argument top image

< Back to question Who is responsible for the Holocaust? Show more Show less

Across German-occupied Europe, Nazi German collaborators proved successful in their destruction of two-thirds of European Jewry: systematically murdering six million Jews and five million non-Jews. But, who is truly culpable for this mass murder of eleven million people?

Hitler was singlehandedly responsible for the Holocaust Show more Show less

Hitler is the true mastermind behind the Holocaust. Without him, plans for the mass execution of both Jews and non-Jews would have never come to fruition.
(1 of 4) Next position >

Hitler was liable for the unfolding of the Holocaust

Evidence demonstrates that Hitler envisioned the extermination of European Jews as early as 1918. Thus, it was only through Hitler's coming to power that his own infamous plans could be implemented.
(1 of 1) Next argument >

Vote

Not sure yet? Read more before voting ↓

The Argument

Although antisemitism ran rampant throughout the European continent long before Hitler was even born, the ultimate vision for the European Holocaust was a product of Hitler's mind. The Holocaust was not an event that could have occurred without him. This sentiment is only emphasized when acknowledging the Hilter Myth. This term, coined by Historian Ian Kershaw, acknowledges the way in which Hitler— using vasts amounts of effective propaganda techniques— was able to mesmerize German citizens into unwaveringly accepting his authority.[1] Thus, in other words, although elements of antisemitism existed in pre-Nazi Germany, Hitler harnessed that aggression through the creation of his mythical status and led these individuals into committing acts that they would not have otherwise committed.[1] For example, most Historians take the stance that Hitler was willing to lose the war over his obsession with and hatred for Jews. Moreover, there is ample documentary evidence that Hitler desired to eradicate Jewry and that the order to do so originated from him, including the authorization for mass deportations of the Jews to the east beginning in October 1941.[2] Therefore, it is clear that Hitler was not only the mastermind behind the Holocaust, but he was also the primary instigator. Without Hitler, those of Nazi Germany would have never thought of such a plan let alone execute it. Thus, Hitler is solely accountable for the events of the Holocaust as they were of his own creation.[3]

Counter arguments

Hitler was just a man and thus needs to be actively separated from the legendary status that he created for himself.[1] Simply put, Hitler was a single person and he could not have executed plans for the Holocaust singlehandedly. All stages of the Holocaust proved extremely efficient and effective; to reach such a reality, the support of the masses was necessary. Once this support was obtained, the rounding up of individuals deemed threatening to the state— and their eventual extermination— was left unhindered.[1] On the other hand, if Hitler simply had plans for the Holocaust and his government/citizens disproved, they would quickly halt such a proceeding and depose Hitler. But, since Hitler required the indoctrination of all Germans into his plans and he got just that, everyone who partook in Nazi German society is culpable for the Holocaust— whether it be because they may have actively participated or because they remained silent makes no difference. [3] Moreover, yes, the first seeds of the Holocaust could have originated from the mind of Hitler. And yes, that makes him culpable. However, he still needed mass support to even implement this vision. For example, in looking to the Nuremberg Laws (1935), if this sentiment was not supported by the masses, individuals could simply just ignore such a law code.[4] They would likewise face no retributions since no one would implement punishments. Yet, this was not the case. Instead, individuals actively sought to punish and enforce such a law, and in turn, they were bringing Hitler's vision of the Holocaust to life.[4]

Premises

[P1] The Hitler Myth played a large role in bringing Hitler's vision of the Holocaust to life. [P2] Hitler is solely responsible for the Holocaust.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] The Holocaust was too big of a feat to have been executed by one man. [P2] Every person who partook in Nazi German society is culpable. If individuals disagreed with the Holocaust they would have stopped it from taking place. [P3] An example is found in the Nuremberg Laws (1935).

References

  1. https://www.historytoday.com/archive/hitler-myth
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsibility_for_the_Holocaust
  3. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/final-solution-overview?parent=en%2F10962
  4. https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2010/winter/nuremberg.html

This page was last edited on Sunday, 23 Aug 2020 at 20:29 UTC