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The Final Solution

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Introduction

The Final Solution Q5. Read the following extract from 'Hitler's willing executioners' by Daniel Goldhagen (1996). 'No-one could believe that anything but a dire fate awaited the Jewish men and women, the elderly and the children, whom, in the midst of this war , the German government was forcibly sending, often with open brutality, to the East. Their attitudes indicate that Germans assented to these measures to make Germany judenfrei, free of Jews..... The inescapable truth is that, regarding Jews, German political views had evolved to the point where an enormous number of ordinary, representative Germans became.... Hitler's willing executioners.' Using all the sources explain whether or not you agree with this view. Daniel Goldhagen's extract is a controversial interpretation of what he believes to be the German people's knowledge of and participation in the Final Solution. His view is probably biased as his father was a survivor of one of the death camps and so his hatred for the Nazi's and German's at the time may have clouded his judgement. His opinion creates controversy when he claims that the whole German nation had knowledge of the Final Solution and that 'ordinary, representative' Germans became 'Hitler's willing executioners'. Goldhagen's use of the term 'willing executioners' suggests that the Germans played an active role in the Final Solution and so had an equal amount of knowledge as everyone else surrounding the Final Solution. ...read more.

Middle

These sources, although not in support of sources three and four still would suggest the knowledge of the Final Solution was not as widespread as Goldhagen believed. Although there are many sources opposing Goldhagen's view, there are also those which support it, such as source five and six. Source five again reports the rumours which were circulating and without any real evidence supporting his view, Gerald Reitlanger comes to the conclusion that 'More than a hundred million people must have known such things and whispered about them'. Source six reports some of the ways in which Germans may have got an insight into the nature of the Final Solution. David Bankier writes of SS men and Army personnel divulging such information in casual conversation, also he writes of the Allied radio broadcasts and of the US Air Force scattering nine million copies of leaflets revealing what was going on in the camps, but, the Americans were not only dropping leaflets on Germany, they also dropped bombs and so many Germans may have rejected the information as simply enemy propaganda. Out of all the sources, source seven is most alike Goldhagen's source, it is an extract from an illegal pamphlet released by an anti-Nazi resistance movement named 'The White Rose'. ...read more.

Conclusion

Source thirteen is perhaps the most disturbing of the sources as it is aimed blatantly at the indoctrination of the children. It's an extract from a children's book published by the Nazi party titled 'Trust No Fox and No Jew'. It show the Aryan man leaning on a shovel on one side of the page and on the other side is the Jewish stereotype carrying a briefcase in an overt attempt to discourage young children from liking or having the desire to aspire to be like the Jew illustrated. All of this indoctrination suggests that without it the German people would not have allowed Jews to have been massacred in such a way and would have opposed such an operation in a more open way. Having investigated each source and having applied it to Daniel Goldhagen's opinion of how during the Final Solution the German people became Hitler's 'willing executioners', I believe that he is wrong to have said that ordinary, representative Germans became willing executioners, as for this they would have required an in-depth knowledge as to what was going on in camps around them. However, I do believe that most, if not all Germans had some sort of knowledge about the Final Solution be it through rumours, pamphlets or allied broadcasts, although it was not as extensive as that of some Germans such as Hans Scholl, who served on the front line. ...read more.

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