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Hitler and the Holocaust (Modern Library Chronicles Series Book 8) Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Length: 320 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews Review

In Hitler and the Holocaust, part of the Modern Library Chronicles series, Robert S. Wistrich is less concerned with detailing the "what" and "how" of this century's most infamous genocide than he is in answering the seemingly unanswerable: "Why?"

World War II, Wistrich posits, was not only a German attempt to obtain territorial hegemony but simultaneously (and perhaps more importantly, in Hitler's eyes) a crusade against the "mythical Jewish enemy," those people he felt were the source of "all evils"--internationalism, pacifism, democracy, Marxism, and Christianity among them. Jews were nonpeople--vermin, bacteria, a contagion--and therefore "unworthy of life." This ideology was most immediately a reaction to Germany's defeat in World War I and the economic chaos and national humiliation that followed, but Wistrich suggests, this "apocalyptic theology" was only the ghastly tip of an anti-Jewish iceberg that had floated on European seas for the best part of two millennia. The Nazi agenda was aided and abetted, Wistrich goes on, as much by the indifference toward and abandonment of the Jews by most European Christian religious bodies (both Roman Catholic and Protestant) and American and British political exigencies as it was by modern technology.

This is a grave, dense book, one almost entirely unrelieved by anecdote. It is, as well, rigorous, adamant, and sure to generate controversy. Though it catalogues many individual trees, many of them difficult to behold, its primary value is to look upon the entire Holocaust forest and to describe that disturbing, grotesque panorama in eschatological terms. --H. O'Billovitch

From Publishers Weekly

Wistrich, professor of modern Jewish history at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has masterfully condensed four decades of Holocaust research into an accessible and informative book that will benefit specialists and lay readers alike. This new addition to the Modern Library's Chronicles series of short histories is organized thematically, exploring 2,000 years of anti-Semitism, the context and events that yielded the Third Reich and what differentiates the Holocaust from other 20th-century genocides. As depicted here, the few rays of light offered by the noble actions of Denmark, Italy and Bulgaria are snuffed out by the Protestant and Catholic churches' inactivity, the shameful behavior of Britain and the U.S., and the atrocious actions of Germans and other Europeans, particularly the German allies. Wistrich (The Jews of Vienna in the Age of Franz Joseph) continually refers and responds to other Holocaust studies; of particular interest is the controversy concerning "ordinary men" and "ordinary Germans" that erupted with Daniel Jonah Goldhagen and Christopher Browning's studies. Wistrich draws a connection between the infamous Nazi euthanasia program and later developments, and briefly discusses the debate between "functionalists" (those who believe the Holocaust to be an outcome of the war) and "intentionalists" (those who believe Hitler always intended to exterminate the Jews). The general reader will be interested in Wistrich's detailed description of the decision to implement the "Final Solution." The most provocative chapter, though, is surely the last, on "Modernity and the Holocaust." Most commentators (secular and religious) have argued that the Holocaust represents the complete antithesis of Western civilization, but some scholars interpret it as the logical, brutal outcome of Western modernity's bureaucratic, technocratic and rationalist impulse. Wistrich's balanced, nuanced discussion is illuminating. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (On-sale: Oct. 2)

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2743 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0679642226
  • Publisher: Modern Library (November 6, 2001)
  • Publication Date: November 6, 2001
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC1IK4
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,357 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In the introduction, Wistrich provides an overview asking the big Why. He disagrees with Daniel Goldhagen, pointing out that prior to 1933 antisemitism had been worse in countries like Russia, Romania, Poland and Austria and that the rule of law applied in Germany until that year. The Holocaust was a pan-European event in which millions of people participated. The times were evil; even Britain and the USA experienced a rising tide of antisemitism. Unimaginable horror results when a society does not distinguish between good & evil. The lessons of this abyss are that evil must be resisted in its early stage and that individuals are responsible for their actions.

The first chapter briefly reviews Jewish history from the Hasmoneans to the Roman yoke in which era a new religion was born. Its foundational documents contain calumnies and demonizations of the Jewish People. The "Church Fathers" perpetuated this hostility in their writings; the victory of Constantine Christianity ensured ever increasing oppression. Martin Luther amplified the hatred in his writings. This chapter also covers Europe in the 1930s as night was coming on. Wistrich also considers various atrocities and genocides like that of the Armenians, the Gulags of Stalinist Russia and the suffering of the Roma.

Disillusionment in Europe after the First World War was profound.
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Format: Hardcover
Wistrich does a wonderful job of condensing information about a huge topic into a very useful small volume. It doesn't go into a huge amount of detail about every aspect of the Holocaust or the anti-semitism leading up to it, but it is a great book for beginners, particularly high school or college undergraduates looking for an introduction to this horrible subject.
As the previous reviewer said, Wistrich does do a wonderful job of documenting his sources and I too got a lot of further reading and research ideas from this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What makes this fine book such an outstanding achievement is that it combines two qualities that rarely go together: a) an authoritative introduction to a complex subject, suitable for a beginner; and b) a summary of the most current technical findings, suitable for the expert. This book can confidently be given to a high school student, whose knowledge of modern history will, with this book alone, take a qualitative leap forward. And it should be read by those who have already read everything else on the subject, whose knowledge will be brought up-to-date. As always, Professor Wistrich's style is fluent and engaging, and the Modern Library has done its part by producing a physically attractive object.
I do have just two little quibbles. It would have been useful, particularly for the beginner, to include suggestions for further readings in a special section. Professor Wistrich does make such suggestions, but they are somewhat buried in his Notes. And for the serious student, an alphabetic list of all the cited references would have made life just a little easier.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a nice little volume. A small book with a lot of information. I consider myself well read on this subject and ended up learning a lot from this book. It was so easy to read I finished it in a little over a week. Wistrich has some great endnotes too. He has documented everything and I got some great suggestions for further reading from the notes. The cover and the type font make this a very attractive volume as well. As stated in previous reviews this is a very good volume for the learned person. Wistrich will bring you up to date and refresh your memory of past details. However, I disagree with it being for the absolute beginner. You still need to be familiar with the non-fiction format and have some subject knowledge in order to get the most out of this book. It also looks great on a bookshelf.
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Format: Hardcover
Although some might say this is good for introduction to Holocaust study, I'm not convinced it succeeds on that level as it should. First, the title was a bit misleading. I expected it to focus on Hitler's involvement in the Holocaust, yet there is little discussion of Hitler compared to what other angles the book delves into. I also thought that jumping to different issues, it is not focused enough to be effective as a whole as compared to other books that might be longer in reading but you come away with much more understanding. Too much is just touched upon, but not conveyed. I found "Auschwitz" by Deborah Dwork and Robert Van Pelt to give a much clearer perspective than what I read here, and it's not that much longer than this.

And I think, contrary to the author, that the entire extermination of the slavic population was practical for the Nazi's and it did serve a major ideological agenda. From reading Hitler's "table talk," it seemed to me like that was the future plan.

Also, the author says that "When Himmler instructed Rudolf Hoss to establish the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, the reason given was expressly ideological; the need to extirpate the biological roots of Jewry." In something as serious as this, I think it's important that every fact is presented where there can be no confusion- otherwise, if they learn otherwise, it can cause problems. This would lead me to believe that Auschwitz was erected at the time of this talk with Himmler, when actually, the talk with Himmler happened in 1941, and Hoss had been camp commandant since 1940- and that Auschwitz was first established as a labor camp and turned INTO a death camp for the purpose of extirpating the biological roots of Jewry.
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