Peterson must have read Hitler's Willing Executioners and not only believed it but been influenced profoundly by it.
To search for signs that the strong version of the hypothesis (that Jordan Peterson was directly influenced by Goldhagen's thesis of Hitler having "willing executioners" rather than the old "following orders" theory), I searched to find if Peterson had made any other references to the Goldhagen book in other contexts (other than the anecdote about forcing Jews to pointlessly carry around sacks of welt salt to humiliate them, often until they died, which traces to Goldhagen). I do find one such case from 2017 (which corroborates the "Peterson read and was majorly influenced by Goldhagen" hypothesis), but in it we find Peterson presenting his grand theory of not only the Holocaust itself but of the entire NS movement and related ethnonationalist movements in Europe in the same era.
Peterson is talking about human psychology lessons from Genesis and on the Cain and Abel story but veers into the Holocaust and WWII history and says many interesting things here, which I transcribe fore easier reference in readable, written form:
JORDAN PETERSON [lecturing in front of students]: A tit-fot-tat process had begun [after] Cain kills Abel. [...] The story, in its fragmentary manner, ties the individual psychopathology that's resentful and revenge-seeking, to the proclivity for broad-scale warfare.
This really hit me because I was interested particularly in what was happening in the Nazi camps with the guards. Because the guards were gratuitously cruel and I was very curious about that.
So here's an interesting story. This was in a book called Ordinary Germans: Hitler's Willing Executioners, and it was a book written about 30 years ago to challenge the idea that the Nazi phenomenon was "top down, order following" -- which I don't believe, by the way; I believe that's a weak, weak, hypothesis. Fascistic societies are fascistic at every single level of organization. Spiritually, within the family, within the local community. It's like a hologram. It's the same absolutely everywhere. It's not top down. I mean, there are leaders who get produced and maybe they catalyze it, but to blame it on the leaders is to forget about the process through which the leaders come to be. So, no, you don't get "a pass" that way.
So here's one of the things that happened: As the Nazis started to lose the war, here's what you should have done if you were a Nazi and wanted to win the war. You should have enslaved the Jews and the Gypsies and had them work. Right? You should have had them work for the benefit of the victory. And then, if you wanted to, you'd liquidate them afterwards... That's the logical thing to do if you want to win! And we assume that Hitler wanted to win. But that's not a very intelligent assumption. But...he wasn't exactly a good guy! So why should we assume that he was aiming at the good he was promoting, even in his own terms? The glorious, everlasting Third Reich? [...] A bastion of civilization and music. [...]
So what do you do with the Jew and the Gypsies? Round them up, fine. Enslave them, fine. You don't kill them. You certainly don't devote a substantial portion of your war resources, while you're losing, to accelerate the rate of extermination that's taking place. [...]
Hitler and his minions have the choice: You can suspend you run necessary demolition of people, win the damn war, and then pick it up afterwards. Or, while you're losing, you can just accelerate the mayhem, even though it's counterproductive. What do they pick? Well, they pick to accelerate the mayhem.
There's an old psychoanalytic idea. I think this was derived from Jung. If you can't figure out what someone is doing, or why, by looking at the outcome and infer the motivation. If it produces mayhem, perhaps it was aiming at mayhem. You have to use that dictum carefully. If someone's irritating you, maybe it's because you're irritable. Maybe you should sort yourself out. But maybe it's because they're actually aiming at irritating you and that's the actual motivation. [1:29:45]
JORDAN PETERSON [lecturing in front of students]: Why do people fight? Well, maybe they fight sometimes for good reasons. But very, very frequently they fight for bad reasons, and those bad reasons are personal -- as well as sociocultural and economic.
You know, if you are a Nazi prison guard, for example, whatever pathologies you were carrying around in your destructive little soul, whatever element of Kane was deeply embedded in you, had the opportunity to be manifest fully at every moment of your waking existence.
You have these people who are completely beholden to you, with no rights whatsoever to you, to whom you could do whatever your evil little heart determines. Well, maybe that was a motivation for putting them there to begin with. And all the cover story about -- We're trying to build the Third Reich and we're trying to stabilize the state and we're trying to do all these good things -- maybe that was just a cover story for the real motivation, which is nothing but construction of death camps that killed six million people. How about that? And the obliteration of 120 million people on the planet. And the leaving of European ruins. Maybe that was the motivation? Or are we going to attribute to Hitler the highest possible motives? No, it's an archetypal manifestation of Cain. He's going to put up a front that says, I'm your savior. Well, destructive people think that Cain is their Savior. [1:31:55]
This is a version of the familiar Holocaust Morality Play spiel, the Western master-narrative of our time. It is somewhat in extreme and negative form -- prison-camp guards a satanic with "evil little hearts" and "destructive little souls," and the "archetypal manifestation of Cain."
As for the "sacks of wet salt" anecdote he often uses, it fits quite perfectly into the framework he is pitching and apparently believes and which I believe the excerpts here give a fairly comprehensive picture.
Peterson also inadvertently makes some classic Revisionist points. Why kill the Jews when you are in a desperate labor shortage and fighting a major war? Why not use their labor? -- but somehow never seems to connect the dots or risk "going there." He just brings it back to the Morality Play. The entire purpose and goal of the NS regime and allied movements and regimes in Europe, says Peterson, was:
The real motivation [for the Nazis] was nothing but the construction of death camps that killed six million people
Peterson is a smart man. But he appears to have a major analysis blind spot here. He is guilty of dealing in the crudest of caricaturing, more-or-less a reverse version of Der Stürmer's crude anti-Semitic caricatures.
What is Peterson's motivation, other than that he may be a True Believer and zealous member of the Holocaust Cult? It appears he seeks to use the Holocaust as a prop for his own psychological theories. Just as he uses the stories from Genesis in this advanced psychology course, he uses the Holocaust for the same. But his conclusions are almost laughably bad -- given that the Nazi regime, the war, and the persecution of the Jews were all real things and not myths of the gods.
(From lecture: "Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief. Week 11, 'The Flood and the Tower'." Youtube upload date: May 18, 2017. Course code at his university, PSYCH 434.)