How Did Hitler's Final Solution Policy Come About,

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The Final Solution Hitler's 'Final Solution to the Jewish Question' was one of the, if not the, most terrible occurrences of the twentieth century. That it happened, that it was on a huge scale, and that Hitler played the major role in bringing it about, are accepted by most historians. The main issue which is in doubt is how the euphemistically named 'Final Solution' came about. Did Hitler always intend to 'exterminate the Jews'? Were all the men who planned and committed the atrocities merely following orders, as wass often claimed in war trials? Did Hitler start out with a concrete, step-by-step plan for the annihilation of Jews, which merely awaited the proper time to be put into action? This is an essentially two-sided debate. The two sides, which Ian Kershaw refers to as 'Intentionalists' and 'Structuralists', have different ideas of the origins of the same event. The 'Intentionalists', looking at Mein Kampf or other sources, such as Hitler's many speeches, see evidence of Hitler's desire for the physical elimination of the Jews, some as early as 1914, others not until the writing of Mein Kampf. The 'Structuralists', on the other hand, look at the haphazard nature of Nazi Jewish policy. In other words, 'Intentionalists' see Nazi anti-semitic policy as developing in stages - discrimination and emigration, deportation - to a pre-planned outcome, genocide. The 'Structuralists', on the contrary, see the progression as unplanned, with one measure only switching to another when the first failed.

One major point of contention between the two interpretations is what Hitler meant in Mein Kampf and many of his speeches. Hitler frequently made use of terms such as the 'elimination' (Ausschaltung) or 'annihilation' (Ausrotung) of Jews. This cannot, however, be taken as conclusive, as the 'Intentionalist' Jäckel admits. Hitler certainly used...