Hitler's Bureaucrats: The Nazi Security Police and the Banality of Evil

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9780826457110: Hitler's Bureaucrats: The Nazi Security Police and the Banality of Evil
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For many the name of Adolf Eichmann is synonymous with the Nazi murder of six million Jews. As a perpetuator of the Final Solution he stands alongside Adolf Hitler and Heinrich Himmler as one of history's most notorious murderers, yet ever since Hannah Arendt's seminal book, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, there has been disagreement about the essence of Eichmann and, by extension, about the definition of evil action. Was he a human monster or a petty bureaucrat? To what degree did the totalitarian organization to which he belonged absolve him and his staff from individual choice and responsibility for atrocities?

Hitler's Bureaucrats looks at the words and actions of Eichmann and the bureaucrats he worked with in Berlin and throughout the more significant Gestapo offices in Western Europe. It claims that Hannah Arendt's thesis about the banality of evil was wrong. In chilling detail, it presents a group of people completely aware of what they were doing, people with high ideological motivation, people of initiative and dexterity who contributed far beyond what was necessary. While most of these bureaucrats sat behind desks rather than behind machine guns, there was nothing banal about the role they played in the destruction of European Jewry.

The primary motivating force for their actions was a well-developed acceptance of the tenets of Nazi ideology of which racial anti-Semitism was a central component. As the documentation created by Eichmann and his colleagues reveals, not a single one of them ever expressed regret for their actions against the Jews, unless it was regret for having to pay the consequences.

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About the Author:

Yaacov Lozowick is the director of the archives at Yad Vashem, Israel's national authority for commemoration of the Holocaust. He has published articles in Hebrew, German, Polish, and English on the history of the SS, on the role of memory in Judaism, and on the pitfalls of Israeli-German dialogue. He lives with his wife and three children in Jerusalem.

From Library Journal:

Lozowick (Yad Vashem, Israel) argues that the traditional picture of Nazi bureaucrats as mere cogs in a death machine needs to be revised. According to Lozowick, Nazi bureaucrats from Eichmann on down were not only crucial to carrying out the "Final Solution" but were instrumental in shaping Nazi policy through the collection and analysis of information. The bureaucrats then enthusiastically implemented the policies they helped formulate. Although bureaucratic history tends to break down into minutiae, Lozowick is largely able to avoid this problem because he is not trying to write a history of the entire Nazi administration. His conclusions are in line with Robert Gellately's Backing Hitler, which revealed that the Nazi system did not depend on coercive force from above to stay in power. In fact, he argues, the Nazi system depended on the support of the people, and it was through their active participation, in this case the formulation and implementation of the Final Solution, that Hitler's racial vision was implemented. Fundamentally, Lozowick challenges Hannah Arendt's thesis that totalitarianism removes choices and argues that even bureaucrats had the freedom to choose. This is an important book, but it does require some background in the subject; recommended for academic and specialized libraries. Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Ctr. of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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