Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust

Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust

by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
3.6 23

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Overview

Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

This groundbreaking international bestseller lays to rest many myths about the Holocaust: that Germans were ignorant of the mass destruction of Jews, that the killers were all SS men, and that those who slaughtered Jews did so reluctantly. Hitler's Willing Executioners provides conclusive evidence that the extermination of European Jewry engaged the energies and enthusiasm of tens of thousands of ordinary Germans. Goldhagen reconstructs the climate of "eliminationist anti-Semitism" that made Hitler's pursuit of his genocidal goals possible and the radical persecution of the Jews during the 1930s popular. Drawing on a wealth of unused archival materials, principally the testimony of the killers themselves, Goldhagen takes us into the killing fields where Germans voluntarily hunted Jews like animals, tortured them wantonly, and then posed cheerfully for snapshots with their victims. From mobile killing units, to the camps, to the death marches, Goldhagen shows how ordinary Germans, nurtured in a society where Jews were seen as unalterable evil and dangerous, willingly followed their beliefs to their logical conclusion.

"Hitler's Willing Executioner's is an original, indeed brilliant contribution to the...literature on the Holocaust."—New York Review of Books

"The most important book ever published about the Holocaust...Eloquently written, meticulously documented, impassioned...A model of moral and scholarly integrity."—Philadelphia Inquirer

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679772682
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/18/1997
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 634
Sales rank: 200,836
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

 
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen is an Associate of Harvard University's Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies.  His doctoral dissertation, which is the basis for the book, was awarded the American Political Science Association's 1994 Gabriel A. Almond Award for the best dissertation in the field of comparative politics.  After publication of this book in Germany, in 1997 Daniel Johan Goldhagen won the highly prestigious Democracy Prize.  He is the author of A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair.

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Hitler's Willing Executioners 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was very curious about this book since my history teacher had told me that ALL Germans new about Hitler and stood behind him and that ALL Germans are anti-semites. I was very dissappointed with this book for several reasons. 1) The author is biased in his entire research. There is NOT ONE mentioning of all the resistance movements against Hitler initiated by 'regular Germans' that were not Jews such as Adam v. Trott zu Solz who had planned the assassination of Hitler but unfortunately did not succeed. Many Germans helped Jewish people and hid them knowing that they too would be killed by fellow Germans if they were found out. 2) My own grandmother was killed in Auschwitz because she was a gypsy. Her husband still had to serve in the German army, otherwise they would have killed his children. It was not his choice to participate in this war and 3) When boats with Jewish people who fled Germany arrived on the shores of the US, why did the US send many of them back instead of embracing them? However, I do not deny that many Germans new about the killing and some of the 'perpetrators' probably enjoyed torturing innocent people. But this is also true for people who particpated in witch hunts and enjoyed torturing and raping innocent women. Atrocities like the Holocaust were not only committed in Germany but also in the US were thousands of native Americans died in the 'trail of tears' and no doubt, had Americans had the opportunity to kill them in concentration camps, some of them probably would have done so. Native Americans, just like Jews, were viewed as vermins. What about Stalin's death camps? Millions were killed and nobody cared. War brings out the worst in every person. I do not agree with the author that 'ordinary people' in other countries would not participate in killing others or in the same manner than Germans did.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you want a book to read that will disturb you as to the crimes man can do to fellow man then look no further. But as far as understanding the causes of the Holocaust and the details of it's meaning, I have to agree with Christopher Browning and state that Goldhagen misses the mark. Unfortunately, his 'broad brush' condemnation of the German people as a whole is backed by neither sound historical methods nor a deep thinking brain. To show how a number of cowardly criminals behaved behind the lines in the east hardly can justify indicting a whole nation as being 'willing executioners'. But it does take the advent of books like this to make one appreciate the better books by better historians.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Holocaust was perhaps the most tragic and horrible set of events in the 20th Century. In this search for causes, the author has written a wonderful book that unfortunately lacks academic credibility. The author's research appears to have been rather limited due in large part to the fact that he could not interact with German source material since it has been revealed he cannot read German. It would be like doing research on the American Indian Wars in French. Not reading the primary source language is a tragic flaw that researchers must avoid. Unfortunately, I cannot recomend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I must admit this book was a little zealous and over-reacting in its message, but it did make me rethink the persecution of the Jews and the Holocaust. Too many books today take the hatred of Jews as starting from Hilter and going down. Too many depersonalize it and pretend as if the German people were just crushed by the Nazi party and could not stop them. This book allows you to look at the Holocaust from the perspective of the ordinary German people who had personalities and wills of their own and who did contribute to the persecution of the Jews.
Anonymous 7 months ago
All humanity is evil , not just Germans.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am in the first part of the book, and find nothing but self absorbing blah, blah, blah. A waste of money so far. The worst I've read in years.
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Chardowee More than 1 year ago
Mr. Goldhagen's work should be considered, yet heavily scrutinized. He makes broad assumptions of the German population that can be easily discredited by numerous other sources. A good read, but often frustrating when you know the facts
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is fine, just what I needed for my research.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
In the past year, European sympathy with the Arab cause and resentment of Israeli incursions against the Palestinians in general and against Yassir Arafat in particular have demonstrated that the derogatory and supposedly discredited views of Jews and Judaism held by the Nazis still lie just beneath the surface of political correctness. In order to combat such persistent bigotry, it is useful if appalling to keep in mind Professor Goldhagen's succinct account of such prejudices. The Nazis, he reminds us, viewed Jews as parasitic work shirkers who lived off others' labor, and who, like Shylock, lent money at usurious rates; as hypermaterialistic, dishonest, and thievish amassers of wealth stolen from the Volk (Michael Milken is believed by many present-day Germans to exemplify this characteristic); and as scheming evildoers who stirred up trouble and internecine strife within otherwise harmonious communities. Even the forged libel entitled "The Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion" retains currency in certain European and middle-eastern circles. The prevalence of such views in Nazi Germany made willing collaborators of ordinary Germans, and Professor Goldhagen has performed a valuable service in providing painstaking scholarly documentation of this inarguable historical phenomenon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Goldhagen states one of his underlying premises is the history of German Christianity was extremely anti-Semitic. Even if this is accepted as true, I was disappointed to be unable to read why, in Goldhagen's opinion, the Christian anti-Semitism found in Germany resulted in the Holocaust, rather than in another Christian country. Goldhagen focuses on the twentieth century when he analyzes German anti-Semitism. He mentions the influence of Martin Luther in passing, but never shows the reader the chronological progression of the German anti-Semitism, beginning with Martin Luther's influence, and ending with the Holocaust. However, it is well-organized, thought-provoking, and is an excellent book for discussion and debate. Recommended!
Mary Hunt More than 1 year ago
a perfect read..... enough said
Guest More than 1 year ago
Goldhagen's evidence supports his claim that ordinary Germans voluntarily slaughtered Jewish victims during the holocaust (the Germans were not provoked into torturing the victims).
Guest More than 1 year ago
You cannot but be impressed, totally, by the sheer PERSISTENCE and DEPTH of this book. It is magnificent in its detail and scope, and utterly readable throughout.