The Legend of Wooley Swamp

What ever happened to nuance? Jabberwocky is being spewed up by the left and right as they try to drag us into their Wonderlands. This blog charts a path out of this swamp of simple truths and false certainties. And from time to time, it'll be a place for more light-hearted musings.

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Friday, January 20, 2006

Am Grossen Wannsee 56-58

Wannsee, Berlin, 20th January 1942

“SS Lieutenant General (Obergruppenführer) Heydrich, Chief of Security Police and Security Service, opened the meeting by informing everyone that the Reich Marshal (Göring) had put him in charge of preparations for the final solution of the Jewish question. The invitations of this conference had been issued to clarify fundamental questions.”

So began the protocol of what has come to be known as the Wannsee Conference. As I type this into my computer fifty four years later, I feel sick to my stomach. I think of the unidentified man who was ordered by Adolf Eichmann to transcribe fifteen men's madness. I think of him hearing the words I just copied. I think of him bearing witness to the evil that followed. Did he have doubts, fears...where were the better angels of his nature?

A couple of days ago, I remembered a movie that a friend had recommended a while back (hat tip, Joachim.) “Conspiracy” is one of two dramatizations of this day in history (the other is “Wannseekonferenz”,) and it will make you doubt humanity.

As things have it, my memory was jogged just before watching the evening news where it was announced that a new exhibition was opening up at the House of the Wannsee Conference museum on January 20th.

I was there a few years ago and thus it is high time to return. The picturesque setting by Wannsee (Wann Lake) – which most landlocked (West) Berliners continue to also associate with a summer swim – renders the visitor’s confrontation with evil, both banal and radical, all the more stark.

Every time someone asks me what to visit and where to go in Berlin, I mention this memorial. For some history can seem abstract, only distantly related to the present they live in and the future they dream of. In this house, horror provides perspective we all need.

The House, Am Grossen Wannsee 56-58 (c) REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

That day, decisions were made in Wannsee to ensure that the present of millions would end and that they should have no future.




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