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The Holocaust – Nazis and Other Europeans, 1939-45

5. The Western Powers and the 'Final Solution'

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About this Lecture


In this module, we consider the British and American attitudes to the Jewish refugee crisis, focusing in particular on both countries' tightening up of immigration controls in the decades leading up to the Second World War, and their continuation of this policy even as the details of the extermination of the Jews clearly and unequivocally emerged from Europe.


In this course, Dr Mark Levene (University of Southampton) considers the Holocaust through a pan-European perspective. In particular, he argues that while Hitler and the Nazis were the primary driving force determining the fate of European Jewry, without considering the role of other Europeans we lack a sufficient explanation. European anti-Semitism had deep, primarily Christian roots and we need to understand something of why this was still active, indeed virulent in increasingly secular 20th century societies. He goes on to consider the nature of anti-Jewish hostility in specific countries, with Romania one key example, and how this helped shape cases of active and autonomous Jewish extermination regardless of any direct German diktat. He also considers the ambivalent role of liberal states such as France, Britain and the United States who certainly failed, possibly wilfully, to engage with an emerging Jewish refugee crisis before the Second World War. It is the issue of refugees - and the abiding problem of what happens when one country, then another, passes the buck - which is the warning note upon which course ends, seeking as it does to consider not just Jewish but universal legacies of the modern world's most all-encompassing genocide to date.


Dr Mark Levene is Reader in Comparative History at the University of Southampton, and in the Parkes Centre for Jewish/non-Jewish relations. His writing ranges across genocide, Jewish history and environmental and peace issues especially focusing on anthropogenic climate change. His most recent work includes the two volume The Crisis of Genocide : The European Rimlands, 1912 -1953 (Oxford, 2013) which won the Institute of Genocide Studies Lemkin award in 2015, and, with Rob Johnson and Penny Roberts (eds.), History at the end of the world? History, climate change and the possibility of closure (Penrith, 2010). He is co-founder of Crisis Forum ( and founder of the Rescue!History (, independent academic networks.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Levene, M. (2018, August 15). The Holocaust – Nazis and Other Europeans, 1939-45 - The Western Powers and the 'Final Solution' [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Levene, M. "The Holocaust – Nazis and Other Europeans, 1939-45 – The Western Powers and the 'Final Solution'." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,