It was a division that first revealed itself in the 1980s in a phenomenon known as the Historikerstreit, the “historians’ dispute,” an acrimonious debate that was carried on among distinguished historians, such as Helmut Diwald, Ernst Nolte (a student of Heidegger), and Andreas Hillgruber, who had each produced solid, “regular” histories before. When it broke open, it comprised the following arguments:
• It was argued that Fascism was not a totalitarian system in the mold of Stalinism, but a response to it;
• Auschwitz was not a unique event but a copy of the Gulag; other, earlier, genocides had taken place in the twentieth century;
• More Aryans than Jews were killed in the death camps;
• Poles and Romanians were just as anti-Semitic as Germans;
• The worst excesses of the war—the invasion of Russia and the extermination of the Jews—came about because one man, Hitler, intended them to happen.