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

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Synopsis

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


From the Trade Paperback edition.
 

About Daniel Jonah Goldhagen

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Daniel Jonah Goldhagen is the author of the #1 international bestseller Hitler's Willing Executioners, A Moral Reckoning, and Worse than War. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New Republic, and newspapers around the world. A former professor at Harvard University, he now lives in New York.
 
Published December 18, 2007 by Vintage. 656 pages
Genres: History, Travel, War, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Hitler's Willing Executioners

Kirkus Reviews

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In this exhaustively documented and richly researched work, Goldhagen documents conclusively that the people who actively participated in the extermination program were indeed ``ordinary Germans,'' neither fanatical Nazis nor members of the dreaded SS.

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The New York Times

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In this view, the German populace during the Nazi era required little or no incentive to summon both disgust and rage at the Jews in its midst — whether the anti-Semitism is understood as rooted in a time-honored German cultural tradition, or fueled by Germany’s traumatic defeat in World War I.

Feb 18 2007 | Read Full Review of Hitler's Willing Executioners...

The New York Times

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''Fully rehabilitated and fully compensated,'' Johnson tells us, ''each man lived for several more years to a ripe old age.'' Much of Johnson's evidence about the Gestapo is statistical in nature -- he looked at around 1,100 cases from court and police files, following up with opinion surveys a...

Feb 20 2000 | Read Full Review of Hitler's Willing Executioners...

Publishers Weekly

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Using Gramscian theory is hardly new in an analysis of Nazi Germany, but Gellately does make a provocative claim: that the Nazi use of terror against certain categories of "undesirables" (first Communists, Socialists and trade unionists, then Catholic and Protestant opponents, then the mentally a...

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Suite 101

A challenging new book aims to change forever the perception of Stone Age Britons from the primitive to the sophisticated.

Nov 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Hitler's Willing Executioners...

London Review of Books

Indeed, turning to Pulzer’s authoritative companion study, The Rise of Political Anti-Semitism in Germany and Austria, we learn that: ‘anti-semitism drew little strength from … the working-class.’ A compelling example of fanatic German anti-semitism cited by Goldhagen is the recurrence of ritual ...

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The New York Review of Books

The state chancellor von Hardenberg declared at the time: “I shall not vote for a law concerning the Jews which contains more than the following four words: Equal rights, equal obligations.” For the Jews this led to their “Assimilierung,” secularization, and their gradual integration into German ...

May 23 1996 | Read Full Review of Hitler's Willing Executioners...

The New York Review of Books

Instead, it proceeds in two ways along standard social scientific lines: hypothesis testing, which is how one can show—contrary to the implication that one cannot in principle demonstrate such a thing—that anti-Semitism was the principal motivation of the perpetrators, and inferring from a repres...

Feb 06 1997 | Read Full Review of Hitler's Willing Executioners...

Project MUSE

Westermann's subject is the transformation of the traditional German police force (the Order or Uniformed Police) from protectors of domestic law and order to "political soldiers" dedicated to combating and killing perceived enemies in German-occupied regions.

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Project MUSE

Plotting Hitler's Death: The Story of the German Resistance, by the distinguished historian Joachim Fest (English edition, Metropolitan Books, 408 pages), will receive no attention comparable to the Goldhagen tract, due to the public notice its hype has evoked.

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Scoop

There’s evidence that although a lot of Germans were happy with the new Government, they didn’t really care for its obsession with Jews and their spurious claims that rich Jewish people were supposedly dominating the business world to the detriment of everyone else.” Hitler, the Jews and the Bal...

Nov 11 2008 | Read Full Review of Hitler's Willing Executioners...

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