Wannsee is a locality in the southwestern Berlin borough of Steglitz-Zehlendorf, Germany. It is the westernmost locality of Berlin. In the quarter there are two lakes, the larger Großer Wannsee (Greater Wannsee) and the Kleiner Wannsee (Little Wannsee), are located on the River Havel and are separated only by the Wannsee Bridge.
At the western rim of the Wannsee locality the Glienicke Bridge connects it with the city of Potsdam. The late neoclassical Glienicke Palace as well as the Pfaueninsel are nearby. Since 1990 these palaces and parks are part of the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin UNESCO World Heritage Site.
“Pack up the swimwear, grab your little sister and get the heck out to the Wannsee. Yes, we’re cycling like the wind, through the Grunewald swiftly and then soon we’ll be a the Wannsee”—this “Schlager” sang the at that time seven year old Cornelia Froboess in a 1951 television programme, which made the Wannsee known to Germany. Justifiably, since located there is not only the famous lido, which is one of Europe’s largest outdoor swimming areas on inland waters. There are still numerous other points of interest and opportunities for rejuvenation at the Wannsee, for instance the Pfaueninsel, which is only reachable with a ferry, and since 1924 stands under nature conservation. On it, strollers can enjoy nature, observe peacocks and take a tour of the afar seeable white castle, which Friedrich Wilhelm II had let build in the end of the 18th century. Also worth a visit, at the west bank of the Wannsee, is the villa and garden of the painter Max Liebermann. As well as the Haus der Wannseekonferenz, in which, in 1942, the National Socialists decided the organization of the deportation and killing of the European Jews. Today, the house is a memorial and place of education.
The Wannsee Conference (German: Wannseekonferenz) was a meeting of senior officials of Nazi Germany, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942 during World War II. The purpose of the conference was to ensure the cooperation of administrative leaders of various departments in the implementation of the final solution to the Jewish question. The conference, called by Chief of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA) Reinhard Heydrich, was attended by representatives from several government ministries, including state secretaries from the Foreign Office, the justice, interior, and state ministries, and representatives from the Schutzstaffel (SS).
In the course of the meeting, Heydrich outlined the proposal of final extermination of European Jews in German-occupied Europe under the pretext of resettlement. The plan called for removing them from their home environment and deporting them by train to extermination camps in the General Government territory of occupied Poland, where they would be murdered out of sight primarily by gassing.