On this day 81 years ago, the fate of 11 million European citizens, was decided in this beautiful and majestic building.
These 11 million citizens had only one thing in common—they were Jewish. That was reason enough for the Nazi regime to murder every single one. What is so disturbing about this was the business-like language used during this conference, the so-called Wannsee Conference.
I find it striking that the name Wannsee is so similar to the German word for madness Wahnsinn.
Below are the ‘minutes’ of that meeting.
The English text of the Wannsee protocol is based on the official U.S. government translation and was 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. Substantial revisions to the Nuremberg text have been made to add clarity and, in some cases, to correct mistakes in an obviously hasty translation.
stamp: Top Secret
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 Reichsamt- Reich Ministry for
Leiter Dr. Leibbrandt the Occupied Eastern
Secretary of State Dr. Stuckart Reich Ministry for
Secretary of State Neumann Plenipotentiary for
the Four-Year Plan
Secretary of State Dr. Freisler Reich Ministry of
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
SS-Gruppenfuehrer Mueller Reich Main Security
SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann 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 General-District
Latvia, 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-Obergruppenfuehrer Heydrich, reported
that the Reich Marshal had appointed him to delegate for the
preparations for the final solution to 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 concerning the final solution to the Jewish question in Europe, make a necessary the initial common action of all central offices immediately concerned with these questions to bring their general activities into line.
The Reichsfuehrer-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:
a) the expulsion of the Jews from every sphere of life of the German people, b) the expulsion of the Jews from the living space of the German people. 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 were entrusted with the management. Its
most important tasks were
a) to make all necessary arrangements for the preparation for an increased emigration of the Jews, b) to direct the flow of emigration, c) to speed up the procedure of emigration in each individual case. 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 with. 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.
Despite 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
approximately 360,000 were in Germany proper on 30 January 1933 approximately 147,000 were in Austria (Ostmark) on 15 March 1939 approximately 30,000 were in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia on 15 March 1939. The Jews themselves, or their Jewish political
organizations financed the emigration. 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 be presented at the time of landing. 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 Reichsfuehrer-SS and Chief of the German
Police had prohibited the 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 to the Jews to the East,
provided that the Fuehrer gives the appropriate approval in
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 to 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:
Eastern territories 420,000
General Government 2,284,000
Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia 74,200
Estonia – free of Jews –
France / occupied territory 165,000
unoccupied territory 700,000
Italy including Sardinia 58,000
Roumania including Bessarabia 342,000
Turkey (European portion) 55,500
excluding Bialystok 446,484
Total over 11,000,000 The number of Jews given here to 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 individual countries will
meet with difficulties due to the attitude and outlook of the
people there, especially in Hungary and Roumania. Thus, for
example, even today the Jew can buy documents in Roumania 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 and the Asian part scarcely 1/4
The breakdown of Jews residing in the European part of the
USSR according to trades was approximate 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, theatre, etc. 32. 7% Under proper guidance, in the course of the final solution
the Jews are to be allocated for appropriate labour 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 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
SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Heydrich went on to say that an
important prerequisite for the evacuation as such to 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 to 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 Roumania, the
government 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-Obergruppenfuehrer Heydrich considers it
opportune to contact the chief of police with a view to these
In occupied and unoccupied France, the registration of Jews
for evacuation will in all probability proceed without great
Under Secretary of State Luther, calls attention to 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
The Foreign Office sees no great difficulties in the Southeast
and Western Europe.
SS-Gruppenfuehrer 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 take 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 attache.
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 to 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 discuss 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 to the Jewish question, be treated as Jews.
From this treatment the following exceptions will be made: a) Persons of mixed blood of the first degree married to persons of German blood if their marriage has resulted in children (persons of mixed blood of the second degree). These persons of mixed blood of the second degree are to be treated essentially as Germans. b) Persons of mixed blood of the first degree, for whom the highest offices of the Party and State have already issued exemption permits in any sphere of life. Individual cases must be examined, and it is not ruled out that the decision may be made to the detriment of the person with mixed blood. 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:
a) The person of mixed blood of the second degree was born of a marriage in which both parents are persons of mixed blood. b) The person of mixed blood of the second degree has a racially especially undesirable appearance that marks him outwardly as a Jew. c) The person of mixed blood of the second degree has a particularly bad police and political record that shows that he feels and behaves like a Jew. 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.
a) Without Children. If no children have resulted from the marriage, the person of mixed blood of the first degree will be evacuated or sent to an old-age ghetto (the same treatment as in the case of marriages between full Jews and persons of German blood, point 3.) b) With Children. If children have resulted from the marriage (persons of mixed blood of the second degree), they will, if they are to be treated as Jews, be evacuated or sent to a ghetto along with the parent of mixed blood of the first degree. If these children are to be treated as Germans (regular cases) are exempted from evacuation as is therefore the parent of mixed blood of the first degree.
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-Gruppenfuehrer Hofmann advocates the opinion that
sterilization will have to be widely used, since the person of
mixed blood who is given the choice of whether he will be evacuated
or sterilized would rather undergo sterilization.
State Secretary Dr. Stuckart maintains that carrying out in
the practice of the just mentioned possibilities for solving the
the problem of mixed marriages and persons of mixed blood will create
endless administrative work. In second place the biological facts
cannot be disregarded in any case, State Secretary Dr. Stuckart
proposed proceeding with 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-Obergruppenfuehrer 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. Buehler stated that the General
Government would welcome it if the final solution to 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 labour 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. Buehler 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
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. Buehler took the position that certain
preparatory activities for the final solution should be carried
out immediately in the territories in question, in which the process
alarming the populace must be avoided.
The meeting was closed at 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.
Updated 20 January 2023
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