Books by Michael Berenbaum

HISTORY
Released: Aug. 1, 2000

"The definitive resource for understanding this deeply troubling episode in the 20th century's greatest horror. (8 pages b&w photos, 4 maps)"
Essays by military and Holocaust historians (whose answers to the question in the subtitle vary widely), supplemented with relevant primary documents. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: June 1, 1998

A huge and hugely significant collection of much of the best Holocaust scholarship to appear in the last half-century. This immense, one-volume tome is published in association with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, where editor Berenbaum was formerly director of the Research Institute. Assisting him is Abraham Peck, the executive director of Houston's Holocaust Museum and the editor of two volumes in the series Archives of the Holocaust. Researchers of this controversial event argue here over the timing of the Nazi decision to commit genocide (Martin Broszat vs. Eberhard Jackel), the reasons why it happened, how unique the Holocaust was (Yehuda Bauer), and how ordinary the killers were (Gordon J. Horwitz and Daniel Jonah Goldhagen). Nazi policy was carried out differently in each country; thus, scholars examine the cases of victims, survivors, and perpetrators in Britain (Louise London), France (Susan S. Zuccotti), Hungary (Paul A. Levine and Randolph L. Braham), Italy (Meir Michaelis), Romania (Jean Ancel), and even Turkey (Mark Epstein). Despite the words —disputed and reexamined— in the subtitle, the extent of the victim count isn—t questioned, nor are Holocaust deniers given a forum. However, the collection tolerates adamant differences of opinion and controversial theories, such as Gerhard L. Weinberg's defense of London's closing of Palestine to Jewish refugees and his contention that only "a tiny number" of Jews would have been rescued had the Western Allies bombed the gas chambers. The complexities of Holocaust survivors are well covered by Marjorie Allard, Dori Laub, Dalia Ofer, and Dina Porat. Non-Jewish victims and rescuers of the Holocaust are also well represented. With this one weighty volume of 54 chapters (and extensive notes), a reader can learn how far Holocaust scholarship has progressed and what areas will be discussed for generations to come. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: June 1, 1994

An immensely wide and deep collection of reports on the infrastructure, operation, population, and history of the Auschwitz death-camp complex. Contributions by 27 contributors from several countries are compiled for this publication of the new US Holocaust Memorial Museum's Research Institute. (Berenbaum is director of the Research Institute; Gutman is professor of Jewish history at Hebrew University and director of the Research Center at Yad Vashem.) This anthology is a companion volume to Auschwitz: A History in Photographs (1993) in association with the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland. The contributors range from Polish scholars able for the first time to access archives in former Communist countries to established WW II historians like Martin Gilbert. Because Auschwitz was a concentration camp, a death camp, and a forced- labor camp, the Nazi's largest such complex, it warrants the comprehensive and multidimensional treatment it gets here. The first two parts offer an overview of the physical operation of the camp, with a statistical study concluding that 1.5 million victims perished there (90% of these being Jews). Among the essays here is one by Jean-Claude Pressac, the Frenchman who has done groundbreaking research into the construction and operation of Auschwitz. Parts III and IV examine perpetrators of the atrocities, from managers like Rudolf Hess to doctors like Josef Mengele, and their inmate victims (broken down by ethnicity, gender, age and health). We read from a psychologist how inmates were broken and turned into ``automatons, obeying orders without thinking.'' It is all the more remarkable that any resistance occurred in Auschwitz, such as the revolt of October 7, 1944, when crematorium IV was blown up and inmates ``managed to overpower the German kapo and throw him, still alive, into one of the ovens.'' Examinations of what the world knew about the complex, why Auschwitz wasn't bombed, and select literature of the camp rounds out the collection. These thoroughly researched and annotated reports add up to a one-volume study of Auschwitz without peer in Holocaust literature. Read full book review >