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Why the Germans? Why the Jews?: Envy, Race…
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Why the Germans? Why the Jews?: Envy, Race Hatred, and the Prehistory of… (original 2011; edition 2015)

by Götz Aly (Author)

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11914186,545 (4.2)2
"A provocative and insightful analysis that sheds new light on one of the most puzzling and historically unsettling conundrums Why the Germans? Why the Jews? Countless historians have grappled with these questions, but few have come up with answers as original and insightful as those of maverick German historian Gotz Aly. Tracing the prehistory of the Holocaust from the 1800s to the Nazis' assumption of power in 1933, Aly shows that German anti-Semitism was--to a previously overlooked extent--driven in large part by material concerns, not racist ideology or religious animosity. As Germany made its way through the upheaval of the Industrial Revolution, the difficulties of the lethargic, economically backward German majority stood in marked contrast to the social and economic success of the agile Jewish minority. This success aroused envy and fear among the Gentile population, creating fertile ground for murderous Nazi politics.Surprisingly, and controversially, Aly shows that the roots of the Holocaust are deeply intertwined with German efforts to create greater social equality. Redistributing wealth from the well-off to the less fortunate was in many respects a laudable goal, particularly at a time when many lived in poverty. But as the notion of material equality took over the public imagination, the skilled, well-educated Jewish population came to be seen as having more than its fair share. Aly's account of this fatal social dynamic opens up a new vantage point on the greatest crime in history and is sure to prompt heated debate for years to come"--… (more)
Member:jbreten
Title:Why the Germans? Why the Jews?: Envy, Race Hatred, and the Prehistory of the Holocaust
Authors:Götz Aly (Author)
Info:Picador (2015), Edition: Reprint, 304 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
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Why the Germans? Why the Jews?: Envy, Race Hatred, and the Prehistory of the Holocaust by Götz Aly (Author) (2011)

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» See also 2 mentions

English (12)  German (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (14)
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
Why the Germans?

By Gavriel D. Rosenfeld
Winter 2015

"The two questions that make up the title of the German scholar Götz Aly’s latest book are the ones that many historians of the Holocaust have been attempting to answer for decades. And as the book’s subtitle suggests, the answer that Aly supplies is not radically new. The novel twist in his argument consists of the way he links envy and race hatred as causal factors: Aly argues that the German people’s “gnawing envy” of the Jews ended up combining “with a collectivist longing for a life among equals” and “paved the way for [the] racial theory” that the Nazis employed in their genocidal assault on the Jews in their own country and beyond."

"Both Confino and Aly remind us of the centrality of anti-Semitism in the Nazi genocide. In doing so they correct the last generation’s tendency to explain the Holocaust as the result of universal, modern forces. What Aly and Confino remind us of so powerfully is that the Holocaust also resulted from the adaptation of historical hatreds to new circumstances."

Source: https://jewishreviewofbooks.com/articles/1466/why-the-germans/ ( )
  Paul_Levine_Library | Jun 3, 2020 |
Asks an important question, and gives excellent, well-thought out answers.
  revliz | Jul 10, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It took me a long time to start this book, to read it and to finally write a review. While I greatly admire German culture I cannot fathom how that culture could also produce Hell on earth for people who in the most part considered themselves fellow Germans.
Aly uses, I think, the standard view that the non-Jewish Germans were jealous and envious of Jewish success in making their way in the industrializing 19th and 20th centuries. This success was in part due to Jews living mostly in urban areas where there were more opportunity while the majority of the population was still located in rural areas. However similar situations occurred in other counties and continents without the German descent into deliberate barbarism. Sadly the point(s) as to why the German situation is so unique is not made in this work. ( )
  surly | Dec 25, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a question that may never be answered to anyone's satisfaction. An interesting look at root sources of envy and repellancy, but not enough to explain the magnitude.
  2wonderY | Nov 9, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Rating 3.5 stars:
1 star for what appears to provide unique and interesting sources.
1 star for addressing an area of research that needs to be discussed.
1.5 star for adding enough to the historic discourse to merit being quotable.
-1.5 stars - In an effort to maintain this clear narrative; the book is at risk of leaving less educated readers without sufficient context for the full predicament of the Jews in this historical period.

The book:
Acknowledgements & Translator's Note
Introduction: The Question of Questions
1. Jewish Emancipation
2. The Anxiety of German Nationalism
3. The Anti-Semitism as a Political Force
4. The Mainstream's Dangerous Indifference
5. War, Defeat, and Jew Hatred
6. Weak Masses, Strong Race
7. The National Socialist People's Party
Epilogue: A Story with no End
Notes
Bibliography
Index

“German anti-Semitism was nourished not by an ideology based on specific Jew traits but rather by more generic material conflicts and interests.” --Siegfried Lichtenstaedter

One of the strong appeals of this text is that Götz Aly is a German historian whose perspective is wholly unique from most other Holocaust and genocide writings I have read so far. It is exciting that this book is opening up the conversation on the complex web of influences in Germany that ranged from the much discussed hatreds of the Nazi's, to the mundane bias and financial insecurities of the every man of society.

For those of us who read a lot of Holocaust texts, Aly's ides are not necessarily revolutionary. Yet this is a book that spends its full energy on German society through a lens that insists on identifying Germans as normal people with normal lives caught up in a complex web of ideals, experiences, and events.

Aly's writings appear to be consistently polarizing; both critical acclaim and criticism. It took some additional research into Jefferson Chase, the translator, to clarify my question about whether Aly's book is being presented as intended. Based on Chase's article on a recent "alternate history" fictional novel, Timur Vermes' "Er ist wieder da" ("He's Back"), we see that Chase clearly understands his subject matter. (See http://www.dw.com/en/hitler-satire-a-controversial-but-unoriginal-hit/a-16572814)

I have mixed thoughts about at how far Aly has pushed for the naivety of the average German citizen. Aly has a good argument for German envy. I certainly do accept the premise that life is very complex and people make decisions under pressure that look questionable in retrospect and the concept is fortified by how average Germans benefit financially. It is easy not to ask about pesky connections between disappearing neighbors and improved housing and business options. But people who say and do racist things often do not see themselves in that category. Aly is making a valuable point that seems to lose its balance by underestimating the amount of shared beliefs among the masses to allow for the extremes.

Updated September 18, 2015 ( )
  scootorian | Jul 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Aly, GötzAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chase, JeffersonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tortelli, ValentinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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"A provocative and insightful analysis that sheds new light on one of the most puzzling and historically unsettling conundrums Why the Germans? Why the Jews? Countless historians have grappled with these questions, but few have come up with answers as original and insightful as those of maverick German historian Gotz Aly. Tracing the prehistory of the Holocaust from the 1800s to the Nazis' assumption of power in 1933, Aly shows that German anti-Semitism was--to a previously overlooked extent--driven in large part by material concerns, not racist ideology or religious animosity. As Germany made its way through the upheaval of the Industrial Revolution, the difficulties of the lethargic, economically backward German majority stood in marked contrast to the social and economic success of the agile Jewish minority. This success aroused envy and fear among the Gentile population, creating fertile ground for murderous Nazi politics.Surprisingly, and controversially, Aly shows that the roots of the Holocaust are deeply intertwined with German efforts to create greater social equality. Redistributing wealth from the well-off to the less fortunate was in many respects a laudable goal, particularly at a time when many lived in poverty. But as the notion of material equality took over the public imagination, the skilled, well-educated Jewish population came to be seen as having more than its fair share. Aly's account of this fatal social dynamic opens up a new vantage point on the greatest crime in history and is sure to prompt heated debate for years to come"--

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