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Perpetrators Victims Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe, 1933-1945 Paperback – September 15, 1993

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Blending capsule portraits with unemotional analysis, eminent historian Hilberg ( The Destruction of the European Jews ) gives names, faces and identites to the agents, victims, collaborators and helpless or compromised witnesses of the Holocaust. In short chapters, he explores the diverse fates of Jews who perished and of the half-million Jewish refugees who fled Germany; of intermarried Jews and those made Jewish by decree; of children, resisters and suicides. Among the leaders of the Jewish councils, which were conduits for Nazi control and for victims' petitions, Hilberg identifies crisis managers, dictators and traditional superintendents. He profiles various types of Nazi perpetrators--zealots, perfectionists, sadistic vulgarians and those with misgivings. With meticulous documentation he probes the inaction of the Western Allies in the face of the Holocaust, the long silence of church leaders, particularly Pope Pius XII, and the complicity of those Austrians, Dutch, Croats, Romanians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians and others who abetted the Nazis. This understated, provocative work opens with a profile of the chief perpetrator, Hitler. Hilberg's calm detachment gives this portrait gallery its cumulative power.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The dean of Holocaust historians, Hilberg is noted for his monumental history, The Destruction of the European Jews , first published 31 years ago and recently revised (Holmes & Meier, 1985) in both a three-volume set and a single-volume abridgment. Altogether, it was a work of massive scholarship. Hilberg's intent in this book of essays, or "modules," as Hilberg calls them, is different. Written for the general reader, the essays are relatively short and straightforward, and they do not need to be read consecutively. Hilberg addresses many issues arranged under the three general topics given in the title. His prose sometimes suffers from a certain flatness, but it is still a powerful experience to read a historian so knowledgeable and so steeped in his sources. Highly recommended for most libraries.
- Paul Kaplan, Dakota Cty. Lib., Eagan, Minn.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1st edition (September 15, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060995076
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060995072
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #565,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Raul Hilberg has written a generally balanced and thoughtful account. The only obvious shortcoming of this book is his over-reliance on tendentious sources of information (e. g., Claude Lanzmann's SHOAH, and Shmuel Krakowski).

Hilberg discusses several collaborationist governments under Nazi Germany. He also points out that, by July 1, 1942, eighteen Ukrainian Schutzmannschaft battalions alone were in existence (p. 95). The Baltic nations provided a comparable number of collaborationist police battalions and many more officers (p. 97).

The recent over-attention to the Jedwabne massacre has generated a greatly exaggerated notion of Polish-German collaboration, and the Polish Blue Police (the Policja Granatowa) has often been falsely conflated with the Ukrainian and Baltic collaborationist forces. Hilberg corrects this: "Of all the native police forces in occupied Eastern Europe, those of Poland were least involved in anti-Jewish actions...The Germans could not view them as collaborators, for in German eyes they were not even worthy of that role. They in turn could not join the Germans in major operations against Jews or Polish resisters, lest they be considered traitors by virtually every Polish onlooker. Their task in the destruction of Jews was therefore limited." (pp. 92-93). Hilberg's notion of "worthiness" is puzzling because, in spite of Hitler's objections (p. 93), the Ukrainian Schutzmannschaft battalions were nevertheless formed. The Ukrainians were regarded as Slavic untermenschen (subhumans) no less so than the Poles! The acceptance of Jewish collaboration (e. g., the infamous ghetto police), in spite of any trace of "worthiness" attributed to Jews by the Germans, needs no comment.
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Format: Paperback
I agree that most studies of atrocities in WW2 may focus excessively on the Jewish Holocaust to the detriment of other groups. However, the title of this book specifically designates it as a study of the "JEWISH" catastrophe. Hilberg aptly addresses the topic. Don't fault a book for being precise and sticking to its designated scope.
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This is not really the type of book I would normally buy. It is very dry, and I struggled to follow. I guess I do better with a narrative format, one that has stories and anecdotes that bring the history to life. Hilberg is obviously an historian of the highest level, but there is a reason I love history, but never much enjoyed college history classes. The book is well researched, and I must say that it offered me many great insights. I guess i just need to be more selective with the format I choose. Still, I have to give this a good recommendation, based on the thoroughness and documentary evidence provided.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great book, chock full of information that helps one form a multi-dimensional impression of the wide array of people and groups who helped make the Holocaust possible. Hilberg is, however, an historian, and his writing can be quite dry for those not accustomed to this sort of material. This is not a Holocaust primer, but rather an advanced read for those who want to probe more deeply.

In response to another reviewer, I understand that Lanzmann was somewhat skewed, especially considering that he included a very limited TYPE of Pole. To cal him tendentious, however, seems itself to be biased.
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Format: Paperback
Raul Hilberg is regarded as one of the foremost experts on the Holocaust.
His writing is clear, there is no baggage or ideology, just a simple desire to tell the story of the 20th century's worst atrocity.

The book is systematic, dealing first with the ideology of Hitler and the senior Nazis who planned the Holocaust and moving on to look at the victims and the perpetrators. Hilberg also describes how many people who were aware of the process of attempted mass murder of all Jews but did little to stop it.

The Russian writer and journalist Vassily Grossman, who was among the first to enter the death camp at Treblinka after liberation, was shocked to learn that just a few dozen SS and a slightly larger group of local armed helpers could gas and bury several thousand victims each day. Hilberg goes further than Grossman to explain how many of the victims were tricked into thinking they were going to resettlement in the East. He also explains how even those who knew their fate were broken long before they were rounded-up for the transports. The erosion of health and self-worth was not sudden; for German Jews the process began in 1933 with Hitler's rise to power and the removal of Jews from the civil service. But Hilberg points out that even by 1936, most German Jews still felt 'German', especially those who had fought with honour in the First World War. For many the turning point, the moment of awful awareness, was in 1938 by which time refuge or escape from the growing violence was harder to achieve.

Some Jews made temporary conversion to Catholicism in the hope of being spared. Sometimes this was successful more often the attempt was exposed.
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