Archive/File: people/e/eichmann.adolf/transcripts/Judgment/Judgment-025 Last-Modified: 1999/05/27 The Wannsee Conference 86. Now we pass on, in chronological order, to the central event in the history of the Final Solution which, on the one hand, sums up the events of the period from the beginning of the German-Russian war, and, on the other, serves as a starting point for all the events which follow - that is the Wannsee Conference. On 29 November 1941, identically phrased, but personally styled invitations went out from the Accused's office, signed by Heydrich, to a number of persons of the rank of State Secretary, or holding similar ranks. Two such invitations were submitted to us, exhibits T/180 and T/181, sent to Under-Secretary of State Luther at the Foreign Ministry, and to Gruppenfuehrer Hoffman at the Head Office for Race and Resettlement. In this invitation, Heydrich refers to Goering's letter of appointment, dated 31 July 1941, (T/179) and attaches a photocopy of this letter, and he continues: "Considering the extraordinary significance which is to be attached to these questions, and in order to reach an understanding amongst all central authorities concerned with the operations yet to be carried out in connection with this final solution, I propose to bring up these problems as a subject for joint discussion, especially because of the fact that, since 15 October 1941, Jews are being evacuated in regular transports from the Reich territory, including the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia - to the East." The date set for the conference is 9 December 1941, and the letter concludes with a list of the other persons to whom an identical invitation was extended. Special invitations were sent to Buehler (State Secretary in the Generalgouvernement area) and to Krueger (Senior Commanding Officer of the SS and the Police in the Generalgouvernement). It transpires from document T/182, that Heydrich instructed the Accused to invite them, too, after learning from a conversation with Krueger that "from measures taken in the area of the Generalgouvernement lately in this sphere, it can be seen with increasing clarity that the Governor General (Frank) aspires to take upon himself the entire handling of the Jewish Question." At the last moment, the conference was deferred - perhaps because of the outbreak of war with the United States - and on 8 January 1942 new invitations were sent for 20 January 1942. 87. At this conference, State Secretaries and S.S. officers and senior officials of the same rank, or near that rank, participated, representing Reich and Party offices, the official in charge of the Four-Year-Plan (Goering's office), the Foreign Ministry and of the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry for the Eastern Occupied Territories and the Governor General in Poland. Offices controlled by Himmler were represented by a representative of the Race and Resettlement Head Office, and by Heydrich, Mueller, and the Accused, as well as by the Commander of the SD and the Security Police in the Government General, and by the Commander of the Security Police and the SD of the "Reich Ostland Administration" (the latter five, naturally, were RSHA men). Only one amongst all those present (the representative of the "Ostland" Security Police Command) was of a rank lower than that of the Accused, and all the others were of higher rank (see the conference minutes, exhibit T/185). Heydrich opened the conference with a speech, reviewing achievements in the field of emigration. Summing up, he says: "In the meantime, emigration was banned (by Himmler), because of the dangers of emigration in wartime, and taking into consideration the possibilities in the East." And he continues: "Instead of emigration, evacuation of the Jews to the East now comes as an additional possible solution, after prior appropriate approval by the Fuehrer. But these operations are to be regarded only as passing possibilities. The results of these practical experiences are already being collected, since they are invaluable in view of the approaching Final Solution of the Jewish Question" (supra, p. 5). A statistical survey follows, in which the number of Jews throughout Europe (also including countries not under German rule) is estimated at eleven million; and now come the decisive sentences: "Under suitable direction, the Jews should be brought to the East in the course of the Final Solution, for use as labour. In large labour gangs, with the sexes separated, the Jews capable of work will be transported to those areas and set to road-building, in the course of which, without doubt, a large part of them (ein Grossteil) will fall away through natural losses. The surviving remnant, surely those with the greatest powers of resistance, will be given special treatment, since, if freed, they would constitute the germinal cell for the re-creation of Jewry, they being the result of natural selection, as history has proved" (supra, pp. 7-8). The intention behind this convoluted language is clear and simple: The Jews of Europe were to be expelled to the East and put to hard labour; the weak would die from overwork and the strong would be killed. In connection with questions of implementation, Heydrich gives the following information, inter alia: (a) Europe will be combed from the West to the East, giving priority to the Reich and the Protectorate. (b) A "ghetto for the aged" will be set up in Terezin, which will also take Jewish war invalids and those who hold medals for distinguished service. (c) "The `Central Authority' (Federfuehrung) for the handling of the Final Solution of the Jewish Question will be in the hands of the Reichsfuehrer-SS and the head of the German Police (the head of the Security Police and the SD - viz. Heydrich himself), without regard to geographical borders" (supra, p. 3). (d) "In regard to the handling of the Final Solution in the territories occupied by us and those under our influence, it has been suggested that the officials dealing with the matter at the Foreign Ministry contact the authorized Referent of the Security Police and the SD" (viz., the Accused) (supra at p.9). 88. Not one of those present expressed any reservations to what Heydrich said. On the contrary, there was a complete consensus of opinion. The contribution to the discussion made by Buehler, representing the Generalgouvernement, is worthy of mention: "He (Buehler) stated that the Generalgouvernement would be glad if the Final Solution of this Question were launched in the area of the Generalgouvernement, since transport was not a serious problem there and labour considerations were not likely to disturb the smooth running of such an action. Jews must be removed from the Generalgouvernement area as quickly as possible, since it was here that the Jew represented a blatant danger as the carrier of diseases, and he was always upsetting the country's economy by continuous profiteering. Moreover, out of the two and a half million Jews to be handled, most were unfit for work" (supra, p. 14). And this is how the discussion ended: "In conclusion, various types of possible solutions were discussed, and the attitude taken (by representatives of the Ministry for the Eastern Occupied Territories and of the Generalgouvernement) was that they themselves would immediately make certain preparations to bring about the Final Solution in the areas concerned. At the same time, the creation of unrest amongst the population should be avoided" (supra, p. 15). When the Accused was asked in cross-examination in this Court what was the meaning of the words "various types of possible solutions" discussed towards the end of the conference, he answered simply: "Various ways of killing were discussed" (Session 106, Vol. IV, p. xxxx11). According to the Accused, his role at the Wannsee Conference was threefold: (a) sending invitations in accordance with particulars given to him by Heydrich; (b) supplying Heydrich with material for the preparation of his opening speech; (c) taking the minutes. When the conference was over, Heydrich, Mueller and the Accused remained behind for a chat "by the fireside." When asked why he, too, was asked to join in this intimate gathering, he replied that Heydrich gave him instructions in connection with the preparation of the minutes. But the Wannsee Conference carried a more important meaning also for the Accused personally, for it was there that his position as the authorized Referent of the RSHA in matters connected with the Final Solution of the Jewish Question was confirmed in the presence of representatives of all the other authorities. This much we gather also from a letter sent by Heydrich to Luther (T/186) at the end of February 1942. He notes there with satisfaction that the basic policy for the practical implementation of the Final Solution had now been laid down with the full consent of all the authorities concerned, and he invites Luther to send his representative to a discussion on details of implementation. He requests that Luther's representative contact "my authorized Referent, SS Obersturmbannfuehrer Eichmann" for this purpose.
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