Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust Essay example

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Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust

Synopsis – Hitler’s Willing Executioners is a work that may change our understanding of the Holocaust and of Germany during the Nazi period. Daniel Goldhagen has revisited a question that history has come to treat as settled, and his researches have led him to the inescapable conclusion that none of the established answers holds true. Drawing on materials either unexplored or neglected by previous scholars, Goldhagen presents new evidence to show that many beliefs about the killers are fallacies. They were not primarily SS men or Nazi Party members, but perfectly ordinary Germans from all walks of life, men who brutalized and murdered Jews both willingly and zealously. “They acted as they did because of
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In the last few years, some publications have appeared that treats one group or another, yet the state of our knowledge about the perpetrators remains incomplete. We know little about many of the institutions of killing, little about many aspects of the perpetration of the genocide, and still less about the perpetrators themselves. As a consequence, popular and scholarly myths and misconceptions about the perpetrators abound, including the following. It is commonly believed that the Germans slaughtered Jews by and large in the gas chambers, and that without gas chambers, modern means of transportation, and efficient bureaucracies, the Germans would have been unable to kill millions of Jews. The belief persists that somehow only technology made horror on this scale possible. It is generally believed that gas chambers, because of their efficiency, were a necessary instrument for the genocidal slaughter, and that the Germans chose to construct the gas chambers in the first place because they needed more efficient means of killing the Jews. It has been generally believed that the perpetrators were primarily, overwhelmingly SS men, the most devoted and brutal Nazis. It has been held that had a German refused to kill Jews, then he himself would have been killed, sent to a concentration camp, or severely punished. All of these views, views that fundamentally shape people's understanding of the Holocaust, have been believed as though they were
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