The Holocaust has long seemed incomprehensible, a monumental crime that beggars our powers of description and explanation. Historians have probed the many sources of this tragedy, but no account has united the various causes into an overarching synthesis that answers the vital question: How was such a nightmare possible in the heart of western civilization?
In How Could This Happen, historian Dan McMillan distills the vast body of Holocaust research into a cogent explanation and comprehensive analysis of the genocide's many causes, revealing how a once-progressive society like Germany could have carried out this crime. The Holocaust, he explains, was caused not by one but by a combination of factorsfrom Germany's failure to become a democracy until 1918, to the widespread acceptance of anti-Semitism and scientific racism, to the effects of World War I, which intensified political divisions within the country and drastically lowered the value of human life in the minds of an entire generation. Masterfully synthesizing the myriad causes that led Germany to disaster, McMillan shows why thousands of Germans carried out the genocide while millions watched, with cold indifference, as it enveloped their homeland.
Persuasive and compelling, How Could This Happen explains how a perfect storm of bleak circumstances, malevolent ideas, and damaged personalities unleashed history's most terrifying atrocity.
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About the Author
Dan McMillan holds a Ph.D. in German history from Columbia University and a law degree from Fordham University, and has worked as a history professor and a prosecuting attorney. He lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Posing the Question 1
Chapter 2 A Genocide Like No Other 15
Chapter 3 Why Germany? 39
Chapter 4 A World of Enemies 53
Chapter 5 Hardened by War 65
Chapter 6 Division and Disaster 79
Chapter 7 Why Hitler? 101
Chapter 8 From Dictator to Demigod 119
Chapter 9 Why the Jewish People? 137
Chapter 10 Hatred as Science 153
Chapter 11 The Absent Moral Compass 169
Chapter 12 What They Knew 183