On this date, January 20, 1942, at the Wannsee Conference held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee, senior Nazi German officials discuss the implementation of the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question". I will post information about this historical event on the Holocaust from Wikipedia and other links.
The 15 Attendees of the Wannsee Conference
[PHOTO SOURCE: http://www.deathcamps.org/reinhard/wannsee/att.html]
Manor in Berlin-Wannsee, Germany - also known as the House of the Wannsee Conference
The Wannsee Conference (German: Wannseekonferenz) was a meeting of senior officials of Nazi Germany, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference, called by director of the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt (Reich Main Security Office; RSHA) SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, was to ensure the cooperation of administrative leaders of various government departments in the implementation of the final solution to the Jewish question, whereby most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe would be deported to Poland and murdered. Conference attendees included representatives from several government ministries, including state secretaries from the Foreign Office, the justice, interior, and state ministries, and representatives from the Schutzstaffel (SS). In the course of the meeting, Heydrich outlined how European Jews would be rounded up from west to east and sent to extermination camps in the General Government (the occupied part of Poland), where they would be killed.
Legalized discrimination against Jews began immediately after the Nazi seizure of power on 30 January 1933. Violence and economic pressure were used by the Nazi regime to encourage Jews to voluntarily leave the country. After the invasion of Poland in September 1939, the extermination of European Jewry began, and the killings continued and accelerated after the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. On 31 July 1941 Hermann Göring gave written authorization to Heydrich to prepare and submit a plan for a "total solution of the Jewish question" in territories under German control and to coordinate the participation of all involved government organisations. At the Wannsee Conference, Heydrich emphasised that once the deportation process was complete, the exterminations would become an internal matter under the purview of the SS. A secondary goal was to arrive at a definition of who was Jewish and thus determine the scope of the exterminations.
One copy of the Wannsee Protocol, the circulated minutes of the meeting, survived the war to be found by Robert Kempner, lead U.S. prosecutor before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, in files that had been seized from the German Foreign Office. The Wannsee House, site of the conference, is now a Holocaust Memorial.
The ideology of Nazism brought together elements of antisemitism, racial hygiene, and eugenics, and combined them with pan-Germanism and territorial expansionism with the goal of obtaining more Lebensraum (living space) for the Germanic people. Nazi Germany attempted to obtain this new territory by attacking Poland and the Soviet Union, intending to deport or kill the Jews and Slavs living there, who were viewed as being inferior to the Aryan master race.
Discrimination against Jews, longstanding but extralegal throughout much of Europe at the time, was codified in Germany immediately after the Nazi seizure of power on 30 January 1933. The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service, passed on 7 April of that year, excluded most Jews from the legal profession and the civil service. Similar legislation soon deprived Jewish members of other professions of the right to practise. Violence and economic pressure were used by the regime to encourage Jews to voluntarily leave the country. Jewish businesses were denied access to markets, forbidden to advertise in newspapers, and deprived of access to government contracts. Citizens were harassed and subjected to violent attacks and boycotts of their businesses.
In September 1935 the Nuremberg Laws were enacted. These laws prohibited marriages between Jews and people of Germanic extraction, extramarital relations between Jews and Germans, and the employment of German women under the age of 45 as domestic servants in Jewish households. The Reich Citizenship Law stated that only those of Germanic or related blood were defined as citizens. Thus Jews and other minority groups were stripped of their German citizenship. A supplementary decree issued in November defined as Jewish anyone with three Jewish grandparents, or two grandparents if the Jewish faith was followed. By the start of World War II in 1939, around 250,000 of Germany's 437,000 Jews emigrated to the United States, Palestine, Great Britain, and other countries.
After the invasion of Poland in September 1939, Hitler ordered that the Polish leadership and intelligentsia should be destroyed. The Sonderfahndungsbuch Polen (Special Prosecution Book Poland)—lists of people to be killed—had been drawn up by the SS as early as May 1939. The Einsatzgruppen (special task forces) performed these murders with the support of the Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz (Germanic Self-Protection Group), a paramilitary group consisting of ethnic Germans living in Poland. Members of the SS, the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces), and the Ordnungspolizei (Order Police; Orpo) also shot civilians during the Polish campaign. Approximately 65,000 civilians were killed by the end of 1939. In addition to leaders of Polish society, they killed Jews, prostitutes, Romani people, and the mentally ill.
On 31 July 1941 Hermann Göring gave written authorization to SS-Obergruppenführer (Senior Group Leader) Reinhard Heydrich, Chief of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), to prepare and submit a plan for a "total solution of the Jewish question" in territories under German control and to coordinate the participation of all involved government organisations. The resulting Generalplan Ost (General Plan for the East) called for deporting the population of occupied Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to Siberia, for use as slave labour or to be murdered. The minutes of the Wannsee Conference estimated the Jewish population of the Soviet Union to be five million, with another three million in Ukraine.
In addition to eliminating Jews, the Nazis also planned to reduce the population of the conquered territories by 30 million people through starvation in an action called the Hunger Plan. Food supplies would be diverted to the German army and German civilians. Cities would be razed and the land allowed to return to forest or resettled by German colonists. The objective of the Hunger Plan was to inflict deliberate mass starvation on the Slavic civilian populations under German occupation by directing all food supplies to the German home population and the Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front. According to the historian Timothy Snyder, "4.2 million Soviet citizens (largely Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians) were starved" by the Nazis (and the Nazi controlled Wehrmacht) in 1941–1944 as a result of Backe's plan.
Harvests were poor in Germany in 1940 and 1941 and food supplies were short, as large numbers of forced labourers had been brought into the country to work in the armaments industry. If these workers—as well as the German people—were to be adequately fed, there must be a sharp reduction in the number of "useless mouths", of whom the millions of Jews under German rule were, in the light of Nazi ideology, the most obvious example.
At the time of the Wannsee Conference, the killing of Jews in the Soviet Union had already been underway for some months. Right from the start of Operation Barbarossa—the invasion of the Soviet Union—Einsatzgruppen were assigned to follow the army into the conquered areas and round up and kill Jews. In a letter dated 2 July 1941 Heydrich communicated to his SS and Police Leaders that the Einsatzgruppen were to execute Comintern officials, ranking members of the Communist Party, extremist and radical Communist Party members, people's commissars, and Jews in party and government posts. Open-ended instructions were given to execute "other radical elements (saboteurs, propagandists, snipers, assassins, agitators, etc.)." He instructed that any pogroms spontaneously initiated by the occupants of the conquered territories were to be quietly encouraged. On 8 July, he announced that all Jews were to be regarded as partisans, and gave the order for all male Jews between the ages of 15 and 45 to be shot. By August the net had been widened to include women, children, and the elderly—the entire Jewish population. By the time planning was underway for the Wannsee Conference, hundreds of thousands of Polish, Serbian, and Russian Jews had already been killed. The initial plan was to implement Generalplan Ost after the conquest of the Soviet Union. European Jews would be deported to occupied parts of Russia, where they would be worked to death in road-building projects.
Letter from Heydrich to Martin Luther, Undersecretary at the Foreign Office, inviting him to the Wannsee Conference (Wannsee Conference House Memorial, Berlin)
Planning the conference
On 29 November 1941, Heydrich sent invitations for a ministerial conference to be held on 9 December at the offices of Interpol at 16 Am Kleinen Wannsee. He changed the venue on 4 December to the eventual location of the meeting. He enclosed a copy of a letter from Göring dated 31 July that authorised him to plan a Final Solution to the Jewish question. The ministries to be represented were Interior, Justice, the Four Year Plan, Propaganda, and the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories.
Between the date the invitations to the conference went out (29 November) and the date of the cancelled first meeting (9 December), the situation changed. 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 U.S. to declare war on Japan the next day. The Reich government declared war on the U.S. on 11 December. Some invitees were involved in these preparations, so Heydrich postponed his meeting. Somewhere around this time, Hitler resolved that the Jews of Europe were to be exterminated immediately, rather than after the war, which now had no end in sight.[a] At the Reich Chancellery meeting of 12 December 1941 he met with top party officials and made his intentions plain. The war was still ongoing, and since transporting masses of people into a combat zone was impossible, Heydrich decided that the Jews currently living in the General Government (the German-occupied area of Poland) would be killed in extermination camps set up in occupied areas of Poland, as would Jews from the rest of Europe.
On 8 January 1942, Heydrich sent new invitations to a meeting to be held on 20 January. The venue for the rescheduled conference was a villa at 56–58 Am Großen Wannsee, overlooking the Großer Wannsee. The villa had been purchased from Friedrich Minoux in 1940 by the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Force; SD) for use as a conference centre and guest house.
Heydrich invited representatives from several government ministries, including state secretaries from the Foreign Office, the justice, interior, and state ministries, and representatives from the SS. The process of disseminating information about the fate of the Jews was already well underway by the time the meeting was held.
List of attendees
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.[b] 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.
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 October 1941, 537,000 German, Austrian, and Czech Jews had emigrated. This information was taken from a briefing paper prepared for him the previous week by Eichmann.
Heydrich reported that there were approximately eleven million Jews in the whole of Europe, of whom half were in countries not under German control.[b] He explained that since further Jewish emigration had been prohibited by Himmler, a new solution would take its place: "evacuating" Jews to the east. This would be a temporary solution, a step towards the final solution of the Jewish question.
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 the seed of a new Jewish revival.
German historian Peter Longerich notes that vague orders couched in terminology that had a specific meaning for members of the regime were common, especially when people were being ordered to carry out criminal activities. Leaders were given briefings about the need to be "severe" and "firm"; all Jews were to be viewed as potential enemies that had to be dealt with ruthlessly. The wording of the Wannsee Protocol—the distributed minutes of the meeting—made it clear to participants that evacuation east was a euphemism for death.
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 Gauleiters (regional Nazi Party leaders) in Germany for the Jews to be removed from their areas to allow accommodation for Germans made homeless by Allied bombing, as well as to make space for laborers 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 eastward. 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 not be killed. Jews over 65 years old, and Jewish World War I veterans who had been severely wounded or who had won the Iron Cross, might be sent to Theresienstadt concentration camp instead of being killed. "With this expedient solution," he said, "in one fell swoop many interventions will be prevented."
The situation of people who were 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 be sterilised or deported if they refused sterilisation. "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, 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 killed even if married to non-Jews. In the case of mixed marriages, Heydrich recommended that each case should be evaluated individually and the impact on any German relatives assessed. If such a marriage had produced children who were being raised as Germans, the Jewish partner would not be killed. If they were being raised as Jews, they might be killed or sent to an old-age ghetto. These exemptions applied only to German and Austrian Jews, and were not always observed even for them. In most of the occupied countries, Jews were rounded up and killed en masse, and anyone who lived in or identified with the Jewish community in any given place was regarded as a Jew. [c]
Heydrich commented, "In occupied and unoccupied France, the registration of Jews for evacuation will in all probability proceed without great difficulty", but in the end the great majority of French-born Jews survived. 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. In fact the deportation of Romanian Jews was slow and inefficient despite a high degree of popular antisemitism. "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 the spring of 1944, when the Wehrmacht invaded Hungary. Very soon, 600,000 Jews of Hungary (and parts of Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia occupied by Hungary) were sent to their deaths by Eichmann, with the collaboration of Hungarian authorities.
Heydrich spoke for nearly an hour. Then followed about thirty minutes of questions and comments, followed by some less formal conversation. Otto Hofmann (head of the SS Race and Settlement Main Office (RuSHA)) and Wilhelm Stuckart (State Secretary of the Reich Interior Ministry) pointed out the legalistic and administrative difficulties over mixed marriages, and suggested compulsory dissolution of mixed marriages or the wider use of sterilisation as a simpler alternative. Erich 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 were available. Heydrich assured him that this was already the policy; such Jews would not be killed.[d] Josef Bühler, State Secretary of the General Government, stated his support for the plan and his hope that the killings would commence as soon as possible. Towards the end of the meeting cognac was served, and after that the conversation became less restrained. "The gentlemen were standing together, or sitting together", Eichmann 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 had expected a lot of resistance, 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".
In a February 26, 1942 letter to Martin Luther (diplomat), Reinhard Heydrich follows up on the Wannsee Conference by asking Luther for administrative assistance in the implementation of the "Endlösung der Judenfrage" (Final Solution of the Jewish Question).
A transcription of the letter's text is available from the House of the Wannsee Conference at http://www.ghwk.de/engl/february-26-1942.htm
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 ensured 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". Eichmann condensed his records into a document outlining the purpose of the meeting and the intentions of the regime moving forward. He stated at his trial that it was personally edited by Heydrich, and thus reflected the message he intended the participants to take away from the meeting. Copies of the minutes (known from the German word for "minutes" as the "Wannsee Protocol"[e]) 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 Luther's copy (number 16 out of 30 copies prepared) was found by Robert Kempner, lead U.S. prosecutor before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, in files that had been seized from the German Foreign Office.
The conference room at the Wannsee Conference House, 2006
Facsimiles of the minutes of the Wannsee Conference and Eichmann's list, presented under glass at the Wannsee Conference House Memorial
View of the Großer Wannsee lake from the villa at 56–58 Am Grossen Wannsee, where the conference was held
The Wannsee Conference lasted only about ninety minutes. 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 were ongoing and a new extermination camp was already under construction at Belzec at the time of the conference; other extermination camps were in the planning stages. The decision to exterminate the Jews had already been made, and Heydrich, as Himmler's emissary, held the meeting to ensure the cooperation of the various departments in conducting the deportations. According to Longerich, a primary goal of the meeting was to emphasise that once the deportations had been completed, the implementation of the Final Solution became an internal matter of the SS, totally outside the purview of any other agency. A secondary goal was to determine the scope of the deportations and arrive at definitions of who was Jewish, who was Mischling, and who (if anybody) should be spared. "The representatives of the ministerial bureaucracy had made it plain that they had no concerns about the principle of deportation per se. This was indeed the crucial result of the meeting and the main reason why Heydrich had detailed minutes prepared and widely circulated", said Longerich. Their presence at the meeting also ensured that all those present were accomplices and accessories to the murders that were about to be undertaken.
Eichmann's biographer David Cesarani agrees with Longerich's interpretation; he notes that Heydrich's main purpose was to impose his own authority on the various ministries and agencies involved in Jewish policy matters, and to avoid any repetition of the disputes that had arisen earlier in the annihilation campaign. "The simplest, most decisive way that Heydrich could ensure the smooth flow of deportations", he writes, "was by asserting his total control over the fate of the Jews in the Reich and the east, and [by] cow[ing] other interested parties into toeing the line of the RSHA".
Reinhard Heydrich (August 28, 1940)
Wannsee House Holocaust Memorial
In 1965, historian Joseph Wulf proposed that the Wannsee House should be made into a Holocaust memorial and document centre. But the West German government was not interested at that time. The building was in use as a school, and funding was not available. Despondent at the failure of the project and the West German government's failure to pursue and convict Nazi war criminals, Wulf committed suicide in 1974. On 20 January 1992, on the fiftieth anniversary of the conference, the site was finally opened as a Holocaust memorial and museum. The museum also hosts permanent exhibits of texts and photographs that document events of the Holocaust and its planning. The Joseph Wulf Bibliothek / Mediothek on the second floor houses a large collection of books on the Nazi era, plus other materials such as microfilms and original Nazi documents.
German historian Christian Gerlach has claimed that Hitler approved the policy of extermination in a speech to senior officials in Berlin on 12 December. Gerlach 1998, p. 785. This date is not universally accepted, but it seems likely that a decision was made at around this time. On December 18, Himmler met with Hitler and noted in his appointment book "Jewish question – to be exterminated as partisans". Browning 2004, p. 410. On 19 December, Wilhelm Stuckert, State Secretary at the Interior Ministry, told one of his officials: "The proceedings against the evacuated Jews are based on a decision from the highest authority. You must come to terms with it." Browning 2004, p. 405.
This information was contained in the briefing paper Eichmann prepared for Heydrich before the meeting. Cesarani 2005, p. 112.
At a meeting of 17 ministerial representatives held at the Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories on 29 January, it decided that in the eastern territories all Mischlings were to be classed as Jews, while in western Europe the relatively more lenient German standard would be applied. Browning 2004, p. 414.
Göring and his subordinates made persistent efforts to prevent skilled Jewish workers whose labour was an important part of the war effort from being killed. But by 1943 Himmler was a much more powerful figure in the regime than Göring, and all categories of skilled Jews eventually lost their exemptions. Tooze 2006, pp. 522–529.
The minutes are headed Besprechungsprotokoll (discussion minutes).
INTERNET SOURCE: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Wannsee_Protocol
Wannsee Protocol , translated by U. S. Government
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 Reinhart.
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
Race and Settlement Main Office
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 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-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.
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.
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.
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:
A. Germany proper 131,800
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
B. Bulgaria 48,000
Italy including Sardinia 58,000
Rumania including Bessarabia 342,000
Turkey (European portion) 55,500
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.