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Otto Dov Kulka
The Role of Hitler in the “Final Solution”: Ian Kershaw, Hitler. Nemesis: 1936-1945 (Hebrew)
One can hardly find another biography of Hitler and only a few general historical studies on Nazi Germany in which the centrality of the “Jewish question” as a key to understanding Nazi ideology and politics is presented in such a detailed and persuasive way. The new central thesis, which enabled Kershaw to integrate both his most detailed primary research and the most important recently published monographs on the subject, was the concept of “working towards the Führer.” Among other advantages, it offered a way out of the longstanding sterile methodological discussions revolving around the “intentionalist” and “functionalist” approaches. In the chapter “Designing a ‘War of Annihilation,’” Kershaw analyzes the genocidal intentions, intertwined with the preparations for and launching of the war against the “Jewish Bolshevik menace,” and examines its broad acceptance in this intertwined sense by all the elites and the masses of future German participants in the war. In the chapter “Fulfilling the Prophecy of the ‘Final Solution’,” the figure of Hitler looms behind the dramatic developments even more than previously, but it is clearly demonstrated that there was no need for a special order for the “Final Solution.” It was “worked out” toward the Führer in many ways by almost everyone involved.