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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant précis of the Holocaust
On the surface, this short, brilliant study deals primarily with the notorious Wannsee Conference of January 1942, at which top Nazi officials decided on crucial modalities of the Holocaust.
But below the surface, the book does much more. The greatest of its many virtues is that it brings us up to date on the the most recent scholarship concerning the whole of the...
Published on May 1, 2002 by Werner Cohn

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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Essay
This is an interesting, thoughtful, and well written essay on the dynamics of the Holocaust. Roseman's preoccupation is with inferring the processes by which the Nazis ultimately reached the decision to exterminate the Jews of Europe, as opposed to removing Jews from Germany. To a considerable extent, this essay is about historiography as much as the events themselves...
Published on December 30, 2002 by R. Albin


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29 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant précis of the Holocaust, May 1, 2002
By 
Werner Cohn (Brooklyn, NY USA) - See all my reviews
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On the surface, this short, brilliant study deals primarily with the notorious Wannsee Conference of January 1942, at which top Nazi officials decided on crucial modalities of the Holocaust.
But below the surface, the book does much more. The greatest of its many virtues is that it brings us up to date on the the most recent scholarship concerning the whole of the Nazi persecution of Jews, including the historical roots of the policy. But the devil, as always, is in the details. Roseman gives them to us: who did what and when and how. It is the details that tell us how the previously unthinkable -- the cold-blooded murder of six million Jews -- was accomplished by the highly educated elite of the Nazi state.
In the past historians have argued about the precise personal responsibility of Hitler. Some have insisted that this responsibility was overwhelming, others have held that the main motive force came from the workings of the Nazi bureaucracy. Roseman shows that the most recent findings give credence to both factors: without Hitler's very personal involvement, there would have been no Holocaust; nor could it have been carried out without the enthusiastic complicity of hundreds of major Nazi officials.
It is in the nature of this kind of book that it will perhaps be of greatest interest to those who have already read other, more general works, for instance Wistrich's equally brilliant but more introductory "Hitler and the Holocaust." Nevertheless, Roseman's volume can be recommended even to beginners in this area.
Among the facts shown by Roseman that may be new to many readers are the the following: the greatest responsibility for the mass murder, after Hitler, belongs to Heinrich Himmler; the Nazis planned to kill eleven million European Jews, almost twice as many as they ultimatelymore than half of the Holocaust victims perished succeeded in reaching; more than half of the Holocaust victims perished between March 1942 and February 1943; and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the titular head of the Arab Palestinians at the time, visited Hitler in November of 1941 and was given assurance by Hitler that he would "solve" the problem of Jews.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Essay, December 30, 2002
By 
R. Albin (Ann Arbor, Michigan United States) - See all my reviews
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This is an interesting, thoughtful, and well written essay on the dynamics of the Holocaust. Roseman's preoccupation is with inferring the processes by which the Nazis ultimately reached the decision to exterminate the Jews of Europe, as opposed to removing Jews from Germany. To a considerable extent, this essay is about historiography as much as the events themselves because there has been considerable debate on this issue among historians of the Holocaust. Roseman analyzes and summarizes a good deal of recent scholarship. He discusses explicitly the role of the notorious Wannsee conference but this is not a detailed discussion of that event, which would be impossible given the scanty documentation available, but uses the Wannsee conference as a hook for his general discussion of the decisions to proceed with extermination. Roseman makes a number of important points. There was no plan for extermination of Jews prior to the War. The Nazis initially wanted to remove Jews from Germany but expulsion seems to have been the preferred method. Several factors seems to have propelled the Nazi decision makers along their murderous path. There is no question that Hitler himself came to prefer extermination. The War itself acted as a radicalizing element. Competition among different sectors of the Nazi state was common and there seems to have been a race to see who could achieve murder the fastest. Finally, Roseman is careful to point out the importance of ideology in the motivations of all the major actors. This was not a group of simple functionaries executing orders blindly. Racist ideologies permeated the Civil Service. An important aspect that Roseman may be overlooking in his discussion of the radicalizing effects of the war is the sense of triumphalism that infected the Nazis. In the winter of 1942, they were the masters of Europe, occupying most of France and the eastern Soviet Union, and controlling the major industrial assets of the continent. Perhaps they felt that anything was possible, including the extermination of the European Jews and other perceived racial enemies. This is a good book but really an extended essay rather than a regular monograph. Perhaps best read by individuals with some knowledge of the Holocaust and its historiography.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Monograph, March 10, 2004
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This review is from: The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration (Paperback)
This is a readable, thoughtful monograph on the origins and historical significance of the Wannsee conference, the notorious January 1942 meeting where Nazi officials finalized plans to exterminate European Jewry. Noting that the decision on genocide was probably taken by Hitler in late 1941, author Roseman concludes that Wannsee's real purpose was to assert Reinhard Heydrich's control over Jewish policy and to sort out bureaucratic disagreements about the treatment of half-Jews and Jews married to German gentiles. Roseman writes well, has a full command of the secondary literature, and understands the nuances and grotesqueries of bureaucratic politics (I'm a career State Department official). Highly recommended for readers interested in World War II or the Holocaust.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Historiography or Everything But the Wannsee Conference, July 5, 2008
This review is from: The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration (Paperback)
This is more a book on historiography than on history. It tries to put in chronological order the different steps that were taken that lead to the Final Solution: the extermination of European Jewry, decision that seems to have been taken in Wannsee.

It gets entangled in the effort, and therefore never moves on with the Conference, which is what made me by this book in the first place. If there are no documents to exactly know what was the purpose of the conference, and what were the personal stands of the people gathered there on the issue, we should have been warned in the title.

Discussing over dates and the proper chronology of decisions regarding the Holocaust seems to me like discussing security measures when the thiefs are already in the building. Who cares? The author never gets there, I mean, to the Conference. It was aggravating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Short Review of the Wannsee Conference, May 6, 2011
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This review is from: The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration (Paperback)
This book was a required read for my current history class. I found the book extremely interesting. It does not directly focus on the horrors of the holocaust, but instead gives a psychological and historical back ground of how and why this nightmare enfolded. This book can be very useful for all World War II historians as well as those studying the insights and warped reasons behind genocide. I can see this book being used for both European History and Sociology classes.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Precis on the Origins of the Holocaust, August 22, 2005
By 
W. J KUBIK "kubik11" (Hanover, IN United States) - See all my reviews
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I recently completed a college faculty study trip on the Holocaust and puchased this book at the Wannsee mansion. It is the best single summary of the evolution of Nazi policy toward the Jews up to 1942 out there. Browning's Origins of the Final Solution is much more detailed, but this work gets at the core issues of how the Nazis used anti-semitism as a political tool and the role it played in Hitler's bureaucratic politics. The work focuses on elite decision making among the perpetrators. If you want a recent book looking at the Holocaust more from the perspective of victims, Lawrence Rees' work is the way to go.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book offers a valid reassessment of the Wannsee Conference ..., August 1, 2014
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This review is from: The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration (Paperback)
This book offers a valid reassessment of the Wannsee Conference. It does not diminish the horror and evil of what they did, but rather gives a much more coherent explanation of why it occurred, when and where it did, why the personnel involved were relatively low level rank for such a task.
Part of the more nuanced, deeper understanding of the evil that was the Holocaust. Helps one understand that this was one part in a complex historical event. Perhaps by placing it in context with the overall anti-Semitism of the Nazi functionaries, such historical understanding will help decent people prevent it from happening again.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Through a glass, darkly, September 11, 2003
By 
Thomas Dunskus (Faleyras Frankreich) - See all my reviews
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Ever since its discovery in 1947 by Robert Kempner, the American Nuremberg prosecutor, this record of a meeting held in Berlin on 20 January 1942 has been considered to be virtual proof of the determination of the Nazis to murder each and every Jew that came within their reach. Roseman presents a much more critical view of the matter.
His book is full of remarks which modify, question, or refute past interpretations. He quotes the German historian Eberhard Jäckel who wonders why this meeting was ever convened, he notes that the documentation concerning this event is far from comprehensive and that we can only speculate on many aspects, he states that there is no single unambiguous document ordering the annihilation of all Jews (David Irving will have noted this with some satisfaction), he deplores the general lack of official documents, and he stresses the absence of important agencies or institutions which should have been present at any sort of decisive meeting of this kind: the German Railways, the Wehrmacht, or the Führer Chancellery. Somehow, though, he manages to overlook the curious lack of Heydrich's name on the list of the persons attending.
In spite of the general vagueness surrounding the gathering, Roseman concludes that from the time of the meeting onward, the word „Endlösung" came to signify the death of all European Jews, because the „Protokoll" expresses this, albeit in a round-about, bureaucartic fashion. It is important to stress, though, that „death", here, is not necessarily identical to „killing". The considerations regarding the fate of various groups of Jews bear this out, one half of the 15 pages are devoted, after all, to the fairly difficult question of deciding how Jews and their descendants were to be classified. When all is said and done, Roseman comes to the conclusion that the conference cannot be regarded as a moment of decision; for him, it is merely an indication that something had changed in the political landscape.
The „Protokoll" itself has, for decades now, occupied centre stage, obscuring other important aspects of the matter. We must remember that the meeting had been convened by Heydrich on the grounds that Göring had asked him, half a year earlier, in July of 1941, to draw up a comprehensive plan for the final solution of the Jewish question, „in the near future". The January meeting was to lay the groundwork for the plan, others were to follow; Roseman mentions two more such dates, March and October 1942 but does not discuss them in detail. In view of the six months which Heydrich let go by before calling a first meeting, one cannot but admire Göring's patience in the matter, or Himmler's lack of concern when the Reichsmarschall intervened without respecting the line of command. In the end, after Heydrich's assassination in May of 1942, no comprehensive plan was ever presented to Göring - nor to anyone else, for that matter.
In this context, Roseman mentions, in a footnote, the so-called „Schlegelberger Document" which states that Hitler had rejected the „Final Solution" as we perceive it today. He refers the reader to David Irving's homepage for more information while remaining himself quite sceptical in this regard.
The German edition of Roseman's book contains an additional chapter in which Norbert Kampe, the director of the Wannsee Memorial Institute in Berlin, discusses the differences among the reproductions of the various documents that form the basis of our assessment of this event. Kampe strongly crticizes mistakes and unwarranted alterations that appear in every single one of the documents presented by Kempner, but states that the text of these reproductions is always in accordance with the originals. This is not, strictly speaking, a material analysis of the documents themselves. In view, however, of a number of questions concerning the authenticity of some of these papers, that have never been scientifically investigated, a thorough review of these points is still highly desirable.
Aside from this aspect, one should mention a further difficulty which makes an appreciation of the conference cumbersome for the average layman - the problem of the language. The „Urtext" is in German, obviously, and in a particularly obscure and bureaucratic lingo at that. Normally, this ought not to make a translation impossible to accomplish, but here we have to fend with the risk that the choice of words, and hence the reader's mind, is influenced by a - possibly unconscious - partiality of the translator. A case in point is the rendering of the German word „erfassen" on p. 9 of the original (regarding the Jews in France). The official English version on the Wannsee website ([...]) has „rounding-up", but this shows that the translator has jumped to a conclusion which is unjustfied, although attractive, because in German bureaucratic language „erfassen" quite simply - and innocently - signifies something like identifying and seizing in a list. In connexion with a document which is couched in a very much veiled language, such liberties should not be tolerated.
The „Protokoll" has, by now, become public property, as it were, and has served as a basis for two films. A German one, produced in 1984, is a well-made feature, responding nearly 100 % to the traditional requirements of unity in time, place, and action. It is being shown quite regularly both in Germany and abroad. Unfortunately, in the US and possibly elsewhere, it has been made an instrument of what Norman Finkelstein has called the marketing of the Holocaust: even though no verbatim transcript of the conference has ever been found, the film is distributed in those countries with the firm assertion that it is indeed the word-for-word rendering of the meeting. The historian, it would seem, counts for nothing in the global market economy.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional book, March 20, 2014
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This review is from: The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration (Paperback)
This book clarified for me the disparate elements of the Shoah. Before I read this book, the killing almost at times seemed a bit haphazard, taking place at Point A but not at Point B. Why was that the case? In this book one sees the convergence of policies coming to a head at Wannsee, with clarification tragically being brought to life in the ensuing years. Not only well thought out, but well written and presented.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing New, January 26, 2014
This review is from: The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration (Paperback)
After having completed this book, I was left with a sense of disappointment. Not a lot of new broken ground with this analysis of the Wannsee Conference. Mr. Roseman tends to be very repetitive with regard to his assessment of various bits of evidence that exist about the evolution of the Holocaust and the importance of the Conference. It is true that all that exists as primary sources are Eichmann's testimony and various bits of written records, but even these are treated in a relatively disjointed and offhand manner. The book tends not to flow but rather the author moves from historical perspective to the conference itself in an unpredictable way.
Roseman does spend effective time on the Nazi political machine and how it evolved out the ultimate machinations of the final solution. His detached style is occasionally effective and tends to underscore the horrors of those events. From a historical viewpoint, it has been clearly established that the Conference was more administrative and designed to solidify Heydrich's position in the Nazi hierarchy, and was not the starting point of the Holocaust. Few decisions were made at the Conference. Roseman adds little to this thereafter. For those not well versed in this historical event, Roseman's book is a good starting point. The more established historian will find it repetitious and superficial, with little new insight offered.
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The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration
The Wannsee Conference and the Final Solution: A Reconsideration by Mark Roseman (Paperback - July 1, 2003)
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