Friday, Friday, Friday. End of the "work week" for many. Beginning of the weekend for others. Me? It's just another cold, dreary day and I'm trying to think of something profound about which to blog.
Oh, as you may or may not have noticed, I've changed the look of the Blog. I got tired of the "pink" theme. When I started this thing I needed a layout that was simple and would help me ensure that every date had a prominent marker so I would know that I had remembered to keep up with my challenge. However, I am not a "pink" person. I hate pink. Unless it's a retina-burning flourescent pink, I don't want it. I can't stand having to pass the Barbie aisles in stores because of all of the pink. Even my dogs, both of whom are female, are like me -- tomboyish and no "froo-froo bows or ribbons" in our hair, especially if they're pink.
Since Friday itself doesn't have much importance to me today (at least, not yet), I decided to try to find something interesting about today's date -- January 20th. Usually people remember that it's Inauguration Day after we elect (or re-elect) our President every four years. It's also a date that has had a lot of controversy -- specifically in 1981 when just minutes after Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as our 40th president the hostages in Iran were suddenly freed. Debate still continues over who paid whom and how badly President Jimmy Carter had to be portrayed so that Reagan would win and the back-table dealings would get our people out of Iran. It was all so scripted and choreographed that many realized that something was rotten, and it wasn't in Denmark.
But if you want true evil at its utmost that occurred on January 20th, look back to 1942. On that day, 15 officials sat around a large table while drinking wine, smoking cigars, and enjoying the finest food. They were there to decide the fate of over six million lives and did so with such politeness and efficiency that was meticulously recorded, as only the Nazis could.
January 20, 1942 was the date of the Wannsee Conference.
Hitler's armies were freezing on the Eastern Front. He wanted his goal of a "true Aryan supremacy" to come to fruition, regardless of the cost. American troops had begun to join the fight in the West with the Allies and Germany had too many "undesirables" in their way. That's always a problem when you invade a country -- you have to do something with the population that was already there. They have needs and those needs must be met. But when your plan begins to suffer because of all the people standing in your way and you're as bat-crap crazy as Hitler was over world domination, you get someone else to take care of it.
Herman Goering, under Hitler's instructions, sent SS General Reinhard Heydrich to a manor house in a small suburb outside of Berlin to meet with SS Major Adolf Eichmann and other officials from Nazi ministries and organizations. By the end of the day, they had decided the "final solution" and went off to continue their lives and careers. The sole instruction given to them at that time was that a copy of the transcripts of the meeting (Nazis loved to keep notes about everything) would be distributed to each member present and that they were to be kept in the highest confidence. Fortunately for the Allies and the rest of the world, their obsessive-compulsive need to have everything documented along with the arrogance of one of the members present resulted in a single copy surviving. This copy of the minutes of the meeting and what was said and done in that room was used as key evidence during the Nazi war crimes trials.
If you've never seen the movie Conspiracy published by HBO Films and starring Kenneth Branagh, Stanley Tucci, and Colin Firth (among many other recognizable stars), then you should. To watch a reconstruction of the events based upon the surviving copy of the transcripts and what each person had to say, their reasonings behind it, and even the casualness with which the participants spoke and joked about "evacuating" undesirable persons is truly shocking. All of the ideas tossed around the table and debate between who should be the first to receive these "benefits" to their organization and seeing some having a moment of conscious realization about what they were actually discussing is very educational and disturbing. Even more disturbing is at the end of the movie when they show what happened to all of the participants. If I remember correctly, the last one to die did so in 1987 -- having never been convicted in this plot. As a matter of fact, you'll be stunned how many were never associated with the plans written that day and what they went on to do with their lives.
I have a penchant for movies that are historically accurate yet morbid and I can't quite explain why. Conspiracy is in my DVD collection along with Downfall -- the movie from which the Hitler rant that's become an Internet meme showing him upset over everything from why the Star Wars prequels were so awful to when Twitter crashed and even to Hitler finding out he's become an Internet meme and the decision by the corporation that owns the original film to remove all of the parodies from the Internet. I still want to find a DVD copy (with English subtitles) of The Chekist. I rented that movie once and watched it one evening with Husband. Let's just say it's not a movie to which you can eat popcorn. Or much of anything else. Watching the Soviet purges over and over will definitely keep this from ever being a suitable "date" movie.
Heck, I've decided that if I'm ever truly suicidal that all I'll need to do is watch The Chekist, Conspiracy, and Downfall in one sitting and I'll be begging to slit my own wrists.
So, there's your history lesson for the day. There might be a pop-quiz in the middle or at the end of the blog, so be sure to keep your notes. And definitely don't ever let anyone forget what plans happened on this date 70 years ago.