Synopses & Reviews
With The Years of Extermination
, Saul Friedländer completes his major historical work on Nazi Germany and the Jews. The book describes and interprets the persecution and murder of the Jews throughout occupied Europe. The enactment of German extermination policies and measures depended on the cooperation of local authorities, the assistance of police forces, and the passivity of the populations, primarily of their political and spiritual elites. This implementation depended as well on the victims readiness to submit to orders, often with the hope of attenuating them or of surviving long enough to escape the German vise.
This multifaceted study—at all levels and in different places—enhances the perception of the magnitude, complexity, and interrelatedness of the many components of this history. Based on a vast array of documents and an overwhelming choir of voices—mainly from diaries, letters, and memoirs—Saul Friedländer avoids domesticating the memory of these unprecedented and horrific events. The convergence of these various aspects gives a unique quality to The Years of Extermination. In this work, the history of the Holocaust has found its definitive representation.
"In the second volume of his essential history of Nazi Germany and the Jews, one of the great historians of the Holocaust provides a rich, vivid depiction of Jewish life from France to Ukraine, Greece to Norway, in its most tragic period, drawing especially on hundreds of diaries written by Jews during their ordeal, depicting a world collapsing on its inhabitants, along with the thousands of humiliating persecutions that Jews suffered on their way to extermination. Friedlnder also provides insightful discussions of the many interpretive controversies that still surround the history of Nazi Germany. He has been party to many of the debates, and he remains attuned to the most recent historical research. Friedlnder knows the bureaucratic workings of the Third Reich as well as anyone, but refuses to see in that alone the explanation for the Holocaust. Instead, he focuses largely on cultural and ideological factors. He considers other factors, such as 'the crisis of liberalism,' but these were not the essential motives for the Holocaust, which, Friedlnder says, was driven by sheer hatred of Jews, by 'a redemptive anti-Semitism' espoused by Hitler, a belief that Germans could thrive only through the utter destruction of Jews. This is a masterful synthesis that draws on a lifetime of learning and research." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The result of more than 30 years of research and investigation, this important new volume presents a thorough historical study of the events beyond the usual analysis of German policies, decisions, and measures that led to this most systematic and sustained of modern genocides.
About the Author
Born in Prague, Saul Friedländer spent his boyhood in Nazi-occupied France. He is a professor of history at UCLA, and has written numerous books on Nazi Germany and World War II.