By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News -
Several international conferences and special events are taking place to mark the 80th anniversary of the infamous January 20, 1942 meeting in a Berlin villa that set the formal parameters for “The Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”
At the Wannsee Conference, 15 German government officials from the foreign, justice, interior and state ministries joined SS chief Reinhard Heydrich, head of the Gestapo’s Jewish Department Adolf Eichmann, and other leading Nazis to coordinate the destruction of European Jewry.
According to Eichmann’s data, 11 million Jews in 34 countries were to be put into ghettoes, deported and eventually murdered by poison gas, with the able-bodied first serving as slave laborers for the Nazi cause.
The protocols of the meeting, during which clearly understood terms for mass murder were sanitized, were to be destroyed. Nevertheless, one copy remained in the Nazi foreign ministry files and was used in the Nuremberg Trials after the war to help convict the Nazi prisoners of genocide.
A three-day symposium, with the participation of renowned historians, is currently being held in Berlin by the Alfred Landecker Foundation and the House of the Wannsee Conference. Prime emphasis is being placed on the lessons to be learned from the Nazi period and how to educate the current generation about the dangers of antisemitism, especially in the era of the internet.
One lesson taken from Wannsee is that genocide can be perpetrated even by those among the elites who believe in God.
Rev. Johnnie Moore, a former head of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, emphasized that the officials sitting around the table in Wannsee were educated men, not boors. “Eight of 15 had doctorates, most of them had studied law,” he said.
It is also important to “first remember that the vast majority of the Nazis were Christians, and this great horror took place in a Christian country in Christian Europe,” he added.
Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean and Global Social Action Director Rabbi Abraham Cooper warned of the dangers of social media, saying that it has provided “unprecedented access for today’s haters and tomorrow’s potential genociders.”
He also called on Germany specifically to stop its business-as-usual attitude towards Iran.
“Hold the Ayatollah Khamenei accountable when he endorses another ‘Final Solution,’ when he and his thugs threaten a nuclear Holocaust to wipe out another six million Jews, citizens of a democratic Jewish state,” he said.
There will be commemorative events in other countries as well. In Great Britain, the Association of Jewish Refugees, established in 1941, and the Sir Martin Gilbert Learning Centre, named for the British historian who wrote extensively on World War II and was Winston Churchill’s biographer, are holding free, online historical discussions on Thursday.