81st anniversary of the Wannsee Conference at Wannsee, Germany, January 20, 1942.
On this cold and blustery day 81 years ago 16 leaders in Nazi Germany gathered to plan “the Final Solution,” or the plan to eliminate all Jews. In the upscale suburban home pictured here, Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Reich Security Main Office, led a private but pivotal meeting “to make all the necessary preparations . . . for the Final Solution of the Jewish problem in the German sphere of influence in Europe.” Many of their decisions were laid out in what has come to be known as the Protocols of the Wannsee Conference. This meeting led directly to the establishment of the extermination camps and the deaths of 1.7 million Jews between 1942-1943. (Note that the total number of Jewish deaths are estimated at 6 million. The Wannsee Conference is important for creating the plan that used death/extermination camps but cannot be credited with the many other ways Nazis murdered Jews). Marking January 20 and the Wannsee Conference is important because of what it represents in the horrible event known as the Holocaust. It is also important because it shows how seemingly normal and benign people, acting in a seemingly normal way, can conjure up horrific plans. It can happen any day, at any time if we are not always willing to stand up against inhumane actions and stand up for what is right.