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The Nazi Conscience

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  156 ratings  ·  12 reviews

The Nazi conscience is not an oxymoron. In fact, the perpetrators of genocide had a powerful sense of right and wrong, based on civic values that exalted the moral righteousness of the ethnic community and denounced outsiders.

Claudia Koonz's latest work reveals how racial popularizers developed the infrastructure and rationale for genocide during the so-called normal ye

Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 30th 2005 by Belknap Press (first published November 26th 2003)
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Bill  Kerwin

Yes, that's right: the Nazi 'conscience." Koonz's thesis is that the holocaust can only be understood by taking into account the constant campaign of indoctrination that--by stressing the necessity of racial purity--endeavored to inculcate in the soul of every good German the belief that "not everything that wears a human face is human." In terms of legal statutes enacted or the tone of much popular culture, pre-Hitler Germany was no more antisemitic than many other European countries (Great Bri
Yusra Gulab Jamman
"Germans did not become Nazis because they were antisemites; they became antisemites because they were Nazis [...] Beginning in 1933, sophisticated persuasive techniques prepared German civilians and soldiers, in large ways and small, to collaborate with a regime that in wartime engineered the extermination of all categories of people deemed 'unwanted.' "

In short, The Nazi Conscience can be described as a detailed, informative account of some of the aforementioned techniques. It is an attempt to
Sounds like such an oxymoron, doesn't it? Yet another one of my garage sales discoveries, the Nazi Conscience is really an in-depth study of Nazi propaganda and exactly how it was spread through first Germany and then the rest of the countries. It was almost impressive how well every aspect of culture was slowly taken over by the Nazi propaganda. There are several excellent interviews, and even people who hated Nazis, who were Jewish, were impressed by some of the rallies. One of Hitler's maste ...more
I've docked this otherwise impressive book one star for its misleading title. Anyone expecting an exploration of Nazi idealism or morality per se won't find it here.

Instead, Koonz is almost exclusively interested in how the Nazis artfully manufactured a mass consensus for their racial policies through manipulation of elite and popular opinion. Initially, Nazi racial thuggery tended to alienate rather than persuade, so Hitler largely suppressed public discussion of his agenda for long periods, w
The holocaust when considered seems to invariably lead one to question how such terrible things could have been done to the Jews in Germany and Europe. Many people who have studied the age or perhaps lived through the persecution have endeavored to provide some answers. And yet, invariably every answer seems to come up short. Like there must be something more, some additional explanation that we could learn that could let us wrap our minds around what happened and finally grasp how and why milli ...more
This book gives you a lot to think about by challenging the traditionalist history of the Nazis and introducing a new assessment of the collective psychology of the nation (with interesting evidence).
This was a stellar book. This book deals a lot with the ethical norms that developed in Nazi Germany, and the culture of Nazi Germany in general. It talks a lot about how they legitimized themselves by asserting a new ethical framework, and artfully shifted the consensus towards that framework.

My favorite part in the book is when it is describing the arrest of a Jewish man described by his German friend/neighbor. The German didn't think "How terrible it is that the Nazis are taking him away!". H
A little bit like Kershaw, she suggests that the drive toward the final solution rested on a broad consensus. For Koonz, this was the Nazi version of morality. Nazi ideology was heavily based on anti-semitism in the early 1920's, but toned it way down, focusing on Bolshevism instead, as the mass of the German population found active anti-semitism unseemly. The trick the Nazi's used, Koonz calls, "ethnic fundamentalism", they spent a decade building up the 'positive' idea of the Volk, to sort of ...more
Claudia Koonz's The Nazi Conscience is a fascinating account of how, during the 1930s, the Nazis reversed the millennia-long human effort to expand the circle of moral regard and sold to the educated middle classes of Germany an ethical system based on the idea that only a single, narrowly defined ethnic group was worthy of moral consideration. Any reader curious about how Germans in the pre-war period explained their nation to themselves should read this book.
An important book to help understand the methods of turning a populace against a particular race of people who they were formerly friends with. The author carefully documents how the evil of the Nazi Regime carefully veiled itself as virtue of the highest order. Although this may not be an easy read, it is a valuable book to be read in order to be aware of the effect carefully organized propaganda can have on people.
I stopped reading this polemic after she began to imply all Germans were complicit, by stating that "Everyone KNEW that the Gestapo was UNDERSTAFFED!" Which begs the question, how many Gestapo does it take to terrify an entire populace into submission? 2? 3? She is just like Daniel Goldhagen.
Amanda Cortez
One of my favorite books this semester. A unique argument about a whole new moral code set up within the ideology of the NDSAP. Anyone interested in Nazi Germany should read this.
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