History of the HOlocaust

Essay by kasiapitrasia December 2003

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A History of the Holocaust In the book A History of the Holocaust: From Ideology to Annihilation, Rita Botwinick makes many valid points about the Holocaust. She discusses major themes occurring during the Holocaust period of World War II such as intentionalism vs. functionalism and the role of churches during the war. She supports almost all of her arguments with solid research and sources as well as personal observations. Her points are very well thought out and persuasive. I would like to focus on a few of the main ideas that stuck out to me as I read the book. Did Hitler want a Germany that was free of Jews or was his master plan simply to wipe all Jews off the face of the Earth? It is this question that gives rise to the debate of whether Hitler held an intentionalist or a functionalist ideology. The arguments in favor of intentionalism insist that Hitler's intent, even before the war, was to systematically and effectively annihilate the Jewish population from the world.

On the other side of this argument is Functionalism. This ideology holds that Hitler did not set out to annihilate the Jews but that the ridding of their race arose, not from a previously devised plan, but evolved due to many factors over the course of the war. Botwinick argues that Hitler did want to rid Germany of the Jewish race but, that the systematic killing of every Jew was not his initial plan. Thus, she reluctantly sides with the functionalist argument. She does, however, cite evidence that at times contradicts this viewpoint. One such contradiction occurs with the dying statement of Hitler. In this quote he states that although he had lost the war, he had "at least been victorious in the destruction of the Jews" (p.