The chilling account of the Nazi conference to finalise the plans for genocide, with a new preface by author Mark Roseman.
In 1947, American prosecutors were collecting information for the Nuremberg trials when they discovered a few pieces of paper, stamped Geheime Reichssache (Secret Reich matter). These were the minutes of a meeting that had taken place between top Nazi civil servants, SS officials and party representatives on 20 January 1942 in a grand Berlin villa on the shores of Lake Wannsee. Written in dry, bureaucratic language, the document lays out a plan for genocide: ‘In the course of the final solution … Jews fit to work will work their way eastward constructing roads. Doubtless the large majority will be eliminated by natural causes. Any final remnant that survives … will have to be dealt with appropriately’. The document goes on to consider how to deal with half Jews, Jews married to Germans and war-decorated Jews, suggesting forced sterilisation or an ‘old-age ghetto’ in order to avoid public objection. It has been called ‘perhaps the most shameful document of modern history’.
'Engrossing and chilling, it helps our understanding of Wannsee's place on the twisted path to genocide’
In his in-depth analysis, acclaimed historian Mark Roseman reflects that the Wannsee Protocol is, 'a kind of keyhole through which we can glimpse the emerging Final Solution'. Yet, it was not here that the decision was taken – mass murders had already begun and the first gas chambers had been built. So what was the real purpose of this meeting, in which 15 well educated men dined together, smoked cigars and discussed genocide? Roseman traces Hitler's careful signalling of his wishes, through the escalation of violent anti-Semitism to the killing squads in the Soviet Union and construction of extermination camps. Those who attended the meeting later tried to deny having seen the minutes; but their plea of ignorance was exploded by the document’s naked statement of murder.
The Folio Society has produced the first illustrated edition of this chilling and important work, showing photographs of the original invitation, the villa and the men involved. An arresting photograph of the Villa Wannsee's elegant but empty corridor, from the collection ‘Melancholy Grandeur’ by photographer Werner Zellien, is reproduced on the front board.
'Superb, persuasive and terrible'
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