OVERRIDE

The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution

A Reconsideration

Mark Roseman

Picador

In early 1947, American officials in Germany stumbled across a document. Headed "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 the 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 of history, remains deeply puzzling. How should we understand this businesslike discussion of genocide? 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. 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.

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.

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Praise for The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution

“Disturbing and thought-provoking...A riveting picture of genocide as afterthought, a bureaucratic codification that made up German minds predisposed to accept the decision.” —The News Journal (Delaware)

“Roseman sets out not to solve this mystery [of the Conference] so much as to anatomize it, to dissect the thinking of the key players and to present the central themes, ideas, and intentions of the day. He does so with the same determination and respect that he brought to A Past in Hiding.” —Los Angeles Times

“A cool, judicious, and well-informed guide to the meeting whose minutes were described by the war crimes prosecutors at Nuremberg as ‘perhaps the most shameful document in modern history.’” —Richard J. Evans, author of Lying About Hitler

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Mark Roseman

  • Author of A Past in Hiding and winner of the Fraenkel Prize in contemporary history, Mark Roseman teaches at the University of Southampton and has published widely on German history. He lives in Southampton, England.
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    The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution

    A Reconsideration

    Mark Roseman

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