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Sunday, 20 January, 2002, 13:48 GMT
Sixty years since Holocaust conference
Nazi concentration camp
Wannsee worked out implementation of the "final solution"
By the BBC's Rob Broomby

Exactly 60 years ago - on Sunday, 20 January 1942 - 15 high-ranking Germany civil servants and SS officers met in a mansion on the edge of Berlin's Wannsee to lay the plans for the deportation and eventual extermination of the European Jews.

The whole German society... is involved in the process of killing of the Jews

Dr Norbert Kampe
It was a major turning point in what later became known as the Holocaust, because - as well as Hitler's SS - numerous state institutions and professional groups were drawn into planning the genocide.

Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has described the event as the "darkest part" of German history.

The decision to murder Europe's Jews had already been taken.

But the Wannsee conference laid out how what they called the "final solution" was to be implemented.

The Conference - chaired by the Head of the Reich's Security Main Office, Reinhard Heydrich - plotted the deportation and eventual extermination of an estimated 11 million European Jews, including those from countries still undefeated.

Today's European Germany has learned from these crimes

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
The event was a significant moment on the road to the Holocaust, says the Head of the Wannsee Conference Museum, Dr Norbert Kampe.

"It has also a symbolic meaning. It means that from day one, the whole German society and the civil apparatus of government is involved in the process of killing of the Jews."

Chancellor Schroeder said the conference protocol documented what he called a "breach in civilisation" and proved that the murder of Europe's Jews was not only the work of the Nazi leaders.

"Thousands of Germans," he said "were prepared to take part in the mass murder of the innocent."

"Today's European Germany has learned from these crimes, that they could never grow tired of repeating the phrase: 'Never Again'."

Holocaust Day
Do we need to remember the victims?
See also:

16 Mar 98 | Europe
Vatican apologises over holocaust
03 Jan 02 | Business
Dutch process Holocaust claims
11 Oct 01 | Europe
Swiss banks return Holocaust cash
27 Jan 01 | Europe
Europe remembers the Holocaust
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