The Wannsee Conference Protocol:
Anatomy of a Fabrication
By Johannes Peter Ney
"WANNSEE CONFERENCE: conference of chief representatives of the highest Reich and Party bodies, held on January 1, 1940 in Berlin at 'Am Großen Wannsee 56/58' under the chairmanship of R. Heydrich. On the order of A. Hitler, the participants decided on measures for the annihilation of the Jews in those parts of Europe under German control ('Final Solution of the Jewish Question'): the establishment of extermination camps (concentration camps) in Eastern Europe, where Jews were to be killed." (1)
1. On Document Criticism
Documents are objects containing encoded information about a
process or condition. For example, one differentiates between
photographic and written documents as well as, recently, between all
kinds of data storage (sound carriers, electronic data carriers, and
many more). The present discussion will focus on the criticism of
written documents, which represent the main of the documents relating
to the Holocaust.
If a document is to prove anything, it is first necessary to establish that the document is genuine and the information it contains is factually correct. The authenticity of a document requires, for one thing, that the materials and techniques of information encoding and storage involved already existed at the alleged time of document creation. Today, technical, chemical and physical methods frequently permit the verification of whether the paper, the ink, the writing tools etc. that make up the document or went into its production even existed at the alleged time of creation. If this is not the case, the document has been proven to be fake. For example, a document allegedly dating from the 1800s but typed on a typewriter from our own century would definitely be a fake. Unfortunately this kind of analysis is not generally possible where the items to be analyzed are Holocaust documents, since in those few cases where original documents are known to exist, these originals are jealously guarded in archives and any attempt at scientific and technical analysis is nipped in the bud.
Another element in the verification of authenticity is the determination of whether the form of the document at issue corresponds with that of similar documents of the same presumptive origin. For handwritten documents this means a similarity of handwriting and style of expression to other documents by the same author, while for official documents it requires the congruence of official markings identifying the issuing body, such as letterheads, rubber stamps, signatures and initials, reference numbers, titles and official names, notices of receipt, distributors, correctness of the administrative channels and authority etc., as well as, again, similarity to the regional and bureaucratic style of expression. The greater the discrepancies, the more likely it is that the document is a fabrication.
And finally, it must also be determined whether the contents of the document are factually correct. One aspect of this is that the conditions and events described in the document must agree with the information we already have from other reliable sources. But the fundamental question is whether what is described in the document is physically possible, and consistent with what was technically feasible at the time and whether the contents are internally logical and consistent. If this is not the case, the document may still be genuine, but its contents are of no probative value, except perhaps where the incompetence of its author is concerned.
Concerning document criticism in the context of the Holocaust, we encounter the remarkable phenomenon that any such practice is dispensed with almost entirely by the mainstream historians around the world. Even a call for impartial document criticism is considered reprehensible, since this would admit the possibility that such a document might be false, in other words, that certain events which are backed up by such documents may not have taken place at all, or not in the manner described to date. But nothing is considered more reprehensible today than to question the solidly established historical view of the Holocaust. However, where doubts about scientific results are deemed censurable, where the questioning of one's own view of history or perhaps even of the world is forbidden, where the results of an investigation must be predetermined from the start, i.e. where research may produce only the 'desired' results--where such conditions prevail, the allowed or allowable lines of inquiry have long since forsaken any foundation in science and have instead embraced religious dogma. Doubt and criticism are two of the most important pillars of science.
The present volume contains many instances of criticism of a wide range of documents, frequently proving them to be fabrications. No one will deny that particularly after the end of World War Two a great many forgeries were produced in order to incriminate Germany.(2 ) That opportunities for such forgeries were practically limitless is a fact also undisputed in view of all the captured archives, typewriters, rubber stamps, stationery, state printing presses etc. etc. And considering these circumstances, no one can rule out beforehand that the subject of the Holocaust may also have been the object of falsifications. Unconditionally honest document criticism is thus vitally important here. In the following, the Wannsee Conference Protocol --the central piece of incriminating evidence pertaining to the Holocaust--is subjected to an in-depth critical analysis such as all historians worldwide ought to have done for decades but failed to do. At the same time, this analysis may serve as challenge to all conscientious historians to finally subject all Holocaust documents --be they incriminating or exonerating-- to professionally correct and unbiased document criticism.
2. The Material About the Wannsee Conference
2.1 Primary Sources - the Material to be Analyzed
In any analysis of the Wannsee Conference Protocol, the other documents directly related to this Protocol must of course be considered as well. These documents are:
1) Göring's letter of July ?, 1941 to Heydrich, instructing Heydrich to draw up an outline for a total solution of the Jewish question in German-occupied Europe.
2) Heydrich's first letter of invitation to the Wannsee Conference, dated November 29, 1941.
3) Heydrich's second invitation to the Wannsee Conference, dated January 8, 1942.
4) The Wannsee Conference Protocol itself, undated.
5) The letter accompanying the Wannsee Conference Protocol, dated January 26, 1942.
2.1.1 Proof of Origin
According to his own statements,(3 ) Robert M. W. Kempner, the prosecutor in the Wilhelmstraßen Trial of Ernst Weizsäcker, had been expecting a shipment of documents from Berlin in early March 1947. Among these papers, he and his colleagues discovered a transcript of the Wannsee Conference. The author of the protocol, it was claimed, was Eichmann. In 1983 the WDR (West German Radio) broadcast Kempner's original taped statement, according to which he had discovered the protocol in autumn of 1947.(4) Beyond Kempner's verbal statements quoted here, no other documentation verifying the place and circumstances of the discovery were found. Kempner: "Of course no one doubted the authenticity [of the protocol]." The Court, he said, introduced the protocol as Number 2568. In the court records it appears as G-2568.
2.1.2 Different Versions
The Wannsee Conference Protocol which Kempner submitted to the Court always writes 'SS' in this way, i.e. in Latin letters, not as the runic '[..]' which was customary in the Third Reich. It would appear to be the oldest copy in circulation.(5)
Hans Wahls has mentioned numerous other versions which are also in circulation. The Political Archives at the Foreign Office in Bonn maintains that the version held there is the definitive one. This version uses the runic '[..]'. When and how this version came to be in the archives of today's Foreign Office remains unknown. Since the other versions can also not be traced back to their origins, we will dispense with any further details here. The present compilation is thus based only on the copy held by the Foreign Office.(6)
Where the letter accompanying the protocol is concerned, two versions have surfaced to date, one using 'SS', the other with the runic '[..]' as well as other differences.
2.2 Secondary Sources - Literature About the Wannsee Conference Protocol
The literature pertaining to the Wannsee Conference Protocol fills many volumes. The following summarizes the most important analyses and critiques, all of which prove conclusively that all the various versions of the protocol as well as all the versions of the letters accompanying the protocol are fabrications. As yet, no proof of the authenticity of the protocol, nor any attempt at refuting the aforementioned analyses and critiques, has been advanced by any source.
This discussion draws on:
Hans Wahls, Zur Authentizität des 'Wannsee-Protokolls';(7)
Udo Walendy, "Die Wannsee-Konferenz vom 20.1.1942";(8)
Ingrid Weckert, "Anmerkungen zum Wannseeprotokoll";(9)
Johannes Peter Ney, "Das Wannsee-Protokoll";(10)
Herbert Tiedemann, "Offener Brief an Rita Süßmuth".(11)
Other important studies shall just be mentioned briefly.(12)
3. Document Criticism
3.1 Analysis of the Prefatory Correspondence
3.1.1 Göring's Letter (13)
Form: We only have a copy of this document, as no original has ever been found. This copy is missing the letterhead, the typed-in sender's address is incorrect, and the date is incomplete, missing the day.(14) The letter has no reference number, no distributor is given, and there is no line with an identifying 're.:' (cf. Ney(10)).
Linguistic content: The repetition in "all necessary preparations as regards organizational, factual, and material matters" and "general plan showing the organizational, factual, and material measures" is not Göring's style, and is beneath his linguistic niveau.(15) The same goes for the expression "möglichst günstigsten Lösung" [grammatically incorrect, intended to mean "best possible way"].(16)
3.1.2 The First Invitation (17)
Form: The classification notice "top secret" is missing (cf. Ney10 and Tiedemann11). It is also strange that the letter took 24 days, from November 29, 1941 to December 23, 1941, for a postal route within Berlin (Ney(10)).
Linguistic content: "Fotokopie" was spelled with a 'ph' in those days; the spelling that is used is strictly modern German. "Auffassung an den [...] Arbeiten" (@"opinion on the [...] tasks") is not proper German; it ought to read "Auffassung über die [...] Arbeiten". "Persönlich" ["personal"] was scorned as classification; the entire style of the letter is un-German (Ney, ibid.).
3.1.3 The Second Invitation (18 )
Form: This document exists only in copy form, no original has ever
been found. The letter bears the issuing office's running number
"3076/41", while the letter accompanying the protocol, dated later,
bears an earlier number, "1456/41" (Tiedemann(11)). The letterhead is
different from that of the first invitation (Tiedemann, ibid.). The
letter is marked only as "secret" (Ney(10)).
Linguistic content: On one occasion the letter "ß" is used correctly ("anschließenden"), but then "ss" is used incorrectly ("Grossen"). (Ney, ibid.)
Stylistic howlers: "Questions pertaining to the Jewish question"; "Because the questions admit no delay, I therefore invite you...." (Ney, ibid.)
3.2 Analysis of the Wannsee Conference Protocol
While it is claimed that the copy of the Wannsee minutes held by
the Foreign Office is the original, this cannot in fact be the case,
since it is identified as the 16th copy of a total of 30. Regardless
whether it is genuine or fake, however, its errors and shortcomings
as to form render it invalid under German law, and thus devoid of
The paper lacks a letterhead; the issuing office is not specified, and the date, distributor, reference number, place of issue, signature, and identification initials are missing (Wahls(7) and Walendy(8)). The stamp with the date of receipt by the Foreign Office, which is (today!) named as the receiver, is missing (Tiedemann(11)). The paper lacks all the necessary properties of a protocol, i.e. the minutes of a meeting: the opening and closing times of the conference, identification of the persons invited but not attending (Tiedemann, ibid.), the names of each of the respective speakers, and the countersignature of the chairman of the meeting (Tiedemann, ibid., and Ney(10)). The paper does, however, bear the reference number of the receiving(!) office, namely the Foreign Office - typed on the same typewriter as the body of the text (Tiedemann(11)). The most important participant, Reinhard Heydrich, is missing from the list of participants (Wahls(7) and Walendy(8)).
3.2.2 Linguistic Content
The Wannsee Conference Protocol is a treasure-trove of stylistic howlers which indicate that the authors of this paper were strongly influenced by the Anglo-Saxon i.e. British English language. In the following we will identify only the most glaring of these blunders; many of them have been pointed out by all the authors consulted, so that a specific reference frequently does not apply.
The expressions "im Hinblick" ("considering",* 8 times), "im Zuge" ("in the course of", 5 times), "Lösung" ("solution", 23 times), "Fragen" ("questions", 17 times), "Problem" (6 times), "Bereinigen" ("to clarify", 4 times), frequently even more than once in the same sentence, bear witness to such a poor German vocabulary that one may assume the author to have been a foreigner.
Further, the expressions "Lösung der Frage" ("solution of the problem"), "der Lösung zugeführt" ("brought near to a solution"), "Lösungsarbeiten" ("tasks involved" [in a solution; -trans.]), "Regelung der Frage" ("to settle the question"), "Regelung des Problems" ("to settle the problem"), "restlose Bereinigung des Problems" ("absolutely final clarification of the question" [i.e. the "problem"; - trans.]), "Mischlingsproblem endgültig bereinigen" ("securing a final solution of the problem presented by the persons of mixed blood"), "praktische Durchführung" ("practical execution"; is there such a thing as a theoretical execution?), and especially the frequent repetition of these expressions, are not at all the German style (Walendy(8)).
"der allfällig endlich verbliebene Restbestand [...]" ("the possible final remnant")
may perhaps appear in a prose text, but certainly not in the minutes of a conference. The text is interspersed with empty phrases such as;
"Im Hinblick auf die Parallelisierung der Linienführung" ("in order to bring general activities into line") (Tiedemann(11))
and nonsensical claims such as;
"Die evakuierten Juden werden Zug um Zug in [...] Durchgangsghettos gebracht [...]" ("The evacuated Jews will first be sent, group by group, into [...] transit-ghettos [...]").
Since the evacuation of the Jews was not then ongoing, but rather was planned for the future, this would have to have read:
"Die zu evakuierenden Juden [...]" ("The Jews to be evacuated [...]").
"Bezüglich der Behandlung der Endlösung" ("Regarding the handling of the final solution")
How does one handle a solution? (Walendy(8))
"Wurden die jüdischen Finanzinstitutionen des Auslands [...] verhalten [...]"
Does the author mean "angehalten"?*
"Italien einschließlich Sardinien" ("Italy incl. Sardinia")
Why the need to specify? In Europe people knew very well what all was part of Italy.
"Die berufsständische Aufgliederung der [...] Juden: [...] städtische Arbeiter 14,8%" ("The breakdown of Jews [...] according to trades [...]: [...] communal workers 14.8%" [i.e. "municipal" workers; -trans.]
Were all of these people common laborers? (Ney(10)) "Salaried employees" is probably what the author meant here. "[...] als Staatsarbeiter angestellt" (the Nuremberg Translation renders this as "employed by the state", which glosses over the difference between "Arbeiter", i.e. blue-collar workers, and "angestellt", i.e. the condition of employment enjoyed by salaried and public employees; -trans.): so what were they, laborers or government employees? Did the author mean civil servants? (Ney, ibid.)
"In den privaten Berufen - Heilkunde, Presse, Theater, usw." ("in private occupations such as medical profession, newspapers, theater, etc.").
In German these are called "freie Berufe", not "private Berufe". Such persons are known as doctors, journalists, and artists. "usw." is never preceded by a comma in German, whereas the English "etc." almost always is.
"Die sich im Altreich befindlichen [...]"
Well, German is a difficult language. (Ney, ibid.)
3.2.3 Contradictory Content
"[...] werden die [...] Juden straßenbauend in diese Gebiete geführt": literally, "the Jews will be taken to these districts, constructing roads as they go".
Migratory road crews?! Not a single road was constructed in this fashion! (Wahls(7) and Walendy(8))*
"Im Zuge dieser Endlösung [...] kommen rund 11 Millionen Juden in Betracht." ("Approx. 11,000,000 Jews will be involved in this final solution [...]."
Even the orthodox prevailing opinion holds that there were never more than 7 million Jews in Hitler's sphere of influence. In actual fact there were only about 2.5 million. (Wahls(7) and Walendy(8))(19)
"[...] teilte [Heydrich] eingangs seine Bestellung zum Beauftragten für die Vorbereitung der Endlösung [...] durch den Reichsmarschall mit" ("Heydrich gave information that the Reich Marshal had appointed him delegate for the preparations for the final solution [...])
Göring did have the authority to appoint Heydrich to the position of his choice, but he would have done so via the proper channels. Heydrich's superior was Himmler, and it would have taken Himmler's orders to appoint ("ernennen", not "bestellen", which means "to summon") Heydrich to anything. (Ney(10))
"Mit der Endlösung im Generalgouvernement zu beginnen, weil hier das Transportproblem keine übergeordnete Rolle spielt [...] Juden müßten so schnell wie möglich aus dem Gebiet des Generalgouvernements entfernt werden" ("[...] the implementation of the final solution [...] could start in the Government General, because the transportation problem there was of no predominant importance. [...] The Jews had to be removed as quickly as possible from the territory of the Government General [...]"
"To be removed as quickly as possible" and "constructing roads as they go" is quite a contradiction. But none of those attending the conference spoke up. Clearly Germany could muster only mental defectives as her Under Secretaries of State! (Walendy(8))
"Von den in Frage kommenden 2
"[...] Dr. Bühler stellte weiterhin fest, daß die Lösung der Judenfrage im Generalgouvernement federführend beim Chef der Sicherheitspolizei und des SD liegt [...]" ("[...] Bühler further stated that the solution of the Jewish question in the Government General as far as issuing of orders was concerned was dependent upon the chief of the Security Police and the SD [...]".
On the date of the conference at Wannsee Bühler could not have known this, for according to the 'Protocol' Heydrich had only just "announced his appointment as delegate" and his overall authority for the preparations involved. Dr. Bühler certainly did not have the authority to simply declare his superior, Dr. Hans Frank, the Governor General of Poland, removed from office! (Walendy, ibid.)
"Der Beginn der einzelnen Evakuierungsaktionen wird weitgehend von der militärischen Entwicklung abhängig sein" ("The carrying out of each single evacuation project of a larger extent will start at a time to be determined chiefly by the military development").
This statement is false, for the eastward evacuation transports of Jews from the Reich territory, including the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, had already been ongoing since October 1941 - as Heydrich's first invitation to the Wannsee conference had explicitly stated, by the way. (Walendy, ibid.)
"Die berufsständische Aufgliederung der im europäischen Gebiet der UdSSR ansässigen Juden war etwa folgende [...]" ("The breakdown of Jews residing in the European part of the USSR, according to trades, was approximately as follows [...]"
This clearly gives away the forger, at work years after the conference; at the time of the Wannsee Conference one would not have written "was", but "is". (Tiedemann(11))
3.2.4 Internal Consistency
Why were only the "seconds-in-command" invited to this conference if it was really so crucial, and why did not even these seconds-in-command bother to attend? Why, for example, would Dr. Hans Frank send, as his stand-in, Dr. Bühler, who lacked the authority to make any decisions since he was obliged to report anything of significance to his superior? (Tiedemann, ibid.)
Is it conceivable that subordinates decided on the genocide? (Tiedemann, ibid.)
Why was no one invited from offices whose cooperation would have been indispensable to the implementation of such an enormous murder scheme, such as the top management of the German Railway? (Tiedemann, ibid.)
3.3 The Accompanying Letter
Like the Wannsee Conference Protocol, the accompanying letter reveals at first glance that it cannot be genuine: the letter is dated January 26, 1942, but the letterhead shows reference number 1456/41. Thus the letter was registered at the office of the Chief of the Security Police and the SD in 1941, before the protocol that it was to accompany (Weckert,(9) Ney,(10) Tiedemann(11)). There are 35 days between the date of the letter and the date of its arrival at the Foreign Office, given a delivery route within Berlin and a subject matter Heydrich has called urgent! (Weckert,(9) Ney,(10) Tiedemann(11)) Luther, however, added a handwritten comment (to be examined later) to this letter even before it was received by the correspondence department of the Foreign Office; this handwritten comment is dated with the month "II", i.e. February (the day is illegible). (Weckert,(9) Ney(10)) Like the conference protocol itself, the letter bears a rubber stamp recording its receipt at the Foreign Office, with the reference number D.III29g.Rs, which, however the Foreign Office had already assigned to a different document it had received, namely to a report dated January 6, 1942, sent by the German envoy in Copenhagen. (Ney, ibid.)
The letter is missing the sender's address, which is normally printed on the stationery. The new meeting place in the Kurfürstenstraße is incorrectly spelled with an "ss" rather than an "ß". The typed-in sender's reference number, "IV B 4", indicates Eichmann's office, but Eichmann used stationery which had this identifier already printed on it. The letterhead is different from that of the two letters of invitation. The letter lacks a "re.:"-line and a distributor. This "accompanying letter" makes no mention of 30 copies of the protocol whose 16th copy it allegedly accompanies. The space to indicate enclosures - though provided for in the stamp of receipt - is empty, even though this letter was supposed to accompany an enclosure of momentous importance. (Ney, ibid.) Ripske has criticized that there were no "Undersecretaries of State" ("Unterstaatssekretär") at the German Foreign Office; this rank had been done away with during the Weimar Republic, and was never reintroduced.(20)
3.3.2 Linguistic Content
The accompanying letter as well shows a pathetically un-German style: "practical execution of the final solution" - is there any such thing as a theoretical execution? (Tiedemann(11)) And again we encounter this redundant sentence with its long-winded description of the tasks involved: "[...] the organizational, factual, and material prerequisites for the practical commencement of the tasks involved." What this calls for, then, is: the detailed discussion of the preparation of the submission of the prerequisites for the practical commencement of the tasks involved. (Ney(10)) No comment necessary.
3.3.3 Contradictory Content
The protocol is titled "Minutes of Discussion", and if it were genuine, that would be precisely the right description. Today even the officially sanctioned historians concede that nothing at all was decided at the conference, in other words, that it was not as highly significant as is sometimes claimed.(21) The accompanying letter, however, now suddenly refers to "arrangements made". It further claims that "the essentials have been decided on." But nothing could be decided there. (Tiedemann,(11) Walendy(8))
3.3.4 Internal Consistency
Even though Göring is said to have called for haste in July 1941 ("soon"), his orders are carried out in rather lackadaisical fashion. But suddenly speed is of the essence: the next discussion is set for March 6. (Ney,(10) Tiedemann(11))
3.3.5 The Slip-up
Two versions of the accompanying letter are in circulation. The
first was submitted by Kempner,(5) while the second is held at the
Foreign Office in Bonn. In terms of content they are identical, but
there is incontrovertible proof that both versions are
Each of the two versions was typed on a different typewriter. The typists tried to make their keystrokes, line breaks and text format identical, and it is unknown who copied from whom in the process. But even this did not quite work: the "Heil Hitler" is shifted by one space, the "Ihr" preceding the signature by another. The signature itself - whether genuine (not likely) or done with a facsimile stamp - has slipped badly.
On closer examination one finds even more differences: the spacing between the two major paragraphs; the underlines, which are supposed to be identical but don't quite manage to be so; the slightly different "6" in the meeting date. The discrepancy between 'SS' in the one version and the runic ' ' in the other is already familiar to us from the protocol itself. Typing mistakes galore populate the second half of this line:
"ich am 6. März 1942, 10.30 Uhr , in Berlin,Kurfürsten-".
The other version reads:
"ich am 6. März 1942, 10.30 Uhr. in Berlin, Kurfürsten-".
Clearly: it was supposed to be identical, but the attempt failed
To expose this fraud conclusively, one needs a ruler. This reveals: the rubber stamp on each version is perfectly identical, but in the 'SS' version it is stamped precisely parallel to the typed lines while in the '[..]' version it droops down and to the left at about a 3 degree angle.
And the most conclusive proof: no one can write a multi-line text by hand twice in such a way that both versions are precisely and absolutely identical! But the handwritten comments added by Luther, running diagonally across the page in both versions, are identical. However, these handwritten comments are not in the exact same position on both versions, and are of different size. This proves irrefutably that both versions are fake. The forger had separate access to the three text elements - text, stamp, and handwriting. He compiled both versions, but unfortunately he could not make them exactly alike. It's not difficult to guess why he might try this in the first place, though: the older version, submitted to the IMT by Kempner, has the Latin-font 'SS', while the version that surfaced at the Foreign Office later has the runic '[..]', which seems more genuine; the forger no doubt wished to correct his earlier carelessness, and in the process went a little overboard!
4.1 The Legal Situation
1. The creation of fabricated documents is an indictable offense. For details see Section 7.
2. Submission of an unsigned paper whose sender is not specified, which bears no date, etc., is of no substance. It is not a public document.
3. Public discussion about the authenticity of a document is not an indictable offense. Under current German law, however, the qualification or trivialization of the murders of Jews by authorities of the Third Reich is a criminal offense. For this reason the possible or actual direct consequences of the Wannsee Conference will not be discussed here.
4. In the Third Reich, just as in all other nations, all documents not intended for the public eye due to the War had to be kept secret. In the Third Reich the handling and processing of such documents, which were generally known as 'classified documents', were controlled by the 'Classified Information Regulation'. Excerpts:(22)
"36. Classified documents are to be gathered by the departments or sections in complete files.
50. At least once a year the collection of classified documents is to be examined by a third-party officer or official.
77. Every document whose content renders it classified must be fully accounted for from its creation to its destruction.
83. The number of copies supplied to the various departments or sections is to be kept to a minimum."
4.2 Witness Testimony
In his analysis, Udo Walendy(8) cites many examples of witness statements made by participants in the Wannsee Conference, of which only a few examples shall be mentioned here. Dr. G. Klopfer, for example, testified with respect to this conference:
"Therefore no decisions could be reached at this session [...]. After the session on March 3, 1942, I learned from a letter from the Chief of the Reich Chancellery that subsequent to a report by Dr. Lammers Hitler had deferred the 'final solution of the Jewish question' until after the War."(23)
According to his testimony, Secretary of State Ernst von Weizsäcker of the Foreign Office never saw the conference protocol during his time in office, even though his office allegedly received one of the 30 copies (specifically, that 16th copy). He also made no mention of any such conference to the traitor Canaris, to whom he leaked, or claims he leaked, everything else of importance.(24)
Dr. H.-H. Lammers, Chief of the Reich Chancellery, testified:
"I announced the report [to Hitler] and got it after some time. I managed to learn [his] view of the matter. This time once again, the Führer would not enter into any discussion of the matter with me and cut short my intended, lengthy report with words to the effect of 'I don't want to hear any more reports about Jewish matters during the War. I have more important things on my hands right now, and others should, too.' And then he said quite bluntly that he wished to finally see the end of all these Jewish issues. He added that he would decide after the War where to put the Jews."(25)
Dr. Bühler, testifying before the IMT, said:
"I gained the definite conviction from this message [of Heydrich's] that the resettlement of the Jews would proceed in a humane manner - if not for the sake of the Jews themselves, then for the sake of the reputation and the status of the German people."(26)
4.3 The Fate of Participants in the Conference
Oddly enough, the Wannsee Conference was considered of no importance at all immediately after the War and at the 'War Crimes Trials'. Even though charges of genocide would have been the logical consequence of the accepted reading of the protocol, none of the alleged or actual participants in the conference were convicted (not even on minor issues). See Walendy.(8)
Like all other persons in leading positions, G. Klopfer was under arrest from 1945 to 1949 and was charged with war crimes in Nuremberg. However, the Allies dropped their charges for lack of evidence (in 1949, in other words after Kempner's discovery of the Wannsee Conference Protocol). After Klopfer's release from custody, the Attorney General tried again to obtain an indictment in 1960; preliminary proceedings were abandoned on January 29, 1962 on the grounds that despite Klopfer's participation in the conference there was no evidence on which to convict him of any indictable offense.(27) Klopfer was later able to resume his work as attorney.
G. Leibbrand was also released from Allied custody in 1949 and passed away later without ever being bothered again.
In 1949, in the Wilhelmstraßen Trial, W. Stuckart was convicted for other alleged misdemeanors, and sentenced to 3 years and 10 months in prison. He died in a car accident in 1953, a free man.
Ernst von Weizsäcker was sentenced to 7 years in prison at the Wilhelmstraßen Trial, also for other reasons: not because of his participation in the Wannsee Conference, which was never proven anyhow, but for his role in the 'deportations'. He was granted an early discharge and died shortly afterwards.
O. Hoffmann's participation in the conference was examined by the Court in the "Volkstum" Trial of Military Court I, Case 8, but not mentioned in the verdict.
Neumann was classed as 'less incriminated person' by a German Denazification Court following his discharge from automatic arrest.
Even in the Jerusalem Trial of Adolf Eichmann, his participation in the conference was of not even the slightest importance. He was interrogated only for his alleged function as secretary i.e. author of the protocol, but his conviction was for other crimes.
None of the other alleged participants, whom we shall not mention individually here, were ever charged with or convicted for war crimes.
4.4 Public Impact
For a long time the Wannsee Conference was also of no significance where the public condemnation of the Wehrmacht, the Waffen-SS, the 'Nazis' and, ultimately, the entire German people was concerned. The 'proof' of German atrocities in the '50s were so-called lampshades from human skin, shrunken heads, gas chambers in Dachau, soap from dead Jews, the 'Bitch of Buchenwald' Ilse Koch, and Katyn. The Wannsee Conference Protocol lived on in Holocaust literature, not in public awareness. This only changed gradually, and eventually culminated in the endeavors of parties with vested interests to publicize the villa on the Große Wannsee and the conference that had been held there by means of the creation of a memorial site.
Meanwhile, judicial notice has all but been attained in German courts with respect to the Wannsee Conference Protocol. While it is not an indictable offense to 'qualify', to 'trivialize', to question or to dispute the authenticity of the conference or the protocol, it has by now become useless in court to cite the axiom that, to quote Emil Lachout, "for historians fabricated documents are proof that the opposite [in this case, no 'Final Solution of the Jewish Question' in the sense of deliberate mass extermination] of the forger's claim is true",(12) even if this theorem could be substantiated with reference to document science, whose principles are binding for historians.(28)
The constant repetition of the allegation that the Wannsee Conference represents the act of planning the genocide of the Jews, as the media have injected it into the conscious and (what is worse) the subconscious minds of mankind for many years now, has resulted in this allegation being considered to be gospel truth today.
In recent times, however, more and more persons who previously regarded the Wannsee Conference Protocol as one of, if not the most significant proof for the 'Führer order for the destruction of the European Jews' have been changing their minds. In early 1992, for example, the renowned Israeli Holocaust researcher Yehuda Bauer dismissed the significance of the Wannsee Conference, which hardly deserved the title 'conference'. He said that the claim that the destruction of the Jews had been decided there was nothing more than a 'silly story', since 'Wannsee' was "but a stage in the unfolding of the process of mass murder" (op. cit., Note (21)). Bauer's remark corresponds with the interpretations advanced by several German historians who have since also dared to disassociate themselves from the established position regarding the Wannsee Conference. K. Pätzold reports (cf. Bauer, ibid.):
"The unbiased study of the conference protocol convinces one that those assembled there decided nothing that could be considered to be a theoretical or directive starting point for the crime. - Nevertheless, there now appears to be a growing realization that the decision to kill the European Jews [...] was already made prior to the Wannsee Conference, and that the gruesome deed was already in progress before the SS Generals and the Secretaries-of-State gathered for their conference on January 20, 1942."
In short, what both authors are saying is: the Wannsee Conference Protocol doesn't prove anything, but that which it was supposed to prove is true anyway:
"Whether presented authentically or inauthentically [in other words: whether it is genuine or fabricated] [...], the Holocaust has become a ruling symbol of our [whose?] culture." (Bauer, ibid.)
And if there is no evidence for it, then it's just simply true without evidence. Case closed.
5. Summary and Evaluation
5.1 Documentary Evidence for the Planned Genocide?
To substantiate the claim that millions of Jews were deliberately murdered in concentration camps during World War Two, on the orders of German authorities, two and only two contemporaneous papers have been presented: the 'Franke-Gricksch Report' and the 'Wannsee Conference Protocol'. The Franke-Gricksch Report was recently exposed as fabrication by Canadian researcher B. A. Renk.(29) It is a particularly clumsy fabrication and is thus hardly ever cited any more today.
5.2 The Wannsee Conference
That a conference between high officials and Party leaders took place in January 1942 in the villa 'Am Großen Wannsee' is probably true, although the precise date is unknown. No other documentation of this conference exists other than the 'protocol' and its accompanying letter(s). There is no entry in a guest book, an appointment calendar, or any other kind of incidental evidence.
The invitations specify thirteen invitees. According to the 'protocol', however, eighteen persons showed up. Whether the discussion pertained to the Jewish question is not certain, but it is likely. What actually was discussed there is unknown.
5.3 The Protocol
No legally valid transcript or protocol of the discussion exists. The 'Minutes of Discussion' of unknown origin, first submitted in 1947 by Kempner, deposited in the Foreign Office and copied repeatedly, is a fabrication in the sense that the text of this paper was concocted years after the alleged discussion, by a person not involved in the conference, and this assessment is supported not only by the as yet unrefuted analysis by the five authors quoted herein, but also by the opinion of many earlier and more recent researchers.
In English: Fabrication;
The crucial points which the media, leading politicians of all political parties in Bonn, and Holocaust experts allege time and again as being at the heart of the discussion in the Wannsee villa are not even present in this fabricated protocol. Specifically, the commonly-held opinions about the protocol, and the most common allegations, are:
1. Hitler had participated in the discussion, according to Simon Wiesenthal.(30) There is no evidence to indicate this.
2. Ernst von Weizsäcker had counter-signed the protocol. This is Reitlinger's claim.(31) No such version has ever turned up.
3. Eichmann had taken the minutes, i.e. had written or at least dictated them. This is according to Kempner.(32) There is no evidence for this.
4. In thousands of newspaper articles, books, textbooks, radio broadcasts, memorial speeches and television shows, the claim has been advanced that the mass murder of the Jews was decided on at the Wannsee Conference, or at the least, that the plan to carry out Adolf Hitler's order in this respect had been worked out there. As well, it is claimed, the means of killing had been discussed and the establishment of extermination camps was decided on. This is not in the protocol, and leading Holocaust historians are now repudiating it (cf. Jäckel (21)), even if Eichmann did give testimony to this effect in the course of his show trial in Jerusalem.(33)
5. On the occasion of the 1987 anniversary, Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl said that this conference had been "an extermination of the Jews in the German sphere of influence, launched with bureaucratic perfection." A glance at the text of the 'protocol' would have shown Kohl that what we have here is not bureaucratic perfection, it is amateurish blabber at best.
For the actual text of the 'protocol', the reader is referred to the Appendix.
6. The Wannsee Memorial Site
On the fiftieth anniversary of the "Wannsee Conference", on January 20, 1992, the Memorial Site "Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz" ["House of the Wannsee Conference"] was inaugurated in Berlin/Großer Wannsee 56/58, as "the place of the perpetrators". On this occasion Federal Chancellor Kohl called for the remembrance of the "countless victims of National-Socialist race mania". Rita Süßmuth, President of the Bundestag, gave the commemorative speech. Among those present were the Mayor of Berlin, Eberhard Diepgen, and the Chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, H. Galinski. In 1990, "Erinnern für die Zukunft" ["Remembering for the Future"] was founded as society sponsoring the Memorial Site; the society's staff are paid out of tax funds.(34) The founding members of this society are: the Association, the Land [province] of Berlin, the Central Council of Jews in Germany, the Jewish Community of Berlin, the Diocese of Berlin, the Protestant Church of Berlin-Brandenburg, the German Historical Museum, and the Association of Persons Persecuted by the Nazi Regime.
In August 1992 the Society "Remembering for the Future", the Diocese of Berlin, and the Protestant Church of Berlin-Brandenburg requested and were sent the report published in the Huttenbrief. (cf. Ney(10))
First, the Chair of the German Episcopal Conference responded on behalf of the Diocese of Berlin:
"The events of the Wannsee Conference have been exhaustively investigated. We do not intend to devote further study to your theory of the fabrication of the documents in question."(35)
Second, the Berlin Diocese itself replied:
"In my opinion there is not the slightest doubt about the authenticity of the original protocol of the Wannsee Conference that is held by the Foreign Office in Bonn [...]. I am not in the position to adequately assess matters of detail, [...] as I do not have access to the documents you refer to. [signed] Knauft, Counsel, Bishop's Palace."(36)
The Protestant Church of Berlin-Brandenburg did not respond.
Dr. Klausa, who is also the Head of the Department "Memorial Sites for Victims of National-Socialism" of the Senate of Berlin, responded via telephone:
"Our experts do not consider this report interesting enough to examine it. Objections to the authenticity of this protocol have been refuted. This sort of thing keeps being brought up by the lunatic fringe of the radical right."
It is strange enough that one would presume to pass judgement on the quality of an expert report before ever having bothered to look at it. Further, it is an untruth, plain and simple, to claim that such objects have already been refuted. A free discussion between the advocates of the standard view of the Holocaust (most of them civil servants) and the subject experts summarized in this chapter has not taken place to this day: U. Walendy received no factual reply; J. P. Ney is still waiting for a relevant response; H. Tiedemann was not favored with any reply; neither was I. Weckert; and H. Wahls is also still waiting for a statement.
In the villa Am Großen Wannsee 56/58, however, it is business as usual. Entire school classes are being led through the rooms, which have been remodeled into a museum, and are told the tales of Hitler's order, of the plan for mass murder in extermination camps, and of the refreshments served after the conference to the participants. Foreign groups are also routinely shown through the Museum. At the commemorations held at all the various sites of German collective guilt, untrue allegations continue to be happily spouted to all the world, yet could not be supported with details from the protocol even if it were genuine. This is how freedom of thought is valued today in the land of Schiller and Friedrich the Great!
7. Falsification of Documents and Misdocumentation
According to the Brockhaus Encyclopedia, (1) the falsification of documents includes the creation of a fabricated document (eg. a document indicating an incorrect issuer), the falsification of an authentic document, as well as the use of a forged or falsified document when doing so is intended to facilitate deception under the law (§267 StGB [German Criminal Code]).
Anyone who causes legally significant statements, agreements or facts to be documented in public books or registers as having been given or as having taken place, without these actually having been given, or having taken place at all or in the manner or by the person specified, commits the crime of indirect misdocumentation (§271 StGB). The falsification of documents carries a penalty of up to five years' imprisonment, or monetary fine; indirect misdocumentation is subject to up to one year's imprisonment, or monetary fine, and up to five years' imprisonment where the offense was committed for personal gain or with the intent to cause injury to others (§272 StGB).
Misdocumentation by holders of public office carries a penalty of up to five years' imprisonment, or monetary fine (§348 StGB). Further, the Criminal Code provides for terms of imprisonment and for monetary fines for the use of false documentation i.e. misdocumentation of the kind described under §271 StGB (§273 StGB), and for the destruction or suppression of official documents (§274 StGB)...
(1) Der Große Brockhaus, Wiesbaden: F. A. Brockhaus,
(2) To name just a few examples: the Hitler diaries (Die Hitler-Tagebücher and Rauschnings Gespräche mit Hitler - both: K. Corino, ed.; Gefälscht!, Reinbek: Rowohlt, 1992; cf. also E. Jäckel, A. Kuhn, H. Weiß, Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 32 : 163-169), Katyn (F. Kadell, Die Katyn-Lüge, Munich: Herbig, 1991), SS identification card for Demjanjuk (D. Lehner, Du sollst nicht falsch Zeugnis geben, Berg: Vowinckel, n.d.).
(3) According to Sozialdemokratischer Pressedienst of Jan. 21, 1992, p. 6.
(4) R. Derfrank, Ihr Name steht im Protokoll, WDR broadcast manuscript, January 1992.
(5) R. M. W. Kempner, Eichmann und Komplizen, Zurich: Europa-Verlag, 1961.
(6) Akten zur deutschen Auswärtigen Politik 1918-1945, Serie E: 1941-1945, v. I, Dec. 12, 1941 to Feb. 28, 1942 (1969): 267-275.
(7) Hans Wahls, Zur Authentizität des 'Wannsee-Protokolls', Ingolstadt: Zeitgeschichtliche Forschungsstelle, 1987.
(8) Udo Walendy, "Die Wannsee-Konferenz vom 20.1.1942", in Historische Tatsachen no. 35, Vlotho: Verlag für Volkstum und Zeitgeschichtsforschung, 1988.
(9) Ingrid Weckert, "Anmerkungen zum Wannseeprotokoll", in Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart 40(1) (1992): 32-34.
(10) Johannes Peter Ney, "Das Wannsee-Protokoll", in Huttenbrief, special issue, June 1992.
(11) H. Tiedemann, "Offener Brief an Rita Süßmuth", Moosburg, March 1, 1992; pub. in Deutschland in Geschichte und Gegenwart 40(2) (1992): 11-18.
(12) E. Lachout, Gutachten - Begleitschreiben vom 26.(1.)(2.)1942 zum Wannseeprotokoll vom 20.1.1942, Vienna, Aug. 6, 1991; W. Stäglich, Der Auschwitz-Mythos, Tübingen: Grabert, 1979; Bund der Verfolgten des Naziregimes (BVN), Das Wannsee-Protokoll zur Endlösung der Judenfrage und einige Fragen an die, die es angeht, Bundesvorstand des BVN, 1952; R. Aschenauer (ed.), Ich, Adolf Eichmann, Leoni: Druffel, 1980, pp. 478ff.; H. Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem, Leipzig: Reclam, 1990; J. G. Burg, Zionnazi Zensur in der BRD, Munich: Ederer, 1980; G. Fleming, Hitler und die Endlösung, Wiesbaden: Limes, 1982; W. Grabert (ed.), Geschichtsbetrachtung als Wagnis, Tübingen: Grabert, 1984; L. Poliakov, J. Wulf, Das Dritte Reich und die Juden, Berlin: Arani, 1955; P. Rassinier, Debunking the Genocide Myth, Torrance: Institute for Historical Review, 1978; G. Reitlinger, Die Endlösung, Berlin: Colloquium Verlag, 1989; R. Bohlinger, J. P. Ney, Zur Frage der Echtheit des Wannsee-Protokolls, Viöl: Verlag für ganzheitliche Forschung und Kultur, 1992, 1994; W. Scheffler, "Zur Entstehungsgeschichte der 'Endlösung'", in Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 3(43) (1982): 3-10.
(13) Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes, Inland IIg, v. 117, copy; cf. P. Longerich, Die Ermordung der europäischen Juden, Munich: Piper, 1990, p. 78.
(14) During the International Military Tribunal proceedings the date was arbitrarily set as July 31, cf. Der Prozeß gegen die Hauptkriegsverbrecher vor dem Internationalen Militärgerichtshof Nürnberg 14. November 1945 - 1. Oktober 1946 (IMT), Nuremberg, 1947, photomechanical reprint: Munich: Delphin, 1984; v. IX pp. 518ff., v. XXVI pp. 266f.
(15) cf. Göring's letter to Heydrich, Jan. 24, 1939, in: U. Walendy, op. cit. (Note 8), p. 21.
(16) J. P. Ney, op. cit. (Note 10), based on the white-on-black copy in the Wannsee Museum. P. Longerich, op. cit. (Note 13), and W. Stäglich, op. cit. (Note 12), mistakenly write "möglichst günstigen Lösung".
(17) Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes, K 2104-19, -20.
(18) ibid., K 2104-15.
*Except where otherwise specified, the translations of phrases from the Protocol are taken from the official Nuremberg translation of this document. -trans.
*The Nuremberg Translation contains a reasonably corrected version: "The Jewish financial establishments in foreign countries were [...] made responsible [...]"; "were urged" might have been more accurate. In any case, "verhalten" makes no sense. -trans.
*Note that, strictly speaking, the Nuremberg Translation is incorrect at this point, giving a "corrected" version instead of an accurate translation of the absurd original; -trans.
(19) cf. G. Rudolf's chapter, this volume. The Basler Nachrichten of June 13, 1946 mentioned approximately 3 million Jews in Hitler's sphere of influence.
(20) pers. comm., W. Ripske, former Reich official holding various Reich government offices.
(21) Y. Bauer, The Canadian Jewish News, Jan. 30, 1992, p. 8; K. Pätzold, "Die vorbereitenden Arbeiten sind eingeleitet", in Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 42(1-2) (1992); cf. E. Jäckel, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 22, 1992, p. 34.
*The first line of the body of the text is also shifted by one letter. -trans.
(22) Wehrmacht-Dienstvorschriften, Verschlußsachenvorschriften HDv 99, MDv 9, LDv 99, revision of Aug. 1, 1943.
(23) Affidavit of Dr. G. Klopfer, IMT Doc. 656, Doc.-v. VI, Case 8; quoted from U. Walendy, op. cit. (Note 8), p. 27.
(24) Weizsäcker Exh. 273; Doc. v. 5, summation, H. Becker, Case 11. Re. Canaris, cf. his wife's sworn statement, quoted from U. Walendy, op. cit. (Note 8), pp. 28f.
(25) Case 11 of the war crimes trials, protocol, H. Lammers, pp. 21470-73; quoted from U. Walendy, op. cit. (Note 8), pp. 29f.
(26) Testimony of Dr. Bühler, April 23, 1946, IMT v. XII p. 69, quoted from U. Walendy, op. cit. (Note 8), p. 21.
(27) Prosecuting Attorney, District Court Nuremberg, Ref. 4 Js 15929/60.
(28) re. document science cf. K. Fuchs, H. Raab, Wörterbuch zur Geschichte, v. 2, Munich: dtv, 1993.
(29) B. A. Renk, "The Franke-Gricksch 'Resettlement-Action Report'. Anatomy of a Falsification", in Journal of Historical Review 11(3) (1991): 261-279.
(30) S. Wiesenthal, Doch die Mörder leben noch, Munich: Droemer Knaur, 1967, p. 40.
(31) G. Reitlinger, Die Endlösung, Berlin: Colloquium Verlag, 1953, p. 106.
(32) cf. W. Derfrank, op. cit. (Note 4), p. 1, as well as R. M. W. Kempner, op. cit. (Note 5).
(33) cf. P. Longerich, Die Ermordung der europäischen Juden, Munich: Piper, 1990, pp. 92ff.
(34) Director: Dr. Klausa; Managers of the Memorial Site: Dr. Schönberner and Dr. Tuchel.
(35) Letter of the Secretary of the German Episcopal Conference to the author, Bonn, June 2, 1992, Ref. IL/le, sgd. Dr. Ilgner.
(36) Letter of the Berlin Diocese, Bishop's Palace, Broadcast Section, to the author, Oct. 14, 1992, Ref. Kn/De, sgd. Wolfgang Knauft, Counsel, Bishop's Palace.