Summary Of A Moral Reckoning By Daniel Goldhagen

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REVIEW OF DANIEL GOLDHAGEN’S ‘A MORAL RECKONING: THE ROLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN THE HOLOCAUST AND ITS UNFULLFILLED DUTY OF REPAIR’ This essay will review Daniel Goldhagen’s controversial moral inquiry, ‘A Moral Reckoning: The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair’, published in 2002. Goldhagen attended Harvard University as a graduate, undergraduate and assistant professor until he was denied tenure in 2003; this possibly indicates his limited status as an academic. Goldhagen notes that he is ‘indebted’ to his father, a Holocaust survivor, for some of his findings on the Holocaust. This personal connection to the Holocaust on the one hand allows Goldhagen to write more passionately. On the other hand, it obscures his ability to view evidence objectively, evident in this book under review. Goldhagen status rose to notoriety due to the controversial nature of his first book, ‘Hitler’s Willing Executioners’ published in 1996. This received much criticism and perhaps more importantly to Goldhagen, plenty of publicity. The contentious assertions of the book, whether academically valid or not, established the relative novice amongst historians. This is evident in the abundance of secondary literature that comments on Goldhagen’s work including that edited by F. Littell and F. Kautz. Goldhagen’s credentials as a controversial author explain the extremist content of his second book, ‘A Moral Reckoning’. Goldhagen’s academic background in political science is evident in the books emphasis on the church as a ‘political institution’ and the pope as a ‘political leader’ (p. 184). . This limits his work as a historian as he fails to fully examine the role of the individual. Goldhagen’s ... ... middle of paper ... ...es are manipulated for his argument. Goldhagen’s controversial and stimulating study encourages research to continue and in 2013 Jewish leaders pressured Pope Francis to open the Vatican archives from 1939-1947. The opening of these archives will instigate more investigations in this field and until these archives are opened the historical record will not be clarified. The importance of these archives illustrates the interesting nature of historical literature. The study of history focuses predominantly around primary materials, however these materials do not provide a definitive depiction of the past. Historians analyze primary sources to deduce an interpretation of the past. The discrepancies between historian’s interpretations form historiographical debate. It would be interesting to examine the extent to which historians are perhaps just academic storytellers.

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