In this work the author asks the question "How could the Holocaust happen?" and in his response explores German society and its ingrained anti ...Show synopsisIn this work the author asks the question "How could the Holocaust happen?" and in his response explores German society and its ingrained anti-semitism, that demands a revision of thinking of the years 1933-1945. Using testimonies from the actual perpetrators, the book shows that the killers were ordinary Germans who were not compelled to act as they did, could refuse without retribution, yet who killed willingly. The book presents a new view of the Holocaust and shows that ordinary Germans believed extermination of Jews to be both necessary and just.Hide synopsis
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Description:New. Gift quality, Fine. 8vo. A superior copy in new condition....New. Gift quality, Fine. 8vo. A superior copy in new condition. Clean, unmarked pages. Good binding and cover. Hardcover and dust jacket. Description: x, 622 p. : ill.; 25 cm. Contents: Recasting the view of antisemitism: A framework for analysis--The evolution of eliminationist antisemitism in modern Germany--Eliminationist antisemitism: The "common sense" of German society during the Nazi period--The Nazis' assault on the Jews: Its character and evolution--The agents and machinery of destruction--Police battalions: Agents of genocide--Police Battalion 101: The men's deeds--Police battalion 101: Assessing the men's motives--Police battalions: Lives, killings, and motives--The sources and pattern of Jewish "work" during the Nazi period--Life in the "work" camps--Work and death--The deadly way--Marching to what end? --Explaining the perpetrators' actions: Assessing the competing explanations--Eliminationist antisemitism as genocidal motivation. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen has revisited a question that history has come to treat as settled, and his researchers have led him to the inescapable conclusion that none of the established answers holds true. That question is: "How could the Holocaust happen? " His own response is a new exploration of those who carried out the Holocaust and of German society and its ingrained anti-semitism-and it demands a fundamental revision of our thinking about the years 1933-1945. Drawing principally on materials either unexplored or neglected by previous scholars, Goldhagen marshals new, disquieting, primary evidence-including extensive testimony from the actual perpetrators themselves-to show that many beliefs about the killers are fallacies: They were not primarily SS men or Nazi Party members, but perfectly ordinary Germans from all walks of life, men (and women) who brutalized and murdered Jews both willingly and zealously. And they did so, moreover, not because they were coerced (for, as he shows irrefutably, so many were informed by their own commanders that they could refuse to kill without fear of retribution)...not because they slavishly followed orders (a view seemingly supported by Stanley Milgram's famous Yale "obedience experiment")...not because of any tremendous social, psychological, or peer pressure to conform to the behaviour of their comrades (for no such evidence exists)...and not for any reasons associated with Hannah Arendt's disputed notion of the "banality of evil." They acted as they did because of a widespread, profound, unquestioned, and virulent antisemitism that led them to regard the Jews as a demonic enemy whose extermination was not only necessary but also just. Again and again, it is the killers' own words that give us a portrait, both shocking and immediate, of their world: the organization of their daily lives, how they did what they did, their reactions to it, even their recreations in the killings fields, which included everything from sports and entertainment to the hobby of taking snapshots of their deeds and victims-to be freely exchanged and collected among themselves-leaving a devastating record of self-indictment that the author reproduces here. All of Goldhagen's documentary evidence is set within a fresh analysis of the phenomenon of German antisemitism itself, which revises many conventional views. He shows that it was already deep-rooted and pervasive in German society before Hitler came to power, and that there was a widely shared view that the Jews ought to be eliminated in some way from German society. When Hitler, ultimately, chose mass extermination as the only "final solution, " he was thus easily able to enlist vast numbers of Germans to carry it out.
You read in one history book or another that the Nazis killed millions of Jews, and the text just passes before you without much meaning. This book takes you to the day-by-day, hour-by-hour level of how is carried out. How the order comes down to the troops (police battalions mostly) to round up the Jews in some city; how the troops react to the order (some ask their girlfriends to join them) and some decline to participate, because it is all voluntary duty; and how the troops take relish in, not simply to carry out their duty, but to inflict as much pain and humiliation on the victims as possible ? killing them is not enough. The main premise of the book is that anti-Semitism was an integral character of the German people and it did not take much persuasion for the Nazis to unleash these hidden demons for their own diabolical ends.
At times, the book did get a little repetitive, making the same point over and over again, but there is ample, original research throughout to make it worthwhile reading.
This is a VERY disturbing book. It is well-written, with copious footnotes, and Goldhagen makes a VERY strong case for his belief that anti-Semitism in Germany was "in the air" LONG before Hitler, and that what Hitler did was to give that anti-Semitism a government-backed outlet.
Goldhagen uses documents and quotes from the Germans themselves to make his points. One of the most disturbing forms the title of the book. It is widely believed that Germans assisted in the slaughter of Jews, or at least did nothing to stop it, out of fear of being executed or otherwise punished if they did. Goldhagen cites sources indicating that that was NOT the case, that it occured sometimes that officers would tell their men that they didn't have to join in an ordered mass killing if they didn't want to, and would not get any punishment for refusing to. Even so, hardly anyone DID refuse. And the men and units written about in the book WERE "ordinary Germans", belonging to non-military units of the "order police", who were reservists who were civilians, teachers, doctors, civil servants and the like, when not on duty in their units. Their viciousness in tormenting their victims before their killings began is outlined in chilling detail. The Germans' abrupt and dreadful change of manner when some supposed German citizens are suddenly identified as Jews is sickening. The German men involved wrote orders and journal entries, and sent letters home, including photographs, often of themselves grinning at the mistreatment of their Jewish victims, and some of the photos and writings are included in the book.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wonders about the Holocaust and the German attitudes that made it possible there,but it is NOT a book for the squeamish.
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