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Ideology of Deathby John Weiss
Synopses & Reviews
Despite all the thousands of studies of the Holocaust and the rise of Nazi Germany, we still have no satisfactory explanation of why this tragedy occurred in one of the most civilized of Western nations. John Weiss's Ideology of Death is the first book to explore the unique nature of German history, showing how it rejected the liberal ideals of the Enlightenment, and to trace the culture of racism and anti-Semitism among powerful elites and ordinary Germans over a long period of German history. In a stunningly lucid narrative, Weiss describes exactly how and why Christian anti-Semitism, in its unique form among German Protestants and Austrian Catholics, reinforced modern secular racism to create an explosive mix. Using the latest research, he details how the Nazis, building on traditional German anti-Semitism, were able to adjust it so as to appeal to a wide variety of social groups crucial to their electoral success. And he explains the specific complicities of various German groups and institutions in the Holocaust, and why they voluntarily cooperated with the Nazis. In its clarity and compelling argument, Ideology of Death is certain to be one of the most important books for many years to come on the reasons behind the Holocaust.
Why the Holocaust happened in Germany is the subject of this stunning and disturbing exploration of the unique nature of German history and its culture of racism and anti-Semitism.
In many nations throughout history, the Jews have been reviled and persecuted, regarded as cunning heretics and destructive social parasites. But only in Germany did racist stereotypes evolve into a popular ideology of such lethal force that it ended in the horror of the death camps. Despite a vast literature about anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, we do not yet understand why the destruction of the Jews was conceived and implemented by the Germans. Ideology of Death supplies this understanding in a stunning and disturbing narrative history. Exploring the unique nature of the German experience as well as the annals of anti-Semitism, Mr. Weiss rejects the notion that the Holocaust was a product of Nazi fanaticism. He shows instead how racist ideas ingrained in German culture led to the unthinkable. Tracing the culture of racism and anti-Semitism among powerful elites and ordinary Germans, Mr. Weiss shows how it grew rapidly during the Napoleonic era, became a forceful popular ideology in the 1870s, and in the 1890s gained the dedicated support of the generation that eventually brought Hitler to power. "German Jews became the victims of a uniquely powerful culture of racism", he writes. "Without this historical base, anti-Semitism would not have exploded with such fury after 1918, producing hundreds of thousands of followers whose ideas were no different from those of the Nazis". Drawing on the latest research, Mr. Weiss describes how the Nazis, building on traditional German anti-Semitism, adjusted their appeal to a wide variety of social groups that were crucial to their electoral success. The Nazis' extraordinary popularity "could not have occurred if Hitler's hatreds were unique", theauthor points out. Nor could the actions against the Jews, leading to their destruction. Most Germans saw nothing wrong with such actions. Mr. Weiss explains the specific complicities of various German groups and institutions in the Holocaust, and why they voluntarily cooperated with the Nazis.
Why the Holocaust happened in Germany is the subject of this stunning and disturbing exploration of the unique nature of German history and its culture of racism and anti-Semitism. For many readers, this book can safely take the place of an entire library. --Raul Hilberg
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History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Racism and Ethnic Conflict