Lecture
23.01.2022 - online

Wannsee – conference on genocide

Grupa Żydów w różnym wieku stoi przy wagonach bydlęcych zmierzających do obozu zagłady.
Fot. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

In less than two hours, participants in the Wannsee Conference agreed on the legal and logistical aspects of the murder of 11 million European Jews. The minutes of the meeting of high-ranking officials of the German state, the Nazi party, and the security police are a unique source documenting the Holocaust. To this day, it remains the subject of various interpretations and controversies in Holocaust studies. Join us for a lecture by German historian Peter Klein, professor at Touro College in Berlin.

  • 23 January (Sunday), 8:00PM CET/2:00PM EST/11:00AM PST/9:00PM Israel
  • Broadcast in English on POLIN Museum YouTube channel >>
  • Moderation of the lecture: Krzysztof Persak

When another 14 representatives of German occupation authorities, ministries and administrations met on January 20, 1942 at the invitation of Reinhard Heydrich, there was only one topic on the agenda for discussion: the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question". For a short time, this buzzword no longer stood only for forced expulsion, ghettoization and mass murder during the invasion of the Soviet Union. Since the turn of the year 1941/42, extermination camps were built in occupied Poland, German, Austrian, Luxembourgian and Czech Jews were deported. Polish Jews in the German annexed territories were murdered in a gas van station in Chełmno. This context, the international dimension of the topic, and the interests of the authorities’ individual representatives are in focus of this lecture, because the meeting and the minutes are still subject of various interpretations in research on the Shoah.

Professor Peter Klein is a historian, who worked for the memorial House of the Wannsee Conference. He studied history, political sciences, book and library sciences at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nuremberg and Free University Berlin. He graduated from the Center for Research on Antisemitism at the Technical University Berlin. Since October 2013 he is a professor of Holocaust studies at the Lander Institute/Touro College, Berlin and since March 2015 a dean of the Master-Program Holocaust Communication and Tolerance at Touro College Berlin. He has published documentary editions on the Holocaust and served as an expert witness for social courts concerning survivor’s pensions from work in ghettos.

Krzysztof Persak is a senior historian at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and research fellow at the Institute of Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences. In 2000-2016, Dr Persak was affiliated with the Institute of National Remembrance in Warsaw. Author and co-editor of nineteen monographs, edited volumes and documentary collections on the communist power system in Poland, communist state security service, Polish-Soviet relations, history of scouting, and Polish-Jewish relations. He published i.a. Wokół Jedwabnego [Jedwabne and Beyond] (2002, with P. Machcewicz), A Handbook of the Communist Security Apparatus in East Central Europe, 1944–1989 (2005, with Ł. Kamiński), Sprawa Henryka Hollanda [Henryk Holland Affair] (2006). Dr Persak received fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC, Foundation for Polish Science and the Imre Kertész Kolleg in Jena.

 

The lecture is organized within the Global Education Outreach Program.

This program was made possible thanks to Taube Philanthropies, the William K. Bowes, Jr. Foundation, and the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute of Poland.