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.