The Holocaust is frequently depicted in isolation by its historians. Some of them believe that to place it in any kind of comparative context risks diminishing its uniqueness and even detracts from the enormity of the Nazi crime. In reality, such a restricted understanding of 'uniqueness' has pulled the Holocaust apart from history and set up barriers to a better understanding of the racial onslaught unleashed within the Third Reich and its conquered territories. Working against the grain of much earlier writing, this innovative new history combines a detailed re-appraisal of the development of the genocide of the Jews, a full consideration of Nazi policies against other population groups, and a comparative analysis of other modern genocides.
How did the levels of anti-Semitism in the 1930s compare to those of earlier decades? Did anti-Semitism vary in content and intensity across societies? In other words, were Germans more anti-Semitic than their European neighbors, and, if so, why? How does anti-Semitism differ from other forms of religious, racial, and ethnic prejudice? In this 2003 book, William I. Brustein offersa truly systematic comparative and empirical examination of anti-Semitism within Europe before the Holocaust. Brustein proposes that European anti-Semitism flowed from religious, racial, economic, and political roots, which became enflamed by economic distress, rising Jewish immigration, and socialist success. To support his arguments, Brustein draws upon a careful and extensive examination of the annual volumes of the American Jewish Year Books and more than 40 years of newspaper reportage from Europe's major dailies. The findings of this informative book offer a fresh perspective on the roots of society's longest hatred.
Those who promote Holocaust denial claim that two-thirds of European Jews were not slaughtered by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Second World War. Instead, Holocaust deniers attempt to replace the established historical narratives of the Holocaust with their own mendacious accounts of the past. They state that there was no Nazi policy of extermination; that the Holocaust is the invention of the Jews with the aim of extorting financial reparations from Germany and to gain sympathy for the state of Israel. It is also an attempt to rewrite the history of the Second World War, in which Nazi Germany is presented as a victim and in which the war crimes of the Allied powers far outweighed those of Germany. The primary aim of denial is to present antisemitic ideology, extreme nationalism and far-right ideologies as a viable political alternative to Western democracy, free of any connection to genocide.
Peter Hayes has been teaching Holocaust studies for decades and Why? grows out of the questions he's encountered from his students. Despite the outpouring of books, films, memorials, museums and courses devoted to the subject, a coherent explanation of why such carnage erupted still eludes people. Numerous myths have sprouted, many to console us that things could have gone differently if only some person or entity had acted more bravely or wisely; others cast new blame on favourite or surprising villains or even on historians.
Why? dispels many legends and debunks the most prevalent ones, including the claim that the Holocaust never happened. Hayes brings scholarly wisdom to bear on popular views of the history, challenging some of the most prominent interpretations and arguing that the convergence of multiple forces at a particular moment resulted in this catastrophe.
With The Years of Extermination, Saul Friedländer completes his major historical work on Nazi Germany and the Jews. The book describes and interprets the persecution and murder of the Jews throughout occupied Europe. The enactment of German extermination policies and measures depended on the cooperation of local authorities, the assistance of police forces, and the passivity of the populations, primarily of their political and spiritual elites. This implementation depended as well on the victims' readiness to submit to orders, often with the hope of attenuating them or of surviving long enough to escape the German vise.
This multifaceted study--at all levels and in different places--enhances the perception of the magnitude, complexity, and interrelatedness of the many components of this history. Based on a vast array of documents and an overwhelming choir of voices--mainly from diaries, letters, and memoirs--Saul Friedländer avoids domesticating the memory of these unprecedented and horrific events. The convergence of these various aspects gives a unique quality to The Years of Extermination. In this work, the history of the Holocaust has found its definitive representation.
Although most leading Nazis realized that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was a spurious document, they found it useful in promoting belief in the international Jewish conspiracy of which they were already convinced. Authorship and other details were irrelevant, they averred, if the book expressed “inner truth.”