Eighty-five minutes of genocide and cognac – The Berlin Spectator


On January 20, 1942, some of Hitler’s henchmen gathered in a villa at Wannsee, one of Berlin’s lakes. Reinhard Heydrich, the head of the Reich Main Security Office, SS-‘Obersturmbannführer’ Adolf Eichmann and thirteen other Nazi officials discussed the deportation and murder of European Jews as they drank liquor.

Berlin, January 16, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — The Wannsee Conference was a gathering of fifteen senior Nazi officials who outdid themselves with ideas on how to optimize mass murder. When the 85-minute meeting took place exactly 80 years ago, the Holocaust was already underway. In Berlin, Reinhard Heydrich and the other participants organized the deportation of all European Jews to the east, in order to exterminate them in death camps. Six months before this meeting of assassins, Hermann Göring, one of the most powerful figures in Nazi Germany, ordered Heydrich to organize what he called “the final solution of the Jewish question”. The man who wrote the minutes of the meeting was Adolf Eichmann, “Heydrich’s assistant for Jewish matters” who is known today as the “architect of the Holocaust”.

Responsibilities clarified

Several topics were on the agenda. Heydrich wanted to ensure that responsibilities would be clarified. All measures for the implementation of the killing of a whole people had to be defined and programmed. Already at the time, the Germans were said to be good organizers. This definitely applied to Adolf Eichmann, one of the most relentless mass murderers of all time. Another task was to define the Jews who would be deported and killed. According to historians, Heydrich was not sure that everyone at the Wannsee Conference would support the “Final Solution”. In the end, all were not only supportive, but enthusiastic about the genocidal campaign they were planning.

At the meeting, the SS-Obergruppenführer declared that 11 million Jews, including those from countries the Nazis had not occupied, were to be expelled. His assistant Eichmann was prepared. He brought a list of 32 regions and countries with the number of Jews living there. The total number at the bottom of the page was 11 million. According to Eichmann’s minutes, they were supposed to be forced to participate in road building activities during which there would be “a natural decline.” The “rest” should be “treated accordingly”. The Nazis, and in particular Adolf Eichmann, knew how to formulate their plans for the worst crimes ever committed in the history of mankind.

Half-Jews’ and ‘Quarter-Jews’

Reinhard Heydrich, Adolf Eichmann and the other participants consumed cognac during their conference in Wannsee. As they enjoyed their expensive drinks, they discussed how to proceed with the “Jewish halves”. Only those who were married to partners “with German bloodlines” and had children were to be spared, but sterilized. People whom the Nazis called “Jewish quarters” because they had a Jewish grandparent were also not supposed to be expelled, unless they “obviously looked Jewish,” according to Nazi theories on the diseased race. After 85 minutes, the Wannsee conference was over. Eichmann’s minutes are an important historical document that prove Nazi Germany’s intent to murder all European Jews. He succeeded in six million cases. Tens of thousands of people of Roma origin and members of other minorities have also been murdered.

Reinhard Heydrich died four months after leading the Wannsee conference. He was targeted and attacked by two Czech nationals who had been sent by the government-in-exile of Czechia. Adolf Eichmann, meanwhile, lived another 20 years. He managed to flee to Argentina after the war, where he was captured by Israel’s Mossad in 1960 and flown to Jerusalem. He was tried there. In 1962, “the architect of the Holocaust” became the first and only person Israel had ever executed. Later it turned out that the West German government knew his whereabouts early on, but refrained from apprehending him as they feared that the image of the Federal Republic would be harmed. otherwise.

New Conference Film

Now, eighty years later, the Wannsee Conference is the subject of a new film which will be shown on Tuesday at the “Zoo Palast” cinema in Berlin. President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had to be there and give a speech beforehand. The film will also be broadcast on ZDF television on January 24, 2022 at 8:15 p.m. CET. On Tuesday, Steinmeier will also visit the “The Encounter at Wannsee and the Murder of European Jews” exhibit at the “Wannsee Conference House,” a memorial site in the villa where it took place.

Main photo at the top of the page: Reinhard Heydrich by Federal Archive, photo no. 146-1969-054-16 / Hoffmann, Heinrich / license CC-BY-SA, public domain Adolf Eichmann, free photo of villa Wannsee

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