The minutes of the Wannsee conference meeting.

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On January 20, 1942, 15 high-ranking Nazi Party and German government officials gathered at a villa in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee to discuss and coordinate the implementation of what they called the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”

Aside from the fact that they were deciding how best to eradicate the Jews,what maybe even more disturbing is the “business as usual” approach they adopted for this. The whole conference was set up as a corporate event.

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The Participants

Participants

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The Minutes of the meeting

 

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:

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 was 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 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. 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

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. 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.

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.

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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:

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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 Romania. Thus, for example, even today the Jew can buy documents in Romania 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.

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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.

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.

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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:

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. Each individual case must be examined, and it is not ruled out that the decision may be made to the detriment of the person of 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 (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), they 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-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.

 

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The Madagascar plan

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The Madagascar Plan was a proposal by the Nazi German government to relocate the Jewish population of Europe to the island of Madagascar. Franz Rademacher, head of the Jewish Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the German government, proposed the idea in June 1940, shortly before the Fall of France.

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The proposal called for the handing over of control of Madagascar, then a French colony, to Germany as part of the French surrender terms.

The idea of deporting Polish Jews to Madagascar was investigated by the Polish government in 1937, but the task force sent to evaluate the island’s potential determined that only 5,000 to 7,000 families could be accommodated, or even as few as 500 families by some estimates.As efforts by the Nazis to encourage emigration of the Jewish population of Germany before World War II were only partially successful, the idea of deporting Jews to Madagascar was revived by the Nazi government in 1940.

Rademacher recommended on 3 June 1940 that Madagascar should be made available as a destination for the Jews of Europe. With Adolf Hitler’s approval, Adolf Eichmann released a memorandum on 15 August 1940 calling for the resettlement of a million Jews per year for four years, with the island governed as a police state under the SS.

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They assumed that many Jews would succumb to its harsh conditions should the plan be implemented.The plan was not viable due to the British naval blockade. It was postponed after the Axis lost the Battle of Britain in September 1940, and was permanently shelved in 1942 with the commencement of the Final Solution, towards which it had functioned as an important psychological step.

“The approaching victory gives Germany the possibility, and in my view also the duty, of solving the Jewish question in Europe. The desirable solution is: all Jews out of Europe.” That was how Franz Rademacher, head of the German Foreign Office’s “Jewish desk,” began a memo to the Nazi high command in the summer of 1940. In the document that followed, he spelled out an audacious plan to banish millions of European Jews to the African island of Madagascar. The scheme called for the Jews to have their European citizenship revoked and their property and personal fortunes seized to help fund a new “super-ghetto” in the Indian Ocean. Once resettled, they would languish under the rule of a Nazi SS police force. Rademacher argued that the island reservation could be spun as propaganda to show the world the “generosity” of the German people. On an even more sinister note, he pointed out that “the Jews will remain in German hands as a pledge for the future good behavior of the members of their race in America.” The Jews on Madagascar would not just be exiles—they would also be hostages.

Initial discussions began to take place in 1938 among Nazi ideologues such as Julius Streicher, Hermann Göring, Alfred Rosenberg, and Joachim von Ribbentrop,.Ten per cent of Jews under German jurisdiction by that date were Polish nationals. Józef Lipski, the Polish ambassador to Germany, expressed his country’s reluctance to take them back.

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And the Polish government decreed that Polish passport holders would not be permitted to return except under specific conditions. When Ribbentrop raised the matter with French foreign minister Georges Bonnet in December of that year, Bonnet expressed French reluctance to receive more German Jews and inquired if measures could be taken to prevent their arrival. France itself was contemplating how to deport some 10,000 Jews and considered whether Madagascar might be an appropriate destination.Planning for German deportations to Madagascar formally began in 1940. Franz Rademacher, recently appointed head of the Jewish Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, forwarded on 3 June to his superior, the diplomat Martin Luther,

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a memorandum on the fate of the Jews.”The desirable solution is: all Jews out of Europe,” said Rademacher. He briefly considered Palestine as a destination, but deemed it unsuitable, as he considered it undesirable that a strong Jewish state should be created in the Middle East. As well, Palestine was at the time under British control.Rademacher recommended that the French colony of Madagascar should be made available as a destination for the Jews of Europe as one of the terms of the surrender of France, which the Germans had invaded on 10 May 1940. The resettled Jews, noted Rademacher, could be used as hostages to ensure “future good behaviour of their racial comrades in America”.The plan was developed by Referat D III of the Abteilung Deutschland.

Strangely enough, the idea of corralling Jews on Madagascar was nothing new. The plan was first proposed in 1885 by the German scholar Paul de Lagarde, whose writings were a major influence on Hitler.

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Whether Madagascar could safely sustain a massive influx of immigrants was of little concern to the Nazis in the summer of 1940. By August, Rademacher, Eichmann and others had submitted several revised proposals to the Nazi high command. Their plans called for Germany to include provisions for a Jewish colony in Madagascar as part of any peace treaty with the French. The Germans would resettle and compensate the French colonists already living there, and then begin forcibly moving Jews to the island after the war at a rate of 1 million per year. To give the illusion of propriety, Madagascar’s Jewish arrivals would be allowed their own mayor, post office and police force, yet true power would rest with a Nazi police governor. Large swaths of the island would also be set aside for German military bases.

Many Nazi leaders had come to see the Madagascar Plan as the ideal answer to the so-called “Jewish question,” but by September 1940, its future looked uncertain. The scheme had hinged on the Nazis quickly conquering Europe, and its progress stalled along with that of their armies. The main stumbling block was Great Britain, which stubbornly held out against a colossal aerial barrage during the Battle of Britain. The Nazis had expected to appropriate the vanquished Royal Navy to ferry Jews to Madagascar, but with Britain still standing, the logistics suddenly became unworkable. Germany didn’t have the ships to force the deportations on its own, and lurking Allied navies made the sea lanes impassable. In late-1940, the plan was shelved and all but forgotten. A final blow followed in May 1942, when British forces landed in Madagascar in an amphibious invasion dubbed “Operation Ironclad.” The island was in Allied hands by the end of the year.

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In the end, no Jews were ever sent to Africa as part of the Madagascar Plan. Historians still debate what might have happened if they had been, but there’s little doubt that it would have been brutal. Scores of people would have succumbed to tropical diseases or starvation from lack of resources, and those who survived would have been subject to abuse or murder at the hands of the SS. With this in mind, many scholars argue that the resettlement scheme was tantamount to a death sentence. Others contend that it was all an elaborate ploy designed to mask Hitler’s true intentions to exterminate the Jews. At the very least, it was a move in the direction of the infamous “Final Solution” that was soon to follow. Less than a year after the Madagascar Plan was set aside, the mass murder of the Holocaust had begun.

Operation Reinhard

 

reinhard-oathOperation Reinhard (Einsatz Reinhard) became the code name for the German plan to murder the approximately two million Jews residing in the so-called Generalgouvernement (Government General).The Generalgouvernement was the part of German-occupied Poland not directly annexed to Germany, attached to German East Prussia, or incorporated into the German-occupied Soviet Union.

As many as two million Jews were sent to Bełżec, Sobibór, and Treblinka, extermination camps set up specifically for Operation Reinhard, to be put to death in gas chambers built for that purpose.In addition, mass killing facilities using Zyklon B were developed at about the same time within the Majdanek concentration camp and at Auschwitz II-Birkenau near the existing Auschwitz I camp for Polish prisoners.

The origin of the operation’s name is debated by Holocaust researchers. Various German documents spell the name differently, some with “t” after “d” (as in “Aktion Reinhardt”), others without it. Yet a different spelling was used in the Höfle Telegram.

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It is generally believed that Aktion Reinhardt, outlined at Wannsee on 20 January 1942, was named after Reinhard Heydrich, the coordinator of the Endlösung der Judenfrage (the Final Solution of the Jewish Question) which entailed the extermination of the Jews living in the European countries occupied by the Third Reich. Heydrich was attacked by British-trained Czechoslovak agents on 27 May 1942 and died of his injuries eight days later

Reinhard Heydrich

https://dirkdeklein.net/2016/06/20/operation-anthropoid-the-assassination-of-reinhard-heydrich/

The RSHA was the agency responsible for coordinating the deportation of European Jews to killing centers in German-occupied Poland. In January 1939, December 1940, and July 1941, Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering had tasked Heydrich personally with drafting plans for a solution of the “Jewish question.”

SS General Odilo Globocnik, SS and police leader in the Lublin District of the Generalgouvernement, directed Operation Reinhard between autumn 1941 and late summer 1943.

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He established two departments on his staff for this purpose. The first was a deportation coordination team under SS Major Hermann Hoefle, who was responsible for arranging personnel and transport for the planned deportations. Hoefle also coordinated deportation operations, which were usually placed under the command of the regional SS and police commander, with regional SS and police and civilian occupation authorities.

The second department was the Inspectorate of SS Special Detachments under Criminal Police captain Christian Wirth, who was responsible for the construction and management of the three Operation Reinhard killing centers (Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka II).

The Operation Reinhard killing centers were managed by small detachments of German SS and Police and guarded by detachments of police auxiliaries trained at the Trawniki training camp.

As Globocnik listed them in January 1944, the aims of Operation Reinhard were: (1) to “resettle” (i.e., to kill) the Polish Jews, (2) to exploit the skilled or manual labor of some Polish Jews before killing them, (3) to secure the personal property of the Jews (clothing, currency, jewelry, and other possessions), and (4) to identify and secure alleged hidden and immovable assets such as factories, apartments, and land.

Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka II

Construction of Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka II began in autumn 1941. Christian Wirth, who had played a significant role in the murder of institutionalized persons with disabilities in Germany between 1939 and 1941, applied his experience of killing with carbon monoxide exhaust fumes to the construction of the Operation Reinhard killing centers.

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In all three camps, Trawniki-trained guards, supervised by Operation Reinhard staff, murdered their victims by using carbon monoxide gas generated by stationary engines and pumped into gas chambers.

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After a few test gassings using Polish prisoners and Soviet prisoners of war, killing operations at Belzec began in March 1942. They continued until December 1942. Sobibor began operating in May 1942 and remained functional until October 1943. Treblinka II opened in July 1942 and was closed in August 1943.

German staff and their auxiliaries (most of them trained at the Trawniki training camp) murdered at least 434,508 Jews and an undetermined number of Poles, Roma (Gypsies), and Soviet prisoners of war in Belzec; at least 170,000 Jews and an undetermined number of Poles, Roma, and Soviet prisoners of war in Sobibor; and approximately 925,000 Jews and an unknown number of Poles, Roma, and Soviet prisoners of war in Treblinka II.

Approximately 178 million German Reichsmarks worth of Jewish property (current approximate value: around US$700 million or 550 million Euro) was taken from the victims, with vast transfers of gold and valuables to the Reichsbank’s “Melmer” account, Gold Pool, and monetary reserve.

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But this wealth did not only go to the German authorities, because corruption was rife within the death camps. Many of the individual SS members and policemen involved in the killings took cash, property, and valuables for themselves. SS-Sturmbannführer Georg Konrad Morgen, an SS judge from the SS Courts Office, prosecuted so many Nazi officers for individual violations that by April 1944, Himmler personally ordered him to restrain his case.

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The overwhelming majority of victims in the Operation Reinhard killing centers were Jews deported from ghettos in Poland. Once the killing centers were operational, German SS and police forces liquidated the ghettos and deported Jews by rail to those killing centers.

The victims of Belzec were mainly Jews from the ghettos of southern Poland, and included German, Austrian, and Czech Jews held in the Piaski and Izbica transit ghettos in Lublin District.

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Jews deported to Sobibor came mainly from the Lublin area and other ghettos of the eastern Generalgouvernement; this killing center also received transports from France and the Netherlands.

Marseille, Gare d'Arenc. Deportation von Juden

Deportations to Treblinka originated mainly from central Poland, primarily from the Warsaw ghetto, but also from the Districts Radom and Krakow in the Generalgouvernement, from District Bialystok, as well as from Bulgarian-occupied Thrace and Macedonia.

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Also part of Operation Reinhard were several forced-labor camps for Jews in District Lublin, including Poniatowa, the Trawniki forced-labor camp, Budzyn, Krasnik, and the Lublin/Majdanek camp before its formal conversion into a concentration camp in February 1943. For a time, Majdanek also served as a killing site for Jews whom the SS could no longer kill at Belzec in the late autumn of 1942.

In November 1943, after the Sobibor uprising, SS and police units shot the Jewish labor forces still incarcerated at Trawniki, Poniatowa, and Majdanek, 42,000 in all, within the framework of Operation “Harvest Festival.” With the completion of “Harvest Festival,” Operation Reinhard came to a conclusion, with Globocnik submitting a final report to Himmler in January 1944.

In all, the SS and police killed approximately 1.7 million Jews as part of Operation Reinhard. The victims of the Operation Reinhard camps also included an unknown number of Poles, Roma, and Soviet prisoners of war.

 

Wannsee Conference

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference.

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On January 20, 1942, 15 high-ranking Nazi Party and German government officials gathered at a villa in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee to discuss and coordinate the implementation of what they called the “Final Solution” of the Jewish Question.

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The conference was held like any business conference or corporation event.Below are some of the documents.

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In preparation for the conference, Eichmann drafted a list of the numbers of Jews in the various European countries. 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 Vichy 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), since the 4,500 Jews who remained in Estonia after the German occupation had been exterminated by the end of 1941.Occupied Poland was not on the list because by 1939 the country was split three ways between Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany in the west, the territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union in the east, and the General Government, where many Polish and Jewish expellees had already been resettled.

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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 (1) to inform and secure support from government ministries and other interested agencies relevant to the implementation of the “Final Solution,” and (2) to disclose to the participants that Hitler himself had tasked Heydrich and the RSHA with coordinating the operation. The men at the table 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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At the time of the Wannsee Conference, most participants were already aware that the National Socialist regime had engaged in mass murder of Jews and other civilians in the German-occupied areas of the Soviet Union and in Serbia. Some had learned of the actions of the Einsatzgruppen and other police and military units, which were already slaughtering tens of thousands of Jews in the German-occupied Soviet Union.

Others were aware that units of the German Army and the SS and police were killing Jews in Serbia. None of the officials present at the meeting objected to the Final Solution policy that Heydrich announced.

Not present at the meeting were representatives of the German Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) and the Reich Railroads (Reichsbahn) in the German Ministry of Transportation. The SS and police had already negotiated agreements with the German Army High Command on the murder of civilians, including Soviet Jews, in the spring of 1941, prior to the invasion of the Soviet Union. In late September 1941, Hitler had authorized the Reich Railroads to transport German, Austrian, and Czech Jews to locations in German-occupied Poland and the German-occupied Soviet Union, where German authorities would kill the overwhelming majority of them.

Heydrich indicated that approximately 11,000,000 Jews in Europe would fall under the provisions of the “Final Solution.” In this figure, he included not only Jews residing in Axis-controlled Europe, but also the Jewish populations of the United Kingdom, and the neutral nations (Switzerland, Ireland, Sweden, Spain, Portugal, and European Turkey). For Jews residing in the Greater German Reich and holding the status of subjects of the German Reich, the Nuremberg Laws would serve as a basis for determining who was a Jew.

Heydrich announced that “during the course of the Final Solution, the Jews will be deployed under appropriate supervision at a suitable form of labor deployment in the East. In large labor columns, separated by gender, able-bodied Jews will be brought to those regions to build roads, whereby a large number will doubtlessly be lost through natural reduction. Any final remnant that survives will doubtless consist of the elements most capable of resistance. They must be dealt with appropriately, since, representing the fruit of natural selection, they are to be regarded as the core of a new Jewish revival.”

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The participants discussed a number of other issues raised by the new policy, including the establishment of the Theresienstadt camp-ghetto as a destination for elderly Jews as well Jews who were disabled or decorated in World War I, the deferment until after the war of “Final Solution” measures against Jews married to non-Jews or persons of mixed descent as defined by the Nuremberg laws, prospects for inducing Germany’s Axis partners to give up their Jewish populations, and preparatory measures for the “evacuations.”

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Despite the euphemisms which appeared in the protocols of the meeting, the aim of the Wannsee Conference was clear to its participants: to further the coordination of a policy aimed at the physical annihilation of the European Jews.

 

Josef Bühler-Assistant Henchman

One of the Christmas presents I got this year from Santa was a book by Robert Harris called “Fatherland”

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Is an alternate history detective story novel Set in a universe where Nazi Germany won World War II, the story’s lead protagonist is an SS officer investigating the murder of Joseph Bühler. The book is set in 1964, my curiosity urged me to do some research on Joseph Bühler.

Josef Bühler (16 February 1904 – 22 August 1948) was a secretary and deputy governor to the Nazi-controlled General Government in Kraków during World War II.

 

Bühler was born in Bad Waldsee into a Catholic family of 12 children, his father being a baker

Dr. Josef Bühler joined the NSDAP  in 1922. He was one of the members of the attempted Nazi putsch in Munich on November 9, 1923.

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Buhler worked as a lawyer in partnership with Dr. Hans Frank, who was Adolf Hitler’s attorney. When the Nazis came to power, Buhler was appointed Deputy President of the Academy of German Law.

In 1938 Hans Frank, now Reich Minister without portfolio, put Bühler in charge of his cabinet office. After the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany in September 1939, Frank was appointed Governor-General for the occupied Polish territories and Bühler accompanied him to Kraków to take up the post of State Secretary of the General Government, also serving as Frank’s deputy. He was given the honorary rank of SS-Brigadeführer by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler around this time.

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Bühler attended the Wannsee Conference on 20 January 1942 as the representative from the Governor-General’s office. During this conference – which discussed the imposition of the ‘Final Solution of the Jewish Question in the German Sphere of Influence in Europe’ – Bühler stated to the other conference attendees the importance of solving ‘the Jewish Question in the General Government as quickly as possible’

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After the war, Bühler testified on Frank’s behalf at the Nuremberg Trials. He was later extradited to Poland and tried before the Supreme National Tribunal of Poland for crimes against humanity, sentenced to death and the forfeiture of all property on 10 July 1948, and executed in Kraków. His death was announced 22 August by Polish authorities and noted in the New York Times the following day.

 

 

The Riegner Telegram-The Document that could have saved many lives.

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The Riegner Telegram was a telegraph message sent on 8 August 1942 from Gerhart Riegner, then Secretary of World Jewish Congress (Geneva), to its New York and London offices.

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The cable confirmed the alarming reports that had reached the West previously about the German intention to mass murder the European Jews.

Riegner was office manager of the WJC in Geneva. He was informed about the German plans for the final solution by German industrialist Eduard Schulte.

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Through his British and American diplomatic channels -Rabbi Stephen Samuel Wise of the American Jewish Congress in New York and Sydney Silverman, a Jewish Member of Parliament and Chairman of the British Section, World Jewish Congress.

Riegner sent the following message to his contacts via the British Foreign Office and the State Department in Washington:

Received alarming report stating that, in the Fuehrer’s Headquarters, a plan has been discussed, and is under consideration, according to which all Jews in countries occupied or controlled by Germany numbering 3½ to 4 millions should, after deportation and concentration in the East, be at one blow exterminated, in order to resolve, once and for all the Jewish question in Europe. Action is reported to be planned for the autumn. Ways of execution are still being discussed including the use of prussic acid. We transmit this information with all the necessary reservation, as exactitude cannot be confirmed by us. Our informant is reported to have close connexions with the highest German authorities, and his reports are generally reliable. Please inform and consult New York.

However, in England and the United States, Riegner’s telegram was met with disbelief. The US State Department considered the telegram “a wild rumor, fueled by Jewish anxieties” while the British Foreign Office didn’t forward the telegram for some time. Only on the 28 August 1942 did it find its way to the President of the World Jewish Congress, Rabbi Stephen Wise, who decided to not make it public.Early in 1944, Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, Jr. stated in front of President Roosevelt that “certain officials in our State Department” had failed while it would have been commanded by duty to “prevent the extermination of the Jews in German-controlled Europe.

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