This lecture reviews the long-running debate among historians over Hitler’s role in the decision-making process that led to the Final Solution. With particular emphasis on documents that came to light after the fall of communism and the opening of East European archives in 1989, this lecture will argue for two incremental decision-making processes, the first of which reached closure in the July 1941 and sealed the fate of Soviet Jews, and a second of which reached closure in October 1941 and sealed the fate of European Jews.
This lecture is the first in a three part series in partnership with the Wheeler Centre, entitled The Holocaust, Genocide, Human Rights. Bookings Essential. It is also the first in a four-part series to be continued at Caulfield Monash, entitled: How Did the Holocaust Happen?
Christopher Browning is the author of eight books on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust: Remembering Survival: Inside a Nazi Slave Labor Camp (2010).The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942 (with contributions from Jürgen Matthäus), University of Nebraska Press, 2004; Collected Memories: Holocaust History and Postwar Testimony, University of Wisconsin Press, 2003; Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers, Cambridge University Press, 2000; Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, HarperCollins, 1992; The Path to Genocide, Cambridge University Press, 1992; Fateful Months: Essays on the Emergence of the Final Solution, Holmes & Meier, 1985; and The Final Solution and the German Foreign Office, Holmes & Meier, 1978. Both Ordinary Men and The Origins of the Final Solution have received the National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category.
Christopher Browning received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin- Madison. He taught at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington for 25 years, before moving to the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill in 1999. He has delivered the George Macauley Trevelyan Lectures in at Cambridge University (1999) and the George Mosse Lectures at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2002). He has been an expert witness at various trials of accused Nazi criminals in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, as well as in the “Holocaust denial” trials of Ernst Zündel in Toronto (1988) and Irving vs. Lipstadt in London (2000). In 2006 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Browning is currently the Frank Porter Graham Professor of History University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill