• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The Wannsee Conference was entirely responsible for the Holocaust. How valid is this assessment of the causes of the Holocaust?

Extracts from this document...


"The Wannsee Conference was entirely responsible for the Holocaust". How valid is this assessment of the causes of the Holocaust? The Holocaust was by far the most heinous and unparalleled attack of anti-Semitism and most definitely the greatest crime against humanity recorded in history. To say that the Wannsee Conference was solely responsible for the implementation of this attempted genocide, often referred to by contemporary Nazi's as " the final solution", would be a very bold statement to make but it can be considered valid as it was an extremely important factor in putting the Holocaust into effect. The Wannsee Conference took place January 20th 1942 in a suburb of Berlin and it formulated a plan for the final solution to the "Jewish problem" in Germany and in other areas of Europe that were under German control such as Poland. The validity of this assessment could be questioned as it was the initial event at which the plan to isolate the Jewish people was formulated, but it was at this meeting that the decision to exterminate the Jews was consented to by a number of German Government officials. In order to access the significance of Wannsee's role many factors must be considered. Anti-Semitism has been a factor in world affairs since early in the first century. Hostility towards the Jews continued into the middle ages and entering the modern age Jewish people were still treated with contempt in many European countries. The Jewish race has always been regarded as inferior and has been despised in societies spanning across centuries. Document 1 shows there was animosity towards the Jews, long before Hitler came to power. The document is taken from a proposal, in 1913, to the Prussian Crown Prince to change the status of Jews in Germany from an upper class German named Konstantin von Gebstattel. He believes that German peoples "entire life is dominated and endangered by the Jewish spirit." ...read more.


The days known as "Kristallnacht" or "The night of Broken Glass" were extremely significant as evidence that the Holocaust would be the final solution that stemmed from the physical violence that was displayed on those nights in the pogrom against the Jews in Germany, which included the vandalising of Jewish businesses and homes and the beating of some people to death. Kristallnacht also brought the world's attention to the animosity towards the Jews in Germany this is shown in document D. This is an extract from The Times on 11th November 1938. Document D is a piece of primary evidence, it is unclear if it is an eyewitness account, but it is clear that the aim of the article is to shock readers with the disturbing stories form Kristallnacht. The article is from The Times, which is a British broadsheet Newspaper with a reputation as an honest trustworthy paper. The aim of "The night of Broken Glass" was to drive the Jewish people out of Germany through physical intimidation and to isolate the Jews that were left in Germany by destroying their business and livelihoods. The events listed in previous paragraphs show how the nature of the persecution of the Jews in Germany was rapidly changing from legislation that restricted Jewish influence economically, socially and politically to physical violence and intimidation. Kristallnacht appears to be the turning point at which this happened. The war began 3rd September 1939 and this again led to the Jews being used as scapegoats. Document I is significant proof of this. The document was published in Der Sturmer on 18th May 1944 and shows a Jew smiling over the dead bodies of the German Army. As stated previously Der Sturmer was created by Julius Strecher and he basically published crude anti-Semitic caricatures and literature. This was published towards the end of the war and therefore its aim was to blame the Jewish people for the War and suggest they were enjoying the blood shed, in order to turn more people against them. ...read more.


Document F is a very influential document as it is from within the Army itself and it shows that they were happy to kill Jews without the official authorisation to do so. It is clear from document G that the Wehrmacht that they were authorised to kill the Jews even in September 1941 the extract states "The struggle against Bolshevism demands ruthless and energetic action, and first of all against the Jews as well" this shows that even before the Wannsee Conference instructions were coming from Himmler the commander of the SS to eliminate the Jews before the Wannsee Conference this shows that the extermination had begun before the Wannsee Conference. When considering whether the Wannsee Conference was entirely responsible for the Holocaust, historian's interpretations on the origins of the Holocaust must be considered. The two primary interpretations are referred to as intentionalist and structuralist. There is no argument that the events as described in the timeline actually happened at those times and in that way, there is conflict only on why they happened. The Structuralist argument that Hitler just wanted to be rid of Jews and the Holocaust came about after other attempts failed. This view suggests that the Holocaust was improvised and was a response to events and circumstances, that Anti-Semitic measures became increasingly more violent and extreme and ended with a mass genocide as other solutions proved unsuccessful. Famous structuralist historians include Ian Kershaw, Uwe Adam and Martin Broszat. The intentionalist interpretation is that Hitler intended to murder the Jews from the early stage of his political career and took advantage of every opportunity to advance his goal. Renowned internationalists include Lucy Dawidowicz, Andreas Hillgruber and Alan Bullock. In my opinion, after looking through all the information I have gathered and studying many different historians' viewpoints, I would consider myself to be a moderate structuralist. I believe this because there are so many events prior to the Wannsee Conference that showed signs of wanting to get rid of the Jewish people in Europe. ?? ?? ?? ?? Ryan Stokes ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 essays

  1. This essay will examine the rise of anti-Semitism from ancient times to the Holocaust ...

    This sense of community, stemming from their shared experience of persecution, meant that most Jews kept a strong sense of ethnic identity regardless of where they lived but meant that they stayed as outsiders and scapegoats (Farmer, A., 2009, pp 14-15).

  2. Assess the view that the Holocaust was mainly a result of a long term ...

    'idea' and its organizing genius", uses the example of his absence from the apparently crucial Wannsee Conference to illustrate the point. The personality cult made his authority unchallengeable and even if the more detailed 'organizing' responsibility would actually fall upon followers striving toward his obscured but ambitious target; it was

  1. Goebbels was more influential than Himmler. Discuss

    His relationship with Hitler enabled him to influence others through use of his campaigns as this included refusals to pay reparations, and most significantly, overcome the economic corruption that was closely attributed to the Jewish population. In comparison to Goebbels, Himmler was the Reich Fuhrer of the SS and Hitler's

  2. How did the Holocaust happen, and who is responsible?

    Although, Germany was not the only country which showed anti-Semitic policies, most countries at the time did so, after World War I many Jewish people saw Germany as the centre of modern civilisation. National Socialism was a political ideology which was a one of a kind in the way in which it displayed racism and anti-Semitism.

  1. The Holocaust

    This sense of community, stemming from their shared experience of persecution, meant that most Jews kept a strong sense of ethnic identity regardless of where they lived but meant that they stayed as outsiders and scapegoats (Farmer, A., 2009, pp 14-15).

  2. How far was the holocaust a long term plan of nazi racial policy?

    Kershaw also suggests that if Hitler did wish to intervene then his views were not challenged and he was allowed to overrule at any time. The following diary entry by Goebbels supports this view as Goebbels seems to be genuinely surprised at how Hitler's will is being carried out.

  1. "The first world war was the result of long-standing rivalries between the great powers". ...

    The most immediate problem in the Balkans was the growth of nationalist groups determined to break free of Ottoman rule. Although Austria-Hungary and Russia signed a treaty in 1897 stipulating that neither one would try to annex part of the Balkans, both powers redeemed their interest in filling the power vacuum left by the Ottoman Empire.

  2. The Holocaust was the result of Hitlers long held grand design to pursue a ...

    Intentionalists not only stress Hitler?s anti-Semitic speeches and literature as a basis of annihilation but also emphasize the role of pre-existing anti-Semitism in German and European society. Daniel Goldhagen argues that ordinary Germans were willing participants in the Holocaust, which he claims had its roots in a deep eliminationist German anti-Semitism.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work