20 January marks the day that a meeting of senior officials took place in Nazi Germany, at a home in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee.
The purpose of the conference, called by director of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, was to ensure the cooperation of administrative leaders of various government departments in the implementation of the final solution to the Jewish question, whereby most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe would be deported to Poland and murdered. Conference attendees included representatives from several government ministries, including state secretaries from the Foreign Office, the justice, interior, and state ministries, and representatives from the Schutzstaffel (SS). In the course of the meeting, Heydrich outlined how European Jews would be rounded up from west to east and sent to extermination camps in the General Government (the occupied part of Poland), where they would be killed.
In 1965, historian Joseph Wulf proposed that the Wannsee House should be made into a Holocaust memorial and document center. The government of West Germany turned him down. Despondent at the failure of the project and the West German government’s failure to pursue and convict Nazi war criminals, Wulf committed suicide in 1974. On 20 January 1992, on the 50th anniversary of the conference, the site was finally opened as a Holocaust memorial and museum known as the Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz (House of the Wannsee Conference). The museum also hosts permanent exhibits of texts and photographs that document events of the Holocaust and its planning. The Joseph Wulf Bibliothek / Mediothek on the second floor houses a large collection of books on the Nazi era, plus other materials such as microfilms and original Nazi documents.