The Wannsee Conference: Where The Holocaust Was Planned In 1942

By Jacob Shelton

The villa Am Großen Wannsee 56–58, where the Wannsee Conference was held, is now a memorial and museum. (A.Savin/Wikimedia Commons)

When the Nazis gathered to plan the extermination of the Jewish people, it wasn't in hushed backrooms but the suburbs of Berlin. In 1942, 15 representatives of the S.S. traveled to a villa at Am Großen Wannsee 56–58, overlooking the Großer Wannsee, to make sure the Final Solution came together like a well-oiled machine. During the 85-minute meeting, Adolf Eichmann and his cohorts considered a series of plans, some ridiculous and some straightforward but all evil. It only took a few months for the plan hatched at the Wannsee Conference to come to fruition, but its reverberations were felt for years.

Planning The Wannsee Conference

The Wannsee Conference was planned during summer 1941, when Hermann Goering wrote to S.S. General Reinhard Heydrich, instructing Heinrich Himmler's second in command to make himself available as soon as possible for "a general plan of the administrative, material, and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question."

The order came nearly two years after Germany invaded Poland and about a month after the war between the U.S.S.R. and Germany began in earnest, but discrimination against the Jewish people had been perfectly legal since 1933, when the Nazis took over Germany. Over the next near decade, the Nazis did everything they could to push the Jewish people out of the country. They prohibited marriage between Jews and Germans and revoked the citizenship of anyone with Jewish heritage dating back fewer than two generations, but apparently, it wasn't enough.