Attendees at the meeting
The Wannsee conference was a meeting of top officials involving the final solution on the Jewish question in villa Marlier , close to Berlin. The aim was to outline the modus operandi of the question regarding the final solution of the Jewish problem. Present were people from the Reichs ministries, SS, security services, a being of higher education and mostly of middle or younger age:
- Alfred Meyer (1891 – 1945) State Secretary (Staatssekretär) Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories
- Erich Neumann (1892 – 1948) State Secretary (Staatssekretär)
Office of the Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan
- Josef Bühler (1904 – 1948) State Secretary (Staatssekretär)
Government of the Governor General in Cracow
- Gerhard Klopfer (1905 – 1987) Nazi Party Chancellery
Permanent Secretary (Ministerialdirektor)
- Adolf Eichmann (1906 – 1962) Reich Security Main Office
Director of Section IV B 4
- Rudolf Lange (1910 – 1945) Commander of the Security Police and Security Service (KdS)
- Martin Luther (1895 – 1945) Undersecretary of State (Unterstaatssekretär) German Foreign Office
- Georg Leibbrandt (1899 – 1982) Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories Permanent Secretary (Ministerialdirektor)
- Wilhelm Stuckart (1902 – 1953) State Secretary (Staatssekretär) Reich Ministry of the Interior
- Roland Freisler (1893 – 1945) State Secretary (Staatssekretär) Reich Ministry of Justice
- Reinhard Heydrich (1904 – 1942) Head of the Security Police and Security Service (SD) Deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia
- Wilhelm Kritzinger (1890 – 1947) Reich Chancellery
Permanent Secretary (Ministerialdirektor)
- Otto Hofmann (1896 – 1982) Head of the SS Race- and Settlement Main Office
- Eberhard Schöngarth (1903 – 1946) Commander in Chief of Security Police and Security Service (BdS)
- Heinrich Müller (1900 – ?) Reich Security Main Office Head of Department (Amt) IV
The need for a final solution
Prior to this meeting most of the Jews were expelled from Germany by the use of emigration. However, over time emigration became harder to organize for the Germans because other countries started to apply immigration quotas. When the United States of America joined the second world war at the 7th of December any plans involving emigration were no longer possible.
Topics discussed during the meeting
An alternative for emigration was forced migration to the east, especially Poland. Jews were force to migrate into ghettos in the eastern part of Poland. However, at the point of the Wannsee conference the maximum capacity of the ghettos was already reached. Therefore, a different solution has to be found. It was estimated that by 1942 the following number of Jews were still present within the german sphere of influence:
Germany proper 131,800, Austria 43,700, Eastern territories 420,000, General Government 2,284,000, Bialystok 400,000, Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia 74,200, Estonia – free of Jews -, Latvia 3,500, Lithuania 34,000, Belgium 43,000, Denmark 5,600, France / occupied territory 165,000, unoccupied territory 700,000, Greece 69,600, Netherlands 160,800, Norway 1,300.
Furthermore, they counted Jews in not (yet) conquered nations such as:
Bulgaria 48,000, England 330,000, Finland 2,300, Ireland 4,000, Italy including Sardinia 58,000, Albania 200
Croatia 40,000, Portugal 3,000, Rumania including Bessarabia 342,000, Sweden 8,000, Switzerland 18,000
Serbia 10,000, Slovakia 88,000, Spain 6,000, Turkey (European portion) 55,500, Hungary 742,800, USSR 5,000,000, Ukraine 2,994,684, White Russia, excluding Bialystok 446,484
Total:11 million Jews.
All of these were to transport towards the east of Poland. They estimated that already most of the weaker people would die during transport and that only the stronger people would survive. To prevent these stronger people to form the “seed of a new generation” they would have to be “acted upon with the correct measures”, a polite way of saying extermination of these people. Older aged people who couldn’t reproduce anymore were to be send to older peoples ghettos, for example Theresienstadt.
The meeting only lasted for 90 minutes, these 90 minutes sealed the fate of millions of people.