July 31, 2015

“The Final Solution of the Jewish Problem” (“Endlösung der Judenfrage”)

“The Final Solution” is one of the most chilling phrases associated with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

It’s a euphemism for genocide.

“The Final Solution” was immortalized by a memo sent on July 31, 1941 by Hermann Göring (often spelled Goering in English), head of the Gestapo, to Nazi SS General Reinhard Heydrich.

The memo was drafted for Göring by Adolf Eichmann, head of the Nazi “Department for Jewish Affairs.”

The Nazis had previously considered several plans for getting rid of Europe’s Jewish population, such as mass sterilization and deportation to the island of Madagascar (the so-called “Madagascar Plan”).

Ultimately, those previous options were deemed impractical. Hitler wanted another option.

The memo Göring signed on July 31st ordered Heydrich to devise and implement a new plan for dealing with “the Jewish problem.”

Several versions of that phrase were used in the memo. But one in particular became infamous: “Endlösung der Judenfrage” — the “Final Solution of the Jewish Problem.” (This is also often translated as “Final Solution of the Jewish Question,” since the German word frage can mean either “question” or “problem.”)

Göring’s memo to Heydrich said:

    “In completion of the task which was entrusted to you in the Edict dated January 24, 1939, of solving the Jewish Problem by means of emigration or evacuation in the most convenient way possible, given the present conditions, I herewith charge you with making all necessary preparations with regard to organizational, practical and financial aspects for a total solution of the Jewish Problem [Gesamtlösung der Judenfrage] in the German sphere of influence in Europe…

     I further charge you with submitting to me promptly an overall plan of the preliminary organizational, practical and financial measures for the execution of the intended final solution of the Jewish Problem [Endlösung der Judenfrage].”

On January 20, 1942, Heydrich met with top officials from various ministries of Hitler’s Third Reich government at the Wannsee Conference.

There, the hideous intent of Göring memo was fully set in motion.

Over the next few years, the Nazis killed millions of Jewish men, women and children at mass extermination camps such Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka and Auschwitz.

Fortunately, the defeat of the Nazis and the death of Hitler in 1945 brought an end to implementation of “the Final Solution of the Jewish Problem.”

But by the end of World War II, a total of approximately six million Jews had been killed — two-thirds of the Jews living in Europe before the war began.

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