by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 29, 1996
An explosive work that shatters many of the assumptions and commonly accepted myths concerning the Holocaust. Goldhagen (Government and Social Studies/Harvard) offers irrefutable proof that will force us to reconsider our previous understanding of the Nazis' genocidal project. Traditional explorations tended to accept at face value the usual defenses offered by the Germans: Either they did not know of the genocide or they were compelled to participate against their will. In this exhaustively documented and richly researched work, Goldhagen documents conclusively that the people who actively participated in the extermination program were indeed ""ordinary Germans,"" neither fanatical Nazis nor members of the dreaded SS. By carefully studying the personnel of the death camps and police battalions, the author reveals that they were not forced to participate, nor were they brainwashed by the Nazi regime. One of the book's many virtues is that it insists on placing antisemitism in a larger context; it permeated all segments of German society, including the proletariat, the professions, and the churches. Goldhagen thus offers a new conceptual framework for thinking about the Holocaust. Its documentation will make refutation nearly impossible. Further strengthening bis case, Goldhagen focuses on hitherto neglected aspects of the Holocaust: the police battalions and the death marches that occurred toward the end of the war. Both aspects support his thesis that the genocidal plans of the Nazis found an eagerly receptive audience in Germany. By comparing Nazi policies toward Jews, Slavs, and the infirm (the Euthanasia Program was denounced and resisted by the Germans), we can more clearly see and understand the enormity of the crime and the complicity of ""ordinary Germans."" A profoundly revolutionary work that demands a reexamination of the central moral problem of the 20th century.
Pub Date: March 29, 1996
Page Count: 640
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996
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