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The Wannsee Conference and Generalplan Ost

on Fri, 01/20/2012 - 18:06

Though the Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942 is often remembered as the seminal planning event of the Third Reich's genocidal strategic goals; in reality it represented a part of a much larger and horrific plan for mass murder. For on June 21, 1941, Heinrich Himmler had ordered planning to begin for a massive demographic reorganization of Eastern Europe, including the territories of the western Soviet Union. Professor Konrad Meyer authored this plan; labeled Generalplan Ost. Meyer’s genocidal plan went far beyond eliminating Europe’s Jews. Meyer’s plan, approved by Himmler and Heydrich, foresaw removing at least 31 million people from Poland, Belorussia, the Ukraine, and the Baltic States. This total included Leningrad’s entire population, the region surrounding Leningrad, 80-85% of Poland’s population, 75 percent of the Belorussian population, and 64% of the Ukrainian population.

Therefore, Generalplan Ost predated the latter and infamous Wansee Conference, outlining the Holocaust, by over six months, and the increasingly common use of the term “final solution” – by men such as Eichmann – by at least three months with “final solution” regularly showing up in correspondence from Eichmann and other government officials from October 1941 forward. Generalplan Ost established the horrifying scope to the planned annihilation of Eastern Europe’s people. The plan envisioned a massive outlay of capital to build infrastructure, industry, cities, and agriculture in the eastern territories. Himmler planned on spending the enormous sum of 67 billion Reichsmarks, or more money than German invested in rearmament from 1930-1939. According to Himmler, the labor necessary for this massive construction plan would be slave labor. Himmler argued slave labor would help lower costs by as much as 40 percent. Himmler’s slaves would be organized into work camps, worked to the death, and comprising hundreds of thousands of people selected from the occupied lands based upon their work capabilities.

The massive level of starvation sure to occur in Eastern Europe because of the occupation policies designed by Backe, Himmler, Meyer, Heydrich, and Hitler received support from the Wehrmacht’s highest levels. On May 2, 1941, General Thomas, OKW’s top economic expert, met with representative of the Reich’s Ministerial agencies to prepare plans for occupying the Soviet Union. These plans openly accepted the starvation of 20 -30 million Soviet citizens to feed the German army from Russian sources, and placed the highest priority on securing Soviet grain sources.

Thus, by the time the Wansee Conference, held at a villa (pictured here) where top officials from the Third Reich met early in 1942 to refine the Jewish deportation program, mass murder and genocide had been a fact of life and death under Nazi rule for quite some time.

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