Explaining the Holocaust Explaining the Holocaust Term Paper ID:27504 Essay Subject: Discusses two theories which attempt to explain the Holocaust. The first is the "internationalist" perspective, which places Hitler's pathologies at the center. The second is the "structuralist" perspective, in which it developed in unplanned stages.... 5 Pages / 1125 Words 2 sources, 1 Citations, MLA Format 20.00 Paper Abstract: Discusses two theories which attempt to explain the Holocaust. The first is the "internationalist" perspective, which places Hitler's pathologies at the center.
The second is the "structuralist" perspective, in which it developed in unplanned stages.Paper Introduction: In trying to explain the Holocaust, historian Ian Kershaw states that the central issue is how Nazi hatred of the Jews was translated into the practice of government and what precise role Hitler played in this transformation.
In considering this issue, Kershaw refers to a number of theories that have been offered on this question. He talks of historians in both parts of Germany after the war and how they analyzed the question, though he finds that their efforts in both cases were muted by circumstances and by the way the populace at large ignored their efforts. Thus, he states, the major impetus for such research came from outside Germany. One of the approaches he cites is referred to as Hitlerist, and this view places Hitler at the center of the matter and sees him as having a primary aim which he pursued from an early date, with However, Low also offers an assessment that is more intentionalist.
He states that anti-Semitism was to become the cardinal element of Naziideology and that it was Hitler who made it so. and finally, whether it was necessary for Hitler to do more than establish the underlying objective of "getting rid of Jews" from German territory, and then sanction the uncoordinated but increasingly radical steps of the various groups in the State who were seeking. Jews were added to the mix of those blamed for thedefeat of Germany in World War I and for the way Germany was punished bythe victors. Another approach is known asstructuralist, and this approach emphasizes the unsystematic and improvisedshaping of Nazi policies toward the Jews.
Thispremise postulates that Hitler had such an implacable will that he was ableto maintain his desire to achieve his program and to inspire others to dothe same. . Works CitedKershaw, Ian.
Structuralists also accept that Hitler maintained anabiding hatred of Jews throughout his political life. to turn this distant objective into practical reality (Kershaw 89). It would seemthat the Final Solution fed from Hitler's hatred of the Jews but wasdeveloped or created through a series of events building to the programthat was adopted. . The Nazi Dictatorship. Low cites other groups andother individuals in German society who hated Jews, and his analysis showsthat the idea existed independently of Hitler even if Hitler helped make itinto a driving ideology.
There was a gradual aspect in the lengthyprocess of depersonalization and dehumanization of the Jews, and anothergradual development came with the destabilization of the easternterritories, making the idea of mass killing a possibility. Kershaw sees such efforts as part of a personalizedexplanation of the Holocaust, personalized in terms of Hitler. . This view by Low would seem to support the structuralist point ofview. . Low finds that the anti-Semitictrend in Germany before 1914 was not found only in Germany but was foundthroughout Europe.
Kershaw points out that Hitler's hatred of the Jews and his own uniqueand central importance in the Nazi system are not part of the debate. These things are true whether Hitler is seen as the guiding force for theHolocaust or not. Alfred D. . These are seen as a series of adhoc responses rather than part of a preconceived plan.
New York: Columbia University, 1994. Low examines the role of German Jews in German politicsbeginning in the late nineteenth century and extending after World War IIand so suggests that there were anti-Semitic elements in German politicsbefore Hitler and that Hitler's own fanaticism merely supported andextended the existing hatred of Jews.
A historian such as Walter Hofer finds it impossible to believethat the Final Solution and other stages on the road to that program werenot the result of Hitler's world-view. The intentionalist view which places Hitler at the center and sees thedestruction of the Jews as a part of his greater program has a certainappeal and does have support from Hitler's earlier rabid attitudes towardthe Jews, and several historians have addressed the issue from thisperspective. The Third Reich and the Holocaust in German Historiography. Low's discussion fits with that of Kershaw andshows that a combination of structural changes over time coincided withHitler as a driving force to produce the sort of anti-Semitic program thatcame to be called the Final Solution. New York: Edward Arnold, 1993.
Low, Alfred D. whether physical extermination was Hitler's aim from a very early date or emerged as a realistic idea only as late as 1941 or so. He talks of historiansin both parts of Germany after the war and how they analyzed the question, though he finds that their efforts in both cases were muted bycircumstances and by the way the populace at large ignored their efforts.
Thus, he states, the major impetus for such research came from outsideGermany. The structuralistapproach does not deny that Hitler had a personal, political, and moralculpability for the Holocaust: Rather, the central areas of debate among historians are: whether evidence of Hitler's continued and consistent personal hatred is sufficient explanation in itself of the Holocaust. At the same time, this would not have happened without the activecollaboration of the Wehrmacht. There has also been much discussion recently about how muchsupport Hitler was given by the German people as a whole.
Kershaw takes a middle ground as he ascertains first that theHolocaust would not have happened without Hitler's fanatical will todestroy Jews, an aim that crystallized into an action program only in 1941. In trying to explain the Holocaust, historian Ian Kershaw states thatthe central issue is how Nazi hatred of the Jews was translated into thepractice of government and what precise role Hitler played in thistransformation. . However, other historians have challenged this point of view and doubtthat there was a long-range extermination program from such an early date. Structuralists believe that the Nazi program developed in stages and thatthere was no guiding intelligence behind it as it did so. This approach is also known as intentionalist becauseit focuses on Hitler's intentions and how they were translated into actionover time, creating the motivation needed for his government to carry outhis wishes and seek the end he had in mind.
In this view, the various stagesin the persecution of the Jews were only elements on a continuum leading tothe Final Solution. Kershaw statesthat at the root of this divergence in historical explanations for theHolocaust is the dichotomy between intention and structure, and he thensets out to valuate this dichotomy and to analyze the question form his ownperspective. Hitler detailed his own anti-Semitism and says it started inVienna. During the early days of the rise of the NationalSocialists to power, there were three characteristics of the regime: 1) acommitment to national tradition to make Germans identify with the stateand its power; 2) the joining of tradition with the promise of a new order, of an historic breakthrough, and of a national revival and renewal; and 3)terror directed at enemies and at the populace at large in order toconvince the people that compliance was the only way to avoid furthertrouble. There was resistance to the Nazis within German societyfrom a number of people and groups in society, and this resistance wasdealt with harshly as the Nazis tried to consolidate their own power andbring everyone into conformity with their program of belligerence towardGermany's neighbors.
The Nazis did not come to power in Germany without opposition, andthey did not develop their war machine in an atmosphere completely devoidof resistance. In considering this issue, Kershaw refers to a number oftheories that have been offered on this question. One of the approaches he cites is referred to as Hitlerist, and thisview places Hitler at the center of the matter and sees him as having aprimary aim which he pursued from an early date, with that aim being theelimination of the Jew from German life.
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