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Animals in the Third Reich: Pets, Scapegoats, and the Holocaust Hardcover – June 1, 2002

3.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Boria Sax has written an important book, one that  goes  beyond  the  Third  Reich,  and  which challenges  readers  to  think  in  many  new  dimensions. With that in mind, this is a 'must read' volume."
Shelby Shapiro, The Independent Scholar, Spring 2016

"Animals in the Third Reich is not just a book about Nazis or animals but also a revealing insight into the rest of us mortals who have increasingly blurred the boundary between humans and animals in a way that betrays both as sentient beings. In the course of his fascinating study, Boria Sax has managed to uncover some very important connections between how the Nazis perceived and treated animals, and how they treated people, especially those-Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally ill and challenged-they considered to be biologically inferior." —Klaus P. Fischer, author of Nazi Germany: A New History and The History of an Obsession: German Judeophophia and the Holocaust

"In this fascinating study, Sax, an intellectual historian and author, explores the elaborate system the Nazis developed using animal symbols to characterize different types of people and in the process provides a thought-provoking commentary of man's relationship with the animal kingdom." —Book News

"It is difficult to find as aspect of the Holocaust that has not already been extensively analyzed but Boria Sax has done just that with this book on the place of animals in the development and worldview of Nazism. In so doing, he not only throws new light on the Nazis and on the Holocaust, he also forces us to confront our own uncertainties and ambivalences about what is human, what is animal and what is the difference. This is an intensely personal book, eloquently written but nonetheless full of erudition and scholarship. Sax draws the reader in and takes him or her on a smooth but demanding examination of humanity's relationship with animals and nature in the context of the Nazis and the Holocaust. He accomplishes this without trivializing either topic, which is, in itself, a remarkable achievement." —Andrew N. Rowan, Senior Vice-President, The Humane Society of America

"In Animals in the Third Reich, Boria Sax explores an aspect of Nazi ideology and policy that, to my knowledge, no one has seriously studied until now: the Nazi relationship to animals, both as mythic figures and as actual living creatures. I had come across references to Hitler's fixation on wolves in his biographies, but the authors offered no context for this fixation and tended to treat it as yet another idiosyncratic symptom of mental illness. In Sax's book, I learned for the first time the central role that animals, especially predatory animals played in the Nazi worldview, and how this colored their perception of Jews as 'pigs' and 'dogs.' This is an utterly fascinating work, enriched by Sax's wide-ranging erudition, and sure to intrigue ordinary readers, as well as inspiring scholars for years to come."
—Barbara Ehrenreich

"[An] insightful book...an informed and important book." —Forward

"Rich with evidence and story."—H-Nilas

Review

"Animals in the Third Reich is not just a book about Nazis or animals but also a revealing insight into the rest of us mortals who have increasingly blurred the boundary between humans and animals in a way that betrays both as sentient beings. In the course of his fascinating study, Boria Sax has managed to uncover some very important connections between how the Nazis perceived and treated animals, and how they treated people, especially those-Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, the mentally ill and challenged-they considered to be biologically inferior." —Klaus P. Fischer, author of Nazi Germany: A New History and The History of an Obsession: German Judeophophia and the Holocaust

"In this fascinating study, Sax, an intellectual historian and author, explores the elaborate system the Nazis developed using animal symbols to characterize different types of people and in the process provides a thought-provoking commentary of man's relationship with the animal kingdom." —Book News

"It is difficult to find as aspect of the Holocaust that has not already been extensively analyzed but Boria Sax has done just that with this book on the place of animals in the development and worldview of Nazism. In so doing, he not only throws new light on the Nazis and on the Holocaust, he also forces us to confront our own uncertainties and ambivalences about what is human, what is animal and what is the difference. This is an intensely personal book, eloquently written but nonetheless full of erudition and scholarship. Sax draws the reader in and takes him or her on a smooth but demanding examination of humanity's relationship with animals and nature in the context of the Nazis and the Holocaust. He accomplishes this without trivializing either topic, which is, in itself, a remarkable achievement." —Andrew N. Rowan, Senior Vice-President, The Humane Society of America

"In Animals in the Third Reich, Boria Sax explores an aspect of Nazi ideology and policy that, to my knowledge, no one has seriously studied until now: the Nazi relationship to animals, both as mythic figures and as actual living creatures. I had come across references to Hitler's fixation on wolves in his biographies, but the authors offered no context for this fixation and tended to treat it as yet another idiosyncratic symptom of mental illness. In Sax's book, I learned for the first time the central role that animals, especially predatory animals played in the Nazi worldview, and how this colored their perception of Jews as 'pigs' and 'dogs.' This is an utterly fascinating work, enriched by Sax's wide-ranging erudition, and sure to intrigue ordinary readers, as well as inspiring scholars for years to come."
—Barbara Ehrenreich

"[An] insightful book...an informed and important book." —Forward

"Rich with evidence and story."—H-Nilas --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (June 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826412890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826412898
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,654,013 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In this useful and interesting book, Sax discusses the treatment of animals in the Third Reich, but the focus is broader than that; he also explores the way that metaphors from the animal kingdom became an important way of expressing the Nazi world view. In the twisted ideology of the Third Reich, there was no important differentiation between "human" and "animal" life. Instead, the Nazis tended to look on the world as a continuum. The highest position on the continuum belonged to healthy humans the "Aryan race." Animals could be found lower down on that continuum, while lower still were the humans who were considered inferior because of their racial identity or mental handicaps. As Sax put it in the introductory material, "In their nihilistic perspective the important distinction was not between "humans" and "aniimals" .... It was between victor and vanquished, between master and slave. The underlying paradigm was ... that of predator and prey." This attitude reflected the viewpoint in National Socialism that depicted nature as "a harsh and implacable power," demanding obedience.
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Format: Hardcover
Anyone who reads this book and criticizes its scholarship is suspect in my opinion. The scholarship here is excellent, its the information that is controversial. The book contains translations of many of the National Socialist Animal Rights Acts.

Animal rights activists will hate the conclusions to be drawn from this research, in the same way that they hated the Nazi War on Cancer. However, understanding that the National Socialists had a domestic problem that would appeal to many modern progressives makes it that much more fascinating.
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Format: Hardcover
Unfortunately, this beautifully written, morally reflective book was inadequately researched. Many of the author's anecdotes were simply culled from secondary sources (some of questionable reliability), and the book even contains lengthy sections of entirely unfootnoted assertions. Sax seems unaware of major recent work on Nazi Germany of direct relevance to the issues he addresses - Christopher Browning's "Ordinary Men," Ian Kershaw's "Hitler Myth", Paul Weindling's "Health, Race and German Politics" and Kurt Schleunes', "A Twisted Road to Auschwitz" are all missing from his bibliography. As a result, his book unfortunately adds little to contemporary scholarly understanding of the Nazi regime, despite the novelty and importance of his initial questions.
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Format: Paperback
For some it is still a shock to learn, for many nowadays an accepted truism, that even as Nazi Germany was mean to its minorities, it was also nice to animals. Perhaps influenced by Adolf Hitler himself -- An avowed vegetarian and animal-lover -- the Nazis took steps for the protection of animals and environment which, in the context of the 1930s, were indeed quite revolutionary. Numerous writers have acknowledged this in the past, but to this reviewer's best knowledge, no actual scholarly monograph on the subject has as yet been produced.

One might easily believe that this book would be the first. If so, one is bound to be grievously disappointed upon perusing it. For Boria Sax has far different intentions with this slim little tome than its cover would lead us to believe: What he is really writing about is his idea of what made the Nazis tick. Rather than history, which calmly presents the facts, this is "psycho-history" in the vein of Victor's "Hitler: The Pathology of Evil" or Waite's "The Psychopathic God Adolf Hitler" (both about as awful as their hysterical titles would suggest, and both quoted approvingly by Sax). And as is par the course for this genre, elaborate and far-fetched speculation is substituted for those same facts.

Sax uses a number of dubious claims to argue that Nazism was less a political movement than a death-obsessed religious cult inspired by Judaism. The genocidal wars of the Hebrews recounted in the Old Testament (foremost the Book of Joshua) are interpreted as human sacrifice on a vast scale (p. 151), the prototype of the Nazi atrocities.
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