Compare the way Goldhagen and Browning present the perpetrators of the Holocaust

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The events which have become to be known as The Holocaust have caused much debate and dispute among historians. Central to this varied dispute is the intentions and motives of the perpetrators, with a wide range of theories as to why such horrific events took place. The publication of Jonah Goldhagen’s controversial but bestselling book “Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust” in many ways saw the reigniting of the debate and a flurry of scholarly and public interest. Central to Goldhagen’s disputed argument is the presentation of the perpetrators of the Holocaust as ordinary Germans who largely, willingly took part in the atrocities because of deeply held and violently strong anti-Semitic beliefs. This in many …show more content…
Using such specific examples will help clearly highlight the difference in opinion of the two authors and the way in which Goldhagen tries to show the members of the Police Battalion as “Ordinary Germans” who were “Willing Executioners”, while Browning presents them as “Ordinary Men” reacting to a certain set of specific circumstances.
Goldhagen’s view of the perpetrators of the Holocaust can be seen as super-intentionalist in the way he views the German population to have largely willingly colluded with the Nazi regime because they to held the same eliminationalist anti-Semitic views. To make this point, he uses what he sees as the willingness of ordinary, largely untrained and unindoctrinated Germans in the Reserve Police Battalions to carry out mass killings of Jews (Goldhagen: 1997:206). This means he portrays the perpetrators of the Jozefow massacre as “willing executioners” and goes at great length to show them to simply be “ordinary Germans” based on their political, socio-economic and geographical background (Goldhagen: 1997: 213). Central to Goldhagen’s argument that the Policemen massacred Jews willingly, is their reluctance to excuse themselves from the operation when given the opportunity. The main “opportunity” in which to do this, is the moment before the massacre, when Major Trapp (the officer in charge of the
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