The Path to Genocide: Essays on Launching the Final Solution


The Nazi Holocaust haunts the modern imagination as one of the most compelling examples of the human capacity for organized atrocity. This authoritative account of Nazi Jewish policy seeks to determine what actually happened between the outbreak of war and the emergence of the Final Solution.
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The Nazi Holocaust haunts the modern imagination as one of the most compelling examples of the human capacity for organized atrocity. This authoritative account of Nazi Jewish policy seeks to determine what actually happened between the outbreak of war and the emergence of the Final Solution.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'The clarity as well as economy with which he writes, his firm grasp of the evidence and the balanced judgement he brings to its interpretation make this a most impressive performance … He uses his flair for uncovering new archive material to throw light on the attitudes and roles of a variety of people who became involved in carrying out the Final Solution.' The Times Literary Supplement
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521417013
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2006
  • Series: Canto Book Series
  • Pages: 207
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Table of Contents

Pt. I The Prelude to Genocide
1 Nazi Resettlement Policy and the Search for a Solution to the Jewish Question, 1939-1941 3
2 Nazi Ghettoization Policy in Poland, 1939-1941 28
Pt. II Conflicting Explanations
3 German Technocrats, Jewish Labor and the Final Solution: A Reply to Gotz Aly and Susanne Heim 59
4 The Holocaust as By-product? A Critique of Arno Mayer 77
5 Beyond "Intentionalism" and "Functionalism": The Decision for the Final Solution Reconsidered 86
Pt. III The Perpetrators: Accommodation, Anticipation, and Conformity
6 Bureaucracy and Mass Murder: The German Administrator's Comprehension of the Final Solution 125
7 Genocide and Public Health: German Doctors and Polish Jews, 1939-1941 145
8 One Day in Jozefow: Initiation to Mass Murder 169
Index 185
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2002

    Superb Summation Of The Natural History Of The Holocaust!

    In an eight-essay series originally devised as lectures, the author takes the reader deep into the hearts and minds of the men who engineered and perpetrated the Holocaust. As in his earlier work, he argues persuasively and with an army of facts and figures that the decision to eradicate all of Europe's Jews from the face of the planet was an incrementally derived decision. This argument is very much like that made by Gerhard Weinberg in his massively documented history of WWII, "A World At Arms", although Browning's argument involves a much more detailed and substantiated thread of evidence and circumstance. Weinberg posited that it wasn't until the Wehrmacht began to have horrendous logistics problems early in the occupation of Poland, Latvia, and Estonia during Operation Barbarossa that they began to think in terms of a systematic and deliberate program of extermination of the Jews. Until that point the Nazi command had been more favorably disposed toward using indigenous populations as slave labor and working and/or starving them to death, rather than killing them outright. Here too Browning argues about three key issues surrounding the decision to proceed with the Holocaust; first, that the Nazi hierarchy itself was divided in terms of strategy and objectives about the resolution of the "Jewish Question"; second, that it was seen as highly advantageous to the national socialist cause to employ their skills and labor as long as possible in support of the war effort, and finally, that the actual implementation of the fragmented policy was further fragmented and "ad-libbed" at the field level by local commanders or police authorities. Browning uses a virtual flood of documentation and data to substantiate his various positions, and marshals a convincing argument on behalf of the notion that indeed the resulting mass murders of the Holocaust were more likely the production of a series of small but fateful conclusions made incrementally to solve immediate and pressing logistical and tactical situations the Nazi hierarchy faced at particular moments than it was the result of some long-standing grand and evil scheme to systematically annihilate the Jews. Of course, it is in one very real sense an academic issue, since all of the indigenous Jews (as well as everyone else in the areas of interest to the Nazis along the eastern front in Poland and the Ukraine already pre-designated as new settlement areas for Germans would die at the hands of the Nazi regime. The question at hand is whether the actual extermination of those individuals would be accomplished through slave labor, starvation, and exposure to the elements, or through more active and murderous intervention by way of the death camps. One must also remember that there were also large numbers of German Jews being transported both within and without the country to concentration camps. The same issues of intent apply to them, as well. Certainly Browning's efforts here will not end the long-standing debate. It is, however, a critical contribution to informing the direction and future tenor of that argument. This is an important, provocative, and worthwhile book, and one anyone interested in understanding the details of the "natural history' of how the Holocaust actually came to transpire must read to understand the complexities, contradictions, and confusions abounding in both the record and in individual recollections about the time. I recommend this book, and hope it is much more widely read and appreciated.

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