Entrance gate to former Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen.
Entrance gate to former Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen. Photo by Getty images
Text size
related tags

Over 70 parliamentarians from across Europe will gather in Brussels on Friday to mark the anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, a pivotal moment in Holocaust history.

Seventy years after a group of Nazi officials gathered at a lakeside villa on the Wannsee near Berlin to deliberate on the “final solution,” the statesmen will issue a special declaration to commemorate the event at which various other “final solutions” --such as exile to Madagascar and deportation eastward -- were taken off the table in favor of the plan to exterminate European Jewry.

In addition to commemorating Wannsee’s Final Solution plan with “humility and sadness”, the declaration also explicitly rejects the notion of “double genocide” a direction advocated by some East European states, particularly the Baltics, which argues that Europe experienced two equal genocides – a Nazi and a Soviet one.

The concept of such a “Double Genocide” was formalized in the 2008 Prague Declaration and resulted, among other things, in a 2009 European Parliament vote in favor of an all-European unitary day of commemoration for the victims of Nazi and Soviet crimes, of different kinds.

British parliamentarian Lord Janner of Braunstone, one of those behind the declaration explained the reason for the additional emphasis of the Friday initiative. “Seventy years on from the decision that more than any other defined the Holocaust, the memory of the Holocaust is under unprecedented attack from member states of the European Union, particularly Lithuania. This initiative is about preserving the historical truth for the benefit of all Europeans. If we lose the true meaning of one genocide we lose the meaning of all genocides. If everything is genocide then nothing is genocide,” he said in a statement.

The signatories to the declaration are from Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.