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Elements of a summary

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As mentioned above, when you are first coming to grips with the work of a historian, you need to think about the following:

  1. What issue(s) is the historian addressing?
  2. What seems to be the historian's view or argument in relation to this issue?
  3. What evidence does the historian present to support this view?

In a summary of such a work, there will be different things you will want to mention. At a minimum however, your summary should include these elements).

Look once again at the sample summary.

[1] Breitman, in his article Plans for the Final Solution, refers to the controversy about the origins of the Holocaust as the "intentionalist-functionalist" debate; that is one between those who think the Holocaust was a preconceived Nazi plan, and those who think it was improvised hastily, notably after early German victories in the Soviet Union in mid-1941. [2] Brietman, in contrast to Browning, is very much an 'intentionalist', arguing that the 'murderous intentions' of Hitler, Himmler and other key Nazis were well underway before the invasion of the Soviet Union. [3] Whilst he admits that many of the Nazi documents on this issue are "inexact", he suggests that this is not because the Holocaust plan itself was uncertain, but rather because the Nazi leadership wanted to "conceal" and "veil" its real intentions from others (p. 271). [4] To support his case for pre-planning, Breitman relies on two main sources of evidence: memos from two officials in the Nazi Jewish Office at the time - Adolf Eichmann and Theodore Dannecker; and the Nuremberg testimony of Viktor Brack, an official in the Fuhrer Chancellery

[5] The memos in question indicate that high-level discussion of some form of 'final solution' did take place early in 1941. [6] Danneker's memo in January 1941 disclosed that Hitler wanted a 'final solution' of the Jewish question. [7] A month later, Eichmann in a meeting at the Propaganda Office announced to rival bureaucrats that Hitler was determined to implement a 'final evacuation' of the Jews....

Can you identify each of these elements? Indicate which sentence(s) you think summarise the following:

Sentence number
the issue Breitman is addressing
Brietman's argument
the evidence Breitman presents to support his view

Check your answer


Sentence number
the issue Breitman is addressing 1
Brietman's argument 2
the evidence Breitman presents to support his view 4-7
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