The Wannsee Conference
The Wannsee Conference - A Documentary Theater Project by the Historikerlabor
The meeting on January 20, 1942 was brief, with only one point on the agenda: the so-called final solution of the Jewish question. The invitation, from the head of the Reich Security Main Office, announced that the meeting would be followed by brunch. On that Tuesday more than seventy years ago, high-ranking members of the SS and Nazi Germany’s ministerial bureaucracy met on the shore of the Grosser Wannsee lake to discuss the deaths of eleven million people. The minutes of the meeting survived as a key document on the persecution and murder of Europe’s Jews, tracing the path from disenfranchisement to the final “range of solutions”.
This “Wannsee Protocol” and the confrontation with this document formed one point of departure for a documentary theater project that premiered in January 2012 at the House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial and Educational Site. The other point of departure was the 15 conference participants themselves. Their biographies and political functions were researched by 15 historians – and the historians themselves, as specialists for each participant, took their places on the 15 chairs. In this way the script, developed in a two-month rehearsal process, was performed by the historians themselves. In this performance present-day scholars contemplated the historical document, always as people from 2012 looking at people from 1942. This intervention made it possible to comment on, question and perform the Protocol – a process both scholarly and artistic.
The performances at the House of the Wannsee Conference sold out rapidly, and the piece subsequently moved beyond the historic location with guest appearances at the Maxim Gorki Theater Berlin. On January 20, 2014 a DVD was issued, showing the dress rehearsal and a “making-of”.