Week 6 holocausts response | History homework help

   All students are required to respond to other student posts each week The goal here is to ENGAGE in respectful dialogue – be supportive of each other, even as you are critical of each other’s ideas.    


Read THE HOLOCAUST READER, PART IV (Whose ‘Final Solution?’ Revisiting Intentionalism and Fundamentalism)

1) In a single sentence IN YOUR OWN WORDS (IYOW), provide an OVERVIEW of this section.

It focuses on the Functionalist and Intentionalist debate surrounding the Holocaust: Whether it was intended from the start or not. 

2) For each chapter (14-18), provide a THESIS sentence and THREE specific pieces of evidence to support your thesis – what is each writer’s MAIN argument, and how does each writer support said argument? (Use 2-3 sentences for EACH and feel free to number them.)

3) Select ONE of the documents that you find MOST illuminating, and explain WHY in 4-5 sentences.

  • ideas you find MOST troubling or problematic, and why, with 3 specific pieces of evidence
  1. Adolf Hitler’s 1939 Reichstag Speech: He argues that the Jews have stirred up hatred and violence towards Germany from other nations and should be killed.
    • “If the International Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging nations once more into a world war, then the result will… be… the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!” (Gigliotti and Lang, 242). Hitler is blaming the Jews for the First World War and said that if they start another, they will surely be killed.
    • “At the moment the Jews in certain countries may be fomenting hatred under the protection of a press, of the film, of wireless propaganda, of the threatre, of literature… all of which they control,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 242). Hitler is saying that the Jews control the media and influence other nations to be under their will.
    • “The Jewish watchword ‘Workers of the world unite’ will be conquered by a higher realization, namely ‘Workers of all classes and of all nations, recognize your common enemy,’” (Gigliotti and Lang, 242). Hitler blames them for the rise of Communism, and that they are the common enemy of all nations, and when this is realized, they will be conquered. 
  2. Minutes of the Wannsee Conference: The discussion is primarily revolved around the emigration of Jews around Europe in preparation of the Final Solution.
    • “Under appropriate supervision, in the course of the final solution, the Jews are to be suitably assigned to labor in the East,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 247).
    • “The evacuated Jews will first be brought group by group, into so-called transit ghettos, to be transported from there farther to the East,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 247).
    • “The most important aspects are (a) forcing the Jews out of each sphere of the life of the German people; (b) forcing the Jews out of the living space of the German people,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 244).
  3. Berel Lang: There was an evolution of how the Holocaust was to be carried out, but the Final Solution was intended as the conclusion.
    • “The Contextual Model requires no assumption of an independent corporate ‘mind’ or ‘will’ but only the evidence of actions that converge on a goal, quite aside from any other, independent evidence…. Even without the evidence that exists of the centralized coordination of this process through Himmler’s offices in the RSHA, the efacts themselves here disclose the design of intention,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 259-260).
    • “…on the Contextual Model, such an [explicit] additional requirement is gratuitous and even if it were met would be insufficient. Since intentions reside in the acts themselves since the ensemble of acts is not in question, neither is the intention that the acts represent… intentions… are necessarily known by a form of inductive inference,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 261).
    • “With the invasion of Russia… any denial of the Nazi genocide as intentional in the strict sense of that becomes increasingly difficult to maintain; and with the establishment, beginning with Belzec in October 1941, of the six ‘death camps,’ it becomes prima facie implausible insofar as the intention involved is judged by criteria at all close to the stand ones. The facts and numbers are well-known: six camps; upward of 2.5 million Jewish dead…” (Gigliotti and Lang, 260).
  4. Martin Broszat and Saul Friedlander: Broszat is claiming that the Holocaust should be contextualized within the bounds of how Germany thought of the Jews evolved over time and the world war; Friedlander is claiming that the contextualization can undermine the Holocaust as something not evil.
    • Saul Friedlander, on his point, says that “I am also saddened by the enormous simplifications in the presentation of the Holocaust…. It occurs to me that under the detached gaze of the future historian, the normal aspects of the picture of the Nazi epoch will… grow in dimension and importance. The intermediate categories of representation which just enough elements of the nature of the regime to make them plausible will become the dominant mode of perception, not because of any conscious desire to eliminate the horrors of the past, but because the human mind, by a natural tendency which had nothing to do with normal circumstances, prefers to dwell on the normal rather than on the abnormal, on the understandable rather than on the opaque… on the bearable rather than on the underbearable,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 298).
    • Broszat argues the importance of his claim: “Let me come now to the final point that I regard as important in our discussion. My conception of historicization- and this certainly quite evident is antithetically opposed to any presentation of the Nazi period in the form of frozen “statuary,” and meant primarily for didactic purposes. As I see it, the danger of suppressing this period consists not only in the customary practice of forgetting, but rather, in this instance almost in a paradoxical fashion – likewise in the fact that one is too overly “concerned,” for didactic reasons, about this chapter in history. As a result, what happens is that an arsenal of lessons and frozen “statuary” are pieced together from the original, authentic continuum of this era these increasingly take on an independent existence. Particularly in the second and third generation, they then intrude to place themselves in front of the original history and are finally, in naive fashion, understood and misunderstood as being the actual history of the time,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 292).
    • Broszat is arguing that the lack of historicalization surrounding the Holocaust diminishes the other victims aside from the Jews that were killed: “The German historian too will certainly accept that Auschwitz – due to its singular significance – functions in retrospection as the central event of the Nazi period. Yet quasi-scientist and scholar, he cannot readily accept that Auschwitz also be made, after the fact, into the cardinal point, the hinge on which the entire factual complex of historical events of the Nazi period turns. He cannot simply accept without further ado that this entire complex of history be moved into the shadow of Auschwitz – yes, that Auschwitz even be made into the decisive measuring rod for the historical perception of this period. Such a perspective would not only serve, after the fact, to force totally under its usurped domination those non-National Socialist German traditions which extended on into the Nazi period and, due to their being “appropriated” by the regime, to a certain extent themselves fell prey to National Socialism. Above all else it would fail to do justice to the immense number of non-German and non-Jewish victims…” (Gigliotti and Lang, 279).
  5. Robert H. Jackson: He argues that the Nazis must be given a fair trial and international law must be established and will be legitimized by the trial.
    • Saying about what should be done with those who stand accused of crimes, he says, “The only other course is to determine the innocence or guilt of the accused after a hearing as dispassionate as the times and the horrors we deal with will permit, and upon a record that will leave our reasons and motives clear,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 301).
    • The Nazis cannot merely be accused and then punished for what they have done, “We must establish incredible events by credible evidence,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 303).
    • “Our people have been waiting for these trials in the spirit of Woodrow Wilson, who hoped to ‘give international law the kind of vitality which it can only have if it is a real expression of our moral judgment,” (Gigliotti and Lang, 305).

3) Select ONE of the documents that you find MOST illuminating, and explain WHY in 4-5 sentences.

I found Robert H. Jackson to be the most illuminating. He laid out, by how it seems, the trials were to go for the Nazis. He says that they, to avoid a bias against the Nazis, must give them a fair trial though it could be simple enough to kill them. The importance of the Nuremberg Trials lie also on the basis of legitimizing international law and morality.

ideas you find MOST troubling or problematic, and why, with 3 specific pieces of evidence

I found Hitler to be the most troubling. He suggests that the Jews will lead to their own destruction and are masters of many nations. He is not exactly being so explicit that the Nazis will be the ones to annihilate them, but the intention seems to be there.

Do you think the Final Solution, coming in the form of the Holocaust, was intended by Hitler?


Part IV Overview: The crimes the Nazis commited were indeed intentional, therefore, we must hold the perpetrators accountable for their killings, and damage done. 

Chapter 14

Thesis: Jewish children being killed in Germany, and Germans being forced away in the aftermath of the war. 

“After more than eight hundered thousand children of the nation had died of hunger and undernourishment at the close of the War, we witnessed almost one million head of milking cows being driven away from us in accordance with the cruel paragraphs of a dictate which the humane democratic apostles of the world forced upon us as a peace treaty” (240). This sentence, from Adolf Hitler shows the tragic death count of children after the war. The figures in this count are heartbreaking, and far higher than I had anticipated. 

“The nations are no longer willing to die on the battle-field so that this unstable international race may profiteer from a war or satisfy its Old Testament vengeance“ (242). This, of course, is written by Hitler and written towards Jews. He writes that they are “unstable” even though he has no reason for this claim. 

“We witnessed over one and a half million Germans being torn away from all that they possessed in the territories lying on our frontiers, and being whipped out with practically only what they wore on their backs“ (240-241). Hitler follows this with asking for sparing from sentimental talk. It is interesting that he speaks of this, and seems truly troubled by it, when he does this, and even worse, to Jews. 

Chapter 15 

Thesis: Germans wanted Jews to leave, and not to be able to repopulate. 

“Forcing the Jews out of each sphere of the life of the German people; forcing the Jews out of the living space of the German people” (244). These rules were seen as the only feasible solution, at that moment, to the Jewish question.  

“In the course of this final solution of the European Jewish question approximately 11 million Jews are envisaged“ (245). Jews were distributed among different countries. The definitions of Jews were still inconsistent back then, so these accounted only for those of Jewsih faith.  

“…When confronted with the choice of being evacuated or sterilized, [people] would prefer to submit to sterilization“ (251). People would rather have been medically stopped from having children than to have to evacuate the country. I understand their thought process, and that sterilization is much easier than moving, but neither option is great, and for those who did stay, some still were killed. 

Chapter 16 

Thesis: Intentions that led to the Final Solution.

“If, for example, a fire destroys a building and an inspection shows that the fire seems to have begun simultaneously at various parts of the building, this in itself – in the present – would be evidence (not indubitable, but probable) that the fire had been ‘intended,’ even though no other external evidence existed; the process here is a matter of inference, based on the improbability of simultaneous ‘combustions“‘ (257). I really like the comparison Berel Lang wrote here. I was having trouble following the reading, and this really made it make sense. He was describing intention. This makes it clear that the Final Solution was intentional, because it wasn’t just one place that Jews were being annihilated, rather it was happening throughout the country. 

Lang writes, “Individuals or groups sometimes lie in speaking about their intentions; they may also deceive themselves or be unaware in a number of other ways of what exactly they are doing“ (258). This is a great explanation for how so many people were on board with what the Nazis were doing. When an intention is hidden from the public, it can be very easy to deceive the masses. 

“They could claim this, however, only on the supposition that what is at issue in analyzing the history of the ‘Final Solution’ is whether or not it occurred intentionally – when it is the question of what corporate intentions are that is a prior and decisive issue for the claims they make, one that they fail to address directly and thus, in the end, also mistake” (262). It is important to consider whether the final solution happened intentionally. I would think that it definitely happened intentionally, going back to the  comparison with the house fire. 

Chapter 17: 

Thesis: Debate between Saul Friedlӓnder and Martin Broszat, written in letters, concerning the treatment of Jews, and how it was seen back then compared to now.

“…what degree of involvement in the murderous persecution of Jews by the Nazi regime the majority of our people can be accused of, and what manner of guilt they incurred, also by failing to provide assistance and sympathy” (277). In Martin Broszat’s letters to Saul Friedlӓnder, he mentions this heavy question. This is very profound since it begs the question, can you blame someone for not speaking, and not acting out of turn? Maybe someone didn’t do anything to directly hurt the Jews, but should they feel guilt for doing nothing? 

“Such concealment was possible because this destruction involved a minority which even many years before had been systematically removed from the field of vision of the surrounding non-Jewish world as a result of social ghettoization” (279). This is from a letter written by Martin Broszat. He explains that annihilation of the Jews was possible at this time because of the ghettoization of them. The people in charge of this liquidation kept it very concealed, and far from the limelight. 

“… the centrality of Auschwitz, as we perceive it today, was not perceived during the events, as the Jews had been progressively isolated from the surrounding populations, the annihilation was kept totally secret, and even the allies did not consider it a central issue” (283). It is hard to imagine that Auschwitz was a secret back then, and many people did not know what was happening there. Looking back and having it be well known as a central issue, it is almost hard to believe that it wasn’t. This was taken from one of the letters written by Saul Friedlӓnder. 

Chapter 18: 

Thesis: America’s response to the crimes that were committed in Germany, and the action that should be taken. 

“I believe that we may proceed to punish those responsible in full accord with both our own traditions of fairness and with standards of just conduct which have been internationally accepted” (303-304). Robert H. Jackson describes this way of handling legal actions committed by the Germans. This seems like a great way to handle these scenarios, and to accept that each scenario is different and should be treated as such.

“They witnessed persecution of the greatest enormity on religious, political and racial grounds, the breakdown of trade unions, and the liquidation of all religious and moral influences” (304). Jackson follows this by talking about the evil intention that the Nazis expressed. America bore witness to these crimes, and many others. 

“They wantonly destroyed cities like Rotterdam for no military purpose. They wiped out whole populations, as at Lidice, where no military purposes were to be served. They confiscated property of the Poles and gave it to party members” (305). Jackson is listing many of the things that Nazis did, all in an illegal fashion. He’s calling attention to all the crimes that only few people have been accused of, when there really may be many more at fault. 

Something that seemed to me problematic, was chapter 17, about the debate between the two. It started off so strong, and then the two became very argumentative. And I know that that is what a debate is, but it seemed to me that they were trying to take cheap shots at each other, and the debate didn’t really progress. 

A troubling quote from page 305 reads “ They refused the ordinary protections of law to the populations which they enslaved” I find this sentence very troubling, since people were no longer protected. People who were already being controlled, had no one to support them. 

In chapter 14, it is said that 800,000 children of the nation had died of starvation and malnourishment at the end of the war. This is extremely troubling, since that is a ludicrous amount of children that died in such a horrific way. 

I found the last chapter of part 4 the most illuminating. This chapter detailed Robert H. Jackson’s report to the President about war crimes. Jackson wrote about what should be done with the convicted, and how they should be dealt with. He described how individuals will be dealt with even if they were working in an organization. He summed up some of the terrible things the Nazis had done. 

Three Holocaust related revelations:

1. Over 11 million Jews were distributed throughout different countries. 

2. Jews over the age of 65 were not intended to be evacuated, but rather sent to ghettos for older people.

3. Hundreds of thousands of children were starved and malnourished in Germany at the end of the war.

Question? Do you think it would be easier for something like this to happen in America? As in do you think someone could come to power like Hitler 

did, and change laws, and win over a majority of the country?  

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