Arguments of Christopher Browning versus Daniel John Goldhagen Regarding The German View of the Holocaust

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Arguments of Christopher Browning versus Daniel John Goldhagen Regarding The German View of the Holocaust The arguments of Christopher Browning and Daniel John Goldhagen contrast greatly based on the underlining meaning of the Holocaust to ordinary Germans. Why did ordinary citizens participate in the process of mass murder? Christopher Browning examines the history of a battalion of the Order Police who participated in mass shootings and deportations. He debunks the idea that these ordinary men were simply coerced to kill but stops short of Goldhagen's simplistic thesis. Browning uncovers the fact that Major Trapp offered at one time to excuse anyone from the task of killing who was "not up to it." Despite this offer, most of the men chose to kill anyway. Browning's traces how these murderers gradually became less "squeamish" about the killing process and delves into explanations of how and why people could behave in such a manner. Goldhagen's book however, has the merit of opening up a new perspective on ways of viewing the Holocaust, and it is the first to raise crucial questions about the extent to which eliminationist anti-Semitism was present among the German population as a whole. Using extensive testimonies from the perpetrators themselves, it offers a chilling insight into the mental and cognitive structures of hundreds of Germans directly involved in the killing operations. Anti-Semitism plays a primary factor in the argument from Goldhagen, as it is within his belief that anti-Semitism "more or less governed the ideational life of civil society" in pre-Nazi Germany . Goldhagen stated that a "Demonological anti-Semitism, of the virulent racial variety, was the common structure of the perpetrators' cognit... ... middle of paper ... ...d in is own home. He was found by Soviet men in his home and taken to Siberia, because he was too young, in their point of view, to not be a member of the Nazi party. This is a man that Goldhagen cannot say is a fanatic anti-Semite and because of his own story to me I cannot deem the entire German population to be Goldhagen's 'ordinary Germans'. It is not an easy debate and will probably never be one but I would hope that someone could see that we cannot say something about an entire population. We would have to look at each member individually and then I am sure that we would find that some were those 'ordinary men', that Browning believed and some were the 'ordinary Germans' that Goldhagen believed in. Bibliography: Browning, Christopher R., Ordinary Men. Harper Perennial,New York, 1993 Goldhagen, Daniel Jonah. Random House, Inc. New York, 1996

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