Of the many notorious Nazi meetings during World War II, perhaps none is more infamous than the gathering at the villa in the Wannsee suburb in Berlin on January 20, 1942. Here several senior officials of the SS and Nazi Germany, headed by Reinhard Heydrich (Heinrich Himmler's deputy) gathered to plan and coordinate the 'Final Solution to the Jewish Question', that is the transport and extermination of the Jews in the death camps.
The Wannsee Conference was extremely important in transitioning the Holocaust from intimidation, beating and harassment of Jewish people in the occupied territories to the planned, systematic extermination that encompassed virtually every arm of the Nazi German bureaucracy.
Adolf Eichmann prepared a list of estimated Jewish populations in countries both occupied and not occupied by Nazi Germany. The minutes of the conference make it clear that deliberately euphemistic language was used; 'evacuation', for instance, meant transportation to the death camps in Eastern Europe and extermination. After the conference, the Wannsee Protocol (the minutes of the meeting) were distributed to all participants; a copy was discovered after the war in 1947.
By the end of the war in 1945, some six million Jews and millions of others classified as undesirable by Nazi Germany had been murdered in death camps like Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor and the multitude of concentration camps.
- 1942-01-20 Nazi officials hold notorious Wannsee Conference in Berlin to organize the "final solution", the extermination of Europe's Jews