This week in the War, 19–25 January 1942: The Wannsee Conference
The Villa, the Lake, the Meeting: Wannsee and the Final Solution—–by Mark Roseman (Penguin, 2002) [Photograph by Edith-Mary Smith]
On 20 January 1942, SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Reinhard Heydrich
chaired one of the most infamous meeting in the history of the world: the conference held at an elegant lake-side villa in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee. Those present included Gestapo Chief Heinrich Muller, and SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer
Adolf Eichmann (who escaped to Argentina after the war, but was eventually brought back to Israel for trial).
Nazi Party elite, SS chiefs, and representatives from the various ministries, and from the Office of the Reich Kommissar for the Strengthening of Germandom, wined and dined and formally approved a program of mass extermination as their ‘Final Solution of the Jewish Problem.’ The fifteen men of Wannsee thereby settled the fate of six million European Jews in a few short hours.
In his concise 152-page book, The Villa, the Lake, the Meeting: Wannsee and the Final Solution, historian Mark Roseman tells the story, basing his exposition upon the original minutes of the meeting.