Deportation or into Hiding
This is not time for poetry. ( Moshe Flinker, January 19, 1943)
Today many of those who once laughed, do not laugh anymore. (Speech by Hitler, November 8, 1942)
On 20 January 1942 in a villa in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee, 15 high dignitaries of the Third Reich gathered under the chairmanship of Reinhar Heydrich. They met for about one and a half hours. Their aim was to discuss the organisation of the biggest genocide of this century: the murder of the Jews of Europe, or in the German jargon of that time, die Endldsung der Judenfrage (the Final Solution of the Jewish Problem). SS-Oberstürmbannführer Adolf Eichmann, who compiled the Wannsee Conference Protocols and would later organise the deportations of the European Jews to the death camps, recalled during his trial in Jerusalem three decades later:
At the end, Heydrich was smoking and drinking brandy in a corner near a stove. We all sat together like comrades...not to talk shop, but to rest after long hours of work.
The fate of six million Jews was sealed in one and a half hours, by people who met in the congenial atmosphere of a warm fire, brandy and good cigars, like a reunion of old comrades. Almost immediately after German forces had invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the systematic murder of Eastern European Jews began behind the front lines. The so-called Kommissarbefehl (Commissars' Order) signalled the killing of as many 'enemies of the Reich' as possible, initially political officers of the Red Army, but later extended to all partisans and Jews.
Specially designated mobile killing squads, the Einsatzgruppen, shot 33,771 Jews in two days at the end of September in a ravine called Babi Yar, near Kiev. Small-scale Babi Yars occurred almost daily behind the advancing German armies in many places for many months. Almost 2 million Jews lost their fives behind the front lines of Nazi-occupied Poland, the Baltic States and the Soviet Union.
With the coordination of the murder of all European Jews, every pretense of looking for other solutions disappeared: from the autumn of 1941 onwards all other plans, e.g. emigration and/or resettlement in the East, were shelved.