Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Goss, Andrew; Wilson, Jeffrey

Second Advisor

Bischof, Guenter


This paper examines the power and limitations of historical analysis in regards to explaining the Holocaust and in particular the widespread consent to the Nazi program. One of the primary limitations that emerges is an inability of historians to fully engage other social sciences to offer a more comprehensive explanation as to why so many Germans engaged in what we would consider an “evil” enterprise. In that regard, I offer the work of Ernest Becker, a social anthropologist, whose work provides a framework for understanding history as a succession of attempts by man to create societies that generate meaning through various heroic quests that defy man's finite existence, yet often result in carnage. Combining Becker's theoretical framework with the rich historical evidence specific to the Holocaust provides a much richer understanding of both Becker's work and why the Holocaust happened.


The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.