43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Explaining Hitler (Paperback)
This book examines the various schools of thought regarding Hitler and the Holocaust and the author did a wonderful job of researching and interviewing many of the scholars on the topic who have in turn influenced our understanding and perceptions of what happened and why. The questions may ultimately not have definitive answers but reading this and having Rosenbaum guide us through the various viewpoints is a worthwhile exercise in intellectual and philosophical investigation. The question of whether Hitler was essential to the Holocaust or if in his absence someone else would have set the same events into motion is one example of an unanswerable question that gets considered.
The questions surrounding the origins of Hitler's anti-semitism are also explored in detail.
There are scholars quoted who adamantly believe that any attempt to understand is misguided because understanding Hitler's motivations is considered by them to be the first step toward rationalization and diminishing the horror of the Holocaust to just a human crime on a larger scale.
This is not a biography of Hitler although many critical episodes in his life are referenced. Instead this is a fascinating look at how different perspectives on the nature of Hitler's evil have developed and how in the end there is no comprehensive answer as to the how and why of the suffering he unleashed. THere is a quote used from Primo Levi's book Survival in Auschwitz. Levi suffering from thirst reaches for an icycle. An SS guard knocks it away and Levi asks "why ?' The response.."there is no why here". I think that story captures some of the spirit of Rosenbaum's book.