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View Diary: Fascist wingnut tries to defend himself (updated) (352 comments)

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  •  Correct (11+ / 0-)

    But please don't cite that book. Goldhagen has zero credibility among historians. Chris Browning's Ordinary Men: Reserve Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York: HarperCollins, 1998) is a much better book--all the facts, none of the hyperbole or the questionable scholarship.

    The Einsatzgruppen were effectively roving execution squads. They probably knocked off at least a million people (not all of them Jews, however; they were also responsible for hunting down priests, the intelligentsia, and Soviet officials under Hitler's notorious Kommissarbefehl) across eastern Europe and western Russia.

    •  footnote-y Goldhagen question (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      musing85, davidincleveland

      I have read before that Goldhagen has credibility problems, but I never found out what they were.  Could you tell me, or is it too long for comments?  Thanks.

      •  The full story (4+ / 0-)

        is way too long for comments. The Readers' Digest Condensed Version (TM) is that Goldhagen tries to make too much stew from one oyster. His evidence doesn't adequately support his claim of global commitment to, and active participation in, the Nazi excesses. His basic thesis is not entirely without merit--ordinary Germans were not nearly as in the dark or as free of moral or even legal responsibility as they liked to make themselves out to be in the late 1940s and afterward. But to assert, on the basis of the evidence that Goldhagen does provide, that all Germans are culpable for the actions of the Nazis is unjustifiable.

        There's also the fact that Goldhagen's thesis essentially depends on what historians have called the Sonderweg hypothesis. This idea, prominent in the war years and immediately afterward and since discredited, posits that there was something special (Sonder, in German) in the German character that made them ideal for the development of Nazism, or, in some of the more radical theorists--and I would have to put Goldhagen into that category based on this book--that Nazism was an inevitable outcome of something warped in the German national psyche.

        If you want to wade further into the question, here are a few of the academic reviews of Goldhagen's book:

        http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/...
        http://muse.jhu.edu/...
        http://www.h-net.org/...
        http://www.h-net.org/...
        http://www.writing.upenn.edu/...

        I can also wholeheartedly recommend the afterword in Christopher Browning's book that I mentioned in the parent comment. He gives a thorough explanation of just how Goldhagen failed to prove his thesis.

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