Hitler's Willing Executioners by Daniel Goldhagen Essay

Hitler's Willing Executioners by Daniel Goldhagen Essay

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"Goldhagen’s book is worthless as scholarship.” (Finkelstein and Birn, 1998) In the light of the public success of Daniel Goldhagen's book, Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust. Evaluate whether this statement is justified.

After its publication in 1996, Daniel Goldhagen’s PHD Thesis and book Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust (Goldhagen, 1996) evoked great public fascination and popular interest, almost more than any other historical research on the Holocaust that came before it. His book seemed to mesmerise the public and press; The New York Times claimed it as “one of those rare new works that merit the appellation landmark.” (Bernstein, 1996). The book sold eighty thousand German copies in the first month (Adams, 2011) and as a result, Goldhagen toured the world hosting sold-out panel discussions, featuring in articles in Der Spiegel and Die Zeit, and participating in several television talk shows. (Ullrich, 1996) (Spiegel Online, 1997) (Ridderbusch, 1996) However, it also aroused distaste from certain Holocaust researchers and was met with other works of rebuttal; “it is not at all a learned enquiry” (Finkelstein and Birn, 1998, p.4) and “[h]is moral theory is radically incomplete” (Smith, 1997, pp. 48-57). Goldhagen’s book was claimed to be “a blanket [of] accusation lies” (Locke, 2007, p.26), “[r]eplete with gross misinterpretations of the secondary literature” (Finkelstein and Birn, 1998, p.4) and “simply bad” (Jäckel, 2007, p.161). The thesis was greeted with such controversy, because of its seeming lack of recognition for past research: “it dismisses the careful findings […] of several generations of eminent scholars, many of whom have devoted a lifetime t...


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....html [Accessed: 13 Feb 2014].
Rieger, B. 1997. 'Daniel in the Lion's Den?'The German Debate about Goldhagen's" Hitler's Willing Executioners". pp. 226--233.
Smith, R. W. 1997. "Ordinary Germans," The Holocaust, and Responsibility: Hitler's Willing Executioners in Moral Perspective. In: Littell, F. H. eds. 1997. Hyping The Holocaust. 2nd ed. Pennsylvania: Merion Westfield Press International, pp. 48-57.
Spiegel Online, G. 1997. Holocaust als Andachtsbild. [online] Available at: http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-8812232.html [Accessed: 13 Feb 2014].
Ullrich, V. 1996. : Daniel J. Goldhagen in Deutschland: Die Buchtournee wurde zum Triumphzug. [online] Available at: http://www.zeit.de/1996/38/goldhg.txt.19960913.xml [Accessed: 13 Feb 2014].
Weingart, P. and Pansegrau, P. 1998. Reputation in der Wissenschaft und Prominenz in den Medien: Die Goldhagen-Debatte.

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