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[[File:Heydrich-Endlosung.jpg|thumb|lright|In a February 26, 1942, letter to German diplomat [[Martin Luther (diplomat)|Martin Luther]], [[Reinhard Heydrich]] follows up on the [[Wannsee Conference]] by asking Luther for administrative assistance in the implementation of the "Endlösung der Judenfrage" (Final Solution to the Jewish Question). ''[[Final Solution#Heydrich.27s letter|English translation]]'']]
 
[[File:Heydrich-Endlosung.jpg|thumb|lright|In a February 26, 1942, letter to German diplomat [[Martin Luther (diplomat)|Martin Luther]], [[Reinhard Heydrich]] follows up on the [[Wannsee Conference]] by asking Luther for administrative assistance in the implementation of the "Endlösung der Judenfrage" (Final Solution to the Jewish Question). ''[[Final Solution#Heydrich.27s letter|English translation]]'']]
   
The '''Final Solution''' ({{lang-de|(die) Endlösung}}, {{IPA-de|ˈɛntˌløːzʊŋ}}) was [[Nazi Germany]]'s plan during [[World War II]] to exterminate the Jewish people in Nazi occupied Europe which resulted in the most deadly phase of [[the Holocaust]], the destruction of Jewish communities in continental Europe.
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The '''Final Solution''' ({{lang-de|(die) Endlösung}}, {{IPA-de|ˈɛntˌløːzʊŋ}}) was [[Nazi Germany]]'s plan during [[World War II]] to exterminate the Jewish people in Nazi occupied Europe which resulted in the most deadly phase of [[the Holocaust]], the destruction of Jewish communities in continental Europe.
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==Background==
 
==Background==
 
According to historians at the [[United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]], “The Nazis frequently used euphemistic language to disguise the true nature of their crimes. They used the term 'Final Solution' to refer to their plan to annihilate the Jewish people.”
 
According to historians at the [[United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]], “The Nazis frequently used euphemistic language to disguise the true nature of their crimes. They used the term 'Final Solution' to refer to their plan to annihilate the Jewish people.”
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By the summer of 1942, [[Operation Reinhard|Operation ''Reinhard'']] began the systematic extermination of the Jews, although hundreds of thousands had already been killed by death squads and in mass pogroms. [[Heinrich Himmler]]'s [[Posen Speech|speech]] at the [[Posen Conference]] of October 6, 1943, for the first time, clearly elucidated to all assembled leaders of the Reich that the "Final Solution" meant that "all Jews would be killed".<ref>The Guardian, ''Letter proves Speer knew of Holocaust plan'', Kate Connolly, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/mar/13/secondworldwar.kateconnolly (the quote -- ["all Jews would be killed"] -- was copied from part of [http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Posen_Conference&oldid=350089383 this] [specific version of a] wikipedia article; and the essence of this footnote -- [the part not in parentheses] -- was copied from footnote [4] there.)</ref>
 
By the summer of 1942, [[Operation Reinhard|Operation ''Reinhard'']] began the systematic extermination of the Jews, although hundreds of thousands had already been killed by death squads and in mass pogroms. [[Heinrich Himmler]]'s [[Posen Speech|speech]] at the [[Posen Conference]] of October 6, 1943, for the first time, clearly elucidated to all assembled leaders of the Reich that the "Final Solution" meant that "all Jews would be killed".<ref>The Guardian, ''Letter proves Speer knew of Holocaust plan'', Kate Connolly, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/mar/13/secondworldwar.kateconnolly (the quote -- ["all Jews would be killed"] -- was copied from part of [http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Posen_Conference&oldid=350089383 this] [specific version of a] wikipedia article; and the essence of this footnote -- [the part not in parentheses] -- was copied from footnote [4] there.)</ref>
   
At the end of the war, captured German documents provided a record of the policies and actions of Nazi Germany. The Wannsee Conference Protocol, which documented the cooperation of various German state agencies in the SS-led Holocaust, and the Einsatzgruppen Reports, which documented the progress of the mobile killing units assigned, among other tasks, to kill Jewish civilians during the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, were among the documents central to the Holocaust submitted at Nuremberg.<ref>{{cite web|title=COMBATING HOLOCAUST DENIAL: EVIDENCE OF THE HOLOCAUST PRESENTED AT NUREMBERG|url=http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007271|work=[[United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]]|accessdate=8 November 2013}}</ref>
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At the end of the war, captured German documents provided a record of the policies and actions of Nazi Germany. The Wannsee Conference Protocol, which documented the cooperation of various German state agencies in the SS-led Holocaust, and the Einsatzgruppen Reports, which documented the progress of the mobile killing units assigned, among other tasks, to kill Jewish civilians during the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, were among the documents central to the Holocaust submitted at Nuremberg.<ref>{{cite web|title=COMBATING HOLOCAUST DENIAL: EVIDENCE OF THE HOLOCAUST PRESENTED AT NUREMBERG|url=http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007271|work=[[United States Holocaust Memorial Museum]]|accessdate=8 November 2013}}</ref>
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==Historiographic debate about the decision==
 
==Historiographic debate about the decision==
 
{{The Holocaust}}
 
{{The Holocaust}}
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{{quote|''I am now referring to the evacuation of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish people. It's one of those things that is easily said: 'The Jewish people are being exterminated', says every party member, 'this is very obvious, it's in our program, elimination of the Jews, extermination, we're doing it, hah, a small matter.' [...] But of all those who talk this way, none had observed it, none had endured it. Most of you here know what it means when 100 corpses lie next to each other, when 500 lie there or when 1,000 are lined up. To have endured this and at the same time to have remained a decent person - with exceptions due to human weaknesses - had made us tough. This is a page of glory never mentioned and never to be mentioned. [...] We have the moral right, we had the duty to our people to do it, to kill this people who wanted to kill us.}}<ref>http://www.holocaust-history.org/himmler-poznan/speech-text.shtml</ref>
 
{{quote|''I am now referring to the evacuation of the Jews, the extermination of the Jewish people. It's one of those things that is easily said: 'The Jewish people are being exterminated', says every party member, 'this is very obvious, it's in our program, elimination of the Jews, extermination, we're doing it, hah, a small matter.' [...] But of all those who talk this way, none had observed it, none had endured it. Most of you here know what it means when 100 corpses lie next to each other, when 500 lie there or when 1,000 are lined up. To have endured this and at the same time to have remained a decent person - with exceptions due to human weaknesses - had made us tough. This is a page of glory never mentioned and never to be mentioned. [...] We have the moral right, we had the duty to our people to do it, to kill this people who wanted to kill us.}}<ref>http://www.holocaust-history.org/himmler-poznan/speech-text.shtml</ref>
   
And on October 6, 1943:
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And on October 6, 1943:
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{{quote|''I ask of you that that which I say to you in this circle be really only heard and not ever discussed. We were faced with the question: what about the women and children? – I decided to find a clear solution to this problem too. I did not consider myself justified to exterminate the men - in other words, to kill them or have them killed and allow the avengers of our sons and grandsons in the form of their children to grow up. The difficult decision had to be made to have this people disappear from the earth. For the organisation which had to execute this task, it was the most difficult which we had ever had. [...] I felt obliged to you, as the most superior dignitary, as the most superior dignitary of the party, this political order, this political instrument of the Führer, to also speak about this question quite openly and to say how it has been. The Jewish question in the countries that we occupy will be solved by the end of this year. Only remainders of odd Jews that managed to find hiding places will be left over.}}<ref>Smith, Peterson: Heinrich Himmler p. 169 f.</ref>
 
{{quote|''I ask of you that that which I say to you in this circle be really only heard and not ever discussed. We were faced with the question: what about the women and children? – I decided to find a clear solution to this problem too. I did not consider myself justified to exterminate the men - in other words, to kill them or have them killed and allow the avengers of our sons and grandsons in the form of their children to grow up. The difficult decision had to be made to have this people disappear from the earth. For the organisation which had to execute this task, it was the most difficult which we had ever had. [...] I felt obliged to you, as the most superior dignitary, as the most superior dignitary of the party, this political order, this political instrument of the Führer, to also speak about this question quite openly and to say how it has been. The Jewish question in the countries that we occupy will be solved by the end of this year. Only remainders of odd Jews that managed to find hiding places will be left over.}}<ref>Smith, Peterson: Heinrich Himmler p. 169 f.</ref>
   

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