hitlers willing executioners

2490 Words10 Pages
Daniel Jonah Goldhagen born in 1959 is an American political scientist most famous for his book, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, which hypothesizes that all ordinary Germans were actively in favor of the holocaust because of the supposedly unique and virulent "eliminationist" anti-Semitism that was a part of the common consciousness in Germany throughout history. He claims that this special mentality cannot be fully understood by non-Germans and that it was unique to Germany; eliminationist anti-Semitism grew out of medieval attitudes that were religiously based. Later they became more secularly based, but the anti-Semitism remained the same. Goldhagen holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University and was a professor at Harvard for many years. He is the winner of Germany’s highly prestigious triennial Democracy Prize and currently a member of Harvard's Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies. In the book Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen uses primary and secondary sources. Goldhagen traces origin & scrutinizes essence of anti-Semitism from its origins over 1,000 years ago, manifest in non-Jewish Christian civilization at beginning of the Crusades (Jews characterized as non-Christian Christ killers); throughout the Middle Ages into early modern Europe. He gives a clear insight of how Jews were tortured describing every gruesome detail. Though Goldhagen utilizes many original sources, some sources seem to come from his head. For example: The author titled the book Hitler’s “Willing” Executioners assuming that all Nazi’s were enthusiastic to kill Jews. It seems as though he carefully gathered all the information he could find about the Holocaust to make this piece of art into such a great novel. He allows the reader to comprehend how he fells personally about different situations mentioned throughout the book. Though he states his opinion on several occurrences throughout the book, he backs them up with credible facts. Hitler’s Willing Executioners is well written, easy to read and clearly defined. The issue is not the fact that the Germans were anti-Semitic, but rather that any human or group of humans could turn against a group of people so vehemently and so horribly. The vocabulary is somewhat easy to comprehend. Goldhagen's thesis, which he rides awfully hard, is that ordinary Germans were quite likely to be anti-Semitic because anti-Semitism, abetted by the Nazi high command, so thoroughly pervaded German culture. Goldhagen's account is centered on events in World War II and does not, foreground his thesis.
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