History involves the study of things both pleasant and repulsive. Its tapestry is such that in many cases, it is impossible to understand the good without understanding the horrible in equal measure.
We strive to find historical items that are of interest, are thought-provoking and, in the main, positive. However, some observations are unavoidable, and today’s anniversary is one.
On this date in 1942, a group of high-ranking German officials gathered in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee. Their purpose was to determine the fate of all the Jews in Europe.
The German phrases used at what came to be known as the Wannsee Conference were Endlosung, literally translated to “Final Solution”, and Judenfrage, or “Jewish question.”
In an era where we are again seeing the rise of anti-Semitism, particularly among the Left and its allies, we would do well to remember what happens when those who would crush the freedom of the individual under the heel of the state extend their authority to matters of life and death.
The list of 15 attendees reads like a who’s who of thuggery. The meeting was convened by Reinhard Heydrich, second-in-command of the SS, and a man who would soon be dead — killed by Czech partisans later in 1942.
There were other infamous attendees. Roland Freisler represented the Ministry of Justice, and would soon become notorious for his handling of the Hitler 1944 bomb plot trials in his “People’s Court.” He too would not survive the war, being crushed to death in an American bombing raid in 1945.
Josef Buhler represented the “General Government” of Poland, that portion of the country which was not absorbed into other German governmental districts. He was executed for war crimes in 1948.
The list goes on. But perhaps no one was more notorious than the individual who prepared the meeting’s minutes – Adolf Eichmann.
He was the individual who, in essence, planned the Holocaust. Not a policymaker, Eichmann nevertheless proved frighteningly efficient in his post and arranged, among other things, for the deportation and execution of about 70 percent of Hungary’s estimated 800,000 Jews.
In reading the minutes of the Wannsee Conference, one is struck by two things: first, of course, the completely calculated, cold indifference to human life; and second, the completely calculated and cold methodology the Nazis utilized to come to their conclusions.
Prior to the conference, Eichmann had estimated the number of Jews still living in Europe and came up with the number of 11 million. That number is broken down by nation in the minutes, which spend a great deal of time discussing how to handle the issue of marriage between those with varying amounts of Jewish ancestry and their spouses.
The end goal was to simply pronounce many of these marriages “dissolved”, showing the Nazis, like today’s Left, failed to understand that marriage is ordained by God and not the state.
Yet the nation which enacted the Nuremberg Laws felt itself under no such obligation to understand, and as such the proceedings continued.
The conclusions as recorded in the minutes were stark and grim:
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.”
And then, chillingly in its ignorance:
(see the experience of history.)
Historian Stephen Ambrose wrote that the outcome of World War II was that the Nazis were crushed, the Fascists were crushed and that Japanese imperialists were crushed — and never has justice been better served. After reviewing the wealth of information available at holocaustresearchproject.org, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Yad Vashem, it’s hard to disagree.
To read the minutes of the Wannsee Conference, click here. It is precisely this “experience of history” that decent people everywhere must learn from and ensure is never repeated.