'Hitler Decided on the Mass Murder of the Jews in the 1920s and Thereafter Worked with Consciousness and Calculation Toward That Goal' Do You Agree?

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There has been much debate amongst historians about the origin of the holocaust and Hitler’s role in the process. This debate can be broken down into two main sides ‘structuralist’ and ‘intentionalist’. Structuralists argue that the holocaust was driven by a process of ‘cumulative radicalisation’ and factors such as the war and overcrowding which resulted in reactionary policies eventually leading to mass murder. While on the other hand intentionalists argue that the holocaust was a long term plan driven by Hitler’s demonic, ideology. This essay will attempt to illustrate the validity of the structuralist argument by showing how Hitler’s policies evolved from separating the Jews as citizens and then relocating them to genocide; it will also show how this evolution was driven by a number of factors, including the war, logistical issues and the local influence of Nazi officials The first political writing which shows evidence of Hitlers anti-Semitism and long term goals regarding the Jewish population of Germany is his letter written to Adolf Gemlich in September 1919. In the letter Hitler argues that a political anti-Semitic movement is needed to identify Jews as ‘racial tuberculosis’ which threatens the health of the German nation. Hitler states the only possible cure for this so called infection is a ‘systematic legal combating and elimination of the privileges of the Jews, that which distinguishes the Jews from the other aliens who live among us (an Aliens Law). The ultimate objective [of such legislation] must, however, be the irrevocable removal of the Jews in general.’ Here he is clearly stating the main aim of a future nationalist government should be to remove the Jewish population’s rights as citizens and then to physically remove them from Germany in what would become mass relocation. There is not strong enough evidence present in this letter to indicate Hitler had decided on the mass murder of the Jews at this point. His many speeches and writings throughout the 1920s continue to argue the need to remove the Jews from Germany in terms of rights and forcible relocation. This is evident in the Nazi party programme proclaimed by Hitler in February 1920 with point four stating only members of the ‘race’ can be citizens and that ‘no Jew can be a member of the race’. In Mein Kampf Hitler outlines the evolution of his anti-Semitism, in an attempt to appeal to possible supporters who may question the validity of his vehement attacks on the Jewish people Hitler illustrates that reason brought him to his anti-Semitic views. Hitler argues that ‘reason’ allowed him to see the Jewish people as a ‘alien’ race of Bolsheviks whom endeavour to cause ‘chaos and, ultimately, death for the inhabitants of this planet.’. In a speech in Munich on 18 September 1922 Hitler called for the ‘IMMEDIATE EXPULSION OF ALL JEWS WHO HAVE ENTERED GERMANY SINCE 1914’.. All of this rhetoric shows that Hitler had not settled on the mass murder of the Jews in the 1920s. Rather he had settled on Anti-Semitism as a core political agenda and propaganda tool with the ultimate aim being the disenfranchising and deportation of the Jewish people. The legislation and actions which made these goals a reality were the first steps in a process which due to many factors would escalate and evolve into mass murder. . If indeed the holocaust was ‘intentionalist’ in origin then Hitler’s intention of mass murder would be strongly evident from the beginning of his political writings. After securing power the Nazi party under Hitler’s influence moved quickly to enact their policies regarding the Jewish population of Germany. This action came in the form of the Nuremberg laws. These laws were the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour and the Reich Citizenship Law which came into force in September 1935. The Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour banned the marriage of Jews to those of ‘German or kindred blood’ and also did...
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