“Superbly written and researched, synthesizing the classics while digging deep into a vast repository of primary sources.” Josef Joffe, Wall Street Journal Why? explores one of the most tragic events in human history by addressing eight of the most commonly asked questions about the Holocaust: Why the Jews? Why the Germans? Why murder? Why this swift and sweeping? Why didn’t more Jews fight back more often? Why did survival rates diverge? Why such limited help from outside? What legacies, what lessons? An internationally acclaimed scholar, Peter Hayes brings a wealth of research and experience to bear on conventional views of the Holocaust, dispelling many misconceptions and challenging some of the most prominent recent interpretations.
Peter Hayes is professor of history and German and Theodore Zev Weiss Holocaust Educational Foundation Professor of Holocaust Studies Emeritus at Northwestern University, and chair of the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Why Another Book on the Holocaust? xiii
1 Targets: Why the Jews? 3
Emancipation and Backlash 20
2 Attackers: Why the Germans? 36
Nation and Volk 36
Hitler's Opportunity 55
3 Escalation: Why Murder? 73
From Aryanization to Atrocity 75
Gentile and Jewish Responses 91
4 Annihilation: Why This Swift and Sweeping? 114
From Bullets to Gas 116
Perpetrators: the "generation without limits" 137
5 Victims: Why Didn't More Jews Fight Back More Often? 176
Compliance and Resistance 177
The World of the Camps 202
6 Homelands: Why Did Survival Rates Diverge? 218
Varieties of Behavior 219
The Case of Poland 240
7 Onlookers: Why Such Limited Help from Outside? 259
Prewar Evasions 260
Wartime Priorities 278
8 Aftermath: What Legacies, What Lessons? 300
Return, Resettlement, Retribution, and Restitution 300
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