Hitler and the Holocaust / Edition 1by Robert S. Wistrich
Pub. Date: 08/05/2003
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Hitler and the Holocaust is the product of a lifetime’s work by one of the world’s foremost authorities on the history of anti-Semitism and modern Jewry. Robert S. Wistrich begins by reckoning with Europe’s long history of violence against the Jews, and how that tradition manifested itself in Germany and Austria in the early twentieth century. He looks at the forces that shaped Hitler’s belief in a "Jewish menace" that must be eradicated, and the process by which, once Hitler gained power, the Nazi regime tightened the noose around Germany’s Jews. He deals with many crucial questions, such as when Hitler’s plans for mass genocide were finalized, the relationship between the Holocaust and the larger war, and the mechanism of authority by which power–and guilt–flowed out from the Nazi inner circle to "ordinary Germans," and other Europeans. He explains the infernal workings of the death machine, the nature of Jewish and other resistance, and the sad story of collaboration and indifference across Europe and America, and in the Church. Finally, Wistrich discusses the abiding legacy of the Nazi genocide, and the lessons that must be drawn from it. A work of commanding authority and insight, Hitler and the Holocaust is an indelible contribution to the literature of history.
Author Biography: Robert S. Wistrich is professor of modern Jewish history at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, visiting fellow at the Royal Institute of Advanced Studies in the Netherlands, and visiting professor of history at Brandeis and Harvard universities. A regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement, he is the author of many books.
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I read a book entitled Hitler and the Holocaust. This book was based on a true account of facts detailing Nazi Germany and the Adolf Hitler era. In the book, it discusses how Adolf Hitler and the Nazi¿s had this idea of Germany having the perfect race. He along with his army tried to wipe out the whole Jewish race because he felt they did not belong in his perfect world. He was trying to make the perfect race and this consisted of ¿blond hair, blue eyes¿. If the people didn¿t fit into that category, they were placed in concentration camps where they ultimately died. Some of the Jews tried to hide in order not to go to the concentration camps but most were found. The book also gives an account of what happened to the Jews once they arrived at the concentration camps. They had to endure torture by ways of experiments and most ended up in the gas chambers. There were families wiped out by Hitler¿s way of thinking. I think this is a good book for middle school, high school and adult readers. It showed how one man¿s belief can convince others to follow his way of thinking. If anything should be changed, perhaps illustrations could have been done throughout the book. Overall, I would rate this book as a must read because we should always remember our history. Due to Hitler, the lives of so many were lost.
This interesting book by Robert Wistrich is an attempt to concentrate on the question as to why the Nazis placed so much emphasis on the extermination of the European Jews, often when doing so meant endangering the other goals they were surging toward during the conduct of the war. The author, of course, understands that the whole of the national Socialist movement sprang from the discontent and absurd racism of the Volkist history of the Reich, much of it dating back centuries. From the time Germany was forged out of the crucible of Prussia and its environs, the collection of Germanic peoples looked for those unifying themes that would untie them as distinct people and extend to them the greatness that had so eluded them and their culture. Given their history of cultural insecurity, it seems as no surprise that an entity like the Jews had to found and scapegoated to justify their grandiloquent dreams. As the author points out (and as others such as Lucy Dawidowicz so famously in "The War Against The Jews'), this scapegoating effort was no only an expediency arising from the discontent and chaos of the Weimar years after World War One, but also a deep-seated cultural tradition extending back hundreds if not thousands of years. Indeed, questions regarding Jewish claims to citizenship had been hotly debated both officially and unofficially every place from the many legislative forums to the floors of the local pubs as long as anyone could recall. There was nothing new or novel about German prejudice against and antipathy for the Jews. And as he adds so succinctly, this was (and indeed is) a problem extending far beyond German borders. After all, we do well to remember that most European countries turned their backs on the problems of the Jewish émigrés attempting by the thousands to flee the coming horror in Nazi Germany. Indeed, many such as the Swiss and the French cooperated in handing over indigenous Jews to the German authorities during the war. Moreover, the climate of blind indifference extended to the pulpits of the clergy, as well, and persistent rumors claim that the Pope himself was cognizant of the plight of the German and other European Jews and did little if anything to intercede. In fat, this book provides a yeoman's service by articulating and discussing a number of salient and competing interpretations, ranging from Daniel Goldhagen's controversial thesis enunciated in "Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust" to Christopher Browning's thesis as expounded in several recent books (see my reviews of both authors' works). Wistrich also recapitulates the differences between the so-called "intentionalist' and "functionalist' theories of the Holocaust, and as I have written elsewhere, I believe that while the evidence indicates a functional approach, I also believe that the same evidence is consistent with the idea that Hitler and the Nazis always intended to exterminate the Jews (along with all of the indigenous populations of the conquered territories to the east). All the functional argument really proves, as far as I can see, is that existential circumstances played into the execution of a standing policy which was a virtual cornerstone of Nazi social policy. As someone professionally educated as a sociologist, I was fascinated by the author's discussion of the meaning of the Holocaust in terms of history, and the question as to whether or not it represented the "antithesis of Western Civilization" or its realization. This treads very close to a searing indictment made by sociologist Max Weber of the eventual drift of rationalism as practiced in western societies toward a kind of non-thinking and non-substantive form of the rational impulse, a shadow which contented itself with the forms and practices of rationalism but none of its intent and rigor. To the extent he was correct that such a society would become an "iron cage" imprisoning man and endangering everything good that h