five million Jews live in the European part of the USSR, in the Asian part scarcely 1/4 million.
The breakdown of Jews residing in the European part of the USSR according to trades was approximately as follows:
Agriculture 9.1 % Urban workers 14.8 % In trade 20.0 % Employed by the state 23.4 % In private occupations such as medical profession, press, theater, etc. 32. 7%
Under proper guidance, in the course of the final solution the Jews are to be allocated for appropriate labor in the East. Able-bodied Jews, separated according to sex, will be taken in large work columns to these areas for work on roads, in the course of which action doubtless a large portion will be eliminated by natural causes.
The possible final remnant will, since it will undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be treated accordingly, because it is the product of natural selection and would, if released, act as a the seed of a new Jewish revival (see the experience of history.)
In the course of the practical execution of the final solution, Europe will be combed through from west to east. Germany proper, including the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, will have to be handled first due to the housing problem and additional social and political necessities.
The evacuated Jews will first be sent, group by group, to so-called transit ghettos, from which they will be transported to the East.
SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich went on to say that an important prerequisite for the evacuation as such is the exact definition of the persons involved.
It is not intended to evacuate Jews over 65 years old, but to send them to an old-age ghetto - Theresienstadt is being considered for this purpose.
In addition to these age groups - of the approximately 280,000 Jews in Germany proper and Austria on 31 October 1941, approximately 30% are over 65 years old - severely wounded veterans and Jews with war decorations (Iron Cross I) will be accepted in the old-age ghettos. With this expedient solution, in one fell swoop many interventions will be prevented.
The beginning of the individual larger evacuation actions will largely depend on military developments. Regarding the handling of the final solution in those European countries occupied and influenced by us, it was proposed that the appropriate expert of the Foreign Office discuss the matter with the responsible official of the Security Police and SD.
In Slovakia and Croatia the matter is no longer so difficult, since the most substantial problems in this respect have already been brought near a solution. In Rumania the government has in the meantime also appointed a commissioner for Jewish affairs. In order to settle the question in Hungary, it will soon be necessary to force an adviser for Jewish questions onto the Hungarian government.
With regard to taking up preparations for dealing with the problem in Italy, SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich considers it opportune to contact the chief of police with a view to these problems.
In occupied and unoccupied France, the registration of Jews for evacuation will in all probability proceed without great difficulty.
Under Secretary of State Luther calls attention in this matter to the fact that in some countries, such as the Scandinavian states, difficulties will arise if this problem is dealt with thoroughly and that it will therefore be advisable to defer actions in these countries. Besides, in view of the small numbers of Jews affected, this deferral will not cause any substantial limitation.
The Foreign Office sees no great difficulties for southeast and western Europe.
SS-Gruppenführer Hofmann plans to send an expert to Hungary from the Race and Settlement Main Office for general orientation at the time when the Chief of the Security Police and SD takes up the matter there. It was decided to assign this expert from the Race and Settlement Main Office, who will not work actively, as an assistant to the police attaché.
IV. In the course of the final solution plans, the Nuremberg Laws should provide a certain foundation, in which a prerequisite for the absolute solution of the problem is also the solution to the problem of mixed marriages and persons of mixed blood.
The Chief of the Security Police and the SD discusses the following points, at first theoretically, in regard to a letter from the chief of the Reich chancellery:
1) Treatment of Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree
Persons of mixed blood of the first degree will, as regards the final solution of the Jewish question, be treated as Jews.
From this treatment the following exceptions will be made:
The prerequisite for any exemption must always be the personal merit of the person of mixed blood. (Not the merit of the parent or spouse of German blood.)
Persons of mixed blood of the first degree who are exempted from evacuation will be sterilized in order to prevent any offspring and to eliminate the problem of persons of mixed blood once and for all. Such sterilization will be voluntary. But it is required to remain in the Reich. The sterilized "person of mixed blood" is thereafter free of all restrictions to which he was previously subjected.
2) Treatment of Persons of Mixed Blood of the Second Degree
Persons of mixed blood of the second degree will be treated fundamentally as persons of German blood, with the exception of the following cases, in which the persons of mixed blood of the second degree will be considered as Jews:
Also in these cases exemptions should not be made if the person of mixed blood of the second degree has married a person of German blood.
3) Marriages between Full Jews and Persons of German Blood.
Here it must be decided from case to case whether the Jewish partner will be evacuated or whether, with regard to the effects of such a step on the German relatives, [this mixed marriage] should be sent to an old-age ghetto.
4) Marriages between Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree and Persons of German Blood.
5) Marriages between Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree and Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree or Jews.
In these marriages (including the children) all members of the family will be treated as Jews and therefore be evacuated or sent to an old-age ghetto.
6) Marriages between Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree and Persons of Mixed Blood of the Second Degree.
In these marriages both partners will be evacuated or sent to an old-age ghetto without consideration of whether the marriage has produced children, since possible children will as a rule have stronger Jewish blood than the Jewish person of mixed blood of the second degree.
SS-Gruppenführer Hofmann advocates the opinion that sterilization will have to be widely used, since the person of mixed blood who is given the choice whether he will be evacuated or sterilized would rather undergo sterilization.
State Secretary Dr. Stuckart maintains that carrying out in practice of the just mentioned possibilities for solving the problem of mixed marriages and persons of mixed blood will create endless administrative work. In the second place, as the biological facts cannot be disregarded in any case, State Secretary Dr. Stuckart proposed proceeding to forced sterilization.
Furthermore, to simplify the problem of mixed marriages possibilities must be considered with the goal of the legislator saying something like: "These marriages have been dissolved."
With regard to the issue of the effect of the evacuation of Jews on the economy, State Secretary Neumann stated that Jews who are working in industries vital to the war effort, provided that no replacements are available, cannot be evacuated.
SS-Obergruppenführer Heydrich indicated that these Jews would not be evacuated according to the rules he had approved for carrying out the evacuations then underway.
State Secretary Dr. Bühler stated that the General Government would welcome it if the final solution of this problem could be begun in the General Government, since on the one hand transportation does not play such a large role here nor would problems of labor supply hamper this action. Jews must be removed from the territory of the General Government as quickly as possible, since it is especially here that the Jew as an epidemic carrier represents an extreme danger and on the other hand he is causing permanent chaos in the economic structure of the country through continued black market dealings. Moreover, of the approximately 2 1/2 million Jews concerned, the majority is unfit for work.
State Secretary Dr. Bühler stated further that the solution to the Jewish question in the General Government is the responsibility of the Chief of the Security Police and the SD and that his efforts would be supported by the officials of the General Government. He had only one request, to solve the Jewish question in this area as quickly as possible.
In conclusion the different types of possible solutions were discussed, during which discussion both Gauleiter Dr. Meyer and State Secretary Dr. Bühler took the position that certain preparatory activities for the final solution should be carried out immediately in the territories in question, in which process alarming the populace must be avoided.
The meeting was closed with the request of the Chief of the Security Police and the SD to the participants that they afford him appropriate support during the carrying out of the tasks involved in the solution.