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The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsiderationby Mark Roseman
Synopses & Reviews
A groundbreaking investigation into the mysterious gathering where the Nazi plan for genocide was reputedly decided.
In early 1947, American officials in Germany stumbled across a document. Entitled "Secret Reich matter," it summarized the results of a meeting of top Nazi officials that took place on January 20, 1942, in a grand villa on the shore of Berlin's Lake Wannsee.
On one level, this document offered clarity: known as the Wannsee Protocol (and included here in full), it tallied up the Jews in Europe, carefully classified half and quarter Jews, and above all laid the groundwork for a "final solution to the Jewish Question." Yet the Protocol, among the most shameful documents in history, remains deeply mysterious. How can we understand this businesslike discussion of genocide? And why was the meeting necessary? Hundreds of thousands of Jews had already been shot in Russia or gassed in the camp at Chelmno. Test murders had been carried out in Auschwitz. Indeed, the most remarkable thing about the Wannsee Conference, is that we do not know why it took place.
Mark Roseman, author of the acclaimed A Past in Hiding, seeks to unravel this double mystery and to explain how it was that on a snowy January day in 1942, a group of educated young men met to discuss the systematic slaughter of a people.
On January 20, 1942, in a grand villa on the shore of Berlins Lake Wannsee, a conference of Nazi officers produced a paper known as the “Wannsee Protocol,” which laid the groundwork for a “final solution to the Jewish Question.” This Protocol has always mystified us. How should we understand this calm, business-like discussion of holocaust? And why was the meeting necessary? Hundreds of thousands of Jews had already been shot by squads in Russia or gassed in the camp at Chelmno. Mark Roseman seeks to unravel this double mystery and explain how it was that on a snowy day, fifteen well-educated young men met to talk murder.
About the Author
Author of A Past in Hiding and winner of the Fraenkel Prize in contemporary history and Wingate Literary Prize for nonfiction, Mark Roseman teaches at the University of Southampton and has published widely on German history. He lives in Southampton, England.
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