The Extermination of the European Jews in Its Historical Context - a Recapitulation
This study discusses whether the antisemitic agitation of the late nineteenth century led inevitably to the Nazi murder of the Jews. Research indicates that antisemitism in Germany was moderate at that time compared to Russia and Austria. Radical racist antisemitism only became an essential element in German nationalism following World War I and Germany’s defeat. Antisemitism was important for the cohesion of the Nazi Party but marginal in winning public support. In 1933 antisemitism became state policy but most Germans were satisfied with the legal restrictions placed on the Jews. The article states that even if Hitler planned a racist war of annihilation from the outset, the rest of the leadership did not share his aims, which contradicted the policy of emigration. However, Hitler began the annihilation with the T4 euthanasia project. The difficulties encountered in T4 may explain why he never gave an explicit written order for the Final Solution. The real problem is to explain the compliance of so many people in the murders.