Over at Reason, Michael C. Moynihan challenges Pat Buchanan’s latest revisionist argument: No WWII, No Holocaust.
There is much to disagree with in Pat Buchanan’s latest book Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War and his subsequent defense of its controversial premise. But there is one issue I must take issue with; a claim made in both the book and repeated in his latest syndicated column. According to Buchanan, had there been no American or English involvement in the Second World War, there would have been no Holocaust. This isn’t, in fact, an original line of argumentation—his is a thinly sourced, weakly reasoned, and extreme adaptation of the “functionalist” position. That is, unlike the “intentionalist” historians, who believe that Hitler always intended to wipeout European Jewry, the “functionalists” argue that while persecution of the Jews was integral to Nazi ideology, it was a function of the war that led to the large-scale, industrialized killing of Jews. (I spent my last two years of university looking at this debate, and ultimately writing my undergraduate thesis on Daniel Goldhagen’s embarrassingly reductionist book, Hitler’s Willing Executioners and came out the other side believing a mild version of the functionalist critique.)
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