This is the third report in the series and looks at the Wannsee Conference Building.
The Wannsee Conference was held at the SS conference centre and SS guest house at Wannsee in Berlin on 20th January 1942. The conference was chaired by Reinhard Heydrich as head of the RSHA (Reich Security Main Office). At the meeting were department heads of the SS and various ministries in an attempt to gain the full cooperation of the ministries who had previously not committed themselves to the so-called "Jewish Problem".
The SS not only brought the other departments on board, but won the overall power struggle over total control. For Heydrich on a personal level, it must have been the highpoint of his RSHA career, but within a few months he would be assasinated by Czech agents in Prague.
In this building on 20th January 1942 the ground was laid for the murder and deportation of Europes Jews. A visit to the centre is well worth while, I went there twice within three months, each time coming away with books I had purchased at the information desk.
The S-Bahn station at Wannsee, from here you will need the bus number 114, the bus ride takes about 20 minutes and always seems to be very full, regardless of the time of year.
Railway emblem from 1927 at the Wannsee station.
The gate to the former RSHA conference centre
The main building was being worked on when we were there, so a better picture was not possible during our visits.
The main doorway with the inscription "Built 1914-15"
The main entrance
The stairs lead to rooms used for the storage of documents and it was interesting that members of the Museumprojekt Heimat e.V. were allowed to visit rooms not open to the public.
A fine white marble fireplace, showing a hint of what the rooms would once have looked like. It should be remembered that the building did not become the property of the SS until 1940.
The house was built as a villa for Ernst Marlier, a factory owner and later sold to the industrialist Friedrich Minoux.
In the conference room itself. here you can see the conference document, but it is a good idea to purchase one of the publications available in the entrance hall and read it quietly at home, the books on offer are really are good value for money.
Each room contains a multitude of information and kept me busy for several hours.
Three members of our group discussing the Wannsee Document.
Researching the role played by Reinhard Heydrich and how he used the meeting to force the various government ministries to commit themselves to the murder of the European Jews
Echo of the pre-war past, part of the kitchen wall
One of the outer buildings in the garden area
Part of the gardens. As the conference rooms would have been used many times during the 1940-1945 period, one can only imagine about the other topics that could have been discussed here? I would think that a garden such as this, could be used by two departmental heads, perhaps with a cigar and a good brandy, walking the rounds, with plots and plans that would effect Europe during wartime, perhaps even the fate of captured British agents?
Another building near the entrance, perhaps used by the security guards to keep out unwanted guests?
Another view of the gardens and part of the team are off to obtain refreshments
Some more views of the gardens....
This one is in the main drive way leading to the conference building
This was taken in the far corner of the gardens, well off the path and reached by pushing through some trees
About 25 minutes away in the centre of Berlin is this metal plate (they are everywhere throughout Germany today). It notes that Adolf Cohn lived here and was transported to Theresienstadt in 1943 and was murdered there a week later, a direct result of the Wannsee Conference.
The house of Adolf Cohn, on 20th January 1942, he was at home only 25 minutes travelling time from the conference, as were many others in Berlin.
Less than six months after the Wannsee Conference, Reinhard Heydrich was buried on this spot in the Invaliden Cemetery in Berlin, assassinated by Czech Agents in Prague. His remains were removed after the war.