Wannsee Conference minutes: measures taken against Jews (1942)

The Wannsee Conference of January 1942 began with the highest-ranking Nazi leader present, Reinhard Heydrich, summarising measures so far taken against the Jews in Germany:

“At the beginning of the discussion, Heydrich reported that the Reichsmarshal [Goering] had appointed him as delegate for the preparations for the Final Solution of the Jewish question in Europe. He pointed out that this discussion had been called for the purpose of clarifying fundamental questions.

The wish of the Reichsmarshal to have a draft sent to him concerning organizational, factual and material interests in relation to the Final Solution of the Jewish question in Europe makes necessary an initial common action of all central offices immediately concerned with these questions in order to bring their general activities into line. The Reichsführer-SS [Himmler] and the Chief of the Security Police and the SD [Heydrich] were entrusted with the official central handling of the Final Solution of the Jewish question without regard to geographic borders.

[Heydrich] gave a short report of the struggle which has been carried on thus far against this enemy, the essential points being the following:

1. The expulsion of the Jews from every sphere of life of the German people.

2. The expulsion of the Jews from the living space of the German people.

In carrying out these efforts, an increased and planned acceleration of the emigration of the Jews from Reich territory was started, as the only possible present solution. By order of the Reichsmarshal, a Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration was set up in January 1939 and the Chief of the Security Police and SD was entrusted with the management. Its most important tasks were:

1. To make all necessary arrangements for the preparation for an increased emigration of the Jews.

2. To direct the flow of emigration.

3. To speed the procedure of emigration in each individual case.

The aim of all this was to cleanse the German living space of Jews in a legal manner.

All the offices realised the drawbacks of such enforced accelerated emigration. For the time being, however, they tolerated it on account of the lack of other possible solutions to the problem.

The work concerned with emigration was later expanded so that it was not only a German problem but also a problem for the authorities of the countries required to deal with the flow of emigrants… In spite of these difficulties, 537,000 Jews were sent out of the country between the seizure of power and the deadline of 31 October 1941. Of these:

1. Approximately 360,000 were in Germany proper on January 30th 1933.

2. Approximately 147,000 were in Austria (Ostmark) on March 15th 1939.

3. Approximately 30,000 were in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia on March 15th 1939.

The Jews themselves, or their Jewish political organisations, financed the emigration. In order to avoid impoverished Jews’ remaining behind, the principle was followed that wealthy Jews have to finance the emigration of poor Jews. This was arranged by imposing a suitable tax – that is, an emigration tax – which was used for financial arrangements in connection with the emigration of poor Jews and was imposed according to income.”