Intentionalist Point of View


Download Intentionalist Point of View

Click the button below to download this worksheet for use in the classroom or at home.

Download →

Intentionalist historians suggest that the Holocaust came about from either a single person or a single plan – they blame Hitler for this. Intentionalist historians argue that the Holocaust and the Final Solution was the long-term plan or intention on Hitler’s part to exterminate the Jews. They believe that the evidence for this comes from a ‘blueprint’ in Hitler’s book, Mein Kampf, which was written during the 1920s and in speeches that Hitler made after he came to power in 1933.

So what do different historians think?

Lucy Dawidowicz

  • Believes that Hitler conceived the idea of Jewish genocide in the 1920s.
  • That Hitler pursued this aim remorselessly once he came into power in 1933.
  • She believes that Hitler’s domestic and foreign policies were dictated by his determination to purify and strengthen the German race, i.e. get rid of the Jews.

Daniel Goldhagen

  • Hitler was the driving force behind anti-Jewish policies.
  • Initially he settled for compromise solutions to the ‘Jewish problem’ because he could not quite see the long term possibility of solving it.
  • Hitler and the Nazis had two intentions from the start:
  • “to turn Jews into ‘socially dead’ beings – beings that were violently dominated, natally alienated and generally dishonored – and, once they were, to treat them as such.”
  • “to remove the Jews as thoroughly and permanently from social and, as far as possible, from physical contact with the German people, and thereby to neutralize them as a factor in German life.”
  • Goldhagen argues that ordinary Germans were knowing and willing participants in the Holocaust, which he claims had its roots in a deep German anti-Semitism.
  • Many historians disagree with Goldhagen’s thesis, arguing that while anti-Semitism undeniably existed in Germany, his idea of a uniquely German anti-Semitism is unacceptable, and that the mass extermination was unknown to many and was enforced by a dictatorial Nazi government.

Carrie Supple

Supple is a strong supporter of the theory that Hitler and the Nazis planned the systematic genocide of the Jews from the start of the Chancellorship in 1933 and it was not an ad hoc reaction to political, social and economic problems in Germany.

  • Supple points out that in 1933, in Hitler’s first speech, he stated:

“I vowed to begin the fight and not rest until this plague has finally been removed.”

  • This suggests that the Holocaust and Final Solution was planned very early on in Hitler’s Chancellorship.
  • In July 1941 Goering sent Heydrich a written order ‘to make preparations for the general solution of the Jewish problem within the German sphere of influence of Europe.”
  • In 1941 Hitler also gave an ‘order for a Final Solution of the Jewish Question.’
  • Supple points out that Hitler ‘said a way must be found of exterminating the remaining Jews of Europe as quickly and effectively as possible.
  • Hitler made Adolf Eichman, who was originally in charge of Jewish ’Resettlement’, directly in charge of the Destruction.

Worksheet Lesson Plan:

  • Aimed at Students studying across UK Year 7,8 & 9 or equivalent
  • Premium resource
  • Use as you wish in the classroom or home environment
  • Structured information sheet on the intentionalist point of view.