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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen set the world of Holocaust studies afire with the 1996 publication of his controversial Hitler's Willing Executioners, in which he saw the Holocaust as primarily the murderous acts of ordinary individuals who were deeply anti-Semitic. Now, he shifts his focus to the Catholic Church's role in the Holocaust and again stirs a controversial brew.
Offering more proof than other scholars who have addressed the issue, Goldhagen charges that Pope Pius XII and his colleagues were guilty, at minimum, of turning a blind eye to what the Nazis were doing throughout Europe. Goldhagen holds that Pius, through the strength of the Church and the large number of European Catholics, could have compelled Germany to end the Holocaust or -- at the very least -- saved many Jews from extermination. Instead, the Church's influence went unused. For example, Goldhagen charges that Pius allowed the deportation of Italy's Jews although he surely knew about the gas chambers. He puts forth many other charges that are equally disturbing and also condemns the modern-day Church's efforts to make rhetorical amends for the Holocaust, insisting that it must do more to atone for its anti-Semitic past.
A Moral Reckoning is a densely written book, and its academic tone might be a bit much for some readers. But, as this historical and polemical work digs into the dark corners of Holocaust, it offers enlightenment that is both important and essential. Here, then, is a work that ranks as an invaluable contribution to the literature on the subject. Glenn Speer