What Is Meant By "Intentionalists" And "Functionalists" Within The Context Of Holocaust History?


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Christopher Adam Profile
Much of the historical debate on the Holocaust has focused on whether the systematic murder of Europe's Jews was a premeditated, well-planned out strategy adopted by Hitler before 1939, or whether genocidal anti-Semitism became a policy only during the Second World War and as a consequence of the fighting and Hitler's gradually weakening military position. Those historians who saw the Holocaust as premeditated are frequently referred to as "intentionalists," while those academics who see the extermination of Jews as unplanned and haphazard are frequently called "functionalists" in the historiography of the Holocaust.

It is crucial to remember that both functionalists and intentionalists agree on the horrific proportions of the Holocaust, the only difference between the two sides concerns intentions and the way in which historians believe the genodical activity was carried out.

One can also convincingly argue that prior to about 1941/42, the persecution of the Jews was essentially haphazard (or functionalist), but following the Wansee Conference and the proclamation of the Final Solution, it became very much intentionalist.

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