On this day in 1942, when how the war would end had recently, dramatically become no longer really in doubt, Reinhard Heydrich, along with Adolph Eichmann, the recording secretary of the meeting, and 13 other National Socialist officials met for 85 minutes at a villa (still extant) in Wannsee, a suburb of Berlin, and discussed and decided Die Endlösung der Judenfrage, the final solution to the Jewish question. Various proposals were discussed, including mass sterilization (using X-Rays) and deportation to Madagascar. Heydrich proposed simply transporting Jews from every corner Europe to concentration camps in Poland and working them to death. Most thought this was a good idea but too slow. Although the word "extermination" was never uttered during the meeting, the implication was clear; anyone who survived the egregious conditions of a work camp would be "treated accordingly." The final solution became murder on an industrial scale; the method was to be asphyxiation, at first with carbon monoxide from idling engines and then with more active killing gasses, the most used was Zyklon B (hydrocianic acid) which proved the most efficient means of killing large groups of people at one time. It is difficult to imagine a more heinous, cold bloodedly evil decision.
Labels: WWII history; European theater