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Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0521774901 ISBN-10: 052177490X

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (February 13, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052177490X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521774901
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #307,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Of four previous books, Browning is best known for Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (1992), a study of how it was possible for ordinary, middle-aged men to become mass murderers. His latest book is the result of six lectures given at Cambridge University, in which he examined three issues at the forefront of Holocaust scholarship: the decision-making and policy-making at the heart of the Nazi regime, out of which emerged the "final solution," the systematic attempt to murder all the Jews of Europe; the pragmatic and temporary use of Jewish labor; and the attitudes, motivations, and adaptations of the "ordinary" Germans who implemented Nazi policy at the local level. The source materials include both postwar testimonies and rare contemporary letters and document files that "speak less to the issue of decision and policy making and more to those elusive issues of individual attitudes and behavior." George Cohen --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

paper 0-521-77490-X Given the recent headlines about the slave-labor reparations settlement in Germany, this new study from distinguished Holocaust historian Browning (Ordinary Men, 1992, etc.) is an important event. The six pieces herein, an expansion of Browning's 1995 Trevelyan lectures, fall, as the author notes, into three pairs. The first two consider policy-making processes that led to the Final Solution; the middle two focus on the tensions between pragmatism and ideology in the Reichs treatment of Jewish slave labor; and in the final pair Browning returns to the topic of Ordinary Men, using fresh evidence to re-examine the behavior of those who committed mass murder. The field of Holocaust studies changes by leaps and bounds, with new evidence becoming available almost daily as files from the former Soviet bloc and still unread materials from the Nazis themselves are evaluated by scholars. Much of what Browning has to say here grows out of such newly available materials. Although the conclusions he comes to are not significantly different from positions he has previously held, new details emerge that allow him to add nuance and depth. Hence, although he still persuasively maintains that the decisions leading to the Nazi attempt to murder all of Europe's Jews were an incremental, ongoing decision-making process that stretched from the spring of 1941 to the summer of 1942, his access to previously unavailable diaries of Joseph Goebbels and communications among Nazi leaders enrich our understanding of the ongoing internal tug-of-war over when and how to achieve that gruesome goal. Similarly, recent studies of regional decision-making give a fuller picture of the interplay of local and national interests in the carrying out of the mass murders. Browning is a methodical, if somewhat dry, writer and the result is an indispensable addition to the Holocaust bookshelf, though most valuable to specialists. Estimable scholarship, intelligently presented, but not a casual reader's book. -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Christopher R. Browning is the Frank Porter Graham Professor of History at the University of North Carolina and the author of Ordinary Men and other outstanding works of Holocaust history. He lives in Chapel Hill.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on July 7, 2000
Format: Paperback
In a six-essay series originally devised as lectures, the author takes the reader deep into the hearts and minds of the men who engineered the Holocaust. As in his earlier work, he argues persuasively and with an army of facts and figures that the decision to eradicate all of Europe's Jews from the face of the planet was an incrementally derived decision. This argument is very much like that made by Gerhard Weinberg in his massively documented history of WWII, "A World At Arms", although Browning's argument is much more detailed and substantiated. Weinberg posited that it wasn't until the Wehrmacht began to have horrendous logistics problems early in the occupation of Poland, Latvia, and Estonia during Operation Barbarossa that they began to think in terms of a systematic and deliberate program of extermination of the Jews.
Until that point the Nazi command had been more favorably disposed toward using indigenous populations as slave labor and working and/or starving them to death, rather than killing them outright. Here too Browning argues about three key issues surrounding the decision to proceed with the Holocaust; first, that the Nazi hierarchy itself was divided in terms of strategy and objectives about the resolution of the "Jewish Question"; second, that it was seen as highly advantageous to the national socialist cause to employ their skills and labor as long as possible in support of the war effort, and finally, that the actual implementation of the fragmented policy was further fragmented and "ad-libbed" at the field level by local commanders or police authorities.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By John Barry Kenyon on May 22, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As new written sources from the early 1940s continue to turn up regularly in Russia and in its former Soviet satellites, historians are able to refine the history of the Jewish holocaust. Christopher Browning is at the forefront of this academic work. In his latest book, based on a series of lectures, he has a close look at when senior nazidom actually determined on a policy of destruction. He convincingly argues it was October 1941. There is an excellent chapter on Starachowice labor camp in Poland in which survivor memories and new documentary evidence are shown to be complementary. For those who want a followup to Browning's previously published work, for example on reserve police batallion 101, there is a final chapter in which the author slightly modifies his previous conclusions on the mindset of the killers. I think it is fair to say that this scholarly book is meant for advanced students of the holocaust, or at least those with a fair knowledge of the historiography.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lewyn VINE VOICE on December 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This short book, unlike many books on the Holocaust, is based on internal Nazi documents, and tries to give readers a feel for how Nazi policy both evolved at the top and was implemented at the bottom.

The beginning of the book seeks to answer the question: when did the Nazis settle upon genocide? The 1939-40 documents analyzed by Browning suggest that Nazis envisioned expelling Jews to Magadascar or the remotest reaches of Eastern Europe; by contrast, sometime in 1941 Hitler and Himmler apparently agreed on mass extermination.

Then Browning seeks to address the question of how much leeway local authorities had to avoid these policies; often, local commanders were more interested in exploiting Jewish labor than in extermination. Browning concludes that local authorities could drag their feet, but could not affirmatively resist clear orders from above.

The last essays focus on the role of individual German police battalions who participated in killing squads. Browning concludes that the majority of these men were not ideologically motivated to murder Jews- but that typically a few were, and the rest just followed orders and could even avoid participation themselves as long as they did not interfere with the murder going on around them.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Devl's Advocate on January 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Meticulously researched and documented about the bestial crimes visited on the Jews by the SS, Sipo, Orpo, SD and the Einsatzgrupppe, one also knows about the unspeakable, lesser known wholesale massacres committed willingly by other subjected peoples under German occupation (Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuaniana, to name a few). However, after the war in the Enisatzgruppe Prozess, only a few of the responsible SS and Police men were executed, and most were left off scotch free or had their sentences commuted. This certainly boggles the mind as if justice has been, or seen to be done in this most horrendous chapter of European history.

The book is, however, weakest in its concluding pages, when it is surmised, from chronological matches, not documentary evidence, that Hitler, confident of imminent victory in Russia, ordered the implementation of the Final Solution., and that, in order not to incriminate himself, had not laid down a written order for same.

Bearing in mind that Hitler himself signed an order for the euthanasia of the crippled and feeble in Germany, as well as the Kommissarbefehl that ordered the German troops to shoot all Communist functionaries and army commissars on sight, with no recourse to courts martial, the fact that there was no written order for the gassing of the Jews, if that was Hitler's intention, must be out of character of him.

The fact that Heydrich seeked and got from Göring authority for a Final Solution will be hard to explain, if Himmler and Heydrich, as surmised by Browning, had been authorized by Hitler to proceed with full powers the physical destruction of European Jewry in October 41, in expectation of the defeat of Russia.
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