Was Hitler Solely to Blame?
Harry W. Mazal OBE answers:I am one of the persons who responds to questions sent to our page. Perhaps you can find part of the answer to your question in the following three essays that appear on our web-page:
Reading these will give you some insight into who Hitler was and what sort of power he wielded. While Hitler was the absolute ruler of the Nazi regime, it would have been very hard for him to kill six million Jews (and millions of other people) by himself. Even with the help of his closest associates such as Himmler, Hitler needed thousands of Germans to carry out these slaughters.
He also needed the full backing of the German nation. A crime of this magnitude would necessarily involve the acquiescence of millions of ordinary Germans.
Please let me know if this is the information you were seeking.
Harry W. Mazal OBE
Gordon McFee answers:I am one of the volunteers from the Holocaust History Project who answers questions such as yours.
On the historiography of the Holocaust, there is a wealth of information available, but if I were you, I would start with the excellent treatment by Michael R. Marrus, The Holocaust in History, Key Porter Books, Toronto, 2000. The book has extensive notes and a ten-page "suggestions for further reading" section, starting on page 247. Well worth the effort and I am sure available in every decent library.
On whether Hitler was entirely to blame for the Holocaust, there is unfortunately no simple answer, and historians are as divided as anyone else on this issue. My colleague Harry Mazal, OBE, has addressed this question briefly in our Q&A section, please see:
Mr Mazal makes a great deal of sense in his response.
I would also recommend Ron Rosenbaum's Explaining Hitler and Gerald Fleming's Hitler and the Final Solution, for two interesting analyses of this issue.
But at the end of the day, Mr Mazal's thesis makes sense: Hitler didn't do it all alone, but he bears great responsibility. Like many historical questions, this balanced approach may well be the best.
Hope this helps.
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Last modified: December 30, 2000