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Nazis Final Solution
The Final Solution to the Jewish question (German: Die Endlösung der Judenfrage) refers to the German Nazis' plan to engage in systematic Genocide against the European Jewish population during World War II. The term was coined by Adolf Eichmann, a top Nazi official who supervised the genocidal campaign and was captured, tried and executed by Israeli authorities in 1961-1962. The implementation of the Final Solution resulted in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust. The expression reflects the belief that the Jewish European population itself posed a "question" and a problem.
Mass killings of over 1 million Jews occurred before the plans of the Final Solution were fully implemented in 1942, but it was only with the decision to eradicate the entire Jewish population that the extermination camps were built and industrialized mass slaughter of Jews began in earnest. This decision to systematically kill the Jews of Europe was made by the time of, or at the Wannsee conference, which took place in Berlin, in the Wannsee Villa on January 20, 1942. During the conference, there was a discussion held by a group of German Nazi officials to decide on the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question". The records and minutes of this meeting were found intact by the Allies at the end of the war and served as valuable evidence during the Nuremberg Trials. By spring of 1942, Operation Reinhard began the systematic extermination of the Jews, although hundreds of thousands already had been killed by death squads and in mass pogroms. In Heinrich Himmler's speech at the Posen Conference of October 6, 1943, Himmler, for the first time, clearly elucidated to all assembled leaders of the Reich, in frank and brutal terms, what the "Final Solution" actually referred to.
Debate about the Final Solution
Prior to the beginning of World War II, during a speech given on January 30, 1939 (the six year anniversary of his accession to power), Hitler seemed to 'prophesy' the coming Holocaust of European Jewry when he said:
There is still considerable debate among historians about when, exactly, the decision to eradicate the Jewish population of Europe was made by the German leadership. The consensus is that the outlines of the Final Solution arose gradually throughout the summer and fall of 1941. Prominent Holocaust historian Christopher Browning has stated that the decision to exterminate the Jews was actually two decisions, one in July 1941 to kill the Jews of Russia (mass killings by the Einsatzgruppen had already begun by the summer of 1941), the second in October 1941 to exterminate the remaining Jews of Europe. There is ample evidence for this view, for example on July 31, 1941, under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Nazi official Hermann Göring ordered SS Gruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich to "make all necessary preparations as regards organizational, financial, and material matters for a total solution (Gesamtlösung) of the Jewish question within the area of German influence in Europe … I instruct you further to submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution (Endlösung) of the Jewish question."
Christian Gerlach has argued for a different timeframe, suggesting the decision was made by Hitler on December 12, 1941, when he addressed a meeting of the Nazi Party (the Reichsleiter) and of regional party leaders (the Gauleiter). In his diary entry of December 13, 1941, the day after Hitler’s private speech, Joseph Goebbels wrote:
After this decision, plans were made to put the Final Solution into effect. For example, on December 16, at a meeting of the officials of the General Government, Hans Frank referred to Hitler's speech as he described the coming annihilation of the Jews:
In a sworn affidavit given in June 1977, Albert Speer said:
Final Solution and the The Madagascar plan
At first, vague plans were made in Nazi Germany to deport all European Jews to Madagascar. Adolf Eichmann, in particular, supported this option before the Wannsee Conference of 1942, where he was made privy to the exact details of the "Final Solution". SS chief Heinrich Himmler stated, "However cruel and tragic each individual case may be, this method is still the mildest and best, if one rejects the Bolshevik method of physical extermination of a people out of inner conviction as un-German and impossible." ("Madagascar Plan" in the Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, 1990) The plan was to use the Royal Navy after Britain's defeat. However, when the British were not defeated as expected, the Madagascar Plan had to be abandoned
First Extermination camps
By November 1, 1941, the first extermination camps were being built: first Belzec, then Sobibor, Treblinka, Chelmno extermination camp and Majdanek, and finally Auschwitz-Birkenau. The mass execution of Jews began in early 1942.
External links for the Final Solution
Final Solution: Further reading
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