Ideology Of Death

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Despite all the thousands of studies of the Holocaust and the rise of Nazi Germany, we still have no satisfactory explanation of why this tragedy occurred in one of the most "civilized" of Western nations. John Weiss's Ideology of Death is the first book to explore the unique nature of German history, showing how it rejected the liberal ideals of the Enlightenment, and to trace the culture of racism and anti-Semitism among powerful elites and ordinary Germans over a long period of German history. In a stunningly lucid narrative, Weiss describes exactly how and why Christian anti-Semitism, in its unique form among German Protestants and Austrian Catholics, reinforced modern secular racism to create an explosive mix. Using the latest research, he details how the Nazis, building on traditional German anti-Semitism, were able to adjust it so as to appeal to a wide variety of social groups–crucial to their electoral success. And he explains the specific complicities of various German groups and institutions in the Holocaust, and why they voluntarily cooperated with the Nazis. In its clarity and compelling argument, Ideology of Death is certain to be one of the most important books for many years to come on the reasons behind the Holocaust.

This stunning and disturbing narrative history explores the unique nature of German history. Rejecting the notion that the Holocaust was a product of Nazi fanaticism, Weiss shows instead how racist ideas ingrained in German culture led to the horror.

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Editorial Reviews

Raul Hilberg
For many readers this book can safely take the place of an entire history.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
How could one of the most "civilized" of Western nations kill millions of innocent people? Weiss (The Facist Tradition, 1967) rejects the claim of "No Hitler, no Holocaust." Instead, he argues that anti-Semitism was a strong trait in every class in Germany; the anti-Semitism of "tens of thousands" of upper-class Germans was not "all that different from that of the Nazis themselves." Weiss traces anti-Semitism in western Europe and shows why it was so strong in Germany. He demolishes the old argument that most Germans knew nothing about the mass murders and were shocked when they learned the truth. He suggests that if the masses truly did not know and were as horrified as they claimed, "an outburst of patriotic indignation and revulsion and unstoppable desire to punish the guilty would have been inevitable. The opposite occurred." Weiss's clear and lucid style makes his book an excellent choice for classes or discussion groups on the Holocaust. This book should be in all academic and public libraries with strong Holocaust collections.-Dennis L. Noble, Sequim, Wash.
Weiss (history, Lehman College) explores the nature of the German experience and the history of antisemitism to show how racist ideas ingrained in German culture led to the Holocaust. He traces the evolution of Christian antisemitism among German Protestants and Austrian Catholics in Luther's Germany, the Napoleonic era, and the late 1800s, and its influence on the generation that brought Hitler to power, and explains the specific complicities of various German groups that voluntarily cooperated with the Nazis. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566631747
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 9/25/1997
  • Edition description: 1ST ELEPHA
  • Pages: 444
  • Product dimensions: 5.92 (w) x 8.76 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

John Weiss's Ideology of Death: Why the Holocaust Happened in Germany was lauded for its balanced interpretation. Mr. Weiss is professor of history at Lehman College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and has also written The Fascist Tradition and Conservatism in Europe.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 Preface vii Part 2 The Christian Legacy 3 Part 3 Luther and the Reformation 20 Part 4 The Enlightenment 36 Part 5 The Liberation of the Jews in France 50 Part 6 The Nationalist Reaction: Germany, 1815-1848 64 Part 7 Anti-Semitism in the Bismarck Era 80 Part 8 The Rise of Populist Anti-Semitism 97 Part 9 Anti-Semitism Among the Elites, 1890-1914 112 Part 10 Anti-Semitism, Academics, and Intellectuals, 1890-1914 128 Part 11 Opposing Anti-Semitism 143 Part 12 Catholic Anti-Semitism in the Austrian Empire 156 Part 13 Racial Nationalism in Austria 173 Part 14 Hitler in Austria 191 Part 15 The Great War and Racism 206 Part 16 The Seedbed: The Postwar Wave of Anti-Semitism 222 Part 17 The Battle for Culture 239 Part 18 Organizing the Nazis, 1924-1930 19 Anti-Semitism and the Nazi Vote 271 Part 20 Hitler and the Elites 288 Part 21 Hitler in Power 306 Part 22 Toward a Racial Empire 317 Part 23 The Ideology of Death 325 Part 24 Complicities 342 Part 25 Resistance, Public Opinion, Knowledge 362 Part 26 Aftermath: Judgment and Innocence 380 Part 27 Notes 399 Part 28 Index 413
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2004

    comes closest to solving the puzzle

    By going back a few centuries, John Weiss sets the stage better than any writer I've found up to now for answering the question;how could the Nazi's do what they did and get away with it and what happened to many prominent Nazis after the war. There are parts of the book that I view as redundant but these can be overlooked in light of the overall quality. I would easily have given it 5 stars if the acceptable redundancy were not present

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