Wannsee Conference

    This copy of the minutes of the meeting which took place at No. 56/58 Am Großen Wannsee (a suburb to the south-west of Berlin) on 20 January 1942, was found in the files of Dr. Martin Luther after the war ended. This document is the only written record of that meeting to survive. Although not directly relevant to the events at Oradour, it is included in this website to indicate the degree of shared involvement and responsibility between the SS and civilians in Hitler's Third Reich. It also demonstrates the depths of inhumanity that the regime was capable of reaching whilst maintaining a superficially civilised outward appearance. A formal meeting with a secretary and minutes, informed debate with much discussion and then a consensus, all to arrange mass murder.

    Just to make the matter absolutely clear, this conference was the occasion where the methodology to implement the, "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" was discussed in broad outline. The decision to carry out the Final Solution  had been taken some time earlier as can be inferred from the opening remarks of the minutes which explain that "The Reich Marshal" (Göering) had charged Heydrich with making preparations for the Final Solution. For "evacuation", read "killing", if any doubt remains read the transcript of Adolf Eichmann's trial in 1960.

    This document is in the public domain and is reproduced on that basis in full and unedited with its original spelling and paragraphing.

  This English text of the Wannsee protocol is based on the official U.S. government translation prepared for evidence in trials at Nuremberg, as reproduced in John Mendelsohn, ed., The Holocaust: Selected Documents in Eighteen Volumes. Vol. 11: The Wannsee Protocol and a 1944 Report on Auschwitz by the Office of Strategic Services (New York: Garland, 1982), 18-32. Substantial revisions to the Nuremberg text have been made to add clarity and, in some cases, to correct mistakes in an obviously hasty translation. These revisions were made by Dan Rogers of the University of South Alabama. This document is in the public domain and may be freely reproduced. Comments and suggestions may be e-mailed to drogers@jaguar1.usouthal.edu

This document can also be found at: https://www.yadvashem.org/docs/wannsee-conference-protocol.html

Stamp: Top Secret

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Minutes of discussion.

I.   The following persons took part in the discussion about the final solution of the Jewish question which took place in Berlin,
am Grossen Wannsee No. 56/58 on 20 January 1942.

Gauleiter Dr. Meyer and Reich Minister Dr. Leibbrandt: the Occupied Eastern territories

Secretary of State Dr. Stuckart: Reich Ministry for the Interior

Secretary of State Neumann: Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan

Secretary of State Dr. Freisler: Reich Ministry of Justice

Secretary of State Dr. Buehler: Office of the Government General

Under Secretary of State Dr. Luther: Foreign Office

SS-Oberfuehrer Klopfer: Party Chancellery

Ministerial Direktor Kritzinger: Reich Chancellery

SS-Gruppenfuehrer Hofmann: Race and Settlement Main Office

SS-Gruppenfuehrer Mueller: Reich Main Security Office

SS-Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann: Reich Main Security Office

SS-Oberfuehrer Dr. Schoengarth: Chief of the Security Police and
the SD in the Government General

SS-Sturmbannfuehrer Dr. Lange: Security Police and SD.
Commander of the Security Police and the SD for the General-District
Latvia, as deputy of the Commander of the Security Police and the SD
for the Reich Commissariat "Eastland".

II.  At the beginning of the discussion Chief of the Security Police and of the SD, SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Heydrich, reported
that the Reich Marshal had appointed him delegate for the preparations for the final solution of the Jewish question in
Europe and pointed out that this discussion had been called for the purpose of clarifying fundamental questions.  The wish of the
Reich Marshal to have a draft sent to him concerning organizational, factual and material interests in relation to the
final solution of the Jewish question in Europe makes necessary an initial common action of all central offices immediately
concerned with these questions in order to bring their general activities into line.

     The Reichsfuehrer-SS and the Chief of the German Police (Chief of the Security Police and the SD) was entrusted with the
official central handling of the final solution of the Jewish question without regard to geographic borders.

     The Chief of the Security Police and the SD then gave a short report of the struggle which has been carried on thus far
against this enemy, the essential points being the following:

     a)   the expulsion of the Jews from every sphere of life of the German people,

     b)   the expulsion of the Jews from the living space of the German people.

     In carrying out these efforts, an increased and planned acceleration of the emigration of the Jews from Reich territory
was started, as the only possible present solution.

     By order of the Reich Marshal, a Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration was set up in January 1939 and the Chief of the
Security Police and SD was entrusted with the management. Its most important tasks were

     a)   to make all necessary arrangements for the preparation for an increased emigration of the Jews,

     b)   to direct the flow of emigration,

     c)   to speed the procedure of emigration in each individual case.

     The aim of all this was to cleanse German living space of Jews in a legal manner.

     All the offices realized the drawbacks of such enforced accelerated emigration.  For the time being they had, however,
tolerated it on account of the lack of other possible solutions of the problem.

     The work concerned with emigration was, later on, not only a German problem, but also a problem with which the authorities of
the countries to which the flow of emigrants was being directed would have to deal.  Financial difficulties, such as the demand
by various foreign governments for increasing sums of money to be presented at the time of the landing, the lack of shipping space,
increasing restriction of entry permits, or the cancelling of such, increased extraordinarily the difficulties of emigration.
In spite of these difficulties, 537,000 Jews were sent out of the country between the takeover of power and the deadline of 31 October 1941:

Of these approximately 360,000 were in Germany proper on 30 January 1933

approximately 147,000 were in Austria (Ostmark) on 15 March 1939

approximately 30,000 were in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia on 15 March 1939.

     The Jews themselves, or their Jewish political organizations, financed the emigration.  In order to avoid
impoverished Jews' remaining behind, the principle was followed that wealthy Jews have to finance the emigration of poor Jews;
this was arranged by imposing a suitable tax, i.e., an emigration tax, which was used for financial arrangements in connection with
the emigration of poor Jews and was imposed according to income.

     Apart from the necessary Reichsmark exchange, foreign currency had to presented at the time of landing.  In order to
save foreign exchange held by Germany, the foreign Jewish financial organizations were - with the help of Jewish
organizations in Germany - made responsible for arranging an adequate amount of foreign currency.  Up to 30 October 1941,
these foreign Jews donated a total of around 9,500,000 dollars.

     In the meantime the Reichsfuehrer-SS and Chief of the German Police had prohibited emigration of Jews due to the dangers of an
emigration in wartime and due to the possibilities of the East.

III. Another possible solution of the problem has now taken the place of emigration, i.e. the evacuation of the Jews to the East,
provided that the Fuehrer gives the appropriate approval in advance.

     These actions are, however, only to be considered provisional, but practical experience is already being collected
which is of the greatest importance in relation to the future final solution of the Jewish question.

     Approximately 11 million Jews will be involved in the final solution of the European Jewish question, distributed as follows
among the individual countries:

     Country and Number of Jews

A.  Germany proper: 131,800
     Austria: 43,700
     Eastern territories: 420,000
     General Government: 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

B.  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: over 11,000,000

     The number of Jews given here for foreign countries includes, however, only those Jews who still adhere to the Jewish
faith, since some countries still do not have a definition of the term "Jew" according to racial principles.

     The handling of the problem in the individual countries will meet with difficulties due to the attitude and outlook of the
people there, especially in Hungary and Rumania.  Thus, for example, even today the Jew can buy documents in Rumania that
will officially prove his foreign citizenship.

     The influence of the Jews in all walks of life in the USSR is well known.  Approximately five million Jews live in the
European part of the USSR, in the Asian part scarcely 1/4 million.

     The breakdown of Jews residing in the European part of the USSR according to trades was approximately as follows:

Agriculture: 9.1 %
Urban workers: 14.8 %
In trade: 20.0 %
Employed by the state: 23.4 %
In private occupations such as medical profession, press, theatre, etc. 32. 7%

     Under proper guidance, in the course of the final solution the Jews are to be allocated for appropriate labour in the East.
Able-bodied Jews, separated according to sex, will be taken in large work columns to these areas for work on roads, in the
course of which action doubtless a large portion will be eliminated by natural causes.

     The possible final remnant will, since it will undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be treated
accordingly, because it is the product of natural selection and would, if released, act as a the seed of a new Jewish revival
(see the experience of history.)

     In the course of the practical execution of the final solution, Europe will be combed through from west to east.
Germany proper, including the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, will have to be handled first due to the housing problem
and additional social and political necessities.

     The evacuated Jews will first be sent, group by group, to so-called transit ghettos, from which they will be transported to
the East.

     SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Heydrich went on to say that an important prerequisite for the evacuation as such is the exact
definition of the persons involved.

     It is not intended to evacuate Jews over 65 years old, but to send them to an old-age ghetto - Theresienstadt is being
considered for this purpose.

     In addition to these age groups - of the approximately 280,000 Jews in Germany proper and Austria on 31 October 1941,
approximately 30% are over 65 years old - severely wounded veterans and Jews with war decorations (Iron Cross I) will be
accepted in the old-age ghettos.  With this expedient solution, in one fell swoop many interventions will be prevented.

     The beginning of the individual larger evacuation actions will largely depend on military developments.  Regarding the
handling of the final solution in those European countries occupied and influenced by us, it was proposed that the
appropriate expert of the Foreign Office discuss the matter with the responsible official of the Security Police and SD.

     In Slovakia and Croatia the matter is no longer so difficult, since the most substantial problems in this respect
have already been brought near a solution.  In Rumania the government has in the meantime also appointed a commissioner for
Jewish affairs.  In order to settle the question in Hungary, it will soon be necessary to force an adviser for Jewish questions
onto the Hungarian government.

     With regard to taking up preparations for dealing with the problem in Italy, SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Heydrich considers it
opportune to contact the chief of police with a view to these problems.

     In occupied and unoccupied France, the registration of Jews for evacuation will in all probability proceed without great

     Under Secretary of State Luther calls attention in this matter to the fact that in some countries, such as the
Scandinavian states, difficulties will arise if this problem is dealt with thoroughly and that it will therefore be advisable to
defer actions in these countries.  Besides, in view of the small numbers of Jews affected, this deferral will not cause any
substantial limitation.

     The Foreign Office sees no great difficulties for southeast and western Europe.

     SS-Gruppenfuehrer Hofmann plans to send an expert to Hungary from the Race and Settlement Main Office for general orientation
at the time when the Chief of the Security Police and SD takes up the matter there.  It was decided to assign this expert from the
Race and Settlement Main Office, who will not work actively, as an assistant to the police attaché.

IV.  In the course of the final solution plans, the Nuremberg Laws should provide a certain foundation, in which a prerequisite
for the absolute solution of the problem is also the solution to the problem of mixed marriages and persons of mixed blood.

     The Chief of the Security Police and the SD discusses the following points, at first theoretically, in regard to a letter
from the chief of the Reich chancellery:

1) Treatment of Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree

     Persons of mixed blood of the first degree will, as regards the final solution of the Jewish question, be treated as Jews.

     From this treatment the following exceptions will be made:

     a)   Persons of mixed blood of the first degree married to persons of German blood if their marriage has resulted
          in children (persons of mixed blood of the second degree).  These persons of mixed blood of the second
          degree are to be treated essentially as Germans.

     b)   Persons of mixed blood of the first degree, for whom the highest offices of the Party and State have already
          issued exemption permits in any sphere of life. Each individual case must be examined, and it is not
          ruled out that the decision may be made to the detriment of the person of mixed blood.

     The prerequisite for any exemption must always be the personal merit of the person of mixed blood. (Not the merit of
the parent or spouse of German blood.)

     Persons of mixed blood of the first degree who are exempted from evacuation will be sterilized in order to prevent any
offspring and to eliminate the problem of persons of mixed blood once and for all.  Such sterilization will be voluntary.  But it
is required to remain in the Reich.  The sterilized "person of mixed blood" is thereafter free of all restrictions to which he
was previously subjected.

2) Treatment of Persons of Mixed Blood of the Second Degree

     Persons of mixed blood of the second degree will be treated fundamentally as persons of German blood, with the exception of
the following cases, in which the persons of mixed blood of the second degree will be considered as Jews:

     a)   The person of mixed blood of the second degree was born of a marriage in which both parents are persons of
          mixed blood.

     b)   The person of mixed blood of the second degree has a racially especially undesirable appearance that marks
          him outwardly as a Jew.

     c)   The person of mixed blood of the second degree has a particularly bad police and political record that shows
          that he feels and behaves like a Jew.

     Also in these cases exemptions should not be made if the person of mixed blood of the second degree has married a person
of German blood.

3) Marriages between Full Jews and Persons of German Blood.

     Here it must be decided from case to case whether the Jewish partner will be evacuated or whether, with regard to the effects
of such a step on the German relatives, [this mixed marriage] should be sent to an old-age ghetto.

4) Marriages between Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree and Persons of German Blood.

     a)   Without Children.

          If no children have resulted from the marriage, the person of mixed blood of the first degree will be
          evacuated or sent to an old-age ghetto (same treatment as in the case of marriages between full Jews and
          persons of German blood, point 3.)

     b)   With Children.

          If children have resulted from the marriage (persons of mixed blood of the second degree), they will, if they
          are to be treated as Jews, be evacuated or sent to a ghetto along with the parent of mixed blood of the
          first degree.  If these children are to be treated as Germans (regular cases), they are exempted from
          evacuation as is therefore the parent of mixed blood of the first degree.

5) Marriages between Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree and Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree or Jews.

     In these marriages (including the children) all members of the family will be treated as Jews and therefore be evacuated or
sent to an old-age ghetto.

6) Marriages between Persons of Mixed Blood of the First Degree and Persons of Mixed Blood of the Second Degree.

     In these marriages both partners will be evacuated or sent to an old-age ghetto without consideration of whether the
marriage has produced children, since possible children will as a rule have stronger Jewish blood than the Jewish person of mixed
blood of the second degree.

     SS-Gruppenfuehrer Hofmann advocates the opinion that sterilization will have to be widely used, since the person of
mixed blood who is given the choice whether he will be evacuated or sterilized would rather undergo sterilization.

     State Secretary Dr. Stuckart maintains that carrying out in practice of the just mentioned possibilities for solving the
problem of mixed marriages and persons of mixed blood will create endless administrative work.  In the second place, as the
biological facts cannot be disregarded in any case, State Secretary Dr. Stuckart proposed proceeding to forced sterilization.

     Furthermore, to simplify the problem of mixed marriages possibilities must be considered with the goal of the legislator
saying something like: "These marriages have been dissolved."

     With regard to the issue of the effect of the evacuation of Jews on the economy, State Secretary Neumann stated that Jews who
are working in industries vital to the war effort, provided that no replacements are available, cannot be evacuated.

     SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Heydrich indicated that these Jews would not be evacuated according to the rules he had approved for
carrying out the evacuations then underway.

     State Secretary Dr. Buehler stated that the General Government would welcome it if the final solution of this problem
could be begun in the General Government, since on the one hand transportation does not play such a large role here nor would
problems of labour supply hamper this action.  Jews must be removed from the territory of the General Government as quickly
as possible, since it is especially here that the Jew as an epidemic carrier represents an extreme danger and on the other
hand he is causing permanent chaos in the economic structure of the country through continued black market dealings.  Moreover,
of the approximately 2 1/2 million Jews concerned, the majority is unfit for work.

     State Secretary Dr. Buehler stated further that the solution to the Jewish question in the General Government is the
responsibility of the Chief of the Security Police and the SD and that his efforts would be supported by the officials of the
General Government.  He had only one request, to solve the Jewish question in this area as quickly as possible.

     In conclusion the different types of possible solutions were discussed, during which discussion both Gauleiter Dr. Meyer and
State Secretary Dr. Buehler took the position that certain preparatory activities for the final solution should be carried
out immediately in the territories in question, in which process alarming the populace must be avoided.

     The meeting was closed with the request of the Chief of the Security Police and the SD to the participants that they afford
him appropriate support during the carrying out of the tasks involved in the solution.

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© Michael Williams revised February 2022