The Origins of the Holocaust Essay

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The question of the origins of the Holocaust has been studied by scholars using several differing approaches. These interpretations are outlined by Donald Niewyk in The Holocaust as the long history of European anti-Semitism, the charismatic personality of Adolf Hitler and the influence of modern “scientific” racism or eugenics. These interpretations are illustrated in the works of John Weiss, Ian Kershaw, and Henry Friedlander. Niewyk uses Weiss to identify the interpretation of ancient anti-Semitism located throughout Europe as the origin of the Holocaust. He uses Ian Kershaw’s argument that Adolf Hitler’s unique leadership was the ultimate catalyst for the Holocaust and employs Henry Friedlander’s biological racist ideology to…show more content…
Therefore this paper will focus on similar critiques, arguing that a combination of the long history of anti-Semitism and “scientific” racism interpretations presented by Friedlander and Weiss provides the most logical interpretations of the Nazi government and the origins of the Holocaust. In The Nazi Dictatorship: Problems and Perspectives of Interpretation, Ian Kershaw provides an illustration of the interpretations of the Holocaust that place Hitler as the driving force behind the elimination of the Hebrew population in Germany. Kershaw describes how the term ‘the Holocaust’ was initially adopted by Jewish writers in preference of the generic descriptive term ‘genocide’. By ostensibly stating that, “without Hitler's fanatical will to destroy Jewry, which crystallized only by 1941 in tools realizable aims to exterminate physically the Jews of Europe, the Holocaust would almost certainly not have come about,” Kershaw embodies the interpretations that place Hitler as the ultimate cause for the planned annihilation of the Hebrew population in Europe. However, an examination of the policies of the Nazi regime shows that although it was not defined as a final solution, the German nation had already embarked on the path of “scientific” racism that ultimately manifested in the final solution of the Nazis. The 1933 Law for
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