Date of Conferral

2018

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Amy C. Hakim

Abstract

Understanding the psychology behind the perpetrators of the Holocaust has been difficult because experiments on conformity and obedience cannot readily simulate the reality of the Holocaust. There exists historical documentation surrounding the leaders of the Nazi organization instrumental for the perpetration of the Holocaust, but the underlying motives of Hitler's leaders relating to governmental policies of systematic extermination of the Jews in Europe, are not known, as the strategy and operationalization of the actions were kept extremely secret, disguised by euphemisms, or only discussed verbally. This research study was to further understand the thought processes behind the manipulation tactics applied by leaders of the Nazi organization, and the leaders of Britain, America, and the Soviet Union during the Holocaust, by reviewing their personal writings, communiques, and orders. The theoretical base used was the theory of groupthink by Janis, because it is most applicable to understanding complex human psychology. The research questions of the study were: a) to find the origins of the Final Solution, why it gained acceptance by the Nazis, and the role of anti-Semitism ; and b) to identify groupthink symptom language relating to German, British, American, and Soviet leaders during the Holocaust. A qualitative multiple retro-historical case study methodology was selected. Data were collected and analyzed from archival material and groupthink theory was found to be ideally suited to the study of the Holocaust. Translation of a period of Alfred Rosenberg's diary relating to Hitler's issuance of the â??Hitler Extermination Order,â?? was discovered. The results show areas for further research, including the translation into English of the Alfred Rosenberg diary that was lost to history for over 60 years. The findings of this research study will hopefully help organizational psychologists to better remedy groupthink practices.

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