Talk:Functionalism versus intentionalism

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Focus on the Holocaust[edit]

I feel that the article focuses far too much on the holocaust in comparison with the debate in academic literature (which is what the article is really about). For example, the opening paragraph defines the debate in terms of the Holocaust with reference to the overall intentions of the Nazi state. However, in most literature the debate surrounds the overall intentions of the Nazi state with special reference to the Holocaust (see Tim Mason's original article and other debates arising from the Cumberland Lodge Conference of May 1979). Indeed, by focusing on the Holocaust the article implicitly gives more emphasis to intentionalism (see Richard Bessell, Functionalists vs. Intentionalists: The Debate Twenty Years On or What Happened to Functionalism and Intentionalism, German Studies Review, 2003, 26(1):15-20). This also calls into question whether the article should be part of the Holocaust template. I will begin editing it soon in order to rectify this but please feel free to comment on here. I will also begin to address some of the referencing issues. Supernoodles (talk) 15:43, 13 May 2008 (UTC)

Well, the article isn't really "part of" the Holocaust template. Those sorts of templates are typically in any article in which they're relevant. I think it's more helpful than disruptive here; as you say, the Holocaust has been a flashpoint of the debate. --zenohockey (talk) 23:08, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Supernoodles, the debate focuses almost solely on the Holocaust. The idea of structuralism vs intentionalism, is looking at the system of government and usually leads to discussion of whether or not Hitler was a strong or weak dictator. The Holocaust is often used as an example, but the debate works without the Holocaust being mentioned. A possible solution could be creating new pages for intentionalists and structuralists, or removing this from the Holocaust template. (IBlob (talk) 23:14, 24 July 2011 (UTC))

Zygmunt Bauman[edit]

Doesn't Zygmunt Bauman fit as an functionalist? What do you think? --Julmust 23:15, 26 January 2006 (UTC)

Yes, but I'm not all that familiar with his work on the Holocaust... anyone else? --zenohockey 04:17, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Okay, here's something: he apparently attributed "the Nazi Holocaust to a generic modernity..." (Ian Varcoe, "Zygmunt Bauman," in Elliot & Ray (eds.), Key Contemporary Social Theorists, Blackwell, 2002). The book in question is Bauman's 1989 work Modernity and the Holocaust (Polity/Cornell UP), which neither I nor my college library has, and according to Amazon is out of print. Here's the publisher's description. --zenohockey 04:27, 27 January 2006 (UTC)
Yes, Bauman is a functionalist. At least that's how Yehuda Bauer in his book Rethinking the Holocaust describes him. Most of what I about Bauman comes from Bauer's book, so I am not really a expert. A.S. Brown 07:20, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

Origin of the terms Functionalism and Intentionalism[edit]

I find the two terms puzzling, having never heard of this debate before. "Intentionalism" I can understand, but I can't quite see why the other side is called "Functionalism". In the interest of clarity, could a brief explanation of the origin of the term be inserted? Bathrobe 06:04, 29 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't know if this is helpful at all, but I believe I have heard the term "structuralism" used instead. Fish. (talk) 12:47, 3 March 2008 (UTC)
Structuralism and functionalism are both used. As the article says, the term was coined by Tim Mason in 1981 following the Cumberland Conference.Supernoodles (talk) 15:43, 13 May 2008 (UTC)
"Functionalism" gets its origin from the notion that the annihilation of the Jews arose from conflicts and relations between the differing elements in the Nazi state; i.e. from their functions. The conflict between their differing functions, policies, and problems led to genocide as a result. It was not pre-ordained, or directed from above (whether by Hitler or Himmler or anyone else)--as part of a master plan that had been formulated sometime before at least 1940. (talk) 02:41, 23 October 2009 (UTC) Allen Roth

The terms "functionalism" and "intentionalism" are all-lowercase[edit]

The Manual of Style (capital letters) states, regarding "Religions, deities, philosophies, doctrines and their adherents" (my emphasis), that "doctrines […] do not begin with a capital letter, unless the name derives from a proper noun". This means that the terms functionalism/ist and intentionalism/ist should begin with a lowercase f or i, not with a capital F or I. --Bwiki 21:43, 30 July 2006 (UTC)

Relation of this debate to strong/weak dictator debate[edit]

In the intro it is stated that: 'A separate, but closely linked, debate concerns the nature of Hitler's power. On one side, there is the "weak dictator" thesis championed by Mommsen and Broszat, and on the other the "Master of the Third Reich" thesis championed by Bracher. If Hitler was a "weak dictator", then this would support the functionalist case, whereas if Hitler was the "Master of the Third Reich", this would support the intentionalist case.'

IMHO this is tendentious, and it is also uncited. Is this someone's OR? I'll remove it if it can't be sourced, as I don't think the two debates are that closely linked. Squiddy | (squirt ink?) 10:25, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

I've deleted this para. Anyone wishing to reinstate it should provide a cite. Squiddy | (squirt ink?) 00:10, 9 March 2007 (UTC)
It is basically the same debate but in less comprehensive terms. I may incorporate some of this (with references) to the article.Supernoodles (talk) 15:43, 13 May 2008 (UTC)


I've removed the following paragraph from the "Synthesis" section (where it probably doesn't belong in any case):

Neville's view—"Two decisions were made [to kill the Jews]. One taken as early as March '41, when the decision was made to kill the Soviet Jews, and a later decision of September '41 when the decision was taken to kill all European Jews"—is a Functionalist view.

I haven't been able to identify either the source of the quote, nor who this Neville is. The edit summary from the anonymous editor suggests that it was a historian, though. --zenohockey 21:34, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

"Neville" referw to Peter Neville, and more specifically his work The Holocaust (CUP 1999) and the quote would seem to place him as either a moderate functionalist or in "Synthesis", however lacking the full text I can't judge which and thus am unsure whether to include it. --Gamma2delta 20:31, 21 June 2007 (UTC)


Which side of the debate does Yitzhak Arad fall on? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:36, 24 September 2007 (UTC)

Excellent article[edit]

considering the concepts it has to discuss, this article is excellent. maybe we should nominate it for something. Theglobeismyeye (talk) 10:53, 27 November 2007 (UTC)


I'd like a few very specific references/quotes for the "synthesis" section, if anyone has any. Otherwise I'll have to re-examine the wording. Relata refero (talk) 14:42, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

Strange spelling[edit]

Is "programmeist" actually commonly used? It appears to violate ordinary English spelling rules... AnonMoos (talk) 00:33, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

False Dilemma, False Debate - Holocaust Revisionism is a much wider debate than Functionalism vs Intentionalism[edit]

The topic Holocaust Revisionism is redirected to this Functionalism vs Intentionalism page, and then nothing is discussed about the actual subject of Holocaust Revisionism. I noticed that in other parts of Wikipedia, whenever anything related to actual Holocaust Revisionism is mentioned, the tag used is "Holocaust Denial", and no "holocaust Revisionism" tag. This is dishonest on the part of Wikipedia. Regardless of what people's belief is regarding the historical accuracy of the official Holocaust Narrative and whether or not there was an actual extermination program against European Jewry, It is better to be honest about what the term Holocaust Revisionism means and that there is a debate about the historical truth of the extermination program.

The term "holocaust Denial" is an obvious slur to those who are interested in studying the historical inquiry into the Holocaust narrative. The treatment of this subject shows one of the most extreme examples of bias and non-objectivity of Wikipedia on certain subjects. Rather than eliminating the whole subject or redirecting to a page that does no address the issue, it would be more honest for Wikipedia to simply state that, "We do not allow any discussion or debate regarding the issue of Holocaust Revisionism here at Wikipedia, and we will completely censor the subject. In addition, we will re-lable and re-tag the subject of Holocaust Revisionism as Holocaust Denial. People interested in learning more about the subject should go elsewhere." This should be stated at the top of the page under "holocaust Revisionism", even if nothing else is written on that page.— Preceding unsigned comment added by KeenanRoberts (talkcontribs) 20:26, 30 July 2011 (UTC)

"The topic Holocaust Revisionism is redirected to this Functionalism vs Intentionalism page" - Holocaust Revisionism redirects to Holocaust denial, not this page. You've got your browser tabs muddled. Among other things. Squiddy | (squirt ink?) 23:12, 30 July 2011 (UTC)
Um no, Holocaust Revisionism redirects to the Functionalism vs Intentionalism page. As proof, the URL that is displayed in my web browser with the Functionalism vs Intentionalis page is "". When I type in "Holocaust Revisionism" in the search box on Wikipedia, it goes to the Functionalism vs Intentionalism page, while displaying the url with "Holocaust_revisionism". Have you tried it yourself? Maybe it is YOU who has your, uh, things muddled. (KR) — Preceding unsigned comment added by KeenanRoberts (talkcontribs) 01:25, 31 July 2011 (UTC)
Ah, OK, "Holocaust revisionism" (with a small 'r') does indeed redirect to here. Or did, I've fixed it to go to the denial page now. (Wikipedia article titles are case-sensitive.) Squiddy | (squirt ink?) 07:22, 31 July 2011 (UTC)

Aren't the functionalists holocaust deniers, because they deny that Hitler was responsible for the holocaust!? So maybe the redirection of from holocaust revisionism to this article was quite intentional? ;-) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ogbla (talkcontribs) 03:31, 5 September 2012 (UTC)

Length of Quotations[edit]

The article currently contains two unusually long quotations for a Wikipedia article. I wonder if they could be shortened? One generally expects an encyclopedia article largely to summarize key issues and then to refer readers elsewhere for more detail. For a start, the paragraph beginning 'This approach does not lead ...' in the quote from Mason could surely be omitted? However, others may have different ideas. Norvo (talk) 01:27, 21 August 2011 (UTC)


I do not understand the synthesized position:

"They have suggested the Holocaust was a result of pressures that came from both above and below and that Hitler lacked a master plan, but was the decisive force behind the Holocaust."

What kind of pressure are they talking about? Blood pressure? Atmospheric pressure? Who is administering the pressure? What is above? What is below? If Hitler didn't decide to exterminate the jews, then how could he have been the decisive force for implementing the decision?

The next sentence is just as incomprehensible:

"The phrase 'cumulative radicalisation' is used in this context to sum up the way extreme rhetoric and competition among different Nazi agencies produced increasingly extreme policies, as fanatical bureaucratic underlings put into practice what they believed Hitler would have approved based on his widely disseminated speeches and propaganda."

So the government agencies implemented policies without having the consent from their leaders? They put into practice policies merely on the basis of guessing what Hitler may have approved of but without knowing this for sure? In my mind, Germany was a totalitarian dictatorship with the head of state basically controlling everything. Nevertheless the underlings embark on the greatest killing spree in the history of mankind on the basis of mere guesswork? Either I completely misunderstand the position or the synthesis position is ludicrous. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pilava (talkcontribs) 02:57, 2 December 2012 (UTC)


Does anyone know if there is some general consensus among scholars about which position is the most widely accepted or most likely? Or is there far from any consensus? Wolfdog (talk) 23:54, 1 March 2017 (UTC)