Hitler’s Role in the “Final Solution”

Yad Vashem Studies, Volume XXXIV

Ian Kershaw

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Hitler’s Role in the “Final Solution”

This article seeks to review both the interpretations and the evidence relating to Hitler’s role in the “Final Solution”, which has remained a contentious issue among historians. It begins by looking at the intrinsic connection in Hitler’s mind between the “removal” of the Jews and war. The way Hitler’s role has been interpreted in major historical analyses is then extensively surveyed. The article goes on to posit a dialectic – to be clearly seen in the development of anti-Jewish policy in the pre-war period – between the center of the regime and grass-roots activism in creating a radicalizing dynamic. The last section seeks a key to explaining how this dialectic worked in the unfolding of the “Final Solution” by exploring the functioning of Hitler’s so-called “prophecy” of January 30, 1939. It suggests that the “prophecy”, repeated (and consistently misdated to September 1, 1939, the start of World War II) on numerous occasions, and in public, as the Jews were being murdered offers a guide both to Hitler’s mentality and to the ways he provided “directions for action” in serving as the “unswerving champion and spokesman of a radical solution.”

Products specifications
ISSN 0084-3296
Year 2006
ISBN 965-308-2
Catalog No. 200601
Format Electronic article in Yad Vashem Studies, Volume XXXIV, pp. 7-43, Edited by David Silberklang
Publisher Yad Vashem