What Was Hitler’s Role in the Holocaust?

Topics: Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, The Holocaust Pages: 5 (1458 words) Published: June 14, 2011
What was Hitler’s role in the Holocaust?

Studies of the Holocaust have provoked passionate debates. Increasingly, they have become a central topic of concern for historians particularly since the early 1970s, as the Holocaust studies were generally limited. However, one of the most intense debates surrounding the role played by Hitler in the ’Final Solution’. That is, whether and when Hitler took a decision to initiate the extermination process. Of course, this issue has caused incredible controversy and naturally such a contentious topic of debate has radically produced large amounts of new data and literature. Conflicting, an interpretation has caused further disparities between historians over Hitler’s role in the Holocaust. For this reason, historians have been divided into two particular schools of thought, termed Intentionalists and Functionalists.

Broadly, the Internationalist school of thought sees Hitler as a central figure that had planned the ‘Final Solution’ long before he came to power in 1933. The radicalization of Nazi policy by mid 1930s, onwards was part of the long term plan which came to be implemented on Hitler’s own initiative. In contrast, Functionalists (also known as Structuralists) argue that the path that led to the Holocaust was a far more twisted especially in the absence of any grand plan or blue print indicating details for mass murder. Further, the policies that were implemented after the outbreak of the War were the result of competition and internal rivalries between Hitler’s Henchmen to produce policies and ideas according to what they perceived to be Hitler’s aims.

A central point, of this essay will be that Hitler’s role in the final solution was vital but this does not mean shifting the guilt of the Holocaust onto one individual. Nonetheless, Hitler’s criminal charismatic energy persistently instigated local and widespread anti- Semitism. He provided his Henchmen, as well as local counterparts within the regime with deadly anti- Semitic rhetoric against non- Germans. Hitler inspired his men with a sense of purpose and duty towards the Fatherland in return for preserving German supremacy. In addition, his henchmen worked in hand in hand towards fulfilling the will of their Further.

As already noted, though Hitler’s role in the Holocaust was important yet an implicit point of this essay will be that he did not come to power with a grand design for the Final Solution. But, this radically changed during the outbreak of the War particularly after the 1942 Wannesse Conference, when decisions were taken by Hitler and his henchmen to transform the Ghetto and expulsion system into more systemic and coordinated murder.

The answer to the question of determining Hitler’s role in the Holocaust cannot be answered until three broad areas of the Third Reich are examined. The first involves examining Hitler’s role as a leader. And, the type of power structure that he headed after the Soviet Invasion. The second involves, examining the positions of Hitler’s subordinates who not only perpetuated Hitler’s power but who also implemented and carried out the ‘Final Solution’. Our third area of discussion will briefly consider how the outbreak of the War radicalized events within the concentration camps especially since Wannesse Conference of 1942. Finally, the examination of the above factors will help form a clear picture in understanding Hitler’s active and inactive participation during the Holocaust.

Hitler & the Nazi State Structure during World War Two

Hitler’s impact on the Nazi State Administration

For a better understanding, of events leading up to the ‘Final Solution’ it is very important to examine Hitler’s impact on the party structure and his decision making competence after the outbreak of the Soviet invasion. We know that 1938-1943, were extremely remarkable years for the Third Reich as Hitler’s power according to the German Law had become absolute....
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