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The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration (original 2002; edition 2012)

by Mark Roseman

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173468,650 (3.61)8
Member:dianp
Title:The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration
Authors:Mark Roseman
Info:The Folio Society (2012) Edition: first, Hardcover with slipcase, xviii, 158 pages
Collections:Your library, Folio Society
Rating:***1/2
Tags:20th century, Acq12, Folio Society, History, Holocaust, Germany, Jewish, Nazis, Read 2012, WW2

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The Villa, the Lake, the Meeting by Mark Roseman (2002)

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Showing 4 of 4
'Engrossing and chilling, it helps our understanding of Wannsee's place on the twisted path to genocide’
SUNDAY TIMES

In 1947, American prosecutors were collecting information for the Nuremberg trials when they discovered a few pieces of paper, stamped Geheime Reichssache (Secret Reich matter). These were the minutes of a meeting that had taken place between top Nazi civil servants, SS officials and party representatives on 20 January 1942 in a grand Berlin villa on the shores of Lake Wannsee. Written in dry, bureaucratic language, the document lays out a plan for genocide: ‘In the course of the final solution … 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 have to be dealt with appropriately’. The document goes on to consider how to deal with half Jews, Jews married to Germans and war-decorated Jews, suggesting forced sterilisation or an ‘old-age ghetto’ in order to avoid public objection. It has been called ‘perhaps the most shameful document of modern history’.

In his in-depth analysis, acclaimed historian Mark Roseman reflects that the Wannsee Protocol is, 'a kind of keyhole through which we can glimpse the emerging Final Solution'. Yet, it was not here that the decision was taken – mass murders had already begun and the first gas chambers had been built. So what was the real purpose of this meeting, in which 15 well educated men dined together, smoked cigars and discussed genocide? Roseman traces Hitler's careful signalling of his wishes, through the escalation of violent anti-Semitism to the killing squads in the Soviet Union and construction of extermination camps. Those who attended the meeting later tried to deny having seen the minutes; but their plea of ignorance was exploded by the document’s naked statement of murder.

The Folio Society has produced the first illustrated edition of this chilling and important work, showing photographs of the original invitation, the villa and the men involved. An arresting photograph of the Villa Wannsee's elegant but empty corridor, from the collection ‘Melancholy Grandeur’ by photographer Werner Zellien, is reproduced on the front board.
  Balnaves | Sep 11, 2013 |
Very readable, but very short ( )
  BrianHostad | Sep 13, 2012 |
A short, focussed book on the Wannsee Conference; the event that codified the Holocaust. Roseman examines the Holocaust through the burning lens of this pivotal event, and uses his analysis of Nazi politics to explore the reasons why the most cultured nation in Europe turned for ten or so years into the most barbarous.

His conclusions are that there was no one reason for the Holocaust; but the picture he paints brings it home. The Holocaust was down to a mixture of historical prejudice, the culmination of 100 years of nation-building, the parallel 100 years of debate over Pan-Germanism, the theory of German defeat through betrayal in World War I, Hitler's own status as Führer and what that meant to the perception of his position and (seeming) infallibility, plus his own policy of keeping in power through encouraging savage social Darwinism amongst his subordinates, and the Nazis' own acceptance of violence and murder as a legitmate political tool.

The book is meticulously researched; given that the participants in the Final Solution did their best to hide the evidence of what they did, we have to thank the traditional German efficiency and bureaucracy for preserving so many of the primary sources that prove the fact of the Holocaust. Why anyone can persist in denying this event is beyond me, save that they either do not want to believe it, or they would happily participate in it themselves. ( )
  RobertDay | Nov 19, 2009 |
Showing 4 of 4
The historical roots of policies that led to the deaths of millions are traced in this thoughtful examination of the Nazis' businesslike planning of genocide at the notorious 1942 conference.

A chilling keyhole glimpse of Nazi evil’s bureaucratic banality.

added by steevohenderson | editKirkus Reviews (Mar 1, 2002)
 
Murder is not mentioned; softer words substitute for harsh ones. But the true intentions of those present poke out from underneath this verbal blanket. The 'Final Solution' now meant the death of all European Jews. The confusion in Nazi racist thinking is there on the face of the document: is a person with a non-Jewish parent a Jew?; with one Jewish grandparent?
Roseman described the participants as 'serious, intelligent men', but the impression conveyed by the protocol is of a vicious and profound stupidity. These men were stupid to be taken in by racism's pseudo-science. They were stupid to think that they could conceal what they were doing by mere euphemism. They were morally stupid, too. Quite without the means to encompass the wickedness of their plans, smoking cigars and drinking cognac after the meeting. The stupidity was allied with an odious arrogance, always a disastrous combination and, on this occasion, it was a murderous one.

 
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2003 edition: The villa, the lake, the meeting : Wannsee and the Final Solution / Mark Roseman; originally published in 2002 in London by Allen Lane (title may have been: The Wannsee Conference and the final solution : a reconsideration, title used for New York edition also published in 2002)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0141003952, Paperback)

At a villa on the shore of the Wannsee, a lake in suburban Berlin, on 20th January 1942 one of the most terrible meetings in human history convened. Chaired by Reinhard Heydrich and organized and minuted by Adolf Eichmann, it brought together representatives of all the principal Nazi agencies in eastern Europe. Pooling the expertise of those present, Heydrich created the plan that would let Europe 'be combed through from west to east' for Jews and which would put the Final Solution on a rational and industrial footing.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:49:49 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"In early 1947, American officials in Germany stumbled across a document. Headed "Secret Reich matter, " it summarized the results of a meeting of top Nazi officials that took place on January 20, 1942, in a grand villa on the shore of Berlin's Lake Wannsee." "On one level, this document offered clarity: known as the Wannsee Protocol (and included here in full), it tallied up the Jews in Europe, carefully classified half and quarter Jews, and above all laid the groundwork for a "final solution to the Jewish Question." Yet the Protocol, among the most shameful documents in history, remains deeply puzzling. How can we understand this businesslike discussion of genocide? And why was the meeting necessary? Hundreds of thousands of Jews had already been shot by squads in Russia or gassed in the camp at Chelmno. Test murders had been carried out in Auschwitz. Indeed, the most remarkable thing about the Wannsee Conference is that we do not know why it took place."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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