On January, 20, 1942, Reinhard Heydrich, Himmler's second in command
of the SS, convened the Wannsee Conference in Berlin with 15 top Nazi bureaucrats
to coordinate the Final Solution (Endlösung) in which the Nazis would
attempt to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe, an estimated
11 million persons.
"Europe would be combed of Jews from east to west," Heydrich
The minutes of that meeting have been preserved but were edited by Heydrich
substituting the coded language Nazis used when referring to lethal actions
to be taken against Jews.
"Instead of emigration, there is now a further possible solution
to which the Führer has already signified his consent - namely deportation
to the east," Heydrich stated for example when referring to mass deportations
of Jews to ghettos in occupied Poland and then on to the soon-opened death
camps at Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka.
"...eliminated by natural causes," refers to death by a combination
of hard labor and starvation.
"...treated accordingly," refers to execution by SS firing
squads or death by gassing - also seen in other Nazi correspondence in
a variety of connotations such as "special treatment" and "special
actions" regarding the Jews.
* * * * * *
Stamp: Top Secret
Minutes of the Conference
The following were in attendance in Berlin, am Grossen Wannsee No. 56/58
on 20 January 1942 concerning the Final Solution of the Jewish Question..
At the beginning of the discussion Chief of the Security Police and
of the SD, SS-Obergruppenführer 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 Reichsführer-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
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
- 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
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 Reichsführer-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.
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 Führer 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
A. Germany proper 131,800
Eastern territories 420,000
General Government 2,284,000
Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia 74,200
Estonia - free of Jews -
France / occupied territory 165,000
unoccupied territory 700,000
B. Bulgaria 48,000
Italy including Sardinia 58,000
Rumania including Bessarabia 342,000
Turkey (European portion) 55,500
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
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, theater, etc. 32. 7%
Under proper guidance, in the course of the final solution the Jews
are to be allocated for appropriate labor 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-Obergruppenführer Heydrich went on to say that an important
prerequisite for the evacuation as such is the exact definition of the
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-Obergruppenführer 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 difficulty.
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
The Foreign Office sees no great difficulties for southeast and western
SS-Gruppenführer 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.
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
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
- 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
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
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
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-Gruppenführer 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
State Secretary Dr. Stückart 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. Stückart 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-Obergruppenführer 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. Bühler 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 labor 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. Bühler 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.
Bühler 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.