On January 20, 1942, Nazi leaders held a conference in Wannsee, Germany, a suburb of Berlin. The Wannsee Conference clarified the process and implementation of the “Final Solution to the Jewish Question”—the genocide of Europe’s Jewish population.Genocide was already under way. In Nazi-controlled nations from Netherlands to Norway, Ukraine to France, Jews were restricted from holding jobs, owning businesses, marrying non-Jews, and attending school. Thousands of Jews had been killed, forced from their homes, or deported to concentration camps in Mauthausen, Austria, and Auschwitz and Majdanek, Poland. The nation of Estonia, for example, was already “Judenfrei,” or free of Jews, by the time the Wannsee Conference began.The “Final Solution” itself—the Holocaust—had been outlined six months earlier by Heinrich Himmler, the leader of the Nazi paramilitary organization known as the SS. In Himmler’s Final Solution, the Jewish population of Europe and what was then the Soviet Union (including Russia and Central Asia) would be deported to work camps in the remote Russian region of Siberia. The large-scale deportation would take place after the war, which the Nazis thought would end with their conquest of Europe and the Soviet Union within a year.In late 1941, however, the Nazi plan for the Final Solution had to be radically altered. First, the Soviet Army began a ferocious resistance to the Nazi invasion. Second, the United States entered the war when Germany’s Axis partner, the Empire of Japan, attacked the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. These powerful enemies made a quick Nazi victory impossible. Local Nazi leaders also came under pressure from citizens displaced by Allied bombing—deporting Jews would create space for these refugees.At the Wannsee Conference, SS bureaucrats altered the Final Solution. Jews in Nazi-occupied regions would be immediately deported to concentration camps in Poland. At the conference, SS leader Adolf Eichmann prepared a preliminary list of the Jewish populations in Europe—he calculated the murder of 11 million people. By the time World War II ended three years later, six million Jews had been killed.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry alter Verb
alliance of countries that opposed the Allies during World War II. The Axis was led by Germany, Italy, and Japan.
process with many procedures and rules.
concentration camp Noun
enclosed, guarded area where political prisoners are kept. Concentration camps are most associated with Nazi work and extermination camps during World War II.
meeting for discussion.
to send away from a country or region.
to remove or force to evacuate.
fierce or savage.
group of ships, usually organized for military purposes.
intentional mass murder of a specific religious, cultural, or ethnic group.
(1933-1945) attempted genocide of the Jews of Europe, led by Nazi Germany. Also called the Shoah and the Final Solution.
to carry out plans.
an attack or move to take possession.
having to do with the religion or culture of people tracing their ancestry to the ancient Middle East and the spiritual leaders Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
to kill a person.
political unit made of people who share a common territory.
Encyclopedic Entry: nation Nazi noun, adjective
(1919-1945) (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) having to do with the National Socialist German Workers' Party.
civilian organization that operates with a military-like structure or supports a military organization.
total number of people or organisms in a particular area.
beginning or leading up to.
completely or extremely.
person who flees their home, usually due to natural disaster or political upheaval.
any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.
Encyclopedic Entry: region resistance Noun
the act of opposing something.
region of land stretching across Russia from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.
Soviet Union Noun
(1922-1991) large northern Eurasian nation that had a communist government. Also called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or the USSR.
geographic area, mostly residential, just outside the borders of an urban area.
success or triumph.
World War II Noun
(1939-1945) armed conflict between the Allies (represented by the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union) and the Axis (represented by Germany, Italy, and Japan.)