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Nigel Biggar

An excerpt of Saul Friedlander's book Nazi Germany and the Jews, describing his main argument:

"I have emphasized Hitler's personal role and the function of his ideology in the genesis and implementation of the Nazi regime's anti-Jewish measures....Nazism was not essentially driven by the chaotic clash of competing bureaucratic and party fiefdoms, nor was the planning of its anti-Jewish policies mainly left to the cost-benefit calculations of technocrats. In all its major decisions, the regime depended on Hitler." 

Especially with regard to the Jews, Hitler was driven by ideological obsessions that were anything but the calculated devices of a was this synthesis of a murderous rage and an "idealistic" goal, shared by the Nazi leader and the hard core of the party, that led to Hitler's ultimate decision to exterminate the Jews. 

The Nazi leader did not take his decisions independently of the party and state organizations (Friedlander 3).

Nazi persecutions and exterminations were perpetrated by ordinary people who lived and acted within a modern society not unlike our own; the goals of these actions, however, were formulated by a regime, an ideology, and a political culture that were anything but commonplace (6).

Whose Orders?

In 1997, Saul Friedländer published “The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939,” the first of his projected two-volume history of “Nazi Germany and the Jews.” In the introduction to that volume, he announced his intention of “establishing a historical account of the Holocaust in which the policies of the perpetrators, the attitudes of surrounding society and the world of the victims could be addressed within an integrated framework.”

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