The Holocaust in History

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Did Europe's Jews go passively to their deaths? How did Nazi anti-Semitism evolve into mass murder? How important was Hitler's own hatred of the Jews in creating the Final Solution? Why didn't the Allies aggressively try to save Jews before the war's end? Michael R. Marrus, in the first comprehensive assessment of the vast historical literature on the Holocaust, tackles explosive issues and tortured memories, handling them with judiciousness and sensitivity. Drawing on the entire range of historical literature on this subject, he comments upon the questions that have troubled observers over the years. By applying the tools of historical, sociological, and political analysis, he presents a balanced but eye-opening treatment of many highly charged topics on the Holocaust, including the role of collaborationist governments, the Roman Catholic Church, the local populations, Jewish ghetto leadership, and the Jews themselves.

A graceful and moving book provides a clear overview of events, restoring a sense of balance to the way the historians have interpreted this tragic period.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
More suitable for students of the discipline than lay readers, this is a masterly, engrossing assessment of the vast Holocaust literature. In contrast to Lucy Dawidowicz's 1981 The Holocaust and the Historians, which protested the mistreatment of the topic by historians, Marrus (The Unwanted: European Refugees in the Twentieth Century, etc.) nonpolemically applies ``the tools of historical, sociological, and political analysis to the events of the war years and to understand what happened to European Jewry as one would understand any other historical problem.'' Placing the Holocaust in a broad historical perspective, he links the centrality of anti-Semitism in Nazism to Hitler's anti-Jewish commitment and advances the argument that Nazi anti-Jewish policy wasn't set at an early point but evolved, with the plan for European-wide mass murder emerging after the military successes in 1940-41. In a keen effort to enter the minds and sensibilities of those who lived through the Holocaust, he undermines generalizations regarding European public opinion of Jews during the Holocaust, bystanders, Jewish ghetto leadership and Jewish ``passivity'' and ``resistance.'' He evenhandedly surveys the various sources on Nazi offers to suspend the Final Solution and ransom the remaining Jews at the last stages of the war, and other rescue options. History Book Club and Jewish Book Club main selections. (November 9)
Library Journal
Wonderfully researched and superbly written, this book is the finest available introduction to how historians write about the Holocaust. Forcefully arguing that the Holocaust must be demystified and studied as an event within history, Marrus summarizes the most recent, authoritative historical scholarship pertaining to critical themes on the Holocaust, such as the centrality of anti-Semitism to Nazism; the uniqueness of the Holocaust; the role of bystanders, collaborators, Jewish leaders; and Jewish resistance. Marrus juxtaposes historical disagreements and consensus on specific issues, periodically offering his own cogent synthesis and judicious conclusions. A first-class historiography, recommended wholeheartedly for scholars and laypersons alike. History Book and Jewish Book Club Main selections. Benny Kraut, Judaic Studies Dept., Univ. of Cincinnati
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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of Maps ix
Preface xi
1 Introduction 1
2 The Holocaust in Perspective 8
The Centrality of Antisemitism 9
Hitler's Antisemitism 13
The Uniqueness of the Holocaust 18
Toward Mass Murder 25
3 The Final Solution 31
Intentionalists: The Straight Path 34
Functionalists: The Twisted Road 40
Functionaries of the Final Solution 46
Aspects of Nazi Population Policy 51
4 Germany's Allies, Vanquished States, and Collaborationist Governments 55
Eastern Europe: The Final Solution in the German Lebensraum 58
Western and Central Europe: Murder Improvised 65
5 Public Opinion in Nazi Europe 84
Germans 85
East Europeans 94
West Europeans 101
Support for Jews 103
6 The Victims 108
East European Ghettos 113
Central and West European Jewry 122
The Camps 126
7 Jewish Resistance 133
Dilemmas and Objectives of Jewish Resistance 134
Ghettos, Forests, and Camps in Eastern Europe 141
Slovakia and Hungary: Rescue as Resistance 148
Western Europe: Jewish Affirmation 151
8 Bystanders 156
What Was Known? 157
Unwanted Refugees 164
Jewish Communities 168
The Soviet Union 173
Neutrals 176
The Catholic Church 179
9 The End of the Holocaust 184
Ransom Negotiations 185
Other Rescue Options 192
The Death Marches and Liberation 196
Conclusion 199
Notes 203
Suggestions for Further Reading 247
Index 257
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