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When you get tired of walking around through Berlin’s busy streets, you may want to escape the city and travel to the outskirts in search of some peace and quiet. Then the Berlin suburb of Wannsee is just that place you are looking for, with it’s rich green surroundings and beautiful villa’s scattered along the lake. It is the perfect place to unwind and less than an hour away by public transport. It won’t surprise you that the area is very popular as a summer retreat among the Berliners themselves too.
Acquiring Villa Marlier
Starting from the mid 1930’s, the Wannsee atmosphere had the same attraction to the prominent members of the Nazi Party too. With their rise to power, the amount of property they (dis)owned in the Wannsee district grew considerably. This was also the case for Villa Marlier, situated along the shore of lake “Gross Wannsee”.
In 1940, the former owner of the villa , Mr. Friedrich Minoux was convicted and jailed for a large fraude case, and reluctantly sold the house for 1.98 million RM to Stiftung Nordhav, a foundation founded by SS prominent Reinhard Heydrich to acquire real estate for the benefit of rest and recreation for fellow SS and SP members.
Subsequently the villa became an important center of operations for the SS and Heinrich Himmler’s Reich Main Security Office or RSHA.
On January 8th 1942, Reinhard Heydrich would eventually choose this location to host the Wannsee Conference.
The Wannsee Conference
On the 20th of January 1942, Reinhard Heydrich addressed a group of 15 men of whom prominent members of the NSDAP and important government officials in the infamous Wannsee Conference Room, with the aim to secure their support and conclude a final solution of the ‘Jewish question’. In the 90 minutes this conference lasted, the ill fate of millions would be decided and sealed.
The conclusion of the meeting was formally put in an infamous document by Adolf Eichmann, known as the “Wannsee Protocol”. Even though most of the copies of this document were destroyed at the end of the war, a copy was discovered by a US prosecutor during the Nuremberg Trails.
Holocaust Memorial and Museum
Exactly fifty years later, the villa was turned into a holocaust memorial and museum, with a permanent exhibition on the planning and execution of the holocaust. With pictures, documents and information signs, the museum tries to outline specific personal stories from all sides.
Visit Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz
If you are interested in the events of World War II and the holocaust, then this is an obligatory visit. Although we do point out that there is nothing left of the original setting of the place in 1942. The museum is freely admissible and open every day during office hours. Visit the museum website for more information.