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  • Our second day began after a much-needed night's sleep. Our plan for the day: the House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Site. Better known as the location of the finalization of the plans for the Final Solution. This is where high-ranking Nazi officials met to discuss the already-planned total and complete annihilation of the Jews of Europe. Although this is technically where the plans were signed off on and put into motion, the planning for this horrific event had been in the works for some time.

    Walking into this beautiful home/historical site made me think about something Primo Levi said: “Monsters exist, but they are too few in numbers to be truly dangerous. More dangerous are…the functionaries ready to believe and act without asking questions.”* This home is where the head monsters of the Nazi Regime met to sigh off on the plans for the Final Solution. We were able to see the exact table where they sat and decided the fate of millions of people: death, because they were Jewish.

    And it was because of the orders of these men that the millions of Nazi Commanders, Generals, and Soldiers followed the Final Solution out to the best of their ability. It was because of these, as Levi says “functionaries’” who were so eager to follow orders and not question even one authority that so many millions of people died.

    I’ve always had a problem with people in positions of authority and I’ve always tried to question as many of them as possible. That’s why it absolutely blows my mind that these people didn’t think twice about killing all of these people. I understand that their lives were also probably being threatened, but still, receiving orders to kill is something that a normal person would question.
    Luckily, we had the first of many our amazing tour guides and teachers, Dr. Wolf Kaiser to lead us through the tumultuous history of this magnificent home. He guided us through the history and then led us through and workshop discussing the events that took place in the Wannsee House as well as what the Holocaust meant to present-day Germany.

    It was incredible to be able to visit such an important and infamous site. It really allowed us to see that this history took place everywhere, even in the most beautiful home in the most picturesque town.

    When reflecting on the memorial and educational sites, I tend to think about some of Theodor Adorno’s words: “The premier demand upon all education is that Auschwitz not happen again. Its priority before any other requirement is such that I believe I need not and should not justify it.”** And I believe that Dr. Kaiser and the staff at the Wannsee House did a very good job outlining the vast timeline of events that make up the Nazi reign and the Holocaust. The exhibits that were displayed were easy to follow and interesting to read and I think that they served the house well. Their heard work immortalized a key component in the Holocaust.

    I believe that because of these well-thought out and put together exhibitions, the likelihood of the Holocaust happening again is greatly decreased. Educating the public about the true events that took place during WWII is the only way to prevent this from happening again. Information and knowledge are very powerful and absolutely necessary.

    *Primo Levi
    **Theodor Adorno, “Education After Auschwitz”, pg. 191

    Photo Credit: (Dutch?) boy using Professor Jared Stark's camera
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