am 2. September 1997
Goldhagen espouses the absurd viewpoint of collective guilt (much like Levi Primo). The work is overstated and should be taken with a dose of Browning or another author grounded in historical fact. Book sure to stimulate conversation, which is good, but is also just as suredly going to mislead novices in holocaust studies who read this book only because of its noteriety
am 5. September 1997
I have a PhD in history and know how personal
agendas can distort scholarship. In the 1930s,
Dr. Goebbels used widespread Jewish support for the Communist movement to construct a Jewish collective guilt for the Stalinist massacres--
ludicrously blaming even anti-communist Jews, or
the vast unpolitical majority. Now Dr. Goldhagen uses the same techniques of tendencious and selective picking of sources to give a scholarly sheen to racist prejudice against Germans. That is why scholars, e.g. Norman Finkelstein and Alfred de Zayas, have condemned the book (just look at the damning reviews in Harvard's H-Net, written by people who actually know the subject). But since Amazon Books thought it ethical to sell this racist diatribe, what is next? Scholarship from the KKK, or from the Black Goldhagen, Leonard Jeffries, who indicted "ordinary Whites" as murderous "ice-people", without, though, getting so much media applause?
am 23. Juli 1997
Yet another book about an overworked topic, this time arriving at the hate-filled conclusion of every German being guilty of the Holocaust. This book is not written by a historian. It is a biased attempt to revive past prejudices against the German people. Most people already know the author has an agenda, and only the press praises the book. The people, after having paid the exorbitant price and read the book, are too intelligent to believe the fairytale-like conclusions drawn by the author
am 28. Dezember 1999
This book has some good info on the police battalions, the work camps, and the death marches, but I have several problems with this book. First Goldhagen is a horrible writer. His style is boring and he seems to toss in big words just to prove he knows them. Second, although this book is supposed to be a new view on the Holocaust and ordinary Germans it really isn't. Most of the information in the book that is supposedly new can be found in many other books. Third, the main point of the book is spelled out in the first couple of pages, but Goldhagen keeps repeating it over and over and over again throughout the book. It really becomes annoying. Finally, all of these things combined makes this a pretty forgettable book. All in all the book has some decent moments, but is poorly written, parts are boring, and the information that is supposed to be new really isn't. There are much better books about ordinary Germans and the Holocaust out there than this one.
am 23. Juli 1999
My comments deal only with Goldhagen's skills as a writer, which are conspicuously absent. His book cries out for a good editor, who would have toned down the academic puffery, pretentious jargon in place of resonant language. He takes a topic of exceptional importance and kills it for readers outside the academy (and, contrary to what many may think, even those in the academy prefer lucid, compelling, non-redundant prose).
Perhaps the person who told Goldhagen to publish his dissertation should have mentioned that rewriting would be involved.
am 25. Mai 2000
Mr. Shvartz below asserts that "The many reviewers who have criticized Dr. Goldhagen [sic] book are of three kinds: Simple anti-Semites, jealous historians, and young people not familiar with the holocaust." Perhaps that is true at Amazon, but it is not true elsewhere, as, among others, Rabbi Jacob Neusner has written an absolutely scathing review of this book, which he calls a "hysterical book, full of pseudo-scholarship and bad arguments, [which] calls into question the scholarly integrity of Harvard's doctorate."
Basically, the problems with this book are two-fold: (1) Goldhagen doesn't explain why this "eliminationist" anti-Semitism took hold in Germany and not in the more anti-Semitic countries of Ukraine, Poland, and Russia, and (2) he doesn't explain (a) why the allegedly deep-seated, longstanding, virulent, and universal anti-Semitism of the Germans did not prevent Jews from flourishing in Germany in the 19th Century and early 20th Century or prevent Jews from adopting Germany as home base for world Jewry and (b) why the evil German tendency he alleges disappeared after the end of WWII.
If you want to understand the phenomenon of Nazi anti-Semitism, read "Separation and Its Discontents" by Kevin MacDonald as well as general historical treatises discussing the unique situation of Germany circa 1933. The alleged "Dolchstoss" based on the fact that on all fronts German soldiers remained "im Felde unbesiegt", the conspiracy of the rest of Europe to blame Germany for the first war, the desperate economic conditions of the time, the danger posed by the leftist parties in Germany, the Jewish-led coup d'etat in Russia and its bloody aftermath, the wealth and power of Jews in Germany at the time, and the differing interests of Germans and gentiles in regard to the construction of German culture -- all these things combined to produce a very ahistorical anti-Semitism that could not have existed before the Emancipation and does not exist today. Goldhagen's historical references do not support his contention that Nazi anti-Semitism was something other than the product of unique circumstances.
Norman Finkelstein makes some excellent points in his analysis of the book: "For all its social turbulence, modern Germany prior to Hitler witnessed only episodic spasms of anti-Jewish violence. Indeed, there was no equivalent of the riots that attended the Dreyfus Affair or the pogroms in Russia. If Germany was brimming with pathological anti-Semites, why did Jews so rarely suffer their wrath? Alas, Goldhagen only briefly touches on this -- for his thesis -- plainly pivotal question. He writes, 'As powerful and potentially violent as the anti-Semitism was... the state would not allow it to become the basis of collective social action of this sort. Wilhelmine Germany would not tolerate the organized violence for which the anti-Semites appeared to long.' (HWE, p. 72) Yet, why was the State immune to the pathological anti-Semitism infecting the German body-politic? Indeed, winning the 1893 election, the Conservative Party, which according to Goldhagen was 'thoroughly anti-Semitic', along with allied avowedly anti-Semitic parties, proved a force to reckon with in the State. (HWE, pp. 56, 74-6) Why did these violent anti-Semites 'not tolerate' anti-Semitic violence?"
This sort of illogic is pervasive. In short, HWE is a very bad book. If you don't believe me, you can find Neusner's and Finkelstein's reviews on the internet.
am 31. März 2014
Ich war sehr enttäuscht weil diese buch ist voll mith rhetorik, und es gibt so wenig aktuelle erzälung des historisches fakten. Ich habe viel mehr gelernt über das thema bei hören auf die USC Shoah Fountation Zeugnisse
am 9. Oktober 1999
As someone who is American, non-Jewish, and is a post WWII "boomer" all I really know about the war and what went on inside the third reich is what I've read different places. This book doesn't go into the effort that the Nazis took to keep the Final Solution secret, to the point of killing ordinary Germans who discovered the truth by accident. It doesn't emphasize the fact that once the German clergy denounced the euthenasia program that was started just before the war, Hitler had it stopped, at least inside of Germany.
I grew up around German-Americans and Polish-Americans and I am well aware of the anti-semitic opinions that many of them had. I can only assume that such attitudes were in place with at least equal force in Europe itself.
But I do also think that this book goes too far, and it also minimizes the suffering and atrocities commited against other groups that the Nazis slaughtered as well, such as the gypsies and whatever clergy, Slavs or partisans that tried to stand up to them.
am 22. Juli 1999
Oh, Mr. Goldhagen is such a revolutionary, isn't he? All I have to say about this racist leftist treatise is that he may be angry that his Jewish collective unconscious is forever smattered with the holocaust, but to attack the German people is a travesty and the fact that this book is a bestseller reflects our society's penchant for anger and blame. I am the grandson of a wonderful woman who FLED the Nazi regime and came to America to start a family with a GI, and I'll be damned if I'm ever going to be ashamed to say that Germans are a great people. Hitler was a madman, of course, as were his lackeys...but let us not forget that it was a time of world-psychosis, as it were. The people of the world were hungry for a war and a scapegoat for the depression, which they saw in everybody else! I don't see books about the Japanese being a crazy people (because Asians are P.C. nowadays). Goldhagen, leave the German people alone and write about something a little more believable.
am 15. Mai 1998
Tom Segev, Israeli historian and author ("The Seventh Million:Israelis and the Holocaust" and "The First Israelis") in an article dated 05/15/1998 in the Hebrew Daily "Ha'aretz", wrote this about Goldhagen's book:
"... his [Goldhagen's] harshest critics: Ruth Bettina Birn of Canada and Norman J. Finkelstein of Hunter College, University of New York. Both of them have done the unthinkable: They have checked his references, one by one, and reached the conclusion that "Hitler's Willing Executioners" is not worthy of being called an academic text.
"... [in his internet site] Goldhagen does not respond to Finkelstein's arguments; he responds to Finkelstein.
".. the criticism against Goldhagen is backed up so well. Historians all over the world, including Israel, agree that he has written a bad book. Few have praised him, and those who did were motivated by public relations and politics."