Recent developments in Holocaust historiography highlight the pervasive diversity characteristic of Nazi anti-Jewish policies. This article suggests that two conflicting interpretations of diversity have informed discussions. In one view, diversity is seen as the expectable result of the vast scope and scale of the war. In this conception (“diversity as outcome”), empirical diversity by itself has little diagnostic value and little direct bearing on the inference of intentionality or design. A contrasting view considers diversity itself to be a driver of policy (“diversity as process”). Variability thus becomes an indicator of lack of prior design. The diversity-as-process narrative has been fundamental in classic functionalism and in many important analyses that emphasize the major causal role of conditions at the periphery in the development of the Holocaust. A parallel debate about diversity in social action has taken place in psychology, but reached conclusions very different from those of the historical analyses. Closer empirical analysis and a cross-disciplinary approach together suggest that “process” conceptions of diversity reflect an unrealistic view of human action—one that leads to an excessively restrictive view of design in the Holocaust.


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pp. 387-410
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