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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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1,865225,315 (3.47)34
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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Very hard to read. It is a sweeping indictment of a whole culture and its institutions well argued and documented. Is it a broad brush? Maybe, but it rings more true than not. ( )
  SPQR2755 | Jul 23, 2018 |
I like that Goldhagen delineates his thesis and methodology clearly in the opening chapters. I have read other reviews here that I believe are negative because they feel that Goldhagen draws with too broad a brush. In fact, one reviewer asked why, if Goldhagen's thesis is correct, there haven't been hundreds of Holocausts. Well, there have been hundreds of pogroms throughout Europe. I'm not saying that the other reviewers are wrong. It is interesting that Goldhagen seems to have hit a nerve in many readers. That in itself is probably worth recommending this book. I recommend it on its merits. When it came down to it in Europe in the 30s and 40s, Jews were sacrificed willingly by hundreds of thousands of non-Jews while millions of other non-Jews either cheered or looked away.

I will quote from a letter from Goldhagen in response to criticism: "Whatever it might mean to “indict an entire culture,” the assertion that I do it is wrong. All I do is conclude that German culture before and during the Nazi period was broadly and deeply anti-Semitic. In principle, that is as legitimate as is reporting that the culture of the white antebellum South was broadly and deeply racist against blacks."

I agree with Goldhagen and I feel that some critics are expecting too much for Goldhagen to be "evenhanded" on the issue. It is not Goldhagen's responsibility to find out and report on the few Germans who vigorously resisted the Nazis. It is also not Goldhagen's responsibility to write at length about non-Germans who persecuted Jews. ( )
2 vote eowynfaramir | Feb 16, 2017 |
Goldhagen's vilification of other scholars, in both the text and throughout the footnotes, made me question the integrity of his work. I subsequently read some compelling criticism of both the author and the book, and cannot recommend it. I think he has assembled a well-researched and vividly written history, but his academic and professional prejudices make me unable to trust it. ( )
  Magatha | Aug 12, 2015 |
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 |
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A Erich Goldaghen, mio padre e maestro
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Quando si pensa all' antisemitismo tedesco, si tende a partire da alcuni importanti e sottaciuti presupposi riguardo ai tedeschi prima e nel corso del nazismo, che andrebbero analizzati e rivisti.
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:57 -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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