Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust
- SKU: BK1184
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 material, 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 Executioners 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
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen is a controversial American author and former associate professor of political science and social studies at Harvard University. Goldhagen reached international attention and broad criticism as the author of two books about the Holocaust: Hitler's Willing Executioners (1996) and A Moral Reckoning (2002). He is also the author of Worse Than War (2009), which examines the phenomenon of genocide.
"The book [Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust] sparked controversy in the press and academic circles. Some historians have characterized its reception as an extension of the Historikerstreit, the German historiographical debate of the 1980s that sought to explain Nazi history. The book was a "publishing phenomenon", achieving fame in both the United States and Germany despite being criticized by some historians, who called it ahistorical and, according to Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg, "totally wrong about everything" and "worthless." Due to its alleged "generalizing hypothesis" about Germans, it has been characterized as anti-German. The Israeli historian Yehuda Bauer claims that "Goldhagen stumbles badly," .. Bauer argues that "Goldhagen's thesis does not work." and charges "...that the anti-German bias of his book, almost a racist bias (however much he may deny it) leads nowhere." The American historian Fritz Stern denounced the book as unscholarly and full of racist Germanophobia. Hilberg summarised the debates, "by the end of 1996, it was clear that in sharp distinction from lay readers, much of the academic world had wiped Goldhagen off the map."