- Hardcover: 200 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Edition edition (February 28, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0965032825
- ISBN-13: 978-0521772990
- ASIN: 0521772990
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,862,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers First Edition Edition
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Of four previous books, Browning is best known for Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (1992), a study of how it was possible for ordinary, middle-aged men to become mass murderers. His latest book is the result of six lectures given at Cambridge University, in which he examined three issues at the forefront of Holocaust scholarship: the decision-making and policy-making at the heart of the Nazi regime, out of which emerged the "final solution," the systematic attempt to murder all the Jews of Europe; the pragmatic and temporary use of Jewish labor; and the attitudes, motivations, and adaptations of the "ordinary" Germans who implemented Nazi policy at the local level. The source materials include both postwar testimonies and rare contemporary letters and document files that "speak less to the issue of decision and policy making and more to those elusive issues of individual attitudes and behavior." George Cohen
From Kirkus Reviews
paper 0-521-77490-X Given the recent headlines about the slave-labor reparations settlement in Germany, this new study from distinguished Holocaust historian Browning (Ordinary Men, 1992, etc.) is an important event. The six pieces herein, an expansion of Browning's 1995 Trevelyan lectures, fall, as the author notes, into three pairs. The first two consider policy-making processes that led to the Final Solution; the middle two focus on the tensions between pragmatism and ideology in the Reichs treatment of Jewish slave labor; and in the final pair Browning returns to the topic of Ordinary Men, using fresh evidence to re-examine the behavior of those who committed mass murder. The field of Holocaust studies changes by leaps and bounds, with new evidence becoming available almost daily as files from the former Soviet bloc and still unread materials from the Nazis themselves are evaluated by scholars. Much of what Browning has to say here grows out of such newly available materials. Although the conclusions he comes to are not significantly different from positions he has previously held, new details emerge that allow him to add nuance and depth. Hence, although he still persuasively maintains that the decisions leading to the Nazi attempt to murder all of Europe's Jews were an incremental, ongoing decision-making process that stretched from the spring of 1941 to the summer of 1942, his access to previously unavailable diaries of Joseph Goebbels and communications among Nazi leaders enrich our understanding of the ongoing internal tug-of-war over when and how to achieve that gruesome goal. Similarly, recent studies of regional decision-making give a fuller picture of the interplay of local and national interests in the carrying out of the mass murders. Browning is a methodical, if somewhat dry, writer and the result is an indispensable addition to the Holocaust bookshelf, though most valuable to specialists. Estimable scholarship, intelligently presented, but not a casual reader's book. -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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The beginning of the book seeks to answer the question: when did the Nazis settle upon genocide? The 1939-40 documents analyzed by Browning suggest that Nazis envisioned expelling Jews to Magadascar or the remotest reaches of Eastern Europe; by contrast, sometime in 1941 Hitler and Himmler apparently agreed on mass extermination.
Then Browning seeks to address the question of how much leeway local authorities had to avoid these policies; often, local commanders were more interested in exploiting Jewish labor than in extermination. Browning concludes that local authorities could drag their feet, but could not affirmatively resist clear orders from above.
The last essays focus on the role of individual German police battalions who participated in killing squads. Browning concludes that the majority of these men were not ideologically motivated to murder Jews- but that typically a few were, and the rest just followed orders and could even avoid participation themselves as long as they did not interfere with the murder going on around them.
The book is, however, weakest in its concluding pages, when it is surmised, from chronological matches, not documentary evidence, that Hitler, confident of imminent victory in Russia, ordered the implementation of the Final Solution., and that, in order not to incriminate himself, had not laid down a written order for same.
Bearing in mind that Hitler himself signed an order for the euthanasia of the crippled and feeble in Germany, as well as the Kommissarbefehl that ordered the German troops to shoot all Communist functionaries and army commissars on sight, with no recourse to courts martial, the fact that there was no written order for the gassing of the Jews, if that was Hitler's intention, must be out of character of him.
The fact that Heydrich seeked and got from Göring authority for a Final Solution will be hard to explain, if Himmler and Heydrich, as surmised by Browning, had been authorized by Hitler to proceed with full powers the physical destruction of European Jewry in October 41, in expectation of the defeat of Russia.
The fact that more Jews were gassed in the period 42-44, when Germany was clearly on the losing side in a world war would also be at odds with the Browning hypothesis that the escalation and radicalization of anti Jewish measures, from expulsion, ghettorization, mass shootings to gassing, was always tied to Hitler's estimation of his chances of winning the war.