The Wannsee Conference was a high-level meeting of Nazi SS and government officials that took place in this mansion near Berlin on Jan. 20, 1942. It’s chilling to realize the meeting’s participants agreed to the “Final Solution” in a house that had once belonged to a Jewish family.

An update from Paul Lake of Dallas, who works as a volunteer at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education & Tolerance:


The Mourner’s Kaddish, an ancient Hebrew “Prayer for the Dead,” is often read at Holocaust sites to remember the people of all faiths and backgrounds who were brutalized by the Nazis. Thus, it was an honor for my wife, Catherine, and I to share its powerful words at the end of our group’s visit to Ravensbrück, a former concentration camp for women that was constructed in a picturesque area north of Berlin.

While in the region we also visited the House of the Wannsee Conference, which I had read so much about and seen in such films as “Conspiracy.”

The beauty of the lakeside villa is a jolting contrast to what took place here, primarily in the dining room, on Jan. 20, 1942. On that day, high-ranking Nazis and bureaucrats met to rubber-stamp “The Final Solution to the Jewish Question” — a systematic plan of annihilation that sealed the fate of millions of Jews and others deemed by Nazi Germany to be biological or political threats.

What continues to trouble me about the meeting is that half of its participants were doctors of something or other — intelligent men who were all-too-eager to agree to the creation of death camps, gas chambers, crematoria and other lethal “special actions.”

While I easily could have spent another half-day reviewing the related documents and propaganda materials on display, I did leave with one astounding statistic: Some 80 percent of all those condemned to die during the infamous meeting here would be dead by the year’s end.