I hope I’m not putting any words in smiling bandit’s mouth, but I think he/she’s also making the very important point that all the ‘exceptionalist’ explanations of the holocaust essentially prevent us from learning anything from it.
So - slight preachy hi-jack here : Treating the holocaust as a one-off aberration makes a repeat much more likely. When we say that “Monsters Did It”, all we have to do is keep those rare monsters out of power. If the holocaust was carried out by ‘regular people’, we’ll need to try a lot harder to understand and avoid repeats.
I believe the common portrayal/definition of the holocaust as being primarily an assault by Germans on Jews, and primarily carried out in the Auschwitz manner, also feeds the ‘exceptionalist’ view. There were camps that were run by non-Germans, there were also camps that targeted non-Jews, there were huge massacres of ‘non-aryans’ that didn’t involve camps at all etc. People of all types and all stripes were involved in the holocaust.
3 million Soviet POWs died in camps. Poland lost about 20% of its population.Yad Vashem estimates that there were 500,000 victims at the Jasenovac camp in Croatia - a camp set up by Croatians primarily to eliminate ethnic Serbs (The Tito government chose reconciliation over truth to some degree, and this became a bone of contention 50 years later in the Balkan conflicts). Some 100,000 victims of summary executions were buried in the mass grave at Babi Yar (Kiev).
Regarding the ‘functionalism’, ‘intentionalism’ debate, was there a master plan for genocide right from the start of Nazism ? I believe the jury’s still out on that - ‘ethnic cleansing’, displacement and enslavement of Jewish and Slavic peoples from Ukraine, Poland etc seems to have been part of the Nazi plan from early on, but explicit references to extermination started a lot later, as previous posters have mentioned.