Originally posted by filosophia
Secondly, and this really surprised me, was how Hitler was barely even mentioned in the movie, and anything related to "death" or "execution" of
Jews was entirely attributed to his underlings. Wasn't Hitler supposedly the absolute dictator? And yet the movie says
“Orders from atop and initiation(my emphasis added) from below set in motion a policy of destruction that would touch almost every European
How could there be "initiation from below" if Hitler was the dictator?
One example of how the Nazi Heirarchy could be seen,from a historical perspective at least,to have had no discernible involvement in the "Jewish
Question" can be seen by looking at the "Wannsee Conference"
The Wannsee Conference was held on 20 January 1942, in a villa owned by the SS-Nordhav Foundation in the attractive Berlin lakeside suburb of Wannsee.
It was presided over by SS-Lieutenant General Reinhard Heydrich, Chief of the Security Police and Security Service. Heydrich summoned fourteen men
representing the governmental and military branches most involved in implementing the practical aspects of the Final Solution. Reichsmarschall Hermann
Göring had charged him with arranging all practical matters concerning the implementation of the Final Solution of the Jewish question. One of
Heydrich's foremost intentions was to make sure that all these men understood perfectly what duties and responsibilities their office was expected to
In the years leading up to World War II, the phrase "Final Solution of the Jewish Problem" had taken on a series of increasingly ominous meanings in
the Nazi vocabulary. The various implications had included voluntary resettlement, confinement to ghettos in cities located along rail lines, forced
removal to concentration camps, and finally, extermination. Heydrich wanted to be certain there was no confusion among the group that, now, the term
referred specifically to the murder of all European Jews.
Heydrich's assistant, SS Lt-Colonel Adolf Eichmann told the court in testimony at his trial in 1961, that the meeting was relatively brief, lasting
only an hour to an hour and a half, and that the atmosphere of the meeting was one of cooperation and agreement. These high-ranking members of the
Nazi government met at mid-day over a buffet luncheon to discuss the annihilation of an entire people.
Those attending were:
Gauleiter Dr. Alfred Meyer and Reichamtsleiter (Chief Officer) Dr. Georg Leibrandt - Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories
State Secretary Dr. Wilhelm Stuckart - Reich Ministry of the Interior
State Secretary Dr. Erich Neumann - Office of the Plenipotentiary of the Four Year Plan
State Secretary Dr. Roland Freisler - Reich Justice Ministry
State Secretary Dr. Josef Bühler - Office of Governor General [Poland] representing Hans Frank
Under State Secretary Martin Luther - Foreign Office
SS Senior-Colonel Gerhard Klopfer - Party Chancellery representing Martin Bormann
Ministerial Director Friedrich Kritzinger - Reich Chancellery
SS Major-General Otto Hofmann - Race and Resettlement Main Office
SS Major-General Heinrich Müller - Reich Security Main Office
SS Lt-Colonel Adolf Eichmann - Reich Security Main Office
SS Senior-Colonel Dr. Eberhard Schöngarth - Commander of the Security Police and the SD in the General Government [Poland]
SS Major Dr. Rudolf Lange - Commander of Security Police and Security Service for General Commissariat Latvia, as Deputy of Commanding Officer of
Security Police and Security Service for Reich Commissariat Ostland [Baltic States and White Russia] Security Police and Security Service.
Heydrich began the meeting by establishing the primacy of his authority. This authority transcended geographical boundaries. He briefly described the
recent history of Nazi action against the Jews. The goals had been to remove Jews from different sectors of German society and then from German soil.
The Reich Central Office for Jewish Emigration had been established to facilitate and encourage Jewish emigration and through its offices, those who
could afford it were allowed to leave the country. This process proved to be too slow and too limited in scope. At the time of this meeting,
Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler had already stopped emigration.
The Führer had approved a new solution: the evacuation of the Jews to the East. The Protocol states, "These actions are nevertheless to be seen only
as temporary relief but they are providing the practical experience that is of great significance for the coming final solution of the Jewish
Heydrich continues by enumerating the number of Jews in each country and observes, "Approximately eleven million Jews will be involved…" He
further states , "In large, single-sex labour columns, 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 doubtless consist of the most resistant elements. They will have to be
dealt with appropriately because otherwise, by natural selection, they would form the germ cell of a new Jewish revival." In other words, none would
be allowed to survive.
Eichmann again during his tria tells that the first part of the meeting was more or less a monologue by Heydrich and the last part, a summary of
several positions put forward by individuals at the table.
SS-Gruppenführer Hofmann was in favor of sterilization instead of "evacuation" for half Jews (Mischlinge). Heydrich replied that a decision should
be made on a case-by-case basis. He also spoke of an old people's ghetto, possibly Theresienstadt, to ward off anticipated interventions over
Stuckart of the Ministry of the Interior proposed compulsory divorce for Germans married to Jews.
Erich Neumann from the Four Year Plan organization said that Jews should not be removed from essential enterprises unless replacement labour could be
provided. Heydrich agreed, pointing out that this was already the policy.
Josef Bühler from the General Gouvernment asked that the Final Solution begin in Poland, since there were no major transport or manpower problems.
Bühler said the authorities from the General Government accepted Heydrich's primacy in all matters pertaining to the Jewish question and would
support his work. He had only one request -- "that the Jewish question be solved as quickly as possible." A number of those gathered at the
conference table had already been actively engaged in the extermination of Jews and Bolsheviks since the summer of 1941. Lange and Schöngarth
commanded Einsatzgruppen activities in the Riga District and in Polish Galicia. Heydrich and Müller directed the killing operations of the
Einsatzgruppen and Müller forwarded the Einsatz "Incident Reports" [Ereignismeldungen] to the Foreign Office. Eichmann routinely received
"Incident Reports" from the Einsatz Units describing the daily tallies of their victims, and had himself witnessed a mass shooting near Minsk.
By the time of the Wannsee Conference, the Einsatzgruppen operating behind the army front lines, had murdered more than half a million people. Mass
shootings were not suitable for European Jewry outside the war zone and were also demoralizing for the Nazi troops. This had prompted a search for a
more impersonal way of killing large numbers of people. By January 1942, the death camps in Belzec and Chelmno, with their gassing facilities, were
already under construction.
The Wannsee Conference was not called to decide the fate of European Jews but to clarify all points regarding their demise. In Eichmann's testimony
after the war, he said that Heydrich also intended to implicate, that is, share the guilt with the ministries represented at the table. (The war in
Russia had begun to turn against the Germans and for the first time, there was a question about whether or not Germany would win.)
A few days after the conference, each of the attendees received his own numbered copy of the Protocol prepared by Eichmann from shorthand notes.
According to Eichmann, Heydrich proofread and polished the summary before he gave it his approval.
The interesting aspect of this conference is that nowhere are the names of Hitler,Goering or Himmler noted on the minutes of the meeting,although it
is generally excepted that Hitler did indeed control all aspects of the "Jewish Question" (as attested to by Adof Eichmann during his trial by the
To all intents and purposes,however,it could be logical to assume that the Nazi hierarchy had no involvement due to the absence of confirmation on