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The Holocaust: A German Historian Examines the Genocide

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9780231112147: The Holocaust: A German Historian Examines the Genocide
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The Holocaust / Wolfgang Benz; translated by Jane Sydenham-Kwiet.

The history of the Holocaust keeps being written and rewritten in ever greater detail, but almost always by Jews. Wolgang Benz's book makes an important contribution by bringing the German perspective to this horrific event. A masterpiece of compression, the books covers all the major topics and issues, from the Wannsee Conference of January 20, 1942, to stripping Jews of their civil rights, from the establishment of ghettos to the creation of killing centers and the development of an efficient system for extermination. The book also includes a chapter on "The Other Genocide: The Persecution of the Sinti and Roma," detailing the crusade against the Gypsies.

From the Foreword by Arthur Hertzberg:

Benz's account is the necessary 'first course' for anyone who wants to know about the Holocaust and to think further about its meaning for humanity. It is of particular importance that the historian who has written this book is a German. This account is trustworthy because its author combines within himself the rare authority of someone who belongs to the past of his nation. He has both understood and transcended its history in this century. The subject of the book, the Holocaust, is somber beyond words, but this account in Benz's words is a cause for hope.

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Review:

The Holocaust: A German Historian Examines the Genocide by Wolfgang Benz is a dark flash of a book--156 astringent pages, describing the events and individuals who determined the fate of millions of Jews. The author is a German, not a Jew, and his task is analytical, not explanatory. The Holocaust avoids the questions that drive most books about its subject. It does not delve into the origins of National Socialism or the question of why Germans allowed the Holocaust to happen. Instead, Benz begins by describing the Wannsee Conference, which planned "to rid all German territory of Jews by legal means," and then describes the laws that allowed discrimination against Jews, the destruction of civil rights for Jews, and the creation of ghettos and concentration camps. His nonideological analysis of the genocide is far from amoral, however. Every page of this German's account of the holocaust rings with the mournfulness of a man who must take stock of the hardest parts of his history, in preparation for understanding that history. And although some scholars may argue there is no such thing as objectivity, Benz's account of the political genesis of genocide comes awfully close. "Not a single line of this book can be contested or argued out of existence," says Jewish historian Arthur Hertzberg in his introduction to The Holocaust. "All of these events took place, and they happened in the order in which he puts them." Simply having these facts so clearly and succinctly described will help many readers prepare to grapple with the raging moral questions raised by the Holocaust. That is cause for hope. --Michael Joseph Gross

Book Description:

Germany's leading Holocaust scholar has crafted a concise, well-written, and powerful introduction to the subject, concluding with a discussion of what the Germans knew about the genocide.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780231112154: The Holocaust: A German Historian Examines the Genocide

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ISBN 10: 0231112157 ISBN 13: 9780231112154
Publisher: Columbia University Press, 2000
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9781861971944: The Holocaust - A Short History

Profil..., 2000
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