Jammies's Reviews > Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust

Hitler's Willing Executioners by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
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Apr 28, 2010

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Read on May 01, 2010

It's very easy to see the scholarly bones of this book, the old "Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you've told them." It's meticulously documented, and seems to be thoroughly researched. Clearly, from the GR reviews alone, the content is a great deal more controversial than the style.

As painstakingly researched and scholarly as this book is, I am disinclined to believe the author's assertions about the German people as a whole. As a former English major (ha, first time my degree has had a practical use!), I'm certainly aware of the vast amount of anti-Semitism in European literature through the nineteenth century. However, that seems to me to argue more against Goldhagen's conclusions than otherwise.

Granted that all of Europe (and to a large extent, the US) was anti-Semitic, why were there not hundreds of Holocausts?

On an emotional level, although my German ancestors arrived in the US at the turn of the twentieth century, as the bearer of a German surname, I do not want to believe Goldhagen's assertions on an emotional level as well.

I think that my next step is going to be reading
Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland to get the other side, and take it from there.

For me, this was the book equivalent of the movies Amistad, Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List--it gave me a lot to think about, I'm glad I read it, but I don't ever want to repeat this particular experience.
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