The plans to exterminate all the Jews of Europe was formalized at the Wannsee Conference, held at an SS guesthouse near Berlin, on 20th January 1942. The conference was chaired by Heydrich and attended by 15 senior officials of the Nazi Party and the German government.
Most of those attending were representatives of the Interior Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, and the Justice Ministry, including Ministers for the Eastern Territories.
At the conference, Heydrich indicated that approximately 11,000,000 Jews in Europe would fall under the provisions of the ‘Final Solution’.
The nature and timing of the decisions that led to the ‘Final Solution’ is an intensely researched and debated aspect of the Holocaust. The program evolved during the first 25 months of war leading to the attempt at murdering every last Jew in the German grasp.
Most historians agree, that the ‘Final Solution’ can not be attributed to a single decision made at one particular point in time. It is generally accepted the decision-making process was prolonged and incremental.
Several scholars have suggested that the ‘Final Solution’ began in the newly formed district of Bezirk Bialystok. The German army took over Bialystok within days. On Friday, 27th June 1941, the Reserve Police Battalion 309 arrived in the city and set the Great Synagogue on fire with hundreds of Jewish men locked inside.
The burning of the synagogue was followed by a frenzy of killings both inside the homes and in the city park, lasting until night time. The next day, some 30 wagons of dead bodies were taken to mass graves.