House of The Wannsee Conference

Holocaust Memorials Attractions

The House of Wannsee Conference is located on the Wannsee River, on the outskirts of West Berlin. This historical landmark was built in 1915 for Ernst Marlier, a prominent businessman. He was arrested in 1940 for embezzlement and sold his property. During the Nazi era, the Wannsee House came to be used by the SS Security Service, the Nazi intelligence service. It was at the villa that SS officers planned the future of the Third Reich. After the war, the house was used as a residence, until the August Bebel Institute acquired the building in 1947. It was then used as a school and hostel for the Berlin Social Democratic Party, until 1988 when it became the memorial site it is today.

The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior government officials of Nazi Germany and Schutzstaffel (SS) leaders, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference, called by the director of the Reich Security Main Office SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, was to ensure the co-operation of administrative leaders of various government departments in the implementation of the Final Solution to the Jewish question, whereby most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe would be deported to occupied Poland and murdered. Conference participants included representatives from several government ministries, including state secretaries from the Foreign Office, the justice, interior, and state ministries, and representatives from the SS. In the course of the meeting, Heydrich outlined how European Jews would be rounded up and sent to extermination camps in the General Government (the occupied part of Poland), where they would be killed.

Auschwitz survivor, Joseph Wulf, is really to thank for the inauguration of the Wannsee House as a memorial site. Mr. Wulf published the first comprehensive collection of documents from the Nazi regime, and suggested creating a documenter center in the Marlier villa. Although Wulf had wide public support, the Berlin Senate was slow to accept his proposal. Sadly, Joseph Wulf did not see his vision realized, as the man committed suicide in 1974.