What are some questions about Nazi Germany that are widely debated? 

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One widely debated question is when Hitler first planned the Holocaust. Theories range from Lucy Dawidowicz's thesis that Hitler was planning the complete destruction of the Jews from 1919 onward but coding it in "dog whistle" language that only his most hardcore followers could understand to the theory of Christian Gerlach and other scholars who argue the decision was not made until December 12, 1941, as recorded in Nazi propaganda leader Goebbels's journal.

Another debated question is whether World War II could have been avoided if the League of Nations had moved against Hitler as soon as he began to aggressively claim territory in the mid 1930s. Could he have been stopped and disarmed (under the Versailles Treaty) before he became too powerful?

Historians also question what drove Nazi violence to such extreme levels? Theories range from overly strict parenting and discipline in German families to Klaus Theweleit in Male Fantasies who argues the Nazis simply attracted people who enjoyed violence.

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There are a number of questions about Nazi Germany that could be of interest to various people.  Many of them are fundamentally unanswerable.  Here are three questions that are of interest to me.

  • Could Germany have won the war had it not been for Hitler?  In some ways, Hitler can be seen as a driving force behind German military success.  He pushed his generals to do things they didn't want to do.  Was his influence a reason for Germany's military loss or would they have lost even if he had left things to the generals?
  • Were the German people willing participants in the Holocaust?  This is perhaps the most important question about Nazi Germany.  To what degree was the average German aware of what was happening to the Jews and to what degree were average Germans actively in favor of this?
  • What was Eva Braun's role in Hitler's Germany?  This is perhaps not a hugely important question, but is interesting to some.  It shines a light on what Hitler's most intimate relationship was like, which is interesting in a horrible sort of a way.

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