20 January – Today in German History

1942

  • SS officials held the Wannsee conference, during which they arrived at their final solution of Europe’s Jews. In July 1941, Hermann Goering, writing under instructions from Hitler, had ordered Reinhard Heydrich, SS General, and Heinrich Himmler’s number-two man, to submit ‘as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative, material, and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question.’ Heydrich met with Adolf Eichmann, chief of the Central Office of Jewish Emigration, and 15 other officials from various Nazi ministries and organizations at Wannsee, a suburb of Berlin. The agenda was simple and focused: to devise a plan that would render a final solution to the Jewish question in Europe. Various gruesome proposals were discussed, including mass sterilization and deportation to the island of Madagascar. Heydrich proposed simply transporting Jews from every corner of Europe to concentration camps in Poland and working them to death. Objections to this plan included the belief that this was simply too time-consuming. What about the strong ones who took longer to die? What about the millions of Jews who were already in Poland? Although the word extermination was never uttered during the meeting, the implication was clear: anyone who survived the egregious conditions of a work camp would be treated accordingly.

1944

  • The British RAF dropped 2,300 tons of bombs on Berlin.
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