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Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary…

Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (original 1996; edition 1997)

by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

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Title:Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust
Authors:Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
Info:Vintage (1997), Paperback, 656 pages
Collections:Your library

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Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (1996)

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  cavlibrary | Jun 5, 2013 |
It's very easy to see the scholarly bones of this book, the old "Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you've told them." It's meticulously documented, and seems to be thoroughly researched. Clearly, from the GR reviews alone, the content is a great deal more conservative than the style.

As painstakingly researched and scholarly as this book is, I am disinclined to believe the author's assertions about the German people as a whole. As a former English major (ha, first time my degree has had a practical use!), I'm certainly aware of the vast amount of anti-Semitism in European literature through the nineteenth century. However, that seems to me to argue more against Goldhagen's conclusions than otherwise.

Granted that all of Europe (and to a large extent, the US) was anti-Semitic, why were there not hundreds of Holocausts?

On an emotional level, although my German ancestors arrived in the US at the turn of the twentieth century, as the bearer of a German surname, I do not want to believe Goldhagen's assertions on an emotional level as well.

I think that my next step is going to be reading
[b:Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland|647492|Ordinary Men Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland|Christopher R. Browning|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1176725021s/647492.jpg|633637] to get the other side, and take it from there.

For me, this was the book equivalent of the movies Amistad, Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List--it gave me a lot to think about, I'm glad I read it, but I don't ever want to repeat this particular experience. ( )
  Jammies | Mar 31, 2013 |
Eye-opening proof that the German people knew about the atrocities being committed by the Nazi regime. ( )
  uujeff | Feb 13, 2013 |
One can find large amounts of useful data/information and notable events concerning the Holocaust, but this tomb comes with some very surprisingly inaccurate judgement/conclusion/thesis. ( )
  marcares | Jun 11, 2012 |
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen (b. 1959) has revisited the Holocaust and debunked the myth that Germans were opposed to the persecution of Jews and that those who killed did so reluctantly. Previously neglected primary documentation is explored providing the evidence to back up his claim: Hitler had no problem enlisting the help of vast numbers of Germans to carry out his ‘final solution,’ that it was not just the SS or Nazi Party members that willingly took part. Ordinary men and women took part in staffing and overseeing the concentration camps, slave labour camps, genocidal army units, police battalions, ghettos and death marches. The zealous murder of the Jews was in part carried out because of a history of anti-Semitism dating as far back as the 18th century. Goldhagen estimates that hundreds of thousands of Germans were directly involved in the mass murder and millions more were aware on the ongoing genocide justified by the belief that what they did was right and proper.

This book is both compelling and terrifying. It is comprehensive, but I found the small type difficult to read and hence only ‘browsed’ the book during my investigations into the Holocaust. One day I hope to have the time to read the book in its entirety. For ease of use contents pages, extensive notes and an index are included. This is an important book that needed to be written and is a significant contribution to this horrific period of world history that must be discussed and debated honestly. ( )
1 vote boppisces | Jul 2, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679772685, Paperback)

In a work that is as authoritative as it is explosive, Goldhagen forces us to revisit and reconsider our understanding of the Holocaust and its perpetrators, demanding a fundamental revision in our thinking of the years between 1933-1945. Drawing principally on materials either unexplored or neglected by previous scholars, Goldhagen marshals new, disquieting primary evidence that explains why, when Hitler conceived of the "final solution" he was able to enlist vast numbers of willing Germans to carry it out. A book sure to provoke new discussion and intense debate.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:39:43 -0400)

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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.… (more)

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