Centralised Planning

The policy of the Nazi regime towards people with disabilities, Sinti and Roma, and Jews became increasingly radical as the war progressed.

In the occupied areas of the Soviet Union, the SS, police, and local volunteers worked together under the protection and, at times, active help of the Wehrmacht to murder hundreds of thousands of civilians. In December 1941, Hitler ordered the systematic murder of all Jews within German territory. Shortly thereafter, the murderous plans of the “final solution to the Jewish question” were decided at the Wannsee Conference. Mass murder became an administrative act.

© Badische Presse
“Here’s what the carefree life of traitors who fled the country looks like.”, 14.2.1941

The deportations to Gurs were not reported upon. However, in mid-February 1941, the Badische Presse reacted to a report by a Swiss newspaper about the conditions at Gurs camp. It vilified those deported as “traitors of their country” made cynical comments on the Swiss newspaper’s estimation that “around half the camp inmates would die” if nothing were to change.

Originally a civic newspaper, the Badische Presse in Karlsruhe, which had a circulation of around 35,000 copies, was taken over by the NSDAP-owned newspaper association and brought into line with the Nazi party’s policy.

© Politisches Archiv, Auswärtiges Amt, RZ 214, R 100857, Bl. 171
Record of the state secretary meeting from 20.1.1942

At the Wannsee Conference on the 20th of January 1942, Reinhard Heydrich declared that he had been ordered to coordinate the murder of Jews in Europe. As the objective, the 15 attending representatives from various ministries, occupation administrations and the SS received this list as a handout. Here, the number of all Jews still alive was listed with apparent precision. The genocide had long since been a matter of fact, with Estonia already being categorised as “Jew-free.” The number of Jews in France’s “unoccupied zone” most certainly included the Jews living in the camps in southern France, as well as the Jewish population in the French areas of North Africa.

© Journal Les Actualités mondiales, ©INA
A still frame from the French newsreel on 22.5.1942

After visiting the Hague, Reinhard Heydrich (centre, in uniform) also travelled to Paris in May 1942 in order to arrange the deportations and to induct the Higher SS and Police Leader, Carl Oberg (right) to his office. As the French newsreel reports, “Monsieur Heydrich” also met the general secretary of the Vichy police, René Bousquet (left) under a picture of Hitler. Oberg and Bousquet played a central role in the deportations.

© Landesarchiv Speyer, T 104, Nr. 673
List of deportations from the Palatinate, 1942

Using meticulously compiled lists of names, the systematic deportation of Jews from all across the German Reich began in October 1941. Initially, the destinations for these deportations were ghettos in the occupied territories of Eastern Europe. Ever more increasingly, however, the victims of deportation were murdered directly upon arrival. In April 1942, almost all remaining Jews from the Palatinate, the Saar region and Baden were transported through Stuttgart to the Izbica ghetto near Lublin. Here, all trace was lost. Nobody survived.