Maps & Charts


Glossary: The Wannsee Conference

Jan. 20, 1942), meeting of Nazi officials in the Berlin suburb of Grossen-Wannsee for the purpose of planning the "final solution" (Endlösung) of the "Jewish question" (Judenfrage). On July 31, 1941, Hermann Göring had issued orders to Reinhard Heydrich to prepare a comprehensive plan for this "final solution." The Wannsee Conference, held six months later, was attended by 15 Nazi bureaucrats led by Heydrich and including Adolf Eichmann, chief of Jewish affairs for the Reich Central Security Office (Reichssicherheitshauptamt).

An earlier idea, to deport all of Europe's Jews to the island of Madagascar, was abandoned as impractical in wartime. Instead, the newly planned "final solution" would entail rounding up all Jews throughout Europe, transporting them eastward, and organizing them into labour gangs. The work and living conditions would be sufficiently hard as to fell large numbers by "natural diminution"; those that survived would be "treated accordingly." The final protocol of the Wannsee Conference never explicitly mentioned extermination, but, within a few months after the meeting, the first poison-gas chambers were installed in Poland in what came to be called extermination camps. Responsibility for the entire project was put in the hands of Heinrich Himmler and his SS and Gestapo.


"Wannsee Conference" Encyclopædia Britannica Online.