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The Politics of Memory: The Journey of a Holocaust Historian Hardcover – June 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee; First edition (presumed; no earlier dates stated) edition (June 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566631165
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566631167
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,171,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his writings, eminent Holocaust historian Hilberg (The Destruction of the European Jews) has argued that the Nazi genocide was a bureaucratic, decentralized process, and that the "Final Solution," the plan for total annihilation of European Jewry, was not formulated until 1941. By highlighting the role of the Jewish councils, which he views as agents of accommodation with the German apparatus, and by investigating what he perceives as Jewish victims' lack of resistance, Hilberg has drawn the wrath of scholarly critics. In this defensive, dryly written, sometimes acrimonious memoir, he settles scores with his opponents, notably Holocaust historian Lucy Dawidowicz, and sharply distances himself from Hannah Arendt and her notion of the "banality of evil." Professor emeritus of political science at the University of Vermont, Hilberg relives personal moments of intense drama, as when he escaped Austria with his family in 1939 at the age of 13 or when he arrived in Munich as an American soldier at war's end. There, in the former Nazi party headquarters, he discovered Hitler's private library packed in crates.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In an erudite, witty, and sometimes sarcastic narrative, Hilberg (Perspective, Victims, Bystanders: The Jewish Catastrophe 1933-1945, HarperCollins, 1992) takes the reader on a tour of his life and work as an Austrian Jewish refugee who grew up to be one of the most controversial Holocaust historians of the day. Whether or not one agrees with Hilberg's interpretation of the Holocaust, or of his observations about his contemporaries?e.g., Lucy Dawidowicz?his life suggests the social, political, and intellectual forces that shape Holocaust historiography. Of particular interest are the people and events that influenced Hilberg's development as a scholar. His book should be read especially by graduate students and younger scholars because he gives important insights on research, writing, publishing, and job hunting. Recommended for libraries with an interest in the Holocaust and Judaica.?Frederic Krome, Northern Kentucky Univ., Highland Heights
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 3, 1999
Format: Hardcover
The memoir is a much needed supplement for the scholarly works of undoubtedly peerless Holocaust researcher. All the process of transforming of Holocaust studies from metaphysical reflections into a scholarly discipline is revealed before our eyes, with almost tragic touch of author's own fate as "controversial"(for some) and plagiated scholar. And also a personal note: Gauleiter Kube, a much maligned Hitler's boss of Belorussia, got in Hillberg's magnum opus Destruction of European Jews some flesh and blood which made me understand better the Holocaust reality in my native land.

Hilberg's works are surely uneasy reading for those who perceive the Holocaust through a comforting model reduced to "... a more familiar picture of a struggle-- however unequal--between combatants" (p.135).

The language of the book is unusual and its laconism , though sometimes veiling the sense, is accompanied by inner dramatic beauty and power.

In general, Hilberg's memoir is a mind-nourishing and thought-provoking book, a must for anyone with an interest in history of the 20th century.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Red Eyes on August 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
I became interested in Hilberg after he defended Norman Finkelstein's controversial studies of the exploitation of the Holocaust and the cynical manipulation of the Israel lobby in exaggerating charges of `anti Semitism' to deflect criticism of Israel.

Hilberg stood by Finkelstein when he was being vilified by large sections of the academic and publishing establishment in America and Europe. Hilberg gave Finkelstein the stamp of authenticity and respectability, when his research was being attacked as `scandalous' and `anti Semitic.'

When readers saw Hilberg supporting Finkelstein -- they knew that Finkelstein was also to be trusted and believed.

Hilberg's autobiography is sparingly written, with a disciplined, unsentimental and unadorned style, yet with hints of dark humour and undertones of skepticism and detachment.

The narrative and prose give the reader insight into the immigrants' experience, as Hilberg describes his life as a young man who clearly enjoyed `being American', but never fully seems to have integrated into society. Throughout, he appears as an outsider, looking in on American culture as well as that of the immigrant, and also looking at a rootless diaspora consciousness, a state of being he occasionally gently mocks, and occasionally empathises with and relates to.

Throughout, the reader senses Hilberg's deep yearning, and a deep sense of loss: loss for his European identity (destroyed by the Nazis), loss of his German culture, which he clearly respects (Goethe, Heine, Kant) but no longer feels he can entirely accept; loss of his family (his entire family identity and role was altered after the Holocaust), and perhaps, one may speculate, loss of a full sense of belonging on the earth.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jan Peczkis on November 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
This work is semi-autobiographical in nature. It provides insights into how the Jewish author Hilberg developed and published his seminal study on the Holocaust. He also discusses notable Holocaust personages such as Bruno Bettelheim, Hannah Arendt, Gerald Reitlinger, Leon Poliakov, Lucy Dawidowicz, Jason Browning, and Warsaw Ghetto Council Chairman Adam Czerniakow.

Interestingly, Hilberg's roots are in Eastern Galicia, and his mother comes from a small village near Buczacz, Tarnopol (Ternopil) area. However, Hilberg does not discuss life in prewar Poland. However, he mentions the fact that the 17th-century Count Potocki had granted privileges to the Jews of Buczacz. (p. 32). He also realizes that Israel's national anthem, HA-TIKVAH ("The Hope") is derived from the Polish national anthem, which he translates: Polish Is Not Yet Lost. (p. 28). However, this translation is a bit misleading, as it seems to imply that Poland will yet be lost, or that Poland is on the verge of being lost. A better translation is: Poland Is Not Lost As Long As We Shall Live.

Hilberg was a lifelong atheist, and his Judaism had been strictly cultural in nature. In this, he followed his father, who had been a devotee of Baruch Spinoza. (pp. 36-37).

For a time, the child Hilberg lived in Austria. He witnessed the ANSCHLUSS and its aftermath. His family managed to immigrate, eventually to the USA.

Discrimination against Jews at universities was hardly limited to "backwards" pre-WWII Poland. While in the presumably-pluralistic USA in the 1950's, long after WWII, Hilberg, along with other Jews and also Catholics, experienced discrimination in academia. (e. g, p. 100).

Hilberg touches on the popularization of the Holocaust in American culture.
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