Final Solution

The Final Solution (German: Die Endlösung) was Nazi Germany's plan and execution of the systematic genocide of European Jews during World War II, resulting in the most deadly phase of the Holocaust. According to historians at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “The Nazis frequently used euphemistic language to disguise the true nature of their crimes. They used the term “Final Solution” to refer to their plan to annihilate the Jewish people.”

Heinrich Himmler was the chief architect of the plan, and the German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler termed it "the final solution of the Jewish question" (German: die Endlösung der Judenfrage).

Massacres of about one 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 either by the time of or at the Wannsee Conference, which took place in Berlin, in the Wannsee Villa on January 20, 1942. It occurred very shortly after the Babi Yar massacre was carried out and the conference was chaired by Reinhard Heydrich. He was acting under the authority given to him by Reichsmarschall Göring in a letter dated July 31, 1941. Göring instructed Heydrich to devise "...the solution of the Jewish problem...", although during his Closing Address at the Nuremberg Trial, referring to this letter, Göring stated that the assertion that in this letter he "ordered Heydrich to kill the Jews, lacks every proof and is not true either." During the conference, there was a discussion by the group of Nazi officials as how best to handle the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question". A surviving copy of the minutes of this meeting was found by the Allies in 1947, too late to serve as evidence during the first Nuremberg Trials.

By the summer of 1942, Operation Reinhard began the systematic extermination of the Jews, although hundreds of thousands had already been killed by death squads and in mass pogroms. Heinrich Himmler's speech at the Posen Conference of October 6, 1943, for the first time, clearly elucidated to all assembled leaders of the Reich that the "Final Solution" meant that "all Jews would be killed".

Read more about Final Solution:  Historiographic Debate About The Decision, Prelude: Holocaust in Lithuania and GG Galicia, Heydrich's Letter

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