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Nazi Terror: The Gestapo, Jews and Ordinary Germans reconciles conflicting interpretations of the Nazi regime and its genocidal policies by focusing on how both party officials and average individuals created and maintained the totalitarianism that gripped German society from 1933 to the end of World War II. Eric A. Johnson argues that historians have understood the authoritarian nature of the National Socialist state in two ways. Scholarship in the 1970's and 1980's highlighted the average person's resistance to the terror fostered by panoptic and ruthless police agencies, while more current investigations show that the Gestapo and related organizations often had less power than was previously assumed. These studies stress the roles played by citizens in the execution of Nazi policies. The most notable example of this interpretation is Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's chilling Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust.
Johnson argues that ordinary Germans did not willfully intend to harm others, though their cowardice and apathy made the implementation of Nazi policies possible. Drawing from court records and Gestapo files from the area around Cologne, a region that had demonstrated only lukewarm support for the Nazis in elections, Johnson shows that Germans' participation in the Third Reich was not heavily driven by images of anti-Semitism but by a routine obedience to the state. In an era filled with disreputable Holocaust revisionism, Johnson lays to rest questions of accountability by showing who exactly is to blame. Detailed and compelling, Nazi Terror provides a stark, and at times moving, portrait of how individual people took part in the greatest moral quandary of the 20th century. --James Highfill --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The dark heart of Nazism was suffused with hatred, and its outward manifestation was an unprecedented terror. Many scholars have examined this phenomenon, but perhaps none in as much detail as Johnson does here. This is that rare work of history: adroitly combining microhistory (in this instance, a close study of numerous cases brought before the dreaded People's Court and the Gestapo) and macrohistory (an awareness that "Nazi terror is a subject that touches all of humanity"). The subtitle is slightly misleading; without downplaying the central role of the Jews in the racial consciousness of the Nazis, Johnson, to his credit, also acknowledges the Nazi terror against political opponents (especially Communists, Socialists and trade unionists), religious leaders and "asocials" (the Roma, Sinti and mentally and physically handicapped). Furthermore, and this is sure to be of interest to a larger audience, Johnson, professor of history at Central Michigan University (The Civilization of Crime), tackles the larger questions brought to our awareness by the seminal and controversial works of Hannah Arendt, Christopher Browning and Daniel Goldhagen. He challenges Arendt's "banality of evil" formulation when she covered the capture, trial and hanging of Eichmann in the early 1960s. Similarly, he argues for a more complex and nuanced interpretation of the terror than that presented by Browning and Goldhagen. Johnson disputes the characterization of those involved as either "ordinary men" (Browning) or "ordinary Germans" (Goldhagen). The preponderant evidence (and common sense) indicate otherwise. Again, on the micro level, Johnson shows how German-language BBC radio programs (apparently very popular during the war, judging from extensive interviews) indicated exactly what was taking place on the eastern front and in the camps; similarly, he uses the extraordinary diaries of Victor Klemperer to demonstrate that knowledge about the extermination of millions of people was dependent more on one's desire to know. Although Johnson readily admits that a great majority of the German people found ways of "accommodating" themselves to the regime, he returns the burden of guilt to the perpetrators (in this case the Gestapo) and not the people. This is a benchmark work in Holocaust studies. Agent, Georges Borchardt.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It's difficult to assess this book because it is printed in a very hard-to-read font. Not only are the letters poorly designed, but the ink itself is very light. Read morePublished 3 months ago by treffler2
The best that can be said about Eric Johnson's writing is that he doesn't overdue the use of adjectives and adverbs. Read morePublished on May 9, 2008 by Grey Wolffe
Fascinating material, and I recommend the book if you are interested in how ordinary people reacted to Nazi rule. My only criticism is that it's a bit of a dry read. Read morePublished on September 15, 2004 by Mark Moore
I read "Nazi Terror" and "Hitler's Willing Executioners" for the same reason -- and while my thesis was validated in both, it was never addressed in either. Read morePublished on August 20, 2003 by Cathleen M. Walker
I have to say, I usually try to avoid purchasing books the size of phone books because I know I'll never have the time to finish them... Read morePublished on December 4, 2002 by Eddie Landsberg
This is a book which was written over ten years by an Academic who traveled to Germany. He has tried to work out what it was like to live in Nazi Germany and how the organs of a... Read morePublished on September 29, 2001 by Tom Munro
Obviously from reading other reviews, this book has generated controversy, because the facts in it (which are voluminous) touch on raw wounds and hair-trigger sensitivities. Read morePublished on July 29, 2001 by Eric Jakobsson