HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (1996)

by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,113265,671 (3.51)34
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)
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 34 mentions

English (22)  Italian (2)  Dutch (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (26)
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
This groundbreaking international bestseller lays to rest many myths about the Holocaust: that Germans were ignorant of the mass destruction of Jews, that the killers were all SS men, and that those who slaughtered Jews did so reluctantly. Hitler’s Willing Executioners provides conclusive evidence that the extermination of European Jewry engaged the energies and enthusiasm of tens of thousands of ordinary Germans. Goldhagen reconstructs the climate of “eliminationist anti-Semitism” that made Hitler’s pursuit of his genocidal goals possible and the radical persecution of the Jews during the 1930s popular. Drawing on a wealth of unused archival materials, principally the testimony of the killers themselves, Goldhagen takes us into the killing fields where Germans voluntarily hunted Jews like animals, tortured them wantonly, and then posed cheerfully for snapshots with their victims. From mobile killing units, to the camps, to the death marches, Goldhagen shows how ordinary Germans, nurtured in a society where Jews were seen as unalterable evil and dangerous, willingly followed their beliefs to their logical conclusion.

“Hitler’s Willing Executioner’s is an original, indeed brilliant contribution to the…literature on the Holocaust.”–New York Review of Books

“The most important book ever published about the Holocaust…Eloquently written, meticulously documented, impassioned…A model of moral and scholarly integrity.”–Philadelphia Inquirer

Read also: Littell, Franklin Hamlin, "Hyping the Holocaust: Scholars Answer Goldhagen", 1997. ( )
  Paul_Levine_Library | Jun 4, 2020 |
I'm not in the slightest surprised that "Hitler's Willing Executioners" is a controversial book; Any theory that blames the German people (and friends) for the evil done in their name rather than that chap Hitler and his mates will lead to the odd argument.

Goldhagen makes some interesting points supporting his thesis; basically Germans have a long history of hating Jews and the coming of the Nazis allowed the average German more opportunity to act upon their hatred of Jews. The fact that, for example, newly appointed Nazi officials had to tell Weimer appointed judges to refrain passing judgements so prejudiced against Jewish people as they were outside the law, is eye-opening.

Reading other reviews of "Hitler's Willing Executioners" here shows that there are doubts about Goldhagen's thesis but these reviewers are doubtless more intelligent than me, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt. ( )
  MiaCulpa | Mar 13, 2019 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

Belongs to Publisher Series

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Alternative titles
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
A Erich Goldaghen, mio padre e maestro
First words
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Canonical DDC/MDS
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.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.51)
0.5 2
1 6
1.5
2 24
2.5 10
3 62
3.5 9
4 63
4.5 7
5 41

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 160,646,478 books! | Top bar: Always visible