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Intentionalist and the Functionalist Theories

The Holocaust is one of the most monumental events in human history. Even today, many have difficulty believing that such horrific events could occur. What theories exist as to how this incomprehensible event took place?

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There are two main theories about the Holocaust:


Intentionalists believe that the murder of the millions of Jews by the Nazis was planned from the beginning. Citing passages from Hitler's autobiography, Mein Kampf (My Struggle) as well as speeches he made before the outbreak of World War II, they argue that Hitler's plans to rid Europe of Jews were plain long before he became the German Fà¼hrer.


Functionalists believe that the Holocaust occurred because of several events which took place during the time of the Third Reich and World War II. It is their argument that the Nazis had originally wanted to deport Jews; a policy which became impossible after the war began. When Germany failed to defeat Russia, the option of shipping Jews to Siberia was no longer feasible. Functionalist historians contend that the "Final Solution" came into existence as a result of the Nazis' inability to transport Jews out of the areas of Europe that they occupied.