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The Wannsee Conference - Minutes

Last update 20 August 2005


German Text
German Text
Heydrich opened the conference with a long review of Jewish emigration since 1933 with an ill-informed survey, produced by Eichmann’s department, of the number of Jews under Axis influence.
Heydrich described how the campaign in Russia had made the Madagascar project obsolete (the plan to use Madagascar as a Jewish Colony), and he set out the heart of the matter:
In big labour gangs with separation of sexes, the Jews who are capable of work are brought to these areas (in the Eastern occupied territories) and employed in road building, in which task undoubtedly a large part will fall out through natural diminution. The remnant that is able fully to survive all this, since this is unquestionably the part with the strongest resistance, must be given treatment accordingly, because these people, representing a natural selection, are to be regarded as the germ-cell of a new Jewish development, should they be allowed to go free.

Following this Heydrich went through a long list of exemptions, which he had tried to prevent. The Jews who were exempted from deportation were:
- Half Jews who would be sterilised
- Jews with only one Jewish grandparent, unless they had an unfavourable appearance, or a bad political or police appraisal
- Jewish war workers
- The Jews who were to be deported from the Reich to the special ghetto at Theresienstadt: Those over 65 years old, Jews with serious disablements, and Jews with decorations from WW1.

Dr Josef Bühler demanded at the conference that the “Final Solution” should be applied first to the Jews of the Generalgouvernement. The minutes of the conference stated:
Staatsekretär Dr Bühler announced that the Generalgouvernement would welcome it, if the final solution of this problem would begin in the Generalgouvernement, as on the one hand, the question of transport there played no major role, and consideration of labour supply would not hinder the course of the Aktionen.
Jews must be removed as quickly as possible from the Generalgouvernement, because it was there in particular that the Jew, as a carrier of epidemics, constituted a great danger, and, at the same time, caused constant disorder in the economic structure of the country by his continuous black-market dealings. Furthermore, of the approximately two and a half million Jews under consideration, the majority were in any case unfit for work.
Bühler further stated that the solution of the Jewish question in the Generalgouvernement was primarily the responsibility of the Chief of Security Police and the SD and that his work would have the support of the authorities of the Generalgouvernement. He had only one request: That the "Jewish question" in this area should be solved as quickly as possible. His request was granted, thus setting in train Aktion Reinhard, and the "Final Solution to the Jewish question in Europe", under Nazi influence.

The Wannsee Conference was no more than a luncheon party, convened for twelve o’clock and finished the same afternoon. The minutes of the meeting were prepared by Adolf Eichmann, and were found intact at the end of the war. They were used in the Nürnberg Trials, held in 1946.


Special thanks to the House of The Wannsee Konferenz (Berlin):
Gerald Reitlinger. The Final Solution, Vallentine, Mitchell and Co ltd., 1953
Arad, Yitzhak. Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka - The Operation Reinhard Death Camps, Indiana University Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 1987
Wikipedia: The Wannsee Conference

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