The on the minds and feelings of ordinary

The Holocaust was
the systematic, state-sponsored persecution of Jews by the Nazi regime. The
Final Solution is the extension of the Holocaust that started the systematic
killing of the Jews, which had an immediate effect on the European Jewish
population shown in 1933, as 60 percent of all Jews lived in Europe and then by
1950, 51 percent lived in the America. Historians have long been trying to
answer the way in which this happened. Ian Kershaw’s book “Hitler” focuses on
whether Hitler was a strong or weak dictator to answer this question. This
allows Kershaw’s answer to have tremendous scope as it can explain both the
long-term incremental steps alluding towards a long-term plan as well as the
short-term bursts of radicalism in the same argument and there by stating that
no one answer is correct. This can also be inferred from the titles of the
chapters I have used “Fulfilling the Prophecy” and “Marks of Genocidal
mentality”, which both provide connotations that it is too simple to say
whether it was a long or short-term plan as Hitler was obviously a driving
force but it could not have been achieved alone.

Browning’s book “The Path to Genocide” studies the psychological pressure to
subscribe to Hitler’s and the party’s Weltanschauung which highlights the control Hitler had on the minds
and feelings of ordinary people in the regime. The title of the book influences
the reader to think that there was a predetermined path to genocide as if this
was something that could happen to any country. 
It can also be inferred that it had to meet some requirements for this
path to be built and the combination of strong underlying anti-Semitism from
the public and the overall feeling that the country had lost its “Germaness”
were met. Individually this wasn’t sufficient but accompanied by the driving
force from Hitler allowed it to be taken further which Hitler did, thereby
indirectly commenting on the necessity on the general public to support Hitler
for this to occur. This gives Browning’s argument significances as it looks at
each individual action which accumulates to bring together an argument that
takes a bottom up look. This allows Browning’s argument to shine light on
evidence that may be overlooked from other angles.

Peter Longerich addresses the issue from a distance
which shows the incremental steps that often get hidden when looked at closely.
The title of the book “The Unwritten Order” looks to be a reference to a speech
made by Himmler to the SS which demonstrates the secrecy of the plans against
the Jews and could be inferred that this is hinting at this being a long-term
plan. Therefore, the title could also promote the idea that the plan was
“unwritten” and has no evidence of it being planned as it was never committed
to paper, but due to this fact it allowed different interpretations to develop
causing what seems to be short-term plan of radicalization.

Ian Kershaw a renowned historian whose work is focused
on the social history of the 20th century Germany. Many regard him as one of
the world’s leading experts on Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany because Kershaw
provides insight into the way Hitler worked and the role he played. Kershaw
puts weight on the role of the party’s ideological aims rather than Hitler’s
own because Hitler only plays a minute role in the “expansionist policy”1 and “would not figure
prominently in the polish crisis”2.  This initially could be interpreted as a
short-term plan made by the party to push towards genocide. It demonstrates
that the party are the ones that are radicalizing their political power to
achieve their previously out of reach ideas, but because Hitler ultimately had
the power this could not happen without his approval. Kershaw emphasises the
strong dictator or weak dictator argument, which provides connotations that
this was a long-term plan made by the party. Although, to think that a supposed
heavily anti-Semitic dictator would distance himself with something that gave
him control over one of the most populated Jewish countries in Europe seems odd.
Not to discredit the actions taken by Heydrich and the party as they would have
firmly had Hitler in mind; but this would seem that maybe Hitler’s genocidal
mentality had not manifested yet. Kershaw shows
that the genocidal mentality did not come from Hitler’s Weltanschauung (particular
philosophy or view of life) and
was derived from the “party and its numerous sub-organizations”3 as they were “important in
sustaining the pressure for ever-new discriminatory measures”4. Therefore, could be a short-term
plan from the party initially, but Hitler’s developing role and increased anti-Semitic
ideas forced people such as Heydrich to radicalize the plans. Therefore, it is
understandable for Kershaw to think this is a short-term plan that spun out of
control, however in Mein Kampf,
Hitler makes it clear that he researched Jewish history in depth before he came
to the conclusion that “Jews were the root cause of all Germanys misfortunes”5. Kershaw may have
overlooked this because it does seem to be a stretch for the imagination and
sourced from a book Hitler wrote himself that Hitler uses to justify his reasons
for being anti-Semitic. Therefore, would be reasonable to assume that this was
in Kershaw’s eyes not a valuable source and a more outside in outlook would be
a more suitable approach, which is why he uses Goebbels diary to help source
his argument.


Gerald Fleming sources his evidence from the book Mein
Jugendfrund to emphasize Hitler’s anti-Semitic ideology and the effect it had
during his childhood, which continued throughout his life. Fleming shows that
when Hitler spoke to his friend August Kubizek, as the two passed the small
synagogue “‘That should not be here in Linz’ Hitler’s unshakable conviction
that ‘the Jews had continued to perform ritual murders’ up to the most recent
past”6 demonstrates that Hitler’s
anti-Semitic mentality was strong from a young age. This is where Fleming
differences in interpretation stem from the evidence from Mein Jugendfrund as
Fleming shows that Hitler’s anti-Semitic mentality is a primary role in the
plans for the final solution. However, Kershaw demonstrates that Goebbels was
part of a process that formulated a plan to deal with the Jews and mentions the
small role Hitler plays. This would explain the radicalization of the plans due
to Hitler’s absence, making the result radicalized to meet what people thought
Hitler would want and therefore indicates clearly that this could be short-term
plan. This is where Fleming disagrees because during the Wannesse conference in
1942 it was clear that the SS already had a plan in place. This would explain
why Hitler had little involvement in the expansionist policy, because he had
already devised a plan before so required little involvement in a plan he had
already made. Therefore, would indicate that on the surface this was a
short-term plan with little involvement from Hitler, but in fact this was a
long-awaited plan that had been set in motion to gather information on other
people’s opinions but regardless the plan would get pushed through. Flemings
notes the topics that were discussed during the conference and the fact that
many of these had already been implemented “following the Wannsee Conference,
the agreed-upon selection process began in the German-Jewish concentration camp
in Riga”7. However, this had already
happened in “1941” were “twenty-seven thousand Jewish citizens of Riga had
already been shot on 30 November and 8 December”8. This clearly demonstrates
that this was pre-planned prior to this conference and planned before the 9 of
December 1941(the date of the conference that was originally set). Heydrich
being the one that postponed it can be inferred that these plans were made with
him and Hitler and therefore cannot be solely inspired by Hitler. Furthermore,
this does leads me to believe that this was a long-term idea from Hitler but
was planned by Heydreich before the 9 December 1941, so it would work with
Germanys current situation.


Start it straight away with the idea of it
being short term or long term

Christopher Browning’s research use the significance
of ghettoization for the Nazi party to explain the reason why he thinks the
path to genocide was not a “conscious preparatory step for systematic mass
murder”9 and furthermore a short-term
plan. Browning breaks down the two-supposed type of government generals that
occupied Poland, one being the “Productionists”10, favoured using Jews of
the ghettos as a source of slave labour, the other “Attritionists”11, letting those in ghettos
starve and die of disease. These two methods of dealing with the Jews shows the
mentality of the government generals of that time as “the productionists
prevailed over the attritionists”12 when the authorities were
left to themselves. Browning
deduced this from “as early as 1940 some local authorities advocated the mass
starvation of the ghettoized Jews, but the received no support”13.
Therefore, it was not until the idea came from above did it become acceptable.
This shows the level of power Hitler has to change people’s minds. As
well as this, it would also entail that the will of the people was far less
genocidal, and the real genocidal driving force came from above and may not
have been solely derived from the long-term underlying hatred for the Jews.
Kershaw provides evidence to support the short-term radicalization as there
were people like Helldorf who “put forward a variety of discriminatory
measures-including special identity cards for Jews, branding of Jews…and also
envisaged the construction of a ghetto in Berlin to be financed by the richer
Jews”14. Knowing the small part
Hitler played in organisation it would seem the genocidal acts came from Goring
or even Himmler as Goebbels wanted Poland to be “a large work reservoir”15. Kershaw and Longerich
converge to agree that this shows that it was only a few of Hitler’s
subordinates that were pro Ghettoization and the views the government officials
developed were due to the conflicting views Hitler’s subordinates took.
Although because Hitler would claim credit for their work, people thought this
was the will of the Fuhrer. This shows clearly, why government employees would
have conflicting views due to their misleading superior’s opinion. Therefore,
depicts the drive towards genocide was well-kept secret making it easy for
people to different ideas on what this meant as no-one spoke openly about it.

Lucy Dawidowicz disagrees with Browning’s opinion because
it takes ghettoization out of context and can be criticized because of the many
years of incrementally alienating steps that had been made by Hitler against
the Jews previously. This reduces the value of the argument as to take a wider
view of this occurrence would show the seemingly methodical steps taken which
show that this could be long-term as well as short. Lucy
Dawidowicz makes it clear that since February 27th, 1933 when the
Reichstag building was set on fire and Van Der Lubbe – a deranged pyro maniacal
Dutch Communist- was found in the building and suspected of doing it, that
there is a plan like structure that followed. Lucy goes on to explain that
Hitler has used this to put in place a series of decrees to “undermine the
constitution and destroy its guarantee of basic liberties”. Furthermore, Hitler
introduced another “set of decrees dealt with high treason, in a manner so
deliberately ill-defined as to cover every possible form of dissidence”16 to get to the point where
ghettoization is an option.  Longerich
and Dawidowicz stress the importance of Hitler and the steps taken whilst
Browning places stress on the party as a whole. However, Dawidowicz refers to
some of the steps as “ill-defined”, notably this is a subjective view of the
decrees as the ill-definition does not have to be because Hitler thought about
this thoroughly, as these decrees were introduced a day after, so they could
have been rushed and fortunately sufficed. Therefore, the assumption that they
were intended to be a smart defensive move induces the question as to whether
the assumption that this was Hitler’s doing is correct. Browning points out
that there would have been large pressure from the Nazi party to act against
this incident forcing Hitler to introduce such laws, which would have little
friction due to Hitler’s ideology. I can infer that Dawidowicz has strong
feelings about these decrees as it had a huge impact on a very personal
community and therefore is more susceptible to laws against Jews. Browning and Martin
Broszat converge on the Nazi government as Broszat sums the Nazi government up
as “the polycracy of individual office holders, each seeking to recommend
himself to Hitler through a particular ability to get things done, ultimately
led to the proliferation of arbitrary decisions and acts of violence”17. Thereby demonstrating
the basis of Hitler’s workforce and explaining why these laws were designed to
be vice. Furthermore, Ghettoization being a pivotal point as it produced the
further opportunity to change these ghettos into concentration camps. From a
far is hard to see how it could have possibly been a radicalization of policy
due to the incremental steps taken, and only when it is looked at closely does
it show that Hitler failed to provide a clear and consistent policy which could
be due to his own agenda and the parties. Therefore, the initial drive from the
party to push Hitler to move towards immoral laws for Jews was what provides
the base that people like Himmler and Helldorf to further carry out and
radicalize. This in turn causes the incremental steps seen from a distance but
also explaining the one-upmanship of Hitler’s cabinet seen when looked at
closely. Furthermore, this would strengthen Browning’s argument as it shows
that government officials jumping on board the idea of death camps. However,
this happens only when the leaders of the Nazi Party make this acceptable and
therefore shows both signs of being long and short term. Since this can be seen
from, two angles so clearly it would indicate that both Dawidowicz and Browning
contain specific value when looking at them individually. However, when looked
at in conjunction it displays a broader picture and further provides more value
and demonstrates that the plan was a mixture of short-term pressure and
long-term underlying state of mind. Therefore, it would be sensible to deduce
that the party catalysed Hitler’s plans and when meet by the Second World War
the pressure was increased beyond expectation and in response triggered the
final solution.

Peter Longerich shares a similar view to Lucy
Dawidowicz as they both emphasis the methodical steps that Hitler takes.
However, Peter Longerich puts large weight on the words used by Hitler and his
cabinet during speeches. It all starts with the nature of Hitler, and with the
discussion of the annihilation of the Jews. Himmler shows the level of secrecy
that it had in a speech to the SS elite “it was ‘an unwritten,
never-to-be-written page of glory in our history'”18. Longerich also notes the
sudden change of tone for the Jews in Hitler’s speeches after Kristallnacht in
1938 as words such as “‘annihilation’ … ‘final solution’ and ‘removal'” begun
to be used openly to the public, and more specifically the Reichstag speech in
1939 that declared the outbreak of war would mean the end of the European Jewry.
This in turn marks the transition in Nazi racial antisemitism. Although,
Longerich makes a clear point that everything that happened during the plans
for the Holocaust and the plans for the Final Solution were undeniably passed by
Hitler. Why does he think this? What methodologyThis
has huge value as Longerich proposes the idea that even though laws and ideas
may have been radicalized it all happened within Hitler’s control. Furthermore,
Longerich shines a light on the role Hitler played during the plans for the
final solution. It was to be implemented by Himmler and the idea had been
commissioned by the Fuhrer to implement the final solution previously. However,
the proposal “had not been implemented for the sole reason that the
General-gouvernment Poland was not in the position to accept a single Jew or
Pole from the old Reich”19. To me this clearly
demonstrates that Hitler was firmly in control, but this obviously doesn’t show
whether it is a long-term plan or not but, when deconstructed further it shows
that even if the plans were constantly radicalized that Hitler clearly had the
power to control when the final solution happened. Therefore, this either shows
that there was a long-term plan that needed the final solution to happen later
or there was no plan at all and Hitler had not thought the plan was needed. However,
Martin Broszat take it one step further by looking at Germany instead of the
leaders alone, as ultimately people needed to back Hitler and the Nazi party in
the first place before this could have even manifested. Broszat supports the
claim that the government was a polycracy as shown that Hitler and the party
were seen to be leaching of the economic crisis turning Hitler into a demagogue.
As well as this his subordinates didn’t arise because of their experience it
was bestowed upon them by Hitler because they associated closely with him. Broszat
emphasises the chaos that the Nazi system had and points to the “inconsistency
of hierarchical solidarity and uniformity of the state and party” … and because
of this the “National socialist control under Hitler’s absolute leadership
could not be reconciled with normal practice as it increasingly undermined
the essentials, not only of the constitution but the state as such”20. Not to forget, it is
well documented that Hitler was known to be very lazy and often signed paper
without reading it if he was in a good enough mood. However, this does hang
huge worth on Hitler’s mood and the fact this happened often, which is hard to
predict as there is virtually nothing to show what Hitler did before signing
every bit of paper, therefore this devalues this argument as it lacks
sufficient evidence. Furthermore, there are aspects which to me make sense as
this explains the complexity of the Germanys government which Longerich’s
argument doesn’t, but Longerich does demonstrates the control that Hitler
really had as the language almost planted and grew deep rooted Jewish hatred in
the publics minds that Broszat undermines. Based on this it would show that
there was a plan to move towards removing the Jews but the way in which it was
to be done was able to be radicalized, which it was.


To conclude Browning demonstrates the indecisive
nature of Hitler allowing radicalization to happen but he makes it clear that
when Hitler was deciding on the final solution that it took a dramatic turn
from “some genocidal combination of expulsion, starvation and execution at some
indefinite time in the future” to “the attempt to murder every last Jew within
the German grasp in the near future”21. I agree that this very
much looks to be on the surface a sudden radicalization but by who? For me this
is proves either side as Hitler could have intended for this to happen but
misjudged the timing of when it should happen. Hitler maybe misunderstood the
severity of the war as the sight of winning the war was becoming further away,
therefore I would argue that this could equally be a catalyst for Hitler’s
plans to be speed up. This is not to say that this point isn’t valid but to say
that it requires evidence and specific documents which we lack. Longerich also
makes the point that before the final solution Hitler seemed to have intentions
to solve the Jewish problem legally and at the “Nuremburg party conference that
the Law for the Protection of German Blood was the attempt to solve by legal
means the problem, which, if these means failed repeatedly…” there would be
need for a “definitive solution”22. This exemplifies that
there was a set of plans or at least an idea to discriminate against the Jews,
whether it was intentionally used to ease the German minds into genocide by
Hitler or radicalized by people working towards Hitler is hard to answer but
because Hitler had not delegated large amount of his operations and power yet
this suggests it to be the former. Comparatively Browning’s point under the
light of Longerich’s points seems less likely. Kershaw’s opening line to his
chapter “Fulfilling the ‘Prophecy'” “it was no accident that the war in the
east led to genocide”23 sums up the important
point that short-term or long-term there was a driving force necessary for this
to happen, however, this is too simple on its own and Kershaw continues and
points out the complexities of his argument. The main one being that Hitler was
the driving force to set this in motion as Hitler “spoke a good deal during the
summer and autumn of 1941 to his close entourage in the most brutal terms
imaginable, about his ideological aims in crushing the Soviet Union”24, Kershaw further explains
that however this may be true Hitler’s involvement “in contrast to military
affairs… in ideological matters was far less frequent and less direct”25 this argument allows it
to encompass the strengths and weaknesses from both Longerich’s and Browning’s
argument as there was undoubtedly radicalization from Hitler’s entourage as it
would have been necessary to please him. Providing the fact that Hitler was the
cause of it and everything happened within his predetermined barriers which
where large but Hitler retained the power to stop them shows that to say it was
a long-term or a short term plan is too simple. Therefore, to come to a
conclusive answer is hard as there are so many unknowns that could potentially
provide the necessary evidence to change the point of view, this is why it is
possible for historians to have so many perspectives as it depends largely on
how the historian weighs up and draws information from every scenario.
Therefore, Kershaw in my opinion provides the most likely answer to the
question whether it was a long-term plan or a short-term plan and that being a
careful evaluation of both to produce an almost middle ground. This induces my
belief that the marks of genocide would have stemmed from Hitler’s youth, but
Hitler laid down the guidelines for such an operation to happen during the
summer and autumn of 1941 of which he had probably intended to happen but was
kept locked up as he was too preoccupied to carry this out.

Kershaw, I. Hitler. p.448

Kershaw, I. Hitler.p.448

Kershaw, I. Hitler.p.448

Kershaw, I. Hitler.p.448

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Fleming , G. Hitler and the Final Solution.p.92

Browning, C.R. The Path To Genocide.p.89

Browning, C.R. The Path To Genocide.p.90

Browning, C.R. The Path To Genocide.p.90

Browning, C.R. The Path To Genocide.p.90

Browning, C.R. The Path To Genocide.p.89

Kershaw, I. Hitler.p.454

Longerich, P. The Unwritten Order.p.60

Dawidowicz, L.S. The War Against the Jews 1933-1945.p.50

Broszat, M. The Hitler State.p.xi

Longerich, P. The Unwritten Order.p.17

Longerich, p. The Unwritten Order.p.61

Broszat, M. The Hitler State.p.xi

Stone, D. The Historiography of the Holocaust (Browning C.R.) p.188

Longerich, P. The Unwritten Order.p.37

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Kershaw, I. Hitler.p.668

Kershaw, I. Hitler.p.668