Murderous Intellectuals: German Elites and the Nazi SS Paperback – November 2, 2009
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From the Back Cover
- Publisher : American Book Publishing (November 2, 2009)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 332 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1589825632
- ISBN-13 : 978-1589825635
- Item Weight : 0.128 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 0.75 x 7.75 inches
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Mr. Maxwell's book should be required reading in all classes on Holocaust study for high school students and adults. His book presents an important historical perspective that tells the story in a way that will make you think for years to come. I know it has truly inspired my thinking.
The uneducated, stereotypical street brawler could not have devised and carried out the intricate organization and create the public charade that was the Third Reich. Yes, there were street brawlers in the Nazi party. The infiltration of Nazism into every facet of German life could only be carried out with the wholehearted and enthusiastic support of the educated classes. It was these people that brought the Nazis to within a hair's breadth of controlling Europe, Asia, Africa, and by proxy, the New World.
Chillingly, Jonathan Maxwell had an all too easy time choosing individuals to highlight in this excellent book about the people who willingly committed the greatest atrocities in modern history. He covers the doctors who tortured, the scientists who perverted reason, the educators who refused to learn, the lawyers who ignored the rights of the innocent, and the soldiers who committed atrocities. After the war, trials were held. Only a very few were ever punished. It was thought it would never happen again. The end result was that there have been parallels in Yugoslavia, Cambodia, and Rwanda.
This book is highly recommended and should be required reading for anyone who believes himself to be capable of independent thought. The people described here believed themselves to be the epitome of independent, intellectual thought. See what they did and what they wrought.
Reviewer: John Helman, M.A., Allbooks Reviews.
Though it's difficult for any one book to fully attempt to explain such a complicated topic, Maxwell's book does a pretty good job of highlighting many of the reasons that may have been behind why many of Germany's intellectuals and elites went along with and participated in the Holocaust. It's a very good book I'd recommend to anyone who likes to read about history and who has always wondered what could have caused an entire nation to seem to have fallen under Hitler's spell.
I won't go into great detail about the book - I don't want to spoil the enjoyment of reading it for others - but I'll touch on some of the reasons the author mentions which others have come up with over the years as possible explanations for Germany's elites and intellectuals, by and large, to become Nazis and support Hitler, Nazism, and the Holocaust. The author gives an overview of the various possible reasons in some of the book's chapters, which have titles like: "Personal Reasons," "Sadism," "Racism and Ethnic Hatred," "The Autocratic Nature of German Society" ("I was only following orders"), and "Human Genetics."
The "Personal Reasons" theory is that, as Jonathan Maxwell writes, "each member joined the organization because it offered something of great value to the individual recruit." These items of "great value" could include "something material, such as good clothes or a job with substantial pay. It could also be something intangible, such as a sense of security or belonging." We can all understand such a reason - sometimes, to improve one's social and/or economic standing, a person will join an organization that he/she otherwise might not join, like the Nazi party. If everyone around you is a member of the organization, and the only way you won't be ostracized (or potentially beaten, or wind up in a concentration camp) is to also become a member, personal reasons can be a powerful motivating factor.
"Sadism" and "Racism and Ethnic Hatred" are self-explanatory, though what could have caused people to be, as some were, so filled with a loathing of Jews as to want to kill them on sight is something people have always wondered about. The Jews became the scapegoats of not only Germany, but of France, and many other European nations, who would rather blame their economic and other problems on people other than themselves. Though Germany had always had a segment of its population (like most other countries have, including the United States) who were anti-Semetic, Hitler's and Himmler's hatred of the Jews seems to have infected an entire nation, who revered its leaders and thought they could do no wrong.
This leads into the theory that people were coerced or led into doing what they'd ordinarily not consider doing because of "The Autocratic Nature of German Society" ("I was only following orders."). In fact, this theory is discussed and presented int many courses in Psychology even today. Germany, the author points out, was:
...a militaristic nation obsessed with law and order. German leaders expect `regular' citizens to be compliant and submissive. `Regular' Germans essentially do what their government tells them to do. Therefore, when the Nazi regime ordered the Fianl Solution, average Germans unblinkingly tried to comply with the order.
There are several other theories the author delves into, all of which make for very interesting reading. The "Human Genetics" one asks: "Is violence in our genes? Are human beings `wired' to hate one another?" Also, the book gives background on historical events that led up to Hitler's coming into power, and I read a few things that I had either never heard of before, or had forgotten about, such as the fact that gas chambers were first used on Germany's own citizens - those who were considered to be "undesirables," who were mentally or physically deficient, or who were hopeless alcoholics.
Perhaps besides the racial and ethnic hatred of many Germans towards the Jews, one of the other main reasons people had for callously knowing about and often participating in the killing of their fellow human beings is that they were trying to create a perfect society. In their minds, to their twisted perspectives, this meant that they would have to eliminate anyone who might be, to them, not worthy of being a member of the "utopia" they were trying to establish.
There is no one reason, theory, or explanation why Germany's intellectual and elites joined the Nazi party, why some of its doctors engaged in gruesome "experiments" and dissections on living people, and why its industries went along with Hitler's plans (though cheap slave labor was one big motivation). Maxwell doesn't arrive at one answer, as there isn't a cut-and-dried one, but his examination of the various theories is very interesting and makes for a great addition to the shelves of anyone who enjoys reading about WWII . Also, if we don't learn from the past, we're condemned to repeat it, and sadly, there have been other mass genocides elsewhere in the world since WWII, such as in Czechoslovakia and in Darfur. Any book that causes us to think about what drives man's inhumanity to man and was behind the Holocaust and genocides since then is well worth reading and considering.
--Douglas R. Cobb--