Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Sombre Experience (Tues 24/5)

"In this house in January 1942 the notorious Wannsee-Conference was held. The memory of the Jewish people lost by Nazi tyranny."

As you can see, I had a very heavy day today. On this trip we will not be going to any concentration camps, but instead we went to the summer home where the so called, "Final Solution to the Jewish Question" was held.

If you don't know what the Final Solution or the Wannsee-Conference are, here is your short history lesson for the day. In 1942 a bunch of officials in power in Nazi Germany came together to solve the "problem" of what they saw as, in short, too many Jews. And by too many I mean any at all was too many in their opinion.

As a German Studies minor/soon to be major and a person who was very interested in literature surrounding that time in Germany through out my live, I of course already knew of the Wannsee-Conference, but I learned a lot more today.

Let me clarify first, the Wannsee-Conference was really just a way for Nazi officials to put in to official documentation what they had already been doing. They were already putting Jews in to concentration camps and working them to death, just as they were already going in to towns and slaughtering innocent people who lived in these Jewish areas. There were already ghettos, and there were already families that had been destroyed. The Wannsee-Conference was again, just a way for the Nazis to make official the horrors that were already taking place (of course,it was after the Conference that specific death camps like Auschwitz and Buchenwald were built).

That was the first surprise to me. The next came as I read through the copy of the Wannsee-Conference Document they have on display in the house. I shouldn't say it was really a surprise, so much as it just deeply disturbed me. It was disturbing how in letters between themselves the officials (including Hitler, of course) had such a cold disposition. They talked about the Jewish people as though they were of less significance than a cockroach infestation. Everything they said in these initial letters was about the, "Solution" not about people. They didn't think of the Jews as people.

In the document itself the language was so twisted. It was so official and cold and so full of false information. There was actually a claim that, "60% of [the Jewish People] are not suitable for work, anyway." There were also a claim that many of the people in the work camps would probably "die of natural causes," Well yes. If you put someone in a gas chamber, starve them, hang them, or burn them, naturally they're going to die.

It was really hard to handle the fact that so many people died (approximately 6 million, and that's counting exclusively the Jewish People) and yet the words "people" or "person" were never used in this document. The Nazis didn't think of the Jews as people. Just pests. Through other parts of the House you could read stories of Nazi propaganda, government officials in the Nazi party, and Jewish families that were destroyed by the Nazis.

It was so haunting that such a horrible document could have been penned on such a beautiful estate...

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