The Architect of Genocide: Himmler and the Final Solution / Edition 1

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Among the Nazi leaders, Heinrich Himmler was, as Richard Breitman observes in this ground- breaking study, an easy man to underestimate—short, pudgy, near-sighted, chinless. Yet Himmler holds a peculiarly memorable place in the roster of Nazi war criminals: he was the man most closely associated with the creation and operation of the Final Solution, the programme of formal mass murder responsible for the deaths of six million Jews in death camps. Thus, to understand the Holocaust it is first necessary to understand Himmler, and it is this The Architect of Genocide at last permits us to do. Drawing on thousands of published and unpublished sources—ranging from the Nuremburg War Crimes trial records to papers held in the Central State Archives of the October Revolution of the Ukrainian SSR in Kiev—Breitman shows us the man himself, growing from unlikeable boyhood to be the perfect bureaucrat, seemingly the antithesis of the mad policies he espoused. At the same time, with unchallengeable authority, he presents us with the hitherto mysterious and much—debated facts about the origins of those policies, establishing among other things that before the war, Himmler had plans to murder all German Jews who would not- or could not—leave the country and that as early as 1939, Himmler was considering the use of gas chambers and crematoriums.

Although Adolf Hitler held the ultimate responsibility for what became the Holocaust, it was Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, who essentially laid the plans and devised the schemes that led to the killings of six million Jews. An important and engrossing book that makes evident why Heinrich Himmler should be regarded as the master planner of the "Final Solution."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This decisively important book should serve for years to come as required reading for all who wish to make sense of the Holocaust.”—The Nation
From the Publisher
"This decisively important book should serve for years to come as required reading for all who wish to make sense of the Holocaust."--The Nation
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Looking nothing like the Nordic ideal he advocated, Heinrich Himmler, chief of the Nazi SS, was short, flabby and balding--his dull, pedantic exterior disguising the caustic, cowardly, Machiavellian, immensely cruel master of deceit within. Breitman, history professor at the American University in Washington, D.C., presents compelling evidence that the extermination of Jews was an early goal of Himmler, a Bavarian and lapsed Catholic, and his boss Adolf Hitler. Drawing on previously untapped German records, as well as other source materials, Breitman contends that the Nazi leadership crystallized its plan for mass destruction of the Jews as early as March 1941--months earlier than most historians have assumed. This engrossing, detailed study constitutes a powerful refutation of revisionist scholars who claim that Hitler did not plan the Final Solution in advance but instead improvised it out of either military or political frustration. History Book Club alternate. (May)
Library Journal
Using all available sources, Breitman carefully traces the role of Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, in developing Nazi Germany's Final Solution, the killing of six million Jews. Breitman rejects recent claims that the Final Solution was last-minute improvisation, presenting the unfolding of a plan intended from the beginning. His task is not easy, because Himmler took care not to leave a paper trail. Though at first the reader is lulled by the low-key, professionally detached narration, horror piles upon horror and documentation accumulates relentlessly as the Holocaust takes shape, piece by chilling piece, between 1931 and 1942. Not an air-tight argument, but essential for academic collections, and recommended for all collections of any size. BOMC and History Book Club alternates.-- Nancy Cridland, Indiana Univ. Libs., Bloomington
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874515961
  • Publisher: Brandeis University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1992
  • Series: Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 348
  • Sales rank: 1,251,944
  • Product dimensions: 0.79 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

RICHARD BREITMAN is the author or co-author of nine books and many articles in German history, U. S. history, and the Holocaust. Breitman teaches at American University and is editor of the journal Holocaust and Genocide Studies. He served as director of historical research for the Nazi War Criminal Records and Imperial Japanese Records Interagency Working Group, which helped to bring about declassification of more than eight million pages of U.S. government records under a 1998 law.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments • Introduction
Hitler, Himmler, and the SS • Plans for German Jews
Racial Planning and Euthanasia
Racial Education and the Military
To Madagascar and Back
Toward the Final Solution • Cleansing the New Empire
Heydrich's Plan
Rivals into Collaborators
Wannsee and Beyond
Epilogue: Himmler in Retrospect
Glossary of Titles and Special Terms
Archival Collections

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